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.