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Talk:Creatures 2 - Official Strategies & Secrets

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I have to say that this sounds a little skewed to me. If there was anything 'left out' of the game's documentation, I'm fairly certain it wasn't intentional or aimed at making money. Trust me when I say that no one made any real money off of this book and there were no royalty payments as far as I'm aware, so there was no real financial motivation for leaving anything out of the game docs. I'd certainly be interested in knowing exactly what was felt to be missing, actually. (My own involvement was as a proof-reader on this book so I do recall a lot of this time period.)

It's worth noting that the manuals and the length thereof, as well as the content, is largely down to a games' publisher (Mindscape in this case). They often felt that a lot of the information was too advanced for most users and, in fact, thought the game was too hard for the average user as well (aren't you glad we managed not to dumb it down as much as they wanted? :-)). The publishers also decided our deadlines and not meeting a deadline meant not getting paid on time or being in breach of contract.

Also, if you check the timeline, you'll notice that this occurred contemporaneously with the C2 release. Needless to say, emotions were running high at the time... Lisa 22:08, 08 Feb 2005 (GMT)

I'd be interested to hear what 'was left out' ... specifics please otherwise this is just another opinion piece. Masha 21:39, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)

Had to search a bit, here's one I had in mind, including subsequent replies (I knew I should have noted down the sources, but there were just so many pages open . . .)
Specific things I gathered from that, from other threads and from re-reading the manual are:
  • People felt that the manual gave insufficient information, particularly in the critical area of keeping norns alive (and not in the advanced topics intended to be covered by a strategy guide).
Although if you compare the C1 and C2 manuals they are practically identical in content and layout.
  • The manual does actually tell the user the "correct" way of teaching norns to eat, although the critical information is presented at the bottom of a page about talking and not about eating ("Lots of Talk"). But if norns forget this then the advice is no use!
Norns have *always* forgotten things ... they have never had perfect memory, which is advantageous because the little fellas can get confused about what are good things to do. It is this training that differentiated between Creatures and something like Catz and Dogz.
  • C1 norns were better at keeping themselves alive without guidance from the user (who would therefore need less guidance from the manual)
The C1 Norns had a far simpler biochemistry, and also a much safer (food rich) area to be raised in. C2 had a fairly harsh starting area and so the user did have to work more to help them.
From this I would conclude that the manual would probably have been fine if only the genome had worked as intended. Since it didn't, the users were forced to resort to actually using the manual for advice, and since they expected it to solve their problems they were naturally disappointed when it did not.
The genome did work. That second thread you posted has advice from AntiNorn [1] giving some good advice. I get the feeling that some people's problem with C2 was it was too hard ... that they wanted more of a pet than a lifeform to be responsible for. Then of course there was the other extreme of people, like LummoxJR, who felt the game wasn't ALife enough.
Masha, if it worked so well, why would Cyberlife feel such a need to put out a patch so quickly that it had to be partially inspired by others, and why would several concerted attempts to improve the genome to remove specific problems like OHSS spring up immediately? AntiNorn soon changed his tune about C2. I don't see why it's so hard for you to admit that there were problems when both the actions of users and the actions of your own company suggest that there were. If there weren't problems, you can't blame them on Slink - you can't have it both ways. :-)
I can accept that there were good reasons for the genome being inadequate (switching genetic engineers, pressures of deadlines) and that Cyberlife did its best to fix it and other problems to the game and get patches to users (though there we do run into the Life Kit timing issue). But I cannot accept your position that the genome worked as intended out of the box. --GreenReaper(talk) 10:52, 10 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Tell you what - would you agree with this sort of language: "Many enjoyed the game out of the box, but a significant proportion of users disliked the original genome, feeling that it . . . {list of things that they felt were wrong} . . . to address these concerns Cyberlife issued a patch which . . ."? You say that some people did not have problems with the genome. I say some people did. I feel this covers both positions. *grin* --GreenReaper(talk) 11:27, 10 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Yeah that's better ... still don't like the 'significant proportion' bit though. Again this particular view was widely nurtured around a.g.c and how many people was that? 100 regulars at most? If we'd only sold 100 copies of C2 then there would be no way we'd get C3 authorised! You should realise though, that releasing an update to keep vocal people happy isn't always a sign of a flaw ... it's sometimes done to just keep people happy. I will definitely agree that keeping C2 Norn alive was a harder task than keeping a C1 Norn alive. The environment, their organ based structure, the diversity of food, dangerous cliffs, and the scarcity of food in the starting area are some of the contributing factors that made C2 harder. The {list of things that made C2 wrong} though is bound to include more opinion though, if you're not careful. If 'too gamey' is included then this is an a.g.c mantra (later surveys showed the powerups to be equally loved and hated - shame I can't find a link) and makes no mention of the gamey elements in C1. If Ettins are included then as I've said elsewhere, this is just a.g.c mantra. If some people thought Ettins should be a certain way and were then disappointed to find out we had a different vision for them does that make it a problem with C2 ... or a problem with the people themselves? Anyway, geez it was only a game ;-D Masha 09:26, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)
It makes it your problem if they don't buy games and tell other people not to . . . in the end, it's all opinion, just a matter of who holds it. a.g.c may have been only 100 people, and perhaps only the vocal people (not sure about the validity of this - there were 152,000 posts last time I counted and they weren't all "regulars"), but you had your vocal supporters, too, like AntiNorn - for a while, anyway. If an option was equally loved and hated (so 50% hated it!), doesn't that imply that maybe it should have been turn-offable, or at least that you should have had the option of "saving" your powerup status over games? Again, it would have been really simple - just a few registry entries - but would have meant that that many more people not getting pissed off when they started a new world and had to do everything all over again, while those who enjoyed the challenge would be free to do so. ;-)
I would maintain that if you did an update to keep people happy, then that means that a significant number of people were unhappy. If it had been just that small vocal minority, then they'd have been vocal about it and then given up when they realised nobody was listening to them. But other people agreed. The fact that it got nasty is unfortunate, but it wasn't just a game to them (and hopefully not to you . . .) - people had been watiting a long time for it, and when it wasn't even as fun for them as C1, that got a lot of them annoyed. The vocal ones let you know about it. The non-vocal ones didn't complain too much, perhaps seeing that others were. They just left.
Now I think about it, the "just a game" view says a lot. If you view it as just a game then perhaps arguments about whether or not it was right to make thing suffer have no meaning. But many customers viewed it as what had been promised in C1 - an experiment in virtual life. In that case, making ettin's lives painful could be viewed as wrong, not just "how you decided to design the game", just as AntiNorn's experiments were denounced as "wrong" by a large number of people. Should you have shared their views? Well, you're not required to. Should you have taken them into account? Maybe. --GreenReaper(talk) 11:40, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)
The problem I have with discounting a.g.c as a representative source is that there is a lack of other sources from which information can be derived to compare with and so test its validity. As far as I know, CL never did a survey saying "did you like C2 or C1 better, and why?" (and for all I know, perhaps that was with good reason ;-).
They did something close . . . the results were:
  • 13% Original Creatures [141 votes]
  • 19% Creatures 2 [193 votes]
  • 20% Creatures 3 [207 votes]
  • 1% Creatures Adventures [14 votes]
  • 44% I don't know, I love them all. (Do I get paid for saying that?) [455 votes]
Of course, that doesn't ask the exact question above. :-) --GreenReaper(talk) 16:16, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)

On a.g.c, everything people said is visible, and therefore while I accept that it may be biased and not representative of all users, it's not possible to say how biased. All I can say is "some people felt this way, and that's all we know for sure from the evidence available - here, look at the sources yourself and see what you think". --GreenReaper(talk) 13:06, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)

This is also one example of real people who really had real problems with the C2 genome (both the regulars and the original poster). The lucky ones found their way to the newsgroup and (hopefully) most of those who did got help.
I'm not convinced that those who found the newsgroup were lucky ... in many cases they were exposed to cynicism and were told the game was completely flawed, instead of being given help such as that provided by AntiNorn. We had many players contact us who were not newsgroup followers, and without exception they all got on fine.
Of course, the manual doesn't always get it right for what it does say:
There is also an Internet newsgroup called "alt.games.creatures" . . . the vast majority of those in "alt.games.creatures" are a friendly, co-operative and sensible bunch of people.
Perhaps they were thinking of 1997. ;-)
Yep, we used to promote a.g.c until it became obvious it wasn't such a nice place to hang around. 1998 was a bad year for friendly discussion :-)
--GreenReaper(talk) 23:19, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Also, my view is that opinion pieces are fine as long as you quote who gave that opinion rather than presenting it as "the opinion" - it's valid to say "X felt that it was a bad idea to release a strategy guide immediately after releasing the game, and subsequently to claim that the manual was lacking due to insufficient time" as long as you make it clear who X is. I did not in this case, which was wrong. Of course, to be fair to CL it would be nice to see the posts where CL made that claim, too . . . --GreenReaper(talk)
Also also - the guy at the bottom of the Amazon reviews page gives the same opinion - he is complimentary to the book, but qualifies it with phrases like "should have been in the manual" --GreenReaper(talk)