Monday, November 29, 2021

What If An A.I. Wrote Your Favorite Games

You've probably heard that the machines are coming for our jobs … and eventually our bodies. But what does this strange, machine-run future look like? To gain a sneak-peek into that world, we asked the A.I.-based text generator InferKit to rewrite some of our favorite games, and the results ranged from hilarious to outright eerie. Below are the A.I. rewrites – the seed text is in bold, and everything else is machine-generated. Batman: Arkham Asylum The inmates of Arkham Asylum have been set free – and it's up to Batman to bring order to the chaos and take back the asylum. Along the way, he reunites with some old allies and discovers an even deeper secret: he isn't the only one with a destiny, and this time, his isn't a fairy tale. What you don't know? It was designed by God to save his people. It has the power to send every human back to Heaven and reunite them with God. So why does the Great Spirit keep it locked away? And what's with that smell, anyway?  The Last of Us Joel and Ellie, brought together by harsh circumstances, must survive a brutal journey across the U.S. in a dangerous post-pandemic world. Two best friends, Joel and Ellie, survive the end of the world in a semi-ancient survivalist park. Traveling across the United States in search of food and water and finding more unexpected friends along the way. Endlessly imaginative, inspiring, and sometimes terrifying, this is an original survival adventure, like no other. This is the first book in a trilogy. There are four books. Super Mario Bros. The Mushroom Princess is being held captive by the evil Koopa tribe. It's up to you to rescue her before time runs out. The green plumber's missions also include helping a doll-like Princess Kameeze find the Unicorn Rod. Going back to the original Super Mario Bros., Yoshi's sidekick is Super Mario Bros. 3's Yoshi. And in Super Mario World, the mushroom-shaped dinosaur is the gamer's little brother. These companions give Mario new abilities when he picks up the controllers or stomps on certain power-ups in games. Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved. Alan Wake A dark presence stalks the small town of Bright Falls, pushing Alan Wake to the brink of sanity in his fight to unravel the mystery and save his love. Based on the comic book series If I Hadn't Met You Eduard, a husband and father who loses his family in a tragic accident, travels to parallel universes to seek a better fate for his beloved wife. This drama series tells the astonishing true story of Israel's most prominent spy who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s.  Red Dead Redemption II America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. But at every turn, the traveling robbers find themselves faced with unintended challenges. Deep in the wilds of Iowa, they encounter the terrifying Mandrake, whose head is a hive of ravenous monsters … and who are on the lookout for fresh bodies. One by one, the members of the gang are picked off, revealing the truly terrible fate that awaits those who cross the Mandrake. Despite his unstable nature, Arthur is a gifted con man, as well as an expert marksman, skilled guitarist, master carpenter, and above all, a man of extraordinary cunning and resourcefulness. Trapped in a world where he never seems to fit in, can the mysterious detective help the dark-haired, blue-eyed half-Irish half-African boy realize his destiny, or will he become another statistic? Half-Life: Alyx The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth's most resourceful scientists: Dr. James Vega and John Baxter. Dr. Vega builds a time machine and contacts John, offering his assistance and guaranteeing his safety. Together, the two of them make a plan: they will travel back to 1984, to try to convince then-President Elizabeth Shower to negotiate with the Combine. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt This world doesn't need a hero. It needs a professional. Enter the witcher, one of the last monster slayers for hire. Joslyn Mael: Most famous for the notorious Hollows murder case. I will not get too much into my life and profession. You'll have to make your own judgments. It's a long story and a very long time ago. Suffice to say, I grew up as a very strong child, and even though my parents were terrified of me, they also wanted me to know how to defend myself and use my right hand for good. I grew up, bought my own gun, got a job, and the rest is history. BioShock Infinite Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. Escape the dark lands of Borderlands, a politically unstable nation in the not-too-distant future and repair his marriage before it's too late. His target? The mysterious anarchist villain Cipher. The result was Titanfall, a rebooted brand-new shooter where different modes could be combined together seamlessly. Set in the city-sized spaceport of Forward Operating Base, the map editors allowed for a dozen ways to play the game, from quick engagements to mission-based battles. Halo: Combat Evolved Bent on humankind's extermination, a powerful fellowship of alien races known as the Covenant is wiping out Earth's fledgling interstellar empire. It is a fight for survival. For their children's future. For the survival of the entire universe. A fight they are counting on you to join. In the original Halo, Master Chief leads a team of expert Spartans – along with an armored knight from an alien civilization – to face the Covenant in an epic struggle that will test your abilities, test your brotherhood and test the fate of the entire universe. Final Fantasy VII In Midgar, a city controlled by the mega-conglomerate Shinra Inc., the No. 1 Mako Reactor has been blown up by a rebel group, Avalanche. Avalanche leader Taiki Masaki has been seen walking amongst the ruins and filming the wreckage. In the Shinra Control Room, Shinra Corporate Executive Officer Hiroshi Amano tries to stop Shinra's CEO Tetsuya Tojo from starting a catastrophic weapon of mass destruction. Founded by three children born of Digimon-like monsters, Avalanche was believed to be destroyed when Mako Reactor 1 exploded, but the video footage proves otherwise. What do you think? Will we be playing A.I.-written games next year?
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    Quarantine Has Made Video Games About More Than Escapism

    Video games are an escapist medium. That’s what everyone always says. And it’s true! They allow us to be whoever or whatever we want, no matter the realm of possibility. Wizards, monsters, survivors in the post-apocalypse, anthropomorphic marsupials named Crash – we can be anything. We can escape our day-to-day routines and problems, and we can live a life beyond our wildest expectations. 

    In 2020, this is perhaps essential. Between COVID-19, election season, and a constant barrage of bad news, reality is bleak. Exacerbating everything is the fact that, you can’t really leave your house unless you can help it, due to the risk of spreading or catching the virus. There has perhaps never been a better time in modern history to want to escape into the fantasy worlds of video games to just give ourselves a break from it all. 

    But despite all of this, I find myself wanting to draw my time in quarantine out, to make time go slower. I’m still escaping in a way, but not in the ways I used to. Rather than hide in a make-believe world by myself, I want to inhabit worlds with other people, I want to live in those moments and conversations.

    Before this year, before the pandemic, I rarely played multiplayer games. Historically, single-player games have always been more my style. I love games that I can lose hours or days to, isolating myself from the world. Hell, I don’t even like other people being in the same room as me when I’m playing a game. I don’t want anything getting in the way of my time in a virtual world and with its story. That’s how it’s always been for me, until now.

    When the coronavirus started hitting the United States hard earlier this year, my life fundamentally changed within days. I’m a double cancer survivor, and because of this I’m immunocompromised. On top of that, I have respiratory issues. I am firmly in the at-risk camp for COVID-19. More bluntly: If I were to catch the virus, that’d basically be it for me. When cases first started sweeping the country, I immediately had to isolate myself from the rest of the world, and I continued doing so as things got worse. Outside of the people I live with, I can’t see any friends or family. I can’t even go down the street to get a coffee. Of course, this isn’t unique to me; anyone intelligent also isn’t going around seeing people like they used to. But the restrictions placed on someone in my camp are harsh. I never thought I’d get F.O.M.O. from hearing someone is going to the grocery store. Physically, I’ve never been more alone. Socially, I don’t think I’ve ever been better.

    Actual photo of me and my boys going in at The Boneyard in Warzone

    Every single day, one of four people texts me saying some variation of the same thing. “It’s time to get the W.” Once that text comes in, myself and everyone else in my group chat assembles. It’s time to hang out. It’s time to see my friends … kind of. I don’t actually see them; I only see their avatars in Call of Duty: Warzone, the stand-alone battle royale mode for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But I hear them, and that’s important. That’s good. It’s what I wait all day for. I’m waiting for it right now, to be honest. If I can’t go over to their houses or see them in person, then dropping into Verdansk and shooting people will (and does) more than suffice.

    I don’t blame anyone for trying to escape from everything going on right now. How could you? This sucks, man! But for me, I find I no longer want to escape my day-to-day. When my quarantine first started, I couldn’t wait for a day to be over. I’d sleep in, take naps throughout the day, and go to bed early. I played single player games that I knew would take me a ton of time to complete. I put 124 hours and 22 minutes into Persona 5 Royal in less than two months just trying to make my days disappear. It was a disaster on my mental health.

    Now, I don’t do that so much. I’m still trying to escape the bleakness of the world around me, but not in a way where I want it to all disappear. When I finally get the chance to talk to my friends, I want to be in those moments because I want to hear about what they’re up to, to talk as best we can like things are normal, to maintain those relationships despite the time and distance. And it’s working! I’ve never felt closer to my friends I play Warzone with, some of whom I’ve known for more than 15 years, which is a wild thing to think about. It’s also nice to just talk to people about how much everything sucks right now. Misery loves company.

    The boys having a nice evening together in Verdansk. 

    It’s a bit of a romantic view of friendship during a pandemic, but it’s also something to hold on to. And that feels really important right now. Playing Warzone, racking up kills, going for the W (pronounced here as “dub,” meaning “win”), none of that is really all that important to me. If circumstances were different, I don’t think I’d even play Warzone. It is super not for me. It’s macho, aggressive, and online-only. It encourages players to be hostile and violent, to shoot first and think second. It’s the antithesis to the kinds of games I play. I should hate Warzone, but it’s my favorite game in years. It just has very little — if anything, really — to do with the game itself. It has everything to do with the people I play that game with. Whenever someone has to log off, I genuinely get upset. 

    I’m still keeping up with the big releases of the year. I’m working through Mafia: Definitive Edition right now (I very much agree with Jeff Cork’s review) and I absolutely cannot wait for Yakuza: Like A Dragon to launch in November. I’m getting excited for the new consoles to come out, too. I’m still dipping into fantasy worlds, still gaming the way I used to. What’s changed, though, is the primary reason I come to video games these days. In the midst of what’s maybe the worst period of my lifetime in history, I no longer want to consume myself in a fake reality free from my own, to make time go as fast as possible. I want to be aware of the time I have in Warzone. I don’t want to escape my reality right now, because it’s all I have.

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