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A Guide to Mac Agenteering

So you want to make an agent for Creatures 3 or Docking Station, but you're on a Mac? No worries! I'll guide you through the basics and beyond, and before long you'll be a pro. Just keep your head and your patience; agenteering can be tricky, whatever OS you use.

I. Get Prepared

1. Make an Alias

The first thing you need is gain access to the Creatures data files. Control-click (or right-click) the Docking Station app in your Applications directory and choose "Show Package Contents." From there, go to Contents/MacOS and make an alias (ctrl-click and choose "Make Alias") of the data folder there. You can put this alias on the desktop or wherever you like; it's just to make it easy to get at your agents, images, etc.

2. Get Your CAOS Guide

In Creatures, press control-shift-c to open the CAOS command line. This is where you can write code that immediately affects your game, but for now we'll just use it to generate the CAOS guide. Type:

file oope 1 "CAOS alphabetical.html" 0 dbg: html 0 file oclo

and hit return. Then type:

file oope 1 "CAOS categorical.html" 0 dbg: html 1 file oclo

and hit return again. In [Home]/Library/Preferences/Creature Labs/Docking Station/data/Journal, you'll find two html files. Open them in Safari (or your browser of choice) and you get a full listing of the CAOS commands, plus a lot of other useful stuff. This will be indispensable once you start making your own agents.

3. Install the Tools

Every agenteer needs his tool box. There aren't many Creatures development tools for the Mac, but a Java library called Jagent does the job admirably. First you need the latest version of Java, then go ahead and get Jagent. It includes Edos, a sprite editor, and Monk, a PRAY compiler and decompiler.

A solid text editor is also a must. You can use TextEdit, but make sure you go to the Format menu and select "Make Plain Text" whenever you work with Creatures files. I prefer to use a dedicated plain text editor like Smultron, which has cool features like tabbed editing.

To create good-looking graphics for your agents, you'll want to spend some time learning Blender, a 3D modeler, and the GIMP, a Photoshop-like image editor (which requires X11 be installed from your Mac OS X install disks). Of course, you may be satisfied with a more basic image editor such as Seashore.

If you want to make your own sound effects, you'll need a sound editor. Audacity will do nicely. I won't talk much about sounds later, so here's what you need to know: save files in WAV format, and give them four-character names (no more, no less, and no spaces; for whatever reason sound files alone suffer this filename limitation).

When you're ready to share your agents with the world, you'll want to zip them up, in which case it's time for YemuZip. This may seem like a lot of programs to install, but each one pulls its weight. And best of all, they're all free!

4. Reserve Some Scripts

Before you start distributing agents, you need to reserve some script numbers. Every agent is uniquely identified by a classification number, and if yours uses a number already in somebody's world, it'll cause some weird things to happen. I'll talk more about classifiers later, but for now be aware that you'll need to reserve a range at some point.

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