November 14, 2017

Regarding Inactivity

It has been nearly a whole decade since I joined the Creatures Community, hard to believe, I know! Throughout the years I have seen a whole load of members come and go, along with many websites, some of which I have fond memories of visiting when I was a child and first discovered Creatures. Things have certainly changed within a space of ten years. However, this blog post is about to adopt a more poignant tone.

As a person, I rarely play creatures any more. I may go through phases of playing it, but these are often quite few and far between. I haven't released any content since 2013, and personally, there doesn't seem to be the spark that there used to be. I am most certainly not done with Creatures, and I think it is a modern classic, but I simply don't have the time to play like I used to.

It is with this that I am announcing The Norn Nebula will be going dormant. To put it bluntly, I will not be posting anything unless it is significantly important. I know the blog hasn't seen much activity over 2017, but I thought I would at least announce it so people are aware. However, the blog will NOT be closing permanently any time soon, and I will be keeping it available as long as possible, so there's no need to worry about it.

Now, on a related note we have the Creatures Community Discord Server, which WILL be remaining active. I must say, though, that I have seen some behaviour from certain members that I have been quite disappointed with - I have never set out to make enemies in the community and I hope that everyone understands that I am running the server with the community's best interests in mind, but I am willing to listen to feedback if people have suggestions.

As always, I hope everyone continues to enjoy the blog, and if anyone has suggestions or feedback, feel free to get in touch.

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 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 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