Sunday, August 07, 2005

PSP Game Idea P. 2

Virtual Assistant more than a virtual pet I think. I like the idea of being able to chose a pet (lets change that name to familiar), familiar, that you could chose from tons of different ones. I am going to stick with my original Griffin idea, but it could even be a two inch tall pixie, or a dragon, or a intelligent cloud, or a speaking limits. Now lets link this to the PDA, digital assistant idea more than the pet. Predictive AI based on preferences, searches on Google and the like, so it would be setup to do fuzzy logic searches based on my preferences, syncing this data to the PSP familiar when linked.

The PDA programs themselves would have to run from the UMD, but data files, the familiar's look and AI scripts could all be stored on the Memory stick. As the PSP has date and time, it should be fairly simple to create a calendaring system, (with a keypad), a notes organizer, to do list, picture viewer, file manager. I know I am just scratching the surface.

The personality and scripting of the AI could be part preprogrammed and part fuzzy logic, simple controls would allow the user to alter it based on preferences. Lets say you chose a sarcastic personality for you familiar, and when it pops up a reminder (I don't know if the PSP has supports for this feature, but hopefully it does, available either from an existing system feature or from a ROM update in the future if it does not). So it blares out in text to speech mode - YOU HAVE A APPOINTMENT, JACKASS. The end user can change this to tone alarm and speech balloon, and set the Jackass comment to second reminder maybe.

Just some random thoughts. I have always liked the idea of a digital assistant on the pc, not the crappy ones that Microsoft came up with, that ended up being more annoying than useful. But something truly useful, adaptive and with a social interface you could alter and change to meet your preferences, that would use advanced AI to learn from you, about you, and then use this information to help you.

Lets say that you enter alot of bio data into the AI database. Your Mothers B-day is coming up, and you have told the AI that you normally forget it. The AI would then generate reminder events based on this info. On the PC side could even remind you and then bring up websites you may have used for gifts before as a hint.

Persistent Virtual Gaming Character

Persistent Virtual Character. I was hoping years ago that something like this would be invented but since it has not, thought I would put the concept out there and see if it has legs.

Basic idea is that nearly all game characters are too some extent simply a spreadsheet of stats, strength, intelligence, speed, hit points, character level, sex, race, inventory etc. Also some of the character description if it has the typical paper doll choices for a character.

The concept is very simple; create a universal format for that information. Lets for example use a typical fantasy RPG. Your main character is a dwarf, has an axe, and is very strong and likes to wear browns, and has the name, Yos, and he is a 5th level fighter.

You tire of this game but have put a lot of work into Yos. You find a new football online game, similar to Madden and want to play it.

With a Persistent Virtual Character, you would pay for the football game and get the option to “Translate” an existing character. Great you say, and from the browser you select Yos, who shows up as an option to “Translate/Import.”

The new game has a simple translation program that takes the stats from Yos and imports them/translates them into the new football games equivalents. Based on how different the games types are, you may be offered choices for some, or eliminate some (gaining points) that can be spread to the new stats.

In Yos’ s case, his fighting skill can be translated to say a 3rd level quarterback or a 4th level receiver or a 5th level linebacker; you pick the one you like. Benefit is you are getting credit so you don’t have to start at the bottom. His dwarf status becomes translated to short and stocky.

Now lets say the inventory is exchanged for similar football inventory, better pads, stain resistant uniform, tougher helmet. Your magic axe has no direct equivalent, so you gain points to spend.

You pick 3rd level quarterback and use some of the points from the translation to upgrade his passing skills, and increase height. His preference for black is either to pick a team with a black theme or alter the uniform a bit (brown shoes, brown sweatbands on wrist, etc.)

Another type of game might be setup with a pretty much one to one conversion. Say a sci-fi game, he stays a dwarf, his armor converts to cyber upgrades, and his magic axe becomes a chainsaw axe. He takes a level hit due to translation and starts as a warrior dwarf cyborg level 4.

Customization, ownership of the character, not loosing all the hard work developing the character would I think lead to a much richer gaming experience. (Plus at each conversion the character is saved as a snapshot so if you go back to your original game you can reverse the changes back to the original the same way they were translated. Example lets say you go fantasy – football – sci-fi and then back to fantasy. The translation program works out the two transitions and uses that to generate a recipe to retranslate you back to the original game. Except this time you are 4 levels higher, have archery skills (passing from the quarterback translated and laser pistol from the sci-fi game translated, and all your stats are higher).

With this I could see the base game being a warp, and you, yourself of the real world translated into the game via a questionnaire, that loads up some base genres based on your answers. Then you could evolve your online persona as you played various games.

Idea for Future Entertainment

I am currently seeing several trends that I believe will converge and coalesce in the Entertainment Industry in the near future.

Near photographic 3d modeling, 3d interactive software (such as Half-life 2, etc.), and demand for custom, individual entertainment.

Result of these is what I believe will be the next generation of Entertainment. First I see fairly inexpensive, downloadable software. This software would come with detailed, photo quality actors, with basic paper doll features to customize, standard scripts (with great detailed AI, for multiple ways of doing things). This will be the vanilla package. Standard combinations, standard generic type virtual people to populate it and a list of standard scenarios.

The end user selects a act that they like, then the select models, and customize to their preferences, blonde, brunette, large lips, full hips...etc. They then run one of the included AI scripts, which are simple pre-scripted actions, with easy editing features.

The user can also easily control the camera position, they can look out of either actors eye, have birds eye, etc. What ever their personal preference is they can chose it. The program runs, using sophisticated AI to have the virtual actors interact, almost every motion or action has hundreds of variations and they are controlled by fuzzy logic and branching, thus no two versions of the scene need ever be the same. The way everything is advancing this will be created and run in real time, just as 3d games are right now.

Now the next stage of this is where the true billions will be earned. Hundreds of thousands of AI script modules will be available for a price covering thousands of postures, and actions. You are into fishnet stockings, that is simply a module to purchase and download, to customize your personal experience.

Next say you are tired of the limited actor choices of the basic package. There again you can go online and select from hundreds of thousands of virtual actors, some created by artists, others by people who have had detailed 3d scans converted to models and licensed their likeness to the industry. Even a subscription service where you get a new actor every so often based on preset preferences or random.

Even environmental packages will be available as the boundaries are stretched. Zero G activities, giants bodies in space, physical real world locations, underwater, in lava...imagination is the only limitation.

Scenario packages, essentially story’s that create a "movie" using your actors and preferences will also be sold. Look at the industry and you will find thousands of reasons for encounters, which seems almost as important as the encounter itself.

Why do I think this will work and why would people will be interested. Customizability based on what the user wants, advances in technology and programming giving real time 3d graphics. Endless variety. Look at the movie industry now, tons of different sites catering to every taste and desire. This concept only takes it to another logical level.

DIY Layaway for Tech

I am a gadget guy. Always have my eye on something. Frequently out of the range of my budget and as for saving, if I have easy access to my money I most likely will be spending it.

My current desire is an ultra-portable PC or Tablet PC, average price after taxes and shipping is around 2K. Enough money that I will have to figure out a way to save for it.

My current idea is creating my own layaway. Now if the model was available locally at say a Best Buy, CompUSA I would simply go and purchase gift cards. That would tie my money up, with the limitation that it would be good for that location.

My other idea is the VISA/MasterCard cards that can be purchased by almost anyone and have money added to them. This so far is a great solution. Only downside I have seen on these is that they charge about five dollars a month to carry a balance, but have the advantage of being usable just about anywhere and can even be used at a cash machine.

Probably the best solution is American Express Travelers checks which are about universally redeemable and all charges are up front.

I really wish one of the big companies would realize the potential of creating a layaway card. They would make money just like a bank, but investing the cash until the card is used. In this scenario they would get maybe a small one time fee for the card, charge nothing to the owner for using it, except if used at an atm, and still make their percentage that they get when ever anything is purchased with the card.

The advantages for people who have problem saving are tremendous. Plus if they were really smart to increase usage they could pay a small interest on the money based on how long it takes it to be used, say about a savings account rate.

If anyone has seen one of these VISA/MasterCard based ones with low fees please reply, think it would be nice to post if for everyone, the Poor Man's Layaway plan.