Several days ago, the Creatures community got the first glimpse of Creatures 4! At the Fishing Cactus blog, we finally saw a concept image of the new Norn and the environment. Most of the discussion has revolved around the Norn, so I wanted to take a closer look at the very first screenshot of the in-game world. Many, including myself, were immediately taken by the very bright and colorful palette. It definitely is a far cry from the spaceship environment of Creatures 3 and Docking Station! However, there is a very organic and natural feel to the world: Gardening and sustaining an ecosystem became popular secondary goals of the game for many players, and it looks like this element will not be lost in C4. The substitution of rope ladders for lifts/elevators also adds to the natural tone. The one concern to the color scheme is the fact that it might be targeted to a younger audience, when Creatures has often appealed more to adults.
There is an area in the screenshot with a ray of sunlight. One question surrounds night and day cycles, as well as weather. The first of these elements was never fully addressed in the former titles: There were invisible day and night cycles, but there was never an actual physical change built into the original games. It certainly would be nice to see a daily cycle present in Creatures 4! On that same note, weather and even seasons could vastly add a lot of elements to the game. C3/DS took a step backward from the more developed weather system in C2: I always enjoyed the occasional thunderstorms, although my Norns were never too pleased! Perhaps it is just wishful thinking, but I believe that C4 is not just about improving the Norns: The actual game and environment must also be enjoyable.
The size of the world is also a common question in the community. The first screenshot seemed to show a somewhat small tree house, although it held multiple levels. On both sides, however, ropes can be glimpsed that could lead to other areas of the world. A transportation device also made it appear that Norns could travel to other regions of Creatures 4. There remains the possibility that this could be a scrolling world, as we have become accustomed to. It is difficult to tell how large the world is, but I certainly hope it will be relatively vast with many different areas to explore!
Perhaps one of the most obvious questions revolves around the zooming capabilities: Everything in the screenshot appears to be very small. However, there are leaves in the foreground that seem to suggest that zooming in and out may be possible. This could be amazing! Imagine viewing creatures up close and personal, in more detail than we have ever experienced. We could also choose to take on a bird’s eye view, and overlook a large portion of the world at once. This could be a great way to make Creatures 4 more personal: I find it easier to get attached to creatures which appear to be just on the other side of the screen. Would zooming affect third party development, though? There are always possible concerns and disadvantages to consider.
It is still very early in the development of Creatures 4 to say that anything is set in stone. We can only speculate at this point, yet it seems like the general idea is that this is a game we can look forward to. Certainly not everyone will be happy with this first glimpse into the game: I still recommend erring on the side of cautious optimism, though! Those who are already doubting the game and tossing it aside might do well to wait for a few more updates. Fishing Cactus has done well to keep in touch with our community and take our ideas and suggestions into account. Thanks again to all of those who are working on the game! Creatures 4 was renamed Creatures Online in 2013.