Web Developer - writing the Infinite Waves newsletter to learn about Artificial Intelligence. 🤖 Dan Clayton
The year is 2142. You have just woken up after being cryogenically frozen for over 100 years. You’re in Berlin. Who are you? Or, rather, who were you? You were a game developer, remember? The brain fog is clearing and you really want to brush your teeth, your mouth is dry and your breath is stale. You swallow that tiny bit of century-old pizza that was stuck in your teeth.
You seem to be in some metropolitan offices, you see this logo everywhere:
You look outside the window and nature seems to have reclaimed much of the city. Vines and tree roots have grown and cracked through buildings. An industrial-green symbiotic hybrid of architectural structures. Elk run wild through the low-hanging mist. You feel simultaneously at home and completely lost, abandoned, but liberated.
And here, we briefly break the fourth wall to orientate you. You must still be pretty sleepy after all that time sleeping in the fridge. That midnight snack turned into a very long nap, didn’t it?
Inspired by how well Klang Games have set the scene with backstory and lore for ‘SEED’, their (in-development) epic-looking Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) simulation game, I thought I would emulate their proposition of leaving Earth to go to Avesta, the planet scheduled for colonisation.
“Seed is a virtual world that allows players to self-govern and participate in a real player-driven economy in a vast, sandbox environment. Seed also examines the idea of what it is to be human, focusing on the philosophical concepts of futurism. A deep experience, breaking down the constraints of what it means to play a game.” - Klang Games
SEED is still under development and may be subject to change.
We’ll use the narrative of this attempted journey to the new utopia as a way to explain the game and discuss the AI and what goes on under the hood.
I spoke to their excellent game AI engineer Alessia Nigretti to get some insights into the team’s development process, the technology unpinning it, and of course the game itself, SEED.
The quotes prefixed with “Alessia” below are actual quotes transcribed from the interview I had with Alessia Nigretti about SEED.
This will be a multi-part series. Subscribe (for free) to get access to all parts, delivered to your inbox upon release:
I want you to imagine that it’s the end of days, Earth is over, finito (if you’re of a Doomsdayer disposition you might not have to have to stretch the imagination too far).
To be clear this meta-narrative is of my own invention and should be treated as a fun spinoff separate from the world and story of Klang’s ‘SEED’, but obviously is directly inspired by it.
Back to the story…
The walls of the office are full of plans. What was the plan? You remember you were part of something.
The AI system boots up on your computational wrist strap. The disembodied voice introduces itself as your AI accomplice, Alessia Nigretti:
“I studied Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence in Bright
on, UK, for three years. During that time, I worked a yearlong internship at Unity as a Technical Evangelist.
Given my background and my interest in AI, I started working with Unity’s Machine Learning team on ML-Agents, in addition to other non-AI features. While I was in my last year of university, I was looking to relocate, and looking for a project that interested me. Klang really sounded like it was hitting exactly what I was interested in: making an entire game revolve around AI, using it as a way to describe real emotions, and as the hook to get people attached to the game, to get people really involved in the game.”
Your wrist just started talking. At first, it spooks the heeby jeebies out of you. You sense your heart rate spiking. You settle down and ask:
“Are you… real?”
There is no response, and besides, you’re not even sure if you are real.
The last you remember the whole world was turning hyperreal, a blurred physical-digital simulacrum constructed primarily of cat memes and infinite TikTok loops, and you wonder if Bitcoin ever did take over the financial infrastructure of the world?
On all of the screens in the office a video plays endlessly:
Then it makes sense. You know who you are. You are more than a game developer. You are a SEED pioneer. The game you were developing became retrospectively prophetic, it became a reality. You are flooded with a concoction of neurotransmitters that, unknown to you, was instigated by a Computer-Brain Interface embedded in your skull.
“Hey Alessia, what’s happened to Earth?”
“The story for now, is that human beings have basically destroyed the planet as we know it, and were forced to move onto a new planet: Avesta. It has similar conditions to Earth, but we have to nurture it to get it to a state that is liveable.”
“Just like the game.” You whisper to yourself.
Tingling with waves of motivation-provoking dopamine you hurry around Klang Games HQ and gather an inventory. You grab a satchel to pack water canisters and enough candy to satisfy a small elephant. You slide out of your hibernation slippers and lace up a mean pair of kevlar boots. Evacuation, if you’re not too late, is your primary goal.
Encouraged by the dream of Avesta, the new world, you ask:
“Alessia, what is possible on Avesta?”
“You can of course go rank up in the society pyramid, but that’s only one choice. As a player, you can decide to go very hardcore, if that’s what you want your characters to do in the game. But alternatively, you can also choose to be one of the people focused on nurturing your family, your Seedlings, your relationships.”
Your eyes are still blurred and everything looks slightly pixelated.
You access a terminal on one of the computers and begin looking for departure locations. Within a couple of minutes, you access a launch schedule. There is one rocket left, 6 miles away. It leaves in 42 minutes.
You’re still euphoric from the neurochemicals blasting your synapses, which you now interpret as severe panic as you consider the possibility you might be left as the last person on Earth.
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