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Whole New Looks   Development   Malkin | 5/6/2013  log in to like post

Ali Maggs takes a look at the development of new environments for Norns, in an article originally published on HomeCreatures.

Ali Maggs takes a look at the development of new environments for Norns and how important it is to Norns and users, how has it effected the community and gives us a insight into the forthcoming Montu world developed by Ali and fellow worker Rich.

Albia. The centre of all things Nornish.
Are Norns alone in the Universe?
In a word: Not exactly. Ever since the dawn of Albian time, us 3rd party folk have been playing with the "behind the scenes" aspects of Creatures, creating new objects, new Norns, and - ultimately - entire new worlds.

Albia's no longer the only planet. For C1, there's the marvellous and ground breaking Terra Nornia and Eco Disk to be followed more recently by Darwinia. For C2, we've got Montu from myself, Nornia Sol III and a new one from Mike Mansfield ensuring that we'll be playing C2 well after C3 gets its release.

But why bother?
Why would anybody want a new world?
Why would anyone want to spend days getting used to a new surrounding?

Actually, there's a whole bunch of reasons depending on what new world you want. Creatures 1's Albia was very... predictable. The world stayed the same the whole time. There was none of that fancy seasonal stuff that C2 was to have later. Sandra and Lis' Terra Nornia made Creatures 1 far more diverse, with seasons and plants that could only grow at certain times of the year.

It also meant that more Norns were allowed in the game, and offered lockable doors. It gave the Norns a whole new world to explore which was both enjoyable for them and the user. The improved classification led to improved intellegence and the lucky trans-world Norns learnt how to cope with snow and new things that they hadn't stumbled upon in Albia because, well, it wasn't there. Another plus point for new worlds is that the users would have had the game for a long time and since the release of both games, suggestions had been made, complaints registered on agc (often harshly) and new objects made have inspired new ideas for settings and room layouts. For Creatures 2, this was especially important.

The world of Creatures 2
Albia in C2 got a fair old chunk of slack. Many expectations held for the game were not carried through. Many expected weather to settle, many had ideas of what the ecosystem would include. Many wanted a more "themed" world. Of course, if Cyberlife had put together a world based around one area, they would have got a ton of complaints as diversity is often a key issue in designing such a project.

For third parties, we have the chance to focus on one area and build up a diverse world based on that theme. We also get the chance to do things that have been requested snice the release of the game. John Carroll's Nornia Sol will feature a much more technically advcanced eco system with animals made up of DNA just like the Norns, meaning that as well as evolution in Norns, plants now have to compete to survive. These plants could well be sexual as opposed to the asexual plants of Albia. It'll be amazing to see, and a feat in technology that even C3 doesn't include.

I'm working alongside Rich Hanbury (under the development team name of "Chaos";) on an Egyption themed world called "Montu". The world is as diverse as Albia but with the Egyption theme. It, again, features many requests from the community, such as rain that settles and can flood certain areas, Snow that settles and builds up, and a more realistic eco system with creatures that depend on others to survive The new weather system (which also includes sand storms and tornados by the way) and realistic food chain will make Albia even more unpredictable as species could die out, and weather effects could actualy change your world with entire areas flooding. Also, ideas from users have been included such as a runaway mine cart way to travel, rooms that are only reachable if the rooms aren't flooded, hidden secrets (even hidden rooms and objects) that only become availible after something has been activated or after a certain amount of time has elapsed - all to help prolong the lastibility... A common request.

So whats in it for Norns?
For Norns, a whole new world can lead to intellegence being increased. C2 had some problems with object classification. Nornia Sol III is addressing this by having only one kind of edible object, called "fruit". This should stop confusion between food and fruit and plant..., and lead to greater intellegence. Montu will also be restructured in hope of a decrease in confusion. A new world might feature new things that will lead to intellegent Norns. By maintaining a standard in the objct scripts, we can decrease confusion. For example, Albia had some problems in that most plants can not be eaten, but a couple could - this lead to some very frustrated Norns trying to eat things that they couldn't. Now that the game's been out for so long, we can improve on this and try new things.

Of course, its not just the Norns that benefit from a new world. Humans do too. It is like having a whole new game. New worlds retain the best bits from C2, but build on them. The core engine stays the same, but thats about it! Montu has retained some of the original objects, but even these are modified. Everything else is new. 100% new rooms, 100% new graphics... We've even got some new Norn breeds to go with it. You've got C2, you're getting C3, well - with a new C2 world, you've got C2.5+ at least...!

Albia was great... But, just like with any game, after a year, you want something new. For games such as Half life, this is normally new levels. For things like Sim City, it's new buildings. For Creatures, however, a new world means a new game - vastly different enough from the original product and just as much fun.

- Ali Maggs

Originally published at HomeCreatures.

ylukyun | 5/7/2013  log in to like post

It's a pity this Nornia Sol never eventuated.

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