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slayemin

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  1. In India, labor is ridiculously CHEAP. You can hire an armed guard to protect your business and pay him $0.03 PER DAY. Three cents per day. To have someone standing outside your building, risking their life to protect your assets. In India, labor is SO cheap that if the thermostat for an air conditioner breaks, it is literally cheaper to pay a guy to walk into each room, hold up a thermometer for 10 minutes, and adjust the temperature manually, than to pay to replace the thermostat. So, that's what they do. A guy spends his whole day walking from room to room, holding up a thermometer to measure the room temp because he's cheaper than the $40 cost to replace a part. Here's another example: In India, it is more expensive to pay for the electricity to operate a ceiling fan than it is to have an Indian spend all day waving a fan around manually. It's mind blowing. Labor in India is so cheap that Indians who get a PhD, move to America and take on a prestigious, well paying job, can't actually function properly. Instead, these PhD's will quit their jobs and move back to India and take on jobs which pay $15/hour. Why is a PhD working for $15/hour in India instead of making 6 figures in America? Because... labor is so cheap, that these people can pay for a massive household staff to do everything for them. Laundry. Cooking. House cleaning. Child care. Everything, for pennies. The Indians just can't handle living on their own in Western countries because they don't have slave labor anymore -- so, they move back home and live a great lifestyle. Now, you can't really have a productive discussion about automation and AI without acknowledging rock bottom wages and the impacts globalism has on labor.
  2. https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/blog
  3. F.O.B: Forward Operating Base

    I personally would make this game closer to reality and introduce some mechanics related to real life. When a country goes to war, they don't enter a war when they're broke and have no resources. They invade with a massive, overwhelming military force. So, the economic system is backwards. Instead of resources being limited, you have an abundance of resources available for disposal. I was stationed at Camp Fallujah, which was a former base occupied by the Iraqi Republican Guard, so there was a lot of infrastructure already in place. We had walls, builds, barracks, and a ton of other pre-existing infrastructure to fall in on. A lot of the infrastructure needed to be renovated (ie, wiring rerun, walls painted, buildings repaired, etc). The walls had guard towers placed about 200 meters apart and we had 24 hour watches, some guard towers being manned by third country nationals (outsourced to ugandan contractors). We also had entry control points (ECP's) manned jointly by US and Iraqi troops, and these were usually heavily fortified. Another interesting idea is that you could choose which country you want to use as your nation. Each country could have different units and capabilities. Generally, a FOB will have lots of firepower, so attacking it directly is usually a mistake. But, there are often coordinated attacks at ECP's. Indirect fire (mortars, rockets, artillery) can be a common source of casualties. I don't know how you can work this in. Money comes once a year or once a quarter. The amount of money you get is a function of your host nations "political will" for continuing the war. Your actions influence the political will. Losing a lot of troops reduces it, having victories increases it, creating propaganda increases it, etc. Command staff usually get a morning briefing about the battlefield situation. Usually every battle staff section goes through and gives a report. They're usually the following: G1 - Staffing and administration G2 - Intelligence reports (human intelligence, ISR, sigint, etc) G3 - Current Operations G4 - Supply & Logistics G5 - Future Ops (planning) G6 - Communications METOC - Weather reports & operational impacts PAO - Public Affairs Office (reporting on media reports) Civil Affairs - Humanitarian aid and civilian/military interface There's also some daily command and control stuff, reports of combat action, responses to previous requests for intel (RFI) reports, etc. These could be NPC officers you assign to various positions, and based on performance, could get promotions. You might also consider some officers or soldiers do bad conduct types of things and need to be punished with demotions, firings, pay cuts, brig, hard duty, etc? On the FOB, you'd sometimes have a FOB Mayor, who is responsible for running the whole fob, ensuring we have electricity, clean water, food, protection, etc. Local security forces would be responsible for walls, sandbags, guard posts, guard duty, gate guards, etc. If there are friendly forces engaged with the enemy somewhere, a quick reaction force would be dispatched from the base to go help (sort of like a fire truck, but shoot people).
  4. F.O.B: Forward Operating Base

    Looks pretty cool! Not quite reflective of the experiences I had living on a FOB, but hey, this is supposed to be a game, not real life Keep it up, I think you'll do pretty well once you're ready to release.
  5. C# Basic C# quiz

    Looks okay to me, if I was really familiar with C# and its syntax. The higher level question you should me asking is, "Am I looking for a programmer or am I looking for someone who knows C#?" Your questions focus a bit on both programming and understanding C# syntax, but not knowing C# while knowing programming would make some otherwise good programmers struggle a bit. Generally, my rule of thumb is to avoid asking programming questions where the answer is a quick google search away.
  6. Spellbound: Winter Update

    I took the last two weeks of December off for holidays, so no production was done for Spellbound during that time. I met up with my friend Russel (Magforce7) for an afternoon at my office and gave him a demo of Spellbound in VR. He works for Firaxis, so it was interesting to compare notes on development and production. Without a doubt, he's a lot more experienced with production and development, so I tried to glean as many tips and tricks as I could. It was also his first time trying VR, so I gave him a bunch of quick VR demos so that he could get familiar with the medium and how to interface with it. It's interesting to compare the differences between producing a traditional video game vs. a room scale VR video game. In terms of production, I've written out the complete narrative manuscript for Episode 1 of Spellbound and have begun shopping it around to anyone willing read it. It's not "done" by any stretch, it's just the first draft, and the first draft is always going to be susceptible to lots of revisions. Currently, it's about 40 pages in length. That's about what I had expected. Now, I need to go through and do a ton of polishing passes. I think of the story sort of like one of those JPG images which loads over a slow internet connection. The very first version of the image is this highly artifacted mess which barely holds a semblance to the actual image, but with each pass, the resolution of the image improves and the details get more refined each time, until you end up with a perfectly clear image. With regards to writing narrative for a VR game, I think the pass process is going to be a lot more convoluted. The first pass is just trying to write the story itself and figure out what the story even is. The writer explores a bunch of different directions and the final product is the choices by the writer which yield the most interesting story. But, you can't just take the story of a writer and plop it into a VR game and call it perfect. In fact, the writer must keep in mind the medium they're writing for and what the capabilities of that medium are. If you're writing a script for a movie, you have to think about what scenes you're going to create and possibly consider a shot list, and also think about the actors who will portray your characters and the acting style. You can effectively frame the shot of the scene to show exactly what you want the audience to see. That's a great amount of power and control over the audience experience. Writing for VR is completely backwards. I have to preface this by saying that I'm a novice writer and have never written a script, much less, a script for VR, so take my words with a hefty grain of salt. My writing technique mostly consists of putting myself into the body of the character. I am that character. That character has a personal history. A personality. A style. Stated interests, and unstated secret interests and ambitions. Character flaws, and character strengths. I see the scene from the eyes of the character, see the state of the world, listen to what was just said, and then react based on the traits of my embodied character. The character should always be trying to progress their ambitions. Character conflict should happen when ambitions collide. When it comes to VR games, the protagonist is the player themselves, so you have to keep in mind that the protagonist has agency which the writer can't control. They experience the story from the first person perspective, through the eyes of the character they embody. So, whatever happens to the main character also happens to the player. With VR, the player brings their own body and hands into the scene, so those are things the writer can interface with. Maybe the player gives a bow to a king? What if they don't bow before royalty? Maybe when you meet a new character, they extend a hand to give a handshake? What happens if you don't shake their hand? Maybe a character comes forward to give the player a huge hug? The secret sauce for VR is finding these new ways to develop interpersonal connections with characters in the world and using that to drive story and player experience. I try to keep this at the forefront of my mind when writing for VR -- first hand player experience is king. I also want to give my characters depth, so I do this mostly through subtle narrative exposition, mostly in the form of ambient banter between characters. For the sake of simplicity of production, the main character doesn't have narrative conversation choices. This means I don't have to create conversation trees or user interfaces for dialogue choices and the flow of dialogue can be seamless and uninterrupted. I am starting to audition for character voices. I've got a list of local voice actor talents and am asking a few of them to send me a few demo lines from the manuscript and a quote for their day rates. It's hugely inspiring to hear the voices of the characters saying the lines I've written. It feels like these characters might actually exist somewhere outside of my imagination, and I owe it to them to give them the very best lines I can come up with to portray their nature and ambitions correctly. A few people have read my manuscript and given mostly positive feedback, so that suggests that I'm roughly on the right track. I'm going to spend a few days taking it to various writers meet up groups and getting critical feedback, so this will help me immensely to get to a higher level of polish and clarity. If you're interested in reading the manuscript and my production notes, feel free to read the google doc and supply feedback in the comments below: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IvNYNf9NqtdikD6UZuGq-rUo9yU5LVqqgIlWsz6n2Qs/edit?usp=sharing (Note: It's a work in progress, so you can see changes happening live as I edit it.) The ideal is to write a story which is so compelling that it grabs people and makes them want to read it. I want to be able to drop a 40 page manuscript in someones lap and tell them to read it. They'll be thinking, "oh god, more bullshit. I don't want to read this crappy novice writing. I'll humor them and read two pages." So, they read two pages. It's good. They decide to read another page. It's also good. In fact, it's getting better. They turn to the next page to keep going. Wow. It's actually a decent story. They keep turning pages. Forty pages later, they're surprised to have read the whole thing and they are left wanting more. It's a pleasant surprise. The story should be good enough that it stands strongly on its own legs. It doesn't need anything else to be a compelling experience. Now, if you experience the same story in VR, and characters act out their lines, and the voice acting is stellar, the experience of the story is just multiplied by the talent and quality. This is the ideal I'm shooting for. Spellbound will be a story centered VR game, rather than a game which happens to have a shallow story layered on top. It's worth taking the time to nail the story and get it right, so I'm taking my time. When the manuscript is complete, I'll have voice actors voice out each of the characters. I really don't want to have to do a lot of dialogue resamples, so I need to make sure that the first time a line is voiced is also the last time it's voiced. The goal is to avoid revisions. So, how do I do this? My current plan is to polish the story and get it as close to perfection as possible. Hiring voice actors costs money. When I drop voiced lines into the game, I am going to need to know whether the line works in the current scene with the current context. So, a part of the creative writing process will require for me to experience the scene and adapt the writing for context and length through a bunch of iterations. I'm going to voice act my own characters with a crappy headphone mic and use these assets as placeholders. It'll be a really good way for me to quickly iterate on the character interactions and player experience. I kind of feel silly, like I'm just playing with dolls who are having a conversation with each other. But hey, maybe that's really the core of script writing in hollywood too? On a personal note, I've decided to give up all social media for a month. No facebook, no twitter, no reddit, no youtube, etc. The primary reason is because it costs me too much time. Typically, my day starts by waking up, pulling out my laptop and checking twitter and facebook for updates to my news feed. That costs me about 30-45 minutes before I get out of bed. Then I go to work. I get to work an hour later, start a build or compile, and since it's going to take 5 minutes to complete, I decide "Hey, I'll spend five minutes checking facebook while I wait.". That five minutes turns into twenty minutes without me realizing it. And this happens ten times a day. I can easily waste hours of my day on social media without consciously realizing it. It adds up, especially over the course of days and weeks. And for what? To stay updated and informed on the latest developments in my news feeds? Why do I actually care about that? What value does it add to my life? How is my life better? Or, is my life actually better? What if social media is actually unhealthy? What if its like cigarettes? Cigarettes cause lung cancer with prolonged use, so maybe social media causes mental health problems like depression, low self worth and narcissism with prolonged use? What if social media is inherently an anti-social activity? Anyways, I've consciously decided to abstain for a full month without social media as an experiment. So far, I'm five days in and realizing how much I was using it as an outlet for self expression. Something happens to me and my default reaction is, "Oh, this would be good to share in a post!", and now I realize "Oh, I can't share this on social media. Who am I actually trying to share this with? Why am I trying to share this? Can I just forget about sharing and just relish the experience in this fleeting moment?" The secondary effect of abstaining from social media is that I'm also trying to pull away from technology a bit more so I can find a more healthy balance between technology and life. Currently, if I'm not staring at a screen, I'm at a loss for what to do with my time. Should I really live my whole life staring at glowing rectangles? Is there more to life than that? How would I feel if I'm laying on my deathbed and reflecting on my life, realizing that I spent most of it looking at screens? I need new hobbies and passions outside of screens. So, I've picked up my old love for reading by starting in on some fantasy books. Currently, I'm well on my way through "The Way of Kings" by Brandon Sanderson. I'm reading his first book slowly, digesting it sentence by sentence, and thinking about it from the eyes of a writer instead of a reader. It's an amazingly different experience. He's got some amazingly clever lines in his book, and there are some amazing pieces of exposition which the author uses as a proxy to share his own attitudes and life philosophies. I am going to steal some of the writing techniques and use them myself. I'm also still doing VR contract work on the side in order to make money to finance my game project. The side work is picking up slightly and I'm getting better at it. I have this ambitious idea for a new way to create VR content using 360 video and pictures. Most clients are trying to capture an experience or create a tour of something in VR and taking audiences through it. Essentially, it's mostly just video captured in 360 and then projected onto the inside of a sphere, and then setting the player camera at the center of the sphere. It's somewhat simple to implement. My critique is that this isn't a very compelling virtual reality experience because it's really just a passive experience in a movie theater where the screen wraps all around the viewer. There's very little interaction. So, my idea is to flip this around. I'd like to take a 360 camera and place it at various locations, take a photograph/video, and then move the camera. Instead of having a cut to the next scene, the viewer decides when to cut and where to cut. So, let's pretend that we're creating a virtual reality hike. We incrementally move the 360 camera down the trail, 50 feet at a time, for the entire length of the hike. A hike may not be perfectly sequentially linear, there may be areas where you take a detour to experience a look out on the side of the trail. So, on the conceptual data structure level, we are going to have a connected node graph arranged spatially, and the viewer will transition between connected nodes based on what direction they want to go on the hiking trail. I'll have ambisonic audio recording, so you'll be able to hear birds chirping in the trees and a babbling brook in the side of the trail, etc. The key difference here is that the viewer drives the pace of the experience, so they can spend as much or as little time as they want, experiencing an environment/scene, and since they can control what nodes to visit next, they have agency over their entire experience. This is the magic of VR, and if I get a prototype proof of concept working, I think it can be a new type of service to sell to clients. I can go around Washington State and go create virtual recreations of hikes for people to experience. There's some beautiful hikes through the Cascade mountains. We have a desert on the eastern half of washington, filled with sage brush and basalt lava rocks. We also have a temperate rainforest on the Olympic peninsula, where we get 300+ inches of rain a year, with six feet of moss hanging off of tree branches. The geography, flora and fauna are somewhat unique to Washington state, so if I can create a library of interactive virtual reality experiences of various parts of our state, it would be a pretty cool experience, where you can get virtual tours of various parts of the state. It would almost be as good as visiting in person and a good way to preview a place you might want to experience. IF it is a popular form of content, I can expand my content library by offering virtual reality tours of other parts of the world people wouldn't otherwise be able to visit. Would you like to explore the tropical jungles of Costa Rica? Would you like to climb the mountains of Nepal? Would you like to walk around in Antarctica? Would you like to go to the Eiffel Tower? If I do this right, I could create a fun VR travel channel and combine some educational elements to the experience. It would be a good way for me to get out of the office and experience the world. I'm currently working on building a prototype proof of concept to figure out the technical side and user interface, and will probably have something rough built out by the end of the month. This could turn into a cool new way to do interactive cinema in VR. I haven't seen anyone else do something like this before, but I may just be under informed.
  7. Why A.I is impossible

    I get what you're trying to say, but I FEEL that you are wrong. By your line of reasoning, if all feelings are real, then it's most likely the case that your feeling and my feeling contradict each other. Since contradictions cannot exist, at least one of us is wrong (which doesn't mean the other is right, we could both be wrong). I also feel that you place too much value on meditation and use it as a replacement for intellectual rigor, and you end up with wishy washy spiritual mumbo jumbo like "Feeling is a pre-cursor to 'being'". You then look for confirming evidence to support your hypothesis instead of looking for counter examples (which are extremely easy to find). Here's a few: -If feeling is a precursor to being, does something not exist if it doesn't feel? -If all it took for the wright brothers to fly was to "feel" a calling for it, how do you explain the hundreds of other inventors and their failed attempts at flight? How do you account for people feeling something strongly, and despite that, being failures? -I feel a strong calling for a billion dollars in my bank account. Why doesn't that come into being? -How do you explain hallucinations brought on by drugs such as LSD? What's the connection between the mind and feeling and the outside world? Really though, this line of thinking reeks of the spiritualistic nonsense in the book "The Secret". I encourage you to dig into "Meditations" by Rene Descartes. This was an infamous philosophical piece from the 17th century and effectively established the foundations for meta-physical philosophy. It's a wonderful work on skepticism and doubting sensory input. Here's a link to a free version: http://selfpace.uconn.edu/class/percep/DescartesMeditations.pdf I think this would interest you and work as a good counter-balance to your existing belief set, or at least, give you additional breadth to complement your existing belief set.
  8. Input on Adult Content

    For brief moments, but the larger concern is about how supporting every orientation and queer gender would inflate scope and production costs. I think it might turn into too much work.
  9. Why A.I is impossible

    I actually believe that intelligence is an emergent property of our neural topology and the underlying mechanics for neural behavior. The electrical activity in the brain is not where intelligence comes from. I think we may need to split some hairs on the role of electrical signals and chemical signals within a neuron. A neuron has synaptic receivers which receive chemical signals from neuron transmitters. The neuron also has a potassium pump at the cell nucleus which causes an imbalance of charged atoms to build up over time. When the charge exceeds a particular threshold, the neuron fires and an electrical signal is sent down the axon membrane which triggers the neural transmitters, which in turn, slightly increase the charge of downstream neurons. The firing neuron then goes into a short refractory period where it balances out its potassium ions, and then it returns into a "ready to fire" state. The activation of particular neurons and the subsequent downstream activation of other neurons (happening tens of thousands of times simultaneously) is what creates a "thought". The human brain is composed of trillions of neurons, and the neural connections vary between people, so ... we don't really have a good understanding of the human brain or the capability to process 1 trillion neurons simultaneously. When we learn something new, a few neurons are reconfiguring their connections to other neurons. The more often a connection is used, the stronger it gets and the more intricately and efficiently connected it becomes. If a connection is unused, it eventually decays and we experience "forgetting" something. Brain science and AI is barely scratching the surface, and if you ask an AI researcher or neuroscientist how a particular part of the brain works, 80% of the time the answer will be "Nobody knows..." You bring up something that reminded me of a really fascinating thought experiment I have been toying around with. Imagine that you go to sleep tonight, and while you're asleep, the robots rise up and take over the world, and in your sleep, the robots have decided to replace you with a robot. To do this replacement in place, they pretty much take the brain out of your skull and place it into a robotic host body which looks and feels exactly like your organic body did, except now you're a robot with an organic brain. You wake up the next morning, feeling no different than you did every other morning of your life... except, you can't help but feel that something is very off but you can't quite place what it is. So, the question for the thought experiment: What is noticeably off? What gives away the fact that you're a robot instead of a human? The underlying question: How much does our physical body and its state, drive our mind and its state? Is there more to the human experience than being a brain in a vat with a bunch of electrodes hooked up to it to create an illusion of reality? And even deeper questions: What role does our hormones play in our thoughts, behaviors and actions? How does adrenaline influence the mind? Is it possible to experience love without a body, purely on an intellectual level? Or is a physical body a prerequisite for love? What things would we lose if our mind was transferred into a robotic host? And the killer question: If we make an exact copy of an organic mind and then we run it digitally, and a key part of the minds experience comes from stimuli from a host body, is it ever possible to run a correct simulation of an organic intelligence in a disembodied digital setting? In other words, is an AI forever doomed to be incapable of love because it doesn't have a host body which is a necessary component for it? (that could make an interesting fiction story: a sentient AI questing for love) Anyways, sometimes I find myself thinking, "The robot revolution hasn't happened because I did something stupid, and a robot wouldn't screw that up like I just did. Yep, I'm still human... for now."
  10. Input on Adult Content

    In my game, I've wanted to create an encounter with a demonic succubus. I really liked how Dark Messiah played with the idea of a demonic succubus sharing the mind of the protagonist/player. I think there's a lot more landscape to explore, and the topic of demonic possession fascinates me in some ways. I have listed out a bunch of demons and the vices they use to prey on mortals as a means to corrupt and possess their souls. This is partially inspired by Dragon Age : Origins, with their pride demons, lust demons, rage demons, etc. So, I think it would be a really fascinating, interesting exercise to try to use each of the various vices to try to tempt and corrupt the player. The underlying motive is to examine our own susceptibilities to real life vices and get a better understanding of our own human natures. Some people could, feasibly, have their ego and pride stroked in such a way that they become enslaved by their pride. Maybe other players are constantly enraged by troll NPC's, who then become pawns of a rage demon. Also on the list, would be a succubus demon who uses sexual desire and gratification to entice the player into temptation. In each case, demonic domination would be a gradual descent into oblivion rather than something that just happens instantly. I want the player to be a frog which swims in water, but never realizes it's starting to boil. The descent into irreversible demonic possession is gradual and hard to see. I think this deeply speaks to the human condition and the human experience, and if its done right, can become a very powerful take away which causes players to carefully examine their own lives and make more informed decisions about their own actions and how they might affect others. I'm a bit wary about the sexy succubus. In order to do it right, the succubus would have to be legitimately sexy and tempting to the player and be flirtatious and tempting, using every means of seduction available to bring the player under their control. In some ways, the succubus would have a dominatrix style of relationship with a submissive type of player, and that could be a fun way for players to explore their own sexuality and interests. The way I see this gradual demonic possession working (in all cases), is that the player is like a fish and the demons have baited fish hooks, and if the player bites at a baited hook, then the demon slowly starts reeling them in. If you know anything about fishing, you know that you need to play the fish a bit. You need to know when to reel them in and when to release some line, but you're gradually reeling the fish in more than you're giving out line, and eventually, you can lean down and grab the tired out fish. In the case of the succubus, it has to play the player like a fish. To reel in the player, it needs to seduce the player into having sex with the succubus, and the experience the player has needs to be rewarding enough that they want to keep that hook in their mouth, but not so rewarding that they're done -- the succubus has to keep reeling them in, more and more, enticing the player with greater and greater temptations, while also playing the player by slowly asserting dominance and issuing commands. Does the player obey the succubus to get subsequent sexual rewards? Or does the succubus have to release some fishing line to keep its fish thinking its free? The other really interesting area to explore is what happens to the player after they have become fully possessed and dominated by a demon. What happens if the succubus finally catches the player and the player can't escape? The player can't resist coming back for more, over and over again, and can't deny the succubus its demands (ie, "Go kill this priest! For me, baby!"). As you can imagine, there's a lot of darkness to explore, and what kind of scares me about all of it is that it can hit close to home for a lot of people because it exposes their own inner darknesses, possibly stuff they didn't even know existed? This itself could be even more shocking to the audience than the sex acts with the succubus. When it comes to the sex acts, I'm particularly wary about how its presented. What I *don't* want is to have the sex act to be pornographic in nature and style. That would mostly undermine the narrative and philosophical intents and just cause the game to become cheap and seedy, and any deeper value the player gets out of the experience would be lost. And yet, the experience has to be somewhat pornographic at the same time in order to fit the reward of the succubus? It's a very challenging and delicate line to balance. Obviously, there would have to be nudity and a gradual escalation of sexual interactions. But, how do I do this in an artistic way such that the entire game is not seen as just a flimsy pretext for video game porn? And even more concerning, how do I make sure that my game isn't censored from the various online distribution channels such as Steam, GOG, etc just because it has sex acts and nudity in it? Would they be willing to touch a game which helps people discover and explore their inner darknesses, including the vices of sex, even if it informs the human experience and presents a new life perspective for players? Are American's too puritan to even seriously consider it? The other consideration I'm thinking is that my players may also be female, so if that's the case, then I need to have an equivalent male lust demon to entice the female player into being seduced/tempted. That's particularly challenging because the things which seduce men won't seduce women in the same way or to the same effect, and I am... a bit too clueless on how to effectively seduce women, and any online resources I find lead me to the "pickup artist" bullshit everyone hates. Anyways, I looked at a the content guidelines for Steam and a few other distribution channels for guidance but it was very vague and unhelpful, so I'm mostly just holding off on this for now. What happens if my game is currently rated for teens, but a few months down the line, I release a content update which causes my game to be rated Mature or Adult? What happens to the teen customers when the rating of the game changes and they (or their parents) would no longer find the game suitable for their age group? Should I rate the game as Mature/Adult, just in case I want to go down this road in the future?
  11. Why A.I is impossible

    I can't seem to figure out the new forum interface, so forgive me for quoting this whole post. There's a lot of good stuff in here to respond to. I think the first step towards finding valuable knowledge and wisdom comes from asking the correct questions. I think you're on the right track. The first question: "What is an AI?" Well, AI stands for "Artificial Intelligence", which hints at the correct answer and correct question to be asking. The correct question to be asking is, "What are the defining characteristics of intelligence?" Until you can come up with a rigorous definition for what constitutes intelligence, you won't be able to create an artificial simulation of that intelligence. Like I said in my previous post, our models for intelligence are still pretty rudimentary and have a lot of gaps and unanswered questions. I think the best approach for defining intelligence itself is to look through the animal kingdom and try to observe behaviors which suggest intelligence. The first question to ask and answer: "What is the lowest threshold for intelligence?". I think, to answer that question best, the observer should have a very generous level of tolerance for intelligent behavior. I personally would start at the microscopic level and observe single celled organisms to determine if there is any reactionary intelligence, or if its all instinctive behavior. IF true intelligent behavior can be observed at the microscopic level, then looking towards multi-celled organisms and complex organisms would be unnecessary. Let's assume that we can find true intelligence at the single cellular organism level. The subsequent task of the researcher is to figure out how the intelligence works. Since the organism is single cellular, we can say that the mechanisms for intelligence are going to be extremely simple/rudimentary, so dissecting it would be relatively straight forward. I think this would probably yield some pretty fruitful discoveries, definitions, and generalizations. The next task would be to slowly move up the life form complexity scale, trying to determine if they too have intelligence and if the definitions and generalizations still hold. Eventually, you can start looking at insects such as ants and flies, and spend a lot of time determining how their cellular composition creates the behaviors they have. I think at this level, you'd start to see some emergent patterns which are universally consistent across all life forms. They may have neural type cells which drive behavior, and their brains are small enough that you could probably examine each and every neuron and its connection with other neurons under a microscope, and then create an artificial replica of that system in a computer program. Now, let's say that we perfectly captured the neural topology of an ant brain and the neural behaviors, given all stimuli and inputs. We've effectively recreated the brain of an ant. The interesting realization I think we could make here is that whether the brain is composed of organic cells or digital representations, as long as the underlying mechanisms for behavior are exactly the same, the resulting intelligences are indistinguishable and indiscernible. If you consider two indiscernible objects to be the same thing, then the organic and digital brains are exactly the same. In light of this, the next interesting question to ask: What makes the intelligence "artificial"? What's artificial about it if its indiscernible from the organic version? To put it another way, if we somehow could read the type and position of every single atom in an ant brain and make an exact copy of it at the atomic level, such that the copy is an organic equivalent to the original ant brain, would that organic equivalent be "artificial"? I think the underlying question is about what makes something "artificial"? If we want to define the atomic copy of the brain as a natural intelligence, then you can't ignore the fact that it was manually created, atom by atom, cell by cell until it had the exact same behavior as the original. But, if we can make a perfect simulation of the underlying behaviors of each atom and each cell within a digital model of the brain, then is not that digital model of the brain no less natural than the organic version? Our digital model would be so precisely defined that if you wanted to, you could create an organic equivalent, atom by atom, cell by cell, such that it would be atomically indistinguishable from the original. If you agree, then we would have to say that the digital version of the brain isn't any more "artificial" than the original, and if the digital brain exhibits all of the hallmarks for intelligence as previously defined, then we have a digital intelligence rather than an artificial intelligence, and the term of "artificial intelligence" is a poor description for what we have. I think, if we're armed with this fundamental idea for intelligence, then the concepts of higher levels of intelligence and thinking are within our grasp. I also think that we would have to start defining intelligence along a gradient level, because the intellect of a single celled organism will be vastly inferior to the intellect of a crow, and the crow would be vastly inferior to the intellect of a human being, and the intellect of a human being could be vastly inferior to the intellect of some other creature or intelligence. The question for this intelligence gradient comes down to a problem of demarcation of observable hallmarks of intelligence. Great care would have to be taken to define the various hallmarks at each gradient level, such that an intelligence could be precisely and accurately assessed. When it comes to "souls", I personally don't believe souls exist. It's a religious invention and a relic of the past, which was an attempt to explain consciousness and the human experience. It's a pretty weak concept, because religious people necessarily have to insist that animals don't have "souls", even though animals are 100% conscious beings with distinct personalities, and experience the world much like how we humans experience the world (their sensory inputs and physical capabilities might differ, but at the core, we humans and animals are all intelligent agents). Religious people are dogmatically bound to deny the existence of "souls" in animals because to embrace the idea of a soul within a non-human being would both suggest that those souls too must be "saved" (which opens a huge can of worms) and that humans don't actually have a unique position of dominion over other animals in the animal kingdom. When it comes to game AI, we *really* don't need to create the level of true intelligence I described above. In film and cinema, there's this concept of "Suspended Disbelief", where the audience momentarily let's go of their belief that the film world is fake. I think games can have that same suspension of disbelief. We only have to create illusions or reality, and as long as we're consistent and our illusions are believable, we maintain a good suspension of disbelief with the audience. So, if you're designing an AI for a game, we only have to create a level of complexity which creates an illusion of actual intelligence. The illusion of intelligence can be created by creating sufficiently complex conversation / response trees, intelligible behaviors in response to game events, and faking as much as we can get away with. Computationally, this is much cheaper than running an accurate simulation of intelligence at the cellular or atomic levels. We can create some pretty convincing intelligence with a sufficiently complex state machine
  12. Playing your own game

    I think this is more about story writing than actual game play. The game play of a point and click adventure drives a story, and you're complaining that since you know the story already, playing the game you crafted doesn't hold the same appeal. I think you can compare this to tickling yourself vs someone else tickling you. When you tickle yourself, you don't feel tickled because you're in concious control over where your fingers contact your skin. When someone else does the same thing, you don't know where their fingers will go (because you're not in complete control) so the anticipation of mystery and potential touch is what actually causes you to feel tickled. So, how does this work for story writing? When you're the reader of a story, the author is the tickler. You don't know where the story will go, what plot events will happen, so you get feelings of anticipation, mystery, suspense, and wonder. You just don't know what's going to happen next, and that's exciting. If you re-read the same story, you lose a lot of that suspense, but not all of it. Okay, so how do you create a fun story? I think... stories sort of write themselves. You, the author, are just sort of the conduit/medium for the story. You just have to let your fingers rest on the keyboard and let your mind be a stream of conciousness, and write whatever comes to mind, and write it well, and the story that wants to come out, will present itself. The first time you write a story as an author is also the first time you're reading that story, so in a way, it's a unique privilege to be an author because you get to be the first person in the whole entire world to read this new story. What twists and turns will there be in the plot? What happens to the characters? What exciting events will unfold? You get to decide and find out! When it comes to story writing, I think it's a mistake to look at the finished product of other authors and think that they wrote the story one sequential word at a time. The reality is that a book is like an office building. You can look at the finished product and be amazed at its elegance and design, but a casual observer will never see the scaffolding it took to build that office building. With writing books and stories, you're going to probably be iterating over the same story about 20 times. The first few iterations are going to be you fumbling through the darkness of your imagination, trying to figure out what the story being told is even about. With each successive iteration, you get a better and better feel for the story, and instead of trying to figure out what story to tell, your focus shifts more towards figuring out how to gracefully tell the story you've been practicing over and over again. You can be more like, "I know I have this plot event coming up, so how can I setup the current narrative to nail that plot event?" Eventually, you become more like a musical conductor, coordinating players and their instruments, creating a synchronized dance of words on the page. This process in itself is a pleasurable activity, so if you thoroughly enjoyed writing your story and its practiced variations, and then you put that story to a point and click adventure, you can almost be certain that the game will be amazing.
  13. Why A.I is impossible

    I think the greatest limitation to our development of a sentient artificial intelligence is currently limited by our model for the human mind and how intelligence works. The model is extremely limited and poorly understood, even by neuroscientists and brain surgeons. However, given enough research and time, that particular scientific model will progress towards higher levels of correctness (which is interesting in a different way, because it would be the first model which is self aware). As far as intelligence goes, I think its more of an emergent property of our neural topology. There's nothing magical or fancy about it, and to some people who wish to see magic where it doesn't exist, this may be disturbing on an existential crisis type of level. A narcissistic part of our identity wants to believe we're unique and special, but the reality is that we're really not and that may be hard to deal with. To say that creating sentient artificial intelligence is "impossible" is a completely foolish and absurd claim which hints at a level of unawareness/ignorance on your part. Just because you don't know how to do it, doesn't mean it isn't possible. Although our current scientific models for general intelligence have big gaps, there is no guarantee that those gaps will continue to exist far into the future. You just can't say with reasonable certainty what type of technological achievements will never be possible, because you'd just be applying modern ignorances towards the future.
  14. Writing the story for Spellbound

    Spellbound is intended to be a story driven game. I feel that's the only thing which can make the game interesting on its own. The story of Spellbound has gone through a lot of evolutionary changes throughout the development process. When I initially conceived of the game, I just had a game concept: "Throw fireballs at zombies in VR, using your hands". As a game premise, that's mildly interesting but it would quickly lose its novelty and appeal. How do I make it interesting? I needed a story. Initially, my writing approach was to ask hard questions about the world: Why are there zombies? Where did they come from? Why is the wizard in a zombie infested graveyard? What's going through the wizards mind? What was his life like? What was his past? So, I tried to find answers which made sense, given that you're just some red cloaked dude in a wizard hat, slinging fireballs at zombies. The first version of the game and story was embarrassingly bad. The synopsis of the story: "You were a wizard whose wife had died, and you were searching for a way to bring her back to life because you missed her. So, you casted a spell promising to bring her back to life via resurrection, but instead, it just reanimated her and turned her into a zombie. The spell worked so well, that it also brought all of the corpses in the nearby graveyard to life as well! Your undead wife flees to the graveyard, so you have to defeat infinite waves of undead zombies. After a while, you face a big boss monster who was behind it all!" As far as stories go, that was pretty pathetic but also short. I'm a half decent writer with imagination, I know I can do better if I just spent some time to work something out. I needed to ship something playable to people, quickly. I thought that the main map would be my main game play, but it wasn't completed yet and ready for public consumption (it didn't satisfy my quality standards). So, I created an early "prelude" level. I also needed a main menu in VR, and since this is needs to be a seamless experience between game world and game menu, the menu itself can't be a static 2D screen like you'd have in traditional 2D games -- the menu itself had to be a level which you interact with. I was ruminating on story in the back of my mind for a while at this point, and I decided that I eventually wanted to have five wizards, each from a different school and theme of magic, each with unique story lines. My game universe was growing in complexity. But, I can't focus on developing the story. I need to ship as soon as possible to get something playable out there! I had chosen the "Red Wizard" as the first school of magic and theme to focus on. I didn't know what the story would really be, but I had written a really rough outline which served as a rough map on where I wanted to go with the plot. I would come back to the story much later and flesh it out, but for now, I just needed to create the prelude story and introduce players to the game universe and introduce a character or two. I wrote the prelude story in a day, polished the dialogue, and kept it somewhat vague, but also left a cliff hanger as a lead in for the main story. Then I shipped it. Currently, you can still only play the prelude and experience that story, and its short at best, but it shows the story telling model I'm using for VR: 1. I introduce an illustrated storybook and a narrator reads the first six pages. This serves as an establishing shot / context, and also establishes the narrator. 2. I fade to black, load the game world, fade in, and the story resumes from the first person perspective. The wizard talks to himself as a way to guide the player on what to do (a bit weird), and the narrator adds story as well, sort of like how a dungeon master would. 3. At the end of the VR experience, we fade to black and return to the library menu, and resume reading 1-2 illustrated pages as sort of an "epilogue", which can serve as a seamless lead-in for the next story. This month, I decided that I was a bit too aimless with my development and I needed to get more focused on shipping the next set of content. Okay, where do I begin? I don't have a level made, no story, barely any functioning spells, no crafting system, etc. What have I been wasting my time on?? Oh right, an AI system with machine learning. I realized that the pragmatic thing to do is stop everything else and focus on fleshing out the story for the red wizard. Once I have the story complete, I'll have a much better idea on the scope of the project, what scenes need to be built, what's important and what's not important, and I can start focusing on actually building my game around the story. This seems like an obviously good idea in hindsight. The story is like my game design document, and if the scope is too big, I can change the story until its achievable. So... I just have to write the story. The problem is, I just had a really rough outline on what I think the story should be about. Despite the outline, I actually don't know what the story is. Okay, so how do I figure that out? I just have to start writing. But, I can't just start writing blindly! I need to spend some time crafting the world, the characters, the history, the lore, etc! My approach to writing my story is to write out the very best first draft that I can, as completely as I can. The point is not to have a story ready for production, but to just figure out what the story is. What story am I trying to tell? Why is it interesting? What captures the readers attention and holds it? What can the audience get out of the story? What makes the story emotional? What creates a sense of wonder and amazement? What are the high points and low points of the story? Who are the protagonists? Who are the antagonists? Who are the supporting characters? What is every characters motive? Every character needs to have a flaw to be interesting, so what are the character flaws? How do those flaws get revealed? How does the character flaw play into the story? How does the story begin? What's the problem the characters are trying to solve? What's the struggle? How do the characters overcome the problem? How does the character need to grow in order to overcome the problem? How does the problem get resolved? How does the character feel about the resolution(s)? How does the audience feel about the resolution? How do we set ourselves up for introducing the next episode? Oh, and by the way, all of this has to be done in VR so we have to assume that the protagonist has total agency over decisions made, so story has to account for that. It's a bit of an overwhelming puzzle to work out. It's extremely important to note that since my game is going to be story driven, where the story either makes or breaks the final result, I cannot afford to half heartedly write a mediocre story. I have to write the greatest story I'm capable of writing. My game depends on it. The future of my one man company depends on it. My income depends on it. The story is the backbone. It's my secret sauce. My secret weapon. It's going to be what makes it a "must have" for every VR gamers library. And it can't just be a story which was shoved into a VR game, it has to be a story built from the ground up, specifically for VR, to make use of the unique story telling capabilities VR offers. So, I cannot just write out a first draft, call it good, and move forward with production. If it takes two weeks or two months to get the story perfect, then so be it. So, I'm thinking that I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to story writing. I have never published a novel. Never wrote a screen play. Never wrote a story for a game. At best, I've written a few short stories for a community college class. But, I have good story ideas, damnit! That's my stubbornness and ego peeking through, insisting that despite my lack of experience, I'm more qualified than anyone else to be the one who writes the story. How do I account for my lack of experience with "officially" not being published? I say, "It doesn't matter, I don't care, fuck it, I will just have to write 20 drafts to be on par with a professional." I think that's the right intuition though: Write 20 drafts of the same story. The first few drafts are going to be exploratory. You don't know what the story is until you've written it. You don't know who the characters are yet. You don't know their motives. The first version of the story is just a congealing of the oatmeal, where you bring it all together and sort of figure out what the real story is. This is where you answer all of the questions I listed above. You might need to write several versions of the story. Think of each version as sort of like a parallel universe, where each version can explore different possibilities in plot development. Eventually, you'll find that you're drawn to certain plot highlights and themes more strongly than others, and those become your story. At this point, you have written your story about 3-5 times. You're familiar with it, but not intimately. Now, the story becomes more like sheet music to you (the author), and it's a bit of an unfamiliar song. You can kind of play the notes and create a semblance of what the song sounds like, but it's rough and spotty. You know what notes you need to hit and when, so the only way to properly hit those notes is to practice, practice, practice. This means you're going to be rewriting your story, over and over again, each time getting more and more familiar with the plot. There isn't a fixed number of times you need to rewrite the story, but you'll know when you've written the final version: It'll flow like beautiful music off the paper, wrapping the reader in a warm hug before fleeting away. The reader will be embraced in a feeling of warmth and happiness for a moment, and then left wanting more, more, more. You've now got a page turner. A novel people can't put down. A movie which demands your attention. A game people can't stop. What happens next?! ...Turn the page to find out! I was recently encouraged by a blog article I read on the writing process of William Shakespeare. Most people think that his writings was pure genius, written from divine inspiration, and it just flowed to him easily via unnatural talent. Historical records of his writings show that actually... he wrote many, many revisions of his plays over the years. Even Shakespeare wasn't some savant writer who wrote perfect first drafts, and he's considered to be the best writer in the history of the English language. But I realized that I can't just start writing successively better iterations of the same story. There's SO much more to the story world than what people read on the pages. You know how when you pick up some fantasy books, and on the first page they have a map of the world, with kingdoms, city names, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, and all of that stuff laid out? There is a whole story universe which the story events are set within! Each kingdom may have different politics. Different cultural customs. Different building construction aesthetics. Different values. Those background differences will and should make an impact on the story as its being told! Is slavery legal in one kingdom but not another? How does the climate affect clothing and customs? How does a traveler from one kingdom deal with the differences in culture in another? Is it a source of character conflict? What are the motives of each kingdom and its political leadership? What is the history which shaped the current state of the world? How does the past factor into any current conflicts? There's a LOT more investigatory questions to ask, but you get the idea. I realized that this narrative background stuff is very important to establish! It is literally the foundation upon which your story rests. The presence of this background scaffolding may never actually manifest in your story directly, but it is the world which contains your narrative events. If you don't build the world, your story doesn't rest on anything solid and it will be very wishy washy. So, before I started earnestly writing my actual story, I spent a lot of time writing about the world and its history. When you read my story, you are only experiencing 10% of the universe/work. The other 90% was scaffolding which was put into place, and then stripped away when it was no longer needed. People will just see the finished product and think, "Oh wow, this looks easy. I bet they just started writing from pure inspiration!", but that illusion is so far from the truth of the underlying writing process. I spent nearly a week just writing scaffolding background material. What are all the races? What are they like? What are their values? What institutions exist in the world? What is the history of the institutions? What is the common sentiment in the kingdoms? What landmarks exist? Why are they important? What creatures exist? What's their lore and background? etc. etc. You know what? I'm glad I did this. It created a nice background framework for me to work within. I, the writer, know everything about the Academy of Magic, who's really running it, where it's located, and its deep history, but the reader gets to discover little tidbits about this institution and they can gradually put it together like a puzzle. At the end, the reader may not know everything there was to know about the Academy of Magic, but maybe there will be more content later which brings those interesting details to the surface? Just think about it: How much did you know about Hogwarts after the first Harry Potter book? How much did you really know about Luke Skywalker after only watching Episode IV: A new hope? And after you experienced all of the content and had a better understanding of the world, and then watched it again, how much more sense did the actions of the characters make when you understood the background context? Anyways, I'd like to share with you a few select pieces of narrative content I've worked on recently. Keep in mind, all of this is first draft material, so there's a high likelihood that the 20th version will be very different: ~~STORY BOOK OPENS~~ Page 1: [Narrator]: “The legend of Rupert the Red… goes something like this” [Narrator]: “Over three thousand years ago, there was a grand battle between magicians of ages past. They nearly ruined the world, but instead, they set civilization back by thousands of years.” *Picture of wizards at war, volcanoes exploding, land tearing up, red sky* Page 2: [Narrator]: “The kings of old, never forgot the calamity. They unanimously decreed that henceforth…” [Kings voice]: “all magic must be banned. Those caught practicing sorcery, shall be put to death!” *Picture of kings sitting around a round table, one king is standing and leaning forward with a raised fist, addressing the other kings* Page 3: [Narrator]: And kingdoms across the lands, knew peace... With the exception of magicians. [Angry crowd]: “Burn the witches! Burn them all!” [Narrator]: “But while magicians and sorcerers can be hunted and killed, magic itself can never be extinguished. What the kings of old didn’t quite understand, is that magic itself is a gift bestowed upon mortals by the gods themselves. Oh, how they tried to kill magic though.” *Picture of an angry mob with torches and pitchforks, surrounding posts with silhouettes of people tied to them, as a massive fire burns them* Page 4: [Narrator]: The gift of magic was a sliver of the gods themselves, given to mortals to fight against darkness. When darkness came again, the kingdoms were defenseless and fell like wheat to the scythe. [People] : *anguished screams of terror* [Monsters] : *roaring, gnashing and slashing* *Picture of men, women and children being chased and killed by demon spawn. Sky is red, filled with smoke. The face of a grinning devil can be faintly seen in the clouds* Page 5: [Narrator]: A few sorcerers who had evaded the murderous clutches of men, stood united against darkness and sealed it away at heavy cost. [Magician Group]: Chanting in unison *Picture: 5 men and women, holding hands in a circle, with red, blue, white, black and green magical flame pillars, and connected lines of magical color in a star pentagram shape. In the center, stands an old man (Sassafras). Page 6: [Narrator]: The kingdoms were safe again, but the kings… they blamed the magicians for their destruction. *Picture of a group of soldiers nailing wanted posters to lamp posts* (Hammering sounds) Page 7: [Narrator]: A young boy, with the reddest hair you’d ever see, was born to a pair of humble farmers living on the edge of the Black Forest. [Baby] : Crying sounds *Picture of a crying baby being held in the arms of a mother, with a red shock of hair on its head* Page 8: [Narrator]: His father named him “Rupert”. The boy grew up, as all young boys do, and trouble followed naturally, as it does with all young boys. *Squealing pig noises and boyish laughing sounds* *Picture of a young freckle faced farm boy with a pot on his head, chasing a terrified pig with a stick* Page 9: [Narrator] : But, as fate would have it, the natural troubles of boyhood soon turned into supernatural troubles which only followed Rupert. *burning house & inferno sounds, screams* [Narrator] : Rupert was a magician. The villagers were afraid and angry. [Villagers]: “Rupert is cursed! He’s a witch! Burn him!” Page 10: [Narrator]: Rupert ran, and he ran, and he ran, deep into the black forest. The village hunters eventually gave up. (picture of rupert hiding under a stump while a dog search party with torches looks for him in the distance) *barking sounds in the distance* Page 11: [Narrator]: Rupert wandered through the forest for days, getting hungrier and hungrier. He stumbled on an old, broken tower of mossy stone, and made it his home. He lived on bark and berries. *picture of a young boy trying to eat bark in a forest, with teeth almost breaking against it* Page 12: [Narrator]: He lived for years, completely alone, terrified of the supernatural troubles which seemed to follow him everywhere. [Narrator]: Last night, Rupert discovered a book as old as time: The lost book of Sassafras. He was about to change the course of history -- FOREVER. *Picture of Rupert sleeping soundly on his back, with drool coming out of his mouth. A black crow with red eyes watches.* Snoring noises, followed by “Caw, caw! Caw!” from the crow. ~~FADE TO BLACK FROM STORYBOOK MODE, FADE INTO GAME VIEW~~ Note: Cawlin has somewhat of a German accent. [First morning, wake up] Rupert is sleeping in his bed after his late night journey into the undead infested crypts. He has been sleeping restfully for 11 hours and it is now nearly noon. An impatient crow stands at the foot of his bed. RR: "ZZZzzzz...ZZZzzz...huuuurffffgll, guuurffflllghh..." (deep snoring) Cawlin: "Cawww... Cawww... Cawkadoodlydoo! Wake up, you!" RR: "ZZZz---huh? Who said that?! Who's there?!" Rupert awakens slowly, the VR camera opens eyelids slowly, blinking awake. The player is looking down the foot of the bed at the crow. Cawlin: "Caww.." RR: "Oh… it’s just a stupid bird." Bird cocks it head to the side in curiosity. Cawlin: "Caww?" RR: "Oh, just listen to me. I'm already going mad -- first it starts with talking to the birds, then its rocks and then its trees." Cawlin: "Caw!" RR: "Say now, how did you manage to get in here? I didn't leave a window or door open last night, did I?" Cawlin: "Caw… Caw..." We wait for the player to get out of bed. They can either click the bed or walk out of the bed zone. Once they move out, we quickly fade to black and fade back in, to the wizard standing at the bedside. RR: "If I'm going to be a raving madman talking to bird brains, you must ... have a name... I shall call you..." Cawlin: "Caw... Cawlin." RR: "...Cawlin." Cawlin: "Caw! It's about time you got up, it’s well past noon! And just who might yewwwww be??" RR: "What?! A talking bird?! Now, I've certainly gone mad!" Cawlin: "Yes, yes, you’re a certified loon and I’m a crow.” (rolls eyes) Cawlin: “Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, who are you?" RR: "Well...I'm Rupert!” Cawlin: "RRRrrrrupert… what is it that you’re doing in these woods?" RR: "This is my home! I live here." Cawlin: "Ho… how unusual... a huuuuman living in the black forest..." RR: "Unusual? ...Why?" Cawlin: “Humans haven’t ventured into the black forest for centuries. Those that do… never come out alive. There’s something… peck-uliar about you Rupert… What ees it?” *Rupert feels afraid for a moment because his secret about being magical might be given up* RR: “I… I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Cawlin: “No, there’s definitely something about you…. I can… smell eet… ah, there eet ees again! You’re… magical!” RR: “...Magical? I don’t believe in magic...” Cawlin: “You fool! Here you are, speaking with a talking bird, and you don’t believe in magic? I watched you last night as you rrrRRrroasted the walking dead with fi-yar.” RR: “Wait, you were there? You saw that?! It was real?!” Cawlin: “Of course I was... I had been waiting for you... all night! Quite the pyrrrrrotechic display, if I might say.” RR: “I still can’t quite believe what I saw. I almost thought it was just a bad dream -- I just -- haven’t been sleeping well lately.” Cawlin: “Yes, yes, it was all real. No matter! … Eet has come to my attention… that you have acquired a certain… book.” (pronounced almost like “buch”) RR: “Yeah, it was a really weird book… I heard it speak! A strange voice called out to me.” (Cawlin jumps up and down in excitement, flapping his wings) Cawlin: “Ah… do you know what you’ve found? Theees ees sooo exciting! You’ve finally found eet!” RR: “Ehh… what?” Cawlin: “The buch! The long lost book of Sassafraaaaaas! …. Eets verrry special to me. I must see it!” RR: “What’s so special about this book?” Cawlin: “Oh, eet ees only the most powerful buch of magic in the heestory of the world! It has been lost for thousands of years, but lost eet ees no more! You have eet! Eet is very special.” Cawlin: "Thees book, you know, it doesn't just get found by anyone. It... choooooses... Yes, that's the right word.. The book chooses ... who it uses. Many wizards think they use books, but never does it occur to them that the book uses them! Sassafras was it's last chosen wizard, and that was thousands of years ago! And last night, it seems to have chosen… RRRrrrrrrupert. Now, ...Why did it choose rupert?!" RR: "I don't know! I barely know anything about magic.” Cawlin: “The book must have it’s own reasons… muahahahaha” RR: "So, what now?" Cawlin: “We must read the magic buch, of course! Let’s go find eet!” Cawlin jumps onto the left shoulder of Rupert. There is no further dialogue until the player goes downstairs. A large book sits prominently on a table next to the door. It is sparkling and glowing, softly illuminating the darkness with red light. Cawlin: “Oh… there eet ees! ...thees ees so wonderful. I can feel eet… so close… yet so far.” (said in a deeper ominous voice) Cawlin flies from the wizards shoulder to go over to look at the book on the table. This helps direct the players attention. RR: “oooh...kay…” (said in the tone of, “who is this bird?”) Cawlin: “Open eet! Let’s see what secrets eet contains!” We wait for the wizard to use the book. When he uses it for the first time, the book opens and a bunch of green energy swirls from the book to the wizard. Upon the pages of the book is nothing but symbols and gibberish. RR: “What was that?!” Cawlin: “I don’t know. Magic maybe? Who cares, read the book!” Cawlin: “Well? What does eet say? What do you see?” RR: “It’s just a bunch of symbols and gibberish. I can’t read any of this!” Cawlin: “What?! Oh no...I hadn’t counted on thees. Why did eet have to be him? ... Why?” RR: “What? What do you mean?” Cawlin: “You… you don’t actually know magic. Not yet, at least.” RR: “I don’t? How is that possible? I was just throwing fireballs last night.” Cawlin: “Ahem… yes… you’re welcome for thee assistance.” RR: “Uh… what?” Cawlin: “That fire essence you used last night… I put eet there for you. Eet was just a temporary conduit for your latent magics… You don’t *actually* know how to use magic yet...” RR: "Okay, so what? How do I read this book?" Cawlin: "I don’t know. I’m just a bird, I can’t read!" RR: “So… then this book is useless to both of us.” Cawlin: “Maybe you can find a clue which could help us?” Cawlin flies back onto the left shoulder of the wizard. When the player walks away from the spellbook, it disintegrates in a puff of green particles. RR: “What happened to the book?! Where did it go?” Cawlin: “Oh… amazing! …Eet’s bound to your magical spirit. Eet ees always with you!” RR: “I don’t understand.” Cawlin: “The buch! You can call eet back at any time, and you will never lose eet! Try it now… Just focus on a hand, imagine the book in it, press your fingers inward…” We wait for the player to press the book button on the motion controller. When they do, we spawn the book in that hand in a shower of green magical glitter. Cawlin: “...and poof! There eet is! What an extraordinary book!” The book is turned to the first page, and as we look at it, some of the symbols transform into letters and words. RR: “Well -- I suppose, but again, what use is a book I can’t lose if I can’t read it?” Cawlin: “Well, It’s a magic book, and magic itself is composed of symbols or something like that -- don’t ask me, I’m just a stupid bird -- but I’m sure there’s some way you can figure out how to read those symbols? Yes? Let’s open eet and see what clues we can find!” The wizard opens the book, and on the very first page is a small set of instructions on its use, written in a poetic style: It’s an empty book It stores the spells a wizard learns It has a few left over runes from Sassafras Cawlin: “Oh, dear! The years just haven’t been kind to the pages of parchment. Even magic itself can’t protect its pages from the sands of time forever… Oh, no… oh, woe… it seems, knowledge… it has all been lost. Whatever will I do now?” RR: “Uh… you make less and less sense by the minute. You seem to know more than you’re letting on, so tell me bird, what do you know about magic and this book?” Cawlin: “Ehe. Well. ahem… Magic is just a tool used by mortals -- I mean, men… and eet can be used for evil or good. It just depends on the contents of the heart of the magician. Good magicians, naturally choose good magics, while evil magicians will choose… so called “evil” magics.” (Cawlin says “good” with disgust, and “evil” with affection) RR: “So what? How does that help us?” Cawlin: “One thing you must understand about magic, is that eet is composed of magical words and symbols. Without the proper words of a spell, there simply is no magic! So, men with the talent for magic, would often work very hard to find the proper symbols for magical spells. Sometimes, these… experiments, would go… very wrong! And they’d explode. Or turn into toads. Or become green for a day or two. Either way, playing with unknown magic is… dangerous.” Cawlin: “Once a good sequence of magical words have been found, the magicians would write them down in their spell books. Then, they could say the magic words at any time, and… POOF! The spell would just happen!” RR: “Just like that? It doesn’t sound so bad!” Cawlin: “Well, it’s not quite so easy… There are lots of symbols to choose from, and just as important as the symbol itself, is the color of the symbol! Without the right rrrrecipe, you might be using the right words but never actually working the magic.” RR: “So… magic words, magic orders, magic colors… why does it have to be so complicated?!” Cawlin: *chuckles* “heee heee hee, you’re barely even a novice. Of course it seems difficult for you now, but in the hands of a master magician, magic can be wielded to shape worlds...and… make fooooood. Like… delicious corn! Let us start there -- you haven’t had breakfast yet, have you?” RR: “I was just going to step out of the house to nibble on some delicious tree bark for breakfast…” Cawlin: “You -- with your talent for magic -- have been eating bark this whole time?! Unbelievable! It’s time to change that. Fortunately for you, and my oh, so generous mood this morning, I happen to have found a few symbols of magic.” RR: “What? You’ve been holding out on me. Why didn’t you say so sooner!” Cawlin: “Well, they won’t do you much good unless you know how to scribe them into a proper spell.” RR: “Where do I begin?” Cawlin: “First, we must go forage the forest for ingredients with magical properties. The first thing we’d like to collect, is a red pepper. Let’s go find some.” Rupert and Cawlin go wandering through the forest until they find a red pepper growing on a bush. Cawlin: “There! Right over there! A red pepper!” Rupert picks the red pepper. RR: “Okay, I’ve got the red pepper. Now what?” Cawlin: “The red pepper has the essense of red magic! That’s why it burns your mouth when you eat it. We must extract this magical essence and use it to write your first spell. Let’s go back home.” Rupert and Cawlin return to the mossy tower. Cawlin: “Everything has a bit of magic in eet. It is the job of the alchemist to extract this magic and brew bottles of magical extract. Many mortals don’t rrrrealize what they’re actually doing, but they treat these magical extracts as ‘medicines’, but it’s actually magic at work. A brewed potion has potency, depending on the skill of the alchemist and the ingredients used.” RR: “I’ve never brewed a potion. Where do I begin?” Cawlin: “Well, you don’t really have a prrrrroper alchemist work bench, so we’ll just have to use the most rrrrrrudimentary tools available to extract the magical essence from the red pepper. You must crush the red pepper between some rocks, and you’ll get a little bit of red magic essense. Try it now.” Rupert places the red pepper on a slab of rock and smashes it with a rock. A few seconds later, small vial of red liquid emerges. Cawlin: “You did it! A vial of red magic!” RR: “How do I use this?” Cawlin: “If you drank it, it would burn your mouth and upset your stomach, but we’re going to use it as ink to write magic symbols. Let’s go to your test chamber… Oh... you don’t have one. Well, that table will have to do then...” When Rupert approaches the table: Cawlin: “Fortunately, I happen to know two magical symbols -- ‘Li’ and ‘Tu’. We can write them down on a magical parchment, in any order and with any ink, and if the symbols match a spell, you’ll be able to save it in your magic book and cast it any time.” Cawlin: “To begin, grab a parchment and a quill!” Rupert performs a “use” action on parchment paper. The spell crafting UI pops up on parchment. Cawlin: “You’re barely even a novice, so you can only discover spells with two magical symbols. Later, you can cast much more complicated spells. Let’s begin with novice level magic.” Cawlin: “You don’t have a lot of parchment to work with, so you’ll need to find a spell quickly. To begin, select a symbol slot with your quill…” Rupert places his quill on a slot icon and a dialogue window pops up. Cawlin: “You only have a red magic essence, so choose that as your ink. Then, pick a symbol to write in this slot.” Rupert chooses a symbol (either “Tu” or “Li”) and writes it into the slot. After the symbol has been picked, it is written into the slot. Cawlin: “See? Even a novice can do this! Next symbol!” Rupert repeats the same process for the second symbol. RR: “Now, I’ve got two red symbols written down. Now what?” Cawlin: “Now, you try to cast these words! It’s already in your hand, so just give it a throw and see what happens…. I will just fly over here… and stay well out of the way...” Rupert throws the current magic spell. It either creates a magic spell (if correct), fizzles out, or creates a magical disaster. (Let’s assume it fizzles out) RR: “What? Nothing happened!” Cawlin: “You’re spell fizzled. Consider yourself lucky! That combination of symbols and ink was not a spell, let’s try again.” Rupert uses the parchment again. Cawlin: “This parchment is magical! As you can see, you got the right symbols and right color, but in the wrong order. Now, we can try a different sequence.” Rupert keeps trying out different symbols, until he writes out “Tu-Li” in red ink. When he gets this sequence: Cawlin: “You did it! You created your first spell! This is so exciting… I remember now! Tu-Li is fire, but your TuLi is very weak because you used a red ink with low magical potency. However, this spell is now saved in your spell book!” RR: “So, I can fling these little fire darts at any time now?” Cawlin: “Yes… you’ve begun the journey of a magician! You can find more symbols to discover other spells, and brew more potent potions to create stronger spells.” RR: “Wait a minute… my essence of red magic is gone! Did you steal it from me?!” Cawlin: “Relax yourself, Rupert! Whether you fail or discover a spell, the used ink is consumed. Magicians are always scavenging for ingredients to brew -- you magicians are scavengers, just like me!” RR: “Now what?” Cawlin: “Well, I must go. I smell a dead racoon down by the lake, and I’m absolutely starving. As for you? I saw an abandoned ruin this morning, but it was too dark and scary for me. Maybe your fire could shed some light on the situation? Or perhaps, you can find other ingredients?” RR: “You’re leaving me?!” Cawlin: “I’m getting rather...peckish. I’ll be back... Muahahaha!” Cawlin flies away and the wizard is left alone. There’s not much to do, other than hunt for ingredients or check out the abandoned ruin. At this point, we spawn clovers, blueberries, red peppers, orchids, and black lotus flowers. These are collectible ingredients which can be ground up and turned into vials. We also unlock the ancient ruins and make it accessible. Within the ruins is a new magic symbol which can be learned and a mortar and pestle. The player can summon a small flame to light their way through the darkness. There is a section of the ruin which is sealed off with a heavy door and some other strange symbols of magic. When the player emerges from the ancient ruin, the day has turned to evening. RR: “Wow, it’s evening already?” RR: “It’s getting late, I’d better get home before the forest monsters come out!” When it’s dark, we start playing large monster noises in the distant forest, mixed with snorting noises (like a sniffing pig), and something large crashing through undergrowth. RR: “There’s something out there… it’s hunting me!” Rupert returns to his wizard house. He’s tired and ready for bed. RR: “Whew, safely home at last. I need to get some sleep.” We wait for Rupert to go to sleep OR until it is 2AM in game time. Either way, we fade to black and we begin to hear snoring noises.
  15. A Turd's Life

    I think your market demographic is going to be 10-14 year old males.
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