Saturday, April 25, 2015

In Which Clover Eats Everything

Sorry for the delay here guys; I've been sick for the past few days and have kind of fallen out of touch. I won't be recording any more videos until my voice comes back, but luckily I still have a few that I recorded before falling ill, so I won't leave you hanging for too long.

So let's continue with part two of Clover and Dandelion's adventures, in which I realize I can't actually tell the difference between a weed and an herb, and Clover... well, Clover just doesn't care.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Like being a Newbie Again

Creatures 1 is probably the most foreign game in the series to me. C2 was my first Creatures game and I spent a crazy amount of time tearing it apart as a kid. C3/DS/CV all run on extremely similar engines; I understand the inner workings of those better than I understand the layout of my own town. But Creatures 1 has remained a mystery, and other than a little bit of dabbling here and there, I've never actually sat down and seriously played the game.

When it comes to matters of Creatures 1, however, we have a relative expert in our community: Jessica of Discover Albia. I've always been curious as to why Creatures 1 is her game of choice, especially with all the advancements we've made as a community to improve the newer games. After consulting with her, I've gotten the impression that there just seems to be something about C1 norns that makes them easier to get attached to, easier to, well, love.

As many of you know, creating emotionally attachable creatures is something I have been trying to accomplish for the majority of my life as a developer, so with this insight in mind, I think it's about time I take a very serious look at Creatures 1.

For now, I've decided to play the game completely and totally vanilla; installed straight from GoG with no COBs, cheats, or patches. This will probably change as time goes on and I realize certain fixes are needed, but I want to introduce myself to those slowly rather than all at once. For now, I want to experience Creatures as someone really trying it out for the first time and see what ancient knowledge this game might hold about what truly makes norns lovable.

I have decided to document this playthrough, however long or short it may be, through videos. Each will be under ten minutes and will encompass the highlights of 20-30 minutes of playtime. More or less, this is for my own records, but I hope some of you might enjoy watching them too.

In this first video, I hatch my first pair of norns, teach them their verbs, and send them off into the world to push whatever they may. Wish them luck as I try to figure out what the heck I am doing.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Impromptu Blog Spotlight

So this new blog started up recently, and it's pretty much my new favorite thing:

The Trial of Chip the Third seems to be taking a sort of interactive story-approach to Creatures blogging, in which the readers get a bit of a say in how the story goes. A few posts in, the tale already has my full attention.

There's only a day or so left to cast your vote as a member of the jury, and right now the odds are against poor Chip! If you're a fan of Creatures stories, I can't recommend this enough; go have a look!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Some Policy Clarifications

Over the past few days I've received a handful of emails asking for clarification concerning my policies on agent distribution, even from people I don't normally chat with. I might sound silly, but I found it kind of touching that you lovelies are honestly concerned about my feelings regarding my creations. It warms my fuzzy little heart to know that there are those who see the humanity behind the alias (something that seems to be increasingly uncommon on the internet in general these days, but that is a rant for my non-creatures blog). Sometimes I get disenchanted with the CC, but it really does have some kind souls. Thank you, friends. <3

Anyway, to get to the point, it seems like most of the confusion is stemming from the old readme I packaged with some of my older agents. I stopped packaging these readmes with agents a while back, choosing to rely on the good will of the community. Asking permission before rehosting someone else's work has been considered common courtesy within the community for the decade and a half I've been a part of it, and aside from the occasional well-meaning but hard-headed newbie who wants to host everything in one place, the CC as a whole has generally been very polite and respectful in honoring that courtesy. With that in mind, I suppose it seemed unnecessary to include a reminder in a text file that, honestly, I don't think many people read.

However, a lot of questions have been dotting my inbox about more specific policies regarding my agents, and apparently the only policy I have stated is in this old readme, which comically states, "Please don't distribute this agent unless I fall off the face of the earth and this is all you have to remember me by."

At the time, I didn't think of it as anything other than the lighthearted reminder of the obvious that it was, but according to the concerned community members who contacted me via the email address listed in the same readme, this can be interpreted to mean a wide range of things, from the excessively liberal, "distribute this agent if I stop posting on one creatures forum" to the comically literal, "don't distribute this agent unless I am lost in space and all traces of my life have been erased except for this file. "

So I am here to clarify that while I haven't updated this blog much and rarely check forums anymore, I am still very much alive, playing creatures, and interacting with a handful of community members on a regular basis. Mostly importantly, I definitely am not lost in space, in case that was actually anyone's fear!

But in all seriousness, since these questions have come up a lot recently, I thought it would be beneficial to refine my policies a bit and make sure they are understandable to everyone, so here we go:

Sharing any of my agents or articles with individuals via email or whatever method you prefer to transfer files from one person to another is okay. Not like anyone could stop you anyway.

Hosting my agents on your public website or blog by either uploading them to your own space or uploading them to another hosting service and linking to them is discouraged until I stop hosting them myself.

Hosting my articles, in whole or in part, is discouraged. Of course, the actual information within the articles is fair game and certainly should be shared; I would just prefer my exact words not end up out of context somewhere. Quoting a few lines in a forum post (linking to the full article) with the intention of helping someone out is totally okay, and of course, if my blog goes down and no archives are available, you are free to host them at that time.

Including my agents in a non-commercial agent pack or compilation will most likely be allowed if you ask! I will probably package up a special version of the agent specifically for the compilation.

Similarly, including my articles in a compilation of some sort is likely to be allowed if you ask and I don't find the compilation to be offensive or something.

Modifying my agents for your own purposes (especially learning purposes) is encouraged! I do ask that if make your modified agents available to the public, you link back to the original agent post and mention the version number of the agent (if there is no version number, just list the version as 1.0). Furthermore, I request that you allow others to also alter and build upon the modified agent, in the spirit of sharing alike.

However, these guidelines only apply to content that I have created. If you want to modify agents that contain sprites others have created, such as SERU or the Elevines, make sure you contact the spriter to make sure it's okay (or just use your own sprites)!

I think that about covers it. Once again, thank you to all of you that emailed me this past week, and I'm sorry I didn't clarify these things from the beginning. If you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment or email me at themaneda at gmail dot com.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An 'Annotated' C2 Guide

I want to talk about this book really quick, since there was a post on Discover Albia about these guides recently and I've been meaning to post these photos for a while now.

Creatures 2 was my first Creatures game, thus, for all it's flaws and stability issues, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Those first few years of falling totally in love with this bit of virtual life was certainly difficult-- a fresh install was almost impossible to play due to OHSS, and while 3rd party content, especially genomes, made the game quite a bit more viable, it had the dark potential of making it even more unstable if COBs were improperly written. Regardless, many hours of my preteen and early teenage years were spent trying to understand this game, fascinated by the depth of it, especially when I could draw startlingly accurate parallels between the chemical reactions taking place in the norns and the same reactions I was learning about in biology class.

As obsessed as I was, of course, I had to have every bit of information about this game as I possibly could, and this eventually led to the pinching of valuable allowance pennies to save up for this tome of knowledge.

I recall at the time of this book's release, reviews were mixed within the community. Some were annoyed that they were expected to shell out $20 for information that should have been included in the manual that came with the game. Others considered it to be fairly worthless, since all the information contained therein could be found on fansites in much greater depth. I don't recall my exact childhood reasoning, but I think ultimately what I wanted most was something creatures-themed that I could hold in my hand and flip through, whether the information was particularly useful or not.

Looking at this book now, I find myself quite amused at how it shows its age. It includes dated suggestions such as copying an exported norn onto a floppy disk to give to a friend! I also got a huge nostalgic kick out of the dated list of Creatures websites, including Albia 2000 and The Norn Underground

But by far one of the most amusing parts of the book were all the little notes I, in all my childhood innocence, proudly wrote to myself as I discovered new things about the game that I believed the even the advanced guide failed to mention. I commented on the uselessness of the Aphrodisiacs tab, stating that the Advanced Science Kit was "much easier." I warned of the dangers of the chemical concoction machine, and claimed the the neuroscience kit was "not very useful"

I'll let the rest of the photos on the page speak for themselves. At the end are two parts of the book that amused me personally: one of a pair of grendels, and the other congratulating the C2 development team for an 'early' delivery, since, well, most of us know how that release actually went. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blog List Update

Long time, no post.

Hey all. While I don't really have much time for playing, developing, checking forums, etc. lately, I still really love to read Creatures blogs. It's a small but still satisfying way I can indulge myself in a hobby I don't have a lot of time for any more. So while you still shouldn't expect much from me for a while, I did go ahead and update the Blog List to make it a little easier for others to view and for me to keep updated.

This version of the list automates just about everything thanks to feeds-- all I have to do is maintain a spreadsheet with the names and feed urls for each blog while the scripts take care of the rest.

That said, I have noticed the scripts being a little quirky, so I'm not sure I've quite found the best solution yet.

Sometimes blogs and posts vanish from the feed. This happens when the feed goes to update itself and for one reason or another can't connect to those blog feeds at the moment. So far, I've only seen this happen occasionally with certain self-hosted blogs, so it may just be an issue on their end (the hosting servers might be slow or bogged down or something). Either way, it's very temporary and the next time the script goes to refresh the feed, assuming it connects just fine, the posts come right back.

The other issue is that sometimes the Blog List itself loads slowly, partially, or not at all (returns an error). So far, reloading the page once or twice seems to take care of the issue, but if any of you are having more persistent issues, please let me know. If nothing else I might just put up a backup html list in the meantime-- I do want this list to be something easily accessible to everyone.

Lastly, if you notice any blogs missing from the list, please leave a comment so I can add them. While redoing the list I did prune some blogs that have since been deactivated or removed, but there is a chance I accidentally removed something I shouldn't, so make sure all your favorites are there at least.

Thanks all. I look forward to all the nornish craziness that will cross my feed reader in the future, and I hope I have more time to add to it myself soon.