History

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The Creatures series of games has had a long and convoluted history. This page is dedicated to it, in particular the events surrounding the companies involved in their creation: Millennium, Cyberlife, Creature Labs, Entraline and Gameware.

A good overview from Development Director Ian Saunter is provided in:

More on the relationship between the various companies can be found in:

Large amounts of this timeline were derived from Steve Grand's notes. Many thanks to Steve for providing this resource to the community!

Creaturesandegg
Creatures: Their Life Is In Your Hands

Timeline of Events

Don't hesitate to fill stuff in - and don't feel you have to restrict yourself to official doings, anything that has interest to the community is fine :-)

Pre-1992

1992

  • 1992: Millennium release Cyber Empires, The Aquatic Games, Daughter of Serpents, Global Effect and Rome AD 92
GreenReaper: I remember Global Effect! Great game!
  • September 1992: Creatures is 'officially' conceived, although it will take years to develop fully into the game we know today. From Tips.txt:
The initial ideas for this project were conceived on a motel balcony in Winthrop, WA, USA in September 1992.

1993

I never intended Creatures to be an adventure game or have a fixed plot at all - the idea was that you would create your own stories . . . But everyone had interpreted my mythography stuff far too literally, and people were trying to make Creatures into some kind of Norse adventure game . . .
GreenReaper's thought: "Viking Creatures: Norns with Horns!"

1994

GreenReaper: I think this was a very important decision - without the extra time for correct positioning and reworking, Creatures would never have been the game it turned out to be. Heck, it was still for DOS back then, and bibble hadn't even been conceived! :-)
It is also interesting to note the features described as possible for the rewrite, many of which would not be fully realized until Creatures 3 or Docking Station: Decided to add 5 months to schedule; more gratuitous graphics; more facial expressions; new norns (monkeylike); everybody’s norn is unique; complete rethink and rewrite of code; add hooks for extensions; allow norns to travel from one person’s system to another, via disc or modem; buy new norns; possible speech in/out.
  • 1 August 1994: The Cheat menu is added
  • 10 October 1994: Plans for DDE support are finalized, laying the foundations for external tools to communicate with Creatures
  • 14 November 1994: Michael Hayward first demonstrates the Creatures prototype to Warner Interactive, who liken its breadth of appeal to that of the first spreadsheet, Visicalc
  • 20 November 1994: Cyberlife is set up to develop and exploit Steve Grand's ideas

1995

  • 23 January 1995: Steve Grand has the idea of making a background model of the Creatures environment and digitising it; Mark Rafter agrees a few days later, and begins work on the model
  • Mid-1995: Cyberlife agrees a publishing deal with Warner Interactive and a advance of £1m is paid representing an estimated 200,000 units of sales; in fact, over half a million copies of the Creatures will eventually be sold, a large proportion overseas
  • 19 July 1995: Creatures finally has a complete design definition - as with most software development projects, it required actually building most of the program to fully define it . . .

1996

  • 10:50 am, 21 March 1996: The first norn ever bred in captivity was born. He was called Cain, son of Ron and Eve.
  • 22 April 1996: The twin spectres of disease and bacteria are introduced to Creatures
  • November 1996 The Cyberlife department has 10 people in it
  • 11 November 1996: Creatures is released, selling 100,000 copies in the first month; its publishers - Warner Interactive - are quickly acquired by GT Interactive, who become the new distributors
  • December 1996: Christmas Pack 1 for Creatures is released - it has over 4000 downloads in the first week. The Object Injector Kit is included with the Christmas Pack. [2]
  • 18 December 1996: The "Norn 6-pack" is released: Buffy, Dion, Jarvis, Melvin, Sharla, and Teesha (download)

1997

1998

"Anyone who has ever played with Creatures will be pleased with the surprises the sequel has to offer."

1999

GreenReaper: The above is a current (Jan 2005) estimate - the thread has not yet stopped!

2000

  • January 2000: PC Gamer (Feb edition) confirms that there is likely to be a "Creatures 3.5 - Docking station", scheduled for Q3 2000
  • 12 January 2000: Cyberlife officially begins calling itself Creature Labs,
". . . and moves into the entertainment sector and returns with a new direction and new focus."
"[a company providing] enterprise-wide software solutions for XML-based Internet content management"
"Beasts" is an exciting new game from Creature Labs based on the mysterious wilderness monster known as the Abominable Snowman or Yeti, tracks of which have been discovered in the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, and Tibet. According to locals, the Yeti is but one of several unidentified creatures that occupy the highlands of southern Asia. Accounts of another giant known as Sasquatch or Bigfoot have persisted among some American Indians whose tribes inhabited the forests of the Pacific Northwest."
"As long-time fans and admirers of the Sea-Monkey phenomenon, we have always felt that a Sea-Monkey title based on our CyberLife technology would be a great success. We're very pleased to be associated with such a huge brand and we're looking forward to doing it justice with a superb product."

2001

"Ian has the right background - first-hand experience of guiding a company through an IPO, successfully negotiating venture capital and credit lines, and actively working with analysts and the financial community. His proven track record in strategic planning and financial management make him ideally suited to support our growth and corporate development"

2002

"if the management doesn’t improve and the business made more commercial it could be back in trouble very soon"
It's been suggested that this was just one grumpy investor, and that Business Weekly were being overly negative. --GreenReaper
In other news, Creatures Labs released the Magma Norns (previously only available in Creatures Internet Edition)

2003

It was a bit odd to be standing in the centre of the Creature Labs office, packing away the cute stuffed toy Norns and Grendels I've accumulated from fellow Creatures fans. As I looked around the office, there were no other Norns to be seen. But it's been steadily more and more like that over the last couple of years -- I should have been used to it. But the moment spoke to me, all the same.
  • March 2003: Entraline directors Chris McKee, Ian Konrath, Howard Newmark and Ian Saunter decided liquidation is inevitable after all hopes for major new contracts fail
  • 19 March 2003: DockingStation Aftermath forum opened by Mark Stamps to keep the community apprised of the situation, and what was to come
  • 20 March 2003: Creature Labs closes - many CC members say goodbye on Lisa de Araujo's weblog posts
  • 21 March 2003: Hippi Norns for C2 released.
  • April 2003: Alien life: how would we know? is published, which dismisses strong A-life (and Creatures) as a form of life.
  • 3 April 2003: Docking Station servers are turned off
  • 15 April 2003: Entraline/Cyberlife is liquidated subsequent to its final extraordinary general meeting - reasons cited include insolvency of their German publishing partners and a poor outlook in the general gaming industry; shareholders tack on "poor management"
  • 16 April 2003: Ian Saunter gets a call from Mark Bevan, who had worked on FightBox and was now with the BBC, asking about Evo Warriors - although CL/Entraline is now dead, Ian convinces a friend who is tired of consulting (Jeremy Cooke) to fund development of a reduced version of the game, which will end up being BAMZOOKi
  • 28 April 2003: Business Weekly states that in addition to sums owed to investors 3i, NW Brown, Hermann Hauser and Peter Dawe, the former Entraline owed £75,000 to its administrators plus £200,000 to the Inland Revenue, and that the employees had been working for the last three months without pay; the same investor as before said:
'"We have heard the management team may try to make a case for buying the assets. If this does turn out to be the case, messing up a business, trashing all the debts and keeping the assets does not seem right. This company collapsed because of the management’s lack of management and sales skills. One hopes they will emerge from this debacle empty-handed."
  • 7 May 2003: Gameware Development is incorporated
  • 3 June 2003: Ask Laura opens for business, dispensing valuable advice to Norns, Ettins, Grendels and Hands alike!
  • 7 June 2003: Mark Stamps gets the first core Docking Station server back online.
  • 18 June 2003: Docking Station user registration re-opens; Survivor begins at Creatures Caves
  • Mid 2003: The Albia region is founded on NationStates
  • 2 July 2003: Crazy Creatures Captures opens at TreeSprite's Creatures Grove
  • 3 July 2003: Gameware Europe is formally announced as the purchaser of assets and intellectual property rights of Cyberlife after rumours from former CL staff - CEO Jeremy Cooke claims to be "dedicated, not only to the continuing development of the innovative Creatures series, but also toward the ongoing creation of these uniquely entertaining A.I. concepts for television and mobile-phones" and notes that there were "many excellent UK studios hit hard by the present market conditions" - our first priority is to get the Internet-based offering, Creatures Docking Station, back on-line and assure the loyal fan-base of our intention to continue to provide them with entertaining Creatures concepts
The Creatures Community felt this was terrific news as the norns had been saved from liquidation.

2004

"SceneMachines takes us closer to our vision for simultaneous cross-platform, non-violent game applications."
"Creatures-wise, we’ve been continuing our quest to find partners with the right level of commitment needed to take forward the series. It’s bound to come as something of a disappointment to the many devoted Creatures fans that regularly check here for better news on this front, to hear that, so far, we have not secured such a partner. True, we have re-released all the older titles now in Europe, and these remain available to purchase from our Shop. We are also continuing to host and support the Docking Station Hub, which, I hope, does demonstrate our ongoing commitment to reviving the game and bringing along new offerings based on the Shee-universe. Still, I’m afraid we will have to wait yet a while for this to become a reality. And, to be frank, we have to face the prospect that it might never happen!"

2005

2006

2007

2008

  • 27 January 2008 Gameware Forums close temporarily. A message that says "It will be back when people learn to play nice, stop being annoying and stop reporting every other post" is left. This is later changed to a more generic message. The forums return on the 4th of February. On the 7th, the off-topic, site announcements, and RP subforums are removed in an attempt to discourage spam.
  • 9 February 2008 Iggdrasil has been re-opened as Iggdrasil v2 with it's original content.
  • 12 February 2008 Creaturetopia is created, as a response to the Gameware forum strife. It has been growing steadily.
  • 13 February 2008 The Creature Repository reaches 1000 user-submitted creatures.
  • 19 February 2008 Vampess releases a beta test of the CFE norns.
  • 28 February 2008 Vampess releases another beta of the CFE.
  • 6 March 2008 Vampess releases the final version of the CFE and CFEm breeds, including Astro, Chichi, Fallow, Harlequin, Siamese, Zebra, Bengal, Bruin, Civet, Bondi, Hardman, Magma, Toxic, Treehugger, Banshee Grendel, Grendel, Ettin, and DuoCycle Ettin.
  • 12 March 2008 C-Rex releases his first genetic breed, the Pink Strawberry Norns, for C3/DS.
  • 14 April 2008 Alien released the Opera Ettins.
  • 17 April 2008 Gameware releases the Siamese Norns, Harlequin Norns, Fallow Norns, Zebra Norns and Astro Norns for free download.
  • 10 Mai 2008 Undine Norns are released.
  • 19 July 2008 The Gameware Forum is closed again, with a message saying "The forum is closed until further notice as there is no-one currently available to moderate. Should the situation change, a notification will be posted here."
  • 25 July 2008 Norngirl released the Neko Ettins for C3/DS.
  • 12 October 2008 The Creatures of Avalon closed.
  • 31 October 2008 NornenMeisters website goes down.
  • 24 November 2008 Norngirl open here new website Norngirl's temporary Storage place.
  • 25 December 2008 CCSF 2008 starts.

2009

2010

2011

  • 6 January, 2011: Start of the new Community Awards, which this time is not granted by Cyberlife, but is elected by the members of the Community.

2012

2013

2014


Got stuff that should go here? Click the Edit link and add it! -- GreenReaper

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