The Devil's Re-Jects


Interesting times in the ongoing Imperator wolfling run. I've had it going almost continuously since late on September 30th in the same world, with a max population of 30-35. This is by far the biggest and longest-running wolfing I've ever been able to do. No machine I've owned before was capable of keeping a single world going with that many creatures in it without dying of untenable amounts of lag. Even with a third as many creatures, it would lag badly after a day or two of RL uptime. But so far this one is going fine, though I've had to kill hots and ject 1 a bunch of agents to streamline it (all stuff we're not using anyway, like the Bramboos in the mesa or the mosquitos/gnats/rocklice in the Jungle). 

So this world is rather important to me. I've never gotten to observe so many dragon norns doing so much all at once before with so little lag relative to population and world size. They've sprawled across C12DS, the Jungle, the Desert, and the Hydro Nornterrarium. Many interesting social, brain/learning, and drug-related observations are being made. I took a break from it for one day to do a run in a new world of dragons with permanently-active DMT (chemical 130) emitters to see how that affected their ability to learn, care for themselves, breed, and establish lasting colonies. Other than that, Draconicus has run continuously since the 30th. 

I always leave Docking Station running when I go to bed so they can live their lives while I'm sleeping. This is the real test of their wolfling ability, since I can't interfere in any way while asleep (I tend to be unable to resist the urge to check in and meddle when I'm awake and on the laptop). On the previous days with Draconicus, I woke up to find a thriving world with full population of dragons roaming in small packs or hanging out in semi-settled colonies. I've finally managed to achieve a reasonable level of breeding, too - they always had a good stock of eggs, but never so many at one time that the engine locked down breeding (at least not with such a high population limit - they'd max it out at 15).

But today, disaster! To my great surprise, the population had suffered a severe loss. Though still max in population, I found a lot of Norns that had died of starvation (previously an unusual cause of death) and the stock of "backup eggs" had significantly dwindled. Also, not one Norn past gen10 had been bred, when they should have advanced at least a couple of generations in the 8-10 hours or so since I'd gone to bed. 

So I tweaked a few food agents and dangerous agents (beasts/weeds) and such, hoping that would help, but by this afternoon, they'd used up all but a couple of their 'stocked' eggs, meaning that soon they'd no longer be at max population. My little "ant farm" was failing.

Because many of them had died relatively young, and because of the failure to get past Gen10, I thought some nasty mutations must have taken hold in the gene pool. I spent a good couple of hours combing through genomes with GeneCompare, looking for anything that might explain all the losses. 

And while I did that, they continued to struggle and die early, many before breeding age. And those at breeding age were making a hell of a lot fewer eggs. I did find a few mutations that contributed to the excess mortality and reduced breeding (including a gnarly one that made giving birth impossible), but not enough to explain the problems I was still seeing, especially because a lot of the Norns dying young had none of the serious mutations I had flagged. I was stumped.

Then I noticed a Norn pacing back and forth in the air, back and forth, back and forth. I had noticed a lot of that behavior in the Jungle throughout the day, but I didn't pay any attention to it because the Jungle is where I put all the trippyweeds - 233 Shee Shrooms, Hallucinogenic Flowers with 130, manky mushrooms, all that kind of thing. So I hadn't really thought about it - I semi-consciously put it down to the norns in the Jungle all being drunk and/or high. 

But this evening, I saw sober individuals in C12DS doing it too. It puzzled me at first. Then one of them lay down and went to sleep. Instead of sinking down like he ought to have, he just stayed there, hovering in the air, asleep. I thought, "Hmm, the Flying Agent .cos must have hiccupped for some reason. I'll ject 7 it."

For some reason, that thought reminded me of the last time I had seen persistent pacing behavior. It was a very long time ago, back in 2016 or 2017 or so, and it was exhibited by Abyss Dragons before I made the critterbugsmell.cos edits. It was what they did before they could track critters and bugs by scent. If the food was too far above or below them, it was like they could sense its presence somehow, but couldn't actually see it, so they'd pace back and forth as if trying to find it. With the scent edits enabled, they stopped doing that, instead zeroing in on prey easily. So I had forgotten that was a thing. But that was absolutely the same behavior I was seeing today, the exact same confused 'search' pacing.

So I re-jected the flying agent and critterbugsmell. And this fixed all the problems! Yay!

I did Love Time twice to get the ball rolling, but then I went off to do meatspace things and left them alone. When I returned a few hours later, I was happy to see the population thriving and the egg supply restored. The 'ant farm' is healthy again. I cloned a couple of the ones that died, added one Gen1 to pull the gene pool back toward its beginnings a little bit, but otherwise I've let them determine their own fate again.

                                        And they've replenished their egg supply! No more risk of colony death.

It's funny, though. My mind went immediately to a genetic or food/danger agent issue. If it wasn't for the flying agent also going out, I might not have made the connection about the pacing behavior for hours more. Maybe even too late to save the run. Not sure what made them autokill or stop working, but I'm glad I was able to restore them and keep the run going. I'm looking forward to raising a batch past the early few generations for once. Off we go into Gen11 and beyond.


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