SpringRain from SpringRain’s Creatures Blog had a few Horse Norns who were exhibiting a few strange behaviors. Naturally, I volunteered to have a look at their genetics! It’s almost like a mystery as one sifts through each gene mutation, trying to locate the solution to the puzzle. Many might see it as boring, but for me, I actually find it exciting, especially when a bit of digging is needed. Mad geneticist? You better believe it!
The first test subject was little Aurn, a male Horse Norn who was just a minute old. He had a brilliantly dark coat color, which made him blend in a little more than usual! I thought the wall had a new pair of eyes until Aurn started moving about! SpringRain reported how he seemed to get angry when playing with toys. Barring the existence of a frustrating toy meant to anger young Norns, it sounded like something on the genetics side was happening! Creatures 1 genes are fairly straightforward to me, after months of study, so I have included all mutations. The more, the merrier!
Chemical receptors define parameters for a certain chemical. When these parameters are met, an element in the Creature is affected. These genes can increase drives, define life stages, control fertility, and more.
Missing 320 Sen B Creature, Somatic, die of old age, chem=Ageing, thresh=5, nom=102, gain=255, features=Inverted Digital
This gene is actually not present in Aurn’s genome, which means that he could end up living forever. Effectively, it will be impossible for him to die of old age. The original Creatures 1 Norns came with this gene missing… Which might explain why I remember my Norns rarely dying in the old days! Kezune created updated hatchery genomes which add this gene back in: They are available to download at Creatures Caves. Aurn can still live a normal life, though!
277 Adu M MutDupCut 1*Alcohol + 1*NONE => 2*Anger + 1*Sleepiness; half-life=64
This wonderful gene makes males both aggressive and sleepy after consuming alcohol. Aurn’s mutation means that this gene will switch on at adulthood, rather than at the usual time of adolescence. I consider this a positive change, since it means he won’t feel the terribly ill effects for a little bit longer in his life. I wouldn’t recommend switching his diet to a completely liquid one, though!
320 Emb B 1*Fear + 1*Turnase => 2*Anger + 1*Reinforcement; half-life=56
This gene might not look too familiar to those used to typical Creatures 1 genes. It’s actually part of the fight or flight genes introduced with Ron Norns. In this genome, there are a pair of genes which help to convert flight to fight when cornered (measured by turnase), and fight to flight when retreating (measured by collapsase). Aurn does not have the second part of this pair in his system, which would normally help convert anger into fear. Interestingly enough, this gene has no effect. Why? Turnase is a chemical normally introduced when a creature notices something approaching him or her, or when he or she bumps into a wall. Aurn experiences no turnase from these stimuli, so there is no method for the chemical to enter his system. This might have been a good explanation for excess anger, but not quite! It is also extremely mutated, with twice as much anger, a small amount of reinforcement, and a longer half life.
New 315 Emb B 4*AntiOxidant + 1*NONE => 1*Ageing + 1*NONE; half-life=56
Another problematic gene corrected with Kezune’s updated genomes! This allows a Norn to convert antioxidant, commonly found in the tomato and a few other food COBs, into ageing, which then extends the natural life span. From a realistic standpoint, this gene makes little sense… Unless it’s important to have a fountain of youth present on a genetic level! Aurn should not suffer from this, though. Coupled with his lack of a natural death gene, he can survive with as little or as much ageing in his system! The only effect might be a delay in reaching the next life stages, depending on how much antioxidant he got hold of, and when the reaction took place.
New 321 Emb B Mut 1*SleepPill + 1*PainKiller => 2*Loneliness++ + 5*Anger-; half-life=40
I suppose something odd and interesting is just around every corner! This gene absolutely perplexed me when I came across it. The chemicals on the left side of the equation relate to those available to inject via the Health Kit. Apparently, combining the two in Aurn will increase his loneliness and decrease his anger. However, these two injections still have their normal effects! I still wonder about this one… My best guess is that making Aurn fall asleep with no pain makes him a lot less angry and more lonely. Does this make any sense? I suppose it just gives him a unique quirk in his biochemistry!
Stimuli genes define the chemicals that a Creature expects to receive in response to an action. These actions can range from interactions with the hand to involuntary actions like coughing or sneezing.
New 316 You M Mut ‘It is approaching’ causes sig=32 GS neu=10(IT is approaching) int=48 => 17*Fear + 107*Anger + 32*NFP + 0*NONE
New 318 You F Mut ‘It is approaching’ causes sig=16 GS neu=10(IT is approaching) int=16 => 107*Fear + 55*Anger + 37*SexDrive + 0*NONE
I wanted to introduce these two new genes in the same explanation, since they are related. The first will affect Aurn when he becomes a youth, while the second will have no effect on him because it is a female-specific gene. This means that a male and female with this identical genome would react quite differently to an approaching “IT” which can apparently be anything, although it is most commonly associated with another Norn. Aurn will become a little fearful, very angry, and in need of pleasure. A female with this gene, which could be his daughter, would become very fearful, moderately angry, and somewhat interested in breeding. These seem rather counter intuitive, especially if males and females in the same population end up with these genes! This should certainly explain where a lot of Aurn’s excess anger stems from.
New 322 Adu B Mut ‘It is retreating’ causes sig=16 GS neu=11(IT is retreating) int-80 => 144*Reward + 32*Fear- + 32*Crowdedness-+ 0*NONE
When something retreats in Aurn’s line of sight, he experiences a healthy dose of reward, along with a decrease in both fear and crowdedness. This gene appears to encourage Aurn to scare off others around him! This could easily make him more prone to being on his own, although the following genes that switch on later in life make things a little more complicated.
New 329 Emb B Mut ‘It is retreating’ causes sig=16 GS neu=15(IT is a creatue) int=16 => 32*Reward + 32*Fear- + 32*Crowdedness- + 128*Loneliness
Another new stimuli gene for Aurn! This one involves the stimuli of tying together something retreating and sensing that it is a creature. This is not entirely correct, since the general sensory neuron is usually tied directly in with the stimulus. However, when this occurs, Aurn experiences reward, a decrease in fear, a decrease in crowdedness, and a large increase in loneliness. The last two chemicals create something of a conundrum: When a creature retreats, Aurn will feel slightly less crowded, but will also be extremely inclined to seek out company. Perhaps this gene was intended to encourage a Norn to chase another repeatedly?
New 330 Adu B Mut ‘It is retreating’ causes sig=64 GSn eu=15(IT is a creature) int=80 => 32*Reward + 32*Fear- + 32*Crowdedness- + 32*Glycogen
I have few words for this gene except that I highly dislike it! It follows along the typical path of the newer stimuli genes, with the one blinding difference being its inclusion of glycogen. Glycogen? The long term energy storage chemical which is supposed to be precious and difficult to produce? Glycogen? The chemical necessary for survival, which often prompts a Norn to seek out food? Goodness! Aurn certainly had a mutation on his hands! This is one that I would try to keep out of my population, simply because it makes eating unnecessary for survival. He apparently just needs to see something retreat from him for sustenance… Strange, but true! Not that it makes Aurn an awful creature or anything. Maybe it could be a good thing, particularly in areas without much food. And creatures who like to run away!
Hold on: There are still a few new and mutated instinct genes present in Aurn’s genome! However, he seemed to be far more interested in the toys than being the center of a genetics discussion, and I took the hint. The exciting conclusion to this case study will be revealed within a few days, followed by an analysis of SpringRain’s second Horse Norn, Dawn. These case studies often are quite involved, yet the results are rather interesting!
Update: Thanks to Grendel Man, I learned that a lot of these mutations were intentional! Aurn is closely related to the Night Norn, a genetic breed created by Gaz. According to the Creatures Wiki article: “These Norns look sweet at birth, but in adolescence… If cornered then they can react dangerously. The males are particularly nasty. The females initiate mating (males do in normal Norns). Winning duels gives these Norns a boost in life force. A small cocktail of sleeping pills and pain killers (both injections from the [Health] Kit) will help soothe frustrated Night Norns.” That sounds just like Aurn! Thanks again, Grendel Man!