Creatures Community Chat

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Genetic Manipulation: Mapping the Norn genome

For a while now I've been wanting to dive head first into the Norn genome and try to figure out what every single gene does. Up until now I've been far too frightened to even consider starting this, but recently I've been reading through some of the genome and it's not quite as scary as I'd thought. Certainly a lot of the lobe stuff is still going to be beyond me, but using the 'Biochemistry' tab in the Genetics Kit, along with the rather extensive amounts of notes that are included with a lot of the genes I think I'm ready to give this a go.

The aim is to try going through every single gene, in order. This will make sure we don't miss anything. I've elected to use a Forest Norn genome, specifically Tabby's, the female Forest Norn from my first generation. The up side to this is that we'll get to go over all the little changes Cyberlife made after their initial release. The down side is that male and female Forest Norns are slightly different genetically, so naturally we'll miss a few things. I think this is an okay compromise.

The Forest Norn genome consists of 332 genes, so this is going to take a little while to get through. There will also be genes we come across that I'll have no idea what they do. When this happens we'll play mad scientists and try fiddling with them to see if we can figure out their purpose.

I'd also like to do video diaries each time I play mad scientist, mostly because that's just going to be fun, but also because many of the changes we make will be behavioural, and I think people will enjoy seeing these alterations, rather than just hearing about them second hand.

So with that, how about we make a start?

What you'll need!
I guess before we dive in to this we might need a few tools to get started. Let's take a look at them.

Creatures 1:
All the genome mapping I'm going to do at first will be based around Creatures 1 Norns, so obviously you're going to need the game if you want to follow along with any testing!

Don't have Creatures 1 yet? Go grab yourself a copy at Good Old Games, where you can get 'The Albian Years' (Creatures 1&2) for a measly $5.99. You'll need to make an account with them, but the plus side is this lets you redownload the game anytime, anywhere.

Genetics Kit:
The Genetics Kit is where most of our work will take place. With this tool you can load genomes, change, delete or create entirely new genes, export new eggs straight into the game and find a wealth of information.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the Genetics Kit can be downloaded from GamewareDevelopment anymore and I'm not sure where you can still get a copy.

For the time being I'm going to upload a copy of the Kit to my website for people to download, along with the code needed to unlock the product. Both the code and program use to be freely available from GamewareDevelopment, so I doubt I'm stepping on any toes here, but if anyone knows where this program can still be downloaded let me know and I'll update the blog post.

You'll also need an unzip program to be able to extract the files.

EDIT: The original download for the Genetics Kit has been found. The link below will now download from the GamewareDevelopment website. You will still need the license to use the program. Please use either of the two links above to find a copy of your license.

Genetics Kit download

I'm not certain we're going to need this any time soon, but the DDNA-Analyzer is invaluable for comparing the genetics files of different Norns/Grendels. Considering it's free, I'd recommend getting a copy and playing around with it regardless.

A copy of the DDNA-Analyzer can be downloaded from TreeSprite's Grove. It is the last item on the page.

Annoyingly the link isn't set up correctly, but the file is still there! Here's a direct link.

DDNA-Analyzer download

BORG is technically a cheat, however it works as an addon for the Creatures 1 game. Again you'll need an unzip program to extract it.
Once extracted, double click to open it and it will boot up Creatures 1, although with a slight twist.
The usual menu gets shuffled to the side panel and a whole list of new menus are available at the top.

This tool allows you to do quite a few things, but specifically we'll need it for loaded new eggs from the Genetics Kit*, as well as periodically injecting Norns with chemicals to test out new genes we'll create.

A copy of BORG is a little hard to come by, however I found a download link in the 'Internet Archive Wayback Machine'. Even then it's a little tricky, so here's a direct download link.

BORG download

*Technically you shouldn't need BORG to get the Genetics Kit eggs to work properly, but since the games are so old some files no longer install where they should and things go a bit icky. Using BORG and the Genetics Kit solved this problem for me.

Test Subject:
Finally you're going to want access to the same genetics file I'll be looking at. As I said earlier, we'll be using one of my first generation Norns for this testing, Tabby. Although in this case we'll only be playing with her genetics file, so technically it isn't Tabby as such, just her DDNA. We thank her for her contribution to science. And for being a snoogly-adorable Norn! (See, mad scientist).

I've also included a .txt comparison of her genome to a default Norn for anyone who might be interested. Don't worry too much about it though, we'll cover all this at some point.

Test Subject DNA

I was planning to dive straight into our first lesson, but this post has gone on long enough. We'll make a start next post and take a look at the Header, Half-lives, poses, appearance and pigment genes. See you all then!


  1. This should be exciting! I'm in the process of putting together another genetics lesson, so hopefully we'll end up learning from one another as we go along. Great idea!

    Also, the Genetics Kit can actually be downloaded from the link at Gameware Development you listed. However, since switching domains, all of the download links are incorrect: They go to the domain, but if you change this to .com the link should work. I just tested it, and it works! For ease of use, here is the Direct Link to download the C1 Genetics Kit.

    1. Sorry... I'm not sure why that link didn't work! For the sake of easy of use, here is the actual URL:

    2. Ah, the blog does funny things by trying to put its own URL before the URL you want. Mouse over the link in your previous post to see what I mean.

      Thanks for the correct link! I'll update the post right away.
      It seems there's a lot of bad linking going on at the moment. The interesting this is a lot of these broken links lead to the new C4 website, as well as what looks like some REALLY old version of the Gameware website. I think there's some activity going on in preparation for C4. Hopefully a lot of these broken links will be repaired in the coming months.

    3. Hi ArchDragon. Thank you for suggesting I look at this page. I have yet to start reading your blog (which looks really awesome by the way!) but I fnd this very interesting especially since I haven't broken into the genetics kit yet. The first time I tried entering the key, I left the little hyphen - things in. Are you supposed to enter it with or without those?

      SpringRain. ^__^

    4. Hey SpringRain. Always glad to have more readers. My earlier posts were all about C3 and trying to get migrating Norns, so you might find that interesting for completely different reasons.

      Not 100% sure on the hyphens, but I'd bet that they shouldn't be included. Most programs that require a key don't use the hyphens, however there is a rare program that does. Try it with and won't lock you out of the program for trying.