Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emerging Behavior

At generation 84 and still thriving, the WolfPotato run is doing very well.. I think.

Over the last several generations, however, I have noticed some very odd behavior. The norns still breed a great deal, but it isn't environmental dangers that are keeping the population in check... it's that very few of the norns are passing the IQ test.

They seem to have developed some sort of group pacing behavior... in which all the norns gather in a single spot, walk one direction for a few paces (three to five), turn around, and walk the other direction, and continue this indefinitely, occasionally stopping to eat/breed/rest before continuing. This behavior is prevalent in the baby norns too-- so much so that they begin pacing right after birth, and keep pacing until they die of starvation.

Theorectically then, with norns who are so pacing obsessed that they never get back to the meso to eat or breed, this behavior should breed out soon, right? And yet it doesn't seem to be happening... this has been going on for at least 10 generations. Quite strange... but interesting nonetheless.

It's exclusively a group behavior... creatures left alone seem to go about their lives as normal, but when several of them gather in one spot, they start pacing back and forth, and then every norn that walks past them gets pulled into the pacing group too.

There are absolutely no norns in the bottom of the meso, and the banshees have taken to settling there, even breeding up their own generations. Since the norns have been too busy pacing to play with the learning machine, I have no idea what they're saying; maybe it would shed some light on what's going on in their brains.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Culling

It was possibly the most drastic measure I have ever taken to lower the population of a wolfling run.

I am pretty determined about making sure that when I cull, the culling method is avoidable, so that the intelligent and/or genetically superior norns are the ones most likely to survive and breed. But maybe this was a bit too harsh.

I used an agent that flooded the hub, so each and every newly hatched norn had to pass through the waterlogged hub if they were to eat, survive, and continue breeding.

Well... that did the trick. Eventually, the population went down from over two hundred to about thirty. I drained the hub and let the run continue as normal.

It's been pretty thriving since. They're still breeding a lot but there seems to be a bit of an antigen 0 epidemic going around that's keeping the population in check. The pair of banshee grendels are still bumming around in the workshop ready to smack around the newborns if they don't run for safety fast enough, and the stinking stump plant sits in the hub offering glycotoxins to foolish creatures.

At one point, however, I discovered a surprisingly effective culling method: one of the banshees survived to adulthood and apparently went on a complete rampage, practically wiping out the population. I had to import some old norns and clone them to keep the population going-- twice. Finally they managed to wipe him out and the population is returning to normal, but that's something I'll need to keep in mind for the next time the population explodes. Maybe I'll start a grendel wolfling run for the purpose of having some killing machines on hand. It seems to be their weakness-- while the run has managed to survive disease epidemics and a flooded hub, it was nearly wiped out by a single, very angry banshee.

The run is up to generation 59. The population has completely homogenized-- all norns have zebra heads, arms, and tails with chichi bodies and legs. Shame that bondi body never dominated the run, it really was very pretty. I am hoping for some color mutations soon... now that the population is smaller, color mutations will be more likely to work their way into the dominant gene pool.

I sort of miss my norns in my Girls Night world... but I have been extremely busy and that's the wonderful thing about wolfling runs-- they don't require much maintainence at all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

These are the norns that never diiiie

So the wolfpotato run has just reached generation 20, and the population growth shows no signs of slowing down. I can not for the life of me get it down to a reasonable number-- it always stays up around 100. I need it to be at least half that.

I have put an egg collector in the bottom of the workshop so every newborn must find its way to the meso to have any chance of survival. I have put bacteria and poisonous plants in the hub. I have kill hots'd the vendors in the meso and replaced them with regrowing plants to limit the food supply. They are still breeding like crazy.

The population appearance isn't homogenized yet, but it's getting there. For the most part the norns have a zebra head and a chichi body, with the arms, legs, and tail being pretty evenly split between zebra and chichi. There are a couple still out there with a bondi body and a few with chichi heads.

I haven't seen a whole lot of color mutations, but I managed to catch pictures of these two pretty things:

I really do need to figure out how to curb the population growth. I'm not sure if my group has really become that resilient or if there are just so many norns so tightly packed together that they just end up breeding more than they die. In past experiments I have learned that, from birth, the average norn can live about 30 minutes without food before it starves. Considering a norn only needs to survive 45 minutes before it starts breeding, as long as a norn manages to grab a bit sometime within the first half-hour of it's life, it'll live long enough to pass on it's genetics. That really doesn't seem to be a very high requirement for a spot in the next generation's gene pool.

I use an agent called WolfMate that automatically exports norns once they reach old age. This is useful for many things-- for one, it gives me a genetic record of norns that had strong enough genetics to live out a full life in the run. If at some point the run completely dies out, I can import the last several creatures that have proven themselves, clone them as babies, and start up the run again. But looking at the exported creatures can also help me understand more about how my run is progressing.
For example... looking at my exported creatures folder, only four norns from the past 3 generations have actually survived to old age. Using this information I can guess the answer to my question above-- it seems my creatures are not extremely resilient; they are just so crowded that they manage to get in a couple of kisspops before they keel over.

With this in mind... I need to be careful when adding more hazards to this world in an attempt to curb the population growth, because I'm guessing there's a threshold; once I reach the point where the creatures are no longer so crowded that they are guaranteed to have a mate, the population could drop off very quickly.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Intro Thing

So I just figured it might be a lot more fun to keep track of all the weird stuff I do in my Creatures Docking Station worlds in a nice little blog thingy rather than in little notepad files on my desktop. That's all. I don't expect you'll find anything of terrible interest here, but if you want to talk norns or other virtual life, feel free to drop me a note.

That said, I'll start by establishing what I already have.

The DS world I spend most of my time in right now is called Girls Night. It is a nurturing world-- that is, it is a world in which I hand raise the norns; they are my pets. Each norn gets plenty of attention and nurturing.

The odd thing about this world is that it is all-female. My previous attempts to start nurturing worlds always got out of hand because my norns would breed so much there was no way I could hand raise them all and spend enough time with them to learn their little quirks and such. An all-female world was my solution to this.

I still breed them via the inseminator agent, so the population grows at a rate that I control. It's also nice to be able to hand pick the parents of the newest egg.

Anyway... The girls are currently romping around the C12DS metaroom quite merrily. Unfortunatly, the last first-generation norn, Gaia, a treehugger, died of old age, and a third generation norn who kept her company, died soon afterward after eating a poisonous weed. I honestly did not know fevers could be so deadly.

In the meantime I started a wolfling run today, randomly named, "wolfpotato." It started with a pair of zebra, bondi, and chichi norns, but two and a half hours later, the population had exploded to over 50. I unlocked the door to the banshee grendel room, hoping this would add a little threat to the run and cull the weak, but they don't seem to be doing any damage. If the population growth doesn't level out soon I plan on dropping them all in the bottom of the Workshop for a pop quiz on survival before the run continues.

Ideally, I plan on slowly making this run more and more difficult for the norns involved. If all goes well, I will end up with a handful of pretty hardy creatures.

Right now the highest generation is five, and the offspring of the zebra and chichi norns seem to be dominating the run. There's even a mutant running around already with C1 grendel arms.

Guess we'll see how this ends up!