Sunday, January 20, 2013

Creatures Heatmap

I know, I've been totally inactive lately, sorry.

I haven't much to show for myself, but I have been working on this:

It's the buggiest and slowest thing in existence right now and I'm not sure it'll ever be in a releasable state, but it's functional, at least. It's just a sort of overlay that tracks where creatures hang out over time. The yellow-to-pink areas show where creatures have spent more time, and the green-to-blue areas where creatures rarely linger. Not too surprisingly, the hotspots are where the food is! Ignore the floating orangish blocks; just one of many bugs.

I may do a few studies with this in different metarooms to find out what parts of the rooms creatures are using and which they might be totally avoiding. It might also be used with different breeds of creatures to see which ones tend to travel around more. Any other uses you guys can think of?

I've also been considering re-starting Hera in a different world and with a slightly different twist, if anyone is interested. I'd like to ask you guys though: do you prefer "world update" sorts of posts to be in picture-and-explanation format, like most of my posts, or might you prefer a video format?

Lastly, a post over at Grendel Man's blog reminded me that there are a few areas of the CC that need attention. Sadly, there's really not a whole lot of activity in the community lately, let alone motivation to contribute or help out. I'll admit I've kind of been stuck in the same rut. I've been brainstorming an idea that I hope might kick us into action, but it's going to be up to you: Would you be willing to contribute something to the community as a means of earning agent releases for all? I've posed this question on Creatures Caves, and would be really interested to know what you guys think.

And for all you reading this... thanks for not giving up on me just yet!


  1. I'm a little surprised that the blue swirly thing isn't showing more heat than that - does it work on Norn/Grendel/Ettin CA?

    1. Haha, I thought so too. This particular run only lasted 8 hours or so; I guess that particular generation of creatures weren't as learning-happy as some care to be. A run that lasted a lot longer would probably provide some more stable data.
      It actually doesn't use CAs at all, the overlay segments just check to see if there is a creature touching them periodically and start to get a little "warmer" if so.

  2. I was just thinking yesterday/day-before that it would be nice if Amai posted another update on something technical ^^

    Maybe you can try a cross of video and pictures?

    1. Awww, I am not forgotten! Thank you <:

      The video/picture debate is kind of a difficult one. I enjoy watching videos but I have to really be interested in them to want to sit down and watch them in full-- it takes a very specific amount of time. Text/pictures I can skim and still get some enjoyment out of it if I don't want to take too much time, but I can't skim videos, so often I'll skip them altogether if I'm in a hurry or if I don't think they're that interesting. But text-and-picture blogs are everywhere now; and I really want to try a different medium of creatures-storytelling; I dunno.
      I wonder if my readers feel the same way; it can be quite a challenge to make "creatures just being creatures"-sorts of videos terribly interesting to watch, so maybe it's best to stick with the old fashioned way.

      But I suppose I could follow a video with a short text-and-photos recap, to make both parties happy. That would take more time and consequently result in less content overall, but maybe it's worth it. I dunno; it's a lot to think about.

  3. The heatmap idea is pretty nifty. I can't think of a use for it beyond what's already mentioned, though. Maybe as a device to study grendel hunting habits?

    I'd love to see Hera start up again. I really don't have a preference as to text + pictures or videos; both of them have their pros and cons. Perhaps a mix of both (as Pirate-Rob said)?

    Commented on the final idea on CCaves. To sum what I said there up, I love the idea and would be happy to participate.

    1. One more thing - this might not be the best place to ask this, but what software do you use to edit your videos? I'd like to start up video-making myself, but while I have the means to record videos I'm in need of editing software so that I don't wind up recording the entire game window (since my computer has a crazy huge resolution, it'd make the game look weird if I just uploaded the raw .avi file).

    2. Heh, I use Adobe Premiere Pro (CS4) for editing. It's a bit overkill, and certainly not a cheap option, but if you happen to have it around (my parents bought me the whole suite as a graduation gift some years ago), it can do just about everything you ever wanted.

      Before I used that though, I used VirtualDub, which is free, and actually still pretty powerful, though it's not incredibly user-friendly and takes a lot of getting used to (Luckily, there are tutorials aplenty). I haven't used it in over four years though, so maybe it's gotten a little easier to use.

      I wrote a super old video-making guide, like five years ago. It's probably pretty worthless now, but maybe I'll write a new one someday. There's a bit near the end that shows how to crop in VirtualDub (at least, the version of that time period), in case you can't find any better guides.

      Good luck with it, whatever method you end up with. Maybe if you pose this question on other forums, others will have better responses for you.

  4. Very neat idea, Amai! I'm just excited to see another post from you, especially since your ideas always offer some more insight into the game. I can see a use for heatmapping, even though it might not be at the top of my list. I'm sure I would find some way to utilize it!

    I've missed Hera tremendously, and any updates would be amazing! I've found that a mixture of video and picture/text updates work best for me. I usually get a lot of requests for more videos, though as you said, it's difficult to make regular gameplay really interesting for a long time. Hence my random comments and jokes... Gotta fill those slow times with something!

    Grendel Man: Not sure if it helps any, but I use Bandicam to record my videos and then edit them in Windows Live Movie Maker. If you have the latter (which I believe is standard in most recent Windows versions), it's a wonderfully free solution! I have access to the Adobe products, but I've found that the simplicity of Windows Live Movie Maker is easy enough!

  5. This is really nifty!
    I found that a lot of my norns hung out in the hatchery area as well, so I'm not surprised that showed up on the heatmap. I guess it's technically a lot warmer than other areas since it's used for incubation.

  6. Hi Amaikokonut, this is maybe not the right place but...
    I bought Creatures 3 when it was new game. I almost forgot about it, when i found the old CD among some old stuff and started to play it again. When i found your page by accident, i tought your agents were amazing.

    I red your post about your motivation and i just wanted to tell you:
    You have a big fan out there who really appreciates your work. (But whose english is way too bad to join a community :P)

    I really like the Idea of a Heatmap. Maybe then i could find out why my Magmas are always cold, even when they're in the Ettin-desert :/