Creatures Community Chat

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I'm a Good Old Games affiliate!

Okay first off, I swear I'm still planning on doing some sort of CAOS tutorial series, but work has been ridiculous lately and I just haven't had the time to invest (12 hour days for several weeks takes its toll).
I've also had a non-creatures related project on the go which should come to fruition soon. More on that later.

But, on to the point of this post. I've recently become a Good Old Games affiliate!

What does that mean? Well for all of you guys, probably not that much. Basically it means I've signed up with GoG to help advertise their games and I'll get a small payout from every sale I help them make.

Some of you may remember I signed up with Google Adsense recently, and wasn't really to my liking. Credit where it's due, the ads I was able to display were a lot more relevant than I thought they'd be. That said there were still a number that were so completely irrelevant to the readers here it just felt like selling out. That and the fact I've had a whole $0.08 out of the process...really not worth selling out for.

So instead I've signed up with GoG, which means I can advertise the Creatures games! I assume that will be much more to everyone's liking.

No doubt you'll have noticed the links off to the side ---->>>

Clicking any of those will take you to the GoG website where you can purchase the Creatures games. Considering the age of these games it's very hard to find working versions for modern operating systems. The GoG versions are by far the most stable I've found. That's not to say there aren't still a few issues, but I'm pretty sure they can all be worked around. If you decide to buy the latest versions and have any problems let me know and I'll help try and find work arounds for you. If there's a big enough need for it I'll create an extra page with a breakdown on how to get all the games working properly.

It's also worth mentioning that GoG doesn't have any DRM. For those of you not up with the hip gaming lingo, that simply means when you download the game it's yours. You can install it on any computer you want, as many times as you want. You don't need to worry about having an online connection to play the game or any of that nonsense (really annoyed playing FarCry4 right now for that very reason). It's one of the main reasons I've got no objections to advertising for GoG. They get this stuff.

As for any changes on the blog, I may periodically let you guys know when GoG is having a sale (particularly if it's the Creatures games that are on sale) but other than that you shouldn't see any significant changes around here.

So with that now out of the way, I'll try my darndest to get back to putting those CAOS tutorials together. I'm really itching to make a start. Just need to bowl over a couple of other things first.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Old artwork

In the continued spirit of updating this blog I've done a big update to the artwork page. Previously this was the 'Time to leave the ship' page, which only had the one piece of artwork.
The page now houses both the 'Time to leave the ship' and the 3D Grendel sculpt I did a while ago. These you are probably familiar with and should be much easier to find now.

In addition to those I've finally uploaded all of my (very) old 3D Creatures fan art. I did these many years ago and the quality is...a tad lacking. But you may enjoy them and at the very least you may get a good laugh out of them.

As with all my Creatures based work, the images are free for you to use in any way you like. Use them as wallpapers, as parts of your own website/blog or tear them apart and use the pieces to create your own works. It's all completely up to you.

Monday, March 23, 2015

New look, advertising and statistics

Hey guys. You may have noticed over the last week or so the website has been given a fresh new look. It's been a while since I last posted and I thought the old look was...well looking a bit stale. Hopefully you're enjoying the new look and finding navigation a bit easier.

In the process of this visual change around, I've also throw up a couple of Google Ads. If you've got an addblocker set up odds are you may not have even noticed yet. I had some confusion setting them up in the first place until I realised my own addblocker was preventing me from seeing them, lol!

Anyway, I wanted to say that these ads are auto-generated and as such I have limited control over what ads appear on the site and which are restricted. Fortunately there are some settings you can tweak which should prevent some of the more annoying adds cropping up (I highly doubt any of your are interested in meeting sexy singles, and even if you are, I doubt your on The Arch to do so).
That said, I'm still learning this new system and there's likely some things I may have missed.

The Creatures Community has always prided itself on being a family friendly environment and it's a tradition I want to continue. So, if you see any ads appearing that you think "wow, that probably shouldn't be there", please let me know. I'm pretty sure I've removed the 'sexy singles' and gambling nonsense, but just in case anything gets through...yeah, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

I should also mention the reason I've set up these ads. After being absent for so long, I came back and checked my website statistics and was blown away, because apparently I've been averaging about 600 visitors per month, even during my year long absence!

Over the 5 years or so The Creature Arch has been in existence, that comes out at nearly 29,000 views. That's more than my business website gets. So a big thank you to everyone who's supported this blog so far.

I'm hoping that if I can generate a small amount of income from this blog I can justify spending a few extra hours a month writing more blog posts. Which for you guys would translate into a series of blog posts delving deep into Creatures genetics or a series on teaching CAOS. Or both! So as much as I feel like a bit of a sell out by going the advertising path, hopefully it will allow me to be far more active than I've been the past year.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

CAOS tutorials?

Hello Norn lovers (or Grendel/Ettin lovers. No discrimination here).

I've been playing around in CAOS (C3/DS programming language) lately, as I'm interested in adding some stuff to the Garden Box.

It's been years since I last tried coding for Creatures, and I'm quite rusty. Fortunately I've become a much better coder since I last played with it, so it's sinking in faster than it used to.

Unfortunately I've had a bit of trouble finding good training resources. Not terribly surprising; CAOS is essentially a dead language.

That said, I can't help but feel that more people might take it up if it were easier to learn.
I'm hardly an expert. Honestly I'm just about starting from scratch again, but if I can get enough knowledge under my belt I was considering doing some very basic tutorials to help people get started.

Actually what I'd really like to do is put together some default scripts where people can essentially plug their own images and custom variables in to, at least for basic food/toy/plant agents.

So often I pick up a new agent only to find something is missing from the scripting. Such as food that doesn't have a CA smell for creatures to follow. Or fruit that doesn't decompose and turn into detritus, meaning Toxic Norns and some critters don't get a feed. Some relatively basic stuff in terms of concepts, but things that can be a little difficult to code if you're just starting out.

It may take me a couple of weeks to get to grips with the language again, and even longer to pump out some tutorials. But if it's something I'm going to do I need to know what level of understanding my audience has with programming. Are you all brilliant? Are you dabblers with a basic understanding of coding practices (if/else statements, for loops, variables)? Or are you complete novices who look at computer code and run from the room screaming?

I've set up a poll in the left side panel. If you could be so kind as to fill that out I'll consider where to start with this tutorial series.

Any additional feedback or ideas, put them in the comments below.

Cheers guys. Now to try and get this damn plant to grow....

Friday, March 20, 2015

More on Evo Norns

Alright, time for another Evo Norn update.

I've set up a new seasonal system, this time in the Biodome.

I've made the top level there grow food during Spring, the two middle layers during Summer and Autumn, and the lower level (not visible here) grows food during Winter.
As you can see in this image, all the Norns are in the middle two layers where all the food is growing. This means that when Spring was over and the food sources all dried up, all of the Norns migrated to the lower areas.
As I'm typing this the season has changed to Winter, and again, all the Norns have migrated to the lowest section of the Biodome.

On top of that, I have a nice collection of eggs available.

From 10 Norns I've received 14 eggs. That seems like a healthy number for a growing population. I think the reproductive changes are spot on.

As a proof of concept, it seems as though this group has worked exactly as I'd hoped.

That said, I encountered some strangeness I think is worth mentioning.

Firstly, this setup is the second I put together. The first one sort of broke, and I'm really not sure why.
Similar to how I've got things set up now, I had elevines set up on each level on either side of the map.
Any Norns that were on the left side of the room used the elevines without too much hassle. But for some reason the Norns on the right side of the map had issues. To be clear, this wasn't something to do with the Norns. I got the same results swapping Norns from one side of the room to the other.

The Norns on the right side of the room kept trying to push the elevines to go up (which is correct), but the elevine kept making the "error" sound when pushed, indicating they were pulling and there was no elevine on the lower level.

It was almost like the elevines were connected in the reverse order. Either that or the CA links I'd made were. The Norns were trying really hard to get to the food, doing nothing but standing in front of the elevine trying to push it. They literally ignored everything else, including each other, so I'm pretty sure they knew what they were doing. Or thought they did anyway; it seems the world was screwing with them.

On top of that I had issues with CAs traveling between elevine linked floors. At one points I had a room on the top level with heaps of food in it registering a value of 0.5, the room below (linked via elevines/CAs) registering at 0.7, and the room adjacent registering at something stupid like 2.5. As far as I could tell the first room was the only one with fruit in it, meaning it should have had the highest value. Very strange stuff.

At first I thought this might be due to  invisible plant patches giving off CAs, but testing in my new version doesn't seem to have this problem.

Anyway, I exported the Norns and completely wiped the world before creating the Biodome again and setting things up more slowly, checking things like CA links as I went.

This time everything seems to have connected properly and the Norns are much, much happier and healthier as a result. They were the same Norns too, so it was definitely something to do with the world.

I have still had some strange issues with rooms without food in them having higher CA levels than rooms with food, which confused the hell out of a couple of my Norns. But I simply added more food to the correct room, which overpowered the first room and the Norns very quickly found their way to the food. Over time these CA levels balance out correctly, it's just in the short term the Norns can get very confused.

I suspect something like this happened in my original Veridia world. At some point I'll go back and see if I can't fix this. I'm pretty sure it's a problem with the world, not the Norns.

As you can see in the image above, this 1st generation of Norns is coming to and end. They're all grey and old now, so I don't expect to see any more eggs from them. It's also worth noting that they've been stuck in a never ending "I like/I love/I hate" loop for hours now. Sadly I think more work needs to be done in that department.

What beautiful timing. As I was writing, the first egg hatched and out popped little Pippin. He's picked a fantastic time to hatch; as you can see the apple flowers are blooming. Winter is at an end and this guy has been born into a world that is just about to start pumping out food for him.

A couple of last things to note. Neither the strawberries or the pears that you can get for the Garden Box have a CA smell, making it very difficult for the Norns to migrate to them. So far the only fruits I've found that do smell properly are the apples and chilli plants. If you're interested in having a seasonal world, I'd strongly recommend you stick to these.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Evo vs CFE

Hello Albia!!!

So ah, I've been gone for a loooong time. In fact, my last post was in November 2013! Where did that last year go!?

Well, I'm back for a little bit. Might not be long, as I've got a heap of other projects I'm working on at the moment, but I'll get a post or two up hopefully.

Anyway, the reason for my brief visit is I checked out Creature Caves the other day and heard about the Evo Norns, or CFF Norns, a new breed created by Evolnemesis.
There's a massive write up about them, but in a nutshell they're a continuation of the CFE (creatures full of edits) genome project with a whole heap of new features.
Just to be clear, the original CFE breed was created by Vampess, not Evolnemesis. The CFFs use the CFEs as a base and build on them from there.

A full description of the CFF Norns can be read here, but as a brief summary:

  1. New brain lobe that monitors eating. Should help prevent them from overeating and gobbling up all the food in the area.
  2. Suffocation. I'm sure we've all seen Norns drowning. They usually don't seem to realise it's happening. There's a reason for that, discussed in detail in the forum, but the short version is this has been addressed and Norns should be much better at preventing drowning.
  3.  More realistic reproductive system. We all know C3 Norns can breed like rabbits. The reason for this is they can recover from a kisspopping or pregnancy session far too fast. As in seconds or minutes. This has been addressed and it massively reduces their breeding rate.
  4.  Reduced their tendancy to get stuck in "I like/I hate/I love" loops. They'll still do it, but they'll only do it if they're paying attention to the specific Norn, rather than the sort of automated response the game forces them in to currently.
  5. New responses to alcohol. They'll dance, they'll cry, they'll...act like real drunks.
  6. Probaby a whole heap of other small changes I've missed or forgotten.

So, with these kinds of awesome changes available, I thought I'd give them a shot. I set up a Garden Box'ed version of Veridia with seasonal food sources and let them loose.
Veridia is actually quite nice to set up for a IQ test. Here's how I set it all up.

I used the Eggonicer agent. This little beauty collects any eggs in the word and stores them. It allows you to set a population limit, and should your population fall below that number it dispenses an egg through a teleporter you can set up.

So I set the teleporter in the highest level in Veridia. I made sure there was no food available until they got to the bottom level, meaning they'd have to travel through three levels of lifts to get to any food.
I also set up elevines rather than lifts and used the Magic Words to ensure all the levels were connected by CAs. I prefer elevines for two reasons.

  1. You don't have to wait for lifts to go up and down.
  2. No freeloaders. With lifts, sometimes Norns can accidentally tag along for the ride. With elevines, each Norns has to push/pull it themself.

On the top most level where the eggs hatch there was only an elevine. With nothing else to do most Norns should go straight to the elevine and find their way to the second level.
On the second level are two toys and another elevine. The toys serve as a distraction.
On the third level, the final elevine, plus a host of toys, plus a Blue Intelligent Core from the Portal pack, which classifies as machinery and can be used to teach Norns their entire vocabulary.

 Now, as a random piece of information that you may or may not know, Norns instincts to sniff out food via CAs doesn't kick in until they're children. So in the initially baby stage they're essentially helpless.
Periodically I found a baby Norn would find their way to the ground level, but most of the time I found they'd need to grow to child stage and then most of them very quickly found their way to the ground.
This was a good start.

I set up the rest of Veridia to provide various food sources on the ground level. This meant any Norn that survived the IQ test was rewarded with a stack of food.
But! As I mentioned, many of the Norns made it to the ground during their baby stage. This means that they're able to pass the IQ test based on luck alone. Since their food searching instincts don't kick in until later in life it couldn't possibly be an intelligence thing.

So I added a secondary IQ test based around the seasons. During Spring and Summer the ground level was overrun with food. But in Autumn and Winter all the food at the ground level vanishes and gets replaced by food sources up in the treetops, meaning hungry Norns would need to use the elevines to ascend into the trees to find food.
This is where things went belly up.

During the cold seasons most of the Norns would gather around the ground level elevine, just below an apple fruit source. Presumably they've been drawn there by the smell of protein. Very, very few of them actually use the elevine to get up to the apples. Over the course of the 2.5 hours or so it takes for the seasons to change, eventually most of the Norns do make it up there, but this seems to be more based on luck than an intelligent decision to hunt apples.
In the treetops I have one level set up with apples, the level above set up with acorns. Most of the Norns stay at the ground level with no food and slowly starve. A handful of Norns make it to the apple level and live, but spend their whole time complaining about being hungry for starch, despite acorns being available one level above. The Norns that make it to the acorn level stay there and complain about the lack of protein.

What's annoying is that without a food source the Norns tend to sit in one group and get annoyed with each other, which ends in slapping. This slapping then leads to Norns expressing how much they can't stand each other, which results in the "I like/I hate/I love" loops coming back.
While the Norns have plenty to do, such as eating, they tend not to get into these loops, which is great.

I haven't yet figured out what the problem is, as I'm pretty sure the world is set up correctly with CAs traveling between the appropriate rooms, with elevines linking said rooms.
I've done another test with the original CFE Norns to compare the differences, and the CFE Norns have the same problem. They just sit next to the elevine and starve, except for a small number who head up the elevine after quite some time, leading me to think this is more luck based than anything else.
The advantage the CFE Norns have is that they still breed like rabbits, so although heaps of them die of starvation, they breed as such a rate that they make up for it. As you can see from the image below, most of these Norns have already kicked the bucket. According to the Eggonicer I still have some 80 odd eggs to go through before the population is extinct. This is only around the 5th generation!

As a note of comparison, the CFF Norns never had more than about 6 eggs in storage, so at least their reproductive system seems to be working as intended.

I'm fairy convinced they do figure out how to use the elevines early in life, as just about every single Norn has passed the first IQ test, and most of them do so after reaching childhood. I'm not sure yet whether there is something wrong with the elevines/CAs during the second IQ test, or whether Norns just get dumber later in life.

I'm planning on doing a second test similar to this using the Biodome next, which will hopefully allow me to figure out if I'm doing something wrong or whether Norns get dumber with age.

After that, I'm thinking I might just set up a normal world without IQ tests and let the CFF Norns run around for a bit. I'd like to test out their other genetic advances.

Monday, November 11, 2013

CCSF Art contest

Whoopse...missed the deadline :(

Silly me for not checking the due dates. So sadly this won't get to make it into the competition, but I thought it was still worth sharing. May or may not get finished at some point, but at least now I don't have to worry about getting it done ASAP.

So yes that Norn I was sculpting. It was a Merenorn.

As you can see he's far from finished. The webbed hands in particular never got quite enough love. Same deal with the gills. But not a bad effort for a few hours work. Hope you like it, and let me know if you'd like to see this fellow finished.