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Noble Ape

Noble Ape is an artificial life development project launched in June, 1996 by Tom Barbalet. It was designed to be a forum for a diversity of contributors to work towards a coherent cognitive simulation development environment.[1]

Noble Ape
Noble Ape.png
Original author(s)Tom Barbalet
Initial release1996 (1996)
Written inC (programming language), Objective-C, Java (programming language)
PlatformMac OS, Mac OS X, Linux, Microsoft Windows, iOS
Available inEnglish language
Typesimulation, god game


The SimulationEdit

The central software of the project is the Noble Ape Simulation, based on the ideas outlined in Noble Ape Philosophic. There are two primary aims of the Simulation;

  • to simulate the biological environment the Noble Apes inhabit, and,
  • to simulate the Noble Apes' cognitive processes.[2]

The Noble Apes move around and react to external and internal events (weather, fear, panic, sleep, ...). Noble Ape integrates many concepts in the areas of philosophy, biology and physics.[3]


Noble Ape is available as open source software, under the Noble Ape Open Source License, and is distributed with Apple Computer's CHUD Tools, included with every new Apple Macintosh computer and is used by Intel.[4] It runs under Mac, Windows, and Unix platforms.[5]

The graphics engine in the Noble Ape Simulation, codenamed Ocelot, is a non-polygonal engine, which allows smooth and quick rendering of land and water surfaces.[6]

The Noble Ape Simulation also contains the programming language, ApeScript.[7]

Noble Ape also features a podcast, Ape Reality, where various aspects of the programming, biology, philosophy and meta-theory behind the development are discussed.[8][9]


Noble Ape received a grant from the Australian Film Commission in 1998. Barbalet used this money to buy computer hardware and record an audio CD/CDROM, Isle of the Apes. Having returned from the US at the end of 1998, Barbalet recorded the second CD/CDROM, Mind Monkeys and Purrfect Beats (sic). A collection of tracks from these CDs were released on the 2018 digital compilation Noble Ape: Project Music. In mid-2018, Barbalet released the single June 13 (This is Noble Ape) to address some of the challenges the development has experienced over twenty two years.[10]

Video ProjectEdit

To celebrate twenty-two years of continuous development, Barbalet undertook an at-least a video per day vlog project documenting many different aspects of Noble Ape that had not been previously talked about. Barbalet noted that the reason to do this on YouTube and Instagram was to introduce a new audience to his work.[11]


Noble Ape provided the core of six different sub-projects that had been developed by Barbalet and others through the Noble Ape development history. These six sub-projects are actively maintained under the Noble Ape development.[12]

Noble WarfareEdit

Noble Warfare was developed by Barbalet in Wilmslow in Cheshire. Inspired by Lindow Man, Barbalet reflected on the impact unwritten wars had through history on a local population. He was also inspired by the Total War (series) of video games. Noble Warfare pits two armies defined through an ApeScript-like interface and shows how the resolution of the battles can be covered by many different probabilistic outcomes.

Mushroom BoyEdit

The early development of the Mushroom Boy came from Barbalet's time in Canberra, Australia. The simulation is based in a vast suburb-based landscape and uses a number of core technologies in Noble Ape to create the environment and the entities that wander through the suburban environment. The name comes from an urban terrorism simulation Barbalet initially developed with the sub-project.

Planet Noble ApeEdit

Planet Noble Ape was initially developed by Barbalet in Sunnyvale, California. It provides the Noble Ape Simulation as part of a planetary simulation.


Ecosim takes the ideas of the Noble Ape Simulation and creates an educational tool specifically developed to highlight concepts in biodiversity. It was developed by Barbalet in 1997-1998 based on correspondence with a high school science teacher in Australia who wanted to have a tool to teach biodiversity based on Barbalet's work with Noble Ape.

Noble Ape SkeletonEdit

This sub-project comes from the work of Bob Mottram to create a skeleton and vascular simulation based on the Noble Ape Simulation. The sub-project is based on taking Mottram's work and re-integrating it with the ongoing development.

Noble InsectEdit

Noble Insect came from Barbalet's time in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is based on taking an insect brain and simulating that interaction with ideas and concepts developed through Noble Ape.


  1. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Noble Ape History". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  2. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Noble Ape Simulation". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  3. ^ Cooper, Quentin. "Material World BBC4". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  4. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Apple's CHUD Tools, Intel and Noble Ape". Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  5. ^ Slingerland, Nathan. "Optimizing with Shark: Big Payoff, Small Effort". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  6. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Graphics in the Noble Ape Simulation". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  7. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Introduction to ApeScript". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  8. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Ape Reality". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  9. ^ Walch, Rob. "Podcast411 Interview with Tom Barbalet of Ape Reality". Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  10. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "This is Noble Ape (Youtube)". Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  11. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Tom Barbalet's YouTube Channel". Retrieved 2018-04-02.
  12. ^ Barbalet, Tom. "Tom Barbalet's Github Page". Retrieved 2018-04-02.

External linksEdit