Creatures Community Chat

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grandroids Update: Merry Christmas

It's Christmas eve here (and I still haven't done my shopping) so I thought I'd try and do a Christmas present post for you all. I've been planning on doing a Grandroids update post for a while now and this seems like a lovely present to give to those that didn't get a subscription to the forums.

Naturally I've been ethically sworn to secrecy on the forums stuff, so I need to keep things as vague as possible, but hopefully I can give some cool information while sticking to happy moral grounds at the same time.

So where to start? I guess we'll start at the beginning.

Most of the world and the creatures still exist in code, and that which has been made in 3D is still placeholder stuff, not what will likely appear in the final game. With that in mind I think it's okay for me to show a picture of Gollum, the poor little critter who Steve's been doing all his testing through. The talk Steve has been doing suggests the final creatures are likely to be ape-like; able to walk on two legs to use their hands for manipulating tools, but will likely move about on all fours.
Naturally though this is still the testing phase, and quite likely to change. As well as that there's been talk of several species, but we haven't even seen Gollum in action properly yet, so that's still a pipe dream.

You may not know this, but the Norns movement was all genetics based. The sprites themselves were hard coded, but how those sprites were displayed was all dynamically coded, allowing creatures to develop limps and other interesting characteristics.
Grandroids will work similarly, but vastly more complex. Instead of being simple sprites the creatures will have bone and muscle structures that will be dynamically driven by code, allowing for a lot of diversity in movements. As well as this, the bone system is linked into a physics engine, so objects, including the creatures should obey laws like gravity.

The biology is largely completed. That's the stuff in the science kit, where all the chemicals interact. This is something I need to be pretty vague on, but let me say there's some amazing stuff going on in here and people will not be disappointed. The system is vastly more realistic than our Norns are, and I'm pretty sure Steve is building things to be energy conservative, meaning free energy will be hard if not impossible to come by. What does this mean for players? No more immortal creatures. Or at least none that evolve naturally.
The other thing I just have to mention about the chemicals is that they'll actually act like chemicals. No more 'Random Chemical X' that increases and decreases. These chemicals will actually interact, break apart and reform to make other chemicals. I can't go into this any more, partially because there's some trade secrets stuff, but mostly because it goes above my head!

The genetics are just about all completed. At the last update Steve said there was still the reproductive organs to code, but aside from those it's just about in order.

The last few posts have mostly been about the brain, and that is still largely under development. What's really cool is that Gollum is now starting to move about, although at the moment it's pretty random. Apparently there's been a recent update that's made things a little more natural, but we haven't seen anything yet. With the brain still only partially completed this is hardly surprising.

I guess it's been something like 8 months since the Kickstarter project finished and Steve started working, but from my perspective this is all coming together amazingly fast. I don't imagine it will be early next year, but some time in 2012 I'd expect Grandroids to be released. Of course I won't be holding my breath; Steve has the extra cash and I want to see this game polished, so I also hope he spends the extra time on things.

Regardless of when, I hope these forums get opened up to the public so everyday people can have a read. Although a lot of it goes over my head it's fascinating to watch and it's driving me to want to learn more about biology, chemistry and evolution. If nothing else I'm sure Steve will write another book. For those that haven't read it, I highly recommend 'Creation: Life and how to make it', his earlier book about how he brought the Norns to life. An amazing read which changed the way I consider life.

I think this quote from one of Steve's older posts really sums up what he's trying to achieve with Grandroids:
"Creatures only had a twenty year shelf-life - this time I want to make it last"

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