Friday, January 9, 2009

The Order of the Griffin: “Weird Science: Fantasy and Microchips...Magic and Technology”*

Today we've got a guest post from devoted reader neko-chan about a website called The Order of the Griffin. Enjoy!

What is better than watching your very own griffin egg hatch? Watching a scientific griffin egg hatch, of course! Following in the footsteps of sites like Dragon Cave and Pure Felinity, The Order of the Griffin is a virtual hatchery site where you can collect eggs, raise griffins, and breed them; all according to actual principles of biology (Don’t worry; this game is G-rated).

The site was created to introduce people to the fundamentals of genetic cross-breeding (genotypes, gametes, and dominant vs. recessive alleles) in a fun and creative format: mythical creatures.

spotted griffin cubBy examining the features of the parent griffins – such as base colour, shading, colour limiters, oil-sheen, breed patterns, and white patches – a player can begin to predict the outcome of the children. Some players try to re-create specific types of griffins, whereas I enjoy trying to create new and exotic-looking offspring by matching up fairly odd parents.

The game also incorporates environmental controls, such as incubation temperature and nest-gems, which can affect the gender and colour of chicks and cubs. To help those of us who slept our way through science class as students, the site has also included handy-dandy punnett squares to help see possible outcomes of certain pairings.

young female griffinUnlike other “virtual pet” sites, this is not a Tamagotchi’s ugly step-sister. You do not have to feed your pet, play with it, clean up after it, hire a babysitter for it, wait for other people to click on it, go on a quest for it, take it to the doctor, build a house for it, enter a competition with it, shake trees to gather bells for it, or generally spend every 5 minutes rooted in front of your computer interacting with your pet until you go insane and chuck the game out the window where it is promptly run over by a 1000 pound truck.

The ultimate goal of the site is simply to watch the eggs hatch and see the various outcomes. There is also a forum where members can talk about the game and get tips, as well as an FAQ for the scientifically challenged.

young male griffinTo get started, players can either rescue eggs from “the wild,” adopt griffins abandoned by other players, or have friends gift them a griffin.

Once you have a pair of adults, you can have them start a nest of eggs. Alternately, you can also lend “studs” to other players, as the ratio of male to female griffins is quite low.

It is a good idea to mix up one’s flock often, as there is a built-in “inbred” meter to stave off the creation of depraved mutant griffins. ::shudder::

The site advises moderation in game-play, limiting the number of griffins you can own, as well as how often you can rescue and breed them.

regal male griffinFor example, members can only own 20 adult griffins at a time, and can only cross-breed once per day. This not only keeps the bunny-effect in check, but encourages players to make wise choices about which griffins they keep in their flock.

If players find a griffin they really like, they can save a rather snazzy certificate of that griffin’s pedigree and picture to their computer.

The Order of the Griffin is currently in the beta-testing stage, so new players have the opportunity to experiment with, comment on, and make suggestions for improvement to the game. Many of the players so far are actual scientists or game designers, and have been working to constantly enhance game-play. I would recommend this site to anyone 10 years or older who cute griffin chickeither has an interest in mythology or genetics, as well as to anyone who has a weakness for all things cute.

*Lyrics copyright of Oingo Boingo and the 80’s

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I miss this game so much. ;^; Why Jeno!? Why did you have to abandon your creation and leave it to fade away!?

For those who don't understand: The creator abandoned the site and it is now shut down forever. Y^Y No one even knows where or why Jeno left. She just simply stopped logging in, without a single explanation as to why.

I mourn the loss of one of my favorite games. It truly was a magnificent learning experience.