September 08, 2017

The Discover Albia Forum Closes

It has recently come to my attention that the Discover Albia Forum has been closed by Jessica, and is no longer open to new users or posts. Jessica's blog, Discover Albia, went on holiday last year and so it's understandable that it has been closed, but it is still sad to see the forum close.

Running a forum can be quite a lot of work - The Norn Nebula had its own forum at one point, but like the Discover Albia Forum, it closed, but it was down to a lack of activity rather than myself not having the time to maintain it. It seems that in this day and age forums may be starting to become things of the past, but they are still very useful regardless, especially Creatures Caves which has been running for, wow, over seventeen years!

I might consider archiving the Discover Albia Forum at some point, as Jessica states it may be removed at some point in the future. I hope this isn't the case, but it's always good to be prepared in case the inevitable happens.

I'll still keep a link to the forum in The Norn Nebula's link section, but will edit the title to let users know that it is closed.

Thanks for the experience Jessica, and I eagerly anticipate the return of Discover Albia.

September 03, 2017

Creatures 2 - Windows 10 Lag Fix

I recently posted a topic on Creatures Caves about this fix, so thought I'd share it on here too!

As everyone knows, Creatures 2 is incredibly picky out what system it runs on; up until the GOG.com releases, we had to rely on hex editing in order to run it on Windows 7. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Windows 10, and the game suffers from numerous issues.The first is the Black Box of Doom, but thanks to Issy, a solution for fixing it has been found.

But what about those who experience serious lag when running the game? Well, this problem arises from the way Windows 10 emulates DirectDraw. I'm no expert, but it is apparently very poorly coded and so cannot handle high resolutions very well at all, leading to severe lag. So how can we fix it?

Well, to get rid of the lag, simply change your screen resolution to 1280x720, relaunch Creatures 2, and the game should run much smoother. It will obviously look a lot lower res now, but it's really not much of a bother, especially as most people first played the game on those horrible CRT monitors at horrendously low resolutions anyway. Besides, your creatures will be bigger on-screen!

Now, there are several issues with the game that are not related to the lag. Firstly, certain parts of the game such as the Status Bar and tool-tips will be very buggy, or just won't appear at all. I don't know why this occurs, I'm afraid, but the game is still perfectly playable.

I should also mention I have emailed GOG.com about these issues, and I'm currently awaiting a response. I'd recommend everybody else does the same. It might not receive a response, but at least we'll have tried!

 I hope this guide has helped people. If anyone has any questions or additional problems, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Edit: It seems the highest resolution the game is willing to run at without suffering from lag is 1366 x 768. I have no idea why running the game at 1080p in Windows 10 causes lag whereas it runs perfectly fine on Windows 7, but I think the issue might be DirectDraw related.

September 02, 2017

Creatures Alchemist - First Level Walkthrough Video

Here's a closer look at the recently released mini-game, Creatures Alchemist, which was developed by Spil Games as a teaser to their upcoming Creatures title, Creatures Family.

 

August 30, 2017

Creatures Alchemist: A New Mini-Game from Spil Games

The game's title screen
Much to everyone's surprise, Spil Games have finally released a mini-game based around Creatures Family, named Creatures Alchemist. It actually came out earlier this month with literally no announcement, which is quite strange as you'd think that Spil Games would want attention from the Creatures Community.
Anyway, onto the game itself. Creatures Alchemist revolves around the player crafting elements inside a laboratory, which are in turn
used to create norn breeds. Not to different from the genetics editor in the cancelled game, Creatures Online, I might add, but it is much simpler, with the game's puzzle aspects being in the spotlight rather than the norns themselves. Now, to be honest, the game's artstyle isn't that bad. Despite the creepiness of Master Shee (renamed The Shee here), you can tell a fair bit of effort has been put into making the norns look like, well, norns.

Master Shee is back, and creepier than ever!
However, one thing that bothers me about the norns is how simple their behaviour is - they're essentially trophies that stand idly on a screen, randomly saying "Hello" or "Dear?" occasionally. Not only this, but the developers also got the species of the White Pixie Norn wrong, and it uses the sprites of a Toxic Norn. I can only assume this is a mistake of some kind, but it is rather dumb.

Possibly the worst part of the game is the fact you have limited "lives" which means that if you run out of them, you need to wait an eternity for them to regenerate, like a lot of free-to-play games. This takes a lot of the fun out of the game and I found I got bored with waiting after a while.

Anyone remember when they sold these in the Creatures Mall?
So what's the verdict? Well, the game is mediocre at best. The highlight was probably seeing Spil Games' interpretations of the norns (and grendels), which, quite honestly, aren't that bad. I'm just hoping that when Creatures Family is finally released that we don't see any more free-to-play elements, as they will surely hamper any enjoyment of the game!

You can play Creatures Alchemist here. You might want to temporarily disable your ad-blocker as it seems to interfere with some aspects of the game.

Overall Score: 2.5/5

August 15, 2017

Where Does The Time Go?/Join the Creatures Community Discord Server!

At the risk of sounding like I'm repeating myself from my last post, I just thought I'd give everyone a quick rundown on how I'm doing. It's been four months since I last posted to The Norn Nebula, and to be frank, the blog has been pretty dead lately - I've not had much motivation to post anything, and I'm not as big a Creatures player as I used to be, especially since my favourite game in the series, Creatures 2, doesn't work on Windows 10. Don't worry, however. The blog isn't going anywhere, and if it was, I would definitely announce it first.

Next January marks a whole decade since I officially joined the community. Time flies, doesn't it? I can remember back to being thirteen years old and going to the library to download  COBs and stuff as we didn't have an internet connection back at home. I've been thinking about commemorating it some way, but haven't come to any conclusion. I actually planned to release a CoB for the 20th anniversary of Creatures 1 last year, but it never came to be. Maybe I could do a Wolfling Run? As always, I'm open to suggestions, so if anyone has anything to share feel free!

I go back to my third and final year of university in September ( got to skip a year because my prior studies were equivalent to the first year) which I'm looking forward to; a bit of freedom is always nice! Slightly less exciting news comes in the form of, or lack of, Creatures Family. Spil Games have released no news since acquiring the license back in 2016, and to be blunt, I couldn't care less, and judging from Spil's previous titles, I think we'll have dodged a bullet if it is never released.

On a more positive note, the Creatures Community now has its own Discord Server! I'm sure most members of the Creatures Community will already be aware of its presence, but I'll post a link to it anyway. It's always nice meeting new people! You can connect to the server here.

Finally, I hope everyone has a lovely summer, and continues to enjoy The Norn Nebula!