Saturday, 26 December 2015

Glitch Norns

I figure it's probably about time to introduce you to another one of my experiments gone haywire: the Glitch Norns. The idea I had in mind when I made these was to create Norns with funny poses that would move strangely but could still do stuff fairly normally. I gave them the name 'Glitch Norns' because the end goal was essentially to make them look like they were all weird and glitchy. I made two versions of the Glitch Norns, the second one 'improved' from the first (it wasn't really: predictably I screwed it up). There are only two Glitch Norns: Pythagoras, the first one, and Tessa, the second.

Essentially, the method I used to make these Norns was quite simple: enter the genetics kit, change up pose strings and hey presto, you're done. Very scientific.

When I made Pythagoras, I didn't really know what I was doing with pose strings or how they properly worked; I went in with the vague knowledge that each number in the string corresponds to a specific body part on the Norn, and I used a guide (I'd give you the link but I can't find the website) to give me an idea of which numbers were for which part.

Anyway, for Pythagoras I only made a couple of changes—I altered two poses and added an extra frame to one of his gaits. I didn't know how this might affect Pythagoras, so I also made one other change to his genome: I lowered his initial concentration of ageing, which means that he would die of old age sooner. This was supposed to be a measure so that he would suffer less if the other changes made life unbearable for him, but in hindsight I don't really see why I thought I should include it. It did have an interesting side affect, though—as soon as he was born, rather than going through the normal progression of growing up from a baby, he became an adult immediately. And an especially interesting thing to note about this is that he spent the first little while of his artificial life just standing in front of the incubator and doing nothing. Is it somehow connected to his skipped childhood? It's an interesting question that could be fun to investigate at some point.

When I found that Pythagoras (apart from the whole standing in front of the incubator thing) seemed to be a pretty normal Norn with only an occasional strange movement I decided: 'Right, that's not glitch enough.' and when I turned it up for Tessa, I turned it up way too much. I didn't make any changes to gaits this time, and nor did I reduce the ageing in her, but I did go through the poses and change one hundred and five of them by randomly switching out some of the digits (more like the majority of the digits). And yes, that's right—one hundred and five poses is every single one of them.

The result? A Norn that can barely move around.

I think the thing I didn't really realise as I was engineering Tessa was that the poses actually affect how the creature moves in space. It's not like the Norn will just magically float along while doing its crazy dance moves that I programmed into its genes, which is the very thing I was subconsciously assuming as I went into this. For the Norn to walk, its poses actually have to form a walking movement. As such, as you might have seen from my posts, Tessa has a pretty hard time moving around. Oh well, I learned something about genetics from it, so it wasn't all pointless, was it?

I'm not sure if I'll try to make a better version of Glitch Norns, but I know that if I do, it will be with a greater level of care and fewer randomly-replaced pose strings.

You can also now download Tessa and Pythagoras from their pages, which you can access from here.

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