Wicklog #8 – Laying eggs, chowin’ down, variable synapses.

Eggs

Flashiest change this week: creatures laying and hatching from eggs! I added in a super-basic calorie-counting system that causes creatures to lay an egg if they get enough to eat:

Took a day or two to iron out the kinks. For example, I set eggs as a very calorie-rich meal (makes sense). So calorie-rich, in fact, that a creature got more calories by eating an egg than it took to lay one. In my infinite wisdom, I also neglected to prevent creatures from eating their own eggs.

I think you can see where this is going:

I also had to track down why creatures were hatching with developmental deformities:

It had something to do with me randomizing the angle of the creature when it hatched. Instead of diving into where in my many sins and cosins I had an error, I made it so all creatures just get born at angle = 0. Some fixes are easier than others.

There was also a bug where if an egg hatched while too close to another creature, the baby and that creature would get fused together in a big angry physics mess (I forgot to take a picture of it, sorry!). I fixed this by just making the eggs physically bigger, which ensured nothing was near their centers when they hatched.

But lo, behold life arising from inanimate matter! Babies start small and gradually grow as they eat things:

MOUTHS

One of the pleasures of working on Crescent Loom is being required to examine of different parts of bodies work, in order to replicate them. I’d never thought about what a difficult job mouths have. They need to grab hold of food (that is possibly trying to escape), orientate it, break it up into manageable chunks, and direct it down a throat.

Our mouths are jam-packed with touch and taste receptors and we have almost as much fine control with our tongues as we do with our fingers. Making a functional mouthpiece is almost as much of a challenge as coordinating the rest of the body.

Little wonder that the mouthpieces I naively threw together are having problems capturing food, even when the creature runs directly into it:

Or, the real-world equivalent:

(I like this gif in particular since you can see how the “food strike” is automatically coordinated between the tongue lashing out and the arms scooping inwards. That sort of thing is handled with exactly the sort of brain circuitry that Crescent Loom is based on.)

Synapse Strengths

How strongly-connected two neurons is important in the function of a brain, and is something I’ve been wanting to add since the beginning — especially since it opens the possibility of eventually giving creatures the ability to learn. So… I added it, with a fancy menu to boot!

To illustrate, here’s a few creatures whose only differences are how strongly-activated their muscles are:

 

 

 

 

 

It also works as a way to steer when one muscle is slightly stronger than the other:

I’m a little amazed I’ve gotten this far without this ability. Next step is to add a way for creatures to change them live (probably with dopamine or serotonin or something).

Other stuff

In preparation for the { [ ( JULY 4th BETA ) ] } , I churned through a boatload of bugs and tweaks to get the game ready for public consumption:

Designed a new save/load window, but haven’t implemented it yet. Lookat all those buttons. Gonna be a headache.

Added a help screen with basic how-to information:

Stickers! Stickers stickers stickers stickers:

Still not sure exactly when I’m gonna get to ship these out to y’all. Kickstarter used to have it so I could only send out a single survey, and since the laser-cut art pieces aren’t done yet, it might have to wait on those.

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By Wick Perry | © 2017 Wickworks
Proud to be a member of PIGsquad and Playful Oasis.