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The AI of Creatures - Alan Zucconi (www.alanzucconi.com)



Learn about the game that back in 1996 pioneered Artificial Life and Artificial Intelligence. This is a short documentary about the AI of Creatures.


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Published {#published .site-published}


[July 27, 2020](https://www.alanzucconi.com/2020/07/27/the-ai-of-creatures/ "The AI of Creatures") {#july-27-2020 .site-published-date}


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[Alan Zucconi](https://www.alanzucconi.com "View all posts by Alan Zucconi"){.u-url .url .fn .n} in [Discussion](https://www.alanzucconi.com/category/discussion/), [Games](https://www.alanzucconi.com/category/games/), [Science](https://www.alanzucconi.com/category/science/) \| [July 27, 2020](https://www.alanzucconi.com/2020/07/27/the-ai-of-creatures/ "The AI of Creatures") {#alan-zucconi-in-discussion-games-science-july-27-2020 .entry-title-meta}


The AI of Creatures {#the-ai-of-creatures .entry-title .p-name itemprop="name"}



This is the complementary article to the short documentary titled "[The AI of Creatures](https://youtu.be/Y-6DzI-krUQ)", which provides links, references and resources for you to delve further into the world of Creatures.

Join me as we travel back in time to revisit this old classic that literally made the history of Artificial Intelligence AND Artificial Life.


Back in 1997, my father brought home one issue of Le Science, the Italian edition of the popular magazine Scientific American. Leafing through the pages, one article in particular caught my attention. It talked about a videogame which dared to do what no other game had done before. I was 11, and little I knew that article was going to change my life.

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Creatures is often described as an Artificial Life Simulator. In the game, you have to look after *small furry creatures* called Norns. Hatching and raising them, until they are self-sufficient. A glorified Tamagotchi on steroids, if that makes sense. But, unlike a Tamagotchi, Norns were alive. Or at least, as close as you could get with an Intel Pentium in 1996. Behind their furry look, the actions of each creature were controlled by a primitive, yet sophisticated neural network. Norns might not have been alive, but they were definitely intelligent.

Ok ...perhaps they were neither of those two things. But they could learn. From experience from each other and, most importantly, from us. Creatures was designed around the very concepts of empathy and nurturing. Making it the closest experience possible to having a pet. To this date it was, and it still is, an experience unmatched by any other computer game.

But how could, a game that is almost 25 years old, succeed where even modern games are struggling? Please, join me on this journey to discover the AI of Creatures.

Small Furry Creatures

"[Small Furry Creatures](https://creatures.wiki/Small_Furry_Creatures)" was one of the proposed titles for Creatures. The name was chosen in place of "*Little Computer Ewoks*", which felt too derivative. The title originally appeared on an article written by Steve Grand in 1993: [Small Furry Creatures: The Mythography](https://web.archive.org/web/20050312010808/fp.cyberlifersrch.plus.com/creaturesarchive/mythography.htm).

The Game


The World of Albia

Creatures secret lies hidden in the complex and interactive ecosystem that it models,\

which provides the perfect ground for emergent behaviours. Norns live on Albia, a disk-shaped planet which features a variety of different environments. Caves, Mountains, Islands, Beaches. And the remnants of an ancient civilization which is nowhere to be found.

With a size of 8352