Bot Story:  Inspiration

I had always wanted a few bots for the real-life SkunkWks VR world, but never really had the time to pursue getting things functional—SkunkWks is a big project, and I'm too much the perfectionist.

I had seen were a citizen who calls himself Argon The Aware had created a bot theatre in GalaxyWorld Universe (GWU) by chaining hundreds of trigger-phrase/response pairs between bots. Picture "talking mannequin theatre" and you get some idea of the effect. This gave me the idea of doing something far less grand, and hopefully more usable: I could pre-stage smaller exchanges, much like a 20 second Three Stooges routine, then have these exchanges trigged by words or phrases that human visitors might type. Thereby setting up a series of unexpected surprises for visitors.

I had worked through a number of exchanges in my head, but had not recorded any of them. I had even worked out back-stories on why a particular bot might react to visitors in a certain way, or why it might react to companion bots in a certain way. This was all very interesting, but worthless as long as it remained unimplemented.

The Start

Then a citizen who calls herself Aura (or some variant, currently Fae aura) was inspired to write an actual story—24 chapters worth of Sci-Fi/fantasy based on places and people who inhabit the real-life ActiveWorlds VR metaverse. She calls it Spaceship Story . Note, Spaceship Story is largely unedited, so it is very rough in spots, and it is also still being written.

Aura inspired me. I had not even considered the possibility that a real story could be written about people and places I knew from VR. I immediately set to work. The original Bot Story concept was to create little snippets, disconnected stories in which to record and refine the personalities of the bots I wanted in SkunkWks. The result of this effort was later edited to become the first two chapters of Bot Story.

Further Inspiration

In looking for visual inspiration for avatars to use in SkunkWks, I'd found some websites for Texas longhorn cattle, skunks, zebras, fantasy art sites, etc. Then I ran into a web-comic called Sabrina Online , by Eric W. Schwartz. As a comic, Sabrina Online is a lot of fun (you can call me a fan), and I ended up checking out some of the links to other web sites that were on Eric's site.

I ended up at Chris Yost's web site, Chris' Foxx Den , where he has two serialized stories. One story staring Sabrina, the other staring her younger sister Tabitha. I started to see the possibility of turning Bot Story into a real story rather than a series of character sketches.

What really pushed me over the edge was another offshoot of Sabrina Online, James Bruner's ZZ Studios website and story. Zig Zag, the Story is first rate. After reading it through the first time I jumped back into my own Bot Story and started re-crafting what I had already done to make it into more of a coherent whole.

Of course none of this would have happened without the ActiveWorlds software.

The Result

Rather than just a series of characters studies, Bot Story has become a real story with a plot. The premise would remain the same, and it would primarily revolve around the bots who inhabit SkunkWks. I also plan to write it as a series of story arcs, groups of chapters that can stand alone, like a series of books.

I plan on having fun with this; I hope you find it fun to read as well.