Ah, how I remember artificial life sim Creatures. How I remember being enthusiastically told THIS IS LIFE only to discover something sickeningly cute that I was too lazy and impatient to successfully poke any emergent behaviours from. After a few decades spent lost in endless spin-offs (some of which still dustily lurk on the lower shelves of my local budget supermarket, somehow), the series is due for a full-on reboot. Creatures IV gets a new team, a new publisher and a new-but-old approach.
It's going to be free to play, which I guess will entail the optional purchase of additional traits, toys and habitats for your genetically modified pseudo-beings. Never heard of Creatures before? Allow this vintage trailer to explain:
I didn't play enough of any Creatures game to offer a real judgement, but I can remember having the theoretical capabilities of the Norns being explained to me, desperaretely wanting the game as a result, then being pretty dramatically underwhelmed when I finally laid hands on it. Again though: I was a lazy and impatient child, and it's quite possible I simply searched for ways to torment the little bastards instead of nurturing them to bigger, better things.
Here's some PR blurb about the new game:
"None of the behavior you see has been specifically programmed. The Creatures make their own choices, and learn from their mistakes. You guide them through their lives, helping them through the bad patches and enjoying the good times. When they become adults, your Creatures can mate, and their children have their own unique genetic material.
The possibilities are boundless. Everything from their poses to the individual chemical reactions inside their bloodstream are genetically specified. Who knows? A tenth generation creature could possibly be considerably more intelligent than those you start with."
It also claims that "the approach will be to maintain the characteristics and integrity of the earlier games." Original creators Millennium Interactive (with UK scientist Steve Grand its lead) do not appear to be involved in any way, with duties passing instead to a Belgian lot called Fishing Cactus. Rights, however, are held by a UK group called Gameware Development - who also own the James Pond IP. Oh no. Oh God no. We don't need that.
Creatures IV (not to be confused with indie puzzler CreaVures) launches later this year. No screens, footage, website or murderous rogue AIs have been released as yet.