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Information may change significantly as the project progresses.
Creatures Online (originally announced as Creatures 2011, later dubbed Creatures 4) is a new official creatures game currently in development by Fishing Cactus, licensed by Gameware Development. It will be the first major Creatures game since Docking Station in 2001, and is set on planet Sphericus. Fishing Cactus have also confirmed that the artificial life technology that the previous games were renowned for is returning in Creatures Online.
The game was officially announced on 16th May 2011 and it will be the first Creatures game for iOS. BluesNews were able to confirm that the free-to-play game will be microtransaction-based (small fees), though "most of the content will be entirely free."
Bigben, the publishers, were given the rights to distribute Creatures Online, and all of the previous Creatures games in Europe.
From the Gamasutra website:
Fishing Cactus (Belgium based developer), Bigben (Publisher) and Gameware Development (the IP rights owner) are set to deliver a new Creatures game that maintains the characteristics of the earlier games. It will be free-to-play and available on PC/Mac and iOS platforms - iPod, iPhone and iPad. A collector gift box full of surprises will also be created.
In approximately 2009, Fishing Cactus floated the idea of C4 amongst themselves and approached Gameware. Fishing Cactus then contacted BigBen Interactive about the game, and they provided funding.
Grendels and Ettins will not be in the initial release of the game, as confirmed by Fishing Cactus, however they are on the "we might make them in an upgrade list".
In May 2013, Bigben partnered with ProSiebenSat.1 Games, who will distribute, maintain and market the game in Europe. Fishing Cactus also changed the name of the game from Creatures 4 to Creatures Online.
Creatures Online is the first Creatures game to be set on planet Sphericus. The game initially features four environments, each with their own unique Norn breed. Another area, revealed with the change of name to Creatures Online, was The Cave. Some areas of the world may also be dangerous to Norns, and it is likely that more areas may be developed for sale in the future. The areas that have been revealed are:
- The Hatchery
- The Treehouse
- The Cavern (may be renamed Lumin Cave as of the June Creatures Online Live Session)
- The Beach (may be renamed Seashell Lagoon as of the June Creatures Online Live Session)
- The Cave
Creatures Online was originally announced as coming with four Norn breeds, two of which were officially been announced, the other being included as a sneak peek.
In March 2013, Fishing Cactus announced that there would now be 12 - 16 breeds included with Creatures Online. The Wildling Norn was also unveiled at this time.
The breeds that have been confirmed are as follows:
Once the player had selected the gender, they could then use sliders to customise their Norn's look and the fur colour. Once they finished, an egg appeared in the Treehouse.
Like the previous games, the player could punish and reward their Norns by either tickling or slapping them.
At Gamescom 2012, Fishing Cactus exhibited a second demo of Creatures Online. This demo took place in the Hatchery rather than the Treehouse, and several new features, such as Norn speech and the Science Kit, were added. The demo also delivered a glimpse into some work-in-progress interfaces, such as the hatchery, the splicing machine and the Norn collections. Angry Nornito also made his first in-game appearance.
The Gamescom 2012 demo also had several enhanced graphical features implemented, such as realistic Norn fur, shadows and lighting effects.
A third demo of Creatures Online was exhibited their last at Gamescom 2013, where they introduced the Kabuto Norns, along with many other new breeds, along with an update to the baby Norns that reduced their head size to a more realistic standard.
At one point, Fishing Cactus considered implementing a skill system, to get the Norns to take care of plants, play with critters, repair toys and machinery etc. Skill at these tasks was intended to improve the norns' abilities and was meant to be inheritable by children. The stats were coded into genes, storing the value of each stat so that they could be inherited.
Due to "side-effects" and the system not being "satisfactory", as of June 2012 its inclusion was being reassessed, and it is currently unknown if it will still feature in the game.
Main Page: Master Sheeconfirmed that a Shee will be making an appearance in-game. The Shee featured is known as "Master Shee" and will act as a help assistant in the game and provide the player with information. He is the first ever official Shee to make an actual live appearance in-game, and his design said to been inspired by Emmett "Doc" Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy.
Norn Designreleasedon one of their blog posts was a pre-rendered image of a new Norn design that will feature in the game, with the most prominent feature being that the Norns will have realistic fur, smaller eyes and a less cartoony appearance.
As the player progresses through the game they will encounter many different species of Norns. In the demo, there were two species shown: a typical Norn with big ears and a large head, and a Cavern Norn.
Despite achieving mostly postive feedback from the Creatures Community, some members criticised the new design due to it being less cartoony and somewhat less cutesy than the previous Norns in the other games. As a result, the community member Norngirl made an edited version that more closely resembles the Norns in the previous games, which Don also mocked up here. Norngirl also made two other pics  and  as a helpful reminder of what past norns look like.
PaymentCreatures Online will be a free-to-play game. An online registration is neccessary; the game will require you to be logged in online in order to play, and there will be levels in the game,The Shee Market" in the Creatures Online Live Session) and in the machines. There will also be a boxed version available to buy, containing "all the old chapters in the series (1, 2, 3, DS at least)" along with a Norn figurine, a Norn with a unique genetic code for their game and the equivalent of twenty euros in the game's virtual wallet.
There will be two currencies in game: coins, which will be collectable in-game by doing actions, and golden eggs, which can are occasionally given out as special occasions, can be traded for coins or can be bought in the shop for real money.
The idea of payment in a Creatures game has garnered a lot of criticism since its announcement. However, Fishing Cactus have reasurred player that it will be possible to play the game without spending a single cent.
The Gene Splicing Machine
As shown in the demo, whenever the player's Norns reproduce the player could choose what features are inherited from the parents using sliders to control each future, if wanted the Norn to more closely resemble one parent than the other. There are limits imposed from the norn's genetic code on how customisable their appearance is, as they inherit their potential appearance from their parents.
The first part of the Gene Splicer allowed the player to change the physical appearance of their Norn in several ways:
- Pattern Layout - Controls the layout of the Norn's fur patterns
- Fatness - Controls how fat or thin the Norn is (this doesn't appear to be modifiable with the player's first Norn(s))
- Fur Length - Control how thick or thin the Norn's fur is
The second part allows the player to change their Norn's fur colour and/or patterns:
- Eye Color - Changes the colour of the Norn's eyes
- Fur Base Color - Changes the base color of the Norn's fur
- Fur Pattern Color - Changes the colour of the Norn's fur pattern
- Fur Detail Color - Changes the color of the Norn's fur details
As of June 2012, this is the main mechanism by which the players will be able to edit the genome of their norns - focussing on the appearance of the norn. There are currently no specific plans for a Genetics Kit.
Creatures Online was originally planned to be released in January 2012 on iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPodTouch), Android, PC (online client) and Mac (AppStore, online client), but Fishing Cactus delayed the game to add more content, giving an estimated release date of Q2 2012. In June 2012, Creatures Online was delayed again, this time to Q4 2012.
In November 2012, Fishing Cactus confirmed yet another delay, stating that they hoped to enter a beta phase around January or February, and that if this happened, a 'live date' of March to April 2013 was possible. The PGW page about Creatures Online had a release date of 26 April 2013, which was described by Lord Shee as being "not definitive". The game entered an in-house alpha stage on the 4th of March, and lasted about 8 weeks.
In May 2013, Fishing Cactus revealed that they and BigBen had partnered with ProSiebenSat.1 Games, who will distribute, maintain and market the game in Europe. Fishing Cactus also revealed that they were changing the name of the game from Creatures 4 to Creatures Online. ProSiebenSat.1 Games has booked the server network for Creatures Online, and they plan to be ready with the server by roughly July 2013. A closed beta was planned to run at this time, but did not eventuate.
It is now estimated that the iOS version of the game will be released in early 2014.
Third-party development will not be supported at the time of Creatures Online's release, but Fishing Cactus are looking at Valve's method of allowing third-party addons for Team Fortress 2 in developing a third-party content system for Creatures Online.
- Official Website
- Official Teaser Trailer
- Fishing Cactus Blog
- Big Ben Interactive's Creatures 4 Page
- Press release, 16th May 2011
- The uncensored truth about Creatures 4
- Creatures 4: Gamescom Preview
- Video of Gamescom 2012 demo
- Creatures Online Gamescom 2013 Exclusive presentation