To get to this window you tap the arrow button to the very left of your device's toolbar. The Life Settings window has two main sections: Life Conditions and Miscellaneous. The Life Conditions window allows us to set rules for birth and survival as was explained before. As you can see above we implemented B3S23 the rule set for Conway's Game of Life. In Quincy you have the freedom to try all possible rule sets for this cellular automaton as it is also referred to. In case you are wondering what a 0 setting is useful for, just think about it for a moment. B02S would imply that cells with exactly 0 neighbors will come alive and those with exactly 2 neighbors will survive into the next generation. Another oddity in the B-S- notation is the lonesome S in B02S. That means that there are no rules for survival. Cells annot survive, they can only be born.
NOTE: A setting of 0 can be very useful when constructing metronomes as they tend to invert the entire world.
The grid size is to a large degree self-explanatory. There are, however, some finer nuances you want to be aware of. Sizes are quadratic and are available from 8 going in increments of 8 all the way up to 48. While the limit at 48 may seem somewhat arbitrary, there are good reasons for it. The first one is performance. With a size of 48 x 48 Quincy needs to calculate 2304 cells per beat which makes it 479,232 cells per minute on the highest speed. Since we can also render eighth notes in some of the modules the number of calculations goes up to 1,916,928 cells per minute. That is quite a bit for an application on a handheld device like the iPad and still is only one of the available 3 rhythm voices. The musically interesting part is that the number 96 (48 x 2) is significant in beat divisions as well as in MIDI and gives us our maximum key range. When compared to that of a grand piano with its 88 keys, 96 is not too shabby.
The important thing to remember is that the grid size translates directly into the range of available pitches in a composition. The smalles size of (8 x 8) gives you 16 pitches, the largest size (48 x 48) gives you 96 pitches all centered around Middle C. The rule of thumb to consider as far as performance goes, is that smaller is better. For metronomes you should go as small as possible. The same is true if you run Quincy on an older device like a 3rd generation iPad or such.
The random stepper controls the amount of randomly inserted cells you want in your composition. Often that will be none if you want a composition to be reproducable exactly. The number 0 - 100 does not translate into percentage or number of cells. Instead it is somewhat flexible. You should experiment a little with this setting. It is an extremely useful tool to generate variations on a theme. For that just loop a composition and give it a random setting higher than 0. What you will get then is the original world as you designed it each time the loop starts and over the duration of the loop Quincy will randomly insert cell. All of that translates into varied visuals and music.
NOTE: The bulk of randomly inserted cells is not visible in Quincy as they are rendered as points initially and will often die after the first generation depending on the current life settings.
Generations is a visual effect unique to Quincy. Above you can see the Danger composition which is included with the full version of Quincy. The left image shows the 23rd generation rendered with the base setting of generations = 1. The image to the right is what happens with generations set to the maximum of 3. There are 3 shades of red here. The first generation is rendered the same as on the left. Subsequent generations are then rendered with a higher degree of darkness. This is a useful feature that gives more of a directional sense specifically as far as moving entities like spaceships and gliders are concerned.
If you are new to Life worlds you might have been taken aback a little when reading the word spaceship above. But yes - that is what we are talking about. The community that over the years involved itself with Life shapes, forms and algorithms came up with quite a bunch of interesting names for some of the observable configurations. We will take a look at some of these patterns next when we talk about draw shapes.