Monday, March 25, 2019

Days Long Past

I've crabbed enough about "how the community isn't what it once was." All I need is a cane, and I'd be a perfect example of the cranky old man yelling at those darn kids to get off his lawn.

But what did the community used to be?

I first discovered the community not long after getting internet access for the first time. Not surprising, since Creatures was my absolute favorite series at the time. This was somewhere around 2006, or so I think (at least a couple months before I joined Creatures Caves). The days of alt-games-creatures were gone, but there was still plenty of enthusiasm to go around. If nothing else, there were a multitude of forums to pick from. 

Then came CCSF 2006. To my younger self, this was the best thing ever. Almost every day of it, there was complete awesomeness coming out. Terra Pluvialis. The Vampyre Grendels. Even the little agents were awesome. Plus there were interviews and tutorials aplenty. It truly was the best of the community coming together.

I think it's this enthusiasm that I miss most. A community full of people of all skills, willing to help a budding developer out. If they didn't lend you their skills directly, they'd at least point you in the right direction. 

In a way, this spirit's still there. A look through Creatures Caves will prove that there's still people making things and posting about their experiences. However, it's so much more quiet now. There's plenty of people posting ideas, but very little with the skills to bring those ideas to life.

These days, a genetic breed is what constitutes a major release. They are cool, to be sure, but they just lack the oomph that something like Aquatilis Caverna had in the heyday I remember. 

The CCSF's been hit really hard. These recent festivals have just felt...dead. The majority of 2018's releases came from two people, and they were all adoption packs and small agents. The coordinator really tried their best to make things exciting, but there's not much one can do to make such dime-a-dozen releases exciting. Ultimately, 2018 was the first CCSF I flat out didn't care about.

As of this typing, there has yet to be any discussion of CCSF 2019. I feel it should stay that way. With how the community's been, it doesn't feel like it'd be worth it. 

Maybe such a decline was inevitable. After all, the series is a relic of the nineties/early 2000's that hasn't seen a new game in almost two decades. Even now modern operating systems have problems running them. There's next to no chance of a new game either, since the current IP holder only wants to crap out awful mobile cash grabs. There's hope of a spiritual successor, but Grandroids feels like a long shot and I refuse to speak of the other.

It's only natural that people have moved on. It'd be so easy for me to move on as well.

Yet, I'm still here. Maybe it's because I'm a manager on Creatures Caves and don't want to give it up. Maybe I'm just that paranoid about the Creatchi bloodlines I've helped breed dying out. 

Maybe it's because the community's been one of my homes on the internet for so long that it'd be painful to leave. Maybe it's because there's still a place in my heart for this franchise and I still cherish the memories I have.

Most likely, it's all of the above.

As I type this, I find myself wondering about the people in the community now. Are they really happy with this state of affairs? Do they browse what sites of old remain, seeing a glimpse of days long past, and wish they had been here to see it unfold? 

There's still a chance that the spark of life lives, and that it can be rekindled and send flames dancing once more across these embers. Or maybe I'm just seeing things, as a has-been developer who yearns for the days of old.

TL;DR Grendel Man is an old fogey who thinks things were better back in his day.

In other news, I remembered that I backed up my old C3/DS folders, allowing me to transfer my install to my new computer with all my edits intact. With that massive barrier to playing Creatures again cleared, I might take a stab at developing again. What, I don't know. Watch this space.

Until the next one, folks. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

An Ambitious Idea

Well, I suddenly found my motivation to replay Creatures surging some days ago. Now I'm finding it relatively easy to at least run a wolfling run and play around with genetics again. I don't know what happened, but it's something.

Anyway, some days ago Xan created a new breedlist, since all of the old ones have either gone down, are no longer updated, or just incomplete. It's quite comprehensive.

However, it only covers full breeds. Which got me thinking: There should probably be an equivalent for genetic breeds, shouldn't there?

I loved CU7's breedlist, when it was still online. It had practically every breed, genetic or otherwise, that had ever been created on it, complete with a picture, description, what sprites it used, and where it could be found, even if that website had gone down. Some of the pictures were quite nice, too. Alas, now it's gone, never to return. It can't even be browsed with a web archive (-arg- robots.txt. Seriously, -arg- it). 

But that's not to mean something like it can't be recreated, as Xan proved. With my specialty in Creatures development being genetics, I've been thinking of taking a stab at it myself. A full list of genetic breeds, still available and extinct alike. 

If a breed was no longer available anywhere else, it'd be hosted on the list. Even if the creator stated that they didn't want it hosted anywhere else. I'm well aware of why someone wouldn't want their creations hosted, but at the same time these breeds are likely to be extremely old and their creators no longer available to be contacted. 

As far as I'm concerned, it's better to archive them somewhere so that present and future Creatures players would be able to enjoy them. If by some stroke of luck one of those creators came back and expressed displeasure at a breed being hosted, then I'd oblige (albeit with the request that they put it up for download themselves). 

But what about the breeds that can no longer be found and that nobody has lying around? Well, genetic breeds aren't that difficult to create. In the event I could not find a lost breed, I'm thinking I would recreate that breed and host that instead (albeit with a CFE-based genome as opposed to a vanilla genome). It might not quite be the same breed, but it'd probably give present and future players an idea of what that breed was like. 

All this said...the effort all this would require is monstrous, and I have no idea if my current burst of inspiration's going to last long enough for me to get the list started and recreate all the breeds that need recreation. Chances are I'd give up before I got halfway.

My final thought, as such, is not trying to do this alone. Surely I'm not the only one who'd want to see such a list, and I'm not the only geneticist in the community either. Perhaps a group could be assembled to hunt down all the breeds that could be hunted down, and remake everything that couldn't be found. 

Let me hear your thoughts: Is this something you'd like to see? Would you be willing to help me out somehow? 

Until the next one, folks.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

C1 Downloads Images Fixed + Status Update

First things first: If you've looked at the C1 Downloads page lately, you might have noticed that most of the images read "Please upgrade your Photobucket account to enable third-party hosting" instead of actually showing what the breeds looked like.

Rather than deal with this questionable business decision, I opted to just reupload the images via Blogger's natural image uploading function. Now all the images should display properly.

Originally that was all that was going to be here, but I figured I might as well say a few things about my current frame of mind concerning Creatures.

And that, sadly, is that it's completely unchanged from before. My motivation for Creatures-related things is still zero, and for mostly the same reasons. So chances are the silence here is going to remain, though I'll still do my best to make sure all my stuff remains available in this era of dying Creatures websites.

While I'm here, I figured I might as well advertise Pilla's Discord Server, the Caos Coding Cave. I hopped in there a while back, and while it's been just as quiet as the rest of the community (which I'm really not helping much) I haven't really regretted it.

It is worth mentioning it's aimed at Creatures development, though. For non-developing people there's the Norn Nebula server, which I don't have a link to. I haven't joined that server, for reasons I'm not stating in public.

That's all for now. Until the next one, folks.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thoughts on a New Base Genome

Believe it or not, my motivation for this series is actually starting to climb back up, somewhat. It's probably never going to be what it once was, but maybe I'll actually get back into playing the games again. Even though the community feels like it's dying in this day and age, there's still cool stuff getting churned out.

I guess here I'll talk about the biggest problem when it comes to returning to Creatures: the fact that so much fuss has been raised about how broken everything is, at least in C3/DS in particular. How this specific part of the brain doesn't work right. How that digestive system function actually doesn't function. And so on.

C3/DS creatures do work fine even with all these "broken" issues (the fact I've run multiple generation 100+ wolfling runs successfully is testament to that), but even though hearing about it just gives me the impression the genomes I use are "inferior" in some way. It's...not a good feeling.

Besides that, there are some changes introduced in other genomes that I'd like to bring into my breeds. However, the base genome I've been using has been getting pretty bloated, so I feel like I should just start fresh with a new base genome.

Why make a brand new base genome as opposed to, say, using the CFF or 2017 genomes? Short answer: Pride. I've posted a few times about how the CFF aren't to my taste, and I still don't like them now. Also, using the work of another community member instead of my own just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'd rather base my breeds on a genome of my own devising, because breaking down and using such a genome just feels like an admission of defeat: that ultimately, I'm inferior to the creators of the CFF and 2017 genomes.

Never mind the fact I've fully adopted the CFE at this point, never mind the fact my current base genome incorporates CFF edits, and never mind the fact that all this is based on CL's work anyway. Sense? What fun is there in making sense?

Let's ignore my need for therapy for now and get back to the topic at hand. At one point in time, I thought about completely gutting a CFE genome (that is, deleting everything except the genus, brain, gait, and poses) and replacing it with a biochemistry of my own devising, but I decided against that. I just don't have the patience for that kind of work, especially not with the low level of motivation I have now.

My alternative plan would still be based on the CFE genome, because I've accepted that at this point and I like pretty much everything that it introduced. I'd also include the following stuff:

  • Having hunger being based on the levels of nutrients rather than arbitrary stimuli. The 2017 genomes also do this, and admittedly that's where the inspiration came from. But I can also point out that the C1 Forest/Ron Norns also did this, and thus claim that it's also been done officially and thus is more acceptable. 
  • Some other nutrient balancing, since one of the "broken" things I've been hearing about is that creatures tend to have an excess of nutrients (particularly adipose tissue) all the time. I'll probably need to do this anyway just to incorporate the above-mentioned feature.
  • Some means of preventing overeating. Be it through the CFF Fullness Lobe (which I'm not entirely sure works anyway; I've never noticed a real difference between creatures with it and without it) or some other means. 
  • Some means of preventing lactate mutations from keeping creatures limping forever. I could live with or without a full-on lactate oxidation cycle; a lot of my breeds are amphibious anyway so the drowning survival rate isn't too much of a draw. But having creatures get stuck limping forever because excess lactate mutation results in dead muscles is irritating.
  • Colortrue pigments, or that is having the offspring of two colored parents have a mix of colors between the two parents. In my base genomes this'd be able to mutate for the simple fact the population in a wolfling run will all become the same color if the pigment/pigment bleed genes couldn't mutate. This'd probably screw the pooch entirely in terms of breeding compatibility, but it makes breeding interesting. 
  • Moving the disease reactions to appropriate organs as opposed to having them all be in the Immune System. I believe this is how C2 did it, and it feels more natural that way than as it is by default. By default, a dead Immune System means that a creature can't fight off illness properly...but it also means that a lot of diseases won't effect the creature fully. Not exactly realistic.
That's the major stuff I'd want, though I'd probably incorporate some other small edits into the genome as I made it. 

It's still going to be pretty extensive, as testing's going to be needed and whatnot. Still, I think this sounds a little more palatable then completely making a new genome from scratch (effectively). Will I actually get off my rear and actually make this genome? Too early to tell. I think I'd like to ease back into simply playing Creatures first before I start the hardcore development. Maybe I'll give the 2017 genomes a fair shake beforehand. 

I guess that's all I have to say for now. Until the next one, folks.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Swimming Agent V3 Uploaded

Just a short post to say that I've now uploaded the Swimming Agent V3 to the Realm. It should be available in the Downloads section, or you could save yourself some clicking and just get it here.

V3 was my sole release for the CCSF 2016. Compared to V2, it makes swimming look more natural, as well as fixes the bug where creatures would "jump up" a level when starting to swim. I think it's an improvement over V2, at least.

As a general status update, I'm slightly more interested in doing something Creatures-related than my last post. I wouldn't expect anything big, or anything at all for that matter, though. Chances are this blog's just going to remain quiet. If I do post something, it's probably going to be something like a metaroom review.