Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hera: A Slice of Life

I figured I would just do a quick video update today instead of a huge write-up, but, hilariously, when I got it all done, I discovered I forgot to hit record on the software I was using to record the narration! Since it was all live, I couldn't exactly redo it, but in the end I think having the video speak for itself was fairly effective. It's almost peaceful to watch.

And if you find it too boring to watch, I'll sum up the most important details:

- Amina has become a bit slappy, but Kindi loves her anyway.
- Amina attempts to dive into the waterfall, to a painful end.
- Lilac really enjoys splatting herself in the face with tomatoes.
- Welcome Lyra, genetic daughter of Amina and Elm.
- Welcome Shimmer, genetic daughter of Amina and Cyana.

Did you guys make any other interesting observations?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hera: New Blood

There are still two groups of spliced creatures that I intend on eventually pulling offspring from, but I was really eager to introduce these two girls into Hera. I decided to start them off in the little glass domes under the sea, a place untouched in the world by creatures until now. They seemed pretty happy until the realized there was nothing to do there, and proceeded to whine about being bored.

I kept suggesting they pull the elevator, but they paid me no mind... I thought this might be the beginning of another episode of frustration, when I remembered that this dome was located right on the world-wrap seam, meaning they might not even be able to see the elevine at all. Sure enough, when I led them over so the vine was in their view, they were more than happy to listen. That was way more of a relief than I expected it to be. I'm still having nightmares about retraining norns to listen to me.

The girls were off, and traveled their way eastward and upward until they ran into Amina. Looks like they're not shy at all about meeting the natives! I was a little surprised to notice that both of them had aged pretty quickly-- Elm especially, who had already advanced to youth age at a very young 25 minutes. Even though she's of age now to put her genes forward, she's got a bit of work to do to lower her score. I'm not sure that anyone will be able to compete with Amina though; she's probably going to keep mothering little ones as long as she's walking.

Trusting they could care for themselves now, I went to briefly check in on the status of the other creatures. Lilac was hanging out near the bridge, taking a nap. Ever since I put my bias aside and gave her some attention, she's been doing pretty well, hanging mostly around the tree, where she has access to a well-balanced diet and a nice variety of toys. Her score is pretty respectable too. Considering her slow-aging, I think she'll be with us a long time.

Rishi was still hanging out in the incubator den, feeling a bit lonely (my, this looks familiar) but otherwise satisfied as she stuffed her face with bramboo berries. That den seems to be a bit of a trap for creatures, doesn't it? It's too full of delicious things for anyone to want to leave, yet it's such a lonely place.

Speaking of lonely though, little Kayla is still aimlessly wandering the swamps, seeking companionship. You know, it's a little sad that norns can't sniff each other out when lonely like they can when they're searching for food. Norns emit a CA smell, but sadly a norn can't tell the difference between her own norn smell and the smell of other norns. But it got me wondering-- might a lonely norn not know any better and still try to "approach norn" by scent? This could go a long way in explaining why poor Rishi and Kayla tend to sit in one spot as they grow more and more lonely. It might warrant further research!

Lastly, Kindi has already reached youth, and is hanging out with Amina (and you can't see it, but Elm and Cyana are just off to the left side of the screen; they didn't seem to want to come together for a group shot.) I'm not too alarmed by her high-ish score yet-- since it gets automatically set to 100 at youth age, she's still working it down to something reflective of her true survival abilities.

It's kind of funny how we have about half the creatures grouped together, and the other half completely strewn about the world. We'll have to see how this develops!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hera's Candidates

So several hundred splicings later, I had snatched about a dozen girls that I thought had, if nothing else, interesting appearances. I decided, instead of dropping them all into one world, I would divide them into groups of four, and run the groups one at a time through an undocked DS world.

I didn't bother giving them names, as these aren't the creatures that are going into Hera anyway-- it's their offspring. My plan was to not put too many rules on the length of these runs; I pretty much planned on just running the scenario script on these groups and letting them carry on for a few generations. The creatures that were already pretty adept at self-care would put their genes towards the future, and after a while I would hand-pick a creature or two (depending on the diversity of the appearance) to bring into the genepool of Hera.

Group one consisted of a gaius cross, a pink-tinted grendelish thing. a treehugger/ettin cross, and bright blue bengal. Sadly, the gaius cross and the bengal died off pretty quickly, leaving the other two to populate. When I checked back after a few hours, their offspring weren't looking half-bad, but I chose to let things run a little bit longer. Even though I didn't turn creature nametags on, I was watching the scores through the debug window, and well.. they were pretty terrible. The DS meso isn't a hard place for one to care for oneself, and if these creatures couldn't manage scores below 90 in such an easy zone, there was no way they were going to make it in Hera.

However, things only seemed to get worse as they went on. Over seven hours into the run, nearly all the creatures had scores of 100. Most of their high drives were related to hunger, the most basic and easily-solved of needs. Bad blood was only going to breed more bad blood, so I took a chance and reimported a clone of the little blue bengal, on the offchance that she originally died from being beaten or some other unnatural cause. I hoped she might grow up healthy this time around and add some superior genes to the pool. I guess I was a little biased too and wanted to give her a second chance; she was just so pretty!

But what originated as a choice made on personal bias turned out to be exactly what the failing tribe needed. It took a while, but when I checked the world again at the 14 hour mark, all of the creatures bore some trace of the little blue one's genes, and most of the scores hovered between 40 and 65, with the original norn's score dropping as low as nine!

Even at seven hours old, this nameless heroine was still just an adult, a good example of how the scenario script rewards norns that care for themselves with a longer lifespan.

In the end, I picked out two norns I thought were suitable for Hera: an excitable youth who was a pretty exact clone in appearance to our original, and a newborn hatchling with a more subtle tint and a little more treehugger in her. Meet Cyana and Elm!

These two girls have quite an adventure ahead of them-- life has been pretty relaxed here in the norn meso, with food and toys never far out of reach, but the much, much larger world of C2inDS is going to be quite a test of their skills of adaptation. Let's wish them the best!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Splice Quest

My DS splicer is so, so poorly coded. When I wrote it I was just fumbling through things, barely understanding how they worked and using cheap work-arounds to fix errors rather than find the source of them. Still, it was the first major thing I ever scripted, and the overwhelmingly positive response I got from it gave me the confidence to keep developing even more complex agents. Maybe that's why I enjoy using it, even if it is rather dated and buggy.

I recently learned that between my personal creatures folder and my LNA exports folder, I have nearly 5000 creatures lying around. For some reason, I've always felt ... odd about deleting export files; I would rather them have a death in a world than a simple deletion. So when I feel the need to pare down my massive collection, I enjoy splicing them.

It wouldn't be too difficult for me to just write a script now to just auto-import all my creatures and mass-splice them, but it's just more engaging to fire up the DS splicer, setting the auto-splice, and watch the whole process. Especially for the purpose of this project.

See, I'm trying to find some new genetics to introduce into the gene pool of Hera. So I'm planning on splicing a bunch of creatures, keeping an eye out for any interesting looking females, which will be set aside. Then I plan on letting the girls loose in an undocked DS world with the scenario script running, and letting them go completely feral for a few generations to weed out any bad genes. Hopefully the resulting creatures will do well in Hera, and in the meantime, I'll get to test how well the scenario script works in a feral/wolfling setting.

There's just something fascinating about watching the results of a mass splicing. Especially when I'm watching my own creatures getting spliced, and remembering all the various wolfling runs and other projects that generated the creatures to begin with.

I've put together a quick video here, just showing off the splicing process a little to tide you over until things get interesting in Hera again:


This is pretty terrible music for it though. It reminds me of those really depressing clips about factory-farmed animals that are created for the sole purpose of dying horrible deaths so we can eat them. Don't eat factory-spliced norns, kids. Free-range, carrot-fed norns are much tastier!

Okay, now I'm just being weird. Back to the splicing!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hera: Everyone Dies (or so it feels)

Man, this is going from exciting to just...depressing.

First, we lost Loorea. She had gotten separated from her trio of traveling friends and with a still upsettingly high score, passed away alone in the desert. It really is a shame she never got to pass on her genes to the future; she had so many interesting visual traits, even if she was...well... not of the highest intelligence.
Then, I noticed Stella's score had become even worse, and, desperate to save her, I dropped her back in the barrel room for some intensive "eat seed" training. But she didn't even survive that. Looking at her drives, it's really very sad.. she generally wasn't too bad at taking care of herself, but she just couldn't understand where starch came from. At least she got her genes into Rishi, who passed them on through her genetic children, so Stella will still live on, in one form or another.

But life continued on in other parts of Albia. Rishi continued her journey throughout the world, and Lilac followed, through every elevine and door-vine. They didn't split up until they reached the incubator room. No one had walked those halls since Amina had when she was first brought into that world. Rishi chose to stay there, resting in the grasses and munching on the apples, while Lilac chose to go to the surface, heading west towards the island.
 It came to my attention that maybe I've been a little biased against Lilac, considering her harsh treatment of Rishi. Her score was edging higher, and I hadn't really put much effort into helping her out. Lilac and Amina were the only two of the original six left, and Lilac deserved as much help as the others (Not that Amina needed any help while her score sat at a record 35).

Luckily, she didn't seem as affected by aging as the other creatures were-- I remember it took her over two hours just to get her to adult, and now, at a little over four hours, she retained her adult status.

I set about giving her some food and encouragement, and she made her way past the island, across the sea, and climbed up the tree to the platform PinkiePie once lived on. There, she was joined by Kindi, who had just turned adolescent. These norns grow up so fast!

With Lilac well on her way to a more acceptable score, I felt a little better. Of course, with so many deaths in the world, the script fought to catch up, and soon Rishi was carrying another splice of herself and Amina. But this one wasn't going to stay in the world. After naming her Kitty, I went ahead and exported her. Maybe I'll reimport her later, or save her for something else, but I don't think this world needs yet another Amina/Rishi cross, as genetically promising as they may be. I want to keep some diversity in this world-- but genetically strong diversity, still. I've got a bit of a plan to accomplish this, but it's going to take a bit of time!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hera: You miss a day around here...

Wow. This has been quite a day! I honestly can't remember the last time I had this much fun playing this game. I don't know if it's the script, or just the circumstances, or the fact that I'm blogging about it and get to have all kinds of interesting discussions with you guys, or maybe just that these are seriously interesting creatures, but I am honestly loving this world and the creatures therein. 

But I've got a lot of events to cover, so we'll get started. It was no real surprise that PinkiePie was chosen to be the carrier of the next egg, considering she was all alone up there in that tree, resting her life away. But I was surprised to see another astro head poke out of the egg! Could it be that Stella contributed yet again? But no, on further examination, this baby was a product of Amina and Rishi!
To be honest, I was hoping for a little more genetic diversity, but fair is fair-- it looks like Amina has some promising genes-- she's now both a genetic grandmother as well as a genetic mother. Who would have guessed, considering all her stubbornness in the beginning! I named the new baby Kindi, and she instantly took quite a liking to PinkiePie. PinkiePie seemed to like the newcomer just as much, and seemed to nearly give up her resting habit! I had high hopes for her score recovery, and went to work on my next task: getting Rishi out of the swamp.

The swamplands, I am reminded, are a big, big place, and Rishi seemed to want to stop and rest a lot. But I kept encouraging her to go right, and after quite a bit of traveling, as we approached the pond on the eastern edge, I noticed her bulging belly. What must it be like, I wonder, to be on a long journey, preparing to leave your homeland, and suddenly finding yourself pregnant! Rishi didn't seem to mind at all, laying her egg with quite a smile, before wandering over to munch on some pears.

But I was distracted from this newly-laid egg when I noticed an unfortunate death notice. I cringed, hoping it wasn't another case similar to Ginger's. But no, it was PinkiePie, whom I guess had finally managed to rest herself into a permanent slumber. All signs pointed to a natural death due to lack of the Life chemical. I'm not sure how much of her aging is genetics (considering she pretty much skipped the Old stage, I think that is a factor) and how much is the script, but I do wish she had been able to snap out of her rest addiction a little sooner and buy herself some more time.

I was surprised to see Amina there with her, approaching her for company. Not to keep gushing over Amina, but she's turning out to be a quick traveler as well, considering the last time I saw her, she was at the other end of the bridge. Then over in the corner, Kindi was resting. Oh dear. I do hope she's actually tired and hasn't just picked up poor Pinkie's fatal habits

I noticed that Stella, below the bridge, had also joined the ranks of the aged. It's just a little sadder, knowing that this old age could have been postponed had she only had the foresight to eat seed instead of eat ettin. Gladly though, we should hopefully be seeing a lot less of this premature aging in the future, since the altered script is quite a bit more forgiving, and creatures shouldn't be stuck with debilitating scores of 100 so often. 

I went ahead and lowered the breeding limit back to seven. Two new babies in such a short time was enough, and even with the population slots empty,  I didn't want a third just yet. This hatchling, yet another Rishi/Amina cross, was all alone in the swamps. I called her Kayla, and hoped that she would either find company, or be able to raise herself well, as Rishi had already moved on in her journey.

Yes, Rishi, oddly enough, made her way into the volcano to find... Lilac had beat her to it! I don't know what caused this burst of wanderlust in Lilac... perhaps she is just determined to keep Rishi nearby. I am still a little suspicious of Lilac's motives considering her violent behavior in the past, but I'll just keep an eye on them for now. I'm hoping to guide Rishi up towards the surface of Albia, in hopes that she will finally get to meet others of her kind. As always, we'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hera: A Fairer Re-scoring

So I went ahead and tweaked the script to make it just a little more friendly. Low drives now have an even stronger weight in lowering a creatures' score, and there is no longer a penalty against creatures that sit in one place. Creatures now get a much larger point reduction for traveling as well. Additionally, the point gains and losses have been reduced by about 5x, so now a creature's score will slowly climb up and down now instead of jumping dramatically. To make everything fair under the new score system, I then reset everyone at a score of 75, and let them mill around a little.

A lot has been changing. PinkiePie, for one, has skipped the old stage and gone right into ancient, gray fuzzy hair and all. All that time spent at a score of 100 while she was resting did her no favors. Sad thing is, she seems to be resting even more now, and I have to slap her out of it every time. But all it takes is one slap-- then she's up and moving, eating, playing with toys, generally being a good norn until she decides to rest again. Maybe she's just incredibly lazy?

Lilac and Rishi's relationship has been pretty rocky-- I've tabbed over quite a few times to see Lilac beating on a now-adult Rishi. I think it's seriously about time that Rishi struck out on her own, if only for the sake of her own skin. She grew up in a comfortable land of almost infinite food, but there comes a time when every norn must leave that which she knows and make her own way in the world (especially if those around her are acting...violently).

Our delightful trio, Stella, Amina, and Loorea, have managed to travel out to the bridge, and are still huddled together! Norns traveling in groups? That's not something I see often. Sadly, it seems Loorea is doing quite badly, having aged to old already (though gaining a nice shade in the meantime!) and maintaining a pretty high score. Amina is still at the top of the pack, score-wise.

I know at this point I should up the population like I planned, but there's so much else I feel like I want to do first! I'd like to encourage Rishi into some traveling; I'd like to see if I can help Loorea get on the right track again! But I know that if I wait too much longer to open population slots, they're going to open themselves, especially as these creatures continue aging, so, here it goes. Amina is certainly likely to get her genes into this round, too, but if things continue as they are now, we could be seeing some offspring of Lilac!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hera: Frustration Abounds and Tweaks are Considered

I... I don't know what to do. They've... forgotten how to eat again. Amina seems to have her head together still, but Loorea's trying to eat me again and Stella is trying to eat Amina. What is happening? To make things worse, they're remembering the parts of their re-training that that didn't need to... all that time that I was trying to get them to eat food? I started by telling them to look at the food, and tickling them for that, just to try to get them to pay attention. Now while they mill around whining about hunger, they're suggesting to each other, "maybe look seed" AGH. Maybe there's just something wrong with the plant life here, maybe they're giving off improper stims. Or maybe these creatures are just insane. I'm not sure what to do. Should I retrain them yet again? Maybe try removing the plant life and replace it with something else? Maybe I should just sit back and let nature take its course? As much as I hate to do that, it sounds like the least frustrating option right now.
Ah, at least things are going a little better in the swamplands, where Rishi has become a youth and is at least doing better than are resident would-be cannibals. Her newly-acquired score is hovering between 60 and 70 most of the time, while Lilac's seems to fluctuate pretty dramatically between the 60's and a solid 100. I think I might tweak this script to make the score transitions a little more gradual... I think ideally, the scores should edge up or down more slowly, point by point perhaps, instead of being so dramatic.I also might tweak the curve I have a little bit.
 Currently, the higher a creature's score is, the more weight satisfied drives have in lowering its score. It's basically set up so that a creature with a high score can easily lower it just by taking care of itself, but as it gets lower, low drives will factor less and less into the score until they do almost nothing at all. At that point, the only way for a creature to get a score down to 0 is to do a lot of exploring. But I think the other end of the curve is a little too shallow-- a score of 100 ought to indicate a near-dying creature, but instead it seems to be rather common.
I think before I continue onward, upping the population limit and making the way for some new babies, I'll go ahead and make those tweaks and see how they play out. With any luck, we'll be seeing new life crawling around soon! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hera: Retraining of EVERYONE ]:

So after the painful process that was retraining Stella, I found myself having to do the same with Loorea:

Times like these I really wish I had a working brain-in-a-vat so that I  could have a little insight into perhaps -why- exactly, these norns insist on trying to literally eat everything in their range, and even some things that aren't, before they eat anything actually edible. The fact that this extreme level of stubbornness has occurred with both Stella and Loorea, and to some extent, Amina, makes me believe it's not genetic, but learned. Funny thing is, I don't recall encountering anything like this in all of my C3/DS life-- it's very reminiscent of C2, however. Maybe this is supposed to be some sort of hidden "feature" in C2inDS, hah!

Had a bit of a scare with PinkiePie earlier-- I noticed that she was resting for an awfully long time, and for ten minutes or so, didn't move or sleep, but simply rested, with a score of 100, occasionally complaining about hunger or boredom. Finally I gave her a couple smacks-- a scripted method for forcing creatures out of sleep (and so I hoped, rest). She quickly jumped to her feet and began eating and playing with toys again. I was relieved, but I had to wonder what would have happened if she hadn't smacked her. Would she ever have gotten up on her own? Would she have starved? Of greater concern, is this the result of a genetic fault that might be passed on to any offspring? I don't have any qualms with helping out when creatures are suffering, but if creatures are suffering genetically, the last thing I want to do is have them reproduce and create more potential suffering creatures. But maybe I'm thinking too much into this based on one incident; she could have just been really tired!

Since the great re-training, Stella and Loorea have been doing alright on their own! For a while, Amina was stuck to Loorea's hip, following her around everywhere repeating "Approach norn." It was nice to see the girls socializing together, and they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves! I wish they would travel a bit more without my prompting them to push elevators, but oh well.
All this time spent retraining and guiding everyone in the right direction, I tabbed over to realize that Rishi was growing up, and fast! Gladly, she seemed pretty capable of caring for herself, wearing a big smile when I asked her to express. She's still hanging out in the swamps with Lilac, but neither of them are at all shy about using the elevines to climb from branch to branch. I hope they eventually finds the courage to leave the swamp; I think they might make great explorers. It won't be long now before Rishi is of breeding age, and while she won't be doing any breeding in the traditional sense, she'll be old enough to start getting scored. I think at that point, barring any more serious tragedies, I'll go ahead and up the breeding limit to eight, to allow for two more offspring in the world.

I'll admit, this is holding my interest for a lot longer than I expected it to. Maybe it's something about the scoring system that makes it a little more compelling. Funny, considering in all my attempts to make creatures more attachable, something as left-brained as a numerical score never came to mind. But it does make a very good at-a-glance indicator for who is taking care of themselves and who needs a little guidance (that, and these creatures seem to... need an awful lot of guidance). Maybe I'll think of implementing the scoring system as a separate script eventually, maybe with a sort of control panel that lets you control what, exactly, calculates into the score. I dunno, it's something to think about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hera: Retraining of a Star

Norns can be STUBBORN.

 So I started out today just spending a little time with Lilac, verbally guiding her through the motions of satisfying her drives, until I was confident she was on the right path. Rishi seemed a little lonely, perhaps seeking company of her own kind. So I tabbed around to try and find the nearest creature, when I noticed Stella and Loorea were both sitting at some pretty high scores. This did not bode well, I decided. Both creatures seem to be starving, and both of them insisted, adamantly, that they were going to eat plant.

Considering the plants weren't satisfying their drives at all, I suggested they eat seed, but they seemed to be perfectly deaf to me. I decided some retraining was in order, beginning with Stella. Breaking my own "hands off" rule, I picked her up and took her to an area with less distractions, placed an acorn before her, and insisted she eat it. The following fight ensues, for the next, I kid you not, fifteen minutes-- trimmed and sped up for your sanity's sake:
Complaining about her hunger for starch all the while, she tries to eat me, door, grendel home, plant, and elevator before it finally occurs to her that this acorn might be delicious. Agh... I... am so tired right now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hera: Ups and Downs Continue

Sigh... It really is a joy to see happy creatures--especially when they've given you so much trouble.

PinkiePie and Stella have both had the lowest scores as of late, generally taking great care of themselves, and it even seemed things were looking up for Amina, whom, despite her solid 100, found her way to the other side of the volcano and stared with all hope at the beach before her. I worry for her still, but at least she is getting somewhere.

I turned my attention to Loorea, who seemed rather bored and depressed. Upon encouraging her to push the elevine to go elsewhere, I realized that her large wings and tail were preventing the elevine from properly teleporting her upwards into the narrow elevator shaft. A little position adjustment though, and she was on her way. Eventually she met up with Stella, and the two happily munched some fruits together (Just hoping Stella doesn't get any ideas about munching her...)

Finally, finally the joyous alert appeared-- Lilac was pregnant! It was fitting that she would be chosen to carry the child, as she was still hanging out in the swamps, furthest from the general population. I did design the script to chose the creatures out on their own as the childbearers in some attempt to spread the population out as much as possible. But who were the genetic parents?

As soon as I saw that siamese head pop out of that strangely grendelish egg, I was honestly astonished. Is that a mutation, or...?

 Believe it or not, our newborn, whom I named Ginger, was a cross of Amina and Stella's genetics! I couldn't believe it; I thought something must have gone very wrong with the script. But when I went to check on Amina, sure enough, her score had dropped to a fairly respectable 68. I was seriously impressed! That beach trip must have done her a world of wonder.

I want that mini-story to end here, I really, honestly do. I want to go on to tell you how much fun Lilac had with a child to care for, how the lived happily ever after as best friends in the swamp. But sadly.... so very sadly things were not to be for little Ginger. Not even a few minutes out of the shell when she inexplicably dropped dead. No sign of disease or anything, just sudden death, out of the blue. Why? Just bad genetics are my only guess. We may never know, but I did save her genome, so maybe some day when I have time, I'll investigate and try to figure out just what went wrong.

But life goes on, as it usually does. It wasn't long after Ginger's untimely demise that Lilac found herself pregnant yet again. This young one, whom I've named Rishi, is also of Amina and Stella's genes. She's an eager one indeed, scrambling from her egg almost instantly down the elevine to feast upon the triffids, bramboo and carrots that flourish around the waterwheel. I certainly hope that she doesn't have the same complications her sister had; I don't think I could stand to lose another. I guess that's something I didn't entirely think through when putting together this initial six together -- I have no idea how genetically compatibly these creatures are. For all I know, they might produce many more crippled and handicapped creatures due to my own carelessness. I certainly hope not.

I'll finish this post with a cute picture of Amina and her new best friend PinkiePie, as they sit together in the tree, happily approaching each other to stave off loneliness. I'm really glad Amina managed to turn around and find a friend, even mother(?) a child! I think next I'm going to focus my attention on helping Lilac out, who seems to be following Amina's old trend of having the worst score possible. Rishi, meanwhile, doesn't have to worry about being scored until she becomes a youth, so until then, she's free to explore her world, make mistakes, and learn all she can in the meantime.

I can't remember the last time I had a world this....dramatic! I think the combination of the strange scenario and the variety of creatures from different sources is making for a very interesting world so far.