The program was significant as it was one of the first commercial titles to code alife organisms from the genetic level upwards using a sophisticated biochemistry and neural network brains. This meant that the Norns and their DNA could develop and "evolve" in increasingly diverse ways, unpredicted by the makers. By breeding certain Norns with others, some traits could be passed on to following generations. Most interestingly, the Norns turned out to behave similarly to living creatures. This was seen as an important insight into how real world organisms may function and evolve. Earlier alife programs had worked by giving their organisms a limited set of commands and parameters, and seeing whether the way the subjects behaved was realistic.
The genetics in Creatures are somewhat different from human genetics: they are haploid and therefore any "evolution" is a result of random cross-over mutations. There is no concept of dominant gene and recessive gene. Nevertheless, the complexity of the simulated biochemistry meant that Norn behaviour was highly unpredictable.
In 1998, the computer games division of Millennium was sold to Sony Entertainment while those working on alife and Creatures formed a new company called Cyberlife Technology. Along with continued work on the Creatures titles, the company did work for industry and the British Ministry of Defence, famously attempting to teach live organisms to fly virtual fighter jets.
In the late 1990s, Grand left Cyberlife to form Cyberlife Research and focus on the production of new alife technologies, including current work on a robotic life form he calls Lucy as well as writing books about his research. The remainder of the company was renamed Creature Labs, and focused on computer game development.
Sequels to Creatures, including Creatures 2, Creatures 3 and the small-children's games Creatures Adventures and Creatures Playground, were released by Creature Labs in subsequent years. The final major Creatures release, Docking Station, was made available for download from the company's web site in 2001.
Development was suspended on future Creatures games on March 20, 2003, when Creature Labs ceased operations, but development and trademark rights have since been purchased by a company named Gameware Development, Ltd. Gameware has revived the Creatures Developer Network, the shop, the forums, the Docking Station server, and have released many before-purchasable tools and add-ons for free.
The Creatures games have recently been re-released in combination packs under the names Creatures: The Albian Years (C1, C2), Creatures Exodus (C3, DS) and Creatures Village (CA, CP). The Albian Years, and Exodus include the separate games, whereas Village has merged Adventures and Playground into a single game.
Kutoka Interactive, a Canadian children's software company, has created releases of Creatures Exodus (Kutoka) and Creatures Village (Kutoka Kids) that are compatible with both Apple's Mac OS X and Windows XP. They were released on the 30th of September 2005, and can be purchased either directly from Kutoka or from other online stores.
Norns are playful, all-trusting, naive creatures that love to explore. This is often the reason for their downfall, suffering, and death. They are especially susceptible to disease in comparison to Ettins (Grendels seem to be immune to diseases found in their terrarium), and, in old age they may fall prey to a wasting disease that prevents them from absorbing certain nutrients.
The Shee originally created the Norns as a mixture of valet and pet. According to the Creatures Labs website, they spread across the galaxy through the Warp and evolved into various variations, including but not restricted to: Toxic Norn, Treehugger Norn and Magma Norns. The spread of Norns throughout the galaxy is related to the mysterious disappearance of the Shee from Albia (from the point of view of the Norns - see the Shee entry). It may also be a sign of how the Shee fared in their attempt to find a habitable planet.
The Shee are all inventors, and make most of their inventions to save time on tasks that would have taken but a few minutes otherwise.
Most of their discoveries are made by accident, and as such, they sequenced their own DNA and eliminated all genetic defects, before discovering the wheel.
Millenia ago, the Shee had left the disk-shaped world of Albia, as they desired to live on a more spherical world. They created the Shee Ark, took along some Norns, Ettins, and various animals and plants, and set out for their new home. The Shee Ark, like all Shee spacecraft, was itself a living creature grown from scratch, and used "Bioenergy" (the energy of living things, used to balance the game) to perform its various functions.
Ettins were created by the Shee to help them on their experiments, especially when using machinery. Unfortunately, they made them like machines so much, they tend to steal bits for themselves, often taking them to wherever they consider their home.
C2 Ettins behave rather differently; they tend to lead a sad and lonely life underground with no one but Pitz and the occasional Grendel for company. The backstory in the guides and manual, as well as the opening sequence, reveals that they once lived in the desert at the top of Albia and, true to their nature, built the pyramid that sits there. The actual use (if any) of the pyramid is unknown.
Ettins were introduced into the Creatures universe in C2, having been revealed to the world after the volcanic eruption.
Ettins are used frequently in fanfiction as creatures that can tidy up or be left behind to help Norns.
The Ettins in Creatures 2 were infertile; however, in Creatures 3, there were two Ettins aboard the Shee Ark at most times (both female), and it was possible to get them to breed if two of them were placed in the Gene Splicer machine to create a male Ettin.
In the unmodified games, Grendels do not reproduce, being born infertile (for instance, in the first game, they were born from a " mother", high in the trees. Generally, only one Grendel is alive in the world of Albia at a time. In Creatures 3, two Grendels were alive aboard the Shee Ark at most times (both male), but it was possible to get them to breed and have offspring if both were placed in the Gene Splicer machine and used to create a female Grendel.
In Creatures 3, however, it is possible to ensure that there are no Grendels in the game by killing any existing grendels (e.g. in the airlock) and then waiting by the mother, then placing any eggs into water so that they cannot hatch.
The Grendels were another genetically-engineered creation of the Shee, albeit an accidental one. They were certainly not what the Shee were trying to get as a result from their experiments, and were considered to be harmful, useless monsters. However, some of the evil Shee (known as the Banshee) believed the Grendels were genetically superior to the Norns, and kept some for improvement.
There were six major Creatures releases from Creature Labs. In addition to the three principal games, the Docking Station add-on (generally referenced as a separate game) and two children's games were released.
Docking Station added the possibility of interaction between individual player worlds; Norns could 'travel' to other online worlds via a central server, players could chat to other online players, and it was possible to track Norns (and their offspring) which had been present in their worlds via the Docking Station website. While Docking Station was released late in the series' run, it changed gameplay (and the potential of the series) dramatically. It also expanded considerably on the game mythos, including the introduction of an 'anti-Shee', the Banshee (a Grendel/Shee hybrid), which has since been decanonised.
Encore Software released a "Creatures Trilogy" containing Creatures, Creatures 2, and Creatures 3, under their Encare line. They also released a "gold" version titled "Creatures Trilogy Gold Collection."
The original "Creatures Internet Edition" was released again in 2002 by Focus Multimedia, without the physical manual, as "Creatures Gold," but the disc contents were identical (and so the installer and PDF manual both referred to it as "Creatures Internet Edition").
While the community is almost dead, there are still some large fansites for the game, featuring add-on content as well as articles and other content, and a large Creatures Wiki hosted on Wikia.
A Creatures Community Spirit Festival is held every year to celebrate the Creatures Community. The last CCSF was held at