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Historical note: The disputed text was moved to Creatures 2 (genome) and expanded to become more neutral based on the discussion below. --GreenReaper(talk)


It would be good if you guys could work together to reach the facts of this story, and possibly leave the opinions here (hey, it's more than 6 years ago, no? ;-). I'm not really involved in either side, and you both are, but you both have the knowledge of "what happened" and I don't. So you're both needed because we need to have that knowledge in the article. *grin* --GreenReaper(talk) 19:47, 8 Feb 2005 (GMT)

In particular I'm thinking of:

  • Exactly what changes were made to what genomes, when? If you could explain what all those letters and numbers are to people who know nothing of it, that would be good, too - remember, we get newbies here!
  • It might be best to talk about how other people reacted to it, rather than making assertions about or accusations of Cyberlife, slink, or anyone else.
  • Possibly with a view to moving this into a separate article, say Creatures 2 (genome)?
  • Give people who read this all the facts and they can make their own decisions, or just shake their heads at how people got so stressed about it. :-)

Yes. I'm still handless at this Wiki, and would not normally push in at something like this; my apologies, but even though it was six years ago some feelings were deeply hurt. It seemed to me that the article needed a balance.

Hehe, don't be worried - pushing is right, if it means that the article ends up being better than it started with. I just try and make sure it doesn't turn into another squabble on the article page itself! *grin* (note that I didn't just move your bit here but also Masha's reply - because they should both be here, it's where you can talk about the page) --GreenReaper(talk)
Thanks for being gentle with me *grin* And thanks for making sure this isn't a squabble, which wasn't something I intended. The trouble is that the page is meant to be _about_ Slink, and she isn't here to put her slant into it, so it's very dependent on how others saw her. Most people unfortunately will only remember her prickly side, particularly in those last weeks in the newsgroup, and forget that she too is human and vulnerable CarolynHorn

As regards your specific points:

  • All the letters and numbers, it's too many years now since I dabbled in the internals so I shall have to leave that to others. There were loads of tutorials and genome breakdowns at the time -- Chris Double had some great info, as did LummoxJR.
  • I did not intend to make an attack, just to balance an article which seemed skewed. The point is that there _was_ a fight, which was an important moment in the life of the CC even if in a negative way. I'm told that Toby got distressed over the fight, and I know that Slink was extremely upset. In his case, I cannot say for sure what exactly he found hurtful, and I hope that someone can enlighten us there, but in Slink's case I understood that it was largely the way in which her professional integrity as a geneticist was attacked. In the interests of fairness the question of who made a mess of that genome should be given a balance on that page. The genome as produced with the C2 game had flaws which were noticeable to the player, and the wiki page implies that Slink was responsible for that. She left CL before the genome was completed. From what I can recall, the Ettin genome was altered in such a way as to make the poor creatures always basically unwell or in pain for their very short lives. I do not recall how all the other people in the CC reacted to the whole thing, and as I was never a part of JRChat I don't really know what went on there as regards the debate on the genome.
  • I think that, as there will be more detailed breakdown articles of the genetic structures of the various Creatures genomes elsewhere in this Wiki -- eventually if not yet -- that this is not an appropriate item to put into such an area. This is about a moment in the life of the CC which coincided with the release of C2, was sparked by it, and caused quite a shake-up. Apart from anything else, it caused CL to remove its presence from the newsgroup and changed the whole atmosphere of the place. It should be historically of interest to the CC.
I very much agree that it is historically of interest. It ties in with the CDN story, too. --GreenReaper(talk)
Yes, absolutely -- I was interested to read the CDN entry in this Wiki. Also, as I say above, the page in question is about Slink and this was a very important part of the end of her time with the CC and needs showing, even though it's also an unhappy part. All communities have their happy times and sad times CarolynHorn
  • All the facts can surely be read on the newsgroup archives, for anyone who is interested?
Well, what people said can be read on there - the point here is to distill those into the things that can be verified (and preferably linked to). Of course, things are hard to prove - there was an argument about proof in the main thread - but it is easy to prove what people said. For example, "slink [web.address.here said that she was not paid for it all], and Toby [another.address.here said this was because the genome was not complete on time]". --GreenReaper(talk)
Ah, I see. Well, if you want proof on non-usenet pages, there isn't a lot to go on. Slink did produce her article on the genome itself which, for those who can understand it, shows that certain of her claims regarding the genome were true. I don't know if that page is still extant on the Internet, but if not I'll try digging around in my archives to produce it for you. As I recall, the whole thing wasn't just about money, although that was probably what got most usenet coverage at the end. Also there was some question as to whether she walked out before finishing or got sacked before she could do so. Masha presumably should know something about that, but then again if there isn't proof to back it up we're back to squabble-status 8-) CarolynHorn

Gawd 'elp us, I don't even know where in this page I should be putting all this twaddle what I'm writing. Oh well... I only ever really understood Usenet 8-) Cheers. Carolyn


Note that the genome was changed by Cyberlife after Slink left their employ; this is one of the reasons that she put together the C306 genome after C2 came out. Another view on this is that the genome was changed because it didn't work. The later C306 still had some of the inherent flaws that marked the C2 genomes.

They did terrible things to the poor Ettin genome, too (such as?). CL were not just the poor put-apon "good guys" in the following squabble!



Good call, I hated seeing opinion coming into these things. Unfortunately much of the Slink period is completely drenched in it, and - in my opinion - the silence of CL on the matter at the time did nothing to help. In fact the silence allowed untruths and exagerations to prosper and grow ... and as time went on the truth disappeared and turned into myth and hearsay.

That's right. I always felt that it was very silly indeed of CL to be silent in all the wrong places and then withdraw into its own new CDN space. Rather like a dowager lady lifting her skirts away from the filth of the streets and deciding never to walk them again, ignoring the poor street-sweepers. Whatever the reasons, some of which I see you detail below, it turned out to be a bad move and changed the rare sense of togetherness into an "us and them" feel, similar to that in so many games groups. The main problem at that time, really, was the fact that C2 was released before it (particularly the genome) was ready and the group was hurt and bewildered by that. The only personality clash was the one with Slink; in the case of myself, Madame Mim and others we honestly wanted CL to right something which was very wrong, and you can see that in our postings I'm sure. I was particularly concerned that not everyone who bought the game would have been Internet-enabled -- remember, this was the 1990s -- nowadays everyone seems to expect a downloadable bugfix for a game, but not then CarolynHorn
It is not really true to say C2 was released before it was ready as many players had many many hours of enjoyment with it. This particular opinion is another one that was solely nurtured in a.g.c. The Creatures series was played by many more people than just those in a.g.c and we regularly received nice letters and images created by happy kids who loved their Norns. The bit about not everyone being internet enabled is a good point, but one I'm going to use in the opposite direction to you :-P These non-internet players (the ones we received snail mail from) are exactly the case in point ... they did not see these 'major flaws' that the stoked up regulars of a.g.c did. It is not untrue to say that the majority of these flaws were highlighted by Slink, who we've established was not exactly behaving nicely towards us at the time. It became and Us and Them simply because of this kind of behaviour. Masha 13:46, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)
As regards "readiness", I think there is a strong consensus that there was something seriously wrong with the genome. A game which has creature-nurturing as its main apparent purpose (let's not divert onto Anti-Norn here, LOL) is not a well-balanced or "ready" game when those creatures are almost impossible to care for. Obviously you know more than I do about the trend of the snail-mail you got about the game and what those people found to praise in it, but it would be interesting to know how many users simply felt disappointed, never played the game after the first struggles, didn't bother to write to you but never bought any CL game afterwards. Often I find that people can't be bothered to "create a fuss", and simply go around telling their friends that such-and-such an item or firm is "rubbish". It actually takes some effort to write a careful letter explaining what you feel is wrong with an item that you've bought, especially if you feel that the industry doesn't care and you're about to waste time, paper and stamps. CarolynHorn
I happen to have personal access to a relative who bought C2, could not get the norns to eat, and cried when they died. At the time, she was about seven. Seven-year-olds are probably a little to write letters to companies - especially when she blamed it on herself. Needless to say (but eh, why not say it? ;-), her mother did not buy Creatures 3 for her. --GreenReaper(talk) 23:56, 10 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Yeah that's a shame, but it sounds like this 7 year old would have been better off with Creatures Adventures or Playgrounds. We broke many kids hearts with C1 too, but I don't see that used as an argument for C1 being flawed? We also had fanatical Christians telling us that only their god could create life and therefore we must be in league with the devil to make such claims. Should we listen to all these people and try and cater to all of them? It became very clear that Creatures was appealing to a huge range of people ... from kids wanting a pet, to people interested in the ALife, to people interested in the development potential. These different desires are often competing (immortality Vs overcoming problems). For these kind of reasons CAv and CP were produced so that C3 would't be dumbed down in an attempt to cater for all these disparate groups.Masha 09:34, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Oooo -- Naughty Masha; _bad_ boy! Lumping together the genuine distress of a customer who found the game impossible to play, along with the fermenting notions of fanatics is slap-yer-wrist stuff, and silly marketing. The first is a person who might become a real fan and buy every future CL product, and the other is someone who wouldn't buy anything CL made no matter what you did anyway. As regards the people interested in AL, you would naturally please them as much by making the genome unflawed as you would the child whose pet doesn't die without good reason. CarolynHorn 15:05, 12 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Well, yes, if you break people's hearts and so they stop playing your game and don't buy sequels, that's probably a flaw. :-) I think even the beta testers of C1 told you that, but I'm surprised you didn't pick up on it as an issue for C2. As for CA, yes, but alas, those games weren't available in '98 . . .
Immortality vs problems, I don't see why it would have been so hard to make a "difficulty slider" that handled the rate of decay of one critcal chemical (say, how much energy was used up by organs). One side of it would be "gamey", meaning that they'd almost always have enough in the way of energy, the middle would be "realistic", and the other sidie would be "challenging"/"AntiNorn" ;-). You could have a similar one for Life, so that people decided for themselves how long their creatures lived. This is a standard method used in many (most?) games with a "challenge" element to provide the user a level of challenge that they are comfortable with, and I don't see why it wasn't done here, especially since you reportedly did no external beta testing and might well have made C2 harder than you knew due to being used to the game. ----GreenReaper(talk) 11:14, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)
That's a great idea, and one which would surely have pleased everyone. As regards CA, one thing that always puzzled me was the fact that no exporting of creatures was possible. The only way to have a kind of pet "immortality" generally for Creatures players was the exporting of a young, healthy Norn. This meant that anyone who actually wanted their child to be able to keep their virtual pet, to have it "immortal" as it were, was unable to do so. Some parents may not have wanted their small children to have to deal with "death" at this stage in life, and a slider such as you suggest would have pleased a vast range of players.CarolynHorn 15:05, 12 Feb 2005 (GMT)

As I say, CL should have defended themselves more at the time and stopped certain threads of conversations from nurturing, but they didn't. One reason for not defending themselves was because a lot of the problems came down to personality clash, and the general belief that business issues should be discussed through the proper channels - solicitors and direct discourse with the people involved.

Slink proved herself to be a dedicated and talented developer during the days of Creatures 1, and for this reason it was thought it would be a good idea to get her to work with us on the Creatures 2 genome. Creatures 2 was built using the Creatures 1 engine and involved a small team (smaller than C1).

This is where the personality clash comes in, and I'm not particularly comfortable detailing the exact discussions that took place between the in-house development team and the remote-contractor. Funnily enough the clash happened shortly after remote-contractor spent some time on site with the in-house devs.

So ... contractor left project before completion and in-house devs forced to complete something that was, essentially, someone else's baby in a short amount of time. Ex-contractor publicly complains that the direction of the project is doomed and no one else can do what they can do. There is a lot of sourness at this time coming from ex-contractor and a lot of accusations - just read alt.games.creatures for this time period and it is clear there is a lot of hostility.

In addition to personality clash there was opinion clash - anyone who communicated with Slink knows she has plenty of opinions (as she is a knowledgeable person) but not as many people skills.

Many of these differences of opinion were insurmountable ... it is not possible for something to be black AND white

tsk tsk, and here I've seen a game called Black and White, I know I have ;-) No don't hit me, it was a joke, a _joke_... CarolynHorn

... and the relationship with Sandra broke down publicly. Initially people in a.g.c were all too willing to believe the things Slink stated as fact, even after we'd post a refutation and try and explain specifics (whatever the nature of the problem was that day ... whether it was stolen genomes, incorrect use of dupe settings or something more sinister).

Up until this point a few CL workers used to regularly hang out in a.g.c, myself included, to help solve problems and pick up on what people wanted from Creatures. During that time it became clear there was more hostility than understanding, and a willingness to believe that we were the evil empire - rather than the people trying to make a living by giving these players something they loved. We stopped using a.g.c as a place to hang out when more and more staff were named personally and essentially devilified.

And if you'd stuck it out and stayed, continuing to show that charming and kindly willingness to help, the whole thing would have gently bown itself out. The most vocal would have begun to see that the world wasn't about to end, and the majority -- who don't even care about anything except that their norns keep dying no matter what they do -- would have swung back into loving the creators of their favourite games. _Surely_ you know how politics works, Masha? CarolynHorn
Yep I do, and as a lowly civil servant at the time it was not my place to dictate cabinet policy (to stretch a metaphor to breaking point). Sure, if I'd been in charge I would have done things differently ... as can be seen with my running of the CDN and then DS. a.g.c was in no way under our control and was frankly becoming a not very nice place for new players to encounter. As happens with so many online communities the group evolved from being drawn there because of a common interest to a group with a power complex, who would happily shoot down and distress a newbie who asked a simple question. Yes questions will be repeated, yes you might have been there for 3 years and seen the same question asked over and over but that gives you no right to be rude to someone. Many of our customers found a.g.c a hostile and nasty place to visit, which is a shame because it started out very friendly. In the end I think moving away gave us a lot of benefits, and gave us the space to cater to the customers ... rather than having to defend every single word we said because there was always someone who wanted to crucify us rather than be helpful. Masha 13:46, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)
a.g.c was simply going through a period of being "not very nice" in some respects -- notably a vocal distrust of CL -- that's Usenet for you, where there is freedom of expression and variety, just as in any community. Sure, some people got irritable with newbies; but unless the "newbie" was obviously a troll, there would be someone such as dear x0tix who would take the newbie under her wing and smack the errant CC oldster. That's what the "Jus' gimme all the FAQS" pages were all about; it went up at about that time and shows that there was caring in the community. You were perhaps blinded by the negativity towards CL at that time which was in itself spawned by severe disappointment. You should remember that in the months leading up to the release of C2, the group had been worked up to a fever of anticipation with some well-paced marketing. CarolynHorn

At this point anything that was said about us in a.g.c could go unchallenged, and people who weren't even there at the time could be heard repeating things that were blatantly not factual. I don't remember the specifics of the time lines, but Slink left the CC at some point and dived into The Sims community (and publicly harangued Maxis for disease ridden guinea pigs or something).

which is rather a naughty throw-away line... I didn't leave the CC at that time, but I _did_ get interested in The Sims when it came out -- and things didn't happen quite the way you make out in that comment. But that isn't about Creatures and the Creatures Community, so I ain't a-goin' there :-) CarolynHorn
Yeah that was a bit cheeky of me, but it is relevant because it is a reflection of character ... and this whole squabble was about character. CL were characterised as bad guys and Slink as a goddess of the CC who could do no harm (even though a fair number of CC regulars became victims of her personility and just stopped communicating with here). Masha 09:43, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)

Truth? Lies? Truth? Lies? Who the heck remembers/cares anymore :-D Masha 21:15, 8 Feb 2005 (GMT)

you do, m'dear, and I suppose I do too -- else what the heck are we keeping up this discussion for? CarolynHorn

Just to cover the specific points -

  • specific genome changes? Gawd knows! I was not a geneticist, but it's out in the open that Sandra left before the game was complete. This included the creatures themselves, so there were undoubtedly changes.
and thus, since the page in question was about Slink, I think it's important to change the line which caught my eye and started this whole thing. She was not "responsible for the original genome". She was _meant_ to be responsible for the original genome but, due to the fact that she was no longer with the project when it was released, she was not responsible for the finished original genome. Really. I think it's important to make that fact clear, in a non-pejorative manner (by which I mean we don't say "she was sacked" and we don't say "she left" (with the hidden implication "in the lurch"). If it's not changed, I'll run and tell my mommy, yes I will, so there! CarolynHorn
Yeah this is going to be tricky to word. The genome design that we were left with *was* essentially Sandras ... the arrangement of organs, systems and inter-connections were totally down to her design. If someone else had been respsonsible for the design then it would have turned out differently. To have to take over someone elses design, without having gone through the whole mental design stage is very tricky ... and so it is correct to say that Sandra was responsible for the original genome, and also correct to say that CL are responsible for it. If I come up with an inovative new design for a car that is very different from how cars are traditionally designed, and then leave before completion and hand over the task to someone else, who's design is it? Both of us, would be my balanced answer :-) Masha 13:46, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Now, you don't know for sure -- you have admitted that you don't know much about the genome, and you say that you were just "a lowly civil servant at the time" -- so you don't know how much Slink was responsible for or how much of her work was destroyed or pulled about in order to make the released genome. You presumably don't know how much was flung together to make the release deadline. The wording is not tricky at all -- just say that she was in at the beginning of the project, brought into it for her knowledge of genetics and previous work with Creatures, but that she was no longer with the project when it was released and thus was not responsible for the state of the finished original genome. Simple, and covers all the actual facts without being emotive CarolynHorn
I just knew 'lowly civil servant' would come back and bite me in the arse :-) That line was purely about my ability to influence and dictate company public relations policy. When it came to C2 development I has heavily involved, and was a core part of the development team. I brainstormed with Sandra ... and Eric ... about genetics, amongst other things, even if I don't know how to use the genetics kit to create anything more complicated than a colour gene ;-) I know exactly how much Slink was responsible for, and what transpired. Politeness (despite possible appearances to the contrary) has kept me from revealing this.Masha 09:39, 11 Feb 2005 (GMT)
Now, when did I ever call you impolite :-) Eric -- would that be the guy who was brought into the team a bit later on? CarolynHorn
Yes, Eric Goodwin.
  • moving into a separate article? That might be a good idea ... entitled something like "The Fall" :-) This period in time for the CC marked a separation of the developers from a vocal chunk of the community. The people of a.g.c liked to think they *were* the community, but in reality there were actually many many others playing Creatures and who knew nothing about a.g.c. The introduction of web forums and ultimately DS to link these players together demonstrated this, and generally provided a nicer (managed) place for new players and old hands alike to share their interest ... Creatures ... rather than brave the cliques, factions, CL-haters and newbie roasters in a.g.c.
separate artcle, good idea, yes indeed. CarolynHorn
  • Ettin crippling. I think this is an example of a personal desire and a difference of opinion, rather than anything sinister or overt. The Ettins, when introduced, were in no way supposed to detract from the Norns ... yes they're another brained creature but the focus was not supposed to be taken away from the Norns. The Ettins were designed to act the way they did. Yes there were a whole bunch of people who thought the Ettins should live long and happy lives, but the poor Ettins have always been abused and overworked. They were designed to do the jobs no one else gets to do, and whats more they'd been left alone for a very long time. As I say, it's all just difference of opinion ... but it could be considerd a bit rich telling the creators of a mythical never-seen-before creature that they got their own creature wrong. I would say "How do YOU know what an Ettin is like?"

Masha 23:54, 8 Feb 2005 (GMT)

Difference of opinion, perhaps, but by the time C2 came out I think most players saw both Grendels and Ettins as creatures worth playing with. It's not the "long and happy life" thing that's a problem, it's the fact that the genome was horribly skewed into making their lives not simply hard but also painful. Call me soft-hearted if you will, but *heh* I'll slobber you to death if you do CarolynHorn
hehe - I say we have a word with the god that designed those poor mayflies. ;-) 62.253.128.11 23:58, 8 Feb 2005 (GMT)
You softy you ... see, difference of opinion. Remember that Ettins had not been seen up until that point, and yes some people expected them to be just another creature for them to raise and love - but that wasn't CL's intention for them. It is just wrong to say they were broken, flawed or any other word which implies negligence. They were what they were, and some people wished they were a different way. Of course the good thing with Creatures was that if you didn't like something you could always work on your own version ... and people *did* create their own Ettins Masha 13:46, 9 Feb 2005 (GMT)
In the online community -- which at the time _was_ mostly a.g.c -- Ettins had become a folklore item of their own and, because CL "hung out" with us there, they knew this. CL's intentions for them may have been different from people's expectations, but it was foolhardy to implement those intentions in such a way as to alienate the soft-hearted CC members. I don't think anyone would have complained about short life-spans or the fact that the Ettins were having to do all the cleaning -- hey, that's (virtual) life! Like I say, it's the fact that their short lives were _painful_ and unhappy. CarolynHorn



Haven't forgotten this discussion, and indeed I'd like to get it done and dusted so we can move on . . . at this point I do intend to move most of the material currently on here into a separate article, as I think all that needs to be here is the equivalent of "there was a dispute, and for that reason slink left the community". The dispute concerned more people than slink, although she was a big player in it. I will try to make sure all factual information from the above is considered and that the positions are represented (and of course you can flame me in that article's talk page or change it yourself if you think I get it wrong :-). --GreenReaper(talk) 01:03, 10 Feb 2005 (GMT)

Great, thanks CarolynHorn