Species Development Video #3

Yay! Another video! And another set of comments about said video that I was too lazy to put into the original video itself! Yay!

Known bugs

There’s three major ones visible in the video: levitating creatures, which is caused by a minor bug with how the creature finds ground level, the Species Average Thumbnail not working, which I threw a textual tantrum over, and a bug with how Stamina is calculated (did you spot it?). I managed to fix all three of these in between recording and uploading this video.

Energy Graph

Of everything in the UI, the real-time energy graph is the most obviously placeholderish. With a bit more work it will look a lot more professional, with current-moment positive and negative effects and their magnitudes (things like metabolism, walking, eating) shown, and icons applied to sudden drops and jumps (like the ones caused by reproducing in the video).

Genetics

The genetic code you see in the video is genuine: it really is a representation of the creatures genetics, and I have already built the function that allows the player to clone creatures from it.

But with that said, it’s sadly not completely analagous to a real organisms genetic code. It has some beguiling similarities, like codons and genes, but it’s a ‘code’ in every sense of the word: it represents the creatures actual genes, which are a list of numbers. This means it’s possible (albeit difficult: it’s quite robust, and only going to get more so) to ‘break’ the code and make it impossible to compile. Biological DNA is not at all like that: it always codes for something, no matter how much you change it, because it’s “compiler” is a physical process.

This difference was implemented for several reasons, but the biggest is probably performance: I doubt I’d be able to run a quarter of the number of creatures I currently can if I was actually using the genestring itself for calculations. It also makes balancing mutation rates easier: eye sizes should mutate a lot faster than overall sizes, for example.

I won’t explain the system here and spoil it for any cryoptographers who are interested in trying to decode it, but it’s not a particularly complex code.

Genetic Manipulation

This is one of the player-oriented gameplay elements planned for later versions of the game. A lot of thought has been given to how the player will interact with the simulation without completely taking over the ecosystem and directing everything on Gaia, and artificial-selection and genetic manipulation are the two primary elements of this. There will not be a Spore-style creature editor. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the creature editor in Spore was brilliant (it might have been the only thing that was), but I’m pretty certain it would take all the fun out of Species if you could just customise ‘your’ Species exactly the way you wanted it right from the start.

Alpha Release

Hell yes indeed! I now have a personal deadline to meet, a list of things to achieve, and I have officially made the announcement like we’re some sort of proper indie studio or something (fingers crossed nobody figures out we’re just some random guy with a laptop and a few friends helping out occasionally). So bar anything catastophic, an Alpha Release (Species 0.4.0) is on the horison and slowly getting bigger.

Free?

Yep. I’m following a slight mutation of the Minecraft get-rich-quick scheme marketing strategy (my plan is probably closer to Kerbal Space Program, which is awesome by the way), which seems to have become something of a de-facto standard for indie game releases. So all the alpha releases (however many of them there are) will be free, while the Beta releases will cost something, and the full releases will cost a bit more, but buying a beta release or preordering during the alpha stage will get you the full version anyway for less money than what you’d pay if you bought later, and the alpha releases will always be free-to-download even after the beta and full versions are- HOW DID SOMETHING THIS COMPLICATED BECOME SO POPULAR?

I might set up donate/pre-order button when I release the first Alpha. I’d feel like a jerk if I took any money without giving you guys something first. 🙂

Hmm… I’m pretty sure that’s everything I wanted to cover here.

Thanks for reading!
Qu

“No snark today. Too tired from spending all night editing his stupid video for him. Lazy sod.”

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  1. #1 by Adam Benton on February 20, 2012 - 8:06 pm

    I like how you say you now have a deadline, then…”conveniently”… forget to set an actual date 😛

  2. #2 by ququasar on February 21, 2012 - 8:18 am

    All part of my evil plan… eehehehhehehehe… [attempts to twirl scraggly blonde moustache]

    The deadline is a personal one: I do have an actual date, but there’s every chance I might not make it, so being vague gives me leeway and doesn’t mean I have to make lame excuses if or when I don’t have anything ready when the deadline rolls around.

    Also, it gives me a chance to troll you guys. I’ll totally be like “yeah there’s nothing happening tomorrow, still working on it” and you’ll be like “god he’s such a crappy developer what’s taking so long?” and then I’ll be like “BOO YEAH.”

    And your minds will be blown.

    Seriously though (or at least as close to serious as I’m capable of getting without crumbling into dust), assuming I remain on schedule, I’ll probably not be able to help myself and will let slip the release date sooner or later as it becomes more likely I’ll be able to make it. For now, “before July” is as specific as I’m going to get.

  3. #3 by baxed on February 21, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    Whoa…that was awesome
    I’d want to see this much diversity develop over time from an initial population (I can dream :P)
    Anyway, amazing again ,Q

  4. #4 by ququasar on February 22, 2012 - 8:16 am

    We can but hope!

    It probably won’t be able to manage that level of diversity from a single population in the initial release (although I will make the ‘GenerateRandom()’ function available for filling out the map at the start), but I have some huge plans for upheaving the vegetation system which should open up a whole variety of new niches, and even huger plans for… [snip]… after that.

  5. #5 by Meade on September 12, 2014 - 6:14 am

    Have you thought of introducing changes for food cost, defense, attack and speed based on the conditions of that part of the map to create extremophiles? What about variations in types of food for drastic areas?

    Playing the game, it seemed that the creatures wander out of areas that are ideal for them to cross a desert or walk on what appears to be lava. What drives them to move away from food sources? Have you thought of having species with herding or pack mentalities where they get a buff or debuff for proximity to other creatures?

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