The Case of a Hunger Illusion from a Stimuli Gene

Kitty Tikara submitted a case study Norn a couple of weeks ago, and I finally found the time to meet the little guy! Ogi was very happy to be in the world, and his reddish tint was a very unique sight. The reason for his case study was his constant hunger for fat. It was something that was a problem in him and several other related Norns. Naturally, time for a bit of genetic sleuthing! I actually found several interesting mutations in Ogi’s genome. Luckily for him, my studying allowed him to run around the world and eat everything!

Stimuli

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.

389 Emb B MutDupCut Disappointment (0) causes sig=0, neu=0, int=0, 240 => 1*Boredom + 25*Punishment + 62*Brain chemical 1 +3*Anger

The main mutation from this gene is how it generates anger from disappointment, while a standard Norn would not experience any anger. It’s a fairly small number, but with enough disappointment, Ogi could get quite angry! The value of 240 is simply an indicator that all four chemicals are silent: There is no direct link between them and disappointment. An easier example to understand is why the chemicals associated with laying an egg are silent. A female experiences a great deal of pain from the stimulus, but doesn’t learn that the pain comes from this action. Otherwise, female Norns might very well attempt not to lay an egg and feel rather conflicted about the whole scenario! Ogi’s mutation is fairly minor, though he might be a little more angry than others.

390 Emb B MutDupCut Creatures slaps me (4) causes sig=116 GS neu=0, int=0, Sensed even when asleep, 240 => 20*Anger + -4*Fear +0*Pain

This gene controls which chemicals are increased or decreased when Ogi is slapped by another Creature. In a standard Norn, this stimulus would not be noticed when sleeping, but Ogi will be able to sense it. He also differs from a standard Norn in the actual chemicals involved. The standard genome defines a very small amount of anger, a bit of fear, and some pain. For Ogi, he will experience ten times the normal amount of anger and actually experience a decrease in fear! There will also be no pain… Other Norns better not try to slap him too much while he’s sleeping. Ogi will wake up one very angry Norn!

392 Emb B MutDupCut I have hit (44) causes sig=64 GS neu=13, int=0, 0 => -15*Anger + 19*Starch + 2*Tiredness + -5*Boredom

Luckily these stimuli genes are fairly easy to understand! In the standard Norn genome, hitting another creates a decrease in anger, a slight decrease in crowdedness, a slight increase in tiredness, and a small decline in boredom. Ogi experiences a larger degree of anger decrease, but the most interesting aspect of this mutation is the second chemical. He actually experiences a sizable increase in starch from hitting others. Since the chemicals are not silent and can be directly traced to the stimulus, he will most likely appear to be more violent, yet there is a good reason for it! Generating nutrition from hitting… Interesting!

403 Emb B MutDupCut I have eaten (26) causes sig=61 GS neu=12 int=0, 0 => -7*Boredom + -2*Coldness + 3*Starch + 2*Tiredness

Typically, a Norn experiences a decrease in boredom and coldness, as well as a slight increase in tiredness, when he or she has eaten something. For Ogi, this mutation means that his body will actually generate a small bit of starch on its own each time he eats. These chemicals are not silent, so he should associate this increase in starch with eating. It’s a fairly minor mutation, but one that could help him out just a little more!

408 Emb B MutDupCut I’ve hit a wall (7) causes sig=6 GS neu=5 int=255, 192 => 12*Pain + 9*Fear + 1*90 + 3*Anger

Here is, yet again, another stimulus mutation! One part of this altered gene is the added anger that Ogi will experience when running into a wall, which Norns typically do not experience. Perhaps even more interesting is the change to a value of 192: Normally, none of the chemicals are silent, so a Norn links new chemicals to that actual stimulus. Ogi still relates pain and fear with hitting a wall, but chemical 90 (wounded) and the new anger will be silent. Their values are quite miniscule, but he might be a little more prone to wall bonking.

Ogi rather enjoyed eating the seeds that were strewn about the world. All of his needs were extremely low… Until he ate a carrot. This screenshot was taken immediately after he ate the carrot, and sure enough, his hunger for fat shot up to a dangerous level, as if he had never eaten in the first place! Despite his forced smile in this picture, he was rather confused and uncomfortable. Yet that need slowly decreased, even when he didn’t eat anything else. The reason for this case study was about to be revealed! Ogi went back to eating seeds and stayed away from the carrots, for good reason. Or rather, a bad reason.

504 Emb B MutDupCut Eaten food (79) causes sig=0 GS neu=0 int=0, 0 => 76*Hunger for fat + -21*Hunger for protein + 12*Fat + 12*Protein

Well then… When a standard Norn eats food, he or she experiences a decrease in hunger for fat by a value of 37. Not only does Ogi not experience a decrease, but his hunger for fat actually increases by an enormous amount whenever he eats food! Perhaps the even more difficult part of this mutation is the fact that all of the chemicals are not silent, so Ogi will learn to associate eating food with a huge increase in hunger for fat, rather than a decrease. This behavior was already showing through when he was only around twenty minutes old: Eating carrots was an absolute last resort when there was nothing else to do.

Ogi’s handsome red tint faded away when he reached adolescence, but he was still a happy camper! He absolutely loved eating up everything in sight, so long as it was classified as a fruit or seed. The good news is that this mutation still allows him to gain the same nutritional value from food, but his body doesn’t recognize how it actually decreases his hunger for fat. It seemed like a good idea to keep him from gaining much weight, if that was ever an issue! Ogi seemed very content eating anything else, though, and he didn’t seem to be too negatively affected. Norns are always so resilient!

>My beautiful waterfall was completely ignored by Ogi, although I imagined that he at least liked the coolness as he obliviously walked by. This was an interesting case study, particularly in terms of the stimuli genes and how the silent feature can tie chemicals to a stimulus, or keep them hidden in terms of learning. Ogi had a couple of other mutations, but they were extremely minor. This final one should answer the question of his hunger for fat, though it’s technically just an illusion. He had enough fat in his system most of the time, but this distorted need made him think otherwise. Thanks to Kitty Tikara for sending in Ogi! Hopefully this has been an interesting discussion about a very interesting Norn!

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