I was looking at the particle systems and it seems like you are constrained to having the particles emit from a single point. I would like them to be randomized over a certain dimension as there starting point so I can basically make a game of life but with particles. Is there a way to do this? I would rather not use the geometry shape sphere because of the lag.
The Shape Emitters documentation shows how to use the various built-in shapes, plus how to create mesh emitters as well as custom emitters where you can create whatever shape you want.