The Case of Pezz and Finding a Forgotten Breed

Recently, DragonSparke contacted me to take a look at one of her Norns who was stillborn, due to a genetic mutation. Fortunately, she managed to fix the offending gene and successfully hatch the egg. Congratulations! She discovered an unknown genome along the way, though, and one which seemed to be filled with mutations. It sounded like a perfect opportunity for a case study! Named Pezz, this Norn immediately looked very unique. The fact that her genome was called PEZZ.GEN seemed to indicate that she might have been gengineered. Sure enough, she belongs to the Pezz Norns by Wiseman. Time to look at her genetics!

Receptors

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.

Default: 153 Ado F MutDupCut Creature, Reproductive, become fertile if high, chem=Oestrogen, thresh=0, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue
Pezz: 157 Emb F MutDupCut Creature, Reproductive, become fertile if high, chem=Oestrogen, thresh=0, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue

For the sake of space, only one of these chemical receptors is listed here. This change is present in a total of four related genes, all controlling fertility and reproduction in males and females. It’s a rather simple change, with all genes switching on in the embryo life stage rather than adolescence. Coupled with similar changes in chemical emitters, this means that Pezz Norns are fertile right from birth. As if Norns needed any more time to reproduce: They usually have too many children as it is! This means that baby and child Pezz Norns are capable of laying their own eggs.

Emitters

Chemical emitters define specific conditions within a Creature in order to affect chemicals. Some examples include experiencing stress from excessive drives, becoming cold due to environmental conditions, and more.

Default: 156 Ado F MutDupCut Creature, Reproductive, I am pregnant, chem=Gonadotrophin, thresh=0, samp=40, gain=64, features=Digital
Pezz: 160 Emb F MutDupCut Creature, Reproductive, I am pregnant, chem=Gonadotrophin, thresh=0, samp=40, gain=64, features=Digital

As with the chemical receptors, the six chemical emitters related to reproduction in the Pezz Norns have been changed to switch on immediately from birth rather than the usual start in adolescence. This example involves the gene that emits gonadotrophin in a female’s system when she is pregnant. Another reason why Pezz can reproduce from birth!

Reactions

Chemical reactions define rules for individual chemicals and chemical combinations. These genes can also state the rules for how chemicals are used up, and each reaction has a defined half-life to determine how often it occurs.

Default: 226 Emb B MutDupCut 2*Antigen1 + 4*Glucose => 1*Antibody1 + 1*Hotness; half-life=88
Pezz: 232 Emb B MutDupCut 2*Antigen1 + 4*Glucose => 255*Antibody1 + 1*Hotness; half-life=2

There are some slight differences between the different immune system genes, but overall they all share the same sort of differences as this example. In a standard Norn, anytime an antigen is detected, the Norn’s body begins to produce the corresponding antibody. This process uses up glucose and emits hotness, reminiscent of an ill Norn with a fever. For a Pezz Norn, the first sign of an antigen causes the body to quickly produce the maximum amount of antibodies. This will likely lead to extremely short illnesses, and decreased spread of contagious illnesses.

New: 231 Emb B MutDupCut None + None => 50*Glycogen + 50*SexDrive++; half-life=2

If this gene appears baffling, it actually is! It says that Pezz produces glycogen and sex drive increase out of nothing at nearly every second. There is no need for Pezz Norns to eat, because their body constantly produces long-term energy out of nothing. This breed is also naturally kept interested in breeding, regardless of other factors. For example, Norns who are extremely hungry or sleepy sometimes attempt to satisfy these needs before becoming interested in breeding. This gene sort of negates the purpose of teaching Norns to care for themselves, at least in my view.

New: 332 Emb B 1*Starch + 1*Glucose => 255*Reward; half-life=8

Another rather perplexing choice of a gene. This states that starch and glucose will combine together to create an enormous dose of reward chemical in a Pezz Norn. My thinking is that this gene was originally planned to help reward a Norn who ate. However, the effect of this is actually very odd when seen within the game. Keep this gene in mind for a little later on this case study. Suffice to say it makes for a strange result when graphing digestive chemicals!

Please note that when opened with the Genetics Kit, all of the chemical reactions are automatically corrected to use smaller, more realistic values. For instance, the 255 reward in the above gene is changed into 8 reward.

Initial Concentrations

Initial concentrations define the starting values of different chemicals at birth. The most important of these genes are for glucose and glycogen, allowing babies to survive without needing to eat immediately after hatching.

Default: 147 Emb B MutDup Initial Concentration of Glycogen is 122
Pezz: 151 Emb B MutDup Initial Concentration of Glycogen is 255

Initial concentration genes are some of the simpler ones to understand, especially in comparison to the brain lobe genes! This merely states that a Pezz Norn has the maximum amount of glycogen in his or her system from the very beginning. A similar gene for glucose has the same change. This translates into a newborn Norn who has no need to seek out food for an extended period of time. Standard Norns begin with a life force of 47%, while Pezz Norns begin with a life force of 100%. Again, this indicates a Norn who has no need to learn how to eat.

Default: 149 Emb B MutDupCut Initial Concentration of Boredom is 74
Pezz: 153 Emb B MutDupCut Initial Concentration of Boredom is 0

As expected, this gene merely states that a Pezz Norn starts off life without any boredom. Why the need for a standard Norn to have a decent dose of boredom upon birth? This encourages exploration and learning. A baby Norn normally starts off with the need to figure out how to reduce their initial boredom. It also seems realistic… Sitting around in an egg isn’t exactly fun, after all! Maybe Pezz Norns enjoy the inside of their eggs.

Default: 224 Emb B MutDupCut Initial Concentration of Antibody4 is 130
Pezz: 230 Emb B MutDupCut Initial Concentration of Antibody4 is 255

To save a little space, only one of the four altered antibody genes is shown. Baby Norns start off with an initial concentration of some antibodies, and these help protect them from some illnesses right from birth. Recall that in order to produce antibodies, a Norn uses up glucose in the process. Being ill for a long time can easily be fatal, so these initial concentrations give babies a head start should they become ill shortly after hatching. The Pezz Norns simply have the maximum concentration of antibodies, rather than the standard value of about half of the maximum.

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.

Default: 242 Ado F Mut ‘Invol 1=’lay egg” causes sig=0 GS neu=255 int=0 => 190*Pain + 160*Tiredness + 112*Sleepiness + 32*Hexokinase
Pezz: 248 Emb F Mut ‘Invol 1=’lay egg” causes sig=0 GS neu=255 int=0 => 190*Pain + 160*Tiredness + 112*Sleepiness + 32*Hexokinase

Not surprisingly, the stimuli gene associated with laying an egg switches on in the embryo life stage in Pezz Norns. Would this gene have affected fertility in a female if it switched on in adolescence? The answer is “no” because this merely states the reaction caused by the stimulus of laying an egg. If this change did not exist, a Pezz Norn would not experience any of the pain, tiredness, sleepiness, nor hexokinase until adolescence. Egg laying would just be like breathing, which any sane Norn will attest is not the case!

Instincts

Instincts define the expectations for certain behaviors. These genes do not state exactly what happens when the parameters are met, but rather provide the basis for Norns to base their decisions on.

Default: 301 Chi B MutDupCut Verb i/ps Rest and I Rest => 255*Reward
Pezz: 309 Emb B MutDupCut Verb i/ps Rest and I Rest => 255*Reward

There are multiple other instinct genes with this same basic alteration, where the life stage is changed from childhood to the embryo. Pezz Norns might be better suited to listening to verbal commands at a younger age, though the timing is likely to be negligible. Baby Norns are not born understanding the verbal commands, and must learn these. This example indicates that when a Norn hears the word for “rest” and actually rests, he or she will expect to be rewarded. Similar changes can also be found in the instincts associated with interacting with the opposite gender: These switch on at the embryo life stage, rather than adolescence.

New: 333 Emb B General Sensory i/ps I’ve been slapped + Stim source i/ps Ugly and I Push => 255*Reward
New: 334 Emb B Stim source i/ps Ugly and I Push => 255*Reward

These two instincts are completely new when compared with a standard Norn. The funny part about them is that “Ugly” is actually a Grendel, and that species is not all that ugly… Just different! The first gene listed here states that a Pezz Norn expects to be rewarded if he or she pushes (tickles) a Grendel after said Grendel slaps the Pezz Norn. The second gene is similar, only it encourages a Pezz Norn to push (tickle) a Grendel. Seems like a wonderful way to a peaceful relationship, right? Not quite. The standard Grendel genome actually causes Grendels to become angered by being pushed (tickled). In effect, these instincts only serve to continuously instigate a Grendel, all while the Pezz Norn believes he or she is doing a good thing. Talk about confusing for both Norns and Grendels!

The Pezz Norns also contain a host of pigment changes that give females a green tint and males a red tint. There is no need to look at all of these values: Just know that each gender has different coloring.

Playing with Pezz in Creatures 1 confirmed some of my suspicions. It took a great deal of work to convince her to eat, even when her hunger was at its greatest. The final spike indicates what I mentioned above about how starch and glucose combine together to produce reward. Starch is actually converted into glucose, but normally starch remains in a Norn’s system and gradually gets converted into glucose. Yet Pezz has no need of starch: Her body’s ability to constantly produce glycogen also means that she can convert that glycogen into glucose. Although interesting, I would have to say that the Pezz Norn genome strays from the whole learning aspect of Creatures. Worst of all is the fact that despite the constant supply of glycogen, thereby keeping her life force at 100%, Pezz easily becomes miserable because her body still feels hunger. Poor Pezz!

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