Monday, October 12, 2009

Pebbles in the Ethereal Shoe

Last night's tweets;

Black holes grow fat in old televisions.
Diversions from stasis are so passé.
Deer brains break on Player One's intrusions.
A cucumber sandwich you must assay.

I can see this is going to be one of my stranger sonnets.

I played Oblivion at Tim's house yesterday. Although I did eventually play some World of Warcraft, I'm finding myself intensely bored with it lately. Oblivion is so much prettier. And, playing it again, I've been able to enjoy its unique NPC AI--"Radiant AI", as it was called, referring to the programmers' intent to create entities that will solve problems on their own based on their embedded motives and what objects and people are in their environment. It's some of the most sophisticated AI ever deployed in a video game and, as such, it can be pretty silly.

A week or two ago, I watched two archers have a fight to the death because, while they were both hunting the same deer, one man accidentally shot the other. The winner of the impromptu shoot-out ran off on a mission to kill every other archer he came across, as he was now an enemy of that faction.

Last night I was running from a town called Skingrad to a town called Chorrol when a deer ran past me followed by a wolf. I watched the wolf kill one deer before dashing off to find another. In his wake, I found a living deer whose AI appeared to have broken at the sight of the passing wolf. It munched on grass and occasionally darted its head up to look around, as though sensing danger, but wouldn't acknowledge my presence however close I was. I ended up pushing it into a pen in a nearby priory. I went into the priory for a moment, and when I came out, the deer's brain had switched back on and it was running madly about the pen in which it had awoken to find itself. But just as I was thinking I'd gotten myself a pet deer, it leapt into the stone wall of the priory and vanished.

The mysterious and unpredictable programming of Oblivion is one of the things that keeps it endlessly fresh. This, and the incredibly beautiful environments, have caused it to outlive for me Bethesda's newer game, Fallout 3, in which the AI was considerably more restrained, probably to avoid some of the more embarrassing accidents that could occur in Oblivion. But the silly stuff is almost always better than the stories Bethesda comes up with.

Anyway, I'm running late to-day and I have a lot to catch up on, so enjoy episode 5 of Neon Genesis Evangelion;

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