Saturday, April 28, 2012

Room-Editing, Magically!

I was in the middle of this lovely book when suddenly this idea hit me: Hey, what about a magic words command to change the DOOR permeability between rooms? That would be pretty easy, right? Yes, yes it would; I will try it after I finish this chapter.

But I couldn't focus on the chapter because I just could not stop thinking about the room-editing possibilities that could come from a few simple lines of code. Gah. When inspiration hits, it's unmerciful.

So an hour later I had a couple of new commands to play with:

DMap, which toggles the map grid on and off, as well as a bit of text near the hand that displays the type of room it is hovering over.

DoorH [number], which sets the door boundary between the rooms touching the right and left side of the hand. This is a number between 0 and 100, with 0 meaning nothing can pass though (a solid wall) and 100 meaning everything can pass through.

DoorV [number], which does the same thing as DoorH, but changes the boundary between rooms touching the top and bottom of the hand.

Room Type [number], which changes the type of room the hand is hovering over. This is a number from 0 to 10, a list of room types is found here. I ended up kind of throwing this in at the last minute because I figured if you were going to make new floors, you might want to not be "air" type rooms. But you can use it for whatever-- to flood certain areas or turn them into dry land, make barren metal hallways into soil to support plant growth, etc.

As shown in the video, this pairs pretty nicely with the garden box decorations as you can use them to visually denote your new platforms/walls, but I don't think these magic words commands are going to be bundled with the garden box; I'll probably release them before that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hera: Not lab rats, honest!

I have to confess something. I'm guilty of turning even my nurturing worlds into testbeds for agents that I'm working on. Maybe it's just that I get restless simply nurturing, or maybe it's because I enjoy testing a little be more if I actually know the creatures I'm working with. Either way, I wanted to accomplish a few things today-- run Hera a little bit, and finish off some long-pending releases. Since I'm putting the majority of my efforts into Garden Box agents now, I wanted to get a few things people have been asking about out of the way before getting too deep into such a big project.

Unfortunately, testing and developing while running Hera doesn't leave me a whole lot of time to pay attention to what the creatures are doing, which in some cases is just as well, since I did want to just let them go feral for a while and see how they did. Well, right off the bat we had some closure to the circle this world started with. Lilac, inexplicably, passed away not long after I opened the world. Surprisingly her score had shot up again, and I had no idea she was even having any trouble until she dropped. The hoverdoc told me she was really hungry; I hate to think she may have starved, especially surrounded by food, but it seems to be the most reasonable guess. I was especially saddened by this because I had just finished scripting in a magic words command to artificially lower a creatures' score, and had planned to use it on her to at least give her a chance to pass on her genes to the future, but sadly, it was not to be.

This is the last photo I have of Amina, playing some strange version of nornish hide and seek with her new friends. She had gone gray and entered the old stage; still, I was surprised to see her go so quickly afterwards. The worst part is, I was so busy trying to get these marks to show up on the right plane that I didn't even notice she had died until her body had already returned to stardust. Thus the first generation of these Hera creatures is finally complete. Amina was certainly the best of the lot in terms of genetics, even though her score was slowly climbing upwards as she aged, she seemed to be quite happy all the while.

It was funny that Rishi was randomly allocated the egg mark during testing, since the the two deaths had certainly made room for more. Having wandered off on her own, she quickly became pregnant and laid an on the island, then returned to sit by the horn and eat coconuts until she too, slipped to permanent sleep. Like Amina, she hadn't even been old very long when she died, so I'm really not sure why it happened so quickly, other than the fact that she had let her score shoot quite high.

But the egg hatched, and life continued. I figured I would name this one Aura, considering one of the agents I was trying to finish off was similarly named. She was born alone, but surrounded by food. Holding the genetics of Kayla and Elm, I can only hope she has a good life ahead of her.

Lyra had only just reached youth age when she had a sudden stirring in her belly. What a strange welcome into adulthood! Though she had wandered towards the volcano, her confusion over the whole situation must have sent her trekking back to her mentor Kayla for some advice, and together they watched this strange miracle unfold.

If this world contained males, it wouldn't be difficult to name the baby "Mark". But that isn't the case, so I decided Marcie was a close enough match. Even though she offspring of Kayla and Elm, she sported a much different color at birth than her sister. Genetics can be so unpredictable at times!

By the time she reached the child stage, however, her color had shifted pretty dramatically, much more akin to the tint of her sister and genetic parent, Elm. But her other genetic parent, Kayla, may have not been happy about this, as she developed a sudden dislike for Marcie and began slapping at her for seemingly no good reason. The little nornling retreated over to Lyra for safety, while I gave Kayla a couple punishing slaps.

 Speaking of color-changes though, Shimmer is certainly less....shimmery than she was when she was born. Still hanging out in that basement, she was quickly chosen to carry the offpsring to fill that last open population slot. Meet Bubbles, offspring of Elm and Kindi, a fitting candidate to test the third magic words agent I'm trying to finish up today.

While you guys have probably seen my Auras video before and have no doubt seen the marks in use on Discover Albia, I'm not sure I've said much about the "air bubbles" command, which essentially attaches an air tank to a creature, allowing it to breathe underwater, or if the creature is gilled, breath on the surface. Since it's an agent that essentially keeps the creature's lungs full of air, it can also be useful for creatures that have genetic handicaps preventing them from getting air properly. I actually invented this little command shortly after CCSF when I wanted all my creatures to be able to play in the seas of Devil's Reef, not just the aquatic ones.

Bubbles, much like Marcie, started out that nice blue tint that faded a bit when she left the baby stage. Elm's genetics are certainly getting around, and I for one am not complaining!

After that whole having-a-baby fiasco was over, Lyra returned to the volcano, where for some reason there grows a prototype chilli peppers patch plant, stars spewing everywhere from her as I test the large stars aura. She must feel pretty special about now. I'm a bit worried though; I'm not sure if the C2inDS version of the volcano is so dangerous as the original C2 version, but I don't want her bone marrow to start melting.

Testing out the butterflies aura, I was surprised to find Shimmer napping out on this rock! I don't remember this being a walkable area in C2, but it does look like a nice place to sun oneself! And poor Shimmer needs it too, having spent nearly her whole life in that little basement playroom!

Well, luckily this venture was a success, and I think I have these agents tweaked to a suitable release state! Let me know if you find any problems with them; in the meantime, Download the Magic Words [Marks], [Auras], and [Air Bubbles]!

Now, a few notes on these before you run off!
  • This might go without saying, but the Magic Words Core is required for these agents to function
  • The lovely sprites used in the Magic Words Marks were made by the talented Mea! I can't thank her enough for all her hard work on these cute little marks, and this agent flat out would not exist without them! 
  • That said, the idea for these marks and auras was inspired by Kittie's comment on Jessica's DS World Concept, as a method for easily telling creatures of varying social classes apart!
  • The syntax for putting a mark over a creature is "[name] mark [color]", for example, "star mark blue". The magic words help dialogue (typing "help" after injecting) will list all the marks and colors. However, if you enter an unrecognized mark or color, the system will pick a random one for you. So typing "star mark shjkgyres" will give your creature a randomly tinted star mark, and typing "dsjghr mark jsaghre" will give your creature a  random mark with a random color.
  • The magic words auras make heavy use of both TINT and ALPH, commands that tend to use a lot of resources, so it may not be suitable for slower computers. I personally have not experienced any problems with them, but use caution.
  • A creature can have one mark and one aura at a time. "Clear Aura" and "Clear Mark" will get rid of them.
  • The "Air Bubbles" command toggles the bubbles on and off on a creature. It doesn't conflict with the marks or auras.
Did I forget anything? Sorry for taking so long to finish these up, especially the marks and auras; I've been sitting on them for pretty much ever. But I hope you guys have fun with them now!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Garden Box Conversion Poll

So I just wanted to make clear what my personal goals were for converting the C3 plant and animal life for Garden Box, and give you guys the chance to let me know exactly what it is that you want most!

Did you ever know there was so much life in C3? I honestly didn't pay a lot of attention to the sheer number of plants and animals there were until I looked into converting them all! Just looking at the length of this survey is a little bit daunting, and perhaps even moreso when I consider the tasks I set out for myself.

The C3 conversions you've seen in the preview videos are mostly pretty "dirty" conversions consisting 95% of C3 code with a garden-box install script attached. But when I release these conversions officially, I would like them to meet a certain set of personal standards to ensure that they can thrive, which I've decided on as follows:
  • All critters and bugs should be edible/pushable/pullable/hitable. All seeds/detritus should be edible. Generally, the more ways a creature can interact with an agent, the better.
  • Critters that aren’t logically edible (sorry, I just can’t really imagine a norn stuffing a grazer in its mouth) should be reclassified as beasts.
  • No plants or animals should require certain CA levels to function (light, soil nutrients, etc). Due to the generally unreliable nature of CAs, and the fact that several popular metarooms don't properly utilize them, I've decided that this would be best to ensure that these agents won't be handicapped in these areas.
  • All plants and animals that reproduce should have checks in place to avoid overpopulation.
  • Edible animals (and seeds for reproducing plants) should have some sort of defense mechanism that kicks in when the population is low to help keep creatures from eating them into extinction (fleeing from creatures, seeds germinating faster/plants producing more seeds, turning invisible, etc)
  •  Animals/Plants that must consume a food source should ideally have that source specified by genus, not species, for sake of ecological flexibility (Example being to allow the gnarlers to gain nutrients from all toys).
  • While not exactly a hard standard, I would like to add some sort of special touch/personal flair to as many of these conversions as possible. For example, I think I would like to make the snail, when it dies, leave behind its shell as a toy for creatures, or give more animals and plants the ability to color mutate. I have a cute idea for allowing some critters, when pushed by creatures, to potentially get attached to them and follow them around, but I dunno how painful that would be to implement.
Furthermore, all conversions will have their own classifiers, so they're not going to mess with any already-established C3 life. All my C3 conversions will also be named with the suffix, "(AMK)" (so, "Grazers (AMK)"). I would recommend that developers doing conversions adopt a similar naming convention, since two agents cannot have the same name. And lastly, I plan on annotating the scripts as much as possible and making them easily available, so hopefully others with a working knowledge of CAOS can easily modify the agents to their liking.

Anyway, rambles aside, on with the survey! I realize not everyone will be aware of exactly what everything is in the C3 world, so the far right option is reserved for that case. (But if you want to double check, the C3 Ecology page on the Cwiki should be able to help you out!) Maybe I'll even do a post on the lesser-known C3 life, hah!

Note: This survey is for traditional plants/animals, not patch plants (but no worries, apples and pumperspikels are certainly coming along as patch plants)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garden Box Preview 2

So this is long overdue (I posted the first preview what, over two months ago?), and I'm sorry, but here's a much longer, more in-depth explanation of what the Garden Box is, its features, how they work, etc.

It's best viewed full-screen so you can make out all the text and other details. I did my best to explain things, but let me know in the comments if you have any questions or don't understand something (explaining via speech is certainly not my strong point!)

Literally did this in one take without any pre-planning, so excuse all the "ums." Or make a game out of counting them, up to you.

Things are coming along nicely! The Box itself is almost finished, though the agents very much leave something to be desired. (RIP, gnarler ;_; )

And don't worry, I haven't quite forgotten about Hera! I'm tending to the world in a more casual way now, but hopefully you'll see an update soon, and maybe the completion of a small project!