Cambridge based Creature Labs have announced the release of an addition to the Creatures range of computer games.

Creatures Docking Station is a completely free online title that can be downloaded from the Creature Labs website. The title went through a lengthy open beta testing period and has just been soft-launched.

The title provides a facility for users to find each other and exchange Norns in real time over the Internet from within the game. Once users have found others with whom to link up, they can connect via "warp portals" within the game. Norns themselves can choose to travel or "warp" through wormholes between the players' worlds, visiting any user who is connected to their portal.


"Docking Station has gone through extensive public beta testing and we've seen some incredible results," says Mark Ashton, the title's producer. "It's been fascinating to see what large numbers of the little guys get up to online. Users are able to communicate in ways they never could before. Players have set themselves up old age homes for Norns or Genetic engineering specialists."

"This is also a great title for players with 'always on' and broadband connections as they'll be able to leave the connections open and let their creatures travel as they wish," adds Ashton, "however, it works just as well with slower connections and standard modems."

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Creatures Docking Station is a completely self-contained world for Norns, that behave like real animals due to the CyberLife technology that underpins them. The Norns in Creatures Docking Station display real feelings such as hunger, pain, happiness and boredom and posses a form of virtual DNA, so they can inherit characteristics from their digital ancestors and pass them on to their offspring. The Creatures also posses a neural network for control and learning as well as elementary language skills with which they can communicate with the user and with each other.

Creature Labs also plans on bundling Docking Station with Creatures 3, and this will feature a brand new breed of Creature that's exclusive to the retail boxed title in the upcoming Creatures Internet Edition, but you can download the free Creatures Docking Station for the PC, now from the Creature Labs website.