(2020-05-04) Sloan Overworld Week5 Imagination Engine

Robin Sloan: Overworld Week 5, imagination engine. I made a system to aid in the generation of locations beyond this first one. That will be the focus of this week’s edition

a computer in my office churned away, its three GPUs piping hot, generating tiny descriptions of imaginary cities. There are now thousands of these descriptions—far too many for me to read and review

far too many for me to read and review

Most are boring

But some of them contain gold: scenes and sentences that sparkle with creativity, mystery, even beauty.

You see how this works! It’s not too different from the process I use for novels, short stories, and everything else, which relies on the collection and recombination of odd, interesting material.

I hereby invite you to spend a few minutes helping me sift.

The core mechanic of the game, as it’s developing, is a push and pull between “hunger” and “contentment.”

HUNGER, but not for power so much as knowledge, and even then, not knowledge FOR power, but knowledge… just to know. Because knowing is fun. Knowing what’s beyond the castle walls, knowing what’s on the other side of the ocean, knowing what’s on the dark side of the moon.

This link will set you on your journey. You may proceed until you get bored and/or exhaust yourself

each description offers you three responses

The goal of this exercise is to identify a subset of these descriptions—dozens? a hundred?—that have something special to offer.

Will any of this text go directly into the game? Absolutely not. Under no circumstances. How else can I say it? No way. The point of this isn’t to “make the AI do the writing”; it’s to prod and stoke the images and tropes in my brain, to help me invent a more interesting world.

On Twitter, a subscriber to this newsletter wrote, “I’m expecting to eventually realize I’ve been playing the Perils of the Overworld this whole time.” I thought of his joke as I was formatting these city pages for review. It might not be… entirely… wrong? (real-world game)

Writing this edition of my development diary, I realized that I’d forgotten the most important thing—the thing I learned from last year’s very successful newsletter: it must have an end date. So: this newsletter will run for 20 issues, at which point I will publish the first version of Perils of the Overworld.

Edited:    |       |    Search Twitter for discussion