Creatures (game series)

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Logo Creatures.svg
Logo of the series
developer Cyberlife Technology / Creature Labs
Publisher various
First title Creatures (1996)
Last title Creatures: Raised in Space (2002)
Platform (s) various, u. a. Windows , Mac OS , PlayStation
Genre (s) Life simulation
In the lower left of the picture a norn from Creatures 2 , in the middle the inventor of "Creatures" Steve Grand

Creatures is a series of computer games that deal with the creation and simulation of artificial life (KL). In contrast to the computer game The Sims , however, the creatures cannot be controlled directly, only the environment can be manipulated.


The concept of the game is to breed creatures, mostly so-called norns. The creatures in the game have a relatively well developed neural network , in addition a biochemical system and a DNA are simulated in order to enable the "crossing" between creatures. In principle, crossing different races is not possible.

There is no real game objective in Creatures . In the first parts of the series, the player only had a limited number of norn eggs available, which meant that longer gameplay was only possible through successful breeding.

The creatures cannot be controlled by the player, but can only be influenced indirectly by their environment. However, the player has the possibility to interact with the creatures through the cursor and so z. B. to permanently influence their behavior through reward and punishment. It is also possible to give them direct commands with keystrokes - but only if they have learned the appropriate words beforehand. So speaking teaching initially takes up a large part of the playing time. If several norns later exist in the game world, they also learn from each other.



The Ettins were added from Creatures 2 and are produced by the Ettin mother. Although the ettins, introduced in Creatures 2 , differ from the ettins in Creatures 3 , they have in common that they have a shorter lifespan than norns and can cope better with a warmer climate and various toxins.


The Grendels are available from Creatures 1 and up and are generated by the Grendel mother. Grendels are the evil counterpart to the norns. B. Steal food or beat norns. It is up to the player to keep their norns away from Grendel by raising them. Their lifespan is shorter than that of norns and they can survive in toxic environments. They also carry diseases that are harmful to the norns.


The norns are the species that the game is primarily about evolving and surviving. They are generally playful, trusting, and love to explore. Adaptation to specific environments or climates can differ from breed to breed. There are several official and numerous fan-created norn races for each part of the Creatures series.


The Shee are a highly developed species made up of scientists and inventors. They are the original inhabitants of Albia and the creators of the Norns, Ettins and Grendels. Shees has never officially appeared in any part of the series before. However, there are fan-created breeds.


The first version of Creatures , also known as "Creatures 1" or "original Creatures", was released in 1996 by the English company Cyberlife Ltd. (later renamed Creature Labs Ltd.) and was largely based on the concepts and work of Steve Grand . In 1998 the further development Creatures 2 came onto the market. Creatures 3 followed in 1999, and in 2001 the free online expansion "Docking Station" followed, which not only can be "docked" to the game world of its predecessor, but can also be played independently. Creatures 3 was later ported with the Creatures Docking Station extension from Linux Game Publishing for Linux and published under the Creatures Internet Edition .

  • Creatures (1996)
  • Creatures: Life Kit # 1 (1997)
  • Creatures 2 (1998)
  • Creatures 2: Life Kit # 1 (1998)
  • Creatures 2: Life Kit # 2 (1999)
  • Creatures 3 (1999)
  • Creatures Adventures (1999)
  • Creatures Playground (2000)
  • Creatures Docking Station (2001)
  • Creatures: Raised in Space (2002)

Unpublished / discontinued:

  • Creatures Online (First announced in 2011 as Creatures 4 , discontinued in 2015)

In addition, there are several summaries of various series titles in the form of games collections and as budget titles.

Fan scene

For all parts of the Creatures series, there are active fan pages on the Internet that deal with the Creatures theory and offer extensive download areas. The latter in particular has become more and more popular since the beginning of the series - the number of self-made game accessories is almost comparable to the The Sims download scene. In addition to your own norns offered on the pages (which can be saved in the game and thus easily distributed) there are new objects (so-called "Cobs" (C1, C2), or "Agents" (C3, DS)), new races (" Breeds ”), programs with which the DNA of the norns can be edited and also own new norn worlds (“ Worlds ”or“ Metarooms ”).

Cyberlife Inc. has accommodated the fan scene from Creatures 2 with an “agent kit”. With this addition it is possible to integrate objects into the game or to cause changes in the current world through Cob files.

Cyberlife itself also published many additions and some programs on their official site, for example the Creatures 2 World Switcher, with which it is possible to save several worlds instead of just one.

The fans also repeatedly carry out actions in which the norns have to compete against each other and have to achieve certain game goals. There are, for example, Wolfling Runs , which are about which norn survives the longest without a player intervening.

In addition, certain “community events” are called at certain intervals, with the intention of motivating the fan base to be more committed, but above all to demonstrate to the current rights holders of the Creatures license that there is still a lot of interest in the game series. These events include the weekly online meeting on the “Docking Station” and the two-week “Creatures Community Spirit Festival”, which is held annually and is linked to a competition.

Game engine

The game engine of Creatures 2 was so powerful that the British Army became aware of it and in 1998 quickly started a project in which the norns learned how to operate and fly Eurofighters.

To do this, in cooperation with CyberLife, they networked the little animals with the flight simulator, which is also used for pilot training, climbed a few thousand feet with the virtual machines and then handed over the command to the little animals. The first flights naturally ended in a crash, as the norns didn't know what to do in the air or in the simulator. In addition to the controls, they also had all the displays and instruments available to a normal pilot. After each run, the norns that had been in the air the longest were taken and new norns bred on them, since the engine, unlike humans, passes on knowledge, and within 400 generations of norns who have learned completely by themselves, one Control Eurofighter. Not only could they fly the machines, but they could also perform daring maneuvers to escape their opponents.

The first norns who managed to keep a machine in the air longer did so by rotating around the aircraft's longitudinal axis. At first it was not clear why or with what intention the AI ​​was flying this maneuver, but it quickly became clear that the AI ​​had discovered the principle of rotation around its own axis for position stabilization in flight, which has long been known in ballistics.

The original aim of this experiment was to create an AI that the recruits were supposed to challenge in the simulator, instead of the ready-made scenarios that the pilots quickly master by heart. Computer specialist Simon Hancock later said: “We hope that one day you will also pilot real airplanes [...] That would have many advantages. The cockpit would no longer be necessary; we could build smaller machines, especially more agile ones. The artificial pilots can withstand any acceleration. "

In the meantime, the technology of the norns is already so mature that even their creators no longer know for sure what they have already learned. Shortly afterwards, the AI ​​was to compete against student pilots of the British Air Force.

Some of the things they haven't learned yet include takeoffs and landings.

In the meantime, the AI ​​is marketed as “adaptive control systems” and used for other purposes, such as setting up counter halls in banks.

A sketchy representation of the principles of the game engine AI can be found in an article by Spektrum der Wissenschaft

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f [1] , Creatures Wiki (May 15, 2013)
  2. SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany: COMPUTER: Ten thousand crashed - DER SPIEGEL 23/1998. In: Retrieved June 21, 2016 .
  3. Dr. Christoph Pöppe: Artificial life in the PC. Spectrum of Science , October 1, 1996, accessed November 14, 2019 .