Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chione Update

For the third year in a row I have a Chione update ready for release. It's looking like it's going to be some kind of odd tradition that'll end awkwardly once Chione's more or less completely finished.

Sadly, there's still no life in this room. Instead, I've changed how the transportation pillars work. Originally, they became invisible after a creature used one to prevent them from speeding past their intended destination. After testing with the similarly coded elevines, however, I found that this method could lead to increased chances of Eat Elevator syndrome should the creature not find what it's looking for at its destination. 

The new lifts instead flash their buttons for a short time before transporting the creature. It still works to make sure the creature actually stays on the level it intended to reach, but by keeping the elevator visible it helps reduce instances of EES. 

This new update can be downloaded from the Metarooms section of my C3/DS Downloads, or you could save yourself some clicking and just get it here.

Until the next one, folks. I'll see you in 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

'Tis The Season....

...To spend time with your loved ones, eat lots of cookies, open presents, and maybe go completely bankrupt because Christmas is just that commercialized these days.

Tralalalala, lalalala.

I'm no Santa Claus, but I do have some gifts for you to enjoy today. Neither are actually Christmas-related other than being released today, but I hope they're enjoyable anyway.

Release #1 actually ties into one of my CCSF releases....
 I may not have considered the pack of grendels I released to be a full breed, but some tweaks to the genome later they now are. This version of the Artemia Grendels has all the features of the pack, along with some further refinements to make life in Artemia Sea easier for them.

The next release also happens to be an aquatic breed of sorts.

*Brief interlude to actually finish the banner because I somehow forgot to do that earlier*

This is a new genome for the Aquanorns created by Tomtschek. They're mostly similar to the originals, although they've been freshened up with all the recent advancements I put in my genomes these days (including the CFE and some CFF edits) and have some new features they don't share with the originals. 

Sadly I wasn't able to squeeze a third thing in. The closest thing I managed was updating the Featured Freak, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than with a cold-loving...dragon? Well, Abaasy wasn't intended to be really festive. 

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Post-CCSF Stuff

The CCSF is now over. Actually, it's been over for a while now; I've just been too lazy to update the blog.

It was a considerable improvement over last year's, I can say that much. Despite the fact that CCaves glitched out three days into the festival and delayed it for quite a while, what was there was still pretty enjoyable. KittyTikara did a wonderful job handling it all, and it was nice to see that the CCSF got a dedicated section that was both noticeable and actually looked like a CCSF website.

That being said, it still fell flat in other areas. There was a grand total of *one* big release (which I submitted); everything else was either a genetic breed, simple agent, or a creature pack. Furthermore, while there were quite a few contests, participation in them was utterly abysmal (Not counting my genetic breed contest, which was started before the CCSF, the most entries any of them got was two, and only one of them even got that many).

A lot of this can be chalked up to the aforementioned CCaves technical difficulties and to the fact that it took forever to get this festival planned. In spite of all that, what we got was enjoyable for what it was. However, it really doesn't bode well for future festivals.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there just wasn't a festival next year.

The community just isn't what it used to be. We're certainly not dead; new members are still coming in at a regular basis and everyone who's still here is reasonably active. However, a lot of wonderful people, many of them skilled developers, are no longer a part of the community. And what remains just doesn't seem as lively.

Given this state of affairs, I don't see the CCSF getting any better. Unless the people who really cared about the CCSF return to the community, or the current community gets a massive boost in activity, I doubt the tradition is ever going to return to its former glory.

I'm not saying there's no point in keeping the tradition alive. If there's still people who want to keep it going, then by all means. I'm just not expecting a whole lot out of it from now on.

Okay, enough of the downer stuff. I think it's about time I get the stuff I released on my own place, isn't it?

Release #1 is the Spam Norns. These are essentially an updated version of the breed of the same name created by ToxicNorn (ToxicNorns?). While they aren't completely immortal or age as fast like ToxicNorn's, they still breed really, really fast, and are really social on top of that. If you want lots of norns quickly, then these guys are for you, but everyone else might want to be careful lest they overrun whatever world they're placed in.

Next up is Artemia Sea, the sole big release of CCSF 2014. This metaroom is based upon the tank from the Amazing Virtual Sea Monkeys and is designed with the comforts of swimming creatures in mind. It's filled with life from Creatures 1, Creatures 2, and the Amazing Virtual Sea Monkeys, although there's a few completely new organisms floating around in there....

Finally, there's the Artemia Grendels in the event you need some creatures to fill up Artemia Sea. This pack of grendels was produced from a wolfling run I ran in Artemia Sea while the room was in development. They have a number of differences from normal grendels, not the least of which is that they have gills and will drown if you don't get them to water as soon as you import them. I don't consider these to be a proper breed...at least, not yet. Might want to stay tuned. 

I initially held off on this since I wanted to make a bonus release. However, there's a certain holiday coming up very soon that would be a better time to release some things and so I decided to just upload my CCSF stuff and get it over with. 

Now, there's also my genetic breed contest that I mentioned some time ago on this blog. It's technically over since it ended on the last day of the CCSF.

Um...about that. Despite the long period time it was open for, the contest got only three entries. The winner of these three entries was decided quite a while ago, and I could post which one I liked the most. 

The problem is that this is far fewer entries than I would've liked. I was hoping to get six or more by the supposed deadline. I guess the lack of participation is sort of my fault for not making it more visible. 

I do have a new idea for the whole thing, but that'll be for a later date. For now, consider the contest to still be open. I'll close submissions when I work the kinks out of the idea. 

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

C3/DS Download Page Broken Up

The list of things I've created for C3/DS keeps getting bigger and bigger, and the Realm's C3/DS Downloads page has been getting steadily larger and more bloated. As such, I decided to take a little time and split up the downloads page into separate pages.

Feel free to check it out, and do let me know if a link got busted or something otherwise broken in the process of splitting it up. If nothing else, I do hope it's a little more convenient for those wishing to access my C3/DS work.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tutorial: Shifting Appearance Genes

A while back I considered making my own set of genetics tutorials covering things that more newbie-friendly tutorials wouldn't touch on. Since my blog has been really inactive lately, I've decided to actually make just such a tutorial.

Before I begin, I should note that I'm assuming people reading this have some idea of how to make basic genetic edits. For those who have no idea how to do that but want to learn, then I suggest giving this resource at Creatures Caves a look (everything under the "Genetics" header should be of use, but feel free to look at everything if your dream is to make a full breed).

Now, onto the meat of the tutorial. This one covers a subject that many people who have just started out, myself included when I was just a newbie, have tried but found didn't work: making a creature whose appearance changes as it ages.

As anyone who has tried in the past probably knows, it's not quite as simple as making multiple appearance genes, setting them to different lifestages, and then calling it a day. If you hatch such a creature, whatever appearance it had at birth will be how it looks for its entire life, pigment and pigment bleed genes notwithstanding.

However, it is possible to make creatures whose appearance changes depending on their lifestage. Just take a look at Mummy's Chameleon Norns or West Wind's Gremlins. But if simply adding appearance genes for future lifestages doesn't work, then how did they do it?

As it turns out, you just don't just need appearance genes for each lifestage. You'll also need to create multiples of another gene type to get it to work: the genus gene, or in other words the gene that determines the species of a creature and is needed for a genome to work at all. The grand majority of creatures only have one genus gene, and for good reason: they don't need more than one. In fact, if you try to create more than one in the Genetics Kit it tells you this:

So how do you create more than one, if you can't do it in the Genetics Kit? Simple. You use a different genetics editor. I don't have much experience with third-party genetics editors, but I do use a few of them. And one of them is especially relevant for this tutorial: GeneLab.

GeneLab unfortunately lacks a "new gene" option, but it does have something else: a copy-paste option, something I'd absolutely love to have in the official Genetics Kit. It is this option that you'll need to create the multiple genus genes that are required for appearance-changing creatures. 

And here's how you do that: 
  1. Open up GeneLab, wherever you have it placed. I have mine in my Program Files folder, though it might be different for you. 
  2. Open up the genetics file you wish to edit. I'm just using my base ChiChi Norn genome for this.
  3. You'll be greeted with this:
  4. Right click on the "Genus" gene up at the top and select "Copy."
  5. Select the gene immediately below it and select "Paste."
  6. The gene you copied will appear above the gene you selected in the previous step.
  7. Creating multiple genus genes is as simple as that! If you want your creature to change appearance just once, then you're done here. However, if you want your creature to change appearances at multiple lifestages, you'll need a genus gene for each lifestage (e.g. if you want your creature to change appearance at adolescence, adulthood, and old, you'll need three extra genus genes, one for each lifestage) and therefore you'll need to repeat the above steps. 
  8. The next step is to edit each of those extra genus genes so that they switch on at the desired lifestages. If you wish you can save your edits here and switch back to your preferred genetics editor for the following steps (I'll be switching back to the Genetics Kit, for instance), although you can just as easily keep on editing in GeneLab if you think it suits you. Do be careful not to overwrite your previous genome if it's not the one you want to add the extra genus genes to; GeneLab has a normal "Save" option in addition to the "Save As" option. 
  9. If you switched to a different editor, open up your extra genus gene. If you're still using GeneLab, then you should have another window that has the Header information in it. Change the Lifestage from "Embryo/Birth" to your desired age (I'll be switching it to "Youth" here).

The information below the header (in GeneLab there's a separate window labeled "Gene Details" can be edited; if you so wish you can change the species. However, unfortunately it is impossible for a creature to change species over the course of its life; whatever species the Birth genus gene specifies will be that creature's species for its entire life. Also, make sure that at least one genus gene turns on at "Birth/Embryo," nasty things happen if a creature is born without a genus.
10. Now all you have to do is create the extra appearance genes for each lifestage you have a genus gene set to. You can change the breed to whatever you want so long as you know the other breed's breed slot - I'll be turning my ChiChi Norn into a Bengal Norn for the purposes of this tutorial.
You can create just one extra appearance gene if you just want the head to change or something, though for this tutorial I'll be making an entire set of them so the creature's appearance changes completely upon becoming a youth. 
11. If using the genetics kit, move each appearance gene so it's with the other appearance genes of its type (for example, make sure the head genes are grouped together). For GeneLab you'll need to copy-paste the appearance genes due to the lack of a "New Gene" option, and you can do that in the same way you did the genus genes earlier. Making sure the appearance genes are grouped together is optional as the breed will still change appearance regardless of where the extra genes are; doing so just makes sure crossbreeds with normal creatures a little more interesting. 
12. And you're done! You can now export your creature into the game and watch it change breeds when it hits different lifestages. For the Genetics Kit you can just use the "Export" option; for GeneLab and other genetics editors you'll need to save your genome and get it into the game some other way (for example, by using DevThing or JayD's Egg Maker).
13. If you did everything right, your creature should change into a different breed upon hitting the lifestages you set the extra genus genes for.

It's a fun little feature to add to a breed; you can have norns that transform into grendels or ettins once they get old enough, or creatures that change breed every lifestage, or creatures that slowly transform into another breed as they age. Plus it shows a little bit about how the game works (namely, that appearance genes and the genus gene are related somehow), which is always interesting. 

A few things to note about this, however: If you have a creature switch between two breeds with wildly different body data, for instance if you have a norn who turns into a grendel, the body data from the initial appearance takes precedence and makes the second appearance look a little strange. Between this, the fact that extra genus genes are required at all for this to work, and the fact that the official Genetics Kit won't let one create the extra genus genes, I'm fairly certain this is a bug and something that was never intended. 

That about does it for this tutorial. I'll probably be posting more in the future as I think of them, so keep your eyes open. Until the next one, folks.

Silence...And an Eventual Return?

It seems like every passing year I post here less and less. Compare my posts during the first year of my blog's existence, and then look at the posts for the following years. Heck, I haven't made a proper post since September (well, excluding that Creatchi rant that I deleted some time ago; it turns out I was worrying about nothing after all and I felt it was a little a too harsh in light of that). The Featured Freak's been ongoing, but beyond that it's just been really quiet here. 

It's mostly because I've just been in a rut lately. Besides the fact that other things have been more interesting (Xenoblade Chronicles especially; I've been playing that game practically nonstop for a couple weeks now), my attempts for developing just haven't been going well. Every attempt at making a genetic breed has just been devolving into a GoM ripoff, for instance. 

Thinking about it now, developing probably is taking a lot out of me. While I doubt I'll ever stop tinkering with genetics or CAOs, the full blown projects take quite a bit of work (especially with my new standards) and oftentimes I wind up with something I'm not happy with. 

The alternative is simply to just play the game, and I've been doing just that. However, setting up a world is still a massive pain thanks to my finicky habits; it seems like every world that I don't end up deleting is just focused on the Meso and nowhere else. 

So what is my plan now? Option 1 is simply to play a different game other than C3/DS; I still have my C1 grendel world and after looking back on the first four updates I posted about it I think continuing it after leaving it alone for so long might be good. I may or may not post updates about it should I start it up again, however; like I mentioned back when I started it I really don't like having to pause the world and take pictures for a post, even if I do like the final result. 

The second option is to focus my development efforts on something less extensive. One thing I've been considering making is a spritemix; that is, creatures who do not have unique sprites or a unique genome, but instead simply opt for an interesting appearance (usually through a combination of colors and a mixture of sprites from various different breeds, hence the term "sprite-mix"). It's been something I've been wanting to try making for a while. 

In addition, I've also been considering just making packs of colored creatures, which while not very original does provide a good amount of variety for other people's worlds. If nothing else, it'd give people some CFE versions of otherwise non-CFE breeds to play with. 

Whatever the case, I should probably try to post here more often. 

To end things off, most are probably aware that the CCSF 2014 is back in action after technical difficulties killed it for a while. I'm not expecting a whole lot out of it since it took a while to get planned, but what's been released so far has been pretty nifty even if it isn't huge. That being said, you can expect at least one big release; against all the odds I managed to get out a metaroom - a complete metaroom at that, not an empty place like the initial Deep Abyss or Aquanornia Revamped were. I'm rather proud of it too, so I hope you'll enjoy it whenever it gets released. Not to mention my version of the Spam Norns was released on Day 1. I'll be posting my CCSF stuff here once the festival's over, as I did with last year's and the year before that. 

Secondly, depending on how things go I might actually be able to get out a bonus release before the festival's over; I am working on a breed now and so far it's coming along swimmingly (if for no other reason than that one big thing that kept bothering me for past projects, the idea to keep the breed as close to the official breeds as possible, is a non-issue since among other things it makes heavy use of an unknownase chemical). Failing that the next Featured Freak should be up soon. 

As a matter of fact, I was going to post a tutorial about something, but I decided to post this status update instead since the introduction was getting a bit like that. That should hopefully be up soon; I just need to take some pictures first. 

Until the next one, folks.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Featured Freak is in Action

It happened much later than I would've liked, but I've finally gotten around to reviving the Freak of the Week in the form of the Featured Freak.

What is the Featured Freak? Once or twice a month, I'll post a new genetically edited creature for you to download. These creatures aren't quite as in-depth as my genetic breeds, but nevertheless are built around concepts that may or may not become full breeds in the future.

It's pretty much the same thing as my previous Freak of the Week (which was inspired by Alien's Weekly Freak), just updated considerably less frequently so it's not as taxing. As with Freak of the Week, I accept submissions of your own genetically interesting creatures.

The first Featured Freak is Enya, a grendel who uses the ChiChi Norn genome and has a pretty purple color.

Here's hoping the Featured Freak lasts longer than Freak of the Week did.

In other news, I've extended the deadline for the contest in my last post - the last day for submissions is now the end of CCSF 2014, whenever that winds up being. The reason for this is because I only got one submission before the original deadline, and while there's interest it seems the current time is a bit too busy. So hopefully this will give you some leeway if you want to submit something.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How About a Contest?

So I got around to adding the edits mentioned in my last post into my base C3/DS genomes (well, my base chichi norn and grendel genomes, anyway), as well as an additional edit to enable them to process lactate (it's not a full-on cycle as it is in the CFF, but it ensures that lactate won't hang around for the entirety of the creature's lifespan). They're now ready for use in a proper genetic breed. The problem is that I can't come up with an idea for a breed. I suppose I could just "doodle" and get something that way, but that takes a while. Instead of ruminating on it for ages, I decided instead to involve the community.

Sometimes when I run low on ideas, I like browsing TCR or the adoptions section at CCaves to see if there's a particular individual who might prove inspiring. For this contest, I want you to upload such creatures. If your submission wins, it'll become a full breed.

So here's the rules:
*This is for C3/DS only - no C1 or C2 submissions!
*Find an interesting creature in your worlds. Appearance and species doesn't matter much, though since I don't have an ettin genome ready quite yet ettins aren't as likely to win as norns and grendels are. That's not to say an ettin can't win, however; an ettin certainly can if it appeals to me enough.
*Upload this creature to either TCR or CCave's adoption center, along with a brief description of how you imagine the breed based on your submission to be like. Do take care to ensure that the breed's features are actually possible in-game! You're not going to win if your breed relies on eating walls (for example).
*Only one submission per user! Also, you will have to upload a completely new creature for the contest - I won't accept already uploaded creatures.
*This should be obvious since I'm basing the breed on a creature, but just to make sure: the result of this contest will be a genetic breed - it will not have sprites of its own! I don't have the patience to make a full breed, not to mention my art skills are pretty bad, so I will not make a full breed unless you want to make the sprites for me.

I hope that explains everything, but feel free to ask questions if something isn't clear (which is always a possibility with me).

Submissions will be open until August 28 or until submissions die off. I'll post the winner a few days afterwards. Here's hoping I'll get some interesting creatures!

Until the next one, folks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The CFF and Future Releases

You guys know that future birthday release I promised in my last post? Well, when I said "by the end of the week"...I really meant "sometime early next month." I don't have a good excuse for slacking off as much as I have been; I really don't. Anyway, provided I can win this grappling bout with my own brain, that release should be out soon. I'm toying with some ideas; I might go with one of them or just finish up the thing I was working on. However, there is one thing I know for certain, and that is that there's a new set of features set to become permanent fixtures in my genomes from here on out.

As some of you might be aware of, there's a new project underway to improve the C3/DS genome under the name of the CFF. To be quite honest, my initial reaction to this project was jealousy. Half the things going into this genome feel like stuff I should have figured out ages ago. It was bad enough that it was a good part of the reason why I haven't been as into Creatures recently.

After thinking about it some more, however, I realized that improving the default genomes really isn't my niche. In fact, I think I'm not good at doing that at all since the way my brain works doesn't usually alert me to potential problems in need of fixing. No, I'm the guy who makes cool and kooky breeds with the intent of spicing up your gene pool. Why should I be so annoyed about the CFF?

That was about when I got over it. Instead of being all miffed about it, I instead decided to incorporate a few CFF edits into my breeds. What are these edits, you ask?

  • The Fullness lobe and accompanying tract. It's only two genes, and considering I run a lot of wolfling runs where there's a risk of the creatures eating themselves out of house and home this sounds very useful. 
  • The "WILL YOU SHUT UP" edits (as affectionately titled by Kezune). Again, this is an easy edit to implement, and its effects again serve to make sure creatures actually tend to their needs. 
  • The Hungry Drive Overwhelmsion organ. This edit's a bit different from the previous two as it involves a lot of genes and can affect compatibility with other creatures (especially considering that in my breeds it's grouped with the Drive Maintenance and Fearly and Painly Drive Overwhelmsion organs instead of being left at the end of the genome like the CFF). As with the previous edit, however, it helps make sure creatures take care of themselves. Furthermore, a few of my past breeds actually had this edit before the CFF did (anyone remember the Enhanced ChiChi Norns? They were the first breed to have this organ, though the version that's in the CFF does seem to work better). 
As the CFF are still a work in progress, I expect to have to update these features from time to time to correspond with new developments (though the two test grendels I have right now seem to be getting along just fine). Since I don't make breeds that often anymore, this isn't as big a problem as it seems. 

While I'm at it, I'll comment on the other features of the CFF I don't plan on incorporating into my breeds.
  • The inhibin cycle: I have a theory that the inhibin chemical was just a leftover from early on in development. Notice how libido lowerer accomplishes something similar, but for both sexes. I think inhibin might have been planned to be used early on, but then got shafted in favor of libido lowerer and the developers simply forgot to remove the genes related to it. Not certain if this is actually what happened, but it seems plausible to me. True or not, this is one of those edits that looks nice, but isn't really necessary. It really doesn't do anything to help creatures survive, which is a big part of my goal when gengineering, and also has an effect on compatibility with creatures without the edits (considering I'm adding a new organ I might as well minimize the damage otherwise). Plus I prefer fast-breeding creatures anyway as those make wolfling runs go faster.
    • That being said, the removal of that broken Testosterone receptor IS something I'm incorporating, as it's actually harmful to some degree.
  • The lactate cycle: This does help creatures survive, unlike the inhibin cycle. However, I'm still leaving it out. For one, lactate isn't something I'm overly concerned about as it only has one source in default C3/DS creatures (muscle toxin). Secondly, a good chunk of my breeds are amphibious anyway so drowning is a moot point. And as with the inhibin edit, it has an effect on compatibility (though not to a huge extent). 
    • One more thing about this edit: The version of it as it exists in the CFF involves use of an unknownase chemical. I'm planning on seeing if I can get a version of the cycle to work without use of that chemical at some point in the future, and if I succeed that will be the version of the cycle that shows up in my breeds. Until then, I might just make it so Lactate actually decays at a decent rate so it doesn't hang around for a creature's entire life. 
  • Most of the other planned edits (responses to CA levels, alcohol having an effect on the liver, etc.) just sound like flavor edits to me - that is, their sole purpose is simply to make the CFF more similar to creatures from previous games. That really isn't something I'm interested in having in my breeds. Unless one or more of them really does help the CFF perform much better than the default C3/DS creature, I'm probably going to ignore them.
And that's all for now. 'Til the next one, folks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The 22nd of July

Today is my 22nd birthday, as many are probably aware of by now. While it hasn't been anything spectacular, I did have a preliminary celebration of sorts on Saturday, so I'm fairly content with whatever happens today. But onto something more Creatures-related.

If you've been following me for a while, you probably know that I have a tendency to make and release things on my birthday. I didn't intend to make this year an exception...but sadly, it appears that's going to be the case. As of now, I have nothing new to show. I was too tired last night to work on anything new, and I've been too occupied with other things *coughAnimalCrossingcough* to do more than a hastily-made thing today, which I don't feel like making. So sadly, there isn't going to be a release today.

HOWEVER. That's not the end of the story. Believe it or not, I AM working on a proper release. And I WILL have this release out by the end of the week. Compared to some of my past works it's not going to be really spectacular, but I do hope it'll be enjoyable regardless. 

Now that that's out of the way, I appreciate all the well-wishes I've received so far (special mention goes to Jessica for giving me a shout-out in Discover Albia's latest update). It's been a while since I've really been into Creatures, but I do not intend on abandoning the series or indeed the community surrounding it anytime soon, and I hope it all continues well into the future. 

And now for some general status updates: Freak of the Week, as you might have guessed from there not being a new freak for over a year, has properly ended. However, that's not the end of me posting featured adoptions here. I'm planning on retooling the feature into the Featured Freak, which will be updated once or twice a month as opposed to once a week. The first Featured Freak will be up either sometime later this week or at the beginning of August. 

My C1 grendel world isn't dead, but it is resting. First off, I just haven't been in a Creatures mood for a while now and decided that I wouldn't force myself to update it constantly if I really didn't want to. Now that my drive is starting to return I've been focusing on C3/DS again. I might post another update about it in the future, but don't get your hopes up. 

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Creatures 1: Matchmaking Time

Elise didn't take long to awake from her nap. As soon as she did, I lead her back down to Mephiles and tried this whole thing over again. Once again, the two seemed rather reluctant to socialize - this time around, Mephiles decided he wanted to be the antisocial one.

Eventually, however, I brought down the ball from the computer area, and for the first time they had a common interest to focus on. For a while, they were content to stick together and play with the ball. It was rather cute to watch, and I was happy that they could agree on something.

After a while of this, I decided to take away the ball again. Elise's response?
Yep, she decided to run away again. This time after Mephiles kissed her quite a few times. He clearly wanted to go somewhere with this, but unfortunately she had other ideas.

It's probably worth noting that they're both children at this point. Whether they got there naturally or because they got aged up a little by excess stress is beyond me.

After this, I decided to let them go their own ways. Elise wandered out into the garden before taking another doze (playing with that ball must have worn her out), blending almost perfectly into the garden background in the process. Meanwhile, Mephiles contented himself by playing with the spinning top.

Once she woke up, they finally managed to get together for longer than a few minutes before one or the other ran off. Mephiles tried kissing Elise again. Her response this time was...to slap him a few times. This girl really didn't want anything to do with him, even if he was the only other grendel in the world.

They separated again a little while after this when Mephiles got distracted by the Baobab. I decided to teach him the word for "weed" since he was looking at it, but I didn't manage to intervene before he decided to take a bite out of it. Great going, Mephiles. Great going.

Then I noticed the teleporter nearby and decided to warp Mephiles to the computer room so he could work off the effects of the Baobab while perhaps getting a nap.
Success was made. He quietly lay there for a couple minutes, and then took a nap himself. 

While he was sleeping, I took Elise on a trip to the temple, teaching her the words for "weed," "herb," and "bigtoy" in the process. Unfortunately, the flibbertygibbit didn't do a whole lot to reduce the ever-present NFP. 

Then Mephiles woke up. This time, I decided to warp Elise up to the computer area instead of bringing Mephiles back down. That way, they wouldn't be able to go far if one of them tried retreating from the other. 

The result...was one big slapfest. I'm guessing the small area aggravated their fight-or-flight genes something fierce, and the only thing around to hit was each other. Even with the violence, however, I heard a few kisses, and for once Elise decided to wear a different expression other than that perpetual frown.

The whole affair must have been something good, in fact, because after a while of it Mephiles flashed a big grin at the camera. Elise was still playing hard to get, if her exclamation of "run" was anything to go by, but at this point I don't think either of them cared. In fact, the slapping was probably good for Mephiles in the long run - rather than getting fed up like Elise (and other grendels from my base genome), he gets food from being slapped. It still hurts, but it's also good for him in the long run, and as you can see he probably appreciated it. 

Eventually, I decided enough was enough and used the teleporter to get them both down to an area where they had more space.
And much to my pleasure, they decided to remain together rather than promptly separate again. At last, they saw it fit to remain together. And at last, they stopped frowning (even if Elise was still a little grumpy). Granted, Mephiles did back off a little after this picture was taken, but he didn't go far. 

Frickin' finally. Next update will see if this relationship lasts, and perhaps a new grendel will join in the fun....

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Creatures 1: Moody Grendels

Thankfully, no more errors got in the way of Mephiles's rebirth, and everything went off without a hitch. Mephiles certainly looked pleased at his second shot at life, at any rate. Unfortunately, that smile would be the last one he'd wear for quite a while. 

I managed to teach him a few words while he was still sitting there twirling about, but it didn't take him long to pick up a proper interest in the learning computer. Teaching him his words went just about as smoothly as it did the first time around, although this time he took a significantly larger interest in skipping ahead. 

Once I taught him everything in the learning computer and the words for "hand" and "food," I quickly closed and restarted the game to ensure I wouldn't lose progress this time before going to check on Elise. 

Thankfully, no crashes occurred this time. I found her out in the temple, eyeballing the pianola. She wasn't much in the mood to play some music, though. Given her state of mind, she probably could have used some. 

With both grendels hatched, the next plan of action was to get the two of them to meet. Elise returned to the garden on her own accord, while I made sure Mephiles was filled up before bringing him down to meet Elise. Some more playing around from the both of them, and they crossed paths at last...only for Elise to walk right past Mephiles without paying much attention to him. 

The good news was that it didn't take long for her to properly notice him. The bad news was that things then promptly took a turn for the silly. 

Instead of playing with Mephiles as I hoped, every time he came into her sights Elise decided the better idea would be to turn around and run. Mephiles tried to show her he meant no harm by giving her a kiss, but she wouldn't listen. He expressed his sadness with a plaintive "Get yes Mephiles," a.k.a. the C1 way of saying "me very sad." I'd be sad too if the only other person I met was insistent on running away from me!

After a while, they separated. Elise decided to stomp about in the garden and attempt to beat up the carrots, which didn't go over so well for her, while Mephiles just skulked around the incubator. Meanwhile, I watched all this perplexed over what to do and developing a healthy dislike for the Need for Pleasure drive. 

I did notice that Elise was fairly tired and sleepy by looking at her drives in the Health Kit, and so I decided that she might be in a more sociable mood if she got a nap. Since the garden was a little distracting, I got her over to the teleporter and warped her up to the computer area. 

Much to my relief, she responded by lying down for a while, before finally dozing off. 

Will Elise and Mephiles ever get along? We'll find out in the next update.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creatures 1: Mephiles the...Fake Out?

When I last left Elise, she was sitting by the learning computer after just completing her words. Since I wanted to hatch another grendel soon and that she'd only distract the newcomer if she stayed, I decided to lead her elsewhere.

Past the greenhouse and herbs we went. I might have been content with leaving her in the garden, but I didn't want her playing with the bees. My original thought was to take her to the island, but there was a food patch at the foot of the Grendel Tree not far away.

A nice big patch of Muddy Swamp Carrots and Mushrooms would probably do it for Elise's food concerns. I brought down the ball from the upper levels of the Grendel Tree, and Elise was all set for now. I believe I've fixed the "Starch Glitch" present with Muppetboy's Carrot Variations, so that shouldn't be a problem.

After she was settled, I decided that it would probably be for the better if I got rid of the Bees and Hive Upgrade. I did so, in the process also removing the Shee Seed Launcher (the Beelacanth relies on the Upgrade for reproduction) and the Cloud Layer Butterfly (who relies on the Beelacanth).

After that was done, I opened up the Genetics Kit and got to work on the next inhabitant.

And soon enough, a little male came to life.

This is Mephiles...or rather, this was Mephiles, for reasons we'll get to in a moment. Besides his black pigmentation, he can get nutrients by being pushed or hit by other creatures. He also lacks the gene that normally makes creatures sleepy in dark areas (although C1 doesn't have a real concept of light and dark areas anyway).

Besides that, I also made a few changes to my base genome before making him. For one, I got rid of the Antioxidant-to-aging reaction. More importantly, I made it so that the brain and all its related receptors and emitters are unable to mutate. Hopefully, this will prevent crippling mutations from occurring further on down the line. That being said, Elise does not have these additional edits since I hatched her before making them, so some might sneak through.

I did the same things for Mephiles that I did for Elise; I lead him up to the computer to teach him his words. For the most part, he was fairly agreeable, although he did sometimes move on to the next word before I could finish teaching him the previous word. Afterwards, I made sure he was fed and occupied, and then went to check on Elise.

I found her playing on the Desert Island. Unfortunately, almost as soon as the camera centered on her...the game crashed. When I reloaded it, Elise had gone back to the Muddy Carrot Patch, and Mephiles was never born. Thankfully, I didn't have to re-remove the Bees and Hive Upgrade and associated COBs.

Rather than attempting to re-hatch him, I decided to just play with Elise a little more.

In the post-crash world, Elise decided to head back to the Incubator rather than moving forwards to the Desert Island. I'm not sure why; other than that she had a high need for pleasure.

She was there shortly, and stopped to mess with a piece of cheese (though unfortunately she wasn't in the mood to actually eat it). I brought the ball back down for her to play with since she was bored. However, I decided that the best way to keep that and Need for Pleasure low was to hatch another grendel.

Cue the second take at laying an egg. Rather than hatching it in the incubator this time, I moved it up to the Computer Area and used a COB to unpause the egg. It was now time to wait for it to hatch.

Will Mephiles ever get a proper shot at life? Find out in the next update! Which might actually come later today; that crash was really disappointing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Creatures 1 - New Beginnings

My Creatures drive is in an odd position right now. On one hand, I really want to get back to the game. On the other hand, every time I attempt to start up C3/DS I run into a roadblock that prevents me from getting far, mostly the fact that I can't decide what metarooms, agents, and breeds to use.

So how did I come up with a solution to this? Well, note that I said "C3/DS," not "Creatures in general."

Instead of attempting to play C3/DS and getting stymied by my own pickiness, I decided to go with Creatures 1. Despite the fact that C1 creatures are nowhere near as self-sufficient as C3/DS creatures are, C1 has the advantage of being much, much simpler. For one, I don't have to worry about what COBs have what behaviors. Coupled with the fact that there's more natural-feeling COBs for C1 than there are such agents for C3/DS, there's enough COBs for me to use comfortably without feeling I don't have enough. Secondly, genetics are easier to work with and not nearly as time-consuming. This is good, as genetics tie pretty heavily into my plans for this world.

You see, I decided to take a page from Keeley's blog, Creatures Great and Small (which is a great blog by the way. Although it's been years since the last update, what's there is incredibly interesting). The first generation of this world will each have some special genetic tweaks to make them more unique (and hopefully have some interesting babies when they get to breeding).

I'm also going to do my best to document this world, despite my horrible track record with such worlds (look at how long ago the last Tevaela update was). It's an odd situation for me; I find it does kinda sap my enjoyment when I have to constantly pause and take pictures for the blog, but at the same time I love the archive that results and people's reactions to it. Don't be surprised if updates about this world eventually stop happening, but until then I'm going to try to update at least once a week.

So, how did my first couple minutes go?

 After creating my base genome for the creatures in the world (which didn't take long; all I had to do was tweak some instincts and stimuli), I had the Genetics Kit lay the first egg. Into the incubator it went, and the incubator hummed to life.

Seconds later, the hatching was complete...
...And out popped a little baby grendel. What, were you expecting norns? Personally, in C1 I find grendels to be much more fun to raise.

Anyway, this little girl is Elise. Apart from her white pigment, she is completely unaltered from my base grendel genome. Don't worry; everyone else will be a little more interesting genetics-wise.

Before going on, let me explain a few things about my base grendel genome. It's based on Slink's Many Colored Grendel's genome; this means that they have all the edits from the Life Kit Norns, such as the Fight or Flight genes. More importantly for this world, it means that they can breed. As previously mentioned, my only changes to this genome were a couple of stimulus and instinct changes. Grendels of this genome should be a little less grumpy and more sociable than normal (though they'll still get rather annoyed if someone slaps them). As well, I altered some instincts (mostly concerning food) to reflect the more efficient (in theory) instincts of the Wood Norns, which hopefully means that they'll eat better.

Back to Elise. I expected her to stand still for a little while after hatching, but she surprised me by being an active little baby. That doesn't necessarily mean she started walking off soon after hatching; I meant that she twirled in place for a little while. For some reason, babies in C1 tend to take a while to get moving.

After some coaxing with the ball, I got Elise into the elevator and up to the learning computer, where I started teaching her all the words she would need.
It didn't take particularly long for her to learn everything despite the ball constantly distracting her. In fact, this picture was taken after she had learned every word in the computer. She proved to have a good start as far as eating went, as well. Of the two pieces of food in the picture, she ate them both before I could completely teach her the word!

While playing with her, I realized that maybe injecting the Bees and Hive Upgrade may not have been such a good idea. Since the bees fly past the incubator area, they caught her attention and naturally she tried playing with them to less-than-happy results. I do like playing with the COB since it adds more flavor to the world (and is vital for the Beelacanth plant to complete its lifecycle), but I do wish the bees weren't so attractive. I guess we'll see what happens as things move on.

And that's all for this update. Tune in next update for more of Elise's adventures and the next baby grendel!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Creatures 3 In Docking Station

After a really long hiatus and after running around in circles to fix a really strange error with my DS, I think I'm ready to go back to playing Creatures. And lo and behold, I have something that isn't a release that I think is worth posting about!

The above picture looks fairly normal at first glance (apart from being maximized on my computer's crazy huge resolution). However, look a little closer. Where'd all the favorite place icons go? Why is the DS welcome screen showing up in C3?

Well, in my usual insanity, I decided to see if Docking Station could load an undocked Shee Ark, as an extension of an old project to get C3 to load with DS's engine. In the past, such an endeavor was attempted by replacing C3's engine.exe file with Docking Station's, which was woefully unsuccessful (the result was an unpassable catalogue-related error).

For this approach, I decided to mess around with .cos files instead of .exe files. So I ripped a completely unmodified "001 World" folder from my Creatures Trilogy CD (for those of you who don't know, that's the folder that holds all the files for the agents of a C3 standalone world at startup). Then I did the following things:
1. Applied Vampess's fixes to it.
2. Compared it to the "010 Docking Station" (DS's equivalent to the "001 World" folder). Any C3 .cos file that had an equivalent in DS (for example, "creatureBreeding.cos" and "DS creatureBreeding.cos") got deleted and replaced with the DS counterpart.
3. DS also had a few improved scripts for C3 agents (such as the Creator) for use in docked worlds. I took these scripts and replaced the originals in the C3 .cos files with them.
4. Made some alterations to DS's Welcoming Screen to account for the differences between C3 and DS.
5. Finally, I renamed the altered "001 World" folder to "010 Docking Station," replaced the original "010 Docking Station" folder with it, and made a new DS world.

Unbelieveably, instead of some error complaining about invalid map positions or catalogue errors, the result was a completely functional C3 world using the DS engine. All the C3 agents work as they do in C3 standalone. Even the bioenergy feature works.

However, adding new agents to this world isn't quite as easy. As can be expected, the C3 Creator looks for C3 agents, not DS agents. Even though this is technically Docking Station, the stuff that shows up in the Creator are C3 agents. This isn't a big problem, but trying to inject one of these agents can cause problems if it has a separate .catalogue file for both C3 and DS (for example, the Grendel Upgrade) and the DS version of the agent was previously injected into a DS only world.

So the Creator also needed to be modified to look for DS agents instead, and that proved to be another surprisingly simple task. When reading agents, the C3 creator looks for the PRAY chunk "AGNT," which indicates a C3 standalone agent. DS agents, meanwhile, are indicated by the PRAY chunk "DSAG." Getting the Creator to read DS agents was a matter of replacing all mentions of "AGNT" with "DSAG" in its .cos file.

And just like that, the Creator loads DS agents.

There's further complications involved in this process, however. Apparently, the animation routine some DS agents use is different from C3 agents. When the Creator tries to read one of these agents, the result is this:

Considering the Agent Injector can read these .agents files just fine, I think fixing this is possible; just look at how the Agent Injector handled it and fix the Creator likewise.

Even after that, there's still a few things here that make this whole affair awesome, but impractical in the long run:

1. Most agents (including my own) that are compatible with both C3 standalone and DS use the "gnam" command when determining where to place an agent. In Docking Station, this usually means placing the agent in one of the DS areas (like the Meso). This world, while only having C3 areas, is still a DS world. So the "gnam" command interprets it as a DS world and tries moving the agent into a nonexistent DS area. You can probably guess what happens afterwards.
Unfortunately, fixing this means fixing loads upon loads of agents to determine placement through other means, and ultimately I don't think it's worth the effort.

2. C3 standalone, obviously, has no online functionality. The same is true of this world. While I could move some things concerning the online functionality over without causing issues, most of DS's online is focused in the Comms Room and Workshop. Trying to find a place to put online stuff onto the Shee Ark is again more trouble than its worth (since it involves extra spritework, among other things), and copying it over whole-cloth creates "invalid map position" errors. So worlds created in this manner cannot get online, or at least not completely. Granted, this doesn't matter so much now with the lack of a functioning DS server, but if one of those projects to bring DS back online ever succeeds, it will matter then.

3. This probably goes without saying, but making docked worlds with the new Bootstrap folder in place is a seriously bad idea. If the result isn't outright errors, it's at least going to create loads and loads of duplicates. Granted, this is just guessing; I actually haven't tried to do this since changing the folders, but I certainly don't want to.

This was a fun little experiment, though; I'm probably going to make a few proper worlds in this manner. I might even share the new bootstrap folder if I manage to fix the Creator error mentioned above (and change a few things around with the DS welcome screen so that the other options work properly).

Before anyone asks, I have no intentions of trying to do this the other way around (that is, trying to get C3 standalone to load the Capillata). DS can run anything C3 has coded just fine; however, C3 cannot just run any DS agent just fine as DS has a lot of CAOs commands that are exclusive to it, and these need to be replaced with a C3-friendly equivalent for use in C3 standalone. Furthermore, I just don't see the point - the Meso is really the only area that might be useful in C3 standalone; the Comms and Workshop are completely useless thanks to C3's lack of online functionality. It'd just be a lot of work for too little reward.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gotta Whole Lotta Love

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! Granted, as of the time of this writing, the day is almost over, and I imagine it's probably already over for some of you. Even so, I hope you all got some quality time with your significant other (or at least some candy if you're single like I am).

Unfortunately, I can't give you candy over the internet, so this new release is going to have to do.

The Sweetheart Colorful Grendels are the first of the Colorful Grendel sub-breeds. Coming in an array of bright, hopefully lovely colors, they're best known for their love of pushing other creatures. In fact, they're so friendly that they can feed by interacting with their fellows! Just keep them away from Hardman Norns; they take the phrase "Make love, not war" to a decidedly ridiculous extreme.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tiny Little Water Bugs

After that little rant in my last post and some Googling, I figured that doing some CAOs might very well help me with the issues I've been having. To begin, I decided to code something quick and easy to help me ease back into it and Creatures in general. Converting an agent to the Garden Box would be a good place to start. And so....

I decided to turn the C3 aquamites into a GB agent. They're based on the originals and behave similarly for the most part, but they're much more interactive than the originals and are less prone to dying out (and the originals were pretty extinction-resistant as it was). 

I think I'm going to focus mainly on Garden Box agents for the next couple releases, and keep things reasonably simple as I work my way back to being able to focus on more complex agents and breeds. Until the next one, folks.

Monday, February 3, 2014

On a Lack of Interest

So I've been thinking about why I haven't been playing Creatures lately and why I haven't had much of an urge to do any developing. I guess part of it is that the community has been rather inactive as of late (although granted, it seems like everyone is horribly busy and/or sick right now, not just the Creatures community), although that's definitely not all of it as I'm finding Creatchi to be more enjoyable than the actual game right now. 

I've come to the conclusion that the biggest problem is the way I tend to play the game. 

I'm not the sort of person who can just inject a few metarooms, some agents, and then hatch some creatures and get to playing with no issues. No, I have to gut every single metaroom to remove any creature-unfriendly agents or navigation and replace them with fitting creature-friendly substitutes. This sounds simple on paper, but more often than not every world I attempt to create turns into a coding project. 

Creating a new agent/metaroom every once in a while? That's fine. I can do that. Having to code every single time I want to start a new world? Not so much. 

Even if I manage to make it past the initial setup, I have to contend with my finicky taste in agents. I generally prefer natural-looking agents, or at least agents that don't look "goofy." However, my brain is extremely particular in what it considers not to be "goofy." Furthermore, even if an agent manages to look good, it also has to be creature-friendly AND fit the metaroom I want to put it in. The end result? There's somewhere in the range of twelve agents I can use without my brain throwing a fit. I can generally fill up a small room (like the Grendel Hideout) without issue, but small rooms aren't good for large creature populations - besides the fact that everyone's likely to get crowded and start beating each other up, a lot of creatures tends to be a major strain on the room's resources. 

So there's not a whole lot of metarooms I can use, either. Notably, the list of metarooms I can't use effectively include the C3 Jungle Terrarium, C2toDS, and Chione (the latter of which is particularly bad, considering I helped make that one). All of this also probably helps explain why I don't find Veridia to be as enjoyable as everyone else seems to think it is. 

Setting up a world should not be this hard, and yet it is. Beyond the fact that I'm probably ADHD, I have no suitable explanation as to why I have to do it this way. All I know is that it blows and I wish I could be more flexible. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chione Update Update

My memory is really horrible.

As it turns out, in updating the mapping of Chione, I completely forgot that the Map Editor file I was using hadn't updated the room types from Liam's original mapping. That is to say, while the ice over the lake is now Air and the flat area before the entry cave is now Drained Soil, the tunnel through the lake went back to being Outdoor Concrete (when it should have been Indoor Corridor) and the random Air spot at the bottom of the lake came back.

Long story short, I've updated the room to remove the unintentional reversions. It should be available from the same link as before, but you can also pick it up here.