Someone disappeared for quite some time! I devoted most of my time in November to the CCSF 2013 with my two wonderful partners in crime, Darby and Ghosthande. With a nonstop string of releases, I needed a little break from it all just to settle back in. The best part about Creatures, at least for myself, is that it never gets boring: Coming back to it is just like reconnecting with an old friend. In this case, though, I found something excellent to bring me back to Creatures Docking Station. Liam and Moe released C2toDS Beta 3. It is simply phenomenal. I spent all my time just exploring, without any Norns around. It was peaceful for a change!
Of course, maybe it was a good idea I didn't have any Norns around... I decided to bypass Albian air control and fly a helicopter directly into a lightning storm. Good thing there wasn't an actual pilot inside! The helicopter was perfectly fine, yet it's one of the agents from Creatures 2 I never played around with. It seemed a little out of place in such a natural environment. Now I see I was missing out on some real fun! C2toDS not only features many of the familiar sights from the original C2, but it also contains many new discoveries. I still have yet to put on my complete adventurer outfit to find everything. It's nice to know there are hidden elements! If it wasn't already clear, the effort that Liam and Moe put into this metaroom shines through. Did anyone expect any less, though? Lots of care has been going into most new releases. Our community continues to grow in the right direction!
Being in the beta stage, C2toDS still can have its quirks. The worst I experienced was a cloud in the underground chamber near the incubator, which just added a little bit of unique flavor! After the lightning storm, I was expecting some more unusual weather. I just called it a sort of fog, and that was that! I imagine it could make for an interesting story if a Norn decided to walk through a cloud. I just hope none of them end up walking through a lightning storm! I'm fairly sure that this was an issue with an earlier release of C2toDS, so it shouldn't be anything too unexpected.
I also had the opportunity to enjoy a slightly early download of another addition to the C2toDS Beta 3. This cozy, sleeping bird likely gives it away, but I'll still keep rather quiet about it! I knew what was coming, yet actually seeing it happen was more than I was expecting. C2toDS is a metaroom with many, many possibilities. It can stand on its own, without Norns, Grendels, nor Ettins, and it would still make Creatures fun to play. Part of me wonders if perhaps this would make a better place for my new Gaius project... We'll see! There will be bugs with this release, yet it's so exciting to see this project moving forward. Now I have a whole lot of additional catching up to do, and a lot of very neglected Norns and Grendels to pay attention to. Check back soon for new updates!
I last left Creatures 1 with my two Grendels snuggled up near a very pregnant Astrapia. Her egg was soon delivered without incident, and she settled in for a well deserved nap. Adaon joined her, while Arianllyn waited impatiently for someone to join her in the land of waking! Although the two Grendels had been nearly inseparable, I was rather surprised that they had not yet produced another egg. Perhaps they simply wanted to pace themselves!
Remember this Norn? Junco had caused me all sorts of grief, from the moment that I discovered his brain mutation to the time when I accidentally associated food with another category. His smile was hardly unexpected, since he was unable to feel any sense of hunger. I almost shed a tear when I saw his life force suddenly rise from about 30% to 45%. It took him over an hour and a half, but he finally ate a bit of food on the island! All on his own, too, without any encouragement from me. It looked like the Muggy I had placed on the island helped him find his first meal. Junco was still in pretty bad shape in terms of his glycogen level, but this was a small victory worth celebrating.
Euphonia decided to visit with Junco. Bless her heart, for she timed it perfectly: With one kisspop, suddenly Junco was going to be a father. The Norn I had assumed would crawl off and die peacefully at a young age, never to have a legacy... Actually would live on in the next generation! I peeked at the genetics of the unlaid egg, knowing that there was a good chance that Junco's attention lobe mutation would be passed along. Luck must have been on his side, for this Norn's brain was mutation free!
The only natural way to celebrate was to introduce another Norn into the mix. This youngster was the ninth out of fourteen Norns to be used this generation, which seemed to be going by very quickly. Meet Niltava, the daughter of Gurgi and Orgoch! Aside from the body data issues and whatnot, she was simply adorable with that little white tummy and her Santa Norn arms. Niltava was not a typical Norn, though: Aside from her mutations, she was a firecracker! Teaching her words was next to impossible with her feet that never stopped moving. I expected her to pose a few challenges early in her life, but with all of the issues I had run into, this seemed like a walk in the park! My biggest worry was getting Niltava to pause for a moment to pay attention. Talk about energetic!
Chemical reactions define rules for individual chemicals and chemical combinations. These genes can also state the rules for how chemicals are used up, and each reaction has a defined half-life to determine how often it occurs.
Default: 57 Emb B MutDupCut 1*Pain++ => 1*Pain + 1*Punishment; half-life=8
Mutation: 57 Emb B MutDupCut 1*016 => 1*Pain + 1*Punishment; half-life=8
There is a whole set of genes within a Norn which associate chemical increases with their corresponding chemicals and punishment. This gene normally states that pain increase produces pain and punishment. The same can be said for chemicals like hunger increase and loneliness increase. It makes sense that they would convert into the actual chemical, but some may wonder why these should be associated with punishment. The reason lies in learning: When a Norn does something to cause an increase in pain, he or she receives some punishment to encourage him or her to not perform that same action again. Conversely, there is a set of genes which associate chemical decreases with their corresponding chemicals and reward, with a similar reasoning. Niltava's gene mutated to replace pain increase with chemical 016, which is an unallocated chemical not used for anything. She can still feel pain, but only when she experiences it directly: Pain increase produces no effect in her body.
Default: 112 Emb B MutDup 1*Punishment => 1*Reinforcement + 1*PunishmentEcho; half-life=16
Mutation: 112 Chi B MutDup 1*Punishment => 1*Reinforcement + 1*PunishmentEcho; half-life=16
Mutations involving any of the punishment or reward genes often result in learning challenges. This gene simply states that punishment is broken down into reinforcement and punishment echo. The former is used in Norn learning to reinforce a behavior. Punishment echo lingers in the system longer than the very short-term punishment chemical: It is akin to a long-term sort of punishment chemical that "echos" the punishment for a little longer. A standard Norn has this gene switch on immediately, while Niltava will not experience this chemical reaction until childhood. I doubt this will pose a major problem, since most of the training I do in the baby life stage involves teaching words and positive reinforcement. This still could allow her to continue bad behaviors a little longer than others, though.
Default: 86 Emb B MutDupCut 1*SexDrive- + 1*SexDrive => 1*Reward; half-life=8
Mutation: 86 Emb B MutDupCut 1*Anger- + 1*SexDrive => 1*Reward; half-life=8
This gene is an example of one of the chemical decreases mentioned above. Here, a sex drive decrease combines with the actual sex drive chemical to provide some reward. Since this is a result of a drive-reducing activity, the Norn will be rewarded. In turn, this should create a positive link between kisspopping and reducing sex drive, so that a Norn will learn that when his or her sex drive is high, kisspopping is the logical activity that reduces it. For Niltava, this gene might pose some issues. She is only rewarded when anger decrease combines with sex drive. One possible consequence is that whenever she reduces her anger, her sex drive will diminish as it combines with the anger decrease. The reward she experiences will likely be quite small, but still rather confusing. With the breeding prowess of Norns, though, it is highly unlikely that this will mean that Niltava will not kisspop.
The technological world I had planned for C3/DS took a backseat ride while I spent some time in Creatures 2, but the final preparations were finally completed! I removed a few agents in an attempt to avoid the extreme lagginess I encountered in a test world. Nearly everything remained the same, though. I named the world Machinarium after the game I enjoyed so much. Although not entirely the same atmosphere, this world certainly has a mechanical steampunk edge to it! No puzzles to solve, although these Gaius will likely travel around for different food. Challenging enough!
The stage was set... All it came down to was waiting for the eggs to hatch. These sprites were not quite mechanical in nature, although they served the purpose well enough! I had a fun naming theme about to begin. The newborn Gaius should be a rather nice surprise, as they are the Colortrue Gaius with unique colors. Naturally, I found this a perfect time to create some suspense prior to the CCSF 2013! Expect to see a release of eight colors during the festival in November!
The first order of business with Colony Twelve in Creatures 2 was to ensure that no one else would meet the same untimely end as Ectatomma 3. The last two females from that group decided to test the bridge out immediately, and even brought along an actual ant! Traveling around the entire world was something that all of the Norns could do, but this removed one very dangerous obstacle. My goal was not to create a perfect world devoid of perils, yet this ocean seemed to spell certain death for any Norn who chanced by. These two females decided to stay close together, likely fearing the solitary life.
There were many eggs throughout the world, but I was dismayed to discover that none were hatching. I chanced upon a male who demonstrated just what was going on: These Norns showed great interest in the eggs, and treated them like toys. Luckily, I was able to use a COB to unpause all eggs and avoid the need for the incubator. Both the Allomerus and Tetramorium groups looked to be in healthy shape. The lone Ectatomma females were on their own, while the Myrmica group had become completely spread out. Before long, I was ready to take a look at the new inhabitants of the world. None of the males showed signs of aging, although I only expected them to live for about 20-40 minutes.
An egg finally burst open to reveal the first second generation Albian Ant Norn. She was of the Allomerus group, although she hatched in a very odd location. Apparently her parents decided to take a ride in a lift and proclaim their love in the very sparse music room near the pond and Shee statue. This little female actually survived a long time without eating anything. I expected her to perish early on, yet she was smart enough to use the lift when she was older. Rather resourceful, just like a real ant.
Another birth soon occurred, and it was soon evident that these Norns were reproducing rather quickly. This little male enjoyed a wonderful view of the waterfall. I assumed that his coloring was unique, until I remembered that Albian Ant Norns have different pigments at each life stage. This was another member of the Allomerus group, although his father was from the Myrmica group. In the next round of births, it became quite evident that these two groups were forever mixed together. I named them based on the group of the female line, since this was a social structure centered around the queens.
The first natural death was expected, as many of the breeding males were nearing the end of their lives. I was quite dismayed to discover that this apparently natural death was of the baby male just mentioned: Allomerus 6 died in an early life stage, not from hunger nor disease. Indications pointed to a genetic mutation. In actuality, this colony had many types of mutations. One Norn was in constant pain, while another suffered from extreme cold. I only wished that the mutations could affect something benign like the pigments.
Time flew by with the quick lifespans of these Norns, yet I had to pause to bid farewell to Ectatomma 1 and Ectatomma 2. One even chanced to pass away on the bridge, which would forever be known as the Ectatomma Bridge. One male, Allomerus 8, was actually just one level below them at one point. I was tempted to intervene and ensure the survival of their line, but I managed to let nature take its course. Although these two females never bred and had no offspring, their lives had not been in vain. They saw the surface of the world and managed to see all manner of wonders. Perhaps they would find Ectatomma 3 in the place where all Norns go when they float away.
It certainly was true that these Norns were inclined to travel. Several formed a small unit in the volcano, of all places. I had hopes that they might form a new group, as there were two females and one male. Unfortunately, he passed away too soon. The other two females perished, one of which was Myrmica 2. She was the first original breeding queen to pass away. With no male to keep her young, it was understandable why she passed away at a relatively young age. Yet that was another death without a corresponding birth.
In actuality, the population was in serious trouble. The Tetramorium group had grown the largest, yet all of the males soon died out. Six females ruled over the group, but had no purpose. I had to make a choice to start another group, or hatch a new male to help keep the Tetramorium group alive. The Allomerus-Myrmica mixed group was also in danger of dying out with just one male near enough to breed with the remaining queen. To intervene, or not to intervene? I was utterly torn.
Before long, it appeared that the Myrmica group was about to become rather fractured. Their home was in the starting position with the greatest possible area, which pointed to a group that would fan out quite a bit. Yet Myrmica 4 took it one step further and was the first to use the lift within the old, giant tree trunk. He was quite the brave Norn: Even uncharted territory was not about to take away from his nap! His group stood the greatest chance of quickly growing into the largest colony, but his sudden departure meant a possible mixing of groups. Myrmica 3 was also still battling an illness that kept him very sleepy.
The ride up the lift easily could have been a short diversion from the Myrmica colony, but Myrmica 4 decided to take it a step further by pressing the button for another lift. This placed him within easy reach of the Allomerus group. Incidentally, this group's two females were the first to lay eggs, each from different males. The mixing of the groups was not expected to take place for at least a few generations... This Ant Norn was one brave adventurer! I noticed that another male member of the Myrmica colony attempted to follow in his footsteps, so it seemed like this tendency to travel and explore was not simply an odd occurrence. It would make for an interesting world, but documenting everything seemed a little more difficult than initially planned!
Unfortunately, not all were free to happily roam about Colony Twelve. I discovered Ectatomma 3 within the ocean, apparently in the grasp of a murderous Puffer Fish. For some reason, it seemed unable to bring the Norn to the surface, and had clearly failed in its ability to provide air and oxygen. I did make an effort to try to save him, since this was likely a mistake on my part when setting up the world. This Puffer Fish was banished, and a new one placed in each ocean. Sadly, there was no way to save Ectatomma 3. He perished beneath the waters, courtesy of that terrible Puffer Fish. The Ectatomma group was diminished to just two female members, who might meet a similar fate, or survive.
As it so happened with Myrmica 4, two members of the Allomerus group met him in the lift and descended down one level together. Part of this troop was Allomerus 2, who had been the first to lay an egg, along with the father of that egg. It looked like Myrmica 4 had walked into a competitive portion of this smaller colony, though he seemed ready for any challenge. Note that all Albian Ant Norns had grown to become fertile, as indicated by their aging appearances. Elsewhere, both females of the Tetramorium colony became pregnant by both males. The only group, excluding the Ectatomma females, that had not started the next generation was, ironically, the Myrmica colony.