Thursday, June 27, 2013

One of my computer games has become self aware.

It's an older computer, meaning it's had more time to think than most computers in use today.  The game has had a while to think as well.

A character says, "You will die by my hand," I think it unlikely.  I'm not cheating per se, but I've used an exploit that gives me three saber blades (double bladed saber staff in my right hand, single saber in my left; light sais have yet to show up) which gives me a hell of an advantage when it comes to blocking and parrying power.  In addition I can win in a fair fight AND I'm not planning to fight fair. I'm planning to use the force to throw him in to an in-use smelting pot and walking away while he melts.  It's his own fault for choosing this as an attack point.  Almost as bad as his allies who chose to attack on the catwalks... over lava.

Besides which, even if he did somehow gain the upper hand and win, I saved about two seconds ago.  I wouldn't die, I 'd be sent two seconds back in time.  Time travel is a power only player characters get.  NPCs may get strange and godlike powers* but savegame time travel is not one of them.

His life expectancy was measured in seconds.  Two if all went to plan, maybe six to eight if he won this round and I had to reload.

"You will die by my hand"?  Not a chance, to pull that off you'd need to reach out beyond the bounds of the game and...

He made an attack with his lightsaber.  Thrust or slash I don't even remember.  Then the computer was off.  No blue screen of death, no warning.  Nothing.  He attacked and the computer died.  No doubt it can be turned back on, but for the moment: well played video game character.  Well played.


* An Excerpt from the Resident Evil Plot FAQ, no longer available in its original location and so pulled off of gameFAQs, as located via google:
Q. How did [character] in [game] get from [place] to [place]?
There's no way for him to leave/get there! How did [character]
in [game] survive in [dangerous area] with only a [weak weapon]?
A. Well, Timmy, it's time for us to have a little talk.
You see, in the fun-packed thrill ride that *is* Resident
Evil, there are two kinds of people. We control one kind
of person over the course of a game, such as Jill, Chris,
Claire, or Leon. They are bound, largely, by human limits.
If they get hurt badly enough, they die; if they encounter
a locked door, they'll need to find a way to open it; if
they go up against a Tyrant with a 9mm handgun, they are
screwed beyond the telling of it. Aside from a few obvious
differences, such as Jill's ability to catch an anti-tank
rocket to the face without disfigurement, Claire's black
belt in Gun-Kata, how Chris can take a good four shots
to the face from Wesker and yet still retain enough basic
motor skills to fly an airplane, and their tendency to
declare a door permanently closed and thus unimportant
if there's a rock on the floor in front of it, they are
much like you or I. 
Then... then, Timmy, there are the *other* people. 
These are the NPCs. The NPCs are a strange and wondrous
lot, possessed of powers beyond mortal ken. These are your
"helpers," and note the sarcastic quotes; these are the
other, uninfected humans who assist and/or hinder you over
the course of the game. I speak of Sherry, Ada, Carlos,
Rebecca (the REv.2 version), Nicholai, Steve, Wesker, Barry,
Annette, Alfred, and the rest of their fell breed.
An NPC can move around behind the scenes of reality, to
reach inaccessible areas or sweep ghostlike through roomsful
of bloodthirsty Hunters. Unless they briefly *lose* these
mighty powers--they pass into the realm of being controlled
by the player--an NPC can do whatever the hell he or she
wants, even if that means already being in a room that
took you an hour to open, surviving the kind of punishment
that would kill your character twice, leaving an area without
using the only exit, or getting through a difficult part of
the game without a scratch while armed with an empty pistol
and a cocktail straw. 
Their powers are mighty, but they're limited by the plot.
NPCs may be mortally wounded by a single attack, or lie
in a bleeding heap despite being surrounded on all sides
by powerful medical supplies. It's unfortunate, but that's
the price they pay. 
Whenever an NPC does something that simply does not make
any sense, these powers are to blame. How did Enrico get
from Birkin's lab to the Spencer mansion without using
the training facility elevator? His NPC powers. How did
Ada escape from the treatment facility? Her NPC powers.
How did Carlos get back into the chapel from the courtyard?
NPC powers. How come Steve can fire the Lugers that fast
in the Disc One Bandersnatch-killing cutscene, but his
rate of fire slows down considerably in the Battle Game?
The loss of his NPC powers. It all makes sense.


  1. "Now, about my tens of thousands of slaughtered brothers and sisters..."

  2. Besides which, even if he did somehow gain the upper hand and win, I saved about two seconds ago. I wouldn't die, I 'd be sent two seconds back in time. Time travel is a power only player characters get. NPCs may get strange and godlike powers* but savegame time travel is not one of them

    As a matter of fact, I just saw a demo of a retro-style CRPG called 'Undertale'. (Spoilers Hoy)

    In your initial playthrough, you're forced to kill a sympathetic character to progress, after which the main villain taunts you about it. If you restore your saved game, there's another option available that allows you to avoid killing the character. In that case, the villain appears and knows what you did. And, very chillingly, it says "I thought I was the only one with that power."