Why Fledgeling?

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Why create Fledgeling? What is so special about this concept? And why this and not something else? Why take time from my friends and family and invest in idea which, truth be told, will likely never succeed?

We all believe we understand the world, more or less. But there are also mysteries. For me, the mystery is pretty much everything. I’m not able to confidently predict all of it. I’m curious. I want to know if I understand things properly. Creating is a way to check that, to compare the internal world with the external one. Fledgeling is a model of the whole world. I’m curious how accurate it is.

That, and I’m too proud for my own good. I’m tired of stupid explanations, narrative contrivances, and out of character dialog and actions for the sake of the plot. I’m pretty sure I can program a computer to write a more consistent and interesting plot than most professionals. Well, computer game plot anyhow. The interactive part is the key. When the computer is telling the story, then it can intentionally react to each player and their decisions. We’ve been stuck in the “choose your own adventure” school of computer game storytelling for far too long. I’m confident I can do better.

I’m also tired of plot doors, beautiful flowers that you can’t pick, and that cool vista that you can’t climb on. Computer games feel too much like a stage play where everything is made of cardboard cutouts and painted on details. I want to take stuff apart and see what it’s made of. I want to know that the world I’m playing in is more than skin deep.

I’m also curious about things that people haven’t thought of. I want to create an experience of things I have not known. This may not actually work out, but it’s one of the reasons. I’m not very optimistic of true computational creativity. But I’m hoping that, what it lacks in organic vivacity, Fledgeling’s creativity will compensate with mechanical impartiality (often so lacking among human GMs).

I’ve played “make believe” games for years now, first in the back yard as a child, then pencil and paper and dice in college, and later in planning sessions at work. I feel like computers can be taught to play these games as well, and keep track of the boring details so we don’t have to. Until now, most “computer games” have been the stage for the designer’s mechanics, the writers story, and the artist’s vision. My dream is to make Fledgeling a real foundation on which you and I can build our own worlds. Living worlds that convince and confound and surprise us.

Is that worth the effort? I sure hope so.

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