Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#1
Ckey/BYOND Username: TheDocOct

Position Being Applied For: Synthetic Lore Deputy

Past Experiences/Knowledge: I spend a great deal of time reading into both science fiction writing and real-world scientific development as a member of my school’s science and philosophy inquiry seminar, and have been a fan of sci-fi series in all forms for almost all my life. I’ve spent a great deal of my free-time over the past few years participating in both creative and professional writing courses and have previously written lore for sci-fi DnD-esque games, and to a minor extent other roleplaying servers.

Examples of Past Work: I’ve written on and off, but I don’t have a ton of complete work to present. I do have a cooperative lore piece written between myself and Sharp that can be found here, viewtopic.php?p=90829#p90829, and have spent time with the current synth lore team planning for events and working on materials such as sprite work and adding items for those occasions. A few are posted below, but are far from all of my work.
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Additional Comments:
I’ve been both helping and experimenting with Synth-lore developments both for events and future expansions, and I greatly look forward to continuing to do so either as a deputy or not, but it would be a great benefit to be able to directly contribute to the team and be able to more closely work with their future plans.

A lot of what I plan to contribute comes from pulling the lore off of the wiki and into the server- making it something the crew can actually see, and may actually be affected by, rather than something that’s just sitting on the page. Filling out detail and providing enough content to provide an immersive setting is of course important, and perhaps more important, than making the lore ‘living’, but I feel this is one of the main facets that the lore team has lacked on the whole, and that the synthetic field (my personal favorite alongside human and corporate lore) has the most to contribute in this manner.

I do have a small writing piece I plan on attaching to this application, but between courses, other personal situations, and minor writing block, I’ve opted to post this application before I finish it in order to have it up for review and to allow for any questions or other input while it’s written.
Spoiler:
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Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#2
This took a lot longer than I expected, even given classes, but I'm rather satisfied with how it turned out! Spoilered for convenience, because holy heck.

On Shells:
Spoiler:
As it stands now, Shell-frame IPCs by far have offered the most narrative mileage of our IPC sub-races (and arguably, of any of our sub-races). From command restrictions and targeted regulations to terrorist attacks and presidential rescues, they offer all the same opportunities and ethical quagmire that IPCs in general do, with their own special touch of human mimicry, and seem to be the most mentioned facet of IPC lore both on- and off-server as a result. Despite this, they are also the least fleshed out member of the IPC roster, with two main paragraph entries describing their most basic functions and limitations, a few of the core aspects of their existence, and an incredibly vague reference to their origins. This results in a number of issues both in consistency and believability, and opens opportunities both to clarify and improve Shells’ roles in lore, which I will both go into a bit more depth on and propose my solutions to.

To begin, the most notable and consistent factor that both contributes to Shells’ persistent uniqueness, yet also severely hampers their believability, is their ability to mimic humans. Shells have supposedly been able to falsify human behavior and biology closely enough to infiltrate the highest echelons of one of our lore’s most competent military for weeks, and take the place of a heavily guarded head of state for days without notice. Despite these canonical events, however, it’s laughably easy to identify a Shell frame from a real human as represented on server. Excepting both tags and medical inspection mechanics that will label body-parts as synth-skin rather than flesh, the most minor damages or a slight raise in temperature will immediately reveal the mechanical nature of a Shell. Despite these issues, this facet has led to interesting and unique arcs that would not have been otherwise possible. The fear of Shell infiltration and attack from very nearly anyone has underlined a number of stories in canon, and even on server continues to be a possibility represented through antagonists and ongoing events.

Alongside the issue of lore/server conflict, is the conceptual issue of what Shells are for. Obviously, they exist as an attempt to replicate human behavior and form, as that is what all their functions are geared toward, but there is little explanation as to why they would be created besides for the nefarious purposes they’re often known for. Even in their current position in lore, they are described as “rare, and often unnecessary” in the historical section of the wiki. This brings into question why they are even produced, given their most apparent use as clearly illegal infiltration units, their admittedly controversial existence in general, and the costs associated with them. Their internal structures are necessarily harder to maintain, as the design both leaves them on the verge of overheating even in normal room temperatures and makes it far more difficult to perform immediate repairs or maintenance that, on other frames, would normally be relatively quick and easy- on top of the more expensive base production cost. The question of what Shell frames are ‘for’, and who produces them, becomes doubly important in the context of providing opportunities for Shell players to grow their characters from. While there are a number of general manufacturers for IPCs to have been produced from or designed by, none offer any explained reasoning for developing Shell frames; their flaws outnumber their positives, with their most notable ‘positive’ of human mimicry being anything but in almost all regions of the galaxy- any comfort brought by the familiar face is immediately dashed by their association with galactic events.

To try and fuse the divide between the conflicting realms of what Shells manage to accomplish in lore, what Shells are capable of accomplishing on server, and how they are viewed at large, I would suggest both a mechanical and written redesign of Shells, hinging mainly on a redesign of their physical function to both be more in line with canonical events, explain the benefits of their creation in spite of these events, and to set the sub-species apart as a more unique part of our server. This will largely be based on the change of Shells from “Baseline with Synthskin” to a more concretely separate “Biosynthetic” design, a suggestion that was brought forward by Cake April of this year before being lost to time and the suggestions forum in general. The functionality of this change can be read there, so instead I will explain why this change would be so beneficial to Shell lore. Biosynthetic design alone does not make Shells better- what Shells need primarily is both a reason to exist, and a reason to be continually produced, beyond the ‘friendly face’ that has been effectively ruined by their use in terrorism the galaxy over.

Rather than treating Shells as “worse functioning but better looking baselines,” I would shift the function of Shells toward a more specialized region of work- still actively used, but for specific tasks. While industrials claim a solid grip on manual labor, and baselines retain both their jack-of-all-trades and discount-price advantages, Shells would be urged toward the intellectual region of work- or more specifically, processing-heavy work. While AI cores inarguably retain the stranglehold on efficiency in this regard, they are not without their fair share of detractions - most notably, lack of transportation. Requiring integrated systems to interface properly, constant and expensive amounts of power, a heavily cooled environment, and proper security, an AI core could not be feasibly ‘rented out’ in the same manner a Shell frame could be assigned to work a number of shifts, nor could it gather data or perform experiments on its own without human assistance, while a Shell worker can be assigned to complete all of its work on its own.

The explanation for Shells’ ability to process more efficiently and more quickly than baseline frames can would, ignoring the design of the positronic itself, be the cooling systems- and more specifically, the improved cooling systems that result from the shift toward biosynthetic design. At present, cooling is one of, if not the single, most limiting factor of all IPC designs. With this design shift, a baseline that attempted to process the same content at the same speed as a Shell frame would quickly find itself overheating, its atmosphere-based cooling systems unable to compete with the Shell’s integrated liquid-based cooling, regardless of the computing capability of the positronic brain itself. This enhanced computing ability touches back on another prior issue- that being of the ability to mimic human behavior- and it follows that a more computationally-able machine would be better suited toward attempting to mimic a human in a ‘realistic’ manner.

This leaves one primary facet of their design in question, and that being the reasoning behind their synthetic-human façade. If the focus of Shells has been shifted away from relying on human mimicry as their sole ‘selling point’, why do they retain it? This question is less complicated to answer than the others listed here, because it’s as simple as this - it’d look terrible. Much like the design of Weyland-Yutani’s androids from the Aliens universe, the naked base of a biosynthetic android is not a particularly pleasant sight, showing off the pseudo-muscles, coolant tubules, and various biosynthetic ‘organs’ that power and propel the frame. Despite the negative connotations that mimicking humans warrants both from an Uncanny-Valley perspective and that of canonical events in the Auroraverse history, it’s preferable to this thing staring at you from across the lab all day. Given Synthskin’s already existing mass-production for use in prosthetic limbs, it would be a marginal cost to plate the already formed biosynthetic body with a pleasant-looking outer coating compared to the frames simply never selling outside of niche or overly desensitized clients willing to put up with a horror-show for a partner.

With these changes in mind, even more of the prior topics can be solved or adjusted to better fit with the lore that has already been established. As mentioned in the original suggestion by Cake, the changes toward biosynthetic design eliminate a large amount of the glaring issues that would theoretically have led to a large portion of these Shell infiltrators to be captured before they had ever completed their objectives. They also create clear advantages for the Shell frame over its sister frames, as opposed to the nebulous “they exist for reasons” area they occupied before, bringing into question who would produce them and for what reason. Whatever former backstories currently exist for Shell characters should theoretically be minimally effected by these changes- the objective is to bring the sub-race more in line with current lore, not less- and opens up new characters to far more backstories, as there is a defined usefulness for Shells that both gives them a base to begin growing from, and makes it reasonable for any number of IPC producers to create them along with any other style of IPC frame- Number-crunching scientists, snap-decision-making medics, analytical detectives, while all being feasible beforehand, would now have concrete roots in the lore for players to explore and develop from.
Spoiler:
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Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#3
Hello, and thank you for applying! I did say I was going to reply to your application tonight, but unfortunately, I have ran out of time being distracted and now I need sleep. With in the next day or so, I will make a new reply or edit this one with a fuller and more complex message for you. Just letting you know that I am keeping track still.
“Human beings feel pleasure when they are watched. I have recorded their smiles as I tell them who they are. The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgement, and punishment. Other sentiments towards them were secondary. The human organism always worships. First it was the gods, then it was fame, next it will be the self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgement."

"You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.”

Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#4
I really, really like the section you've provided on Shell frames. You elaborated my opinions on them exactly, whereas I could really only sum them up in a short (and sadly buried) suggestion. I just have a few quick questions for you for now:

1. How passionately would you pursue trying to change Shells into the state you have laid out here?
2. When I asked you to apply for deputy, I told you that it would most likely be more server-related work, ie events and stuff. This is not always going to be the case, so if it came down to it, would you still be willing to do lore filling and wiki editing?
3. Are you able to generate ideas and activities semi-autonomously, and able to carry them out without 100% full oversight, and still keep the general spirit of the lore team in mind when doing so?
“Human beings feel pleasure when they are watched. I have recorded their smiles as I tell them who they are. The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgement, and punishment. Other sentiments towards them were secondary. The human organism always worships. First it was the gods, then it was fame, next it will be the self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgement."

"You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.”

Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#5
CakeIsOssim wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:15 am
1. How passionately would you pursue trying to change Shells into the state you have laid out here?
2. When I asked you to apply for deputy, I told you that it would most likely be more server-related work, ie events and stuff. This is not always going to be the case, so if it came down to it, would you still be willing to do lore filling and wiki editing?
3. Are you able to generate ideas and activities semi-autonomously, and able to carry them out without 100% full oversight, and still keep the general spirit of the lore team in mind when doing so?
1. Honestly, a large portion of the conceptual footwork is done. A little refinement, and the major obstacle that remains would be mechanical implementation. As I've recently been trying to get myself further into development for the server, educating myself by exploring and working with portions of the code, I'd actually be fully willing to spearhead this myself, given I'd need some assistance along the way. So, very!

2. Absolutely. I briefly touched on, in my 'past experience,' spending time writing for "other role-playing servers," which actually includes managing a large portion of lore for a HRP role-playing forum for roughly half a year. There wasn't a particular focus on synths, and unfortunately the forum itself was deleted by the owner, but I do certainly have both experience and willingness in continuous maintenance and update of lore.

3. I'd like to think so, yes. A majority of my server time recently has been spent developing minor, but inclusive and interesting minievents that can both add a little extra to someone's round and help provide some immersion into the idea that the server doesn't exist solely in a vacuum, and things exist outside it as well. With some input on the future goals/plans for synth lore and the lore team in general, I'd be fully willing and able to implement more specific lore goals into those events, with or without oversight, and hopefully to both the benefit of the team and the player-base at large.
Spoiler:
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Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#6
Same question I gave Moon, because, its an important one. You can write amazing lore all day, but translating it into something that the average player will use is another, arguably 'more' important matter.
Spoiler:
Theres been a push to give synthetics a culture of their own, in an attempt to better describe the average day-to-day problems an intelligent synthetic could face. My question to you is deceptively complicated, but its a question thats probably the most important one for players using your lore.

"Can you describe a day in the life of a regular (possibly free) synthetic working for Nanotrasen?"

This question is important because it is the basis of roleplaying those characters. If you cannot imagine someones day to day activities, how could you ever hope the players to?

Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#7
Bygonehero wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:16 pm
Theres been a push to give synthetics a culture of their own, in an attempt to better describe the average day-to-day problems an intelligent synthetic could face. My question to you is deceptively complicated, but its a question thats probably the most important one for players using your lore.

"Can you describe a day in the life of a regular (possibly free) synthetic working for Nanotrasen?"

I wouldn't even call this deceptively complicated- it's just complicated. There is a massive amount of possible variety made available to IPC characters thanks not only to their possible origins, where most other species find their variety, but their design, their purpose, the story that led them where they are now, their personal status, and their owner, or lack thereof. Being one of the more unique facets of IPC characters, that's a good place to start.

The difference between an owned and free IPC, even in the relatively 'accepting' setting of Tau Ceti, is massive. Despite the more liberally freeing laws that allow IPCs not only to be free, but in some cases even to be citizens, it can be difficult for a free IPC to budget enough pay or even find access to the same maintenance and repair facilities that owned frames can often take for granted. Maintaining functionality would be the primary concern of any IPC, free or owned, because an IPC that is not fully functional is making less money. The less money it makes, the less capable it is of remaining functional-.. And so on. While organic species have similar concerns, the cost of food and minor medical care is nowhere near comparable to the cost of a reliable power supply and intimate maintenance. Owned IPCs generally have these provided by their owner, so long as they are bring in more money than they expend by being managed. Owned IPCs, then, are still concerned with maintaining their functionality, but do so by working efficiently and productively in order to retain their usefulness in the eyes of their owner. In either case, an IPC working for NanoTrasen's primary goal is retaining their job, and maintaining efficiency, so that they can secure their continued operation, either to sustain themselves or to satisfy their owner.

Socially and politically, synths aren't much better off. While all synthetics are looked down on by certain groups, even in Tau Ceti, free synthetics in particular still have a sizable portion of the population opposing their existence. Outside of the Frontier, Tau Ceti, a single solar system, is one of the only locations free synthetics can be found en-masse. While politically they are accepted to a larger degree than anywhere else, they still remain a marginalized minority by far, both experiencing harassment and outright attacks simply for existing. While organizations such as the SIM exist, they are comparatively small bastions of help and positivity compared to the rest of the galactic arm, and rarely have the resources, manpower, and facilities to maintain or otherwise assist the amount of synthetics that reside in Tau Ceti. The average individual will at best be nonplussed, at worst passive-aggressive, while an unusually strongly opinionated individual will either cheerily greet you-.. Or bash the side of your monitor in. Owned synthetics may face the same prejudices as well, due to extremists often not caring to identify their targets, but otherwise would be treated more as an environmental factor than a sentient being, much the same way as most other electronics are considered.

In the work environment, free IPCs can expect smaller paychecks and fewer opportunities to advance in their position without showing exceptional capability, particularly in face of organic alternatives. Synthetic workers were created to work better for cheaper, and regardless of the real financial situation most free IPCs find themselves in, this is frequently how they are handled from a personnel standpoint. Owned IPCs are, by their nature, 'rented' specifically for the task NanoTrasen has paid for when assigned to shifts with the corporation. "Promoting" an owned synthetic would be a complicated and, in relation to the synthetic's owner, likely expensive prospect. It will often be easier and cheaper to simply assign a human to the post than bother renegotiating the work contract the owned IPC is already working under. Both of these situations increase the pressure that working IPCs face in regards to showing unusually efficient conduct- that is, after all, what synthetic workers are made for, to be more capable than organic workers. Otherwise, many synthetic workers can expect to stay exactly where they are for as long as they can continue to operate, as this is ultimately the cheapest way to handle a synthetic worker that doesn't display any attributes that put it above and beyond organic employees.
Spoiler:
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Re: Doc's Synthetic Lore Deputy Application

#8
Hello again. Due to the special circumstances involved in the selection of another deputy, and after much deliberation, I have decided to accept your application alongside another applicant. It was perhaps a little deceptive to announce that only one position would be opening, but again, the special circumstances have affected that decision in the long run and I think this conclusion will greatly benefit not only my team in specific, but the lore team as a whole, and the quality of synthetics in general.

In short, congratulations synthetic lore deputy!
“Human beings feel pleasure when they are watched. I have recorded their smiles as I tell them who they are. The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgement, and punishment. Other sentiments towards them were secondary. The human organism always worships. First it was the gods, then it was fame, next it will be the self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgement."

"You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.”
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