Monday, May 22, 2017

Random Acts of Hand, Part One

Scattered eggs along bottom of Artemia Sea in the middle. First to hatch is a black-and-red male named Akirou. He seems pretty typical, pushing toys and checking out the other eggs while glancing quickly at other things in passing. Next a very dark female named Almodis. She seems very interested in plants, pulling them frequently. Then she checked out a beast, ate a critter, and went back to pulling on and hitting plants. It's a good thing the plants can't be uprooted or killed or this might be problematic behavior.

A double-knockout-blue male by the name of Acorn is the third to arrive. He seems a little scatter-headed. Doesn't focus quickly on any given thing. He did eat a few Zander Fish, though, so he'll probably be fine in the long run.

I've set their limit to 20, with a starting population of six. Since they're supposed to be wolfing I can't keep too close an eye on all of them, but will do my best to keep an eye on both them and the clock so I know when it's time to do a Random Act of Hand/God.

The fourth to hatch is Akirou's color counterpart, a pretty mostly-pinkish-red female who the autonamer took a while to pick a name for. It eventually settled on Allunga. She pushed toy, as most do, but then fixated strongly on eat critter for about thirty seconds. Only after she'd gotten food did she go back to push toy. Now she's alternating between getting to know Acorn, eating critters, and checking out other aspects of her world.

The first swimming has begun - not surprising with all the eating happening. They're beginning to split up and take off to check out the metaroom.

The fifth has hatched, a very dark, near-black male named Abu. He's already considering push door. It seems to have been a passing thought, though, as he's now eyeing a passing beast. He's already swimming, too.

The sixth and last to hatch is also the very first to find her way out of Artemia Sea. Luckily for her, she chose the door over the portal and thus entered paradise (Silence Falls). I decided to spontaneously reward her with a quick visit from the Sacred Dragon Skull, thus teaching her language. I know I'm supposed to roll for this stuff, but an occasional impulsive act of Hand is OK, right? It's my game after all. :p

Also, the autonamer gave her the hideous name of Arnolde, so I'm going to change it to something nicer. Since she discovered the jungle room first, let's go with Amazon.

Silence Falls, of course, is full of, among other things, Intyalle's Hallucinogenic Flowers. So little Amazon will probably be pretty high within a matter of seconds. Minutes at most.

Yeep, she's already toasted.

She decided to flash back and forth playing with the door a few times, but has decided to stay in Silence Falls for now, playing with toys, pulling plants, and generally having a great time. Do you blame her?

Meanwhile, Allunga and Abu have formed an exploring pair and wandered off toward the surface of Artemia Sea. To all appearances, they're having a good time approaching bugs and each other, hitting and eating the occasional critter, staring at animal eggs while resting, et cetera.

Almodis is hanging out all by herself on the lower right corner of Artemia Sea. She doesn't seem particularly lonely.

Acorn and Akirou have also paired off to play together, though they haven't really left the center of Artemia Sea's bottom, where they hatched. These two seem content to just play with the toys and eat the edibles in this spot, at least for now.

Allunga drifted down nearby these two, sleeping, but woke up before hitting the bottom and swam away from them again instead of joining their group.

Then I looked away for a while to finish typing this, allowing them to wolf unobserved. I also notice, as I finish typing, that it's 1:20, which means it's time for our first randomly rolled Act of Hand. I decided not to flip for whether or not a random event happened each interval. I'm likely to be lousy enough about the timing that it's not like there's going to be some random event at precise intervals. Plus there will probably be results I have to reroll or skip for whatever reason.

So, here we go! Rolling our first random event.

Out with the old, in with the new. Aww! They've barely had time to experience the world. That doesn't seem terribly fun. Let's reroll.

Vocabulary Boost. Nice! I decided ahead of time that if this happened, it meant the Autovocab agent was to be injected. Autovocab away! (Of course, future events may cause me to have to remove the agent from the world. But for now, literacy, such as it is for Norns, is guaranteed to all.)

Of course, several of them, if not all of them, had already found one of the two Sacred Dragon Skulls, since I don't like looking at bibblish too much early in the game, but future generations had no such guarantee, as it was unlikely that the future colony sites will form near where I placed those skulls.

Let's go around now and see what everyone is doing.

Amazon is still high, according to the medical panel, but she has apparently left Silence Falls. Acorn is here, though, and he's both drunk and high. He's lying in a patch of trippyweeds, staring at and/or thinking about an unreal elevator. He did manage to take off and try to eat a pigeon, though, so he'll probably be OK.

Let's go check on Amazon. She's... hugging a jellyfish? Yes. Yes, she is. Hm. I guess 'get' must not cause a pain reaction, or else they're too thick-hided to notice it.

Thankfully, she's dropped the jellyfish and gone after one of those swimming toy-fish that Artemia Sea has instead. Nearby, Akirou is hanging out, playing with one of the aquatoys. The one that looks like a jellyfish, but isn't actually a jellyfish. Akirou gets it.

Allunga isn't far off from these two, nearer the bottom but swimming. She seems perplexed by seeds, approaching them, going left and right, pushing them. She rested for a moment, watching a seahorse, then began messing with seeds again. Now she's eating fish and resting on the bottom.

On the other side of the map, Almodis is checking out, apparently, what things can be pulled to profitable effect. She's pulling everything nearby her. Not obsessively, but definitely experimentally. She went off to push toy for a while. Then she began eating crabs off the bottom. Abu is hanging out with her, skating along the bottom.

Akirou has swum over to join Abu and Almodis. The three of them are now playing with toys together.

I've got to do other things for awhile, so I'm going to let them wolf for a while. But at 1:40 I'll be back for the next random event.

Okay, it's time! Let's roll on

Find-It: Inject six toys into the world randomly. OK! Let's see here... I know, the Fun in the Sun set isn't in there yet. There's six fish in that, right? I'll just scatter those throughout the two aquatic rooms, and maybe put one in the pond in Silence Falls.

Time for another event! I've been distracted by real life, so I've just been letting them run. But it's 2:10 now, so they need a shakeup. Randomizer ho!

World Breaker. ooooooh. Well. Removing metarooms is dangerous business. So I'd better remove some agent. Something that really improves the world from their perspective.

Oof. This hurts, but it's meant to. I'm going to get rid of the Shrimpton. That's a real break in the world as far as Dragons are concerned. That many fewer bugs to eat makes AC, especially, more dangerous.

I've got to fix some food for myself. Then I'll check in on what our wolflings are doing.

Someone came over, so I've been continuing to play, but not having time to record. Acorn has essentially moved into Silence Falls and seems to greatly enjoy the trippyweeds. Meanwhile, on the last random event, I rolled another bad one. Poor Abu had to be transported to an empty part of the world, which meant AC. So he's now alone wandering in AC.

And I just rolled for another event, and got Feed The Imbalance. Since both sexes still have equal numbers, though, I'll have to roll the sex of the new egg at random. Still, time for a new gen1 dragon of a random sex and color. Here goes...

Oh hey! Look at that. Abu has found his way home. I don't have CA links set up for the portals, either, so that's pretty cool. He's back in Artemia Sea, hanging out sort of near Allunga. Acorn has made his way out of Silence Falls and is visiting the new baby, Arihito, who is pretty dark-colored but not a pure black. Mostly dark green with deep violet arms/wings. Rather attractive. He's already swimming and appears to be doing well. So now the game has four males and three females.

Oh dear. Acorn doesn't like Arihito. There is some hitting going on. Those neuroemitters seem to have a much more dramatic effect on the brain edit individuals than on these guys, who have the brain edits muted.

Looks like Abu brought one of those shrimp critters from AC back to Artemia with him when he came home - they've reproduced and are making their home in Artemia Sea now. I didn't bring them over - that's pure Norn-caused critter species migration.

Let's do a location check before I roll the next random event. It's looking like everyone is hanging out in Artemia Sea in the middle right now, but I'm not entirely certain. I know Acorn is back from Silence Falls and Abu is back fom AC, but what of the other five?

Amazon and Akirou are hanging out together on the far right of Artemia Sea, seeming pretty happy together, though they're only loosely associating. I've got a hunch that these two will probably make an egg when they age up to Youth. But right now they're carefree adolescents. (LATER NOTE: They never got the chance. :( )

Allunga is more or less hanging out on her own, but she's pretty close to Abu, on the left side of central Artemia.

Almodis and Acorn seem to have discovered adolescent love. They're pushing norn enthusiastically on the right side of central Artemia, not far from Amazon and Akirou. Those two are almost certain to produce the run's first pregnancy the way things are going.

But now it's time to roll for another random event - here goes!

Whew, Acorn really doesn't like Arihito. Every time the young male gets close to him and Almodis, he chases him away with slaps.

Anyway, I got Idle Hands. I have to steal all the toys! XD Welp, here goes... OK, I think I've gotten all of them. or the vast majority at least. Artemia Sea's lower region has been stripped of toys, as have most of its open waters. Toys were placed on high shelves or thrown into AC. A few went into Silence Falls. I even captured most of those swimming fish toys.

That took long enough that it's time to roll again. There are a lot of toys!!

Acorn and Akirou are fighting, while Almodis sleeps, undisturbed by the ruckus. Shortly after the fight stops, Akirou grew to adult size. And Almodis is our first pregnancy! After checking, Acorn is the father, as I suspected.

Oh wow. Acorn must have been REALLY mad, and dare I say jealous? He just beat Akirou to death. He didn't succeed in luring Almodis away, but I guess just trying was enough for Acorn to be enraged. Dragons don't die easily so that took some doing. RIP, Akirou. You didn't get to be an adult for more than a few seconds.

Welp. We're back down to six Norns. Though a new one will hatch soon, the first Gen2. and it's time for another act of hand. I've been rerolling results that ask me to export Norns, since I felt it was too soon to be removing any from the gene pool, but since we've had our first murder, I figure it's time to start accepting the metaphorical dice as they fall. Let's roll...

I've rolled World Expansion, which means I have to give back the Shrimpton. Hooray!

Bibianka has been born. Acorn and Allunga apparently loathe each other now and are battling. Amazon, for what it's worth, repeatedly declares her hate for Allunga, so I guess she's on Acorn's side? But Almodis, though still loving Acorn, also loves Allunga. Normal Norns' relationships are weird.

In spite of all this hate and battling, they seem to have decided to form a colony on the far right side of Artemia Sea, not far from the door to paradise.

Aaand it's time to roll again. Wow, 20 minutes goes by fast. Here goes...

It says Fatal Accident, but I'm a little loathe to export/kill someone after Akirou's death. Grumble. Still, I said I'd do what the roll said, so... let's export Acorn. He's had a baby and he's causing a lot of trouble. Almodis will be sad, but I imagine she'd prefer this, if she knew her options, to being exported herself.

Goodbye, Acorn. I hope you enjoyed the trippyweed and murdering Akirou! Your life is over for now.

Oops. Or not. I misclicked and exported the baby, Bibianka. I... I guess I'll go with that. Seeing as Almodis just laid another egg that's almost certainly sired by Acorn anyway. I suppose those two will be happier this way. And Bibianka won't know the difference. I'll upload her to or something to make it up to her.

Yep, this new egg was also sired by Acorn. Interesting. I wonder how long this 'monogamy' will last. When I see this in the brainedits they usually stay together for a long time, with only a handful of outside dalliances. Let's see how long it takes for Acorn to make a baby with Amazon or Allunga, or for Almodis to make a baby with Abu. (The only other adult male was Akirou, who is now dead, of course. Arihito won't be old enough to mate for an hour or so, so he won't count as an option until then.)

Right now, most of them are basically living together in the far right section of Artemia Sea. Abu is roaming alone on the left section of Artemia, while Arihito explores the upper central portion near the surface of the water.

A new female baby has been born, Benedikte. She got some really appealing colors.

This is getting long. Gonna close this post down for now. This has been a lot of fun though! I'll post an update on this later.

Taking a Break By Playing God Badly

So. I'm feeling a little burnt out today. Not on Creatures, but on projects. Geat_Masta has a whole new set of edits for me to try, and they sound very exciting, but looking at the instructions, they keep turning into a blur of nonsense.

So I'm taking that as a sign that part of my brain needs a break. Instead, today I decided to do something fun and silly with the game - a Random Event Run. Essentially, you set the game up for a wolfling run, but roll on a table at certain intervals (I'm going to do it every 15-20 minutes or so of real time because I'll actually be sitting here for a lot of it, watching and recording the events). Whatever comes up on the table, I do as an interference in the run. Otherwise I have to be 100% hands off after the Gen1 eggs hatch.

I finally got the program to run an undocked world, so yay! There will be less lag to start, and hopefully it'll be a longer time before the game world gets too laggy to be playable anymore.

So I set up a less pampering world than I usually would, though not as dangerous a world as I could have. There's a 'normal' room, which I have added toys and animals to in order to make it even more comfortable (though I have not removed the beasts from it, so it's not a purely safe haven):

Artemia Sea is mostly an easy place for Dragon Norns to live, both brainedits and otherwise, but it does have the danger of painful jellyfish stings. And I'm -fairly- sure there's a way for the sharks to kill Norns, but I've only seen it happen once or twice, so it's a very, very rare event. Still, the room isn't 100% benign.

This room is also the one that holds the door and portal which lead to the other rooms. The door leads to the Paradise Room, which is a well-stocked version of Silence Falls.

It's a tiny paradise for Dragon Norns. Literally their only problem here is struggling to grab pigeons while in flight.

Aaand finally, there's the Mystery Room. It's Aquatilis Caverna v2. The last time I ran v4, every Norn died of glycotoxin. I'm not sure if v2 is equally dangerous, but it does have a large stock of beasts, so there's that at very least. In any event I'm going to treat ACv2 as the "dangerous" room, even if it's not, in practice, as deadly as v4 can be.

Those green things just don't look overly friendly. 

Going through the portal in Artemia Sea leads to Aquatilis Caverna, while the door leads to Silence Falls. Since Dragon Norns are encouraged genetically to check out both doors and portals, neither room should be neglected in the long run, though given the comparative size of AC to Silence Falls, it's likely that I may have to install some more doors and portals so Norns that get in there don't get lost in there. I'm planning to run non-brainedit CFF Dragons. For now though I'm going to start with just one door and one portal in and out of each room.

Okay! The world is set up and the document is open. I don't want the posts to get too long, so I'm going to begin documenting the world in another post. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Norn Soap Operas

From correspondence between myself and Geat_Masta. I may edit this into an actual post later. But for now, a lot of this was stuff I meant to bring up in a post anyway, and I figured it may be of interest to others besides us, especially Intyalle and Savannah (the other people currently testing the brainedits for me.)

"BTW, my running hypothesis as to precisely what's going on in their little brains is that the edits are allowing the Comb lobe to make connections between concepts. Normally what it does in part is make connections between decisions, or between decisions and states etc., to form concepts. For example, the Norn feels hungry for protein. It eats a critter. It receives protein, and its hunger for protein goes down. The Comb lobe records this as the beginning of a concept: "Hungry for protein + eat critter; result, hunger for protein reduces; good!" The more often the Norn eats critters and experiences a reduction in H4P, the more the concept "eat critters when H4P" is strengthened. I presume this is done by growing dendrites between 'hunger for protein' and 'eat' and 'critter'.

IF I'm correct (and I could very well be totally off-base, because I'm just doing my best to guess what's going on based on user-level information, observing the brainedits) what SEEMS to be happening is that the brainedit Norns are able to grow dendrites between the neurons representing these formed concepts. For example, that 'eat critters when hungry' idea might become linked with 'hitting critters reduces my boredom' or 'being hit hurts and sucks'.

Again, I have no direct evidence for this idea. But it seems to make sense based on what the edit is (tracts connecting Comb to itself) and the weird but not always maladaptive learning and behavior we've seen in the testers.

"LOL! No worries, the overeating thing isn't a constant problem. (And FWIW they already have a lobe and other stuff set up to deal with the fullness issue. It works pretty well most of the time.) It's something that comes up occasionally in individual testers, one of many behaviors I think of as 'quirks'.

Others are a penchant for hitting beasts or gadgets (this latter is probably because I supply them with Norn Plushies, which are gadget class), strange refusals to eat certain foods (for example, a few of them learn to favor animal eggs or bugs and refuse to eat critters, or refuse to eat bugs or animal eggs but eat critters fine),  an unhealthy obsession with junk food like seeds or food (I've already implemented a gentle 'fix' for this one, but I don't want to get rid of it entirely because as a sporadic problem it's entirely realistic - every species has a handful of individuals that just don't know when to stop, after all!)

Basically, no two testers develop quite the same, despite having identical genetics. This was always true, especially of the CFF genome I based the Dragons on, but it's true much earlier in life. Also, there's a distinctive change in their developmental patterns. I need to do more comparative runs to confirm this, but right now, I'm running normal no-edit Norns, and I'm struck by some differences in how they behave.

The brain edits have a characteristic 'life cycle'. When born, they're pretty adventurous. (They have genes telling them to stick close to their parents as babies, but the testers all start out as Gen1s, which see each other as siblings, so these genes are basically inactive because they never see a parent that would make them fire/activate. This trait is much more evident in later generations as you'll see later in this description.) Their first action is almost always to push toy, then to eat something in the animal-stim group, more rarely a more adventurous choice of food or the totally nonnutritive fruit/seed/plant categories. A few go for 'push portal' as their first act in life, but most of them try that pretty soon. (This is due to other non-brain-edit-related genes I've given them to encourage wandering.) They spend their baby and child stages exploring the metaroom(s) I've given them access to, generally going far and wide. Any given Norn almost always visits both metarooms (I usually don't run more than 2-3 due to computer limitations, sigh) at least once, generally multiple times, before becoming an adolescent. And I don't mean just flashing in, then flashing out again within seconds. I mean flashing in, swimming around, checking the place out, maybe hanging out for a while - then leaving again to do the same in the other room. Counting the activities of the whole group, the entirety of all available rooms gets visited.

During all this time, the brainedit Norns comment often on their status and give each other plenty of suggestions, but they almost never remark on their opinion of each other. It happens sometimes, but it's rare enough to be remarkable. They occasionally hit each other (I have a non-brainedit gene set up to discourage this, but when they're determined enough they'll ignore it long enough to get a few blows in), occasionally tickle/kiss (again, genes are set up to encourage this behavior, but they still have plenty of free will and don't always act on them if they really don't feel like it). And they do seem to remember all of this, at least in general learned-concept terms like 'hitting Norns is relieving (big anger/fear reduction)' and 'being hit hurts and sucks'.

When the brainedit Norns hit adolescence, allof a sudden, it's like the ForF lobe suddenly kicks on (even though it's actually been active their whole lives). Now they begin chattering a lot about 'X dislike Y' and 'Z like A'! I mean, A LOT. To the point that using the modified creatureDoneTo.cos didn't make a big difference in the proportion of chatter about sociality versus other things. That is, the amount of chatter decreased - they spoke less overall - but they were so determined to talk about each other that when they did speak they still rolled that one-in-100 chance constantly.

As babies and children, again, there would be occasional bursts of hitting or tickling/kissing, but mostly they'd roam around singly, in pairs, or sometimes trios, playing with the world and exploring, eating when they needed but not overeating (except for those few that developed that as a learned behavior).

But once they become adolescents they become aggressive, actively seeking each other out for duels. I set up neuroemitters so that when they 'hit norn' they get a tiny hit of Punishment, but this mainly served to reduce the intensity of the attacks - they no longer unleash long series of strikes, instead hitting once or a few times and then pausing. Depending on what the other Norn does, the battle may or may not continue. Sometimes they defuse the situation by offering a kiss/tickle. Other times they return the attack and it carries on until someone runs (or, extremely rarely, dies, but they almost never take it that fa -
 they're VERY tough in battle; only Banshee Grendels and stronger are a real threat to them at the moment.)

I don't want to increase it for fear of creating problems with too much Punish/Reward in their 'bloodstream'. As it is, it works well for inhibiting that behavior without completely forcing them not to do it if they REALLY want to. Anyway, this (and a companion neuroemitter that gives a tiny hit of Reward for pulling Norn, which is the tickle) had a noticeable impact - pretty much it works as intended - but they still exhibit very different learned behavior patterns ('personality'). Yet in spite of those differences, this adolescent aggression is universal, males and females alike. For a while, everybody dislikes everybody, with a few rare exceptions. (I will note, though, that it's also very rare for them to actually get as far as 'hating' each other - and when they do, their behavior gets especially intriguing... more on that later.)

So they fight, but they also exchange friendlier interactions, and they seem to remember at least some positive associations from the past, because at this point they tend to split up into groups. At least one settled group always forms, a spot where a handful of Norns are present at all times (though not always the SAME Norns in Gen1 - usually there's like, one or two that are always there, but others leave and return periodically). Where this forms varies. It's usually the far left or right bottom of one of the metarooms, but sometimes it's in a more unusual spot. Other Norns become committed wanderers, visiting the settlement(s) sometimes and roaming alone other times, or committedly avoiding everyone, depending (as far as I can tell) how much they 'like norn' in general. If they have a strong 'me dislike norn' going on they tend to avoid everybody, except, sometimes, for a favorite companion or pair of companions (often but not always the same ones they've been hanging out with for awhile).

By the time they reach Youth, some serious rivalries and dislikes have formed, and, rarely, two Norns are incompatible enough to reach 'me hate XYZ' territory. But at this point, the sex hormones kick in, and whatever positive behaviors and associations have already formed become a lot more important. They begin doing a lot more tickling and kissing. The first pregnancies occur. This is when the 'settlements' become really established. Before this, it was a popular hangout spot that may or may not persist. Once eggs are laid it becomes a more solidly established "colony spot". (This is partly due to other genes and gene edits they have... but only partly.)

The roamers also breed, but with strategies that vary between individuals. Some have an opposite-sex 'roaming buddy' and they just transform into a mated pair, leaving eggs as they roam around (or sometimes settling wherever they make their first egg, hanging around near it and creating a tendency for their offspring to also hang out near them... et cetera. If this persists, a colony spot may form, especially if other Gen1s or their offspring begin visiting.) Others visit the colony spots, breed while there, then take off again. If male, their mate usually lays the egg in place and continues the colony. If female, she sometimes sticks around long enough to lay the egg. Other times she takes off and lays it somewhere else. (But due to other genes they have, they prefer to lay their eggs near other Norns, so they almost always find at least one other  Norn to be around when laying eggs - this is why the colony spots tend to be the main egg collection zones. They pile up there naturally, no 'fetching' behavior needed.)

As Adults, you find a group of Norns with really dramatic differences despite being genetically identical. The more maladapted adults usually begin to die at this point, as they succumb to (for example) a bad habit of playing with dangerous beasts or eating nothing but junk food (food, seeds). The smarter/better-adapted ones continue their lives, exhibiting their own unusual but not-so-self-destructive traits (such as lifelong loves and rivalries, or preferring, say, animal eggs over bugs and critters - animal eggs activate the Ate an Animal stim so that's a perfectly healthy choice, but it's a quirky one because they have no instincts for eating animal eggs and in non-brain edit Norns it's a very uncommon behavior.)

They lose the tendency to be aggressive in general, but they continue to act out rivalries established during adolescence, while also getting involved in love affairs and more complex stuff.

There was a particularly interesting drama involving three Gen1 males in one group - this was before the neuroemitters were added, but this sort of thing still happens, with less murder. Basically, one of the three hated everyone and avoided everyone. The other two had an ongoing rivalry that manifested in alternating between avoiding each other, trading insults Norn style ('I hate you!' 'I hate you'! etc.), and viciously fighting. Each male also had a female who was his favored partner. They made one or two eggs apiece with other mates, but the males and their favored females made like 5-7 eggs apiece together, with maybe two children with other Norns. At this point, they were very fertile, too, so pretty much any mating meant an egg. Meaning they were about as close to monogamous as Norns get.

Two separate colony spots formed, where each male, their favored female, and their offspring would primarily hang out, though the offspring and the other Norns in the colony would roam around between the two colony spots, and visit other parts of the metarooms. (The third male was still avoiding everyone, and never got near the favored females of the other two, but occasionally made an egg with the third female, and wasn't overly hostile to the Gen2s when they began to appear.)

Eventually, one of the two dominant males killed his rival after an intense final battle. The favored female of the now-dead male lay down immediately and didn't move for almost a minute. (I have a screenshot of this moment somewhere, I think on my blog?) She then ran off and began to wander, abandoning the colony site she had preferred to hang out at. For a while, the remaining dominant male ruled the roost, making babies primarily with his favored female. The third female died somewhere along the line, killed by the dominant male - I forget whether this happened before or after he killed his rival.

Then the dead male's mate returned to the colony site after a long while and beat the dominant male to death in a single overwhelming assault.

Once both dominant males were dead, the third male emerged from his self-imposed exile and began hanging out with the two females, who seemed to accept his presence. I don't think he got to make more than a handful of eggs with either of them, but they didn't beat him to death or drive him away.

Norn soap operas happen with ordinary Norns too, but what was striking about this was the amount of time it persisted. Most Norns' relationships are fickle and ever-shifting. They may dislike someone just because they were in a bad mood when they met the new Norn - then change their mind because the new Norn tickles them a few times. Then change their mind again when the new Norn gives them a slap or two. Et cetera. It takes a long while for their brains to learn enough to develop interesting relationships. I used to find that striking about my old pre-brainedit dragons, but with them, those didn't become noticeable until the Norns were about 5-7 hours old, and even then, they were still essentially normal Norns. They had just lived long enough to form very strong associations about particular other Norns.

But the way the brainedit Norns relate to each other is just... they're more able to go away for a long time, minutes or hours, then come back and have the SAME reaction/apparent opinion of a given Norn as they did all that time ago. I dunno. I go back and forth, sometimes, telling myself I'm imagining things.

But in running the non brainedits today I was struck by the fact that they don't exhibit that developmental pattern I mentioned earlier. They start talking about 'me like x' and 'me dislike y' very early and seem significantly less impacted by the neuroemitters I made. I'll need to run more and larger groups to be more sure of my observations, but FWIW... this is the best i can do right now to articulate how they differ.

with that said, I'm happy to continue tinkering with the tracts to try to improve the edit further, or even just to see what happens. I will try the changes you mention here after I finish my non-edit runs."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Seasons in the Deep Abyss (and the Artemia Sea)

Aian and Ascyzier playing together. These are two of my favorite genetic colors possible with the Draconian sprites. (The Gargoyle arm looks great with the blue... only okay with the black and red. Alas!) I especially like the burning orange eyes Aian has. 

Lately, I've been focusing on water environments. Not sure why - just kind of felt like going back to their roots for a while. The issues with the flying agent have something to do with it, but not everything. Grendel_Man's Swimming Agent v3 is very pleasant to watch, too - they do some things they didn't do in v2 - these funny little bobbing motions as they move sometimes, for example.

Development continues. As usual, plagued by multifarious issues, but on the whole, things are going well. A couple of people have been helping me test them, which has helped me make progress faster. It's also helpful in that it helps me know when I'm actually seeing changes in them and when I'm just imagining things.

This is important because I've been tinkering with brain edits again. This time I have the guidance of Geat_Masta, who knows a LOT more about this than I do, though. It was his idea, really, the specific edits - I just implemented them, because he apparently can't use the game or the genetics kit right now. So I just sort of incorporated his brain edit idea into the Dragon v3 genome and ran with it. It's been interesting. Sometimes I feel certain I'm seeing real improvement in the Norns' cognition, especially their social relationships. They're still -weird- little beings, don't get me wrong, but they just seem... I dunno. I've found myself using words like 'sharper' and 'crisper' in trying to describe them. They seem just a bit more purposeful, and their memory seems to be a bit better. 

But then other times I feel sure I'm just imagining things. I really don't know. I guess long-term observation will be the answer.

I know the edits are having SOME effect, if no other way, because the CRC can't be used safely on them anymore. :p I can still use it to watch their thoughts, but using the command buttons makes the Norn basically get stuck on that action. They can still direct their attention, but their 'decision' becomes fixed on whatever the last order from the CRC was. So if you push the Eat button, they'll remain able to choose what they focus on like normal, but they won't be able to think or attempt anything other than eating. Slapping, tickling, and words from the Hand make no impact. The only thing you can do is use the CRC to keep the poor thing alive for the rest of its life, or export it. Unselecting it does NOT seem to help. This doesn't happen to Norns without this brain edit, obviously, so it's not a bug in the CRC. 

Now, why this edit should have that result, I have NO IDEA. But that's a thing that definitely makes them different from other Norns. The other stuff I go back and forth on.

Jellyfish are highly smackable, it turns out.

For some reason, 'hit beast' has become a new favorite pastime in this group of testers. It's been pretty common for a while now to see my dragons do 'hit critter', though they have no instincts inclining them to do so. It's just been something they often learn is fun, for some reason. The group I'm running as of writing this post has added 'hit beast'. The jellyfish in Artemia Sea are the most frequent victims of this, sent flying this way and that. I even saw one baby dragon backhand a jellyfish - seriously. It hit the thing as it was swimming by, in front of the jellyfish, so that the beast went zooming backwards. You'd think hitting beasts would have some kind of negative result, but they seem perfectly happy.

This, though... this just seemed like a bad idea. Amazingly, she lived. 

I'm working on a lot of things at once, so I keep cycling through groups of testers. I've been trying not to get attached to any one group, but it's difficult, especially the way each one develops its own distinctive behaviors, social relationships and dramas, travelling habits (or lack thereof), et cetera. For example, most dragons' first act after hatching is to push toy. But little Annabeth hatched and marched straight to their portal, pushing it immediately. She then stayed in the Deep Abyss alone for the first ten minutes or so of her life and was very happy. Despite having the genome of a social Norn, she seemed quite indifferent to whether or not she ever had company. I suppose she would have had to get lonely eventually, just due to the unavoidable rise of the drive, but still, it was an interesting choice, given she had toys and edibles closer to her than the portal, and portals are not nearly as interesting to dragons as both of those things. Especially not highly bored, hungry newborns.

Look how she blends in! I love the "black" genetic colors in the Deep Abyss, but many of you will probably not be able to see her at all, or only with great difficulty. In short, she's a perfect deep sea creature. :D Adapted to her environment!

I'm pretty content with their use of the portals in general now, but that's another thing that varies a lot between genetically identical individuals. Some develop as more sedentary types that choose a specific area as their favorite; often the lower right or lower left of Artemia Sea, but not always. As you can see in the image below, some of them gladly swim through their entire allotment of space, so I can never be quite sure where a settled cluster will form.

Athelind seems like she's going to be one of the more travel-inclined sorts, but she may settle down as an adult, when mating becomes more interesting than roaming around hitting jellyfish.

Once these clusters form, eggs that hatch there tend to produce individuals that may choose to stay and hang out in the vicinity of that cluster their whole lives. When their genetic wandering urge overcomes this tendency, you get two different types. (These types are also seen in the Gen1s, but the 'stay at home my whole life' type is not, since the Gen1s are the ones that establish the new homespots to begin with, so none exist when they are born that they could choose to stay in, preventing true lifelong homebodies from really developing.) 

The first type spends his or her entire life just sort of roaming at random, moving through whatever portals or teleporters or (less often, for some reason) doors are provided. They may visit the clusters, and sometimes their offspring form new clusters where the eggs are left behind in random spots. But generally, they're on the move, at least within their favored metaroom. Some never leave Artemia Sea or the Deep Abyss (the two metarooms I'm using right now) but they explore their chosen room pretty thoroughly. Others go frequently back and forth.

The second type is rarer, but I've noticed them popping up here and there since I added Geat_Masta's brain edits to the genome. Basically, they're wanderers, but they seem to be -visiting- everyone. Sometimes they'll be hanging out near a given major cluster, sometimes another one, other times they'll be drifting by some of the individual wanderers. This behavior is consistent through portals, even - that is, they will go through portals, visit one cluster, then go back through later and visit the other.

Now, I don't think the edits gave them any ability to plan ahead, but they do seem to remember where the clusters are, and to place a priority on sometimes being near them and sometimes not. It's fascinating behavior and an example of the sort of thing I wonder just how to interpret.

Aian and Ascyzier again. They spent a good few minutes hanging out together. This tendency to form pairs (both same-sex and opposite-sex) to wander around in has been noticeable for a long time, but now it's very common. I've also noticed trios on occasion in more recent groups. These twosomes and threesomes don't always stay together for life, but they persist a lot longer than such arrangements did in the past. And the number that do retain some kind of special association with each other for life -seems- to be higher since the brain edits.

Jeez. They keep extincting the Zander Fish in the Deep Abyss. They also extincted every other species of fish I put in there, and the C2 Crabs, at least once. The only thing they haven't eaten to death are the Garden Box Aquamites (which they do eat, just apparently not as aggressively), the Shrimptons (which is shocking because these usually are the first to go), and a few lucky Zander Mites. 

There's only three baby dragons in there! Someone's being a piggy. I suspect it's Annabeth - she was gulping fish at an unusual rate earlier.

 Normally they don't stuff their faces like that, but, again... personality seems to develop pretty quickly in these guys. And it's not just random, often debilitating, inappropriately solidified learning, like in the neurodegenerative early edits. They're generally adaptive or at least not destructive habits, they're just distinctive in that all the norns are genetically identical, but only one or two in a given batch (if any) may develop a given trait (say, a marked tendency to go out of their way to hit beasts, as shown above). 

In other development news, I've got their new metabolic system working fairly well. It isn't as fine-tuned as it could be, and I'm still refining it, but I'm pretty much getting the results I want from it. 

For a long time, Dragons have had a unique digestive apparatus that allows them to survive entirely on animals (critters, bugs, and pests), using a two-stage chemical reaction. Basically, eating an animal reduces all three types of hunger and gives a dose of chemical 196, which I call Glycolipoprotein. 196 is broken down into Protein and 197, or Glycolipid (I know, it's kind of a misuse of those words, but it's the best I can do for something that mean 'sugarfatprotein' and 'sugarfat' lol). Glycolipid, in turn, is broken down into its constituent fats and starches. This provides the dragon with all three macronutrients needed for survival in sufficient quantities, though they can get a meaningful backup supply of protein and fat from food-class edibles. (Some dragons develop an unhealthy taste for this 'junk food' and die early due to poor eating habits. I have made tweaks to reduce the likelihood of this occurring significantly, but have decided not to try to eliminate it entirely - it's a bit too realistic to get rid of!)

However, other than keeping themselves alive, their bodies didn't have a lot to actually DO with these nutrients, other than create ever-increasing stores of Adipose Tissue and Muscle Tissue. Which are fine, up to a point. But recently it began to bug me that swimmerase and flyerase are essentially 'free' and that flying and swimming cost the dragon just as much as walking does - if not less, since they're technically being carried around by invisible vehicles. 

So instead of just using emitters to provide a constant supply of those chemicals, I decided to create a more realistic system. It took a few tries to get it right, but here's how it works now. In addition to its previous functions, Glycolipoprotein now reacts with Fat to produce a previously unused unknownase which I have dubbed Motase. Motase, in turn, reacts with Starch to create Flyerase, and with Protein to create Swimmerase. In short, flying requires a good supply of quick-burning high-octane sugar fuel, while swimming requires a good supply of long-burning, strengthening protein fuel. And fat is required to make Motase to run the reactions. (This keeps the swimmerase/flyerase reactions from just running constantly until all the Norn's Starch and Protein are used up. The reactions stop when the Motase supply runs out, which in turn ceases being produced when there is no more Glycolipoprotein to react with Fat. Or no more Fat, but usually they run out of GLP first.)

The net result is an animal that can't fly or swim from the moment of birth. Instead, it must walk like a normal Norn until it eats its first solid meal. Once the newborn apex predator takes its first prey, it's only a matter of time before swimming and flight are possible. This in turn makes hunting easier since they can now pursue those tasty fish and birds, so they usually continue to swim or fly for a long time. However, if they fail to eat animals for too long a period, they will lose the ability to fly and swim. They can get a tiny amount of Fat from eating fruit or seeds (I forget which), but only a teeny bit. And the only source of GLP is the living meat of an animal. 

Not only is this a more realistic scenario than the old emitter setup (poorly nourished animals can't fly or swim), it also gives you a quick at-a-glance way to assess the health of your dragons in terms of their eating habits. If a non-newborn dragon is walking for more than a brief period, and seems unable to swim or fly, it's malnourished. This happens well before they're actually about to die, so you don't have to RUSH to get it fed lest it die in seconds or anything, but a dragon that can't swim or fly is definitely in bad shape. Interestingly, when this happens in my games it often self-corrects, with the dragon finding prey on its own without help and restoring its own abilities. I can't decide if this means I have the reactions set to take away the abilities a bit too soon, or if it means they're able to react correctly when close to starvation most of the time. I guess that's the sort of thing more testing over time will make clearer... I hope.

Gah, when did it get to be so late? It's almost 2 AM. I'd better go to bed. Goodnight for now! Wish the current testers luck. They'll be wolfing it alone all night while I sleep...


Aian looks pretty pleased with himself for some reason. Speaking of migration - while I was typing all of that about their -ases and such, many of the dragons moved from Artemia Sea to Deep Abyss. 

When I started typing this post, Annabeth was alone in there. Then she was joined by Ascyzier, and those two were alone in there together for most of the time it took to type this post. After at least 20 minutes (of real time - the game is lagging significantly on time tracking, so for them it was probably counted as about five minutes, even though they experienced more than five minutes' worth of stuff even given the lag...this is something I don't get about how the lag slows the program down, at all. But anyway, point is, in the time it took me to type those last three paragraphs, almost everyone else moved into the Deep Abyss. Only 4/10 are left in the Artemia Sea. And in another half hour or so, a bunch will have probably moved back to Artemia Sea. 

There won't be settled clusters until they hit adulthood and want to mate. Even then, this batch have had their sex drive reduced (not directly, but through tweaking stuff like opposite sex pheromone, and changes intended to make them wait longer after mating to want to mate again, and to hopefully make their pregnancies longer.) So, assuming I didn't overdo it and mess up their ability to mate altogether (which I've done in the past, grah) or otherwise make some major oops, the tendency to cluster around their favored mates may be reduced in this batch. We'll see. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I still hate you dude!

Okay, I know I said I was done for the day, but this was too funny not to share.

So. These are Lawful and Hyaena, the males of the small starter colony. In general, each of them gets along well with the two females, but they've mostly ignored each other. In spite of that, they apparently have decided they are not fond of each other. Jealousy over the women? They're a bit young for that, especially by dragon norn standards. And besides, I'm not sure Norn brains are complex enough to generate anything similar to jealousy. But that sure is what it looks like to my human brain lol

Anyway, the Norns were going along, living life. The two women were chasing prey and generally having fun together in the corner where the blue carrots grow - one had even decided to sample a blue carrot despite their usual lack of culinary interest in anything that doesn't emit CA 19. The boys were kind of off to the side, within earshot of the girls but separate enough from both the girls and each other to be more or less alone, doing their own thing. Hyaena was nearer the girls, just above the land where the door to the inner rooms is, and Lawful was swimming close to the now-submerged treehouse area.

Suddenly, Hyaena pipes up with, "Hyaena dislike Lawful". He waits a second, then says it again. Lawful, apparently offended, replied that he disliked Hyaena. They repeated this back and forth a few times, which I think is the Norn equivalent of exchanging insults. Usually, this is where this sort of thing ends. They weren't in hitting distance of each other, so I figured they'd continue going about their own business while grumbling at each other now and then. That's what I usually see when this sort of thing occurs.

But Hyaena wasn't going to take all this lying down, I guess. He suddenly swam right at Lawful and hit him. Lawful hit back. Then I figured, OK, they'll have a slapfight, as dragons often do. They usually don't go so far out of their way to attack, like Hyaena did, but still. 

This is where it got really funny though. After two or three blows are exchanged on each side, Lawful suddenly turned away from Hyaena, lay down, and went to sleep! All in the space of about two seconds. He sank to the bottom and snored. And snored.

Hyaena, apparently confused, lay down and 'hovered' in the water, silent.

Then Lawful woke up. Within an instant, he turned around, looked up, and said, "Lawful dislike Hyaena"!

So to put this in human terms, it's like two guys got mad at each other, threw a bunch of insults around, got in a fistfight, then one of them suddenly takes a nap, wakes back up, and yells across the room at his confused foe, "FYI I STILL HATE YOU BRO"


Learn to swim, learn to swim, learn to swim...

Sucks how when life gets difficult, things one loves tend to fall by the wayside. Like Creatures and blogging about it. But look at that - here I am again! I had to reinstall my game, so I lost a lot of stuff, but I've been able to restore a lot. All my work on v2.1 of the Dragons is gone, alas. So I'm going to go back to v2.0 and start from there again. 2.0 is pretty good. All I could think of to do to them right off the bat was to get rid of the old "predatory" instincts and replace them with the nice Prey Scent functionality I had created shortly before life went to poop on me.

I had to use my notes on this blog to reconstruct that, incidentally. Lucky thing I posted so much of it here!

I also learned a bit more about CAOS in the process. Apparently INST is not 'install' but 'instant' - it instructs the engine to execute the following commands in a single tick. And SLOW is what closes the INST.

My brain didn't seize up horribly when I looked all this up, either. Hooray! Turns out fighting dyscalculia is like bicycle riding, in the sense that, slow and torturous though the work is, once I get it down, it sticks. A hopeful feeling.

I have no idea why I like listening to stuff like Ill Bill and Necro while working on Creatures stuff. Or at all, in some ways. I'm weird, I guess.

The title is Tool though and refers to today's activities - flooding the Norn Terrarium and releasing a batch of freshly prey scent enabled v2.0 Dragons into it. :D

Taking it pretty easy today, Creatures-wise. Just restoring that .cos, making a few small edits to the v2.0 genome, that was enough work for me. Now it's time to listen to music and watch my babies explore their world. Damn I love this aspect of Creatures.

I wish I had a CRC-type agent that could monitor the thoughts of all living Norns at the same time but not give commands. Next project? Hmm. Sounds like a big leap from the very simple prey scent agent, but then again, it may be easier than it sounds. Will have to do research.

Baby, you've had a nightmare... This song makes me think of Dusk and Dreameater, my hapless 130s. They were lost, sadly, along with everything else, when I had to reinstall following a major crash of the program for unknown reasons. But I could always edit a Pineal Gland organ with 130 emitter into the current set... Will probably end up doing that. ESPECIALLY if I can get a mass thought-reader. I'lll probably have to use the Health Bar to distinguish hallucinosis like before, but still.

Right now my four gen1s are doing quite well. They're doing great on the new stimulus-based regimen. The old strategy was to use instincts to make them find chasing and getting prey fun. Now, the prey smells really good. And when they reach a source of that smell, they experience an impulse to eat it. I wasn't sure they'd be able to put the third part of that idea ("if I'm hungry I should approach this smell") together on their own, without an instinct prompting them to do that, but so far they seem to be quite clever enough to manage it. I forgot how good at self-care the Dragons are, especially in aquatic environments. These four don't need a damn thing from me except to place them in the water and let 'em go, and it's pretty satisfying. They're not just getting by, alive but sad, either - they're happy and thriving so far.

Speaking of aquatic environments, Grendel_Man released a third version of his swimming agent, and it's pretty awesome. Alongside the flyer agent he gave me to use last year (I wish he'd release it to everyone - it is excellent) I now have very functional swimming, flying, predatory 'dragons'!

Their personalities are developing quickly. It's cute how they interact with each other. I'll have to do a play-by-play post soon. For now I'm getting tired. But I'll be back. In sooner than several months this time!