The Multiverse Express

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions about community-created work. The suggestion by Li-Yi Wei to use a Wikipedia-like history model could be intriguing, when applied to building an animated sim — a kind of modifiable world where you set up conditions, and then let your simulated universe plays things out. Especially if navigating between universes is very easy.

My Fish Tales toy is a very simple example of a sim, since the fish is running a low-level A.I., which gives him a limited amount of autonomy (not over what he does, but over how he does it). It could be even more interesting to apply a save-all-history model as the A.I. underlying such a sim becomes more advanced, and the creatures in it more autonomous. In a sense, each authorable state of the sim would generate a particular alternate universe, whose inhabitants live by unique rules.

Anybody who goes to the site can set conditions any which way they like. As long as all previous authored states are saved, then none of these universes will ever be lost. I’m picturing a giant scroll-bar, which could be called the Multiverse Express, to let you quickly scrub through the history to see all changes ever made by past authors.

If all previous universes are saved, there is no need for branching. Just copy a universe you like, paste it on the end of the growing track, and edit to taste. No harm, no foul.

Some universes would most likely be rather boring, with characters doing dull and repetitive things. But others might be gloriously alive, if an author is talented enough to find just the right settings. Those alternate universes that get more frequent visits along the Multiverse Express become marked as popular tourist destinations (sort of like Rod Serling’s town of Willoughby).

Welcome to the Multiverse Express. Next stop, Willoughby!

4 Responses to “The Multiverse Express”

  1. Sharon says:

    I’m trying to understand your model of browsing universes. I think in most revision control mechanisms that I’ve seen, you have a notion of the latest state of something and you can browse its past, which is linear. Making a change starting from some point in the past would either be done by copying that past state, producing a new thing (document, whatever) without remembering where it came from, or by truncating the history back to that point, thus avoiding the branching issue. It sounds like you have an idea about avoiding branching as well, but I don’t quite understand it. What is in the state represented by the current position of your scroll bar? What does it mean to paste a copy of a universe on the end of a growing track? I’m missing something.

  2. admin says:

    I think we’re saying the same thing. My suggestion indeed includes copying some past state to the current state (but I am not proposing to truncate the history!).

    The state represented by any position of the scroll bar is the set of authored decisions that specifies one particular simulated universe. For example, in the simple case of the fish tales, each such state would consist of some configuration of the entire animation timeline. As you scrub through the scroll bar, the settings of the animation timeline will change. If you stop at any point in the scrolling history, you see some particular animation timeline state.

  3. Sharon says:

    It will be an interesting experiment!

  4. Sharon says:

    Hey, I just discovered that Amazon Prime streaming videos has Twilight Zone episodes! I just watched “A Stop at Willoughby”.

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