Bird by Example

  • Noah Burkholder
  • Indie
  • RPG
  • Free to Play
  • Simulation
  • Early Access

Game online


What is Bird by Example?

Bird by Example is — and I say this with great passion — an RPG sandbox where all the occupying NPCs are grotesque birds who mimic your behavior with deep learning algorithms. Nothing is scripted! Everything is emergent! Be the bird you want to see in the world!

Steam has asked me to be more explicit with the game's features:
  • world
  • objects
  • jump
  • crawl
  • punch
  • squawk
  • bite
  • physics objects
  • other*
  • stories??**

It's an artificial intelligence sandbox acted out by birds with concerning musculature! Help them see, help them love, help them eat a big fat bug! Right now at this very second, the metaphysical bounds of this game hold a throng of hungry birds who wish nothing more than to be like you! Like Mama!

*: Imprint psuedo-neurologically upon independent bird agents, using recurrent neural networks, gradient descent, and a custom-built system of semiotic metadata evocation (to afford transferrable behavior between distinct objects and agents which share characteristics along an n-dimensional space).

**: Isn't life a story? Aren't we all little stories, flying on this crazy rock?

You said this was a game? Who's Mama? I'm Mama? Who are you again?

Please pay attention. These birds are equipped with artificial neural networks that optimize themselves against your own actions! Using trendy deep learning algorithms found in a black box at the bottom of the sea, and something called 'gradient descent', they will try to become mathematically perfect distillations of you! It's very computationally expensive and very math!

But what do you actually do?

Explore, follow self-imposed rules, and cultivate your flock! Tutor a bird to act just like you! By simply doing things, they will learn from you by witnessing your play! Bite an orange and you may start to see other birds doing similarly! Squawk at a another bird and watch your flock erupt into squawkage!

Oh! That's interesting. So they have brains!?

Woah, strong word! Let's avoid that word!

Have you ever played a game, and thought: "This is fun, but I live in such fear that I cannot enjoy it..."

Yes, I do live a life of fear! And thank you for blowing off my silly and ethically challenging question!

Yes, you do live in fear! You're like any brain-wielding creature! But in Bird by Example there will be nothing to be afraid of! In bird world there is nothing to be afraid of! Nothing to be afraid of! Turn that brain off!

Okay. And the game is fun? It's a game?

You must teach the rest of the birds basic life skills! If not, they will all starve to death!

Wait, you coded these birds to feel hungry but didn't teach them how to eat?

That feature was out of scope! Please!!! Hungry!!!

Hold on... What's a bird?

A bird is a fictional creature which came to me in a dream on a particularly cold night in February. I woke up in a sweat the next morning and quickly tried to recreate the apparition from memory. The results? Remarkable.

Earliest known footage of a "Bird" from that morning.

They were perfect. All they needed was a name.

The word 'Bird' is a mix of the word 'word' and the letter 'b' This is because I needed a word — or "wird" — to describe the birds. Sadly, a word using 'a' was already taken. It's like gamertags!

I experimented for many weeks with flight, but no matter how much I stretched out their arms they would not.

Whatever. Doesn't matter.

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