Sunday, November 26, 2017

How to Test CAs

Something like five and a half years ago I wrote up a post called 'CAs And You!' Since then, it's become one of the most visited and linked-to pages on this blog (that isn't an agent release, at least). But it was only a short while ago that I realized that although I had written up all this nice information about CAs, I hadn't really given you an effective way of testing them yourself. Even after releasing the Magic Words Room Edits, which at least provided visual indicators of CA links, there remained no simple way to make sure that your CAs were actually traveling properly.

It was actually Pilla (whom I consider to be one of the most wonderfully fearless developers in recent times) who expressed an interest in the code that I used to display CA values in the original post. The code I actually had was incredibly user un-friendly, so I fleshed it out a little bit. I hope it's something the average person can use now.

The command is simple "CA Tag #" (IE 'CA Tag 6') will create a little black tag under the hand (though you can move it if you wish) that will display the amount of that particular CA within the room. You can find a list of CA numbers on the Creatures Wiki page. I would recommend using this with the debug map turned on (either with the command in Magic Words Room Edits 'dmap' or by simply opening your CAOS command line and typing 'dmap 1') so that you can see the room boundaries. When you don't need the tag anymore, you can click it to remove it, or enter 'CA Tag Clear' to remove all tags.

There's a lot of amazing third-party stuff available these days, but a lot of metarooms, especially older ones, lack the proper links for CAs to properly flow. If you want to make your metarooms as creature-friendly as possible, it's important to make sure creatures can follow CAs to find food! 

Lift shafts tend to be what you want to check. In these images you can see that the more modern Chione (on the left) had properly set up CA links between the lifts, so the protein CA from the food trickles down to where creatures on the other levels can smell it. The much older Terra Reborn (on the right) was developed before the importance of CAs was widely known. As you can see, the protein CA is very high in the room where the food is, but doesn't exist at all in the room below it!

Thankfully, this is a fairly easy fix with the Magic Words Room Edits 'make ca link' command. Now you can see that the smell is travelling properly down the elevator shaft!

If you want your creatures to travel between metarooms, you may wish to also check that your doors between rooms are CA linked up too. 

While this agent should hopefully aid both developers and anyone looking to set up a proper world, it's important to remember that there are several other factors involved in proper creature navigation than just CAs. The foods in the world need to do their part and emit CAs to begin with. Your lifts need to take creatures up when they Push them and down when they Pull them. (If you mix these up as often as I do, it helps if I think of the two 'l's in 'pull' as a making a slide to go down. Sounds totally absurd, but it works) Your doors also need to properly stim for 95/Exit if they connect different metarooms or 96/Enter if they connect areas within the same metaroom. Do doors within the same metaroom sound ridiculous? Actually, there are certain circumstances in which they should be used instead of lifts, as this post by Grendel Man explains.

There sure are a lot of factors to consider in making a room navigable! Of course you could easily use these tags for other purposes, like to monitor the amount of water or nutrient in the soil. Whatever you do with them, I hope you find them useful!

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