1N TH3 CL0UD began as a short story that gave me headaches, because I couldn’t figure out what the story actually was. It ended as a concept that can easily fill the pages of a 5,000-page novel.
The seed of this story was a small one: I wanted to write about video games, and I wanted to play music one wouldn’t expect to hear on my show.
I am huge fan of lo-fi tunes. I listen to lo-fi almost everyday, so I thought it’d be funny to incorporate that music into my show. The reason I thought it was funny is because I never thought I’d actually do it. My show has a bit of a brand when it comes to music, and that brand does not include hip-hop.
As I checked my calendar to plan for my last few episodes, I realized I still needed one more story. More and more, the idea of using soft hip-hop became more appealing, not only because it’d get me the one story I needed, but also because it would be something completely different. As I’ve mentioned before, this show has given me the opportunity to expirement with writing genres I’d never write otherwise. I figured, why not experiment with music as well?
So, I started collecting music with a similar electronic sound and then started adding music from some video games. I was very proud to find a place for music from my absolute favorite video game, Tomb Raider, before my show ended.
As I collected music, an idea started to form in my head: The Sage was going to be hacked by someone playing a video game. This someone was banned from this game and needed someone to finish a very important task ingame for them.
I got very excited by this. It seemed like a really cool idea, and it would have fit perfectly with the switch in music genre. This story was set in stone when I remembered a track by Two Steps From Hell (TSFH) called “All Is Hell That Ends Well” which starts off with classical epic trailer music and drastically shifts to dubstep.
Funny enough, I remember when this track was first released to the world and how much I hated it. It was around the time dubstep and techno music started to become a bit more mainstream, and I just remember thinking I didn’t want that kind of music to take over the music I love and cherise that TSFH used to make. Of course, TSFH didn’t stick to dubstep and have created great fantasy-esque, epic music since then, but I just find it funny that I included a song I used to very much dislike.
Once my music was chosen, I was ready to write my outline, and that’s when everything went downhill. As I started thinking about my original concept, a lot of details that I kept thinking of weren’t matching up. I also couldn’t figure out how to include a message for the audience to think about into the story, let alone what that message actually was.
I started to fear that I was getting burnt out from all this writing, considering end-of-the-year projects from my classes were also taking up a lot of my time.
I persisted though. I had one weekend left to finish this story, and I was determined to finish it.
Eventually, the pieces started coming together slowly. I had a shell of an idea, but I needed a way to fill it up.
This led to a lot of entertaining ways of researching. I reached out to friends about how artificial intelligence may give subtle hints that it is, in fact, AI. I had lots of conversations with Siri for inspiration. I rewatched scenes from films like Her and Ex Machina.
All this helped in me developing Fable as a character. I had her reuse phrases again and again. When she defined things, I tried to make it sound like a definition found on Google or like an advertisement she would have been exposed to about the game. I kept her reasonings and answers vague, but I still tried to give her a consciousness with personality, mainly with Plato’s allegory in the cave.
An interesting challenge I had to face when writing this story is how to write code to hack into a system through auditory means. This is story meant to be heard as well as interactive, so I wanted to have the listener have a hand at coding somehow, but how do I do that through speakers or headphones?
I remembered about a video game that made you hack into systems by connecting lines, the same way you would with a pipeline game, where you have to get the pipes connected from one end to the other. Then, I thought, how do I do that with words? I remembered someone telling me that coding is essentially a lot of if-then statements. That led to me to learning about IFTTT (if this then that) which is often used between devices and apps.
So, I took that concept and essentially created easy if-then statements that still challenged the listener without hurting their brain the way code might do for the untrained coder.
Some quick fun facts about this story:
- The name “Akaya” comes from the Hawaiian word for space.
- The motorcycle name “Rock Angel” is a reference to Bratz Rock Angelz, because I was listening to the song “So Good” from the movie while writing the chase scene.
- The name of the company that makes the motorcycles, “Doraibu”, comes from the Japanese word for drive.
- Cloudoxia was originally called Cloud City, until I realized a planet called Cloud City would be a bit confusing.
In writing this story, I did a lot of existential thinking, particularly about aritificial intelligence.
I know films and video games often depict AI as dangerous, and that it’ll eventually overrun us humans. I also know people in the computer programming community agree with that, and some don’t.
I’m no expert at technology by any means, but here are my thoughts:
If anything were to happen with AI in the way they are depicted in films and video games, I think it would sneak up on us. Technology moves so quickly on a timeline, but so slowly in real life. We are focused on other things that when news comes up about AI, we think it’s cool/scary, and we move onto the next thing.
If AI gets to that point we fear, we will be so blinded by its magnificence the moment it happens that we will not realize that the movies were right before it’s too late.
Though I’m sure someone with any knowledge of computer science or video games can point out any flaws in my story, I am really proud of what I wrote. It became a mammoth tale, but I hope I managed to get my point across in a thrilling way.
Until next time!