If you were around in the early days of the .NET Framework you may remember a game called Terrarium. I believe that Microsoft may even have had a version running at SIGCSE one year. Bil Simser who is bringing it back fresh and updated via a CodePlex shared source project describes it this way on his blog:
In Terrarium, you can create herbivores, carnivores, or plants and then introduce them into a peer-to-peer, networked ecosystem where they complete for survival. Terrarium demonstrates some of the features of the .NET Framework, including Windows Forms integration with DirectX®; XML Web services; support for peer-to-peer networking; support for multiple programming languages; the capability to update smart client, or Windows-based, applications via a remote Web server; and the evidence-based and code access security infrastructure.
Terrarium was created by members of the .NET Framework team in the .NET Framework 1.0 timeframe and was used initially as an internal test application. At conferences and via online chats, Terrarium provided a great way for developers to learn about the new .NET programming model and languages as they developed creatures and introduced them into a peer-to-peer ecosystem.
Apparently Bil has updated it and brought it to more modern versions of the .NET Framework and is looking for people to help expand and improve it. It is pretty usable already by the sounds of it. There is a client version that can run stand alone and a server version that will let several clients share the same world.
I see this as a great learning tool and potentially a lot of fun. I’m downloading a version now and hope to find some time to play with it. Too bad I didn’t have it before I went on vacation!