Failed Gambits and Backup Plans

May 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm (Making Sense of Things) (, , , , )

Backstory: every summer, my best friend and I start a project on RPGFO. To give a brief history, here is what we have so far joinly accomplished in our leisure time:

2006 – started the nation of Frenelia in Isis, a persistent world; created the classesRoleplay Creation and Maintenance in the Academy

2007 – created (with Vorlikesh) Kel’Amnir, another persistent world; took over administrative duties of the Academy and taught several classes

2008 – forced an Academy overhaul and created the Library and other resources

One thing that we tried to do in 2008 was to revamp Isis, the persistent world. It had died (as such projects often do when not carefully monitored), and everyone seemed to not want to clean the slate and start fresh. After much discussion and using me as a bouncing board, my friend came up with a modest proposal. It received mixed reviews, but ultimately fell through due to low popular vote. Everyone fights change. Isis ended up undergoing minor changes which fixed nothing, and proceeded to die. Again. It was like kicking a dead horse.

Now we come to 2009, where we just tried to create a completely new way of world building – via media. Instead of linear first person roleplays defining the world, we wanted to have the world defined through speeches, newspaper articles, and various other forms of popular media. Unfortunately, as many times before (including the 2008 Isis gambit described above) we at first received mixed reviews, and then a final flop: the idea was too ambitious, too different, and thus did not strike many people’s fancy.

But this time we had a backup plan! Namely, the very same modest proposal, but this time it followed a gambit that was far more ambitious and different! We effectively raised the bar for acceptable change by proposing an apparently unacceptable change.

Moral of the story is that if you want a gambit to succeed, preface it with something far more outlandish, and push it as far forward as you can. When it fails, introduce the gambit itself as your backup plan. Unless it too is outlandish, you are far more likely to succeed than if you went in cold. Otherwise, you’ll have to do what we did, and wait a year before you can come back with your original idea.

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God, Sims, Spore, Matrix, Reboot, MiB

September 27, 2008 at 6:11 pm (Metaphors and Allegories) (, , , , )

In ninth grade I watched Men in Black and had a thought: Why not? The last scene, where the locker door reveals a window to a meta universe of exponentially larger life to contrast the aforementioned Orion Galaxy, coupled in my mind with the Sims and The Matrix, and I came up with Username God. Since then I have made several revisions after playing Spore, watching Reboot, and learning to program.


Username God

Setting aside the beliefs of the usual everyday religious activists, and those who believe in the generic all-powerful God, I observe that the world evolves in all aspects, starting with us. Of course, other creatures evolve as well, but only our evolution is truly notable, for no species is able to comment upon the evolution of all others save for ourselves. And as time marches inexorably, and as we watch the incessant sway towards entropy, we find that intelligence and will and thought can no longer be housed within a set of singly instincts, but rather within a pseudo-infinite processing unit that is our brains. Why pseudo-infinite? Our brains are only matter, in our eyes, and thus, cannot hold more than their limit. However, since so few neurons are at work at any given time, the true capacity of the human brain is really quite large, by proportion far greater than any amount of knowledge needed for basic day-to-day survival.

But how was all of this created? The big bang, the spontaneous generation of the first cell, the proper conditions and a well placed bolt of lightning. All by chance, or by God we say. But God is inexplicable or so say the Saints. We are told God is omnipotent and then try to disprove that with paradoxes life “If God is all powerful, and can create and destroy whatever God may wish, can God create what God cannot destroy?”. Surely God can, if God is all-powerful. This would mean God would by no means be able to destroy it. And thus, with an infinitely recursive set of negations we define paradox and move on. But does it matter that God is omnipotent? Why would we even bother with such a premise, if it were not to rebel against him and his word. Are we that unhappy, that to stifle our blather we need to be told that our powers against him are null and void? Perhaps that is true. So what is this “miracle” we call life, and who is this “God” that is so much more powerful than us?

Life is a game. Cliché, and yet, this expression might shed some light on the essence of God. Life is a game, a personal game of the Sims or Spore where the user has called himself God. Why? For preparation for the multiplayer gameplay, where new worlds and other beings are introduced and can interact. If we are in a game, then we are in some form virtual, programmed. Our world is quantized, composed of elementary particles, bits. There are fundamental laws, just as in programming we define how addition and subtraction works. And there are objects and routines and functions, and we are cells and people and our cells do things and we do things. We are the not-yet-conscious sprites of Reboot. We form corporations and objects interact in subroutines, and we theorize and philosophize and programs produce output and error codes. But our world, as much as it evolves, does not change at the most basic states: atoms are atoms, electricity is electricity, cells are cells. The game has been written, and God is just playing. So no, just as we are not omnipotent with regards to our creatures in Spore, God is equally not omnipotent regarding us.

The repercussions? We, as what appears to be the chosen race of God, share his personality just as our Spore creatures reflect who we are inside, if not outside. We are omnivorous, ruthless, and reflective. So must be God, a conqueror, considerate afterwards, willing to do what is necessary but at times depressed and angry for the decisions he has made. God is no figure to be idolized: he may very well be one of many such players and we are one of many sentient races. We’ll find out when we finally enter the Heinleinic Diaspora of the space age and meet some ETs. Perhaps adoring our God will make him happy with our performance: or perhaps he will be frustrated with our stale inaction and actually pleasing him lies instead in ruthless progress. So who is right, the capitalists or theists?

Written by Yuriy Zubovski, 2003, edited 2008.


I also had a frivolous discussion about “afterlife” just now, and had an alternative set of thoughts. It seems rather unfair that we live for ~80 years on Earth and are then thrust into an eternity of suffering. Which leads me to ask: did we sign up for this? We must have, if “sinning” leads to eternal damnation in the pits of one hell or another: something on Earth is so worth it that our meta selves, our souls, made the choice to dive in and experience life. So worth it that an eternity of damnation is totally worth it. Could it be love? Maybe souls can’t experience love. Physical love? Physical sensation in general? Or maybe there is no eternal damnation, and souls just line up, waiting for their turn to get a body, any kind of body, and experience the greatest attraction of the meta-existence? Choose humans, and you get the widest range of sensation and emotion, the largest variety of physical experiences, but also eternal damnation for a social misuse. Meanwhile, pick some other being and forfeit sentience, but once you’re out it’s over, line up again. Perhaps it really is worth it to live, to sin, to deserve hell and then experience it, for the sake of living and loving it. So yes, maybe being faithful to the higher powers, preserving the world order, maintaining existence for the next souls that come is some form of meta-public service, commendable and unrewarded. Destroying others and ruining the world for future generations then is the true sin, what really should be reciprocated with eternal damnation. If there is a limited number of souls, then the good will cycle while the bad will rot, and unless we screw up the world too early, the only souls left to fill the bodies of Earth will be the good souls.

So going back to that, the moral of the story: realize for yourself what is good and what is bad. Will the consequences of your decision directly harm the world, for others and for future occupants? Do your actions now bring an end to the sensation for some else? Don’t rape, don’t kill, don’t pollute. Perhaps those are the cardinal sins, the sins worthy of eternal damnation. Don’t live with malice in your heart or malicious intent on your mind. Perhaps that, and just that, is the key to fulfillment. Forget the other rules, laws, maxims, ultimatums, lessons, and the word of whatever gods: Live for yourself but together with others. Oh, and progress. God likes progress.

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