And on the subject of good news, 0.13.1.0 has just been published to the Experimental branch.
This version includes the (admittedly somewhat unpolished) “Play as Creature” feature, which allows you to do the thing I just said, and also other things, which I will now elucidate upon.
After selecting a critter and clicking the “Play as Creature” button, the camera will follow the selected creature around.
You can then right click on the ground, trees, other creatures or even yourself to demand the creature obey your will, and it will do so! … probably. Creature’s still have their own survival instincts and if they desperately need to get oxygen or food, for example, they’re unlikely to pay attention to “huddle” demands for very long.
In addition to controlling the minds of complacent beings, the game will also track the creatures immediate family members for you (parents, siblings and offspring). This allows you to switch targets whenever you feel like it, or automatically in the event that your chosen avatar suffers a severe case of the deaths.
Naturally, being able to observe a creatures lifecycle so intimately like this will bring some of the AI’s flaws into stark relief. This is a good thing: it makes abundantly obvious that a number of things need fixing, and I will be focusing a lot of development time on those flaws in the near future.
Additionally, turning Species into a miniature survival game at this level has given me a lot of idea’s, and I’ll be drawing inspiration from the gameplay experience of actual survival games as I move forward. Obviously this will make ‘play as creature’ more fun, but more importantly it will make the in-game evolution more intuitive and interesting, since survival will come to depend more on “playing the game” and than on finding ways to exploit it.
I’ll discuss those idea’s soon. I’m very much looking forward to the coming weeks,