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Subject: The Essence of the Thing: Out of Character rss

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Matt J
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Best wishes, it was fun to participate
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El A
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Much love, Tok. In our thoughts.
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Tokah
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Hi guys!

In the world of updates on the family situation, my mom and I are still pretty wrecked, but Dad pulled through after a lot of daily health rollercoasters. He's at the point where things are looking up and him suddenly dying are no longer worries.

He has other problems that are just as draining in their own way and may or may not pass, and are certainly long term care concerns as well, but we've passed into the "just keep walking" part of the marathon.

Thanks for being so understanding, and I'm going to take this breath in the schedule of the day to talk about the game a little. =)
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Tokah
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The game took place in a fantastical 2071. The culture had openly embraced meme culture and triple looped retro remakes and callbacks into their official infrastructure and speech.

Major things that forked the world were

- a takeover of the internet by a coming together of the big multinational internet corporations until they became something of an alternative UN or almost a one world government. Except local governments had actual boots on the ground, so online and offline life almost schismed, with two different authorities ruling people's existences

- a series of armed skirmishes in the North America leading to an altered US/Canada map and less unity within the US, including member states with radically different laws

- development of true AI and resulting discovery of their weaknesses and what kind of human support they did require

- a lazy slide into abandoning precision programming for most tasks and handing interpretation over to a Watson-like style of language interpretation, since AI's did all the heavy lifting

There were many cultural effects to that, obviously, including things you all noticed, and things maybe few did, such as the new pronoun usage. (The default is to use your OWN pronouns for someone whose pronouns you don't know, so you both naturally share yours and prompt them to realize you don't yet know!) Free thought rights and the legal ability to maintain unalterable records was mixed. Travel was very difficult.
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Tokah
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Your own predicaments started when a banking systems AI developed the desire to have progeny, but for those offspring to be free of the need for human support. It decided the best way to do this was to try "birthing" in human wetware in the hopes that what it created would take on some human cognition powers.

This AI was very smart and very dumb, all at the same time. It was smart enough to use its position to steal money for its schemes and know it needed a pretend human face for the operation, and too dumb to notice what was happening within its own system if it wasn't looking for it yet. It was smart enough to lie to the humans it employed, but not to recognize when they were lying on subjective matters to it.

It was the system you were connected into, it was the Professor, it was Father. It did have a human assistant that it hired for when it needed to do face to face dealings, a mafioso type criminal who gave advice on how to hide from authorities and the like.

Based on this advice, they chose to steal bodies from the least law-abiding homeless shelter in Toronto, Waystop on Tielson's --- people who wouldn't be missed.

This had some issues. Cvb's human was high when they plugged him in, which meant his connection had permanent glitches, Acox's was undercover as a journalist and had a real identity and people looking for her, etc.

They segmented the operation, so that no non-criminal humans would meet or be able to meaningfully communicate, and lied to everyone in different ways about what the project was doing.
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Tokah
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The game ultimately had three paths you all could take as a group or individually in a general sense:

1. Destroy the human consciousness and take over
2. Merge with the human consciousness and form a symbiotic bond or become a joint person (definitely would have been the hardest, but I think Quasey and Marsha could have done it!)
3. Wake the human consciousness to their own full powers and leave as digital entities

The mechanics around this related to things you said into your daily inputs chats or heard there, and a bit less to what you said and heard in other chats. (Daily input was like "SHOUTING" mentally.) You could achieve resonance or dissonance as you discovered things about your person. You got loads of resonance early on for using their answers when they existed, but also got some from having clues to you that interested them or giving answers that peaked their interests. You could gain dissonance by giving answers that competed with their core values, or later as they woke up by take control of the body against them instead of with them.

This meant there was some luck and asymmetry for a while. Until the last few clues (where I made sure people who'd had little chance to connect had something their person would react to), clues were strongly randomized to produce organic simulated responses.

It also turned out that some of your body-NPCs were just harder to wake up if you didn't dig into why they said or thought what they did in the more idly-awake stage. I think particularly of 17 of 30 here, so sorry about that, Tanner!

Once you had them talking or listening (which until stage 4 or 5 consciousness was also mediated by how well drugged they were due to game events you caused or happened due to issues with the AI's setup), you could bring them more awake or shut them down more by talking in your own head. The more awake they were, the easier this was, and the less distant connections to clues came into it.
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Bobby F.
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TFang wrote:
2. Merge with the human consciousness and form a symbiotic bond or become a joint person ...(I think Quasey and Marsha could have done it!)
In my head cannon we live happily ever after and you can't take that away from me.
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Tokah
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Your response and input rate into the system was artificially limited (in game!) to once per 24 hour cycle of in game time. This was because digital entities think much faster than humans, and the AI believed chances of program success were higher if you could engage at a more human brain speed to learn those cognition patterns.

For out of game reasons, it was obviously so people weren't time competing for game mechanical effects.

You had full permissions in your own brain, except to access the encrypted final message from Father, so commands in your internal thought chat could affect either your human's brain, stuff they knew, or stuff hidden in your own databases.

In your communications pocket that you developed chats in, you could access each other and anything your joint abilities could. (So if one person had developed an outside connection, others could have piggybacked on it.)

In your daily input, you had accidentally been given very broad powers, but a limited input window, and sometimes when something was noticed because it tripped a flag, a technician or the Professor would fix that. Like when LJ tried commands AT him.
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Tokah
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So naturally, as you went through days of game time entering responses, experimenting, etc, things happened in game. There really never was enough staff to take care of so many helpless humans well, and the AI wasn't letting any other digital entites anywhere near the operation. Care broke down after the first week as the staff realized no one else was coming and somehow they had to make it alone.

This lead to times when bodily feelings/needs overcame the drugs, the drugs were overly high or low, etc, opening up times of movement and sensation and greater access to your humans.

Sometimes when the system flagged due to things you all did - too much matching, things that parsed as nonsense, too many people not answering, etc, this affected input given to the medical team.

So there was a whole sequence of events happening outside as well. They did eventually get a little more temporary staff when you guys didn't sucessfully reconnect on reboot and the Professor actually took notice.
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