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Ten Things You Need For Your DS World - Posted Sunday, 30th July 2006 by Liam

The first part of a 2 part article detailing the 10 most useful agents for a player new to Docking Station, how they can help you run your world and care for your norns!

"The purpose of this article is to present a list of ten of the most basic, useful agents which the newcomer should know about and obtain when beginning a new Docking Station world. You can play Docking Station without them. But without them, success or failure at the game is more a matter of luck than otherwise. With them, good planning greatly enhances the chances for success. The best advice is to download these agents and install them to your Docking Station/My Agents folder before starting a new world, and go to the Comm's room and inject them into your game at the earliest opportunity."

By KnyteTrypper for the CCSF '06!

Docking Station is one of the truly great computer games. It's really unlike anything else. While on one hand it's an easy-to-play, fun-for-all-ages game, on the other hand it is the most complex artificial life implementation thus far created. It's hard to think of anything else one might add to a virtual creature to make it seem more "alive" than the creatures of Docking Station are. They're born as infants, grow through childhood and adolescence to adulthood, mate and have children of their own, grow old, and eventually die. They use language, they learn from experience, they have likes and dislikes, make friends and enemies in life. One might question whether they are "really" alive or not, but within their own context, they are absolutely as "alive" as virtual creatures in a virtual world can be. And while the concept is not unique, Docking Station is one of those rare games where the player's mandate is simply to foster that "virtual life."

This can be a rather challenging task. The Docking Station environment is a peaceful one. Frisky norns may smack each other playfully from time to time, and like little children, they may sometimes get a little heated and play too rough, but they are generally a peaceful race. The environment is more benign than not, but there are dangers. Various bacteria and diseases are also present, and a norn with low vitality or one exposed too long or frequently can find itself infected, and if left untreated, killed, by these hazards.

The Creatures Community is a great bunch of folks, as ardently devoted to Docking Station as any group of gamers you'll find anywhere. One of the things which distinguishes them from almost any other group of game enthusiasts is their penchant for creating game accessories. There are literally hundreds of foods, tools, toys, and utilities created by the players for use with the Creatures games. Docking Station players also create add-on rooms, several of which together can as much as quadruple the available playing area, making it possible to manage a larger norn population without overcrowding. Agents, as they're usually called, greatly enhance and enrich the quality of Docking Station game play.

The purpose of this article is to present a list of ten of the most basic, useful agents which the newcomer should know about and obtain when beginning a new Docking Station world. You can play Docking Station without them. But without them, success or failure at the game is more a matter of luck than otherwise. With them, good planning greatly enhances the chances for success. The best advice is to download these agents and install them to your Docking Station/My Agents folder before starting a new world, and go to the Comm's room and inject them into your game at the earliest opportunity.

1) The most important aspect of successful norn management is good health care. It's vital to be able to diagnose and treat norn maladies. Runaway bacteria, for instance, can destroy an entire colony of norns in fairly short order. Emmental's Medical Monitor is probably the most useful agent available for this purpose. It will instantly diagnose any health-threatening conditions in plain language (the Holodoc uses bar graphs of chemical concentrations to do the same, but it's always been too esoteric for me, and I suspect this is true for a lot of players). It's helpful to install the Norn Statistics agent, too, which gives you information such as age, gender, generation, etc., about each norn or creature in your ship.

2) Successful diagnosis should, of course, be followed by successful treatment. The Miracle Heal agent is just one of several agents created by community member Clucky which will be featured here. The Miracle Heal cures all illnesses in your ship. If you have a bunch of sick norns it's just what the doctor ordered.

3) Sometimes, though, death can occur too quickly to prevent, from falls, drownings (if you've installed a metaroom with a water area), or near-instantly fatal diseases like ATP decoupler. In Docking Station, however, you really can give a favorite norn a second chance at life. Clucky has provided two excellent alternatives to the catastrophic loss of a favorite. The Tombstoner automatically creates a tombstone for each creature which dies. Placing the stones near the tombstone maker will cause the creatures to be returned to life. The Renorminator will also reincarnate dead creatures, but it must be manually activated before the corpse dissolves (usually 3-5 min. after death), and reincarnates the creature as a new baby with a blank life history.

4) Having seen to their health and even their resurrection, we move on to the more mundane duties of norn care-feeding them and keeping them amused. The food dispenser in the Messo furnishes an endless supply of the three basic norn foodstuffs, but the norns don't always stay close to it. Norns that don't cluster together in a permanent social group have a tendency to wander around quite a bit, so routine norn-tending can become quite challenging if you have several norns in several parts of the ship. Emmental comes to the rescue again with the Electronic Butler. Whenever a creature expresses hunger or boredom, the Electronic Butler produces food or toys on demand and places them close to the creature, wherever it is in your world. The food is freshly created, but the toys are chosen from those already injected into the world.

5) Teaching norns to express their needs is a simple task when immediate rewards follow, but teaching them to use a human language is a bit more difficult. Standard procedure is to pick up a norn (by holding down the Shift key and right-clicking the norn to be moved) and placing it near the learning machine at the lower right corner of the Messo and clicking the panel until your norn gets the idea and activates the machine for itself. This process is made painless by use of Clucky's vocabulizer. The vocabulizer instantly teaches all known words to all creatures in your ship. Sharing a common language with your norns makes instructing them a happier experience.

KnyteTrypper, CCSF2006

Part One - Part Two

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