Saturday, March 24, 2012

Project: Flesheater Grendels

An adult male Flesheater
If you frequent CCaves/Ctopia and pay attention to the Development Board, you may have noticed a thread about these guys. However, beyond "more realistic predatory grendel" I've never really given them an official description. Now that I have this blog, it is as good a place as any to give the laydown on the Flesheater Project.

The Flesheater Grendels are my magnum opus - the most complex and polished breed I ever plan on making. As can be expected, I'm taking my time in making them and constantly testing them after each change I make. It's the most amount of work I've ever put into a genome, and I hope that it pays off.

The Flesheaters are designed as an answer to a particular problem about the normal grendels - as a wolfling run hazard, they're hit or miss. If you use the standard (Jungle) grendel as a hazard, they'll either do nothing or kill all your norns within a short timeframe. It's rare that you'll get grendels that actually serve the purpose as a check to the norn population.

The problem with the normal grendel is in their anger levels and aging process. Standard C3 grendels age really fast - hatch a norn and a C3 grendel at the same time and the grendel will be an adult in a fourth of the time it takes for the norn to get to that lifestage. As well, C3 grendels get angry for the most trivial things (such as running into walls). The end result? An angry, adult C3 grendel can easily end a wolfling run before any of the norns get a chance to breed. Even worse is if one decides to hatch a breeding pair - the C3 grendels will be having babies by the time the norns actually start wandering around.

Banshee grendels aren't much better. While they don't start hunting norns until adulthood, when they hit that age they're every single bit as remorseless as the standard grendel - to end an adult's killing streak, the grendel itself needs to die or all the norns need to die.

If you want an example of what I mean, read this topic about a wolfling run where the Banshee Grendels were given the aging process and breeding speed of the standard C3 grendel. It didn't end well, to say the least.

Another problem is that the standard norn really doesn't stand a chance against a grendel. In a normal world, the hand could just teach the norn to hit the grendel, but in a wolfling run a norn won't know to do that. Better yet, even if they did know that they could hit the thing, it would likely get them nowhere - normal and banshee grendels are relentless when attacking. 

This problem is what the Flesheaters aim to fix. Where a normal grendel's relationship with a norn is akin to that of a serial killer's with his victims, the Flesheaters and norns have a relationship more like that between a lion and a zebra. The Flesheaters will get angry and will kill norns, but they know where to draw the line and won't kill more norns than is explicitly necessary. They also have an altered aging and breeding process to ensure that they don't get the jump on norns if they're hatched at the same time as their prey.

Flesheaters also are being designed so that the normal norn has a chance against them. Their flight-or-flight genes are edited so that a healthy grendel fights back when attacked, but grendels in high amounts of pain will turn tail and run. Basically, a norn merely has to slap a Flesheater enough to get it to run away. If the norns have access to education, they then could pass down their knowledge to the next generation, possibly ensuring the species's survival.

This is more an introduction to the breed than anything else - the breed will get covered in more detail in future posts. So for now, I'm leaving it at that. I do want to know, however - is there anyone who's actually interested in a grendel like this? My past attempts at hosting a public beta test for them ended in dismal failure. While the files I put up are getting downloads, I'm not getting any feedback on them even though I explicitly asked for it. So I'm wondering if there's an actual need for a grendel like these.

For those of you interested in testing the Flesheaters: You can get the genome and a breeding pair for v0.5 (the latest public revision) here. They're a bit outdated, but they're still a good example of what I'm aiming for.


  1. This is an awesome project, Grendel Man! Whenever I have Grendels in a C3/DS world, they never seem to be very balanced out. I'm starting to enjoy having other worlds as tests, apart from my main one I write about. I think the Flesheaters will fit in quite nicely in one of these worlds! Are you looking for feedback in general, or are you interested in specific types of testing? I can't say that I'll get around to trying them out today, but I hope to find some time in the next week or two. Thanks!

    1. I really wonder if not specifying what type of feedback I was looking for was a contributor as to why I didn't get any.

      Anyway, by "feedback," I mean "drop the grendels and some norns in the same world and record how the grendels act." I want to know if they're acting in the way I designed them to.

    2. Hi I'm currently in middle of feral run with your Flesheaters as a main breed.

      After a while they killed all norns and then started hitting each other to get protein.
      After 50 generations they became immune to ATP decoupler and were able to survive with as much as 10 bacteria in their bloodstream.
      But now (generation 90) they have developed surprising and kind of annoying behavior. They lay/carry their eggs in/to elevators. This means that most of their offspring aren't born since eggs don't hatch in elevators.
      I have raised popcap (70) docking station and several agents injected but nothing that should mess with their heads.

  2. Okay, I tested them! Twice.
    The first time, I hatched 6 norns in their respective terrarium and put Carnivore and Carnosaur in theirs. They aged quickly to adolescent and went off to the terrarium. Within 29 minutes all of the norns were dead.
    I tried again, now with 8 norns. Again, many norns were killed. One norn lived in the bridge and was spared for a long time because of that. The grendels mated and produced four offspring, all expect one had pigment mutations. The offspring seemed less interested in beating norns. All the grendels lived in the Norn terrarium. Two norns of tougher breeds managed to survive and ended up breeding, they did little to fight back however. Eventually the norns migrated to the Norn Meso and the two original grendels visited them from time to time but didn't manage to kill any but a few babies. Carnosaur was the first grendel to be killed, after that the two adult norns learned to kill grendels that came to the Meso. They had many children (the norns) by now. Later on four of the generation 2 grendels visited the Meso on and off (Carnivore stayed in the Norn Terrarium with one of his daughters for a long time), one by one they were killed. For a long time it was just the norns in the Meso and Bridge, with one grendel staying at the Bridge as well casually beating the norns there. After a long time Carnivore went to the Meso as well (while his daughter stayed behind in the Norn Terrarium, she had never killed anyone), where the final battle was fought. I figured I'd end it there since it was just one grendel by now.
    Yes, the grendels did indeed run away if they were hit a few times. They beat norns a lot even when they weren't hungry, though, and if they had many weak norns to beat at their leisure they would quickly dispose of all of them. The grendels didn't breed at all after the very beginning. Anyhow, that was it, the second try took 2 hours exactly.

    1. Gah, I made one mistake up there, I meant "later on -three- of the generation 2 grendels visited the Meso on and off"
      Something I'd like to add also, the grendels had a very good idea of where the norns were when they went in 'hunting mode'. I hope this all was enough information and the kind you were looking for.

    2. Yes, that is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much.

      From that, I think that I should probably tweak the aging a bit (at the moment, they age at about the same rate as the C3 Grendels until the Youth lifestage, then they switch to norn aging).

  3. It's annoying as heck how the vanilla Grendels can easily take out an entire family of Norns. Testing this out right now, I'm pretty excited. :)

    1. Hmm... seems as though the download isn't working anymore. :( Dang.

    2. Download should be fixed now. Thanks for pointing that out.