Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Playing "Paws Off" and Other Alternate Playstyles

A long time ago I intended on writing a series of articles about different Creatures playstyles and releasing them all at once in the the form of a site. But eh, I don't really see that happening anytime soon-- I have enough sites to maintain as it is, and well, I do have this Creatures blog... might as well make use of it.

Alternate playstyles for Creatures have been around pretty much since the original game hit the shelves. After we started to bore a bit of raising a colony of norns in the traditional sense, so the infamous wolfling runs came about as a way to let evolution take its own course. Then, in perhaps one of the more controversial moves by the community, some took to torturing creatures and pitting them against each other in some attempt to squeeze a little more enjoyment from the repetitive game.

Creatures is a sandbox game, and the playstyle possibilities are pretty limitless, especially with CAOS and the ever-increasing number of breeds, agents, and metarooms available. At the risk of sounding cliche, all it takes is a little imagination.

"Paws off," granted, isn't exactly imaginative, and it's not so much an entire playstyle as it is a playstyle element, but it is a very simple concept you can integrate into your own C3/DS playstyle to sort of bring Creatures back to its roots-- back when you couldn't drag around your creatures or pick it up and drop it. Back when you only had your slaps and tickles to guide your creatures through life.

In case it isn't obvious, I use the term paws off to describe a playstyle in which the hand does not drag or pick up the creatures, and often doesn't pick up or activate any agents either. This forces the hand to interact with the creatures directly and get personally acquainted with them. In playing this way you'll quickly find the "approach hand" command becomes one of the first commands your creatures learn, as well as pushing and pulling lifts and pushing doors.

You can make this as easy or as difficult as you want. You might forbid yourself from picking up food to bring to creature but allow yourself to activate a potion vendor in a particularly dire situation. You might swear to touch nothing except the Vocabulizer. If you find yourself too tempted to just let the norns fend for themselves, you may even introduce some new dangers into the world so your guidance becomes necessary for the survival of your creatures.

You'll find the more restrictions you put on the hand, the more patient you will have to be with your creatures. However, if you stick to it, you may find yourself getting reattached to your creatures in a way you haven't felt since you first started playing. Paws off is one of the simplest ways to rekindle your personal love for your creatures.

Friday, April 3, 2009

CAOS Notes: Mind control

I guess I initially started this blog to keep track of my norn populations, runs, etc., but since I like to dabble in CAOS so much, why not use it to keep track of my CAOS notes too?

I've never been particularly good at making agents; there's always some tiny technicality I can't figure out and there's not many CAOS experts left in the community that can help me out in those areas. But when it comes to one-shot lines that I can type in the CAOS command line, that's where I have fun.

So this is the "mind control" line I'm playing with:

targ norn urge writ targ 36 1 1 1

This line will essentially force your targeted norn to drop everything that it's doing, focus its attention on the nearest norn, and make its only priority in life to push that norn. It breaks down like this:

targ norn: Tells the script to target the creature you currently have selected. Alternetively, replace this with "enum 4 0 0" and and "next" to the end of the line to inflict your mind control powers on all creatures in your world.

urge writ: This is the key command here. This tells the script it's about to send evil mind control powers into something. The rest of the script gives the specifics:

targ: Sending the stimulus to the target creature, which we just defined in the first part as being the one you have selected (or if you went the alternate route, each creature in the world in turn).

36 1 1 1: This is the syntax: [noun id] [strength of noun suggestion] [verb id] [ strength of verb suggestion].

36 is the noun id for "norn." As this script forces the target to push norns, they first need to focus on the nearest norn. Other ids are 1, for hand, 11, for food, or 34, for portal. I'll post a list at the end of the noun ids as I know them.

The "1" following the 36 means, "force this creature to pay attention to this noun," but you can tone this down a bit if you like: use 0.5 instead of 1 if you just want to suggest that the norn pay attention to the noun, or 0.9 to strongly suggest it, 0.1 to barely whisper it, or any decimal you like depending on how strong you want your suggestion to be. It also works negatively: if you use a -1, it will force the norn to completely ignore the noun.

The second "1" is the verb id; this happens to be the verb id for "push." And just as explained above, the third is the strength of the verb suggestion; leave it at 1 to force the creature to perform the verb, or use a decimal or negative instead, depending on what your intention is.

I could see some interesting opportunities with this code. While it does interfere with a creature's natural thought process, it might be useful for getting an especially stubborn norn to start eating. Once it is forced to eat, and learns that eating reduces hunger, and that connection is reinforced, it should eat on its own from then on. Overusing the mind control though would likely result in the norn not doing anything for itself, ever, so it should be used with caution.

I could also see it being very useful in agents for people that like to actually play with their creatures with a bit of imagination. For those that enjoy raising norns to fight off grendels, for example, a "war drums" toy could reduce fear in nearby norns and encourage them to beat the snot out of any nearby grendels.

Or perhaps a "crowd scattering" agent that explodes and encourages all nearby creatures to retreat from it, or an "evacuation siren" that encourages norns to push doors, teleporters, and portals. There's a lot of fun possibilbilities there.

I could see a complex, connectable agent with a bunch of different travel options like, go right, pull lift, push door, etc., and if you set them up in a certain way you could hatch a bunch of norns on one side of the world and they would be forced to follow the instructions to end up where you wanted them to go.

You could create a mental forcefield with something like that: if a creature gets within range of the agent, it will force it to go back the way it came.

You could also get a bit cruel with it and create a madness agent that bombards the creature's brain with ridiculous whispered suggestions like, "eat elevator" and "hit hand." Or even worse, create some sort of corrupted dark artifact that heals the creature that holds it fully and gives it Life, but also fills it with anger and suggests it to beat every creature around it.

Ah, so many possibilities.

Now, if you're not already, click the link below to view the full post and the noun/verb id numbers.

As promised, these are the noun and verb ids according to my notes; if there's any errors or anything do let me know so I can fix them. I couldn't find lists like these anywhere else online, so I made some educated guesses based on what I've found from other classifiers and playing with the brain in the genetics kit. But to really know for sure you'll have to experiment with all of them.

Noun ids:

1. Hand
2. Door
3. Seed
4. Good plant
5. Bad plant
6. Leaf
7. Flower
8. Good Fruit
9. Bad Fruit
10. Detritus
11. Food
12. Button or Switch
13. Good Bug
14. Bad Bug
15. Good Critter
16. Bad Critter
17. Nest
18. Agent Egg
19. Weather
20. Bad
21. Toy
22. Incubator
23. Vendor
24. Tool
25. Potion
26. Lift
27. Teleporter
28. Machinery
29. Creature Egg
30. Norn Home
31. Grendel Home
32. Ettin Home
33. Gadget
34. Portal
35. (unclassified?)
36. Norn
37. Grendel
38. Ettin

Verb ids:

0. (look?)
1. Push
2. Pull
3. (deactivate?)
4. Approach
5. Retreat
6. Get
7. Drop
8. Express
9. Rest
10. Go east
11. Go west
12. Eat
13. Hit

Enjoy your newfound mind control power :D

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Warp Week Oddities

Well Warp Week is halfway through, and my writing class got canceled today so I have a little extra time on my paws to tell you about it!

First off, Warp Week is a little community event that a few folks over at Creaturetopia have organized. It's a sort of celebration of Docking Station and its online capabilities. I've been pretty busy with classes though, so my participation mostly consists of leaving an open portal in my world that sends and receives any creature from anyone (of course, I keep the fast-ager trap injected in my world too so any of those beasts get automatically exported).

But I've been around enough to have a little fun. Yesterday was pretty chaotic, being April Fools day and all, there were creatures disguised as other creatures running around the warp, as well as misguided harlequins and bizarre floating norns.

Tuesday was a color-themed day, so I got to break out the genetics kit and send out wave after wave of colorful siamese, fallow, and harlequin norns. Since then, the non-colored norns coming through the warp are few and far between, so it seems their genetics have been generously shared.

One strange and sad morning, I woke up to find this sight:

All sliders. All apparently immortal and stuck as babies too. I wasn't sure whether to be creeped out or depressed.

Speaking of immortal, I've had this infertile, immortal norn in my world named Callagun since day one. As of now, he is 373 hours old. I've grown a bit attached to him, despite his oddities. For one, he doesn't move a lot. He's certainly capable of it, but perhaps immortality has led to apathy and he has no motive to go anywhere as a result. He doesn't talk much either--I expect for the same reason. I had to put him off in his own room though, because whenever he catches a disease, he suffers no effect from it but doesn't seem to fight it either, making him quite the disease carrier. All his hunger drives are constantly high, but never go down no matter how much he eats.I make sure he stays fed anyways.

On a similar note, my world has become overrun by norns that are not by any means immortal, but are extremely slow agers. I mean, they're 42 hours old and still in the youth stage. I might hang on to one just to see how long they'll live.

I have been keeping a mini video-journal-thing of this week, just taking a 1-3 minute video clip every day summing up the warping activities, but I haven't posted them anywhere. I might do that eventually.

Looking forward to this weekend!