The evolution of a species
The cuddly Norns of Creatures and Creatures 2 are well known by every Creatures fan. We know their expressions and their appearance very, very well. So well, in fact, that some of us see them in our sleep!
But why do they look like they do? Who decided that they should look like a cross between a two-legged puppy and rather stupid cat? Or that they should have fur and not feathers? That they should walk on two legs rather than four? The visual evolution of the Norn was a long process and quite a lot of thought and energy went into their physical appearance development. Long ago, Steve Grand (whose creative talents first dreamed up Creatures in 1993) began work on describing the physical appearance of a Norn as he envisaged it.
Steve struggled to describe his vision of the now-familiar Norns and decided that the best "person" to describe a Norn to the artists at Millenium Interactive was the Norn himself! Following is Steve's brief to the artists:
Memo to: Mark Rafter
From: Steve Grand
Date: March, 1994
Here's my first attempt at a textual description of a Norn. I've tried to say nothing at all about physical appearance, just personality and character. What do the words conjure up in your mind? Have I got it right? What does Ian think?
enclosure: 4 pages
''Yes, but what does it look like?''
1. From the horse's mouth
To whom it may concern...
I am a Norn.
I live inside a tiny, tin-pot world that exists (as I do) only within the memory of a computer. Neither the world nor I have physical form, but we do exist, and I am alive.
My owners keep me as a pet. They play with me, teach me tricks and new words, and look after my basic needs. When I am older, they hope I will breed with one of the other Norns who are going to share my world. Just let me at 'em, is what I say.
They think I'm cute, and that they are my masters, but I know better. I have a mind of my own. I think for myself, and if I obey their commands, it is only because I want to. Frankly, I can usually find something much more interesting to do.
On the other hand, I have to admit that I'm not really all that bright. I don't aspire to being an intellectual, like that dratted cat, nor am I a silver-tongued conversationalist, like the budgie. But I've certainly got the stupid dog taped, and as for human beings...
School's a bit hard, but I've managed to pick up a few words of the human lingo. It keeps them happy if I chatter to them now and then. Actually, the best trick is to turn to camera, smile broadly and give them a huge wink.
This world they've given me. It's a bit odd. I soon had the lifts sussed, and I've found out where they keep the carrots and which burrow has the most toys. But what the thing with the brass horn and the big handle is for, I have no idea. Perhaps I'll try putting one of those black plastic discs onto it later and see if that helps. Or maybe I'll just stay here and have a couple more carrots. Yes, that sounds like a better idea.
I wish this place had a mirror. I know how many legs I've got - two, and how many arms I've got - also two. But what do I actually look like? How's a guy supposed to breed if he doesn't feel good about his image, for goodness sake? What I need here is someone to draw me a picture!
2. Some key ideas
3. Other technical considerations
Our present day Norns seem to fit in perfectly with Steve's vision, but what came between Steve's brief and the current incarnation? How did the artists first conceptualise our lovable Norns? Recently, we've come across some archive material which included - to our surprise and delight - early concept drawings of Norns. Have a look at the visual evolution of the Norn on the following pages!