Monday, November 20, 2017

Eleven Months Later, a Speech Bubble Update

Hello friends. I'm still around, if in a mostly lurktacular sense.

I've gotten a little fed up with myself and my bad habit of posting "hey, look at this thing I'm working on!" and then never releasing it, or in this case, releasing it almost a year later. It's something I have mixed feelings on because on one hand I feel like it's important to document the process of things so that other can chime in and maybe learn from it, and on the other hand, it stresses me out so much to have little loose ends of projects I haven't finished floating around out there. I've also kind of come to the conclusion that I think gain a lot more satisfaction out of documenting and discussing the process with people than actually finishing/releasing something. But of course, just talking or posting about something doesn't do much to help people who just want to see the finished product!

I think the standard I am going to try to set for myself is to only post about an unfinished project if A) I require more feedback/information from the public to move forward on a project, B) if the documentation of the process can help people in some way, such as including discoveries or notes about how a particular aspect of CAOS, genetics, or the brain works, or C) If it's a particularly large project that I've already posted about previously and people are asking about how it's going.

My previous post about the Speech Bubble Update accomplished none of those things. In fact, in the time that it took to write up that post, I probably could have finished up the expanded sprites that I was too lazy to work with and just released the thing. This is the sort of posting I'm looking to avoid in the future. I'd like to indulge my desire to just talk about stuff pointlessly a little bit less, if it means I can get more done in the very limited time I have to develop these days.

But anyway, moping aside, you can now download the Speech Bubble Upgrades!

Just to refresh you, the purpose of these updates is twofold:

To provide a larger speech bubble so creatures with long names can completely express themselves.

And to allow easier directing of commands to specific norns, Prefacing a command with 'hey' will direct that command to your currently selected norn, without you having to type out their whole, ridiculous name.

The zip file contains a .cos you can just drop in your bootstrap if you don't want to have to fiddle with injecting it every time, but if you go this route make you you inject the agent into a world at least once first to ensure the new speech bubble file gets extracted.

Also, happy CCSF everyone! For once I'm not completely skipping out this year, but like usual I didn't make any formal submissions either since I'm so awful with deadlines and painfully subject to altering and finishing things at the last minute. Nevertheless I'm going to do my best to use the festival as motivation to get a few posts made over the next few days, so look forward to that!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Some Downloads Broken

Hey all, just a heads up that I'm having some problems with the host for several of my downloads right now. It's only temporary and everything will be back to normal on the first of January, but I'll try to get some of the more popular ones rehosted sooner (I've been needing to do that anyways), Sorry!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Speech Bubble Update In Progress

The CCSF has come and gone and my goodness, I blinked and it was over. These past few months have just been absurdly busy for me I was unable to get anything out. As I think I've mentioned in a recent post, I've been frustratingly at a standstill for years it seems wherein the only projects I have motivation to work on are those so big, so absurd, that the chances of actually ever getting them in a releasable state is slim to none. If only I could stick to smaller and more manageable projects, I might actually finish something one of these days.

Anyway, one of the CCSF releases that caught my eye was Splincer's Protective Tub Short Name List. This list address a problem with Protective Tub that's been low-key nagging at me for years-- the fact that no one is going to want to type out a long and obnoxious name to address a particular norn directly. So during a rare afternoon off I decided to try and see what I could do to address this. 
The solution I eventually came to was a modification to the speech bubble script that intercepts any typed command that begins with the word "hey" and changes it to be prefaced with the name of the currently selected norn. This makes it easier if you just want to give a command to one specific creature and not everyone in the room. I had thought of other words to preface the command with, like 'selected' and 'creature' but in the end I wanted it to be something short and quick to type, since that was really the point of the whole thing. It came down to 'you' and 'hey,' and well, 'hey' just sounded more fun to me.

 While I was at it, I tried fixing one of the other problems with really long names-- the speech bubble occasionally cutting off due to the names just taking up so much space. I still really don't like how huge and cumbersome the speech bubble is, but hopefully it won't be seen all that often with your average Protective Tub name.

There's still some quirks that I have to iron out before it's in a releasable state, but hopefully that won't take too long. In the meantime, there's some other things I would like to fix about my older agents, such as the plane for the nametags being set way too high, and about a million little bugs in the Garden Box. But we'll see what I find time and motivation for.

Is there anything else you all have noticed in my agents that needs fixing/tweaking, before I get bogged down in another impossible project and you don't hear from me again for three more years?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival: Day 7

Why do you like Creatures? If your interest in it has come and gone and come again, what brings you back? Despite how hard it can be to run on modern machines and the total lack of official support now, why do you play?

I guess I have quite a few reasons for this one. A pretty big reason I keep coming back is that there's just no modern replacement. Even after twenty years, no one has developed a sim game with the same or greater level of detail when it comes to biology, genetics, and brain simulation. When I'm itching to raise some A-Life, Creatures is simply the best way for me to scratch.

 Another reason is just plain nostalgia and attachment-- I've been playing this game on and off for so long that even if something more interesting does come along, I'll probably still come back to raise norns occasionally.

But really what usually draws me back in the first place is getting a message, comment, or email from someone who has a question about the games or something I've developed. I think it's seeing that interest from other players that inspires me to play again too. Sometimes life gets so busy I forget Creatures exists, forget games in general exist! But having those reminders once in a while from other community members helps me remember how much I really do love this game and how much I enjoy playing and developing for it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

CCSF Blog Carnival: Day 6

What do you think of the mythology and backstory of creatures? Do you have any favorite background details in the world? Any pet theories or thoughts, or questions you would like answered?

The general mythology behind the series is alright, if a little weird (Some smart aliens made life, abandoned the planet, went to space, abandoned the ship...? Apparently invented the warp at some point and sent newly created breeds through it..?) I think I mostly enjoy reading and writing extended lore about the Shee and Albia. I love backstory in general, about metarooms, breeds, agents-- this community can be so creative when it comes to that stuff. Ghosthande's metarooms in particular often have fascinating stories behind then and secrets to discover within.

Hm, and when I was a kid I headcanoned that MerNorns were extremely rare because they were born terrified of the water, and unless they overcame their fear before they became adults, they would die. But I think I mostly just developed that concept so I could write a corny love story about a norn who manages to overcome his fear to join his lover in the sea.

Edit: Check out this comment Steve Grand wrote explaining some of his thought processes behind the mythology of Creatures! It's so neat to have some insight from the creator!