Creatures Community Chat

Friday, March 23, 2012

Creatures 1 Gen2: Case study

And just when you thought Gen2 was done and dusted. It turns out there was another Norn who I'm pretty sure I never mentioned. Technically this Norn is from generation 4, although this was an early attempt at a wolfing run that ended in the species extinction.

This Norn is the child of Tabby and Billy. Billy was a third generation Norn and the son of Jake and Beatrice. Jake was a second generation Norn who, unlike Beatrice never made it back into the gene pool. His parents were Pollen and Tony. But that's enough family tree.

This poor Norn had some major genetic problems and was immediately exported. Because of this she is now known as 5MIU, her genetic file.

If anything 5MIU was unlucky to not be a stillborn. from the few minutes I've spent with her she appears to be blind, mute and crippled. Her eyes are perpetually closed and she hasn't spoken a word yet, nor has she taken a step anywhere.

Amazingly though she is still alive and I'm pretty sure she's not deaf. She seems to have small responses to sound and will look towards the Hand when spoken to. With her eyes closed I'm assuming she can't see, but she will swing back and forth as if looking at the Hand when it grabs her attention, although her 'Creature View' is permanently fixed on herself. Aside from this I haven't been able to get her to interact with anything else.

Clearly a very sad case. She will however serve for a very interesting look into genetics. Hopefully we can find what went wrong with her.


She has three mutations from a regular Norn in her LOBES section. When compared to her parents only two of these mutations show up, so clearly the issue for her is in Gene-120 or Gene-122. Of course it could also be a combination of genes from elsewhere.

120: 5 0 Emb B MutDup Lobe #= 6 Loss State Rule: chem3 end end 0 end end, Loss= 5
120: 5 0 Emb B MutDup Lobe #= 6 Loss State Rule: chem3 end end end end end end end, Loss= 5

We can fairly safely rule this gene out as being the cause. Anything after "end" is ignored, so for all intents and purposes, this gene is identical.

 121: 6 0 Emb B MutDup Lobe #= 7 State Rule: state PLUS type0 PLUS type1 end end end, WTA= 1
121: 6 0 Emb B MutDup Lobe #= 7 State Rule: state PLUS type0 end end end end end, WTA= 1

This gene was inherited from Tabby and appears natively in her genome. Lobe #7 is the attention lobe. Despite her many defects 5MIU has she is still capable of paying attention to things.
Having a read over at CDR (Creatures developer Resource) it appears the second gene is actually a bug in the game that was fixed by a workaround in the source code. Apparently the Norns released later on had these gene fixed and this gene now works as intended.

But, in a nutshell what this gene does is calculate the current state of the Norns attention (State), what object in the world is the most stimulating (type0) as well as taking into account anything the Hand has just said (type1) and direct the Norns attention to the most stimulating object.

With this understanding the original Norn genome would have prevented Norns from paying attention to the Hand!...hmm, I'm not sure they actually fixed it...

Gene-122 was a bit of a doozy to figure out. The gene itself reads:

122 Different in File 1   7   0 Emb   B Mut          Lobe #= 8  at X=11 Y=5 is 42 neurons wide and 18 neurons high.  Perflags=0. State Rule: anded1 end end end end end end end , WTA= 0 Dendrite Type 0: Input Lobe=0, Min#=1, Max#=5, Spread=1, Fanout=2

Which has a few extra neurons, but once again it's the same as Tabby's and shouldn't cause a problem. But wait, is it actually the same?

By shear dumb luck I hit the 'Toggle Details' button in the DDNA-Analyzer and found there's a whole heap of hidden details I wasn't aware of. Using this I was able to do a direct comparison between 5MIU and Tabby's genes. There were two discrepancies.

5MIU:  Lobe #= 0  at X=11 Y=5 is 42 neurons wide and 18 neurons high.
Tabby: Lobe #= 8  at X=11 Y=5 is 42 neurons wide and 18 neurons high.

I think this gene actually gets automatically corrected and replace the 'Lobe#0' with an 8, as that's the way it reads in standard mode, however if I'm wrong this could certainly account for a major malfunction. It would mean that instead of having these neurons associated with the concept lobe where they should be, they would instead be attached to the perception lobe. (Opening the genome in the Genetics Kit does in fact fix this gene, so this is not the problem).

The other difference was this chunk of code:

5MIU:  State Rule: anded0 end end end end end end end WTA = 0
Tabby: State Rule: anded1 end end end end end end end WTA = 0 

 Here is what CDR has to say about 'anded'.

anded 0: If all type 0 dendrites are firing then this will be the value of the sum of these dendrites. If any of the type 0 dendrites are not firing then this value will be 0.

anded 1: If all type 1 dendrites are firing then this will be the value of the sum of these dendrites. If any of the type 1 dendrites are not firing then this value will be 0.

Now, I'm kind of guessing here, but what I think this means is that instead of type 0 dendrites (stimulation from world), type 1 dendrites (Hand talking) will be calculated. What this might mean is that 5MIU is incapable of being stimulated by the world around her and will only react to the Hand.

This in fact seems to be the case. 5MIU will periodically spin around without reason and aside from that she will only respond to the Hand.

Doing a very quick Google search there doesn't appear to be an exact match to a human condition, however a vegetative state comes pretty close. Technically these coma patients don't respond to any stimuli, however there is no real world counterpart to the Hand. They can also have their eyes open, which 5MIU doesn't, but this seems to be a pretty close example.

So, a very sad case of a Norn indeed. However the story doesn't end there. I figured as long as we're being all sciency and investigating genetics, why not put the theory to the test? So I opened the Genetics Kit and 5MIU's genome, found Gene-122 and changed the State Rule from 'anded0' to 'anded1'. I imported the egg into C1 and hatched it.

Much to my amazement and relief out popped a little girl Norn who immediately opened her eyes and looked towards the egg that is still flying in the Albian skies. As far as I can tell, she seems to be a perfectly normal Norn, although with a hit of Tabby's genes I'm sure she'd be smarter than the average Norn!

 Here she is walking around the Garden with Gregor, learning to speak English. I've named her Miu and she is available for download on the 'Norn Download' page.


  1. Wow! This was certainly a very interesting case study. I'm getting pretty good at understanding most of the genetic mutations, but anything having to do with the brain still seems a bit murky. This makes total sense, though! It's awesome how you were able to isolate the suspect gene... And it's amazing how a seemingly small change can have such a huge impact on a Norn!

    1. Haha, I don't want to give the impression I'm any kind of genetics freak. This took a couple of hours digging into the genomes to find it. I had to go through about 3 genomes to isolate the most likely gene and then I got lucky finding the 'Toggle Details' button. I wouldn't have found the problem without that feature.

      It was also kind of dumb luck that the physical description matched up so nicely with my understanding of the genetics. As you'll already know, it's not usually that clear cut.

      I was quite overjoyed I was able to fix the mutation though. I've never done that before :D

  2. Ooh, glad to hear you were able to fix the mutation! I also really enjoyed reading your case study; the analysis were very helpful, (especially in explaining the roles of the type 0 and type 1 dendrites!)