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)


  1. Your ideas sound awesome! I say that a lot, but I always love reading about what you plan on working on... Seems like something new and exciting is always around the corner! The personal touches should make this even better than I originally imagined. Color mutations would be amazing... The rainbow sharklings are one of my favorite species, just due to their different colors. I also think it would be adorable for some critters to follow a certain creature around. Genius! Hopefully the coding aspect isn't too daunting. There are so many possibilities with this, and I wish you all the best in continuing its development!

    1. Awww, thanks <: You're always so enthusiastic, hah, it's so encouraging!

  2. I'd hold off on making critters change colors - the tint command is very resource intensive, and as a result the game will lag horribly if it's used in excess (at least for me). Everything else you've listed sounds very nice, though.

    As for the survey...I voted "Must Have!" on all of the aquatic plants/critters excluding the Piranha. Besides my just really liking aquatic ecosystems, there's still a major dearth of standalone plants/critters for aquatic ecosystems.

    1. Yeeeah, I'm aware of tint's resource issues, though I haven't experienced lag from it myself so I'm not certain of the extent. But for stuff like that I plan on making a couple different versions of the agent available, so people can choose depending on what works for them.

      You're right though. we really are lacking in aquatic stuff, and I really like a lot of the C3 fishes.

  3. I'd love to see colour mutations available, but if it's going to bring systems to a hault it obviously wouldn't be worth it. Perhaps there's some middle ground that can be reached?

    I've put just about everything at a 'must have' level, but that's mostly because I know so many species are dependant on each other. If their dependancies could be expanded to not be so reliant on a single other species this wouldn't be such an issue.

    I'm actually not so much a fan of seeds having defence mechanisms. I like an echosystem that can be thrown out of wack if the Creature population climbs too high.
    That said if I want that level of control I can always stick to patch plants. I imagine most players would like the defence mechanism anyhow.

    1. The defense mechanism thing is going to be a bit tricky to balance. I don't want ecosystems to be entirely immune to creatures munching through them, but at the same time, a few creatures shouldn't be able to wipe it out. I think ideally some of the defense mechanisms will sort of throw a kink in the ecosystem without entirely destroying it.

      For example, if the robin population is especially low, and the robins are being very careful to avoid going near creatures, and there are tons of them about, it might make it hard for them to get to the plants they need for their nesting materials. So in that situation the robin population will have to remain dangerously low until some creatures die off or move away from the plants. The defense mechanism buys the critters a little more time, but should those robins die of old age or other causes in the meantime, it won't have done them any good.

      An example for seeds might be that a plant's seed, when it falls during a period of very low population, might hide in the soil to keep from being eaten, but might then wait for creatures to move away before it actually grows, potentially making an entire plant species dormant until the creature population goes down (and if other plants/animals rely on that plant, mess them up too). But it still won't be completely wiped out, and could start growing again later on.

      Defense-mechanisms won't be perfect either-- a really hungry critter will probably be willing to risk predators to get to food, and seeds will have at least few seconds fully exposed to the world before they hide.

      Anyway, this is all in theory anyway and my guess is it's going to be a lot more difficult in practice (and in coding), so we'll just have to wait and see how it pans out. But this is another reason I plan to make the annotated cosfiles available, so other people can tweak them to their liking as well.

  4. I didn't put down an answer for how soon I would like to see it released because I was wondering... if it would be possible to do a limited release, one where the developers that want to convert their agents get a copy of the garden box so they can start the conversions, but they wait to release the conversions until you do the official release of the garden box?

  5. Or publish the code that allows for Agents to be compatible with the gardenbox.

  6. Wait why didn't I know of this before? This is pure awesome.

    I especially like the bit where agent categories will have a common standard for interactions.
    I suppose this means I'll have to rework the block room to have invisible blocks so people can just make their own room with the garden box. ;) Can't wait to convert some of my own stuff to work with the garden box too!

    As for the tinting issue:
    An option could be provided to turn tinting on and off. Critters can keep their genetic tint info, but won't show it.
    Tinting options can also be added to decoration agents, depending on how far you want to take it.

    On the issue of deforestation by Norns:
    Hibernation and alternate means of reproduction could both be viable solutions to combat the nommy norn syndrome. If plants and critters cannot find food or reproduce fast enough, they can opt to hibernate, lay dormant/buried eggs or slowly sprout new seedlings by expanding their roots.
    The threshold to re-awaken the hibernating critters and plants should be rather high. This way, Norns could still demolish an ecosystem, but given enough time it would eventually recover.

    Anyways, I'll probably talk your ears off already when I next see you in CC Chat anyways. :P

  7. I left a survey response before realizing I could just comment, d'oh.

    I just wanted to say I LOVE the Garden Box and all I want to see are more conversions, and then some deco pieces like trees that I can put patch plants onto.

    So happy the C3DS community is still alive. SO happy.