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!


  1. Wow, amazing - I'm looking forward to making use of the air bubbles marking! :D Thank you!

  2. A note about tint - I've experienced the most issues when the tint command was used for a plant (especially the anemones from the Biodome pack). It's not so much a problem for agents that get tinted but only have one frame (the marks, for example).

    Seeing the first generation pass on was a bit depressing, but other than that watching development at work is always fun. Here's hoping no one in the second generation suddenly gets stupid.

    1. Yeeeah, I have no concerns about the marks. I mentioned the auras specifically because with some of them, the agent can be creating several randomly-tinted half-transparent multi-frame animated agents per second if you have it applied to a few creatures. I imagine that could cause some slowdowns eventually!

      I'm not sure how much hope I hold out for no one suddenly getting stupid in this generation... considering we certainly had a fair share of that already. But it'll be interesting to see if the script's selective breeding is helping at all.

  3. I hate when norns loose thier pretty coloring i had a purple magma norn until she became an adolescent...

  4. Ummm... a question occurred to me, what would happen with the Hera script if you end up with a female or several females that are prone to stuck pregnancies? What if they become inseminated with an egg, but can't lay it? What if they are genetic parent of an egg carried by another creature & pass that bad trait on to the offspring & you end up with a bunch of creatures unable to lay eggs. How badly is something like that going to mess up the results of the script?

    1. Good questions! There is actually a line in the script that will force a norn who has been pregnant longer than normal to lay her egg, so stuck pregnancies shouldn't be an issue. But you do bring up a good point; while the script encourages the spread of genetics that promote good self-care habits and travel, it does absolutely nothing to promote good breeding genes, meaning several generations down the line, these girls could very well end up infertile or have some wacky mutations that never show up until they meet a male for the first time (for all we know they could end up with a mutation that turns opposite sex pheromone into cyanide!).
      So the long-term results of a script like this might not be the most desirable for traditional worlds, but hopefully populations maintained by the script won't run into any dead-ends.

  5. "I don't remember this being a walkable area in C2, but it does look like a nice place to sun oneself!"

    It wasn't a walkable area in standard C2, and norns tended to get stuck by the Science Kit Powerup and get really upset, partly because the lift there is so close to the wall it's hard to use (if they overshoot just slightly they wallbonk and move back out of range of the lift). So someone posted a fix making those rocks walkable, enabling C2 norns to wander on those rocks and possibly fall to the treehouse below.

  6. I can't inject the Aura agent. I get this error message:
    a dependency is missing, unable to eject agent. Please contact the author.
    The others work fine, though... How strange...

  7. Can you make a mod that allows me to run a world like this? I would really enjoy seeing what would arise.