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Published at 4.7.2001
Author: Ronny Ziegler
Translator: Andy Ziegler
Languages: none
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Preview: DockingStation

Docking Station Logo


The free game DockingStation made by the English company CreatureLabs www.creatures.co.uk can now be played on Linux. It includes a new way to play the well-known Creatures game.
For a long time, rumors have existed that CreatureLabs will port Creatures 3 to Linux. Until now this has not been confirmed, but you are able to use your "old" creatures from Creatures 3 with the docking station (therefore it will be necessary to install Creatures 3 on M$ Win first). But without any previous version of Creatures, DockingStation can also be played. The only restrictions are just one world and there is only one kind of life form: the Norn.

Digital DNS

Norn DockingStation (ds.creatures.net) tries to create an artificial life form on the computer. Therefore the "natural" processes of life are imitated as much as possible. Every life form (Norns, Grendel and other races) owns a special genetic pool which is partialy given to its children. In addition, the creatures build social abilities, learn to speak and develop personal abilities such as playing music.
The big attraction of the game is the few restrictions. It is not pre-determined where the development of the life form has to go. Any crossing among the different races is possible and curious life forms might be created.

Network abilities

To get a big collection of creatures, it is important to cross your life forms with other genetic pools.
This in particular is the new feature of DockingStation. The game has a full Internet support, although you can play it without any Internet connection.
You can send your creatures to other players (randomly or directly), exchange them or just lend them to other users. You also can get rid of Norns you do not like :)
You can chat and send short notes to other breeders.
In this way, a trade with creatures, genetic pools and - very interesting - an exchange of different languages is established.
Another feature is the choice of a language: German, English and French are available and the Norns learn the language.
If you sent a Norn to a world with a different language (or vice versa) it would keep its learned language and try to communicate with the foreign Norn.

Screenshot

Installation

Nest Until now DockingStation existed only in a beta version, but the developer, Francis Irving, said that the beta phase will end next week (about July 14, 2001).

After registration at http://ds.creatures.net/linux/ you get the Linux Installer of the beta version.

After the end of the beta phase, the Linux installer will be placed on the homepage http://ds.creatures.net.

Download installer (32Kb) or complete tarball (22Mb).

The game simulates many creatures, every one with its own intelligence, so it is no wonder that even modern computers are fully loaded.
At least a Pentium II processor is recommended, but this seems to be very optimistic. Quickly a Pentium II computer is loaded and scrolling through the simulated world does not function smoothly.

To breed a big population you should have a Pentium III or Athlon processor even though you are able to restrict the population size.

Other Linux specific recommendations are:

  • Linux Kernel 2.0 or higher
  • Glibc 2.1 or higher
  • GTK- and Gnome-libraries
  • small Linux tools: bash, md5sum, wget or Lynx, bzip2 etc.
After downloading the Installer this file has to be made executable:
  >> chmod a+x dstation-install
  
Then start the installation with
  >> ./dstation-install
  
The installation writes the files into the directory /usr/local/games/dockingstation, so the user who starts the installation has to own the proper rights (if in doubt install it as root).
The download is quite huge and uses (unpacked) about 70 MB on the hard disk.
After the installation, the game can be started by executing
  >> dockingstation
  
DockingStation runs in windowed and full-screen mode. The SDL libraries used automatically recognize the resolution of the X server and allow a change of it using the key combination Shift+Home.

Conclusion

The well-known and nice game Creatures can now be played on Linux machines. In addition, the game is completely free.
With the new Internet features of the game, breeders will be able to work closely together so the game has, more than ever, a high addiction danger and should awaken "mothering instincts" even in the hard-core Linux hacker...


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