Sunday, April 18, 2010

Punching Doggies, Taking Prisoners

She's a beaut, isn't she. I'll give you a minute to take it all in.

It's been a while since the last gameplay video. Course, you shouldn't take that to mean we're slowing down! You see, each change is the product of extensive research that should take months, but it is absolutely necessary to create the best possible gameplay experience. The sad truth is that until the government gives us a grant for this groundbreaking research I simply cannot afford to maintain the requisite team of physicists and philosophers. This is a heavy burden for our already overworked production staff, yet through sheer force of will and our dedication to the betterment of mankind, I bring you the following perfect gameplay updates:

When Johnny is near a friendly person, a big blue exclamation point appears. That means they've got something to say to Johnny. They might be fightin' words. They might be regular words. Could even be friendly words, I suppose. This chat algorithm is so flexible and powerful that an NPC can express virtually every expressible human emotion, desire, and thought.

Just as the Prometheus of myth gave the gift of fire to man, I have given the gift of sight to Johnny's foes. Now, their vision isn't nearly as good as Johnny's 3rd person bird's-eye view, but our studies show that the average player prefers to beat up opponents who are weaker than himself. So our friends here only see in the direction they are facing, and they can't see through things like gigantic canyon walls. They can't even really see a man hiding behind a cactus. Unless that cactus gets shot down. But then, clever Johnny, he just ducks and vanishes faster than one of Lance Burton's doves.

Perhaps you have heard of echolocation? Well, that's how things like dolphins see, and it's not with light, but rather sound. Imagine if you will a creature that could utilize both sound detection and sight detection. What would you call that creature? I don't believe our current understandings of biology even allow for such a creature to exist. But I have brought just such a being into existence. The bandit has the sound detection of a dolphin, and yet the bandit is not a dolphin. He is more powerful than a dolphin; he uses both sight and sound. When a bandit hears a gunshot from friend or foe, or perhaps the sound of Johnny's Bronco Buster Kick(TM), he become alerted and turns to inspect the situation. Sounds can be heard through walls and objects, and while sight extends from the eyes, sound detection is 360 massive degrees.

Today's player doesn't just want the enemies to be weaker than himself; he wants new and crueler ways to exploit those weaknesses. Now, what happens when a bandit has his back turned to the greatest gunslinger of all time, Johnny Outlaw? I'll tell you what happens: whatever Johnny wants. Johnny takes him hostage, controlling his movement and more importantly his life. The bandit knows he's been beat, and he won't reach for his gun unless he's at a safe distance. Assuming that doesn't happen, he'll follow where you lead. Bandits aren't exactly the best of friends either, and they'll gladly shoot up a hostage in their attempt to kill Johnny. Use this power wisely, because if that hostage sees an opening he'll gladly give you a belly full of lead.

There are plenty of additional perfect updates I haven't mentioned, and plenty more still in the research phase. So keep watching!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Sight to Behold

If you think being Johnny Outlaw is tough, just imagine how tough it must be for his enemies. Driven by their mechanical brains, these bandits may have near omniscience and perfect accuracy, but they are still incomplete. What are they lacking? They are lacking the one thing, nay, the six things, that man so often takes for granted and that machine covets. Of course I am talking about the senses.

Here on the Johnny Outlaw Development Team we're working hard to tear down the boundaries between man and machine brick by brick. A functional AI requires not just the powers of cognition, but also the senses. First, allow me to explain how computers work for those of you less technologically inclined. If I were to describe how a computer functions in human terms, I would have to say that the computer is most similar to Helen Keller, whom you may know from the Alabama state quarter. Living in darkness, capable of thought, but incapable of reacting with the world, or virtual world, around it. Perhaps the computer was even less human than Helen Keller at the start, for Helen Keller did have the cardinal sense - touch.

I toiled for hours and I crafted a way for my computerized bandit to touch, just as humans do. Like a newborn babe taking his first steps I saw my creation move forward hitting things and reacting. He could navigate by running into walls and slowly sliding past them, and even get shot by a bullet or two.

It was then that I granted him the gift of speech. He could replicate the sounds of humans, or if he wished, display words that when read together produced sentences. He spoke, and he told me of his hatred for Johnny Outlaw.

I said "That is enough, bandit, you are human enough now," but like the Icarus of myth, he sought to soar ever higher. I did not stand in his way. How could I?

Now, there are many senses to choose from: sense of smell, hearing, taste, and sight. A computer with total awareness has no need for sight. He does not need to look down a corridor to check for Johnny, he immediately knows of his exact location. He does not need to experience the sorrow of Burnt Umber, the splendor of Cornflower Blue, or the passion of Navajo White. He knows their blends by heart, he knows the Red Blue and Green that make up each and every color in existence. In human terms, he is like Dustin Hoffman. And still, despite all of this, he set his metaphorical sights upon man's most prized and least useful sense.

And so he got exactly what he wanted. This mechanical god wished himself a man. He once had sight though he was blind. Now he is bound by the limitations of the human eye. He cannot see through walls and he does not become enraged when Johnny comes within a specified distance. Now he can see in but a single direction: the direction he is facing. Now he must patrol back and forth to make sure no one is coming. Now he is susceptible to ambushes from behind. Now a large exclamation point warns his foes that they have been spotted.

Does a computer know regret? I can't really say for certain. I tell you what though, some afternoons I'll walk up right behind him, and he won't even notice. He knows if I was an enemy, he'd be six feet under by now. But I'm not his enemy. And sometimes on those afternoons I catch him gazing at the Lemon Chiffon flowers, taking in every last bit of light. I say to him, "What are you lookin' at, that's just your average 255, 250, 205". He turns his gaze up to that Steel Blue sky. "Not anymore".