HomeGame GuidesInstalling mods in Docking Station/Creatures 3 - Creatures Docking Station

Installing mods in Docking Station/Creatures 3 – Creatures Docking Station

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By SpaceSR

Where to find modded content, and a breakdown of folders and filetypes.

Introduction

So you just downloaded Docking Station for the first time, or you’re returning after a decade or more, and the space is starting to feel cramped, or you saw some wonderful screenshots of colourful norns, and you want to add them to your game.

(Primavera norn hybrids, art by Mairenn)

Docking Station is easily moddable, almost everything in game can be replaced, tweaked or added to. We have rooms and new breeds. Lots of animals, plants and toys. There are teleporters, movable elevators, utilities of all sorts to mess with norns, such as biochemistry graphs and random egg splicers, and finally for the more experienced users: UI mods, and scripts that heavily modify your game (such as enabling breeding between species or same-sex creatures).

A brief history

The Creatures community has history of modding that’s just as old as the Elder Scrolls series (Creatures 1 and Daggerfall were both released in 1996!). The distribution of these mods however was never really organised in a Nexus or single forum, but spread out over many personal websites. After the disappearance of Geocities, and the slow exodus of community members as no new games were coming out, folks became concerned with how easily we could lose access to important mods, and started downloading them en-masse, burning them to CDs, even sharing them as P2P “dumps” of hundreds of mod files.

Where to find mods

“Oh no, that sounds like a mess”, I hear you say. Well, luckily the situation has improved these days. We have multiple archives and repositories even as we wonder if Workshop integration will ever be possible.

Creatures Caves[creaturescaves.com]

This was the last surviving forum for most of the 2010’s, until the discords and subreddit picked up. Along with the now mostly dormant forum boards, it has archives for mods, norn adoptions, art and game guides. The link will take you to the download page where you can pick a category and start browsing. The search function can be a little slow, and a few of the mods may link to a page that is no longer working, but it’s the easiest way to discover new mods or find something you don’t remember the exact name of, because the categories and item descriptions should help.

EemFoo’s Archive[eemfoo.org]

This is the ultimate archive, every mod that has not been lost is here in some form. Once you know the name of the mod you’re looking for, you can hit ctrl-f on your browser and use that to search or it.

Better ways to search Eem Foo are in the works, but for now you’re better off using one of the other sites to search for mods and find out what they do first. Zips do usually include a readme with credits and some information, but that depends on the original mod author.

Creatures Wiki[creatures.wiki]

The wiki is a good way to search for a specific mod author to see what else they have done, and look at their original site information (usually through an web.archive.org link, but many modders are still active.)

Just make sure you’re using Creatures.wiki and not the Creatures.fandom that will come up in google searches: it’s an outdated, broken wiki.

Community sites

If you want some direct help, check the Creatures Discord or the subreddit at r/CreaturesGames.

Installing mods

Mods can come in a variety of files, but most downloads will consist of a single Agent file to put in My Agents, or have pre-sorted folders so you can just copy everything over and have it go to the right place. Always read the enclosed readme to check for other instructions.

In case something’s gone awry or needs patching, I’ll do a rundown of all the file extensions you’re likely to encounter, so you know how to handle any possible conflicts.

My Norns

.ds.creature files go here. They contain a single creature that has been exported from a world (here is where norns disappear to when you hit “export” in the top-right panel and they vanish in a puff of sci-fi blue) They can be exchanged with other users or imported to a different world. An imported creature disappears from the folder, but if you want to back up a creature you can safely make copies of it, the game handles clones just fine.

Note that since DS is actually an update to C3, norns that were exported from DS can no longer be imported to C3 standalone!

My Agents

Agents, and use a .agents extension are interactables from plants to food to extra sidebar doodads. If you’re a returning player, you might remember that in Creatures 1 and 2 these were called “COBs” for “Creatures OBjects”.

Agent agent agent agent… (ft. the Medical Monitor by Emmental)

Most mods you download, even whole metarooms and breeds, will come as one Agent file: plop it in My Agents and you’re done! In game, you will need to inject instances of them with this:

C3 has it’s own injector, but the DS one is better

Agent files can come “packed” for convenience, containing their own sprites, sounds, etc. and extracting those automatically to the right folders the first time they’re injected. Breeds can come as packed .agents too.

This can be problematic when removing mods (you have to remove more files than you added, hence why Workshop compatibility is dubious), plus .agents files won’t extract again and overwrite any files that are already there, so if you change your mind and want to replace a breed you’ll have to first pull out the images one by one!

Images

Sprite files, .c16, go here. This folder contains the images for items, UI and norns as spritesheets. Note a lot of images following a specific naming scheme, such as “a10b.c16”: these are your creatures’ various body parts. The wiki has specifics[creatures.wiki].

Sounds

Sound files use .wav. The ingame music as well, in a specific format called .mng that contains sample sounds and a script that plays them in dynamic intervals. Yup, it’s *procedurally generated!*

Note that playing Docking Station without having C3 means you don’t have sounds for ettins and grendels, which may cause errors if you adopt one of those creatures from some other user and import it in your world (the sprites instead will happily default to norns sprites). You can get grendel sounds by installing the free breeds DLC which includes Banshee grendels!

Body Data

Joint files, .att , go here: these are only present in breeds but they are essential to them looking right. If you’re installing a breed that is not packed into a single agent, it’ll have a bunch of these: they’re sets of coordinates that say where the foot sprite connects to the shin sprite, and so on.

Strange things happen when your .att files don’t match the sprites. o_o (image by KaizarNike)

Some modders, especially back in the day, neglected to add .att files because the default ones worked just fine for them-some modders (and the official breed packs!) mistakenly added extra ones for other breed slots. If you download many breeds, you’ll sooner or later find something broken. There might be patches for it, ask! Some breeds will never crossbreed nicely: Creatures 1 converted breeds for example will look hunchbacked when crossed with standard breeds. Avoid breeding them, or try to enjoy the derp.

Genetics

In summary, when you download a breed, you will usually have a .agents file, many .c16 and .att files to put in images and Body Data respectively, and finally a .gen and .gno file, containing the creature’s genetics. Those go here.

Some breeds come with new images but just basic “Chichi genomes”, chichis are the basic purple Docking Station norns, so this means those breeds will act as vanilla norns do. Others might have genetic modifications to match their looks, for example, Magma norns love heat. Sometimes they are so different as to be incompatible: Toxic norns take damage from healthy food, so crossbreeds might be incompatible with life.

Some breeds called “genetic breeds” have no new images but just come as agents and gene files, eg. the many variants of peaceful grendels that can coexist with your norns.

Nowadays experienced players use a variety of updated fan genomes, such as the CFE [creatures.wiki], CFF or TWB[creatures.wiki] norns. These come as genome replacers or as downloads of single creatures, it’s advisable to stick to one type: Vanilla, CFE or TWB, as interbreeding them may create some really broken creatures. My personal advice to newbies is to stick to vanilla while learning: the other genomes are created to be more interesting and realistic, not necessarily more robust.

Catalogue

.catalogue files can be read via Notepad. Many are ingame help/info files you can view ingame with the Agent Help

. Some agents use .catalogue files for text-based functions, most notably Amaikokonut’s Protective Tub autonamer[creatures.wiki] allows you to add your own words to a creature name generator by listing them in a file.

Bootstrap

This is the one you should worry about. Mods cited so far are things you can add and remove from within the game, but .cos files are scripts that are loaded every time you start a new world. This means they’re the likeliest culprit if you’ve broken your game. Patches and UI modifications usually come as .cos files, and the included help file will specify where in the subfolders to put your .cos file.

Add these one at a time so you can see if something breaks, really: other mods you can safely binge on because you will see the specific one break, diagnosing .cos file errors is harder.

If you’re replacing something, backup your old .cos *outside* the bootstrap folder, as the game might keep reading it even if you try to plop it in a dummy folder as long as it’s still in Bootstrap.

Some modification present in many community guides are now included with the Steam version, so you don’t need those patches anymore. For example, you don’t need a Login Disabler, or the Umbilical Fix, so make sure to read the Steam patch notes before downloading random patches.

Injecting .cos files

.cos files won’t automatically be added to an *existing* world. So, if you add a new patch and want to retroactively add it to a new world, or if some ingame element breaks, you can peek in this folder (usually Bootstrap/010 Docking Station) open ctrl-shift-c for the command line and type

ject “filenamehere.cos” 7. For example if your doors bugged out and vanished, type ject “doors.cos” 7, and they should reappear.

Other

Backgrounds will contain .blk files for map backgrounds, My Worlds contains your worlds (they can be backed up and renamed from here) and inside those worlds you can see your creatures’ genetics files to play with. There’s a few other folders but nothing that I’ve ever had to touch.

Creatures 3 standalone injection

Creatures 3 is a bit more “gamified” than DS and requires Bioenergy to inject agents. the Injector is in the engineering section, to the right of the bridge, and might need some powerups to be collected to work properly. The Creatures 3 injector does not have a full panel, just a forwards and back button to scroll through the whole Agent list, so I’d suggest not adding too many agents.

Remember also that C3 came earlier than DS and many DS agents won’t be compatible, others will have distinct versions, make sure to pick the correct one. Drop agents meant for C3 in the Creatures 3 folder, I’m fairly sure it won’t be able to read any files from Docking Station. This also goes for norns, as I’ve mentioned in passing, DS norns are entirely incompatible with C3 standalone.

In general, I’d suggest playing Creatures 3 standalone only for the nostalgia and the fun of discovering it’s various secrets and playing with the ecology. If you want to do some heavy modding, use the improved DS engine to load a “docked” world with both the Capillata and the Shee ark linked to have the best of both worlds.

Advanced injection

There are a few mods that modify the way you add other mods. This guide isn’t meant to be a modlist but I’d feel remiss not to mention at least some of these. Many of these are made by Amaikokonut/Aiko and available on Naturing :: Nurturing[naturingnurturing.blogspot.com].

The Advanced Muco mod adds a button to the Docking Station hatchery “Muco”, which provides it with a panel to see multiple breeds at once, rather than having to click through them one by one, simply an essential mod once you have dozens of different breeds to choose from!

Seru comes in different flavors, from the original to the automated Drop Point. This is a hatchery that mixes many random genomes and creates weird mutants.

The Garden Box[creatures.wiki] is a particular injector which many different users have made items for: it allows you to customize your world by adding decorations and ecology elements, especially the “patch plants”, which can grow food steadily for your creatures- a must have for more crowded worlds.

It’s 2 am and my head’s swimming. will finish tomorrow.

note: find that c3 injection window for ds thing, and that cool c3 based splicing hatchery I used once. anything i’m missing here? pm me on discord or something.

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