Thursday, November 26, 2009

Selective Muco Prototype

This is more or less a mock-up and in no way close to being done. I'm just excited I actually got the list to work properly:



If you can't tell though, it's an attempt at an edited version of the egg layer to allow you to pick norns from a list rather than going through them one at a time. The panel can be shown or hidden using the little circle on Muco, and when a creature is selected on the panel, the breed will show up on Muco, where you can select male/female and lay eggs like normal. Since you can scroll through pages of 14 breeds at a time, it should just make selecting different breeds a little easier so you won't have so many of those moments where you are clicking through to find a certain breed and then accidentally click past it. Don't you just hate when that happens?

Again, it's just a shell prototype right now and is not in any way functional nor close to being so, and this thing is such a horrible headache to code that you probably shouldn't hold your breath. But as always, feedback is appreciated-- little words of encouragement here and there go a long way in keeping my motivation up, heh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Revisiting C2

As I mentioned before, with the GOG version of Albian Years, I can finally run C1 and C2 again on my computer, for the first time in years. And what a nostalgia trip.

C2 was my first creatures game, and it has a ton of emotion attached for me, granted, I was all of 11-12 years old at the time and I feel like I understand a lot more now. At least one would hope, right?

I decided to run a vanilla world before introducing anything 3rd party, even genomes, just to see how things might pan out. I remember as a kid I never actually used any special genomes, I just always injected the holodoc and let creatures be script-coddled all their lives, really having no idea how this affected their intelligence. This way I can have a reminder what what creatures are like 'normally' before I try say, canny norns.

Luckily the GOG C2 isn't actually completely vanilla; it includes the life kits and an updated genome, making it a little more tolerable. Throughout my playing time though, I did notice a lot-- some things that I realized I really missed from C3/DS, some things I forgot existed, and some things I really didn't know existed at all.

This little sitting/kneeling position, for example-- that's so cute! Why does that not exist in DS? Creatures just go straight from standing to lying down with no in-between. Maybe I'm silly, but this really is one of my favorite little poses. Who was it that decided C3/DS creatures shouldn't be able to do this. This creature pictured is Eva, by the way. She was the first norn born into the world-- I always loved the goldies; certainly one of my favorite breeds in C2.

This inquisitiveness too-- creatures constantly asking, "what dat?" and "what dis?" is just so silly and charming, I completely forgot it existed. Though I don't know anything about C2 genetics and scripting... is this something genetic that young creatures just feel the need to ask questions, or is it just a scripted event that runs often in newborns to prompt the hand to answer questions? The latter shouldn't be too hard to replicate in C3-- so I wonder why it was left out? This little dude is Ichi-- I hatched him after Eva was pretty well trained to offer companionship and possible future mateship.

I must say, teaching norns to talk in C2 can be frustrating. In some aspects I do miss it-- in the same way that I really enjoy hand-teaching norn in C3/DS, but as I've found, the DS way of teaching nouns has still spoiled me to death. It is endlessly frustrating when you want a norn to "eat food," yet they don't yet know what food is, and until they get bored enough to look at it, you can't even teach them what it is, let alone get them to eat it.

"Ichi yes"-- someone remind me what that means. Judging that from the hand's perspective, that 'yes' essentially means, 'good job,' I suppose this means that Ichi is quite proud of himself? This is certainly a level of depth we're missing in DS.

Norns in general are a lot more chatty in C2, it seems, and will actually speak out single words like "come" or "hit" or "food" etc, while C3 norns pretty much only speak in either "name-verb-noun" or "name-modifier-feeling" strings. Also, the "Ichi very hungry, get food" strings that state both their need and what they intend to do about it are certainly an Albian exclusive.

I remember this face. More specifically, I remember seeing it on my creatures 90% of their lives-- the darn things are always tired or sleepy, and don't seem to want to sleep at all, ever. I certainly don't miss that about C2. Poor creatures always looked so miserable, and it was so hard to keep them happy.

After quite a bit of close training though, they seemed to respond, at least relatively well to my commands. I remember that much about C2 norns-- if you let them run feral they were nearly impossible to tame later on (as it should be, I think), but carefully raising them by hand and giving them a lot of individual attention made them quite loyal. I'll admit I was just extremely charmed to see how eager my little nornlings were to "Come Aiko" every time I showed up to check on them (though, nornlings as they were, sometimes they believed I was delicious).

I managed to snag the science kit and the neuroscience kit without really looking for them-- I remember how old that used to get and would always bypass hunting those down with agents, but for this round, I just wanted to explore. I remember relying on those kits pretty constantly back in the day, but I guess not having them in C3/DS got me used to just doing everything by hand.
Oh, this boat thing was something I didn't recall having a problem with, probably because the first thing I always did back when I played was inject one of the many 'bridges' cobs. But my poor creatures kept getting stuck in the boat and I couldn't get them out, because when I tried to click on the boat to move it, I would just tickle the creature. It really became a nuisance after a while, so after a lot of "push lift" and "come Aiko" later, I took the creatures exploring.

Somewhere along the journey, they grew up, and immediately kisspopped-- I was fairly impressed! Then they both collapsed and took a long, long nap, much to my relief.

I don't suppose I'll make any sort of long-term move to C2 or anything, but right now it's doing a lot to both entertain me and bring back memories. It's also just nice to have norns that need me-- and it's half inspiring me to pick up one of my old genetic projects for C3 to develop a more frail genome. So we'll see where this takes us!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What GoG Creatures Means to Us

Unless you haven't been keeping up with any community forums lately, you're probably well aware that the entire Creatures series, divided into The Albian Years, Creatures Village, and Creatures Exodus, is now available to download for $9.99 a game at GOG.com

So what does this mean to us?

Creatures is now available, instantly, to just about anyone. No more hunting around for used copies on Ebay or Amazon if something happens to your disks or if you want to introduce the series to a friend!

The entire series has been upgraded to work on newer systems. That's right, these games have been tested on Vista and seem to run flawlessly, and some have gotten the games to work on Windows 7 as well. My Albian Years disk didn't run properly on my XP system (I believe due to video card incompatibility) but the GOG version runs without any problems. Finally, we have a simple way to run older versions of Creatures on newer systems!

These two things are wonderful for us, and also have a good chance of impacting the community:

Older community members may return. It's possible that people attached to C1 and C2 that left the community when they stopped working properly may resurface in a fit of nostalgia and say hello. In this way the community may experience some growth.

Newer community members may join. Now with the series available to anyone (and for the moment, featured on GOG's front page!) it's quite possible that the game will be getting more attention and more people will start playing it. This might also result in some growth for the CC.

But in order for these things to happen, we as a community need to be the catalyst. If we make an effort to make the most of this, the CC will surely benefit:

Spread the word. Let people know about the Creatures series! Let other CC members know that older versions of Creatures are now playable on Vista, and let potentially interested people know that the games are finally, painlessly available. Don't become a spambot, but do all you can to promote the series and bring others into the community.

Offer support on GOG. As this is where the games are being sold, this is where you're probably going to find a lot of new and confused players. Register on the GOG site and begin offering help and support in the Creatures section of the GOG forums. Be sure to offer lots of helpful links back to community forums so they can meet the rest of us and find additional help and support.

Write a Review. It may seem daunting at first, but having a lot of positive reviews for the games on GOG will do a lot draw even more people in. It's not as difficult as it seems, and it doesn't have to be a writing masterpiece either. Just write a few paragraphs about why you love the game! My creepy old History professor used to say, "An essay should be like a girl's skirt-- long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to still be interesting." My guess is the same goes for the length of reviews too.

This little piece of news has the potential to bring a lot of new faces into the community if we do our best to draw them in, so just remember to welcome newcomers, introduce them to the skull-shaped basket, and do what you can to help them feel at home in our tiny but dedicated community of Creatures fans.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hit Script Modification

Eventually, I would like to tweak several of the creature's action scripts to make them more interesting and make the game a little more challenging, and this notion came to me the other day while I was trying to nap.

So this is a modified version of the hit script, codenamed "Critical Hit." Essentially what it does is allow especially angry creatures to have a chance of hitting a creature extra hard, sending it flying across the room and injuring it quite badly. Short demo video below, just be forewarned it contains a lot of nornish death:



(Yes, that orange chichi at the end is immortal, that's the only reason it doesn't die, heh!)

As you might notice I make a lot of use of my homemade shortcuts, in particular the one that makes all creatures hit each other and the one to create random creatures. I still have quite a bit of tweaking to do to the script-- I would like to make the amount of injury it inflicts dependent on the relative age of the creatures, IE an adult hitting a baby would do more damage than an adult hitting an adult, or a baby hitting a baby. I'd also like the amount the creature is knocked backwards to depend on this too. I think I would also like to lower the chance of it happening a little more-- I don't feel that critical hits should be extremely common.

Still a work in progress like many things... I'd appreciate any thoughts you guys might have though!

CCSF '09 Releases

Well with the awesomeness that is CCSF having come and gone, I suppose I ought to release my own agents on my own site, eh?

SERU Contact Button



It has been years since the invention of the wonderful technology that is the Warp, and years since the adventures of the Lone Shee. These days Shee young and old are gallivanting through space in their new, used, and home-grown ships, searching for adventure around every star. Unfortunately, the great number of space traffic in this age means a great number of space collisions, and an even greater number of unfortunate norn, ettin, and grendel eggs scattered to the stars.

Luckily, we at the Stray Egg Rescue Unit (SERU) are constantly patrolling the galaxies, searching for creature eggs floating in space that may still have a chance of survival. We collect these eggs and give them to loving volunteers who try to raise these unfortunate creatures to live the best lives they can. But while SERU is rescuing thousands of eggs every day, there are not nearly enough volunteers to care for them all, and each day we are regretfully forced to toss several eggs due to lack of storage space. We desperately need your help. All you need to do is install the mechanism below onto your ship, and it will establish a direct line of contact with us so that we may warp these eggs to you upon request. You never know what will come out of your rescued egg, and it can be challenging as many of them are damaged, mutated, and unpredictable, but the feeling of giving a helpless creature a second chance is worth it.

Download the SERU Contact Button (now with a beautiful new beam sprite by Borg12345!)

This agent was the most unexpectedly well-received, I think. Originally it wasn't something I planned on releasing at all, it was just a genetic experiment I was playing with that somehow turned into a silly story. The more feedback I get on it though, the more I'm considering updating it now and again, perhaps adding a more complex storyline and some extra options. We'll see!

New Shortcuts
This was another one of those cos files I made for my own purposes just to make my life easier, and decided to share it. Just drop the cosfile in your \Bootstrap\010 Docking Station folder and use these new keyboard shortcuts in all new worlds you create:

Ctrl+0 -- Create a random egg
Shift+Ctrl+0 -- Create a random creature. Useful for quick random runs, or when you just need a few creatures around to test something without the hassle of hatching eggs.

Ctrl+9 -- Make all creatures fertile and tell them to breed
Shift+Ctrl+9 -- Make all creatures angry and tell them to hit

Ctrl+8 -- Teleport all creatures to hand (except for those currently held by something else, such as an elevator or the containment chamber)

Ctrl+7 -- Freeze all creatures, make them pose to face you. This can be useful for a ton of things, from getting a decent group picture of creatures to forcing all creatures to stop what they're doing so you can inject a behavioral script without getting "old script in use" errors.
Shift+Ctrl+7 -- Unfreeze all creatures

Download New Shortcuts

Vocab-Bot



This agent some of you might remember I created on a whim while running my Mixed Nuts world. Several people requested that it be made into an agent, so I did so. What is particularly awesome though is that this agent was released for CCSF on the same day that Vampess' teaching updates were released, and the two go hand in hand quite nicely for those who just miss the old-fashioned way of hand-teaching their norns.

Anyway, this toy injects as a random color (just for kicks) and teaches surrounding creatures a random (non-noun) word when it is pushed.

Download the Vocab-Bot


Splicer DS

Ahh yes, the noble legendary DS splicer that has been pending release for way, way too long. This one almost didn't get out, to be honest, I had some horrible issues getting it to PRAY together properly, but it was just barely rushed in at the last deadline.

If you don't know, yes, this splicer does require C3 to be installed, as it makes use of the C3 splicer sprites and sounds. However, it must be injected into an undocked world or else it will clash with the C3 splicer and all sorts of messed up things will happen.

The following video should take you through the various special functions fairly easily. It is capable of much more than an ordinary splicer, including creating random creatures for you to splice and automatically splicing all creatures in your world.



Download Splicer DS -- a million thanks to 3kul, Grendel Man, jdownie2, GodKira, and Officer 1BDI for giving their time to test this agent!

This CCSF was really the best we've had in a long time-- maybe I'm biased, since it was the first time I actually participated, but it was really a ton of fun and a lot of innovative content came out of it. I hope the rest of you had as much fun as I did!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CCSF is Coming!

The time has flown, and this year's Creatures Community Spirit Festival is quickly coming upon us. All around the world creatures fans are writing, drawing, spriting, coding, breeding, gengineering, organizing, interviewing and otherwise preparing for the biggest CC event of the year.

This will be the sixth annual festival for the Creatures Community, but if it's your first time or if you're looking for inspiration, this post will (hopefully) help you understand what the CCSF means to you-- and perhaps more importantly, what you mean to the CCSF.

So what's the CCSF?

Even though it has been years since the last Creatures game was released, the Creatures Community is still fighting to stay alive and keep up the morale of Creatures fans everywhere. Despite the dwindling of the Creatures fanbase, we continue to show our support for the Creatures series as well as each other. This is what the Creatures Community Spirit Festival is all about.

Think of the CCSF as a big online holiday, full of celebrations, special events, and of course, presents for all. Everyone is invited to participate by contributing content, hosting events, and just showing support for for the Creatures Community.

The majority of CCSF content generally centers around a website, the URL of which is released as the festival draws nearer. Everyone submits their content, events, and other contributions to the festival organizers, along with a suggested release date. The CCSF organizers are then in charge of posting up all submissions on the site throughout the festival for everyone to enjoy.

This year 3kul has taken the bulk of the responsibility of organizing the CCSF, which is scheduled to run from November 1st-14th. An ever-changing calendar of events, as well as guidelines for submissions can be found here.

Each CCSF has a theme, and this year the theme is Time. This broad topic could encompass a number of things-- reflections on the past, predictions for the future, the complexities of timer scripts, the changes of the seasons, and so on. Generally, submissions are encouraged to have some relevance to the theme, but it is by no means required. The theme is meant to be an inspiration, not a hindrance, so don't feel shy about creating content or organizing events just because they may not fit the theme. What is most important is participation-- sticking to the theme is just bonus. Even I joke that the only thing time-related about my submissions will be that I will rushing to finish them in time for the festival!

But what can I do?

Community participation is the core of CCSF. The festival would simply not exist if it wasn't for all the work each member of the community puts into it! Everyone can contribute, no matter what their talents may be. If you're not sure what you can do for CCSF, here are several ideas to inspire you:

In-game content: This is the most obvious (and common) sort of contribution. If you have the skills necessary for writing/spriting agents, gengineering breeds, or even creating metarooms, CCSF is certainly the time to put those skills to good use!

Fanart/Fanfiction: If you're a more creative sort, Creatures-related art and stories are always appreciated by the community, especially as Creatures artists/writers become harder to find.

Guides, Tutorials, and other Articles: You might call this Creatures Fan-non-fiction. CAOS tutorials are the most common in this category, but you can write anything else you would like to share with the community in the form of an article, such as your secret method for breeding creatures as fast as possible, a guide to drawing a basic norn, or a descriptive list of underused agents.

Music, Video, and other Media: These may be few and far between, but if your talents lie in the realms of other media, by all means record a creatures parody of a well-known song or produce a video of your creatures doing something entertaining!

Interviews: An extremely popular part of earlier CCSFs that has since become a lost art. Is there a member of the Creatures Community that you think the community would like to know more about? Perhaps an upcoming project has raised your curiosity and you wish to ask the developers a few questions? Contact the community member in question and (politely) ask if you can interview them for the CCSF! Past interviews can the found on both the CCSF06 and CCSF07 websites.

Hosting Events: If creating stuff just isn't your thing, maybe organizing an event or a contest is more your style. Run a community wolfling run, start a fanart competition, judge a norn pageant, or anything you can think of! You may even choose to award prizes to winners if you like, but this is completely optional.

Participating in Events: On the other side of the coin, event participants are just as important as event hosts! Join in the fun and show your support for the community by participating in the many events going on during CCSF.

Participating in the Community: While this is something most of us do year round, activity in community forums such as CreaturesCaves, Creaturetopia, and Albia2000 becomes extremely important during CCSF-- seeing as community is what it's all about! If you tend to lurk around forums rather than post, CCSF is a wonderful time to start getting more active within the community. Checking the forums to see that several new posts have been made does wonders for the morale of a small community. Just be sure to follow the forum rules!

Posting Creature Adoptions: (As Malkin reminded me-- thanks!) This is a special sort of contribution because single creature adoptions don't need to be formally submitted to the organizers-- there's a special CCSF09 group on The Creature Repository for you to simply upload your special CCSF09 creatures to!

And if you still need more inspiration, there's no better place to look than at the old CCSF websites to see what others have done in the past.

Do feel free to leave any questions, comments, or suggestions you might have. Let's work together to make this the best CCSF yet!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mixed Nuts Screenshot Dump

I'm not shy of labeling myself as a norn breeder. Keyword being norn, not ettin or grendel. It's always been about the norns for me, in all their infinite variety, personality, and cuteness. But after chatting with a few people in IRC and DS, I was inspired to try a mixed world-- containing all three varieties of creatures, ideally living in some form of harmony.



This screen-shot intensive post (warning, I mean it-- this one has a lot of images) documents the first few hours of my experience with this handful of creatures.

It started simply enough -- I hatched six creatures: Gon, a male Bruin Norn, Okt, a male Atavist Ettin, Kona, a female Jungle Grendel, Finn, a male C2 Grendel, Kyla, a female Chameleon Ettin, and Sepenta, a female Draconian Norn.

Suddenly I had six babbling babies running around the Capillata.



Okt and Finn almost immediately saw a kinship in their graphic style, and took a teleporter to the workshop together to gaze in awe at the training dummy.



Meanwhile, Gon and Sepenta's "run grendel" instincts made themselves quite apparent as poor Kona tried to make some new friends. They were just creatures being creatures, I thought.. this won't be much different than any other world I've run.

But when I looked away for literally five seconds to check on Okt and Finn, I was shocked to see a notice appear telling me that... Gon had died.



Kyla had come out of hiding and apparently managed to beat the helpless norn to death without any warning at all. Maybe this was going to be more complicated than I thought...

Quite on time, I received a few creatures through the warp from Papriko-- a female banshee named Areguzandora, and very nice gargoyle/chichi cross, who I named Skai.

Alright, I told myself. This isn't a docked world for nothing. It's time to migrate everyone into their own space. Despite the aggression of the ettin, I decided the grendels would be first to go. I just didn't trust them.



Sadly, the migration was not without its consequences either. Areguzandora mysteriously died after the journey, though not before expending her last bit of energy to walk to the aquatic meso. Perhaps she knew she was dying and wished to go to a peaceful place.



Really, none of the creatures wanted to stay in their assigned areas. Kona took a liking for little Skai and began following her around. I kept a wary eye on them both.. I do not have much trust in grendels, but I let them do as they pleased.



But I had made another mistake. Sepenta the Draconian was complaining of cold, so I led her into the desert meso, hoping she would find it more to her liking. But my heart froze as I noticed yet another death notice on the screen.



Kyla had murdered her second creature, and if I had anything to do with it, it would be her last.

As much as I wanted to beat her to death then and there (see how she likes it..), I managed to control my rage and instead, decided she would simply be imprisoned until she was properly trained.



I spent a good 15 minutes or so slapping her whenever she hit the norn dummy and tickling her for pushing it. She was a stubborn creature, but she would either learn or stay in that workshop for the rest of her life.



Skai, in the meantime, was growing up. I considered hatching her a mate, but with Kona still sticking close to her, I decided I didn't want to interfere with that strange but charming relationship.



Deep in the shadows of the Shee ark, between the point of docking, Finn begins to hatch a devious plan...



Okt hasn't been mentioned in a while. He's been happily living on that little hillside in the norn meso, munching carrots and generally enjoying life.



Skai and Kona continue to spend every waking moment by each other's side...



...Sleeping moments, too!



Finn, noticing the crobster dispensor, considers the possibilities..



Kyla remains imprisoned, but is starting to do a lot better.



What's this? Skai wandering alone without Kona? And in the jungle, no less? It seems... she was suddenly seized with a burning desire for knowledge.



Another death notice. Wow, I'm worse at raising creatures than I thought... Okt, our happy carrot-eating ettin, suddenly drops dead from ATP Decoupler. Never even saw it coming... sigh. So sad. I'm sorry Okt. I'll get better at this.



Crobsters... more crobsters! I gotta have more crobsters!



Humming sounds backed by dramatic instrumentals signifying the passing on of wisdom.



No, I don't think he ever stopped staring at the screen throughout this entire crobster-raising venture.



When Skai returned from her vision quest, filled with new knowledge and speaking in a language Kona did not understand, the poor grendel (I can only assume) felt quite left out and hurt, and began beating Skai in a rage.



Skai moved back, but Kona pursued viciously-- wait, is that the medical bay teleporter?



"Now look what you've done! How are we supposed to find our way home now?" Kona can only express her disgust with the one word she learned from Skai's foreign babbling:



And with that, it seems the friendship has been torn.



...Meanwhile, Finn's crobster army seems to be revolting against him.

(I feel the need to mention that I'm not interacting with these creatures at all-- I'm only watching them. If I was interacting though, this would have been a great time to create a meeting between the bickering pair and the crobster army of doom..)

Kona and Skai both made it back to the norn meso... and while they ignored each other for a while, they slowly started to warm up to each other again.



I guess sometimes friends just can't stay mad at each other.



Kyla, while being technically "free" now, still has yet to leave the workshop. It must be the sheer number of all those strange and wonderful machines to push.



Finn falls into a bit of a depression after his plan to take over the ship with crobsters falls through. I really don't know where all those crobsters went-- it's possible he ate them all.



In the meantime, I hatched a male guppy ettin named Flail; in the event that Kyla ever leaves the workshop, she could use a companion of her own kind. In the meantime, he's chilling out in the DS meso.



Enter Etincelle, a very pretty creature from the warp who was eagerly welcomed onto the shee ark.



At this point I was a little tired of all the creatures speaking gibberish, but as I really don't find much joy in instant vocabulary and don't have the time to hand-teach them all, I worked a bit of CAOS magic and modified the robot toys to teach nearby creatures a random word when they push it. Like a toy version of the C2 doozers. Finn seemed to take some comfort in learning new words like, "ill". (Hey, is that a surviving crobster?)



(Then just for fun, I gave them all randomized pigments. Leave it to me to pause my PERFECTLY NORMAL creatures world just to start scripting something wild.)




At this point I decided it would be best to guide poor Finn out of his ex-crobster lair and into his natural habitat, where he stared awkwardly at the mushrooms like he had never seen one before, then promptly devoured them.



While performing a routine bacteria/toxin check, I noticed Kona was split from Skai again, and was aggressively slamming around a gadget. Did she say something to make her angry? Something like, "go take a bath, you bacteria-infested lizard!"? Luckily she wasn't at all sick, just carrying the bacteria, so a few sprays and she was clean again.



Meanwhile, Finn wanders out of the jungle again (complaining of homesickness the whole time), and into the desert, where he takes joy in setting off the volcano.

And this is where we leave it for now. So far it's been quite a crazy trip. I really wasn't expecting a mixed world to hold this much drama, but it's had far more than its share of both touching and depressing moments.

Who knows what the future holds for Mixed Nuts?