Yes, I do really exist, lol. I do however prefer to be called "NightRunner417". Once upon a time, I fell in love with a daffy, cartoonish series of games called by the name of "Creatures". I began with "Creatures 2" and at one point I also had "Creatures 3" and "Creatures Adventures". I fell in love with these games because they explored one of my favorite topics - Artificial Life. Within these games, one could explore artificial intelligence and artificial biology and genetics on a level that wasn't available previously, and the sci-fi atmosphere of the games made it educational, interesting, and FUN.

When Creatures 3 was released, I immersed myself wholly into exploring the mechanisms of behavior, biology, and genetics within the various creatures genomes, and I found some points that Creature Labs had apparently left unfinished, although much of the neccessary structure was complete. This was especially true with regards to creatures' facial expressions, and I was surprised to find that while the stock creatures remained completely fixed in facial expression, the underlying genetics indicated that a whole range of facial expression was not only possible once made active, but in fact was intended by Creature Labs to be actually functional. Apparently these unfinished features were overlooked at release time, that's my best guess.

It was a serious pride point for me that I was able to activate the creatures facial expressions before anyone else, even before Creature Labs themselves. It's not often that a small time mod author can pull off such a feat. But, that's only where I began. After my success with that, I rapidly moved on to manipulating deeper facets of the creatures' genetics, and I ultimately released three breeds of Creatures to the public: The Osiris Norn, Osiris Norn II, and the absolutely vicious but not very intelligent Set Norns.

The original Osiris Norn was intended to expand on the stock Norns, giving them a full range of facial expression based directly on emotion, an overall better sense of intellect, a much wider range of random genetic mutation and breeding effects, and a much improved ability to defend themselves and each other against Grendels and Ettins. Osiris Norn II was a sort of a second glance at these goals, and improved further on behavioral traits. The net result was a Norn that could defend itself and its "herd" against Grendels, actively killing them if possible, and could interbreed with impressive results affecting color, behavior, longevity, and many other traits in the resulting offspring. They were designed to be a sort of "fire and forget" kind of creature, whereby the player could begin with two eggs, set a large number of total Norns in the game settings, and walk away and let a whole colony spring up around those two original Norns, effectively, without having to worry about frequent drownings (I gave Osiris Norns a touch of hydrophobia!), starvation (Osiris Norns are sensitive to overcrowding), Grendel attacks (Osiris Norns are active Grendel hunters), disinterest in mating or grouping (Osiris Norns will seek other Norns across the C3 ship by smell cues), etc. Osiris herds could go through dozens of generations without needing hardly any intervention from the player, allowing a real glance at creature evolution over time. In addition, I opened up most of the genetic code to random mutation, so after many generations the resulting offspring would have surprising characteristics indeed.

The "Set Norns" were an entirely different thing.... entirely. I even wrote a short story for them that suggested that they were created in the spirit of vengeance by the inhabitants of a village slaughtered by Grendels. For the Set Norns, I wanted to create basically a Grendel killing machine that would roam freely and eradicate anything that posed threat to the Norns. They weren't really meant to breed, although I did eventually create a version that could. They were more meant to grow up fast and be like supersoldiers, on the job of thrashing Grendels ASAP. They do it fairly well, I must say. No, of course they're not for everyone. They were never meant to be cuddly. ;-)

It's been a long time since I've done anything with the Creatures games, but I understand that there is a Creatures 4 in development and the release date is SOON. I'm excited about that and if it holds up to the reputation set by Creatures 2 and 3, I will definitely get involved and set about making some new interesting breed. I'd LOVE to see a decent Osiris-like 3D Norn running around in C4. :-)

One last thing - ALL hats off to Steve Grand. The work he did for the Creatures series of games has in my opinion set a standard that may in fact take ages to beat. Few game experiences have impressed me so much as the amazing worlds created in C2 and C3. Thank you, sir! :-)

Rick NR417

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