If you come across a file with the extension META you may assume that it is some kind of system file. This is not the case however. The META file is created by the video game Black and White. It is a proprietary file that contains all of the creature mind meta data. If you are unfamiliar with the game it was a god game released in 2001 by Lionhead Studios. The game revolved around the player as a god trying to accumulate worshipers. The META file is usually paired with a SAV file for the same game. It contains a lot of the data that tells a creature in the game how to behave and interact with its surroundings.
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You will need a copy of Black and White to open and look at the file. You can use a hex editor or text program to open the data in the META file but more than likely it will simply come out gibberish. Black and White was designed by Peter Molyneux and was revolutionary for its day. A lot of what made the game really different and beyond other titles of the day was the simulated intelligence of the god pet that the player had. This pet was the embodiment of the deity that the player represented. It was his avatar on the world inside Black and White. The creature could carry out the wishes and orders of the deity, but did have a mind of its own. This is where the META file comes in. A lot of the actions and motivations of the animal creature where stored and came from the META file.
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More Info Regarding File Extension Meta
There were several different types of animal forms that a deity could get. These included Tigers, Crocodiles, Gorillas, Madrills, Leopards, Apes, Chimpanzees, Cows, Zebras, Sheep,. Tortoises, Wolves, Lions, Bears, and Horses. In addition a player could get access to three other creatures if they hacked the game: the Rhino, Chicken, and Ogre. Each of these different creatures has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. All of the creatures come into the game fairly small but can grow to be quite large. As a god the player tries to teach their creature how to perform certain actions. These include getting food, smashing buildings, chasing worshipers, helping the village or destroying it. It is through the ability to do both good and evil that the game gets its name. As the god a player can choose to reward or punish its creature for its behavior. Rewards are given by stroking and petting the creature, punishment by slapping. When a creature takes an action whether or not it was rewarded or punished will be stored in the META file. This will greatly effect the behavior of the creature moving forward.
It is import that as a player you have goals for your creature and can execute them using the reward and punishment system. As you can see the META file is the brains behind all of the actions of the creature in the game. These META files are associated with the saved games and can not be copied and used with other creatures. There are web pages and guides that can show you how to hack and change the created META file to make your creature do things that would normally not be possible. In this way you can change the motivations and actions of your creature, but this is not supported by the game makers. Planet Black and White is a website that is dedicated to modifying these and other files inside of the game. In addition they have a list of cheats and easter eggs that can be found within the game.
If you run across a file with the META extension and Black and White is not installed it was more than likely created directly by a user and not by some other program. They may have named the file with the META extension on accident. Your best bet is to use either Notepad or Wordpad to open the file up and take a look at it. You may be able to find some clue as to what the file was used for and what program it is associated with.