Sagan 4 Alpha Wiki:Frequently Asked Questions

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This page covers various frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Sagan 4.

Questions about the project

Q: What is Sagan 4?
A: Sagan 4 is a collaborative worldbuilding project where contributors make new species that evolve from previous ones.

Q: I don't understand, can you compare it to something I know about?
A: Sure. Imagine playing Spore's creature stage, but instead of using the creature editor to evolve your creature, you draw it and write down what it does. That's pretty much what we're doing.

Q: Is Sagan 4 a video game like Spore?
A. No, Sagan 4 is a forum game. Being a forum game is actually what makes it preferable to Spore to some people, as Spore and other video games like it can never achieve the level of creative freedom that Sagan 4 offers.

Q: Where can I find all the species?
A: On this wiki. Head over to the Main Page to begin!

Q: Where can I find the current world map?
A: You can find it at the top of the current ecosystem page, or by clicking here!

Q: I don't want to make species, but I still like looking at the art. Is that okay?
A: Yes! You don't have to make species to enjoy Sagan 4 or participate in our community, and we'll like having you around regardless.

Making and submitting species

Q: How do I submit a species?
A: Your first species should be posted as a reply to this forum thread. The format for submissions can be found in the first post of the rules.

Q: I don't have any ideas yet but I still want to participate, how do I start?
A: You have a few different options:

  • Use the "Random Extant Species" button on the sidebar until you see a species that catches your inspiration
  • Use our experimental Idea Finder tool to find species that meet your preferences
  • Ask on the discord server if anyone wants to "swap" (trade species prompts); if anyone's free, they'll offer you a prompt, and you give them a prompt in exchange. Make sure you're ready to actually commit, though--if you flake after your swap partner has finished their end of the trade, they won't be too pleased!

Once you know what you're going to make, you can find where the species lives using the Biome Search tool, cross-reference it with the world map, and work from there! Please feel free to ask for help if you run into any issues.

Q: My art isn't very good, can I still make a species?
A: Most likely, yes. Sagan 4 accepts artists of all skill levels; we consider being able to tell what a creature is and where its body parts are to be more important than how pretty the art is. There are also many options for species that are easier to draw.

Q: I found a species I want to evolve and it's marked as extant, but all the biomes in its habitat list are marked extinct. Is this a mistake? What's going on?
A: No, it's no mistake--the species actually is most likely extant. All species from before generation 166 have outdated habitat lists, because the habitat list only shows the biomes they were present in when they were first submitted to the project and nobody thought to change that until we had far too many species for it to be practical. (No, they weren't stupid; it's mainly that the world map didn't start undergoing changes significant enough for it to actually matter until there were already over a thousand species.)

We're working on a solution so that up-to-date habitat information will be present on the species pages, but for now, you can find a current list of all biomes in which a species is present using the biome search tool.

Q: I made a species in Spore or a similar creature editor, can I use that for art?
A: Sadly, no, for two reasons:

  1. Spore and games like it are inherently limited to what can be made with their pre-made parts. As such, no matter how well-done a creation is, accuracy and detail will always be limited, which can cause important anatomical features to be lost or, worse, appear out of nowhere due to the parts used for approximation.
  2. Spore and similar games have not given us a license to use their models for our project. As such, we could get sued, which would require new art to be made regardless.

However, it is okay to make a creature in Spore first and then redraw it, as long as the redraw corrects any and all anatomical issues caused by Spore's limitations.

Q: Can I use generative AI to draw/write my submission?
A: No, please draw and write it yourself. We understand that many people use generative AI for inspiration, that the human element of inpainting blurs the line between AI and art, and that not everyone has amazing artistic skills, but there's several reasons we cannot allow AI to be used in submissions:

  • Part of the point of Sagan 4 is to provide a medium for practicing your art, writing, and research skills. If you skip all of that with AI, you gain nothing.
  • We actually don't care how good or bad your art is, as long as it's recognizable and reasonably accurate to canon. You can even draw it with a mouse in MS Paint if you want.
  • AI is generally very bad at working with concepts that don't exist or are only rarely posted online, which makes use of AI for speculative evolution in general far more trouble than it's worth. Large language models in particular start to hallucinate (read: say random technical words that sound right) once they hit a dead end, with no obvious signal that it has happened, which could result in completely false information making its way into your submissions.
  • We strongly believe that copyright law will catch up on AI in the next few years and result in the majority of public and premium models, which use unlicensed, copyrighted images and text in their training data, effectively becoming illegal.
    • If this happens, any AI content on the site would need to be removed, which could mean redrawing and rewriting whole submissions and leaving gaping holes in canon.
    • If verdict is that AI-generated content is uncopyrightable, all AI generated submissions would immediately enter the public domain we would be unable to protect submissions from being used by random people to make money.
  • Even if the laws don't change, AI doesn't "invent" new things and often outputs images virtually identical to what was included in the training data. If we're going with the argument that AI works the same way as or is equivalent to a human mind, then it is also capable of cheating and stealing like the human mind, which can get us in legal trouble.

Q: I already drew a creature but I don't know what the ancestor should be, can I submit it?
A: Probably not. The chances that your original concept has a matching ancestor are pretty low, as even our most generic creatures are a little bit different from their counterparts on Earth. For example, we don't really have anything quite like a bird. We recommend looking at canon species for inspiration instead.

Q: But my species is really alien!
A: Sorry, but in that case, there may not be anything even close to a matching ancestor at all. We do have some pretty wacky aliens, but they still might not have the right number of legs, eyes, or other features to match your pre-made concept. Again, we recommend looking at canon species for inspiration.

Q: What kinds of creatures are there for me to make?
A: There's many! We have been working on introductions not only to all living groups of creatures, but also plants and microbes as well.

Alternatively, you can view the full list of every single living species in every single biome here--but be warned, it's really long!

Q: Can my species be sapient/tribal stage?
A: No, species with human-level intelligence are reserved for special events. However, you can make species that are smart and can make and use tools, similar to non-human apes, crows, dolphins, and other smart animals. Just make sure it's obvious that it's still just a smart animal.

Q: I don't understand what you mean by 'evolve', can you explain it?
A: The answer is long; 'evolution' in the context of Sagan 4 is explained with examples here.

Q: Why can't my species have an extinct ancestor?
A: If a species is marked as extinct, it literally has no living representatives for your species to evolve from, even if its extinction was very recent. For example, in real life, it's impossible for a descendant of the woolly mammoth to exist 1 million years from now, because no living woolly mammoths exist to evolve into a descendant.

If this seems confusing, consider the aftermath of an extinction event: when a huge comet struck between generations 124 and 125, no new species evolving in generation 125 could descend from any species that were wiped out by the impact event. Likewise, in real life there was no chance for descendants of Triceratops to appear after the asteroid that killed all non-avian dinosaurs. The same applies to smaller extinctions too, such as from one species outcompeting another.

Q: What if there are secretly survivors?
A: Barring a wiki editor messing up and marking a species as extinct when it wasn't, this is impossible. We keep track of all species that are alive at any given time, even ones in secret, hidden locations such as caves and abyss.

If you think there was a mistake, you should contact a staff member before making a descendant. There might be a cause for extinction that you didn't see.

Q: I really like this piece of media with creatures in it and think it would be cool if something similar existed on Sagan 4. Can I try to evolve it?
A: Please don't. By submitting a species to Sagan 4, you are giving us a license to use it--and legally, you cannot give us a license to use something you do not own the rights to. Also, we don't want to get sued.

Q: Is it okay if I still take some inspiration art- and design-wise? For example, making my species look like it came from Monster Hunter, or putting spots on the cheeks of a cute creature that makes electricity.
A: That's fine, as long as you don't literally submit something from Monster Hunter, or Pikachu with 6 eyes.

Questions about the world

Geography and History

Q: What landmasses and oceans does Sagan 4 have? Does it have any island continents?
A: These are Sagan 4's current major landmasses which are not connected by land bridges:

  • Wallace: The large supercontinent dominating much of the current map, which was formed by the collision of two historic continents, Darwin and Dixon
  • Kosemen: A smaller, cold continent to the southeast of Wallace which is on the same continental plate and shares some species
  • Fermi: A small landmass southwest of Wallace which has been isolated for the past 50 million years
  • Barlowe: A small landmass north of Wallace, which used to be connected to it and shares some of its clades with the Dixon region of Wallace
  • Lamarck: A small landmass on the same continental plate as Barlowe, which has been isolated for over 50 million years but is in the beginning stages of an interchange with its neighboring continent
  • Drake: A cold continent which sits at the north pole, which used to be connected to the Darwin region of Wallace but has been mostly isolated ever since. It also has a large offshore island called Dingus, which only recently split and is still partially connected by a vast mangal region.
  • Ramul: A large island which used to be connected to Drake, but recently became isolated
  • Steiner: A young volcanic island system in close proximity to Ramul
  • Vonnegut: A young volcanic island chain west of Fermi which has been largely populated by descendants of species which rafted from elsewhere

And these are Sagan 4's current oceans:

  • Jujubee Ocean: A large ocean which spans most of the area east of Wallace and extends to both the north and south polar regions, though it is technically also the western half of Mnid Ocean
  • Mnid Ocean: A large ocean which spans most of the area west of Wallace and extends to both the north and south polar regions, though it is technically also the eastern half of Jujubee Ocean
  • LadyM Ocean: The more isolated patch of ocean north of Wallace and east of Barlowe, LadyM Ocean used to be much larger, but it has shrunk due to continental drift.

A number of smaller islands also dot the ocean, especially around where two landmasses are closer together. In addition, there are also the driftwood islands, a collection of thick floating reefs made of rooting organic matter which function as islands in their own right and are present mostly in Jujubee Ocean.

Q: Has Sagan 4 had any mass extinction events? How often do they happen?
A: Sagan 4 has had 3 major mass extinction events since it opened to the public, and one more that happened prior to that. These have included a gamma ray burst, an impact event, and an ice age. Historically, these events happened on landmark generation numbers (the gamma ray burst happening on generation 100) or when the number of extant species exceeded 1000. However, today, they're planned to be more random and arbitrary in their placement.

Q: Will there be a warning ahead of time when a mass extinction event is planned?
A: Yes. We will announce that there will be a mass extinction no fewer than 5 generations (12.5 million years in-universe) before it happens to give everyone time to wrap up their concepts. However, to prevent cheating, we will not announce what causes it until it is imminent.

Q: What's the point of making species if they'll just go extinct?
A: You don't know that they will, but even if they do, their existence can still have a lasting impact on Sagan 4, much as the non-avian dinosaurs had a lasting impact on Earth. Further, it is better to submit your ideas while you can than to regret not doing so once it's too late.

Q: What is Sagan 4's climate like? Is it hot or cold?
A: Much like Earth, Sagan 4's climate varies by latitude and it changes over time. At present, it is slightly warmer than modern Earth, having some polar glaciers but lacking anything like Antarctica.

Q: How has Sagan 4's climate varied in the past?
A: Sagan 4 has mostly maintained a temperate climate somewhat warmer than Earth with subpolar biomes like taiga even in the far north. However, it also went through a considerable ice age spanning Weeks 21, 22, and 23, in the middle of which it went through a period of global glaciation.

Q: Oh god, how did anything survive???
A: Most stuff didn't, it was one of Sagan 4's worst mass extinction events.


Q: Since plents use cellulose, do creatures that eat them need adaptations for herbivory?
A: No. As plents lack cell walls, their meat is largely unprotected from digestive enzymes. Further, as some of their close microbial relatives are common diseases, it's safe to assume most sagan 4 organisms can produce cellulase as part of their immune response, and much like animals on Earth using the chitinase from their immune system to digest insects and mushrooms, Sagan 4 organisms are capable of doing the same.

Q: Are shrogs sapient?
A: In the way an ape or a crow is? Sure. In the way a human is, though? While an argument can be made that they fall under the "non-human persons" umbrella, in terms of their actual abilities, not really. They're smart and adapted for tool use, and they're easy to anthropomorphize, but they do not have natural mental or physical abilities that would allow them to build a civilization. The same is true of Sagan 4's other smart creatures, apart from the three canon sophonts.

Q: What are the three canon sophonts?
A: Nomad, Sagon, and Tripodician.

Questions about the wiki

Q: Why can't I edit the wiki?
A: As we are a small team and Sagan 4 has a disproportionately large appeal, we made the decision to prevent most users from editing the wiki. One of the main contributing factors was to prevent anyone from adding their unauthorized fan species.

Q: Can I have edit access?
A: Join the forum or discord with the links on the sidebar to discuss it with the Sagan 4 team.

Q: Why can't I just add my fan species? It's so good and I made sure it fully fits with the world and everything!
A: You can't know that until you have actually read the rules, which requires that all species MUST go through the proper review process. Please consider joining the project officially--if your fan species truly fits in and follows all the rules, it will be approved.

Discord-specific questions

Q: If I can apply to join the team through Discord, why do I have to use the forum for submissions?
A: We want to keep submissions in one place. If we allowed species to be submitted through both the forum and discord, it would be much harder to keep track of everything. We added the ability to apply through Discord to make applications faster and more accessible, but once you've been accepted onto the team you will need to use the forum.

Q: Why is every species on Sagan Bot extinct on the wiki?
A: Not all of them are, but you are right--most are. This is because the bot is very far behind, still being on species made before 2008. There were multiple mass extinction events between then and now.

Q: Why is Sagan Bot so far behind?
A: There are well over 5,000 canon species. All of them have to be added by hand. This only takes a few minutes per species, but those minutes add up, it's exhausting, and there are other things that need to be done, so it's low priority.

Q: Why can't I talk in the introductions channel anymore/after being verified?
A: Only absolute newbies, approved Sagan 4 team members, and designated greeters may speak in that channel now. This was a decision we made after repeated issues where users with no investment in the community and very little knowledge of the project would greet newcomers with misinformation or post inappropriate speculation on why someone left the server--both of which would confuse newcomers and drive some of them away. We chose to control who has greeting rights in order to stop such things from happening in the literal first channel a newcomer is likely to visit.