Nothing you see out there is real

Oof, this is a bad blog to fall back into that old 'title posts with a line from the song you're currently listening to' habit. Ah, well, it's apropos in a way, given what I did to those poor testers yesterday.

Ahem! Development of Abyss Dragons v2 is coming along very well. I've finally fixed their problems with nutrition, adipose tissue, and premature mortality. I can now consistently establish breeding, self-sustaining wolfling colonies and the Norns, while not usually actually making it as long as they theoretically could, are now typically dying between four and five hours of age, which isn't bad at all - and to tell the truth, it's not unrealistic. I mean, humans have the theoretical potential to live 120 years, but how many of us actually do?

They're still not quite as pack-oriented as I'd like. They spend more time trying to retreat from each other than I want them to, sometimes rather obsessively. Slap-fights are common, too, but oddly enough that hasn't lead to them all hating each other. Rather, they form rather polarized groups and then argue about it. It's pretty funny. They use the word 'love' more often than any other Norns I've ever raised, and I haven't seen one use the word 'hate' yet, but 'dislike' is not uncommon, and they don't always agree, at all. Say Da Vinci loves Picasso, and says so. Monet may instantly pipe up with, "Monet dislike Picasso!" This can go on for a while, and I'm pretty sure it's not looping since they go on with other business at the same time rather than getting stuck and failing to care for themselves while expressing as I've noticed happen other times. It has the appearance, rather, of a genuine argument. Which is why it amuses me so much!

Yes, that generation of testers were all named after painters. The next batch became famous classical composers. Next I'll probably resort to band names. I already used numbers in all the languages I know, plus various misspellings of 'A' 'B' 'C' and so forth. So, randomness.

The appropriateness of the title has to do with a mistake I made yesterday. In trying to figure out their mysterious dying problem, I decided nutrition might be to blame, and I'd discovered that using detritus as a primary source of carbs wasn't going to work because most detritus sends very strong 'don't eat me' signals. Not strong enough to stop them from munching it anyway once in a while, but far too strong for them to eat it often enough to be a useful primary food source. Someone suggested I allow them to survive on animals alone, by using a two-stage chemical reaction. It's really quite clever, actually. I think this was Dragoler's idea? Hmm. I should look it up and give proper credit, give me a minute... Yep, Dragoler suggested it. He (she? pretty sure Dragoler's a guy but I'm not certain... oh well. Creatures is in my experience about 60-70% male fandom, minimum, but I know of several prominent CC members who are definitely women, so who knows?) has built his/her own carnivorous breed(s) in the past and used that setup for them, I guess.

(Come to think of it, that's weird... my games interests don't stick to traditional gender roles, so I've gotten used to the sort of gender biases you find in the fandoms of typical types of games and Creatures is the type of game I'd expect to have a very female-dominated userbase. Maybe it's all the emphasis on coding in the community aspect of the game - genetic engineering is essentially a form of programming using advanced utilities, after all. Or maybe males just tend to post more so it only SEEMS like there are more of them. Or maybe it's just a small sample problem - I'm only drawing on my own experience, after all. Hm. I think this tangent is long enough now.)

Anyway, it works like this. You go to what I think of as the 'carnivore gene', the 'Eaten an Animal' stimulus. You completely redo the chemistry so that each time an animal is eaten, the creature gets a strong hit of each type of hunger reduction, plus a similar-sized hit of an unused unknownase. I used 196 and 197, but any pair of unknownases will do so long as they're not being used for anything else. (Now, remember that, because that problem is going to lead to something really funny in a minute.)

Then you make a pair of reactions. The first unknownase, in my case 196, decays into Protein and 197. 197 in turn decays into Fat and Starch. I had to tweak the specific numbers a bit to make the nutritional balance work, and I left them the option of eating food and detritus as backup sources of fat and starch, and I might restore fruit as a backup protein source. But in general, they are now quite capable of surviving 100% on critters.

Now for the funny part, and the bit that the title references (other than just being a line in New Model Army's 'Modern Times'.) When I first went to set up this system, I made the reaction genes correctly. But somehow - I really didn't do this on purpose, I don't know how it happened - I selected chemical 130 instead of 196 when I did the stimulus.

For those of you who have read my previous post about chemical 130, or who have experimented with it yourselves (either on your Creatures, or in real life, as the case may be... ) you will instantly understand just what I did to these poor tester Norns.

For the rest of you, here's what happened. And it took me hours to figure out what was going on, mind you, so this was going on for AGES. Every time these Norns obeyed their strong instinctive need to eat critters, they were not only failing to get the nutritional results I wanted, but they were getting a massive dose of a powerful hallucinogen.


In effect, since their "symptoms" were periodic, they were schizophrenic Norns.


Do I feel guilty? A little.

Do I feel amused? Oh GOD yes.

So, so, so much weirdness ensued.

One Norn developed a paranoid terror of critters so intense he would hardly acknowledge their existence or look at them, much less eat them. Nothing I did would change it. Yet at the same time, he had a weird fetish-like fascination with bugs.

Another lay down in the middle of the water and swam back and forth/in a circle (for them it's the same thing) for quite a while - my sense of time is bad, but it was somewhere between five and ten seconds, maybe ten and fifteen. While doing this, she was continuously thinking, and occasionally saying, "Eat self."

A third Norn seemed fairly normal, but shortly after eating a fish, he suddenly grabbed a C2 crab and began hitting things with it. He spent at least five seconds battering the Sacred Dragon Skull with the crab in hand. Now, Norns hit objects a lot, but I've never seen one spend so long hitting stuff while holding another object. I have no idea what the point of that was, or if it even realized it was holding the crab while hitting things. For all I know it forgot it was holding the thing because he was too preoccupied with whatever hallucinations were prompting him to hit things in the first place.

I don't even remember everything weird or funny that happened, but this sort of thing went on for hours until, by coincidence, going over the genome again I discovered my error. At that moment, I realized what had been going on, and like I said above, I felt kind of bad, but I also laughed a whole lot.

I mean, let's be honest - I'm over 30 and I've done some stuff in my time. I know what those Norns went through a little better than some. It wasn't so bad. If I can judge by how often Norns that have gotten 130 say 'love hand' shortly after, actually, most of them really enjoy it. But it isn't cool to give them no way to avoid it. Violates basic drug ethics. Plus it just offended my sense of reality - to make it work in the long run I'd have to make 130 decay into food nutrients. Tryptamine doesn't decay into food. It just doesn't. My sense of reality is mutable enough to imagine some other chemical that does, but not 130. So yeah.

But I admit, my dark/sadistic/coldly curious side is intrigued by the idea of making a schizophrenic breed on purpose... mmm. Maybe after I finish the Abysses.

Well, anyway. Fixed that, so the nutrition system is working fine now.

They seem to get stuck in loops a little bit as they get older, which I think is why they're dying a lot in the third, forth, and fifth hours, but I'm not entirely sure what to do about that. I was always annoyed by the stronger 'go down' genes in other aquatic breeds, but I suppose this sort of thing is why they have them. I'd like another solution, though. Maybe I'll remove some feeding instincts and only leave the ones for primary food sources. Makes more sense that way anyhow - they'd come out of the egg knowing to seek meat for food, and thus prey, and have instincts to help them hunt said prey. But they wouldn't necessarily realize they can also digest fruit and food and detritus until they try it and notice it works. I'll have to give it a try.

Right now, since I've solved the major problems with the genome, I'm getting more into color choosing. Since recently learning a bit more about how Pigment Bleed genes work I've been obsessed with making ever-more random testers just to see what this or that combination does. I sort of wish the bleed only affected the underlying sprite and not the pigment, or that there was some kind of genetic switch allowing that to either be the case or NOT be the case. Makes it hard to get the colors I've been trying for. But I'll figure out something I like in the end.

OK, I'm tired and hungry. Time for some weed and Epic Rap Battles. But I'll be back! ;p


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