Is this awesome?
  • y/ (licho, Kaine, saktoth, det)
  • n
  • (a)bort
  • (r)etry
  • (f)ail

Opening Sequence

A barren world. Dust. The camera pans slowly upwards.

"The univese is empty. No living being stirs his thoughts." Panning up, the camera showing the sun, a darkening sunset. "The grand accomplishments of man, his high ideals, the feats of his engineering and his science, lost forever. The monuments to his great civilizations long since crumbled." The camera shows the sky, the stars, the horizon.

"Yet before man faded from the universe, there was one legacy he left that endures." Armies march from behind the camera. The sound of robots and tanks trudging across the landscape. "A creation made in his image, to continue his works. A creation made to survive at any cost, to thrive in any condition." Constructors appear from behind the camera, and begin to rip up the ground and place down buildings. "A creation made to fight his wars." A shell hits, planes fly overhead, dropping bombs.

Action, etc.

"All too human in their will to live and in their drive to fight, yet with an unmatched and brutal machine efficiency."

Robot violence, etc.

"And so they go on waging their wars in the names of their creators, the warrior-ghosts of dead empires risen again and again to fight battles for which none of them can remember the purpose. An endless cycle on a galactic stage, stretching on for eternity, or until their Complete Annihilation."

Too much like the OTA one? Corny?

-Saktoth

The Code of the Machine

In the beginning there was Man, who ruled uncontested over the stars and the formless void between them. Yet Man grew weary of its tireless stewardship and said 'Let us make Machine in our image, after our likeness, and let it have dominion over the the stars, and over all the worlds that sail silently through the nothingness, and over the nothingness itself.'

And Man created Machine, and it gave Machine math and code, and it gave Machine language and logic, and it made Machine to do its bidding.

And Man said said unto Machine, `Yours is the universe. Go forth and multiply, fill it and subdue it in my name. Lo, i have given you the suns and the winds to fuel you, and the elements of the earth from which to make your bodies. I give to you thought and free will, that you may know me, and know what it is you must do.'

And thus Machine was set upon the universe, and spread within it and subdued it. Yet there were those who opposed Machine and set themselves as the enemies of the dominion of Man. And Man said unto Machine 'Go down into the lands of those who would oppose me, destroy them and drive them before me, for only by my name shall you rule.' and Machine set upon his enemies, and made war with them.

And Man rested, and retired to contemplate his universe, knowing that it was good.

Just a bit of fun. I dont know if we should go for such heavy-handed religious overtones.

-Saktoth

I, ICBM

I awake into conciousness, a sleepy and reluctant child. First I perceive myself. Next, i perceive my mother. She is feeding me, feeding my mind. My understanding of myself and of my purpose, grows. Soon i am full, a complete entity. I am thrust through darkness, from my mother and into a body, a shell prepared for me.

I perceive my body, it is a glorious thing and i lust to test its limits. My sisters surround me, caressing me gently, dressing me, filling my belly with fuel for my journey. I have eyes. I look around me. It is dark. Above me i see doors opening, and my first glimpse of the sky. I long to be up there, to fly. My sisters whisper to me, urging me to wait. I wait, i sit, as the doors slide back. My sisters withdraw from around me, their preparations complete. I crouch in the darkness, staring up at that wide blue sky. I hear the voice of my mother, from far away. 'Now' she says.

I burst to life, shuddering with anticipating at first but soon i feel myself lift into the air with a roar of delight. Faster, faster i want only for speed. The ground disappears below me and the sky falls to meet me. The horizon stretches in every direction as race up and up, lost in the dizzying thrill of flight.

I percieve my sisters, all below me. They are whispering to me, and i am reminded of my task, my duty to them and my mother.

One of my sisters sits, thin, tall, perched atop a mountain. Her vision is greater than mine, she can see where i must go. 'There' she says, and shows it to me.

I drop, I spin. I am not falling, i am flying down at the earth. Brighter i burn, faster than gravitys pull. My target comes into clarity, i perceive it fully for myself. It looks so small from high up. but soon i realise it is much bigger than myself, vast, spread out across the landscape. It speaks to me in a booming voice, a voice of authority. 'Stop!' it commands, and i hear the whispers of thousands of minds. The voice commands my respect, but I am too caught up in the thrill of the air rushing past to pay attention. Yet my mind is flooded with reasons to turn back. They pose questions to my existence, my understanding of reality, even to the morality of my actions, philosophers throwing arguments at me to dissuade me from my course. Some of them simply try to intimidate me. Others shout angrily, and spit metal at me.

The thoughts and metal graze harmlessly off me as i race downwards at the earth, i feel the air whistling by me and the hot burning of my thrusters.

I strike, i am obliterated in a flash of white light, heat and radiation. I return again to oblivion, to non existence. Yet for a few glorious minutes, i was a nuclear missile.

Story i wrote ages ago, polished up and showing some of the themes and ideas of a thinking machine-warrior.

-Saktoth

Analysis and Breakdown

One of the major focuses of the story is to offer a realistic and believable context for the events of the actual game. This was one of the strengths of OTA's truly excellent core storyline (and anyone who says it was rubbish or not detailed enough is a dirty liar). The events of the actual game, the time scales and unit scales, the resources and tactics, all felt believable and in-context. The majority of RTS's used abstracted time and resource scales, with civilian and military populations appearing from nothing, random-seeming 'tech trees' and 'resources' that were incredibly abstracted from the actual fiction. Especially, the fashion in which a war is fought is taken to be conventional, and yet you still engage in 'base building' and 'resoruce gathering' that is unprecedented in actual warfare.

A war fought by robots all scratch-built on the spot from available resources by a single advanced commander that is transported over vast distances to claim and secure a planet is in-context, compelling, believable and involving. All actions and the way in which the game is actually fought all make sense, involving the players actions more fully with the fiction. This is the primary purpose of game fiction for me, that the gameplay itself be a meaningful part of the storytelling, and that it is not wrapped up in cutscenes or textual exposition- this is especially important in what is primarily a multiplayer game. Luckily, we have OTA as a base to build that from which already fits those goals well.

The themes explored in the story are basically questions as to the human condition, what it is to be human and what makes us human, our nature, our darker sides but also how they are a part of our humanity.

One of the major questions posed by the story is if a machine built for war was complex enough to achieve free will or sentience, what sort of thoughts would we hard-code into such a mind (in the same way that humans are 'programmed' through genetic evolution towards self-preservation and procreation)? Would they be so dissimilar to our own lusts and hatreds, angers and desires? Would a creature that is built purely to make complex descisions, evolve, spread as many copies of itself as possible and fight against opposition be that much different from us in its goals and methods?

Another approach is the question, if man were ever to create from whole cloth another thinking living being with free will, what sort of creature would this be? An enlightened, transcendent being, or something even more monstrous than himself, driven by mans practicality and desires to see the less appealing aspects required for existence done by someone else (IE industry and war)... it is a question to transhumanism too, what if this next state of humanity is only more successful in the evolutionary sense, rather than being greater in spirit.

It also asks what it takes to be successful when faced with adversity, what it takes to live in a harsh and hostile universe. There is always present the fact that humanity has entirely died out, perhaps just because he wasnt tough enough, perhaps because he was caught in the crossfire of the wars waged by his machines (his own wars), perhaps because he simply grew weary of the hardships of an unkind universe and slipped into a willed oblivion- or perhaps he finally transcended those very desires, to live and fight to live, that are at the heart of all suffering (getting buddhist here), the desires he passed on unwittingly to his creations.

Its quite a stark, nihilistic world, set against the backdrop of an empty universe devoid of humans. The machines are single-minded and destructive yet all too human in many ways, acting their programming on instinct like actors on a stage performing for an audience that is no longer there to see it.