bandicam 2015-03-06 10-17-15-597

Wow. Remember when I blogged about games besides Creatures? Me, too. Don’t worry, we’ll return to our regularly schedules Creatures stuff, but I wanted to take a break and check out something kinda different.

If you hadn’t guessed from my previous looks at Aquazone Deluxe 2 With Guppies, I love fish and I love keeping fish. I used to keep a fresh water aquarium back home in Okinawa but now I keep a tarantula in that tank. (Speaking of, if you know of any good tarantula-pet sims, you let me know, ok?) Anyway…

bandicam 2015-03-06 10-39-18-640 copyToday, I’m looking at El-Fish. I know very little about this game besides the fact that it’s about fish and, apparently, I can catch, evolve, breed and animate them, according to this menu. I can also edit and view tanks and there’s a slide show feature. The question mark (?) at the bottom opens the help menu.The libraries are where you manage your tanks, fish and other things. You can delete, rename and import new objects from the library, which is handy if you want to share fish and tanks with other users. Not a feature I’m likely to use, but it’s interesting all the same.

bandicam 2015-03-06 10-44-16-684 copyNot having any guidance, beside the manual that I hadn’t yet read, I decided to start by checking out the “Catch” menu. I selected a location with the hook and started automatically catching fish. I stopped when I’d caught 7 since that seemed to be a good place to start. Then, I was given a chance to look at each fish. Here’s what I caught.

fishiesOf course, now that I had these fish, I must’ve had to do something with them (and eating them wasn’t an option). Checking out the “evolve” option next revealed that there were already fish in the game that I could play with. Either way, I wanted to evolve one of the fish I’d caught.

I chose F0 and pressed “Evolve”. Like catching the fish, evolving was an automatic process. I could move the variation sliders but otherwise, the process was very hands off. I selected a few of the fish that I’d liked and went back to check out the breed option.

bandicam 2015-03-06 11-06-06-910 copyBecause of their similarity to each other, I chose these two “evolved” versions of F0, F9 and F10. They were also somewhat similar to each other, and I wanted to see if I could get a strain of fish from them. I cleared my other fish from the records to make things simpler.

bandicam 2015-03-06 11-15-28-368 copyI’d also turned down the shape variation and turned up the color variation just to see what would happen. Out of sheer luck, I got two offspring that looked identical to each other. When I bred them with the variation high, they still produced offspring that didn’t look terribly like them. I doubted this game had complex genetics, but it was still fun to play around with the sliders and see what offspring the game would produce.

bandicam 2015-03-06 11-34-20-684 copyFinally, I took F9, F10, F18 and F19 into the Animation menu to see what that would do. I had to wait a while for the animation process to complete and I watched the frames compile. Not especially thrilling, but interesting for a few moments or so. Actually, watching my fish render isn’t unlike waiting for a video to render. Thankfully, I had my knitting to keep me occupied while I waited.

I’d also taken some time to read the manual and found that the game is really just about playing with the fish to make tanks and fish that appealed to you. It’s like a fish-based, fancy, less user-driven version of Spore. With less gameplay. At least it’s honest when it says it’s about making cool looking animals and little else (BA-ZING).

Naturally, and especially because I love fish tanks and decorating fish tanks, this meant that once rendering was done, I had to do something artsy with the tanks. I found that the plants were less stock than I thought and were also randomly generated based on the room you gave them to grow. It’s a neat idea and well implemented.

Many new fish and one stock tank later, this is what I created. See the music attribution below the video – the stock music isn’t great. Normally, I’d have used a .gif here, but the video (hilariously) produced a smaller file size.

“Carefree” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

And that’s it! You make fish that you like, tanks that you like and then sit back and watch the fish. It’s a relaxing program, but the rendering wait is killer if you don’t have anything else to do in the meantime (which, honestly, I normally do). The game is abandonware, so you can find it pretty much anywhere abandonware can be found. It needs DosBox to run on most modern computers.

If you make any fish or tanks of your own, make sure to share them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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Species 2014-11-29 23-48-09-019Not that it was especially surprising, but the population actually went up and started to threaten the population cap when it floated over 800. Toying with the ecology helped take their numbers down to about 350, though. I slowly raised the water level to give most of the creatures time to reach shore and I increased the fertility to compensate for smaller available land. Eventually, the area was split up into islands and the total population dipped to a meager 150. I boosted the land’s fertility.

When I was finished, the Water level reached 0.6, and the fertility of the land was 0.8 but the limited land prevented huge populations – despite the increased fertility of the land, creatures were still competing for food and bald, eaten patches of earth started to show through. With three separate islands, however, I had a new environmental influence in my world. The population’s rise and fall was starting to become cyclic as food came and went.

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Finally, the islands were mostly separated and the creatures were starting to look more and more interesting. My favorite of the four above is probably the brown pig-like creature. They’re cute in a way.

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Species 2014-11-29 23-04-35-779Slowly but surely, it was getting drier and less green inland.

This left wetter, more fertile areas more densely populated. It might have increased populations but with the number of species sitting around 30 and the number of individuals over 700, it seemed like competition wasn’t enough. I do like to think that my rovers had a hand in these large numbers, though.

To get numbers back down and more sustainable, I decided to decrease the water level again. While I waited for levels to go down, I took these.

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I toyed around with more ways to make life more difficult for the creatures, including putting up fences, adding and removing climate control machines, etc. The number of species increased as the total population decreased, though. I decided to add a rover to feed creatures with high Energy Capacity – creatures that can store more food and energy in their bodies.

As numbers continued to decrease, I took some time to enjoy the watering hole. It was quickly becoming my favorite area to explore

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It was probably because of the water that the creatures were able to survive – water meant the plants would be plentiful. The greenery itself also kept things visually interesting, but that’s not to say the coast wasn’t interesting in its own right.

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Species 2014-11-29 23-27-03-554Coastal creatures were just as varied and seemed to have no qualms about exploring inland. As for the large desert areas, there were no large herds. It seemed the animals were most interested in lush areas with food, which makes sense. I did start to wonder whether there would soon be carnivores, though.

A quick search through all the species showed that no, there were no carnivores or herbivores, all the species were still Omnivorous. I thought it would be time for another change, though. I lowered the water level to 0.1 and increased the fertility by 0.1. Less water was bad news but extra fertility might be enough to make up for the loss.

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Species 2014-11-29 22-45-42-239It was starting to look like the number of species I had on my hands was increasing but it’s important to note that early species often only reach a population of 2 before dying off in this game.

More interesting is that the dominant species, Primum specium has more variety in its members than in the world as a whole at the time of taking these pictures.

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  These animals are all Primum specium.

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I didn’t stop at observing the native species, however. I also took some time to toy with the environment. The first two pictures above show a machine I used to increase the fertility of the land around it to 0.75, just enough to gradually increase the fertility and maintain a reasonable level of food and on the right is a picture of a lake I flooded by increasing the water level by 0.1.

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I took to sight seeing for a while and took some screenshots of some interesting animals I’d spotted. The bottom right picture is of the fertile patch I’d created with that machine from earlier. With 28 resident species and a population easily over 600, I decided to reduce the land’s average fertility by 0.1.

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