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Thoughts on VRMMO LitRPGs with time compression (Bofuri, Accel World, etc.)

Discussion in 'CW Index' started by Czlyydwr Llrngwl, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. Czlyydwr Llrngwl

    Czlyydwr Llrngwl "Sell ya a door Learn gull" Czly/Celly for short.

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    One of the common features in VRMMO novels/anime/etc. is having days pass in-game in just a few real world hours, whether as a standard feature or during special events. The exact method by which this is accomplished is of course hardly ever even touched on, the genre as a whole only uses technological trappings as the excuse to have relatable modern characters in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy setting; the actual hardware might as well be magic itself and sometimes does explicitly verge into "sufficiently analysed magic" territory such as with SAO/Accel World "fluctlights" aka quantified souls, or various fanfics which cross over with Fate/whichever.

    However, I feel that a closer look at this provides the opportunity for a few interesting premises all on its own, from a slightly harder sci-fi approach, because human brains already operate at a trade-off point between how much information they can receive and how much they can focus on any one thing to process and make decisions about it. That's why an important part of military training is getting soldiers to keep calm and keep thinking in dangerous situations instead of getting wrapped up in an adrenaline rush using the body's own means of speeding up reaction time to physical threats, evolved in a world without beyond-visual-range threats let alone worldwide political consequences to what may be the most immediately practical solution in the immediate sense.

    Relatively recent studies (don't ask me for a cite, it's just something I saw in a few uSpud videos a couple days ago and promptly web-grazed away from, definitely no more than "some guy on the internet said" reliability at this point but it serves to frame my literary argument. Maybe it was Thoughty2? I'm writing this in a text document offline specifically to avoid information-blitz distraction, so...) have also found that the average amount of time people can concentrate on something without a stray thought or glancing away fell from from twelve seconds to eight over the course of several years of research during the rise of smartphones that allowed constant internet access, which as one video brought up makes modern attention spans shorter than a goldfish's.

    So, some options:

    It could be some kind of literal mind-magic, awakening RL mental acceleration and possibly other ESPer type abilities. RL ensues as tens or hundreds of thousands of gamer geeks and the occasional filthy casual suddenly have superpowers and various government and corporate entities want to cash in. Social misfits are apt to be disproportionately represented among them due to self-selecting for people who think the idea of spending their free time living in a literal fantasy world sounds better than real-life options.

    It may instead be some kind of mind read/sim/write technology, copying the minds of of players into digital hardware, running them through the faster virtual world, and then overwriting their original brain-state, which has presumably been in an induced dreamless sleep-state in the meantime. Exactly how many may be hardware-limited, if it has to happen with a central server rather than at the user end, allowing for the common impossibly low for commercial viability user numbers like SAO's 10,000 as a limited participation special event rather than total installed user base.

    But what if there's a glitch in the process? With the mind sim locally hosted in user hardware, that still leaves loads of room for nasty mind control possibilities with the explicit ability to overwrite the user's consciousness in play. A little dark for my taste so I'm not giving this the full attention it probably deserves, but there it is.

    Still in identity-horror territory ix an obsessed stalker or grieving lover/parent/etc. who creates a mental clone of their target in another person's body, or perhaps in a fast-grown "blank" clone. Less direct trouble results from the general transhumanist angle of being able to create mental forks but that's leading away from the VR-game aspect I'm trying to work around.

    Someone switching a pair of users' helmets as a prank while they're playing and somehow avoiding any features designed to prevent it leading to the ever popular body swap incident is a lighter-toned possibility from this kind of scenario as well.

    Server-side mirroring has its own questions - what if the connection is lost at the game end, allowing the RL players to wake up while their mind-states continue operating. Will the server side versions just be "killed" by shutting it down to reboot without being written back to their bodies? Will the divergent selves in their original bodies be overwritten by the selves who were in-game?

    The former seems more likely than the latter, politically if nothing else, but if the forked mind-states are not considered actual persons what else might be done to or with them? Lots more dark possibilities here, many of which have already been explored from slightly different angles in classic cyberpunk.

    From another angle, what about players who suffer some kind of bodily injury while their minds are away, either as a single case or as a result of some mass disaster like an earthquake or bomb attack that affects a significant number at once? This kind of scenario is far more likely to see political considerations treating them as still real persons to cut off a lot of the less palatable options, but still has a wide range of possible paths to take.

    What if there's some external event that shuts the game down unexpectedly, but some unknown time later the data is recovered and player mind-states are restored in new bodies, needing to cope with the changes from the world they knew when they logged in? Anything from days to centuries could have passed in the meantime, they could even have been extracted by friendly or simply curious aliens or a post-human civilization of some kind who want to know what these ancient beings were like.

    The androids from NIER spring to mind as an example for possible outside actors, or a situation like Mass Effect where the gamers are effectively in the position of Protheans discovered in stasis. Touching back on the more mystical explanations, this could be the justification for an Overlord (LN/anime) type situation rather than the canonical lack-of-explanation for why a player and some characters from VR game being shut down suddenly exist bodily in a new magical world.

    A more specific situation I thought about in the early stages of this was that the servers might be in some kind of protected bunker with game development being a budget-recouping measure while developing the technology for RL military training purposes, and the players are now the main survivors of a surprise attack, but that case and more are included above already, and I'm trying to leave the field open rather than adding limitations at this point. I'm sure there are still more than I've laid out here, but my well of inspiration seems to have been exhausted for the moment.

    Now I just need to find threads where this is relevant to post it, since specific fandom ideas threads are a lot more common on SB/SV/QQ than ones covering the genre as a whole... I may have to end up dropping this in its own new thread, which is hardly bad but likely to limit the exposure a fair bit, seeing as how I'm hardly the sort to have much name recognition as an OP on either site, and the Drunkard's Walk Forum vanished mysteriously yesterday.
     
    DIT_grue likes this.