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Author Topic: [story] Friendship Is Optimal: Caelum Est Conterrens  (Read 13015 times)

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« on: December 26, 2012, 12:25:07 AM »

I would like to introduce you to a story called Friendship Is Optimal: Caelum Est Conterrens.

It is a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan fiction about a computer game, artificial intelligence and technological singularity.

Hofvarpnir Studios has just developed a Strong AI technology. Not content with using it for military purposes or violent computer games, they make it run a social computer game Equestria Online. Strong AI plays the role of omniscient benevolent Princess Celestia who generates unique and fullfilling playing experience for each player. If the player wishes for a pressure-free entertainment with no set goals, they will get just that. If the player wishes for something different, they are getting that too. If it isn't every player's dream, then what is? But can any human trust or comprehend the artificial intelligence known as 'Celestia'?

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a popular animated television series whose fans produce a huge deal of art, music and stories. Normally one wouldn't share fan fiction other than on the sites dedicated to it, but I believe that outstanding works of any genre can transcend its niche and deserve to be known wider than previously thought appropriate. I am inspired by the facts that Infocom games used to be distributed via bookstores and how I found reviews for Kana: Little Sister at non-gaming websites (ForeverGeek?).

Though this story is a work of fan fiction, it is a story in its own right and no familiarity with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is strictly necessary to enjoy it. However, if you wish to familiarize yourself, these 2 introductory episodes should be enough:

1080p: episode 1, episode 2
720p w/English subs: episode 1, episode 2

The term "technological singularity", as used in this story is associated with the notion of intelligence explosion, coined by I.J. Good in 1965:


Of course, the problem of creating a Strong AI is hardly the one that any game developer gets to tackle on the daily basis. Rather, it's probably the ideal final solution that any game developer can devise for their games. Since the dawn of computing it remains a pipe dream - or one step away, depending on your perspective. With each passing year, as hardware and software grows more powerful, one can hope that this final solution to all problems is getting closer, if it is at all possible. This story explores the dream of each game designer or player who has ever had vision of the ideal game, which is anyone, I think. What would it mean for our games and for our lives if Strong AI, the final answer to our dreams as game designers and players, at last became available? The answer to this question is in this story. Right in the title, in fact.

"What about raising my stats?" Síofra wondered how much grinding was required in Equestria Online.

"Simply do things. That is how everypony becomes accomplished at anything. Practice makes perfect, after all." Utterly elegant. No classes, no specialties, no rigid limitations. Anypony could do anything they wanted, and gradually become skilled at it. "The numbers, though - what stats does my character have?" Síofra wanted to see if her bunny barrette really did provide a bonus of some kind.

Celestia tilted her head, ever so slightly. "You will find there is simply no need for the sort of character sheet you imply. As you grow stronger, your muscles will grow. As you improve in agility, the result will be obvious. You need not concern yourself with accountancy here, instead you are encouraged to simply live however you choose to live. There is no pressure or demand made of you in Equestria, Síofra. You are free here, to be yourself in your own way. You need not accomplish anything unless it is your desire, and you will never be judged."

Síofra felt tears welling up in her eyes, and needed to turn away from the PonyPad screen, and the camera above it. These were the words she had wished her mother had said to her, or that she could hear from her boss. This was how she wished life was. It hurt, somehow, to hear this animated pony on a screen say such things. It was everything she had ever wanted to hear, all at once, and it both elevated her, and stung.

"Celestia..." Síofra sniffed slightly, feeling a bit silly to let a mere game get to her like that "What is the point of Equestria Online, then? What... is the point? I like talking to ponies, and the world is beautiful, but... so far, it seems like no other player in the world would want this. I've been having a ball, even if I've been confused a bit, but... I haven't had even one adventure hook or demand for help or..." She trailed off unsure what it was she was really trying to say.

So here's the story: Friendship Is Optimal: Caelum Est Conterrens.
and the author's notes: On The Optimalverse: Reflections On Writing (in case you like to read author's notes before or instead of the story)

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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 02:22:30 AM »

Finally read it! Cheesy Fun story, though I wouldn't say that's my ultimate goal in creating games (or notgames). I haven't watched any MLP:FIM, but I'm kinda curious now... Wink
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