Creatures Development Network
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The Creatures Development Network (aka CDN) was a knowledge base, forum, and support resource for third-party developers on the Creatures series of games. At one time, it hosted its own forum; even after these were closed, it continued to provide free copies of all tools created by Cyberlife/Creatures Labs for the games, as well as much information of use to those wishing to modify the game, for some years.
- Archive Address: https://web.archive.org/web/20181222033402/http://www.gamewareeurope.com/GWDev/cdn/
- Webmaster: Cyberlife/Creature Labs/Gameware
- Ran from/to: September 1998 - 2018?
Over the first year and a half of Creatures, it became clear that the Creatures Community could do with far more in the way of tools and other assistance to assist them in creating third-party addons to the game. Cyberlife had promised that they would provide a proper software development kit since the beginning of 1998, and the Creatures Development Network was the result of this. This resource initially took the form of the CDN Newsgroup.
It wasn't long before some third-party developers began asking Cyberlife if they could sell the addons they were making. A concept proposed by upper management was to have a small group of 20 contracted developers who would be provided with the tools to create addons for Creatures 2 free of charge, and have the work sold at the official website. A contract form was made available (on 15 September 1998) for people who wished to apply for this program.
However, some regulars of alt.games.creatures were unhappy with some of the terms of the proposed agreement:
- Applicants had to pay £10 to get in - the company claimed this was a requirement of it being a contract as all contracts have "consideration" (a thing of value), but others disagreed (notably slink, who claimed to have signed a contract with Cyberlife without that clause).
- Developers got 20% of the profits - not 20% of revenue; The remainder was said to pay for company staff to fully test the addons and then sell and support them, although some people still wondered exactly what would be included with costs.
- Cyberlife had the "first right of refusal" on all addons - only if they decided not to accept the addon would people be allowed to distribute it for free. Indeed, that right was not even in the contract; the exact wording was:
- Clause 4.2
- The Developer hereby assigns to CyberLife all rights in the Work wherever subsisting.
- Clause 6.1
- CyberLife shall have the entire control of all aspects of the Work and, in particular, the sole discretion as to whether to publish the Work
- After an addon was accepted there was no set date for when it would be published, and they might be distributed either singly or in groups at a price decided by Cyberlife.
- The developer was personally and completely responsible for any damage done by the addons, not Cyberlife.
- Cyberlife was able to terminate the contract at any time if they felt that not enough had been done by that developer, at which point the right to use the tools was removed.
The whole commercial and legal aspects of it were disturbing to some members of the Creatures Community, many of whom were young and had not previously had to deal with such things. As Ping said:
- I only ever made stuff for C1 because it was available to anyone who wanted it, and anyone who didn`t want it didn`t have to Download it. But now, if people will be Making COBs and Cyberlife will be selling them in packs, where`s the fun any more?
Alexander Laemmle left the community at this time, possibly in reaction to this, although it may only have been a contributing factor - he may just have been disappointed in Creatures 2.
In the end, Cyberlife acknowledged that such contracts would have been better suited to developers with which they had a prior relationship and the CDN was reborn as an open-to-all (registration required) knowledge base of articles, basic tools and newsgroup discussions. More advanced tools, such as the Genetics Kit could now be purchased individually.
Other CDN developers (for example, Chris Double) continued to create a range of free tools and the CDN provided an on-topic place to share discoveries and ask for specific help. Developers who wanted to sell their creations could contact CyberLife and enter into a contract less onerous than the one initially proposed. Chaos Development were the first to take advantage of this and released their complete new world for Creatures 2, Montu.
Creatures 3 saw the introduction of the Creatures Evolution Engine which offered increased flexibility in creating add-on worlds, in-game tools and objects with the addition of a complete CAOS-controlled user interface, and file access in the form of PRAY and catalogue files.
By the release of Docking Station, and the new official Docking Station Forums, the discussions were web based and many new metarooms were being developed, including a complete remake of Creatures 1 inside the Docking Station engine.
Eventually all tools for all games in the Creatures series were released as free downloads when Gameware bought up the ashes of Creature Labs in May 2003. The increased availability of these tools resulted in many more addons being created, especially for C3/DS.
There have been several different URLs and archives of the CDN, mostly available using the Archive.org Wayback Machine.
An early edition of the CDN is available at http://cdn.creatures.net/ (Archive.org edition, circa 2001).
Ali was given permission to rehost the CDN, which he did, available at http://www.freewebs.com/alimaggs/ (Archive.org version, circa 2005). This edition contains development resources for Creatures 2 which are not available on later editions of the CDN.
A later edition of the CDN, after CL was taken over by Gameware Development was hosted at http://www.gamewaredevelopment.co.uk/cdn (Archive.org version, circa 2010). Please note this domain is now owned by another company. This edition of the CDN contains many downloads such as the development tools.
A later-still edition of the CDN is hosted at Gameware Europe, but periodically lapses in registration or a site redesign can interrupt accessibility of the CDN archive. It is hosted at http://www.gamewareeurope.com/GWDev/cdn/ (Archive.org version, circa 2018). Please note this edition contains many links that still point to gamewaredevelopment.co.uk.
Lisdude hosts a mirror of the CDN at https://lisdude.com/cdn/
- Gameware's newer Creatures Development Network website (archive)
- An analysis of the original CDN contract by Madame Mim
- "Development Network, contracts and CyberLife", a reply to the above