A Rough Starting Idea for a Town, perhaps?

Discussion in 'Worlds Chat' started by Tzaphqiel, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    After letting a few thoughts off my head at the last stretch of Drakerberg, one of the comments from Elli got me to thinking about a town (specifically, a "futuristic town" as suggested). I'm not sure if I have the time or willpower to try and start this idea, but I figured I'd post the rough ideas here in case someone else might be willing to see it through.

    The main inspiration for this town was the Zachtronics game "Shenzhen I/O", which takes place about 10 years from now, first in Shenzhen, China and then in the independent nation-corporation of Avalon, a man-made island in international waters home to the best of the best in research, security, and so on. Avalon, in this case, is intended to be a sort of research incubator where citizen-employees are expected to freely collaborate to help improve the future of the world in as many areas as possible, with the puzzles in that part of the game focusing on aquaculture (a combination of fish farming and hydroponics), improved nuclear reactor technology, biotech, and brain-computer interfaces (or BCIs). As such, I would consider the main idea of this town to be a similar man-made island full of interesting research.

    However, that alone probably wouldn't carry a town. So I started thinking of other ideas that might help prop this idea up. At first I thought about combining it with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, considering that it, too, occurs in about 10-15 years and also makes a fair bit of use of BCIs. Human Revolution even has a fair amount of it's story take place in Hengsha, China. However, aside from the grittiness of Human Revolution, I also figured that Hengsha's main point, an artificial superstructure supporting another city overtop the main city, would clash a bit too much with Diametria [staff edit: Diametria's thread]. But I still wanted to keep the idea of trans-humanism in mind.

    With that in mind, I turned to the AI angle. Human Revolution (and, in fact, much of the rest of the Deus Ex series) includes some AI characters in what may or may not be a slow push into General AI and the technological singularity, but those AI aren't necessarily portrayed as being outright evil or against humanity. If anything, they seem willing to, if not hoping to, integrate themselves with humanity. Shenzhen I/O also had a little bit of such characterization of AI with one of the earlier puzzles being given to you by an Autonomous Corporation, or a business that is completely run by an AI independent of human intervention which, although not necessarily a force for good, isn't exactly evil either. Which made me think of all of the other stories and games that I loved with AI being portrayed as fairly human: Kino's Journey, Thomas Was Alone, The Talos Principle, Subsurface Circular, and, perhaps most importantly, Time of Eve. Time of Eve seems like the perfect second part for inspiration as the main story focuses on a world in which robots fulfill many roles originally taken on by humans and suffer discrimination from it. But in their world is a small cafe, the titular "Time of Eve", in which humans and robots are not allowed to discriminate against each other. And it is within this cafe that we see that the robots really are more human than they are allowed to be outside. Subsurface Circular had similar themes about robots making humans redundant and The Talos Principle had similar notions of similarity, but the former is a bit more sinister and the latter a bit more solemn than I would want for a driving force.

    So, I guess, the end idea would be this: A floating, man-made city in which humans and robots interact freely. I know that this intersects with Scythian Peaks' Lednia a bit, which does worry me a little about the future of this prospect, but my mind has gotten so attached to this idea that I figured I'd mention it here just to get it out. If this is as far as the idea ever goes, then that's fine. I just figured I'd put the thought out here if anyone else wanted to see it.

    Thanks for your time in reading this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2018
  2. TurnDownTheAC

    TurnDownTheAC Astronut Staff Member Administrator Lifetime V.I.P.

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    I've been wanting more sci-fi towns for a lonnnnnng time now so I support the idea a lot, and will likely write more when I have time to think about things more, but for now I just want to mention that Time of Eve is one of my all-time favs (also Pale Cocoon, which is from the same director). :)
     
  3. Cat0Nine

    Cat0Nine Tree Puncher Nerdfighter

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    I feel as though we have enough towns for right now. Perhaps give everyone a breather? We've got plenty of towns that could use some more life in them.
     
  4. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    I mean, this is a rough idea. It's not like it'd be done in a few months or anything, as I literally have not built anything for it. What I've posted here is absolutely all that I've done for it, so it would likely take a solid year or so just to get to the point where this could even think of applying for funding.
    And, again, I'm not even saying that I'd do anything for it beyond this. I'm not sure I even have the will to do so.
     
  5. Dr. Parnassus

    Dr. Parnassus Tree Puncher Staff Member Moderator Lifetime V.I.P.

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    I like this! Given some time to regroup and take a breather from DB, and I'd love to help if you get this started.
     
  6. M. Peach

    M. Peach Pig Jockey Nerdfighter

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    I like sci-fi (though I have no idea what your given references are), and it would be unique. A floating city (over a section of ocean so as to not overshadow the land) could even have a land bound rocket station as a "point of entry" (though really a warp would be needed to get there) and a decorated underside (though it would have to be lighted so as to not be totally black) which would give it a lot of dimension. Good luck with the idea!
     
  7. Theo da Kaffei

    Theo da Kaffei Sign Stacker Staff Member Administrator Lifetime V.I.P.

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    Actually, not really. We apparently are really misunderstood here, heh. The big spiders in Lednia are machines (or at the most mystic steam automatons - you wouldn't call Howl's Moving Castle a robot after all) and the small creatures like the one at the blacksmith are symbolic Lednians.

    Robots would therefore be a new topic. Especially when you style it futuristic and not anachronistic like SP tries to do.
     
  8. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    That's nice to know, actually. Thanks!
    Also, I had some more ideas recently as well as the realization that some links/descriptions of the inspirations might help, so I'll (hopefully soon) compose a larger post or two with that information.
     
  9. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    Okay, let's start this off with the games and series that this drew inspiration from, including links (mostly Steam and Crunchyroll links) to the relevant titles. I'm also going to include some of the other titles I mentioned in case they might influence any other ideas that could stem from this general project, but the two main sources will be covered first.

    Shenzhen I/O: Shenzhen I/O is a programming-and-electrical-engineering puzzle game from Zachtronics (a developer known so well for puzzle games like Shenzhen I/O that it has inspired an entire genre of similarly tough puzzle games sometimes referred to as "Zach-likes"). The primary plot of the game is that you are an out-of-work engineer from the U.S. in 2026 who finds a job working with an electronics manufacturing firm in Shenzhen, China. At the firm, you interact with your "co-workers" via e-mail, which provides most of the story and fleshing out of the projects/puzzles you will be working on, which range from the utilitarian Rangefinders, Air-Pollution-Controlled Automatic Windows, and Traffic Signal Managers, to the novelty Theme Park Token Exchangers, Spoiler-Blocking Headphones and "Haunted" Dolls, to the absurd Sandwich Makers, Color-Changing Shoes, and Light-up Vape Pens. There are about 30 such projects in the initial story. The main inspiration comes from the second part of the game, after you've completed the 30th project, where you are invited by Sun Haotian, the person who requested many of the products you helped to make in order to create Avalon City, the above-mentioned independent city-corporation housed on a floating structure in international waters (which is what I was intending when I suggested a "floating" city: one floating on water). In the second half, you are presented 10 harder projects from other citizen-employees, starting with food management like Food Storage Robots and Kelp Harvesters, moving to a general mix of projects like a Practice Target for the police and Thorium Reactor Status Monitors, and finishing with Brain-Computer Interfaces and Cell-Culture Printers along with other cybernetics research. So, in general, this second part on an independent island composed of the best and the brightest was what inspired the main town idea. The game itself can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/504210/SHENZHEN_IO/

    Time of Eve: Time of Eve is a story set some unspecified amount of time in the future in Japan, with robots (or, rather, androids) that not only look human but have just begun to perform about every human job to the same level as humans, to the point where some teaching and child-rearing and even fine-arts performances are being done by androids, making it apparent that the original Three Laws from Asimov's stories don't quite make humans safe from robots (in fact, there are already several hundred laws governing robot behavior, with rule number 9 enforcing the need to visually distinguish between humans and androids at all times). In this story, two young men have to cope with the ways android use has impacted them after happening upon the titular "Time of Eve" cafe, a cafe where the one rule "No discrimination between humans and robots" overrules the standard laws and allows for deeper exploration of just what, exactly, androids think about. Naturally, this was the source of the idea for having robots not only play into this town idea but to be regarded as equals. I don't want to give too much about the story away, suffice to say that it does make you wonder just how different the androids in the story really are. The movie-version of the series can be found on iTunes in the U.S., U.K., and Australia from what I've heard, but the Crunchyroll link to the series can be found here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/time-of-eve Though I should mention that only the first episode can be viewed for free; You will need a subscription to view the other five episodes.

    With those two listed, here are the more side inspirations.

    The Deus Ex Series: I mentioned Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a possible link because it specifically focuses on some of the consequences of Brain-Machine Interfaces and prosthetics technologies, especially when they are used for more than restoring lost function. It also included a character that was an exceptionally-advanced AI masquerading as a news personality as part of the conspiracy setup of the story. Even the original Deus Ex game included AIs used for similar purposes. That being said, both of these games have a fairly darker tone to them, and are filled with references to the Illuminati and other such conspiracies, to say nothing of the other more mature topics they cover, so making slight nods to them in one or two small ways as opposed to substantial influence might be for the best. The original game can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/6910/Deus_Ex_Game_of_the_Year_Edition/ And Deus Ex: Human Revolution (which will have an age-wall) can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/238010/Deus_Ex_Human_Revolution__Directors_Cut/

    Thomas Was Alone: Thomas Was Alone is a story about an AI named Thomas and his journey, meeting other AIs along the way, and eventually performing an act that will save several AI, with chapter comments from several characters in the future (including an AI-rights activist) summarizing the events in the game. I really don't want to spoil this series because it is just excellent (and the game play is relatively simple), but you can probably find play-throughs online if you wish to see the story. The game itself can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/220780/Thomas_Was_Alone/

    Subsurface Circular: Another game from Bithell Games, and technically set in the same universe as Thomas Was Alone, Subsurface Circular has you playing the role of a Tek (the robots in that world) working as a detective for the local government. In this game, you interact with other Teks in a subway train while trying to figure out a mystery of the disappearances of Teks from the city, uncovering an odd conspiracy that will shape human-tek relations for a long time to come. Again, I can't say too much without spoiling it and, although you could probably find play-throughs of it many of them will only cover the first half of the game (honoring a request that Mike Bithell, the head of Bithell Games, made). The game can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/676820/Subsurface_Circular/

    The Talos Principle: My favorite game of all time (and the inspiration for both my in-game avatar and my forum llama-avatar), The Talos Principle has you play as an AI inside of a world made to resemble ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, and Medieval Europe and given the task of solving puzzles by a disembodied voice from the heavens claiming to be your creator. As you play, you uncover documents and recordings from people who worked to create the world you are in alongside a repository of human art and history and slowly learn that humanity has met its end and sought to find a way to ensure that they will be remembered. The documents also provide food for thought regarding the difference, if any, between humans and machines. Indeed, the title is a reference to a fictional principle from a fictional ancient Greek philosopher, both made for the game, in which the Talos of Greek myth (the giant made of bronze animated with a single vein of ichor) is described as having thoughts and feelings of it's own despite working within the rules set about by it's creator. This principle states that Talos, too, could feel and love and that, after it's vessel was drained by removing the nail in his ankle that sealed it, Talos died, suggesting that perhaps we, too, are just machines and that, despite this going against every bit of theology and philosophy from Greece, so too would priests and philosophers die if they were to lose their blood. Naturally, considering that this occurs after humanity, making this a major source of inspiration would be a bit depressing. But I still wanted to mention it in case it helped spark some ideas. The game itself can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/257510/The_Talos_Principle/

    Kino's Journey: Kino's Journey is an episodic series (or two, technically) focusing on the adventures of a traveler named Kino and her talking motorcycle (or "motorrad") Hermes as they go around visiting various countries. Each country has it's own quirks and each story generally focuses on how the people in each country lives their lives, with the general focus being on the follies of extreme thinking, the possibilities that continue to present themselves even when it seems all is lost, and the myriad ways people cope with what is going on around them. There are a couple of episodes that deal with AI and robots (including one episode in the second series set on a giant, island-sized ship) that could be gleaned for inspiration, and one could possibly argue that Hermes would also qualify (even though Hermes is less an AI and more of a being that just happens to be the way he is). Regardless, I'll also mention it here, and leave the Crunchyroll link to the second series here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/kinos-journey-the-beautiful-world-the-animated-series The first series can be found on Funimation's website last I've heard, so that might also be available for anyone interested.
     
  10. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    For the second post, here are couple of ideas that came to mind about smaller builds. This post is going to be much shorter, but I figured it'd probably be better suited to a separate post.

    First, maybe a recreation of the Time of Eve cafe itself. In particular, part of me would like to see something depicting the interaction of lots of humans and robots from fiction in a friendly environment. Naturally, this means that some robots/AI wouldn't qualify (like Glados or Wheatley, though maybe Atlas and P-Body from the co-op campaigns could qualify), but some of the characters from Time of Eve along with a Tek from Subsurface Circular interacting with Penny (and maybe Ruby) from RWBY, Wall-E (from Wall-E), and other more friendly robots from other stories would be interesting to see in one place interacting with fellow humans.

    Second, considering that this would be a giant mechanical/floating island, it might stand to reason that one feature would be a Moon Pool (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_pool) for research and recreation. Naturally, though, this would make me wonder if there would need to be both an outer area and an interior area for this city. There would also need to be a harbor of sorts, of course, but this might make for an interesting avenue of travel and exploration.
     
  11. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    So, some more thoughts I've had (maybe I might pursue this, slowly, but I can't guarantee it). Specifically, I've done a bit of example building with a 25x25x15 section from the edge of a circle (which has since been edited to match a circle with a 255 block diameter), if only to get a rough idea of what it might look like.

    The plan was to have both an outer level with buildings, parks, and the like along with interior floors for various purposes (possibly including plots, assuming people would be fine with plots that extend no more than 10 y-levels), but I'm not sure if I did a good job illustrating this idea.

    If anyone wants to take a closer look (especially at any changes that have happened since I took the screenshots), it is on my creative plot right behind the giant target board. Otherwise here are a couple of screencaps:
    2018-02-07_21.11.28.png 2018-02-07_21.11.39.png
     
  12. M. Peach

    M. Peach Pig Jockey Nerdfighter

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    "Moon pool"... Doh! For some reason when you said something about floating (as in floating city) I assumed floating way up in the air, not floating on the water...
     
  13. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    I've done a bit more construction on the idea I had just to get a sense of scale and I've come to a few conclusions regarding the original idea above:
    1. The design would need to be much thicker than it is (maybe extending a bit into the water to account for that height), as plots that are only 5 blocks tall aren't necessarily something people will want. That being said, I don't want to do too much with the underwater stuff as then it will overlap with Otoh Gunga from the old map.
    2. I'll need to consider something like balconies to account for plots along the edge, so a "perfect" circle wouldn't really work.
    3. I'll need to look into either wiping more of my creative plot out or finding a second creative plot to work on if I want to extend any of this idea any further.
    4. I'll need to prioritize spaces on the town's topside to allow for big builds.
    5. I should probably search for screenshots for the intended source material instead of just listing Steam and Crunchyroll links.

    In the meantime, here is a screenshot of the updated schematic, with white glass denoting the limits of the town area (assuming a circle of diameter 255) and blue/cyan glass denoting a possible topside build plot with dimensions 10 x 81 (blue) and 16 x 23 (cyan):
    2018-02-27_22.36.11.png
     
  14. Nodred

    Nodred Potato Taster Nerdfighter

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    This idea reminds me a lot of what I consider Pixar's greatest exercise in worldbuilding (poured into an overall mediocre film): Big Hero 6's San Fransokyo, a sci-fi city which I *adore* and want to explore every street of if I could. The design philosophy behind that city is actually alike yours - a place where the sky is the limit, and technology is celebrated and adored at every street corner. Execution is completely different though.

    Aesthetically, modernistic scifi cities are interesting because they tend to focus on verticality a lot - though I feel that the best ones are those that *look* vertical but have most cool stuff happening between the ground and third floor. On top of that, the interesting examples are generally intentionally cluttered or bright coloured to make up for the lack of greenery. I've seen better and worse examples though. Moreso than any other town before you, you'd have to consider how empty plots create voids that conflict with that cluttered, vertical landscape. Setting your town in the sky helps, but if you need some additional help drafting ideas, let me know and I'll see what I can do to help draft some concepts, at the very least.

    Would not reccomend holding on to this circle too tightly. It limits a lot of your ability to deviate for creativity in the long run, as they tend to drift towards symmetrical designs or a centre-point that becomes overly dominant. Star shapes work okay though, usually.

    Now that DB is finished, you and I both should be able to use Worldedit in Creative to help draft the new concept. Especially with this concept, that can save a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It lends itself pretty okay to copy-pastery without becoming bland. On the other hand... *sigh... Nerdcrafteria has so many town concepts just floating around there, unfinished.

    Generally I don't think you need to worry about clashing with other town projects, except perhaps for Harmonia.

    Good luck.
     
  15. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    Thanks for the feedback! I wasn't aware that we had WE on creative plots, but I'll look into that as well.

    As for the circular design, I figured that would probably be something I'd want to get rid of eventually, but I kind of felt a little attached at first because of the apparent design of Avalon City from Shenzhen I/O. I've got a couple of screenshots here to help explain:
    20180228132728_1.jpg
    20180228132755_1.jpg
    The first image is the Avalon City skyline (for lack of a better word) that you see when you've completed the first campaign, and should hopefully help with any ideas about verticality. The town is in no way intended to be as big and towering as NB or many other sci-fi cities.
    The second image is from the last puzzle in the first campaign, in which you are designing an ID badge (for Avalon City's citizen-employees) that also tracks their location, with the map at the bottom-right corresponding to test locations during the verification runs depicted above. The map being circular influenced the final idea for the town shape, but that can definitely be changed.

    In fact, your comments reminded me of a couple of older ideas I had scrapped: the use of layers from Hengsha as depicted in Deus Ex: Human Revolution (I've also found a couple of online screenshots to help explain that) and the idea of a combined artificial island and natural island (originally inspired by Nirai Kanai from RahXephon, though the original Nirai Kanai legend from Ryukyu Shinto is very different, so the connection is extremely tenuous at best). Specifically, I was thinking of maybe having the full floating island/boat-like island connected by bridge to some structures supported above the mushroom biome island towards the South-south-west part of the map, perhaps with the idea that the mushroom island functions as a sort of agricultural hub for the human residents of the island, with mushroom-based food being a big part of the local culture (which would also fit a bit with Avalon City, as one of the characters expresses a desire to have a full 12-course French meal where all of the ingredients are derived from Kelp in some way). Having a structure up top could be used to justify giving even more shade for mushrooms to grow on the island and also allow a structure like these screenshots: The Pangu, or the superstructure that makes up Hengsha in Deus Ex and Upper Hengsha, built on top of the Pangu.

    Naturally, this leaves a lot of questions regarding how robots fit into all of this, as that was the other big part of this town idea, and I'm still trying to think about how to do it. Part of me still wants to incorporate that Time of Eve cafe idea from an earlier comment, but that's just a passing acknowledgement at best, not a proper incorporation of robots and AI into society. And I do want to try and do something more with humans and robots coexisting rather than establishing a new pseudo-class divide, because there's already a ton of that in literature already (going as far back as Capek's R.U.R. and, technically, even some of the Golem stories from Jewish folklore) and I'd like to at least consider the possibility that robots and AI don't hate humans.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  16. M. Peach

    M. Peach Pig Jockey Nerdfighter

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    You know, with something like that Avalon City pic you could actually have plots inside buildings, like a larger version of mall stores...
     
  17. Tzaphqiel

    Tzaphqiel Potato Taster Lifetime V.I.P.

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    That was part of what I was thinking. The screencaps of my schematic build doesn't really show them, but I did have plans to have plots inside of the main structure itself along with plots on the surface. That being said, building larger buildings and selling of floors, parts of floors, or wings of said buildings might be able to work, if I can keep the regioning inside of the main walls/hallways. Thanks for the additional idea!
     

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