Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live Nornish Action FAQ

I've been getting an awful lot of questions about LNA-- most of them left in the chatroom (which is an impossible way to contact me since I'm usually not around to respond). So this is a little FAQ to answer the questions I get asked the most.

Last update: June 14th, 2009 -- added a new question: What is the maximum population of the LNA world?

About Creatures
What is Creatures/Docking Station?
What exactly is going on here?
What are the creatures saying?

About LNA
What is Live Nornish Action?
What software is used to record the video?
What breeds/agents/other addons are installed?
What is the maximum population of the LNA world?
How do I contact you?

Sending Creatures
How do I send you a norn?
Can I send ettins or grendels?
Is there anything I shouldn't send?
Did you get my creature?
Where is my creature?
Can you send my creature back?

About your Creatures
Why does my creature look different in your world?
My creature is starving! Do something!
Will my creature be able to breed?
Why was my creature exported?

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About Creatures

What is Creatures/Docking Station?

Creatures is a series of Artificial Life programs starring the Norns, a breed of curious furry creatures eager to explore their world. Norns are unique in that they are far more complex than any "virtual pet" game on the market today. They have a realistic simulated biochemistry and a neural network brain with which they make descisions. None of their actions and behaviors are pre-programmed-- norns learn about the world around them as they grow and experiement, then make their own choices. Each norn also has its own set of genetics, which it passes on to its offspring, allowing for endless variety in crossbreeds made even more interesting with the random chance of mutation.

Creatures Docking Station (often abbreviated as DS) is one of the more recent additions to the Creatures series, and is completely free. DS adds a new level of functionality-- it allows users to swap and share their creatures with each other online via the in-game warp. As its name suggests, Docking Station may be "docked" with the retail version of Creatures 3 to expand the world, but the world is also expandable with thousands of free new breeds, objects, and rooms, all created by the community.

If you want to learn more about Creatures, check out the Creatures Wiki. If you want to experience Docking Station for yourself, you can download it free at Docking Station Central, and be sure to check out the small but dedicated Creatures Community at Creaturetopia.

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What exactly is going on here?

No one is actively playing the game; it is running by itself (though if you watch for long enough you may occasionally see the hand checking the world for immortal norns, responding to messages, and so on). For the most part you are watching the norns (or ettins or grendels) in their natural habitat, eating, sleeping, exploring, and interacting with their environment and fellow creatures.

The following diagram will help you to more easily understand what you are looking at:

1. Name of the currently selected creature. Every few moments a script will select a different creature.

2. The connection indicator. Green means the world is online and likely open to receiving new creatures. Orange means the world is offline.

3. Life events. These icons depict the last three major events that took place in the LNA world. The small egg inside the larger one represents a pregnancy, the egg icon means an egg has been laid, and the cracked egg means a newborn creature has just hatched. A cross icon means a creature has recently died. The cross icon is generally the most common in LNA, because the population is usually too high for the creatures to breed or lay eggs.

4. The small red arrow hovers over the selected creature. This makes it a little easier to see which creature is selected in a crowd.

5. The small green arrow hovers over the object or creature that the selected creature is looking at or thinking about. Right now, Skitty is thinking about the bit of purple food she is holding.

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What are the creatures saying?

Norns speak in their own gibberish language (generally referred to as Bibble) but activating certain objects in the world will allow them to learn very simple English, which they use to express themselves and make suggestions to other creatures.

Creatures speak in third person, referring to themselves by their own names. They will often speak about how they feel, what they are doing (or thinking about doing), and make suggestions to other creatures. Their overly simplified vocabulary may be confusing at first, but it is not difficult to catch on. The most confusing thing to understand at first may be the verb "push" which is an all-purpose word for "interact with." To push a toy is to play with it; to push a vendor is to get it to dispense food, to push a bug is to poke it. Pushing a creature is a gesture of affection. For objects with two different interactions (such as elevators which can either go up or down), creatures will push the object for the first interaction, and pull it for the second.

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About LNA

What is Live Nornish Action?

Live Nornish Action (abbreviated as LNA) is a stream of video from the game Creatures Docking Station. The game is left mostly unattended (except in certain events) so the creatures are left to fend for themselves.

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What software is used to record the video?
The software I use is called WebcamMax. Its primary function is to add various effects to a normal webcam, but it includes a feature to turn a portion of your screen into a webcam. The trial is free, but you'll have to register if you want to get rid of the watermark.

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What breeds/agents/other addons are installed?
I have made an effort to include as many different breeds as possible so norns sent into the world will show up correctly on screen.

Depending on what is currently going on in the world, there may be any number of agents installed. There are, however, two invisible scripts that are always running. One is AutoTab, a script I wrote that targets a new norn every few minutes so you don't have to always watch the same one, and the other is the Supernamer, which automatically gives a unique name to any unnamed norns.

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What is the maximum population of the LNA world?
The total population of creatures allowed in the LNA world is currently set at ten. The goal is to keep the population small enough that it doesn't get too crowded, so people don't have to wait an hour for the auto-selecter to get around to selecting their creature, and so the world doesn't slow down too much.

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How do I contact you?
Honestly, the fastest way to contact me is by sending a private message on the Creaturetopia forums to Amaikokonut. Alternatively you can leave a comment at the bottom of this page. You can also send a message inside Creatures Docking Station to LNA, but beware, it may show up on screen. You can also send a message to my personal DS ID, BluburryNorn, but response may be slower as I don't check that every day.

Leaving a message in the show chatroom is not an effective way to contact me, as I don't watch it constantly.

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Sending Creatures

How do I send you a norn?
If LNA is online and the warp is open, you are perfectly welcome to warp it into the LNA world and watch it on screen. To sending a norn into LNA, you must warp it in via the Docking Station warp. A simple guide is as follows:

- Make sure you are online.


- Go to the Workshop.


- Select the 'Configure Chamber' icon at the top of the warp champer interface (the one that looks like a norn in jail)


- Use the arrows to add and remove names the "send to" list. Make sure LNA is the only name in the list. If LNA is not in your contacts list at all, you can add it manually from the Creature Labs site. If LNA is shown in red, the world is currently offline and is not accepting creatures from the warp at that time.



- Drop the creature you wish to send into the containment chamber and make sure it is locked.



- Click the green checkmark to send off your creature! You may need to reselect the Configure Chamber icon if the check doesn't light up at first.

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Can I send ettins or grendels?

Despite the name of the stream, yes, you are perfectly welcome to warp in Creatures of all sorts.

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Is there anything I shouldn't send?

Because the warp portal is wide open to the randomness of the warp, it is understood that anything might show up. However, please try to avoid sending immortal or especially violent creatures. Creatures older than 8 hours will be routinely exported to keep from clogging up the queue of incoming creatures, and sending creatures to kill everyone else is just mean :(

You should also avoid sending creatures with special needs, dietary or otherwise, because the creatures are not cared for by hand and must be able to fend for themselves.

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Did you get my creature?

Ideally, LNA is up and running 24/7. Unfortunately, I am not. For this reason I am not watching the game constantly and cannot give you specific information on your creatures. You'll have to keep watching the stream yourself to see if your creature shows up.

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Where is my creature?

When you send a creature through the warp to LNA, it is unlikely that it will show up in the world immediately. Often there is a queue of creatures sitting in the warp waiting to get into the world, and it may take a while before yours appears. There is a population limit, so a creature must die or be exported before the next in the queue can show up.

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Can you send my creature back?

LNA is not constantly monitored, so it is highly unlikely that any creature you send can be returned to you before it finishes living out its life. Please keep in mind that when you send a creature anywhere in the warp, it is could end up anywhere and its fate is no longer in your hands.

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About your Creatures

Why does my creature look different in your world?

If you warp in a creature and it looks quite different on screen from how it appears in your world, it is usually either because LNA has a breed installed that you don't, or because you have a breed installed that LNA doesn't. If you are fond of a particular breed that does not display properly on LNA, feel free to leave a message with a link to where the breed is available so it can be installed.

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My creature is starving! Do something!

In LNA, creatures are left to fend for themselves. The resources in the norn meso are more than adequate for a creature's survival. Unfortunately, if the creature leaves the meso and cannot find his/her way back, there is often nothing that can be done. If this troubles you, avoid sending creatures with poor survival instincts into LNA

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Will my creature be able to breed?

Technically, yes. If your creature comes into the world during a time of low population, it may find a mate and produce offspring. However, this is highly unlikely, because quite often norns are coming in through the warp as others die off and the population rarely gets low enough for breeding to be possible. If you want your norn to produce offspring, please let it do so before sending it in.

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Why was my creature exported?

Creatures are exported if they are considered detrimental to the population. For example, if a creature is immortal, or is more than 8 hours old, it is exported to make room for more creatures; it's not fair for a norn to stay in the world for so long when so many others are waiting to get in. On the other hand, a creature will also be exported if it is quite violent and excessively beats other creatures. A creature may also be exported if its name is considered inappropriate.

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This FAQ will be updated as necessary. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Enjoy the show!

2 comments:

  1. I have a quick question here. What do you sent as far as limits for breeding population and total population? Just a question of curiosity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good question, I'll have to edit it to include that. I believe the current population is 8/10. I try to keep it small enough that it doesn't get too crowded, so people don't have to wait an hour for the auto-selecter to get around to selecting their creature, and so the world doesn't slow down too much :)

    ReplyDelete