Do come in! Make yourselves at home!

Hello everyone! I feel a bit like I'm throwing a party in my new apartment before I actually have any furniture. There's almost nothing here yet for you to see. But help yourselves to drinks, and there's a forum for us all to get to know each other. Hopefully you'll fill out your profiles and at least check back frequently for info. I'm going to try to explain the new design for the creature's brain and biology but it's a bit complicated and I'm supposed to be programming, so it may take a while. I'll update my programming diary each week and share thoughts, and there's a suggestion box if you're itching to put in requests for features, etc. There's also a simple bug-reporting tool, but for now there are no bugs because there are no releases! On that subject, it's still very early in the project, so there's nothing much to see. Even if you came round here for coffee I probably wouldn't bother to show you what I've written so far. That will all change, and I'm anticipating knocking together short videos and screenshots as things emerge, leading perhaps to web-based demos and then eventually playable code at one level or another. I'm going to do my very best to be open and transparent about the whole project, even though it's a bit scary having people looking over my shoulder. For your part I'd ask you to bear in mind that familiarity breeds contempt, so if you see this game being built, it's not going to look nearly as impressive as it would if the first sight you had was of the finished product. Also, it's in the nature of game development (especially when you're breaking new ground) that things are going to look awfully clunky for much of the time. I need graphics in order to test my code, but there's little point me putting effort into polishing them when I may have to throw them away. If this was a FPS, with half-a-dozen lines of actual code, things would be different, but for this game, the biology and computer science come first and the graphics come later, so you'll have to use your imaginations! A little anecdote: When I was writing Creatures I put a lot of effort into the neural networks, sprite animator, sensory systems, etc. and eventually was called to demo what I had to our CEO, Michael. He looked at it, I told him about what I'd written – bear in mind we're talking about the work that eventually earned me an OBE and got me listed as one of the brains behind the 21st Century – and Michael's considered conclusion to this intellectual feast was… "The scrolling's a bit jerky". That was it. The scrolling was too jerky. Naughty little programmer. Go home and do better. But then a few weeks later I demoed it again to Michael, possibly with slightly better scrolling, and a norn did something odd. Michael peered at me with that jerky-scrolling look of his and said "Why did it do that?" "I've no idea", I said, "maybe it thought that the ball was something it could eat." "Waddaya mean, you've no idea? You're the programmer." "Well, it's not up to me what they do – they make their own decisions." "You're kiddding me…" And from that point on, Michael was 110% behind the game. He took it out of the production schedule, told me I had all the time I needed, to do whatever I thought I needed to do, and went off and fought really hard for a two million-dollar publishing advance. Of course I had to go through the same thing many times over with other people as we wrestled with the design and positioning, and by no means everyone got it like Michael did, but just bear that in mind. Gods move in mysterious ways, and this creation might look like a pile of crap to begin with. Luckily the scrolling is not my problem, this time! Anyway, back to the subject. There are several levels of access to this site, in keeping with the voyeur, tester, guru+ concept. I may not have chosen the permissions right, but they can be adjusted if necessary. The general principle is that voyeurs mostly get to ogle, testers get to test and gurus get to poke their noses in and tell me I'm doing it all wrong. Up to a point, anyway! 😉 The site's VERY dull right now – no pretty graphics or theme and hardly any content – but I just wanted to get the essential elements in place for now and I'll make it prettier later. So, once again, thank you all for making this possible! It's great to meet you; old friends and new! Do mingle and get to know each other. The bathroom's down the hall. Steve


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