The irRegular Game of Life

PsychotronicThe irRegular Game of LifeThe barren intellectual soil of a small town can be a tough place for a growing nerd. His roots dig in fierce and stubby. His under-developed leaves flitter in the wind, searching vainly for light in a landscape dominated by hulking trees who play a lot of football and communicate through headbutts. Before the nurturing biosphere called The Internet hlorched into being, a rural nerd had to find nutrition where he could get it, like a desert rat sucking water out of a cactus.

One of these valuable sources of life was, fittingly, Conway's Game of Life—a system of four simple rules that govern the behavior of squares on a grid. When applied in multiple iterations, these rules produce images that resemble living cellular creatures in some alternate reality where everything is made of math. A simulation of life? That isn't gooey? And doesn't expect you to talk to it? And doesn't make fun of your chin acne? Ideal!

Oh right, the game. So, what irRegular Games has done is to take Conway's Life and apply goals to it, and then name it The irRegular Game of Life. So on one level, you might have to maintain a constant number of living cells. On another, you might need to exterminate them all within a certain limit of turns. At the beginning, the game does a great job of introducing the essential concepts one by one, with a hint for each level and a very limited number of cells to play with. Later, of course, your options bloom outward and the levels get seriously challenging, especially if you're a total Life neophyte. However, if you've secretly spent half your life mastering the ins and outs of Conway's brilliant distraction, now is your time to shine, you crazy nerdy diamond.

Analysis: The reason this works as a game is that Conway's Life is an efficient factory for stories and characters. The winking Traffic Lights. The steadfast Boat. The expanding Bee Hive. And everyone's favorite, the sidewinding Glider... and his nemesis, the Block. These characters, who are merely configurations of cells that exhibit predictable behavior, seem so significant in their briefness and reliability that it's impossible not to root for them.

IrRegular Games can't take credit for inventing these icons—Conway's Life has a long history of dedicated followers, who have plumbed its depths for every recognizable pattern and then, like Adam in a graph paper Garden of Eden, named them all—but they have done a smart job of designing levels around them. If the intrinsic visual pleasure of Life doesn't draw you through the game, the humor might. I found several laugh-out-loud moments myself, and if you enjoy the fruits of internet meme culture, there's some juicy ones in here.

If you find a particularly clever or dramatic solution to a problem, you can save it to your clipboard and paste it here in the comments section. Plus, there's a sandbox mode where you can discover your own stories, and those can be shared as well. Your canvas in this mode is no larger than the one for the tightly-designed levels, which is a little disappointing, but only a little.

It's a nice, complete package, not as intensive as some implementations of Life, but perfect for a casual audience. And whoever decided that Conway's Life should be accompanied by bouncy honky tonk music is either a certifiable genius, or just certifiable.

Play The irRegular Game of Life


Anyone else playing? 22 has me stumped

The little audio clip when you beat Level 12 is priceless. Please tell me I'm not the only one who recognizes where it's from...

I didn't even really understand what I was doing but I was still winning. It was to confusing for me.

You are NOT the only one :)


Go to sandbox mode and load the following code:


If you didn't understand this game, then you really should check out one of probably thousands of implementations of John Conway's Game of Life available on the Web.

Afterwards it will seem so much more interesting, I guarantee it. :)

I understand the rules, and managed to blunder through the whole game without getting stuck. I wonder if you're supposed to solve all of it by trial and error. There were only a few levels where you had to think about the rules to win.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Actually, this one was fairly trivial...even without the solutions, none of the levels take more than a minute or two.

Given the fact that symmetry is good, and you only have 3 or 4 to place in most levels, it's a quick game.

I did like the reward after level 42, though.

w00t - thanks for the nice review, I'm pleased and pleasantly surprised that there are enough of us nerdy types out there to make this game popular ;)

You don't really need to "understand the rules" in order to solve many of the levels. Designing the levels was a challenge - one of the features of the Game of Life is that it is difficult to predict the outcome from only small changes in initial conditions. So I tried to make a balance of having some levels which required reasoning and logic, and others that showcased the neat features and patterns that arise. Another challenge was the fact that some people are already quite familiar with the original Game of Life, while others have never heard of it. I tried to inject some humor - it sounds like I was fairly successful on that score :)

Hmmmm. For one I loved the classic game of life. About this game, However I don't know how much it caters to the orginal life game. One half of the levels for me is a "complete the pattern" puzzle, the other half is random guessing. I realize how difficult it is, but somehow it misses the magic of the original. I guess the original life just doesnt work well for "puzzles" but only works well for "sandbox playing".

I played the original Life as a software toy a long time ago. One cool trick I remember is as follows:

When you've got four spinners oscillating in a diamond formation (I believe the game calls this the "traffic lights" setup), and you place a single cell in the center of the formation while the spinners are in a +, the whole thing goes kapoof and vanishes. See for yourself:


Can I get some help with level 21?


Complete the fractured block at 12 o'clock. You don't need to do anything else.

How do I do Level 42?


I completed it by adding my one cell right at the bottom of the F.

Maybe I'm not nerdy enough to really understand this game :( I still find it really fascinating though

23 is killin me!

What kills this for me is the fact that there's no way to test a level and then redo it without removing all of your blocks. I've been puzzling through a level in sections, and just when I finally figured out all the rest, I have forgotten where to put a single cell.

Thanks SonicLover. But now I'm stuck on 24. I just can't seem to find a good place to place my two cells. :(

And no, you're definitely not the only one to recognize the audio clip. It's from the most amazing, graphically intense game ever produced with the most intriguing story ever made.

Now I reconize it! I knew it was a refrence to YGTBTR but didn't notice that part.

"Burned the rope and saved us all!"

And I need help of special number 22.

I love the ending to level 12!!

Lvl 22:

You need a traffic light (4 blinkers), a beehive and a block. Experiment a little where a cell yields to what pattern.

I loved the "Burn the rope" reference.

Ummmmm Level 15 just won't solve for me.

and of course, I finally give in and comment and then solve the problem right afterwards...

I'm stuck on Level 15 too. I've put the cell in every available position now I think. Can anyone help?

Level 15


i made pi in binary(3=11,1=1,4=1001,ect.)


Near endless :)
and its cool because if you focus in the top left, you will see a heart appear for a second. It might help being on slow:


Know how to see it? If not, click on my next spoiler :)

click on the e and drag down
then type ctrl+c at the same time then type ctrl+v in the text box in sandbox mode.
just thought i'd say.

Overall, I'm a fan of the Game of Life as a whole - even though it's not even strictly a game. It's more of a toy. From what I've seen in the irRegular Game of Life, they spend too long - the first *half* of the level pack - jst teaching the player to look for assymetrical holes and fill them.
Also, I think that it's stupid that they require you to manually put in your starter cells each and every time on your attempts.

Anyway, my favourite layouts:
The glider gun:

If that doesn't work:

It barely fits!

The virus:

Yes, that one *did* take a few minutes to set up.

Just wanted to let everyone know that ThinkGeek has a Game of Life kit which is bizarre and interesting (it requires a soldering iron for assembly). And handheld!

A Popsicle turns into a happy face.


Level 26? Stuck. I can get all but one of the shapes to approach zero (the 6 block, two staggered 3 row one). Can you make that reach 0 live cells by placing only one block?

Get this one, is cool for a moment :P


This is a neat pattern, almost completely simmetric:


The game is cool by the way.

I so much prefer games that have a selection of levels available. For instance I'm completely stuck on level 24 and am just frustrated.

It makes the game no "casual" in my oppinion because I can't just move on to another level - have to keep sitting there trying again and again...

I just prefer games where you can just go "I don't care about the score, I don't care about completeing every level - I just want to give up and try level 25!!!"

I made a walkthrough video for this, if anyone needs help.

Need help on level 19... I am an idiot

Level 24:


This code has a pretty cool effect

We're stuck on 26 as well, same thing as soadkombucha. The one in the bottom right corner won't go away!

lolz im stuck on lvl 20 :3 does anybody know how to do it?

game rocks, and actually has me hooked on something relatively "mathematical" need help on 37 though

I am completely stuck on 18.
Can anyone offer some help?

jamison -

the cell is added to the lower group, to the left of the cell in the 2nd (center) row.

hope that helps.


for level 19,


I cannot figure out lvl 20 for the life of me. I know it has to be something simple.. but i cannot figure it out. Can anyone help?

pretty cool code i made



that one took a while... copy the whole thing, its all one code

This is a nice pattern with a good finish



anyone know how to beat level 20?

Level 26 solution:


Level 33:

I accidently did this:
I made an upside down glider and did a dot above the middle of the three in a row! It's really cool! I love when yoou explode a beehive!

Here are my two codes, try them out in sandbox:

The stars in the night sky...


And then...



Both of these work best on the fastest setting, with the markers as orange dots.

I know I'm WAY late in the game here, but I made kind of a cool... thingie... Here's the (long) code:


Triple-click to highlight the whole thing.

I finally understand the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy reference.

How do you make codes?

im stuck on 17. HELP!

i need help with 26 (tried code but wouldn't work)

none of this stuff makes any sense!!! >:O

The ultimate empire and destruction from a ton of hills



[edit: Spoiler tags added. -eileen]


Its a spiral


Very cool
I think i call it "Beehive Generator"


and this one may have taken me forever, but it still ended up well




FYI These all have very different, very cool results

This lasts a very long time


Similar pattern


and bigger






okay, you get the idea


(this is the coolest one)




And last but (certainly) not least



makes a cool effect :)


for what happens to a heart....

Hypnotist, I am.


A personal favourite of mine:


Okay, Psychotronic, can I just say excellent use of the word "hlorched." That alone just tickles me to no end.

I'm easily amused.

I love this game, but there is one mistake in the article. The figure commonly known as a "beehive", i.e.

- O -
O - O
O - O
- O -

Is known to be a still life, and does not exhibit any form of growth.

Check this:


and this:


My sad face that happened when I attempted and failed level 29:


^ Scroll Up | Homepage >

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