Creatures Online Examined: Part Four

Paying for Emergency Norn CareMissed out on any of the previous Creatures Online posts? Take a look at Part One, Part Two, and Part Three to follow along! One of the more promising features of Creatures Online I was looking forward to was the Science Kit. On the surface, it is very similar to its existing counterpart. This graph was used to show how a Norn was suffocating underwater without any air. The issue here is the cost to inject a chemical: Many of us (myself included) likely recall the days of emergency injections, especially in Creatures 2. Time was of the essence. In this case, it will cost coins to inject a Norn with a chemical. This Norn was carried to safety and could breath again without any help, but what if this was a situation where the Norn needed immediate care? The player would need to ensure that enough coins were around to take care of this sort of emergency.

An Alternative Idea of a Norn HatcheryThe Hatchery makes a return in Creatures Online, only in a way focused on payment. The Egg Store contains various eggs, each which appears to have a chance of carrying different sorts of genes. The gender of an egg must be chosen, leaving out the random chance that some of the Creatures games offered. Additionally, a player must reach a certain level in order to purchase other eggs. I wasn’t entirely sure what the currency used for these eggs was in the video: Possibly something else to collect? It doesn’t look like the player can choose specific Norn breeds via these eggs.

Egg Storage in Creatures OnlineIn the previous Creatures titles, one could store an unlimited number of eggs to hatch. In Creatures Online, there is a very limited amount of storage. Granted, it wasn’t clear whether natural eggs would take up these slots or not. However, the low population limit seems to indicate that the number of Norns must be carefully monitored by the player. Storing a lot of eggs is something that looks to be impossible, unless one would like to pay a lot. Note that the first three buyable slots use coins, while the fourth uses golden eggs… For real money. Not too good.

A Strange Result of the Splicing MachineI could be completely mistaken in what I interpreted from the gameplay video at this point. A Norn named Hilda was the splicing target, and she was only represented by an outline until the splicing process was completed. At that time, a Norn with a very different appearance showed up… Yet this Norn was still named Hilda, and looked to be in the same life stage. So does this mean that splicing a Norn simply replaces his or her genetics? Certainly that seems like an improvement over the instantaneous deaths from the current splicing, but it seems highly unrealistic. I’m willing to let this go, since it really wasn’t clear. Just something to keep in mind when more information is made available. This screenshot looks a bit out of focus because it is presented in its original size, whereas the rest have been resized to be clearer.

Another Drawback to Required InteractionsAs I feared, a Norn egg must be hatched by the player. Perhaps natural eggs can hatch on their own, but no one knows for sure. I was excited about an intriguing hatching process, though the egg basically cracked open after just a few seconds. Certainly the moving blobs in the current Creatures games aren’t that exciting, but they’ve always been rather interesting to me. At least the benefit here is being able to control exactly when an egg hatches. This limits gameplay to those who really enjoy taking the micromanagement route. Wolfling runs still seem to be impossible in Creatures Online, unless natural eggs behave completely differently.

Naming a Norn and Waiting to AdvanceThe final hurdle is the required naming of a Norn. Incidentally, we learned that a name can only include a maximum of 16 characters!

And so ends this examination of the Creatures Online video. I didn’t cover every single aspect, although I hope these posts have been useful in understanding some of the potential implications! Everyone will have a different opinion. My own is one that involves having very little to do with this game. There is no artificial life feel to this sort of gameplay, simply coin collecting and farming. I would also like to mention that the genetics, presented as they are, make appearances the most important element. The only non-physical trait appeared to be the ability to breath underwater. The scientific element of Creatures was what made the games so intriguing: I had absolutely no clue what anything meant when I was very young, yet I could still play. When I was older and could understand the concepts, I learned a great deal about biochemistry and genetics. To this day, I still find something new! It makes me rather sad that Creatures Online appears to have very little to do with the heart of Creatures, even after being in development since 2011. Have one more look at the video.

Creatures Online Gameplay 2015

Agree or disagree? I’m sure there are people who are on both sides! I think the most important thing is to keep the original Creatures games going strong. New players to this series might get the wrong idea with Creatures Online, yet I’m sure there are many of us determined to keep Creatures 1, Creatures 2, and Creatures 3/Docking Station as wonderful as ever! I have a number of things keeping me busy now, but 2015 will be a year for me to finish existing projects and work on new ideas. For no matter what, Creatures will always be the door to artificial life with its complexities and intricacies.

Images Credited to Fishing Cactus

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