Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017's: Eggs

I was enjoying my time with this world so far. The metaroom, the Other Lone Shee's Ark, was well done for a metaroom largely made up of sprites from the games. The area's that weren't from the games were rather pretty, especially the underground pond. Plus it had locking doors. That made it quite easy to section off the room and put different types of creatures in there. The genome I was messing with, the 2017 genome, didn't act that different from a regular creatures. This wasn't a bad thing! It meant that the creator had seamlessly added the digestive tweaks into the CFF genomes. So well, in fact, that I sometimes forgot they weren't regular CFF norns.

Anyway, Ocelot greeted me with another egg and I moved her back with Lion. Everyone in the main group had bred at least once. So I wasn't to worried about the next generation. One of the more interesting norns from the group, Tiger was still in his favorite area. He was quite cold up there, but he wasn't starving up there. Perhaps he was more of a Siberian tiger then a Bengal tiger? He certainly wasn't as interested in breeding as the other males. As I was writing that, Puma laid another egg and Bobcat was the father this time. She was quickly followed by Caracal, who actually tried making it the norn home this time. The father of that egg was also Bobcat. Then it was Ocelot's turn to lay an egg. I didn't move her back with Lion this time. She would have to make her own way back to him.

Then Puma and Bobcat had another baby. Amusingly, Caracal went with Puma to the norn home. Maybe Puma was trying to show her where it was or tell her that the door was always open. Lion, meanwhile, was already quite lonely. I felt sorry for him, but I wanted to see if he would find the elevator up. His old mate, Ocelot, was slowly warming up to Bobcat. There was the occasional kissing noise from them, but they mostly ignored each other. Neither seemed extremely interested in each other though. I was secretly hoping she would find her way back to Lion. They were pretty cute together.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

2017's: Growing Up

Last time I was comparing the 2017s genome to a regular CFFs. As I was doing that, the norns decided to move around and age up. I returned and everyone had aged into adolescence. Most had decided to join Tiger in the snowy area. Puma, Ocelot, and Bobcat were huddled together to stay warm while Tiger dealt with the cold on his own. Caracal was still in the main hallway. Lion, meanwhile, was staring at some critters and feeling quite lonely.

Which reminded me, I had learned a few interesting things from the gene compare. Unlike regular CFFs, the 2017s get lonelier faster and can't reduce their loneliness by pushing critters, bugs, and plants. This forces them much more likely to seek out other norns when lonely instead of playing with critters or bugs. Digging into the genome inspired me to try a few of my own tweaks on the 2017s. So I soon had two amphibious critter-eaters living in the lower-right area of the world. (I apparently couldn't stay away from testing things, even in my non-testing worlds.)

Around 45ish minutes in Ocelot and Lion had the first egg. I moved Ocelot back to Lion's area after she laid her egg and I hid the egg underwater. I wanted to focus on the adults in this world, not their children. I also discovered that the baby undine's were starving. Turns out my great edits weren't as great as I thought. While I tried to figure out what was wrong with the Undines, Bobcat and Caracal had decided to move back into the main hallway. Lion and Ocelot also had their second egg.
Everyone aged into an adult while I continued to fiddle with the Undine's genetics. To celebrate this, Puma and Tiger decided to have their first egg! Puma also made the journey to the little norn home/nursery I had decorated. A few minutes later, Bobcat and Caracal also had their first egg. Caracal didn't bother going all the way to home to lay the egg though, and instead laid it next to a norndoll toy. Both of their eggs were quickly moved to the underground lake before they could hatch.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trying a New Genome

For future reference: the norn home is on the left, the main hallway is in the middle, and the snow are is on the right.

Fiddle with a genome or bit of caos code, test it, fiddle with it some more, then get bored or have to do something else. I spend more time working on a mod or agent then I do playing. I enjoy tinkering with thinks but it does get old. Especially when your current test ends up going terribly like my current one has. I've been testing a Stinger subtype/sub-breed and it's going badly. I'll save that rant for another day though. This time I decided to just mess with other peoples' creations.

There were two interesting genomes I hadn't played with much: the True Warm Bloods (or TWBs) and the 2017 genomes. The TWBs have a number of changes to them, the most interesting of which is an actual body temperature. The 2017s, meanwhile, have some interesting hunger edits. I was more interested in the 2017's hunger edits, so I decided to go with them. I also stuck them in a new metaroom that was released this year. I named the world Anaptyss for reasons I can't remember anymore. Then I clicked on everything in the room multiple times because I was excited to have a new metaroom to mess around with. After filling the room with agents, it was finally time to add the norns.

Six norns were hatched and named after random wild cat species. Almost immediately Lion went for the stingers and Tiger tried playing with one of my weed agents. I moved Lion away from the angry stingers and let Tiger deal with the weed himself. Word must have spread about the fun little pests because Caracal and Ocelot tried playing with them as well. I ruined their fun by removing the stingers and spreading the group out some. Tiger, Ocelot, and Bobcat ended up in the snowy area. They spent a lot of time shivering, but that didn't seem to ruin their fun any. Lion, Puma, and Caracal stayed in the main hallway. Pretty soon everyone was a child and I decided to teach them some basic words with the hand teaching agent. After I was done, I couldn't resist looking at the 2017's genome anymore. So I let the world run while I opened up gene compare and explored their genome.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The blog is alive!

I didn't have a fitting picture, so here's SimEarth instead.
The Creatures blogosphere is somewhat dead at the moment, so let's see if I can change that by posting. Starting next week I'll have a regular Wednesday post for at least a month. Most of the posts are going to be about a nurture world I started while taking a break from my seemingly endless Stinger Norn tests. I've also been considering branching out into writing about other Creaturey things like ripping apart some of my cos files or documenting my ever constant struggles with genetics. So there might be a few random posts here or there.

The blog itself has also been updated somewhat. I finally tweaked the Mobula Ray's layout a bit and gave it a new background. There's also two new pages for my downloads and a links page. The downloads page is slightly out of date, and the links page is completely empty for now. (Both will be updated eventually.) I've also redone some of the tags since a few posts didn't have tags and I figured why not.

I suppose I should post an update about my projects I wrote about during the CCSF as well. The Simpler Hoverdoc is basically finished and, hopefully, bug-free. I ended up with two versions of it: one that follows the currently selected norn and one that you can attach to multiple norns. In my own play-testing I've found that I use both of them for different things. The first one is good for wolfling runs or worlds with autotab in them. The second one is good when I want to monitor more then one norn in any sort of world. It's currently waiting on me to get un-lazy and send it to a few people for some final testing.

The other major projects from that CCSF post were two genomes, a swimming ettin breed and an update to the Stinger Norns. I worked on the ettin breed a bit but forgot to write down what changes each of the different versions had. So it's on the back burner until I get bored enough to sort through the different version. Meanwhile the Stinger Norn update is going.. very, very slowly. The base genomes have been finished for months now, but I've run into some trouble with the first sub-breed I tried making. I'll save that for another post though.

For now I'll end this update by saying that I started a Mobula Ray Tumblr thing months and months ago. I have no idea why I created it, but it's become the occasional dumping spot for large screenshots that didn't end up on the blog or other random Creatures pictures. And that's pretty much it.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival 7: Community

I just realized that this is my 50th blog post! It doesn't change today's post any, it's just a neat milestone. Today's prompt was basically why do like the Creatures series and why do you keep coming back. It was also the hardest prompt to answer. My poor notepad file has three mostly complete drafts, and yet I'm writing a another one. I tried talking about how I'm still in the community because it's to creative and welcoming for me to want to leave forever, but then I remember that I have wanted to leave before. I tried talking about how I'm still playing mostly out of habit, and, while that's partly true, it isn't the whole reason I continue to play the games. To actually answer the prompt, I still play because because there isn't another game like this and the community is amazingly creative.

Creatures is a unique series and fills a niche in the virtual pet genre I didn't even know I wanted until I discovered the series. Despite it's age, it's still fun and surprisingly educational. It's taught me the basics of programing, how to organize projects and fight off procrastination, and it's helped keep my writing skills sharp. Add a wonderful community to that, with creativity only bound by time and motivation, and you get people like me hooked on a 20 year old series. It's the community that has brought out the potential in most of the games through addons and inspired people to take a second look at their norns through fan fiction and art. I can't help but keep coming back, I might miss something amazing if I don't!

It also doesn't hurt that I haven't had to change computers in almost four years. My machine is still running Windows 7 and still runs all of the games nicely. So technical problems aren't really a factor for me right now. That's going to change eventually, especially considering my hard drive is old and heavily used. I'll also eventually upgrade to Windows 10, even though I still hate it. And I can't say I'll be all that motivated to play the games if it means dealing with frequent technical issues or whatever it throws at me. Then again, old habits are hard to break, and playing Creatures off and on has been a habit for years now.

These guys are from CCSF 2012.
And I couldn't leave this post without salvaging one thing from my old drafts: my history with the CCSF. I honestly can't separate my personal history with the Creatures series from my experiences with the CCSF, both the older ones and the ones from the past few years. A part of the reason I'm still here, and even in the community at all, is because of the CCSF. One of the first Creatures websites I found was the old CCSF 2008 site, and I found the idea of a festival for an ancient game to be absurd and amusing. I thought it would be the last year,  but they kept happening. So I kept coming back. It was like a beacon from the community to the rest of the world saying that there was still some life left and new things being made.

By 2012, I wanted to be a part of it and so I submitted some creatures. I did the same for 2013 and almost did the same for 2014. That year, though, it looked like it wasn't going to happen. So I stepped in and coordinated it. It was stressful and Creatures Caves died right in the middle of it, but I'm glad I coordinated it. Hosting it helped me realize what an amazing community I had stumbled into. It's not perfect, we don't always get along and it's not the thriving community is used to be, but there's something just something about the combination of weird niche game and tiny, creative community that keeps me coming back.

Friday, December 2, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival 6: Mythology

Today's prompt is about the mythology and backstory of Creatures. I'm the worst person to ask this since I haven't really thought about the backstory in any real detail. It's been over a year since I've read the backstory for C1/C2 and even longer for C3/DS. I remember liking both of them, I just don't remember that much of it. The two bits of lore that have stuck with me over the years are: the Shee left Albia/C1 with only 6 eggs to continue the species and the Shee were master space ship builders and were prone to abandoning spaceships. These two bits of (possibly incorrect) lore have informed my own version of the creatures universe, and the few bits of fan fiction I've written for the Creatures games.

Like many players, I used to occasionally write down what happened in world as a story. Over time this evolved into a fan version of what a Shee society would be like. In my fannon, the Shee had found their fabled 3D world, and were so unimpressed about it that most Shee left for other planets. So there were quite a few Shee, but most were scattered around the galaxy. The Lone Shee's warp was still a thing, but most of the ships weren't compatible with it yet. Communication between them was possible within a certain distance, but they could go quite a few years without bumping into another of their species. Even still written letters and packages of strange new tea were a favorite thing for Shee to send to each other. Who delivered the mail though? It was often a species of immortal norn and, rarely, a grendel. These mailnorns and mailgrendels were smart enough to pilot simple mail ships, and deliver mail.

This has nothing to do with the actual post.
Ships filled with genetic experiments and frozen specimens were common and abandoned ones were also somewhat common. (This was partly inspired by the Seru agent.) So it was fairly common to see a few Shee and their assistants exploring old, abandoned ships to salvage something from them. One of these explorers is Balmora and she was an assistant to a Shee version of myself. From what I remember, my Shee was the owner of the Mobula Ray, and Balmora was her assistant. She could pilot the ship without the Shee and knew quite a bit about ship engineering and maintenance. She was also prone to forgetting things and ruining experiments, so the Shee eventually fired her.

Balmora became a freelance assistant while the Shee went on to do other things. I didn't do much with the Shee character, but Balmora's whole freelance assistant thing has stuck around. I've even thought of starting a more story-based world again, though that idea is quickly killed. I have enough projects on my list of Creatures list already.

A side effect of the many, many abandoned ships is that the Grendels of Minimordor, or GoMs, were able to breed and take over small sections of the galaxy. The GoM queens were smart enough to be able to direct their hoards of males to salvage parts and repair broken down ships. They could also pilot ships, and raid Shee ships for norns to eat and eggs to enslave. They tried to leave the Shee ships intact and didn't hurt the Shee if they didn't fight back. After all, they were dependant on the Shee for food.

Inspired by my own Cattle norns I also eventually added Shee that tried to appease the smarter GoM queens with immortal norns for slaves and fast breeding norns for food. This worked out well for the GoMs, they got a stable supply of food and cheap labor, while the Shee were left alone. Until those smart GoM queens had female children and the GoMs took over more sectors of space. The GoMs weren't invincible though, space could still kill them and most of the queens weren't immortal. So they couldn't take over the galaxy, just make it a miserable place for some Shee.

This is long enough and I don't have many questions about the mythology or backstory. So I'll talk about my favorite bit of C1 lore instead. I've always been facinated with the idea of a limited population, like the Shee only leaving 6 eggs behind. In C1, it made you extremely careful with those precious few eggs... until you realized how to get more anyway. I've tried doing a similar thing in C3/DS where I limited myself to 6-10 SERU eggs. The run ended horribly when all but two females died and I had to import a few gen 1 males. I've considered trying it again or trying it in a different game, but, like the story-based worlds, the idea is killed before it goes to far... Anyway, I'm really curious to read the other post's for todays prompt. This isn't a subject I've thought about in any real detail for years now, and I'm interested in others weird versions of how the Creatures universe could work.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival 5: Modding talk

Today's prompt is to talk about what sort of things you make for Creatures, how do you make those things, what you want to make in the future, and, if you don't make things, what would you like to make. I do create content, and I usually create things I'd like to see. If they turn out well, and aren't horribly buggy, I eventually release them. I've only been developing for a year, so I pretty much create whatever I can code and find sprites for. So far the things I create are either solely for the hand, or objects creatures and the hand can interact with. Objects that creatures can interact with but the hand can't are a minor pet peeve of mine, so I try and avoid that when I can. On a random tangent, the flowers and grass you've seen in some of the screenshots are a good example of a buggy things I don't feel are worthy of release yet. They work, there's just a problem I haven't bothered to fix yet.

Some agents end up going nowhere for months.
I'm going to read "what do you use to make things" as "how do you make things." Otherwise my answer is short and pretty boring. I use gimp to tweak existing sprites, the caos tool for the coding, and Jagent for everything else. Anyway, how I make things isn't very revolutionary. I start off with a problem I want to fix or an idea for an agent and figure out what I need to do to make it. If I know I can make the sprites myself or have someone making them for me, I then start planning out the code for the agent. I usually start with a description of what it does down to as much detail as I can manage. If there are any parts I know will be tricky, I even write out some pseudocode like "If creature has a Bengal face, target it and make it dance. Else do nothing."

I also prefer breaking the agent into chunks that can be worked on and tested individually, if I can. I've found that quiets the inner procrastinator a bit. Otherwise I tend to get interested in Facebook or literally anything else. From there I work on it, often testing as I go. These tests usually involve me creating buttons to test caos commands I've never used or specific chunks of code. (And, honestly, I've created more buttons then I have actual agents.) After it's done, I usually sit on the agents for months and release them when something like the CCSF or a holiday comes along. So most of my agents sit around as loose .cos and image files until the last minute. Also I use Caos2Pray to make the agent files because writing pray files is the worst.

As for future projects, the biggest one is to finish the Stinger Norns. I've been working on them, on and off (mostly off) for a good year and a half. I finally have a stable base genome for them and it's just a matter of working on the different variations of them. I also have two ideas for genomes after the Stingers are done, a swimming ettin breed and something I've been calling Interactive Norns. The Ettins are the farthest along, and I even started working on a genome for them a few months ago. The Interactive Norns, meanwhile, are still being planned out and I'll probably make a thread about them on one of the forums when I'm ready to start on them. They're meant to be a genome geared towards nurturing players and, if these past days of blog posts have taught me anything, I'm definitely not the most nurturing. So other's input on that is going to be more valuable then my own.

As for agents, I've hit another lull in ideas. The ones I have are either nearly complete, or . One thing I have been working on is a simpler version of the Hoverdoc, and it'll probably be release next year. It's simply a little circle that floats near a norn and tells you it's highest drive and whither or not it's currently sick. I've been documenting how I created it and what sort of problems I've run into. I'd like to turn that into a blog post or two eventually. I'm always interesting in how things were made, and hopefully others are as well. I also have an idea for a potted plant, but I'd like to finish the simpler Hoverdoc and a few other things before starting it. Plus I still need to find suitable sprites for it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival 4: Mostly mods

Today's prompt is about the agents/metarooms you use and what you'd like to see more of. I'm mostly going to talk about C3/DS, since I play it the most. Advanced Muco is in every world, and I don't know how I played the game without it. The Garden Box is in most of my worlds as well, since it makes my seasonal wolfling runs possible. The inseminator, eggornator, and super splicer are permanent agents in my splicing world. I also use the splicer control panel from the DS splicer to import creatures and make them sleep. If a world doesn't have the garden box, it probably has the potted norngarden plants and some of TwilightCat/Bugs agents. For sprite breeds I use as many as I can, often referencing a breed slot list. And for genetic breeds, I use any CFF or CFE genomes.

For metarooms, I end up using Primordia and Veridia the most. They're around the same size and mesh well together. Veridia is empty, easily customizable, and perfect for most of my worlds. Primordia can also easily be emptied out of agents, so it's almost as customizable as Veridia. Ainadia and Chione are my go to rooms for larger worlds, though I use Ainadia the most out of the two. Anadia is a gorgeous room, and it even has an aquatic area. So I can have aquatic and terrestrial creatures in the same world. Chione, meanwhile, is my favorite room for Christmas or cold-themed worlds. It's big, customizable, and has one of the best system of doors and elevators of and metaroom. I also use the Norngarden rooms, even the second one. I can't say it's worth how much it costs, but it is a very gorgeous room.

The only other Creatures game I mod a lot is C2, so I might as well list a few from there. I don't use as many cobs for it as I do DS. I often use the desert and volcano garden mods though, to give my creatures more spaces to live it. I also use the golden tomatoes and rainbow peppers to give my norns more to eat. For breeds, I love using the Albian Greys, Gargoyle Norns, Draco Norns, Kimahri norns, and Cat Norns. I don't use the genomes that come with those breeds though. I just change the breed slots in a default Akamai Canny norn and call it good. I never learned which breed had which genome, and don't really care enough to compare genomes and find out.

As for pet peeves, I have one major one. Most of the existing portable door agents are terrible, but I'm forced to use them in some of my larger wolfling runs. With most of them, creatures end up bouncing between the doors. They eventually get to where they want to be, but only after playing door roulette. It's frustrating when you want to string metarooms together and the poor creatures bounce between the rooms until they get exhausted and sleep. It doesn't ruin wolfling runs, but it's seriously annoying. Even the door agent I made a few months ago doesn't always work properly, and I can't figure out why. So whenever I get enough time, and more importantly motivation, I'm going to create a portable door that just... works.

Lastly, I'd love to see more decorative agents that do something. It's probably because I've spent so much time decorating my worlds with the Garden Box, but I'm tired of my worlds looking pretty but not doing much. I'd also love to see more terrestrial critters and bugs. I love the ones we have now but my carnivorous creatures could use some variety. If fact, if someone would make the sprites I'd be happy to try and code them. I've never coded a critter before, but I'd love to figure it out. And Grendels and Ettins could also use a few more sprite breeds.

What I'd really love to see are more tutorials though. I forget who said it but developers are the lifeblood of the community. Maybe if we had some tutorials or coding tear downs like on the Creatures Wiki, it wouldn't be so intermediating for newbies. A part of the reason it took me so long to really dive into caos was that I didn't know where to go after basic toys and vendor tutorials. I know I'm going to start commenting on why and how I made my agents the way I did, if I can get everything in order. That way there are a few more examples floating around for people to learn from. And, who knows, maybe some of my useless buttons can inspire someone to tweak my code a bit and dive into caos.