Eight years ago, I joined a group of fellow graduate students to form a company to develop a game that would use the live data collected by a large social network. The key technology of our development was an engine that would express the live data into coherent and responsive characters for the game. This technology allowed the game to emulate millions of unique and realistic characters without us creating a single one. We believe that such a game would be revolutionary and would bring the world a lot closer when people could understand one another better.
The game was launched six years ago as a life simulation game but it was a failure. The game could not draw enough players and got entangled with a horde of legal issues, leading to the bankruptcy of our company. After a year of despair and litigation, a client contacted each of us and recruited us to work on a similar system for him.
Our client had his own private life data network for us to use, and relocated us to a secluded location for the development. We were assigned to develop an arena combat platform using the data. Using various informatics gathered from the data, we developed an interpreter to translate them into combat attributes, and created an engine to visualize the fighting for the client to see.
Since the system did not allow any human interactions, thus had no players, it could not be called a game. It was more like a fish tank where periodically, some of the fish would be selected to fight one another. The system was never released to the public and remained unknown outside the client's circles. From what we understood, our client most likely used the closed system to allow gambling to entertain his circles to make a profit. We believed that his business model might be similar to that of a horse-racing organization.
After the project was completed, the client continued to pay us a sizable dividend every two weeks. We effectively became retirees.
Some of us had found other job or endeavors since. Some decided to enjoy life and travel the world.
As for me, I decided to settle down.
Since I was small, I had always been a quiet loner. My family had moved a few times. In each time I lost my friends and a part of myself. Over time, I developed a tendency to not have friends to avoid the loss. Now that I no longer had to worry about my living, I decided to settle down at the small university town where I spent my academic years.
At the edge of the university town, I brought a small house overlooking a wheat field.
"Congratulations on your first home! How do you feel to be a home owner? Aren't you excited?" My real estate agent asked me as she handed me the keys.
"Not really, I feel rather normal," I replied honestly. "I am at the age where I should be having a home. It feels like just a normal part of life."
I was such an emotionally neutral person that if I were a character in that game, I would probably have no combat attributes.
The game was designed to simulate the instantaneous emotional attributes of the characters to determine the skills they can use and the effects of the skills at any given moment. I still remembered the long nights we stayed to design and balance the skill sets to give a good show with great varieties. To balance the combat mechanics, each of us had a favorite archetype that we used for play test. Since I did not strongly identify with any emotion, my archetype was a combination of emotions that was never found in the data pool. We designed the rules to balance that archetype anyway, just to cover the theoretical loopholes.
We named that character archetype Valerie.
Not to break the mood too much, I smiled momentarily for my real estate agent, to ease the diverted chain of thought happening in my mind.
Although we knew that the system we created was not a game, we developers still fondly called it a game. By calling it a game, we could pay homage and reincarnate our lost dream. This gave us closure for our shared chapter.
"Well, in any case, this is a great investment! You should be excited about it! I am excited for you!" My agent said, bringing me back to the present.
Perhaps I should be excited. I thanked my agent again for her help.
As I watched her drove off, I acknowledged that a new chapter in my life had started.
Starting tomorrow, I will reconnect to the community and find my new role.
~ End of Chapter 1 ~
Edited by Wai, 08 February 2014 - 03:50 AM.