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C2: The God Object   
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  4/26/2018  11

The God Object
(Or: Why norns get stuck wallbumping the right wall of the volcano)

~


Phew. This was a journey. Before I begin, I'd like to give a massive thanks to Yme for being as obsessed about fixing this as I was, and to Skerit for additional input and ideas that finally lead to a solution.

So, what is the problem I'm talking about?



This is the problem. No, not the Grendel. See, in the patched/GoG version of C2, you may have noticed creatures getting stuck here often, continually focusing on themselves and trying to do all sorts of push, pull, etc, etc actions on themselves. It can be very difficult, nigh impossible, to lure them out of that corner. In Yme's words: it's a death trap.

After some poking around, I determined that this problem doesn't exist in the original release version of the game (1.0.38). So I set out to figure out as much as I could about the what was going wrong and potentially how to fix it.

At the same time we were investigating this, I was developing a general solution to the Wallbonking problem. All was going well with that.



...But this spot in the volcano was one final headache I just couldn't get rid of. No matter what, my collision detection scripts did not seem to work there; they'd wallbump over and over for apparently no reason. I couldn't let this rest. I had to find out why!

In the beginning, the assumption was that creatures were, in fact, looking at themselves, so it made sense to me: my Wallbonk fix gets a 'relative x' position from the _it_ (thing the norn is looking at) to determine which way it should check for a wall. If the norn is looking at itself, the relative x is 0, which wasn't being caught by my scripts:

subr relw
targ _it_
setv var0 relx
targ ownr
doif var0 lt 0
doif obst 1 lt 200
done
stop
endi
endi
doif var0 gt 0
doif obst 0 lt 200
done
stop
endi
endi
retn


But through various tests and tweaks, I determined that although relative x was reporting 0, the script was triggering on the "less than zero" but seemingly ignoring it. And they were performing object-related actions, not creature-related ones as you might expect. None of this made sense!

So why were these creatures trying to eat themselves like a piece of cheese? And only why there, in those specific rooms at the bottom of the volcano?

We tried all kinds of solutions. I even edited the rooms down there into completely different configurations, different room neighbours, different openness and floor and door values, even going so far as to block off the entire right half of the area...



...and it was still happening.

It was maddening.

It was infuriating.

The only solution I could make work was completely ridiculous and not at all release-worthy. No amount of encouraging them to face or walk left worked, so I forced them to moonwalk all the way out of the volcano.

https://streamable.com/mpgru

Obviously, not ideal.

But then I discovered something. Something important.



The norns weren't actually looking at themselves. Norn and _it_ were two completely different objects, even though the norns spoke their own name when expressing their desire. Additionally, I could not zoom to this mysterious, invisible object that was pretending to be the norn's self.

Curiouser and curiouser!

By this point, we were still fixated on the idea that perhaps the World Wrap point had something to do with this, but I went back to the release version of the game and discovered that not only has the World Wrap point never changed (it was always at Love Island, and the left/right bug was always at the desert) but also that this bug in the volcano did not exist.

Whatever the patch changed, they messed up something bigtime down there.

I was getting closer to an answer, and further investigation revealed that the object norns were obsessing over existed in invalid coordinates beyond the x8352 and y2400 maximum limits of the world. It was at this point that Skerit suggested I move the object into valid coordinates, and...

Something magical was revealed.



This, ladies and gents, is The God Object. The C1/C2 Tricorder app reports it as class 2 0 0, the very basis of every object and system in the world. It IS the world.

This norn is touching GOD.

But uh, they probably shouldn't be able to, right? That could be pretty dangerous.

So let's just bury it underground somewhere and forget this ever happened.



~

Edit: Except, the saga didn't end there...

When I originally posted this, I'd assumed the problem was solved. Norns in the volcano no longer endlessly wallbonked there, and all seemed well. I packaged up the fix in Better Albia 1.5, released it, and started a fresh new wolfling run in celebration.

And then I saw it happening again.



Norns were seeing the God Object through solid walls and floors, where it was newly buried beneath the Shee Statue. But although it was beneath the ground, those coordinates were valid. I even moved the object above-ground and the same thing kept happening.

It seemed that my original assumption, that invalid coordinates were to blame, wasn't accurate after all. This was an area-of-effect hypnosis, likely brought about by the object's complete disregard for the normal rules and behaviours all other objects are bound to by the game's engine. Fortunately, this sequence of discovery could not have been more perfect.

If 2 0 0 hadn't first appeared beyond the world's maximum coordinates, I would never have known such a thing was possible. Now the true solution becomes obvious: if they can see the God Object through any wall, but must be within its sphere of influence to do so, where in the world could I hide it where no Norn would ever see?

The answer: Not in the world at all. Rather, nine leagues below it, back in invalid space where it belongs.

Turns out, the only problem was that they didn't put it far enough away in the first place.

~

Final cause of bug: The God Object has strange properties that defy explanation. Being anywhere near to it causes creatures to singlemindedly try to seek towards it, ignoring any suggestion to look away or change their minds. Additionally, other objects can exist out of bounds, and when doing so, seem to acquire some of the God Object's powerful hypnotic powers.

A combination of the volcano's location near the wrapping point and those objects' invalid coordinates makes them visible seemingly out of nowhere, and norns in the area want to walk east trying to reach them at an invalid location. But no matter where the God Object is moved, even inside valid coordinates, nearby norns will see it through any number of solid walls.

Solution: Enum 0 0 0 through all objects that exist out of bounds and destroy them. If the God Object is found, move it so far out of bounds that no norn can get near enough to be drawn into its influence.

~

Thank you for reading, I hope you found the journey interesting. This bug will be fixed in Better Albia 1.5. :)

 
Laura
Tea Queen

Laura
United Kingdom  
Administrator


 visit Laura's website: CC Chat
  4/26/2018

Wow, GimmeCat, you're turning into a C2 wizard! I think it's amazing really that this solution went undiscovered in all the years that C2 has been around, or rather than no one went this far to tackle the problem before. :)

Thank you!

 
Yme

Yme



  4/26/2018  1

Lol! Oh my... This is the best thing ever! If you are at a specific place in the world, soaking up radiation and generally having a bad time... Basically the worst situation a Norn can experience in his or her life.... if you just look into yourself, deep inside, you will find god... Seriously, that's just the best thing!

And please tell me that image of the statue, is where you buried god. That is just so appropriate :D

You're an amazing writer <3

 
Morby

Morby
United States  


  4/26/2018

Holy crap! This problem has plagued me, and ALL of us, for two decades. Good freaking job Gimmecat! You're amazing!!! I agree with Yme, amazing writing - I was completely enthralled.

Old and Lame
 
NornBreeder
Brewer of Tales

NornBreeder
United States  


  4/27/2018

What a weird thing... interesting story too.
 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  4/28/2018  2

Hi! Just posting a quick little update. Turns out that even with the object buried, norns near the Shee Statue were being hypnotized by its godly powers - even through walls and floors.

My assumption that invalid coordinates were the cause of the hypnosis effect was premature. What seems to really be happening is that the normal rules do not apply to the God Object, therefore the game doesn't care whether it should be visible or not - it simply is. Always. Even setting attr +16 on it has no effect to its visibility, likely because whenever a norn even attempts to look at it, they end up looking at some corrupt version of themselves. It's not an object, per-se, like a toy ball or a firefly. It both is... and isn't there at all.

Fortunately, however, it still appears to be a localised effect, which means that burying the object deep, deep underground actually does solve the problem, by putting it completely out of norn's visual range.

With that in mind, please, if you're currently using the version uploaded in the past couple of days, the download has been updated. I strongly urge you to grab a fresh copy and re-inject the Out Of Bounds Fix to hopefully dispell the curse once and for all.

 
Gulliver

Gulliver



  4/30/2018

Are there any places in the sky where it would be out of the visual range?

The lower limit of C2 Albia is fairly near where norns can access, so maybe shoving it somewhere really high up would be less accessible?

I'm not actually sure how far norns can see, but high above the bridge might be inaccessible.

 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  4/30/2018  1

I don't think so. There is actually another hidden system object (sort of; it's a sub-controller of sorts) in the sky above the dark sea (noted by Yme) that norns can see from all the way down in the Frog Pond, so that's practically half the map's height in range.

Moving them to y9000 is working out well enough. Fortunately, the game itself never seems to do any sort of garbage collection on lost objects, so there's no harm in putting it way down there.

 
Merboy

Merboy
United States  


  5/1/2018

This is so.... metaphysical. It's like the game is magical or has its own spirituality. And after all these years...

The Illuminati really got us this time. But thank you so much, GimmeCat! You're incredible!


The Lantern Light.com
 
TheDrunkenNorn

TheDrunkenNorn


 visit TheDrunkenNorn's website:
  6/17/2018

That was an awesome adventure. :)

That cute little bugger in my avatar is <UnNamed> from my Creatures 2 Wolfling Runs! Click here if you'd like to know more.
 
Soloontherocks

Soloontherocks
United States  


  7/15/2018  2

There's some kind of scifi horror story to be found in "they thought the problem was solved, but they didn't bury the old god deep enough in the earth."
 
SpaceShipRat

SpaceShipRat
Italy  


  7/20/2018

This whole thing is great

GimmeCat wrote:
whenever a norn even attempts to look at it, they end up looking at some corrupt version of themselves.



...and Steve has to see this.

 
enchantedloom

enchantedloom



  7/20/2018  7

OMG people!!! GimmeCat! What have you done???

It's two o'clock in the morning here and my phone just beeped. It was SpaceShipRat telling me about this. I couldn't sleep so I took a quick look to see what she was talking about and it turns out you're all discussing some kind of metaphysical, quantum-mechanical, existential crisis in MY game and I've absolutely no idea what any of it means!

If people do this to my upcoming game, you realize, I'll be long dead and they'll still be ironing out the bugs... ;-)

Tell you what, though. One of the big influences for me when I wrote Creatures was a novel by Kee Dewdney, called the Planiverse. In the story, a bunch of computer science students had written a 2D virtual world simulation with artificial life in it. To start with it worked just as they'd expected. "FEC here. Hunting Throgs." But one day they started getting rather more complex and plaintive messages from a creature called YNRD. The thing is, they hadn't MADE a creature called YNDRD. Gradually they realized that YNDRD was real, and their simulation had got into a sort of sympathetic resonance with a real 2D universe, somewhere 'out there'.

Beyond visual range, as it were.

Ringing any bells???

- Steve

 
GimmeCat

GimmeCat
United Kingdom  


  7/20/2018  2

Good to see you here, Steve! :D

Yes, I've heard about the Planiverse influence. I've always loved the idea that AI could someday reach a point where it truly starts doing things we haven't programmed it to do. But as you've wrote about recently, computer science has been following completely the wrong path for the past decade. Nobody's doing 'proper' AI anymore, except you. And that's a large part of why I backed Grandroids all those years ago. Because I knew you were seeking the answers everyone has has forgotten to ask.

I think your work is going to be hugely important to the future in ways we probably can't even imagine right now. The problems you're solving today for a quirky little ALife sim could end up being the basis of an entire field of research in the future. As for Grandroids itself, I've seen the new village/biomes concept and it's looking great!

Keep up the amazing work!

 
BlueLeafeon

BlueLeafeon



  7/21/2018

GimmeCat wrote:
I don't think so. There is actually another hidden system object (sort of; it's a sub-controller of sorts) in the sky above the dark sea (noted by Yme) that norns can see from all the way down in the Frog Pond, so that's practically half the map's height in range.


Isn't this in the original version of C2 as well? I often see norns in that area looking skyward briefly, before getting distracted by something else. And is this the cloud-maker thing?

 


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