2039 - Selling Purgatory (3)# 3. Lava and Legislation #
Pete woke in a comfortable bed atop a pillar surrounded by a lava lake. He stared over his tiny platform's edge and shuddered. His fear of heights wasn't completely gone. The landscape looked ordinary for Talespace: peaceful grassland and hills, with a giant stone nose streaming lava into the lake. He called out for help. He still had his backpack, which contained a leather book labeled "Quest Journal". One entry read:
"VISIT LUMINA: It was nice meeting you, though we won't remember. You make a decent robot pilot for a human. If you ever visit the Warren in Ethiopia, ask about 'new cities'. -Lumina"
The next page had another "quest" signed by Ludo: "BRAINS!: Lobby the US to have prisoners uploaded. Do that, and we not only help people who aren't having fun, but open the door to wider legalization there." (2)
It seemed like a reasonable goal, though he didn't recall agreeing to it.
Finally that phoenix-kid walked by and spotted him, saying, "You
2040 - A Matter of Taste (2/5 and 3/5)2. Valhalla and Midgard
Alma's wings shot out to either side as though ready to bolt into the sky. That one word meant far too much. "Ratatosk, the inexplicable Norse-religion squirrel who runs up and down the World Tree connecting the nine worlds, carrying rumors."
"A good name," said Queen Harvest Moon, hovering there with lazy flaps of her own ghostly wings. "You seem to have an affinity for it."
"How do you know my background?"
"Have you forgotten where you live?" the queen teased. "I have time magic to make each audience last as long as necessary, and mind magic for easy awareness of public information about anypony I meet."
The new pegasus watched her warily. "Subjective time compression and mental upgrades."
"Why not call those magic? Dedicated ponies use filter spells to swap the words automatically."
"So if you'd normally say 'anyone can learn science'..."
"Anypony can learn magic," said Harvest Moon. "However, I am a true pony. My very thoughts tend toward such words."
2039 - Selling Purgatory (1-2)# 1. Coyote Cordial #
"You're giving those kids beer?" coyote Pete asked the centaur. "How does that even work?"
The burly equine barkeeper watched the four young guests giggling and throwing peanuts around their booth. He said, "They got their brains converted to the new data format, and we know how addiction works. So where's the harm in simulated alcohol with an EULA authorizing addiction-circuit suppression?"
Pete watched the bartender trot over to them with another tray of foaming beer. Brain manipulation wasn't black-and-white, it seemed, since even sugar or chocolate did things to people's chemistry. His ears flicked backward with unease. "They are kids, right?" he said, when the centaur returned.
"Three of them. The dragon-girl is a native."
It was hard to tell what anyone in the Thousand Ales restaurant was. Pete was a coyote-man as of a few weeks ago; the few other patrons here tonight looked human but could be fellow uploaders of any age or nationality, or AIs, or people see
Wasteland Minigames - Fixing Fallout 4I've been playing a lot of "Fallout 4". While it's held my attention for a long time, it's also got glaring limitations involving its AI and quest design. Twice now I've been thinking there are big missed opportunities that reduce FO4 to a game about murdering most of the wasteland. (You can't even win the main quest without slaughtering several whole factions.) Rather than just complain, I thought of two specific demonstrations that could work as mini-games using FO4's themes to show what might have been. I'm phrasing these in terms of Bethesda's intellectual property, but they don't need to be written like that. I envision each of these as a Unity code project, with minimalist text and buttons, demonstrating gameplay.
1: Surrender Or Die: The Wasteland Trader
In FO4, a typical encounter with one of the many armed camps consists of a bunch of clearly labeled "RAIDER SCUM" (or cannibal mutants, or radiation zombies) charging into battle and fighting to the death to the last man.
2040 - A Matter of Taste (1/5)(Having uploaded her mind to the alleged VR paradise of Talespace in 2040, Alma continues to explore its connected worlds...)
The next day, Alma woke up refreshed after strange dreams of flying through ruins. She clutched a warm, fluffy blanket and only slowly recalled that it was her tail. A contented chitter escaped her. She sat up, giggling at the noise. "Best way to wake up."
The hotel room really was getting tiresome though. There was only so much she could take of the hotel buffet even now that Kai had fixed Talespace's smell/taste system and finally made food satisfying. The question was where to move to. The centaur chef would probably offer her a place in his "sanctum" of tents, but she wasn't mentally prepared for having a steady relationship. Maybe someday. Moving to Poppy's world and hanging around with the squirrelfolk might give Poppy the idea Alma was pursuing her as more than a friend, which wasn't the case. Third, she needed to keep commuting to her school job for now,
2038 - The Ludic Order (Preview)"Oh, dear," said Ludo, turning away from a board game to stare at a hovering screen.
Lumina said, "Yes?" The doe-centaur sat on cushions in an Arabian-style walled garden.
Ludo shifted from the form of a veiled harem girl to a blue griffin with feathers shimmering like water. It was the shape she most often wore when dealing with difficult players. Her wings knocked over a few dice and plastic space marines. "I've been fooled."
Lumina stood up on four hooves, worrying. "Can I help?"
The griffin said, "Ever hear of the Ludic Order?"
"A cult, or a joke. I'm not sure which."
"In the last few months some of them started taking it seriously. In AFS Mexico, the group built a monastery of sorts, devoted to frugal, communal living and worship." She dipped her beak. "Of me."
Lumina winced. "I thought you ended this 'pray to Ludo' idea."
"If I may?" said a portly human in a priest's black shirt and white collar. He was stepping through a shimmering portal into the garden, followed by a raven/pan
2039 - Trickster (Part 2)Pete woke up with darkness still outside. How long had he been in Talespace, anyway? He was making progress toward being different, but he still had obligations. "Ludo?" he murmured. "I've gone exploring, but I should really talk to Senator Graz. I owe him that."
A ghostly blue griffin materialized, hovering near a bookshelf. "You're supposed to contact Earth through scrying pools around here."
"Hooflands and some of the other rules-heavy zones. If it's urgent I can yank you out and open a plain old video call, but this isn't."
Pete pictured having to leap through hoops every time he wanted to use the Internets, and having to call them the 'magical scrying dimension' or something. "Could we skip that? I thought I was buying backstage access, since you haven't held me to normal rules."
"Backstage." The griffin's eyes narrowed. "Sure, why not skip all the pesky storytelling."
Pete crashed onto a pile of mops and cardboard. He was in a white concrete hall lined with ste
2039 - Trickster (Part 1)1.
At the Shaharazade Club, music boomed and rich, important people partied. Pete sat alone in a corner. Every so often he looked up from his dinner (baked potato, sandwich, soda) at the VR booths around the dance floor. The senator had gotten him into the club and vanished with his girlfriend, leaving him to enjoy the place at taxpayer expense. That was all right; he had someone to talk to.
He loosened his tie and leaned over his computer screen, pushing aside the financial figures there. "Ludo?"
The AI who ruled Shaharazade's and the rest of a corporate empire appeared to him as a woman with a business suit and shimmering blue hair, tied demurely back. "Good evening, Pete. You aren't having fun."
Pete held the screen at arm's length, not meeting her eyes. "I got my boss to visit, like you suggested. I guess he's enjoying it."
"Thanks. It's helpful to have his ear. What about you?"
He'd only played Ludo's video game, Thousand Tales, as a casual gamer exploring its shallows. For the ri