Brains, Brains Everywhere

A Small Introduction to the Norn BrainThe most complex part of a Norn is the brain. I’ve spent a good deal of time studying and writing about genetics, yet it might seem strange that I’ve never touched the brain. Why not? Purely because of its complexity! The Health Kit provides a very broad view of several brain lobes, which will light up based on different situations. Yet do you know what truly goes on in a Norn’s mind? Most likely you’re scratching your own head, and you’re not alone! I put off anything related to the brain for a long time. There are lobes, cells, neurons, dendrites, dendrite migration, dendrite types… A lot!

Malkin from Malkin’s Little Creatures Blog commented about examining the differences in the brains of Norns raised with the original food items, and those raised with my updates. As it so happens, there are a slew of brain utilities by Chris Double that allow for more in-depth studies of the brain! I’ve slowly been getting my feet wet, so to speak, and gently easing into the vast ocean of the Creatures brain. This is a very complicated area, yet no one is alone! I figure I can pepper in some information about the brain as I learn so that it might be a little clearer. Thanks to Malkin for the suggestion!

Seeing a Norn Brain in Action with the Science KitI was also inspired to dive deeper into studying the brain by the Mad Norn Scientist. I think part of my hesitation to study the brain is that it isn’t always presented in an easy-to-understand format. The Health Kit image, pictured above, simplifies it tremendously, but the Science Kit almost makes it nonsensical. Different dots light up in different colors, but what do they even mean? I always treated the brain scanner function as a novelty that didn’t serve much purpose. I think each area of the grid corresponds to a specific neuron, but I’ll have to look into that idea some more! This really isn’t a great way to start looking at a Norn’s brain, yet this is what I’ve been used to for quite some time.

Genetic Brain Lobes and the Complexity of NornsWhere is the best place to start? The Genetics Kit can be a rather advanced program, yet it isn’t too confusing when looking at the general information about a brain lobe! The example shown here is for the concept lobe, which is one of the most complex features of a Norn. Note the size of the lobe: It has a total of 756 neurons! Compare that to most of the other lobes that have 40 or fewer neurons. Only the perception lobe is remotely comparable with 112 neurons. We’ll have a proper introduction at some point, but keep in mind that neurons are connected via dendrites. “Learning” encompasses a great deal in Creatures, which is why it’s so revolutionary.

Norns really are not programmed to do anything: Their decisions are based on their past experiences. To go a little more in-depth, short-term and long-term memories really are stored in all that brain matter! A Norn’s brain has many limitations and is very small in comparison to the human brain, yet take a moment to think about this idea. They really do have minds of their own, can think for themselves, and can base decisions on what they know from the past. Granted, these decisions are simplistic and limited to the parameters of the game… But this is some awesome science at work!

An Introductory Look at the BrainViewer for C1To go one tiny step forward, I started up the BrainViewer from the Creatures Developer Resource. This is the most foreign bit of text I’ve ever seen, but like a Norn, I learned a little bit at a time! I did the “easiest” thing I could: I looked in the attention lobe to see what this Norn was looking at prior to being exported. How did I know it was food? Because this is the only cell with a non-zero cell output value and cell state value. And of course that makes sense to everyone, right? Ha! It took me awhile to understand it, and I’ll save that explanation for a later time. I’ll be experimenting with these brain utilities, and believe me when I say that brains are finally coming to Discover Albia!

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