Saturday, May 15, 2010

Norns, sans Instincts.

This is something I tried a few months ago and have completely fallen in love with, and if you're the nurturing sort of norn breeder that can't get much enjoyment out of C3/DS because it is just too "easy," I would highly recommend trying this at least once.

Silence all the instincts in your norns.

It may or may not be widely known that norns are pre-programed in their genetics to eat when hungry, push toys (or buttons, lifts, or machinery) when bored, rest when sleepy, and so on. They are also pre-programmed to push/pull a lift when they feel too high or low, or push a call button if no lift is nearby. Furthermore, C3 norns instinctively want to push tools (powerups) when they are bored, and DS norns want to push portals when they are crowded.

To me, this really doesn't make a lot of sense. A chichi norn might never see a portal in his life but still suggest another norn push portal when crowded. There's also really no reason for a creature to pop out of his egg and completely understand the mechanics of elevators. I can understand knowing to eat when hungry-- that's animalistic enough, but if norns are born knowing all they need to make it in the world, what do they need us for?

It's quite simple-- load up your favorite genome in the genetics kit, sort the genes by type, edit each gene labeled "Creature: Instinct" and check the box that says, "Do not express (carry)." The mutation chance will show up in parentheses to show the gene is silenced; it will sit in the genome, but not actually have any effect.

Or, if you don't want to go through all that, you can simply download Lily from TCR, a CFE bruin norn with the instincts already silenced for you.

If you leave a creature like this alone while it is young, it will die. It may last slightly longer if if happens to grab a piece of food and decides to try putting it in it's mouth, and it's quite lucky if it just happens to do so often enough to learn that eating is good, but even if it lasts to adulthood it will likely have no idea that it's supposed to push other norns to reproduce. So these creatures are most certainly not viable for wolfling/feral runs.

These are norns for those nurturing hands out there that enjoy it when their norns actually need them to survive. Fairly nostalgic of the C1/2 days really; I find it a lot easier to get attached to creatures like this.

After you spend some time teaching these norns the basics, they can usually survive alright on their own while you're raising the offspring, but beware that are some pitfalls to not having instincts.

First, the lift call button system and the food vendor system are both mechanics based on the half-strength instinct trick (scroll down to "Reactive Planning" at the bottom). Without instincts, these simply don't work, so while norns will still learn that they need to use lifts to go up and down, they won't understand the link between calling the lift and the lift appearing. The same applies to food vendors as well. This just means the hand will have to help out these creatures a little more when it comes to these areas, or just house them in metarooms where these things aren't necessary.

The other tricky thing is that norns with no instincts don't seem to properly learn to rest when they are sleepy. That is because resting doesn't actually decrease sleepiness--to my limited understanding, it increases it until the involuntary action of sleeping kicks in at a certain threshold and the norn falls asleep. This is logical, but the instinct-less norn doesn't understand this sequence, and instead believes that resting does nothing for his sleepiness and generally won't bother unless the hand commands it. I think there's a possible genetic solution to this, but I have yet to perfect it.

I think there's some potential in these little guys, helpless as they may seem. If you guys try it out, please share your experiences!


  1. This is very interesting! I really love taking on a nurturing role with Norns, and I agree with you that it doesn't make sense that they would know what to do in situations they've never actually encountered. I'm definitely going to try this out when I install Creatures 3! Thanks for the information!

  2. I'm going to try and breed these norns in a wolfing run to see if they can handle it because i've always thought that norns could take care of themselves no matter what (unless a grendel is around).

  3. @Jessica -- Thanks, I hope you have good experiences with them! Trying to make the nurturing role more interesting in C3/DS is certainly something I strive for.

    @Pirate-rob -- If you do, do let me know what you find! When testing these norns I ran a script that kept eggs continually hatching in the world to keep the population up, and I think there was only one sucessful breeding in the 8 or so hours I had it running. Maybe you'll have better luck!