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ASA A Space Adventure - Making a game on my own -
- Making a game on my own Simon Mesnard
Copyright ÂŠ 2011 - 2014 by Simon Mesnard Proofreader, Roger Kilroy-Talbot All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. First Printing: 2014 The icehouse - self-published www.theicehouse.fr 6
Contents Preface...........................................................................8 1 - Opening Movie.......................................................10 2 - Character design....................................................18 3 - The Ark....................................................................22 4 - Monolith Room.......................................................26 5 - Teleport Station......................................................32 6 - Greenhouse............................................................42 7 - Bridge......................................................................54 8 - Control Room.........................................................64 9 - Planet Kepler..........................................................82 10 - Planet Forte........................................................112 11 - Private Room ......................................................130 12 - Maintenance Room...........................................138 13 - Cobalt-5 Satellite...............................................150 14 - Ending Movie.....................................................158 15 - Datalog...............................................................166
Preface The subtitle I have chosen for this book, Making a game on my own, may sound somewhat presumptuous, to somebody who doesn’t personally know me. It is true that I do feel quite proud when I consider that I developed ASA at home, without any funds and little external help, and in only six months! However, the main reasoning behind this subtitle is an intention to outline my wish to share my passion: I want to tell everyone that, nowadays, it is actually possible to create a game like Myst, alone. I want to encourage artists who are passionate about what they do to experiment with the development of adventure games by themselves. The tools – both software and hardware – have continually evolved, and now bring so many more possibilities than were feasible just fifteen years ago. You can now create interesting renders with your favourite 3D software in almost no time, while it used to take nights and days in the past. Those of you who are, maybe, too young to have any experience of this era where rendering a single cube object would take days, may find it amusing that I chose to create a whole game with pre-rendered graphics; graphics that, moreover, are far from being photorealistic! One of the reasons is that I wanted ASA to retain and use old-school visuals. If you have already played the game, you can probably visualise the designs used for the Ark. For example, in the ‘PC room’, the ‘Qbe’ computers and their OS are, more or less, inspired by old machines, mixing together various influences from past Mac designs, Nintendo Gamecubes and older PCs. This old-school influence is true for most parts of the ship, in fact. The Ark had to look futuristic, but to look so through the eyes of someone living twenty years ago. My main reasoning was that, from a screenplay perspective, the Ark was a modern spaceship offering incredible technologies, but at the same time it’s a very old ship, created hundreds of years ago by the Anterrans. I think that the retro-futuristic design fitted well into the whole game project and its technology set in another time, together with the low native resolution (1024x432), the slideshow navigation, the choice of colors and the techniques that I used. ASA is a tribute to all these 1st-person slideshow adventure games that used to be acclaimed during their golden age on PC, Mac, Playstation and many more. I feel that it is a kind of game that can still be valid nowadays, far from AAA productions, and in parallel to new real-time 3D adventure games with their wonderful visuals. So I am assuring you that it is certainly much easier to create a Myst-style game in 2014, and I want to encourage everyone who has a bit of imagination and interest in this genre to try this out on their own! There are intuitive and affordable programs such as Adventure Maker, Visionaire Studio and Wintermute Engine that can be used by almost everyone who has a bit of spare time. But please don’t get it wrong: it doesn’t make it a piece of cake either. For me, creating ASA was very much like a crusade because, in comparison to a game developed by a team, where you can rely on other collaborators to help with your weak points, I had to manage all the stages of the production: writing a story, 8
translating it, creating the main game designs, modelling the world in 3D, scripting the game actions, finding help to compose the music, beta-testing, etc... All of this while also working on the marketing, which was a skill that I had to learn on the job. What you need is a lot of personal investment and motivation. Happily, for me, the Black Cube 1 project (aka ASA) started from a solid foundation. Not only had I written an introductory book named The Tower in the Space (telling the story of Philippe Forté and his discovery of a mysterious Cube), but I could also rely on the success of the original short film 2011: A Space Adventure. 2011: A Space Adventure is a 6 minutes film created in September & October 2011. It was a very personal project that I originally did for fun. My main concept was that in 2011, we were 10 years after the fictional events narrated in the famous book (or movie) 2001: A Space Odyssey. As a consequence - and because I enjoy sci-fi - I added a mysterious monolith into my story as a tribute. But the link with 2001 ends here and, I hope, makes my own project very unique. When the production of my short film had ended, I decided to share it on Vimeo.com. It was the 28th of October 2011, and I am still amazed today that over 70k people watched it in next to no time, just after the film received the famous “Vimeo Staff Pick” reward. It certainly became my first success with a 3D narrative film as a solo worker. I had no other choice but to use this success to help further my career. During the next few months, I tried to register 2001: A Space Adventure in several festivals, but met with little success. With time rapidly passing, I began to think of different ways to make a new project based on this story. Finally, in Summer 2012, after talking it over with my brother, my intention to create the game ASA: A Space Adventure was still very strong and so I decided to go ahead and do it. The explanations about the short film may appear, at first, to be a little boring, but they’re very important, in order for you to understand how and when I started to work on this game project. I consider it absolutely crucial not to begin any indie career from scratch. A new indie game developer, whatever his origins are (filmmaker, student, writer...) should probably first consolidate his own background and ideas, and also have a good understanding of the video game market. With my film, I already had a hero, a world, and a basis for the storyline of the game. More important maybe: I had gained enough experience in graphics production, so I knew exactly the extent and the difficulty of the task that awaited me. I worked on the game version of ASA with almost exactly the same processes I had used in the initial short film, combining my skills with Autodesk 3dsmax and Adobe After Effects. My main concern was to optimize the development in order to reduce rendering times on my slow computer (a laptop from 2006!). I was also very apprehensive about the opinion people would have of the quality of the puzzles. Happily, I received a rather positive response when ASA: A Space Adventure released in January, 7th 2013. Thank you!
1 - Opening Movie
2 - Character Design
3 - The Ark
4 - Monolith Room
5 - Teleport Station
6 - Greenhouse
7 - Bridge
8 - Control Room
9 - Planet Kepler
10 - Planet Forte
11 - Private Room
12 - Maintenance Room
13 - Cobalt-5 Satellite
14 - Ending movie
Datalog A Space Adventure by French astronaut Philippe Forté January 2011 *Fri. 21* Today, something unforgettable happened. While I was working on the old COBALT-5 satellite for the CSE, I suddenly lost radio contact. Unable to call my teammates (Serena Medrano and Tony Shriegel), I panicked and lost all sense of reality. You know, when you’re out there in space, anything can lead you to your end... I’m not sure of how much time had passed, probably several minutes, but it might have been seconds only. What I know is that I was trying to repair that stupid radio, and that I didn’t see the thing arrive. I saw it then... The Cube of course ! An intriguing black and perfect block that came out of nowhere ! I immediately felt it was emitting strange radiations. I am ignoring if they are dangerous or not, but right now, as I’m writing these lines, I feel dizzy, like I’m about to faint. These are surely my last words before I pass out. *Sat. 22* When I woke up this morning, I felt strange. Did I die yesterday? Thinking of it, I thought I was about to leave this world, but I believe this Cube saved me somehow, ‘cause now I’m somewhere else... I’ve been wandering around all morning in this unknown place, which seemed to be a spaceship... *Sun. 23* In fact I was wrong : I’m all alone but not on a spaceship, even if it could probably be called one. Personally, I’d call it an Ark, because that’s what it is to my eyes. This awesome structure is protecting an impressive quantity of data. And not just any kind of data: it’s the knowledge of all past and present living beings!!! *Mon. 24* Some computers I studied this afternoon referred to a civilization I called the ‘Anterrans’, who built the Ark to gather evidence of life in the universe. The Anterrans built this Ark long ago, and I couldn’t say what happened to them since. If you read my notes, maybe you’re also here in the Ark? Did you live the same kind of experience as myself? Were you ‘teleported’ here because of a Cube you found too? If the answer is yes, you must understand that you have been chosen. You’re not here accidentally, I know it now. I also know that all my words must seem confused or crazy... There’s the translation problem of course, which prevents me from writing everything I wish. But also.../////////////////////// I don’t know where to start the story, so the best approach is that you take your time to assimilate all of this. Try to find your way on the Ark, and always keep the Cube with you. It’ll be very helpful sometimes. And more than helpful, it also contains a part of the knowledge I was speaking of before, and it will be slowly transmitted to you during your journey. So don’t lose it! *Tue. 25* Just in case, while I explore, I started to leave some clues here and there. Nothing important, just some papers to explain the different mechanisms of the Ark. It’s just that most of them were difficult for me to solve, and there is still a lot to understand. *Wed. 26* I was able to confirm that it’s the teleport room right here. It’s probably the best way to leave the 167
Ark for predefined destinations, but it’s currently impossible to go back to my planet... From what I found, those teleports need some kind of small Cubes to function. These ‘Dice’ are made of the same material as the big cubes, and they seem to be the only thing able to activate the 2 teleport platforms. February 2011 *Thu. 3* It’s been more than 10 days since I arrived on the Ark. The first days were full of wonder, but now it’s time to seriously get to work. I’ve decided I’d stay here as long as possible to study the installations. Anyway, I didn’t find a way back home yet... But, do I really want to go home??????????? *Mon. 7* Do I really want to go back home? This very idea haunted me for the last three days... So, do I REALLY want to go home? Of course, Laure and my son, Yan, would miss me a lot. But, isn’t my discovery more important than an ordinary life on earth? Hmmm...it must seem awful to read that, but the Ark is probably the biggest thing humanity has ever discovered. Think of it. At last, it brings an answer to the eternal question, ‘Are we all alone in the universe?’ And moreover, there are these cubes and their properties. The black material has the ability to keep things in memory, to return them later using some kind of waves. Many scientists would kill to have something like that in their hands.... *Wed. 9* I found the ideal place for me to bed down. It fits exactly to the definition of a bedroom: a place to sleep, some furniture, and the door can even be closed with a key. It’s official, I’ll make it my quarters. I still wonder if it’s a compartment especially made for ‘visitors’. As I said, the Ark is a place to keep a trace of the passage of various civilizations through time. People memories are somehow... ‘stored’... in the Cubes, like in a computer’s memory. Therefore, it’s not surprising that sometimes, on very rare occasions, a living being finds the Ark and remains on board for a few days. After all, that’s what happened to me...//////////////// ... No! It’s the Cube that found me first. I mustn’t forget it! There has to be a reason, it’s like it was sent to me to take me here! I have to investigate... *Tue. 15* Have been quite busy last week. First, I spent a lot of time searching the computers for answers, but found nothing. The trouble is that all these machines are protected with passwords, and I wasn’t able to hack their Qbe OS. These workstations are old and, despite its technology, the Ark looks like a huge space station built by us humans. Another computer held a public session, which proved quite usefull finally. In parallel, I went through my first troubles with water and food supplies... *Thu. 17* Trust me or not, the Cube suggested something to me. One of the areas of the Ark is supposed to store a large amount of water, but now it’s almost empty. I have to find a way to refill it as soon as possible. The Cube told me of another planet and gave me the basic instructions to visit it. Am I beginning to go crazy? Luckily, it wasn’t really a voice in my head. When the Cube gives you some useful information, it’s like a transfer of data between two hard drives... *Mon. 21* The new planet was perfect for human habitat. The Ark landed by itself. I made my way out through the airlock. And then, shock! There were other life forms here! While I stood dumbfounded and unable to move, the natives ran away from me. However, when I walked into their village I was met by an old man. He was actually waiting for me. According to their legends, these people used to trade with the Anterrans - the creators of the Ark - long, long ago. I think I made quite an impression, because they agreed to help me. Thanks to them, there’s water on the ship that will last indefinitely. They provided me with some nice varieties of plants, which were perfect to create a greenhouse : I tinkered with the old air-conditioner, and now the place is so hot and humid that a bird species that I have grown to care for is able to survive here! 168
March 2011 *Tue. 8* It has now been more than a month since I arrived here by teleportation from the Cube. I wonder what the CSE thinks of my disappearence. What did they tell my wife? And you, Laure, what did you say to our son? Strangely, my previous life doesn’t miss me. All I wish is that my family can find happiness despite my absence. I also hope that my old friends, Tony and Serena don’t feel guilty for not being able to take me back on Terra. Are you still tryng to locate me - or my body - in the depths of the universe? *Wed. 9* While I was dreaming of my life on Terra, I suddenly woke up in tears. I turned on the light and took a breath, then I realized the Cube was lying on the floor near my bed. By rote, I picked it up and put it right next to me on my pillow. My hand was laid on the top face, and I finally closed my eyes. It’s been my best night’s sleep since long ago... *Thu. 17* I didn’t have many occasions to open my diary these past few days. In fact, I feared what I would write here, but it HAS to be written : I’m changing. Before, I was rather more athletic than brilliant. Except that now, I’m starting to understand things I didn’t use to... It all happened after that night I took the Cube near me. And I’m doing so again and again, night after night... It’s become a ritual. *Sun. 20* Today I successfully hacked the computers that had been blocking me. It was actually quite simple. It’s in these precise cases that I mostly understand how much I’ve progressed. When I think of the potential of the Ark in its entirety, it makes me want to visit all the planets in the universe to distribute this dormant knowledge! It would suffice to leave one single cube in each world to change the face of the universe. Well, Its probably better to let time take its course... I’m sure the Anterrans didn’t plan to intervene in any way. *Mon. 21* I found a kind of optical apparatus with colored lenses. It brought back memories of my childhood when I received as a gift a similar device. It introduced me to light perception and color addition. It looks like I’ll get to refresh my knowledge on how the light spectrum works. My uncle had these fascinating glasses that decompose the light spectrum in a kind of rainbow. I never had the chance to study this in physics lessons, and I could never figure how it was possible that a white light was made of various colorwaves. Then I decided to make up for lost time, and dedicated a room for the study of this matter. *Fri. 25* A disturbing event required all my attention. An unknown humanoid arrived on the Ark. He knocked me out while I was trying to communicate, and started to explore the ship... When I regained consciousness, he was already about to leave and had taken one of the Qbe computers. I presume he was a thief, and he could enter because I desactivated the airlock securities a few days earlier. I didn’t imagine that malicious people were spying on my moves, waiting for an occasion to act! *Sun. 27* Last night, I dreamed of a new planet... Was it a vision shared by the Cube? I think I’m going to try and find its coordinates. The visions I ‘saw’ seemed quite paradisiacal : a desert island surrounded by a turquoise ocean. Looks like it’s time to go on holiday! *Mon. 28* An unknown ship flew close to the Ark and I feared it was the thieves again. By chance, they only seem to use their weapons on very rare occasions. I reactivated the securities of the airlock. Now I have no way to get outside directly, but at least they won’t get in either. There’s no way the Ark can land on the vast ocean I saw, but moving in close to this planet should allow me to teleport.
April 2011 *Sat. 2* I visited a new planet today. Because it’s uninhabited, I decided to give it my name: ‘planet Forté’ (x-y-z : ? - ? - 1.0). I realized it was not referenced in the Ark’s computers. That’s strange, because it’s my Cube that gave me the coordinates in a dream. Whatever! I went there and found it all for my taste. First thing I did was to enjoy the sea! The sun seems to be always shiny there, and the water’s really hot! There are a lot of small fishes, but no trace of dangerous aquatic creatures. I was a bit worried at the beginning to encounter an alien shark or a giant octopus, but there really is no danger. *Sun. 3* Nothing better than a sunday on a paradise island! The ground here is made of strong grey rock and it hurts a little when you’re barefoot. That’s because of the asperities, but also the heat of the stones. I stayed there until the night and started to feel alone. I didn’t bring the Cube with me... *Wed. 6* Back on the Ark. Its bridge is amazing: I like its ambience, even if the place is quite dark. And the most interesting is certainly this device which moves the Ark from one point to another in the space. You choose your xyz coordinates on a kind of grid, and then you just have to watch through the window to see instantly your new destination! Most of the time, if you don’t have specific coordinates, you just see the space, and a few stars shining in this no man’s land... *Mon. 11* When the Cube gave me my first planet coordinates, I was amazed to discover that the Ark could move. Thus, 2 months ago, I encountered people on planet Kepler. I called it planet Kepler because of the famous astronomer of the same name. He made a lot of research on the Universe and associated some planets with regular polyhedrons. In particular, he developed a theory based on Platonic solids (from tetrahedrons to icosahedrons - including regular hexahedrons alias cubes). Besides, he made a link between these solids and planets, and more specifically between cubes and planet Catyph, which is near Terra. Catyph has a huge ring around it, and so does the planet I called ‘Kepler’. On top of that, I have good reasons to think that the black material that this cube of which it is composed, comes from the mines of this very planet. *Tue. 12* I went back on Kepler (xyz : 4.2-2.3-6.1). I had to deactivate the airlock securities once again from the control room, but I don’t really fear intruders when the Ark’s landed on this planet. I was soon greeted by three keplerians who helped me once to find water. Nicci, Tosh and Akku live in the village I spoke of before, and they’re almost my age. Not surprising we became friends very quickly! Tosh and Akku are experienced hunters, and both of these strong young men are good help when I need repairs on the ship. Nicci’s probably one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. She’s smart and funny, and if it wasn’t for Laure, I might have fallen for her... *Tue. 19* I convinced my 3 friends to come with me on planet Forté. They were not really interested, giving excuses of various chores, so I had to insist. When they discovered the turquoise landscape on Forté, they couldn’t believe it! They had never seen a blue sky! On Kepler, the atmosphere is always reddish and the water quite dark. On top of that, the Keplerian village is surrounded by a mountain barrier, beyond which extends a vast desert. *Wed. 20* This night, I didn’t bring the Cube, but I felt at peace. Was it due to the presence of my friends? When the sun rose on the horizon, I had decided to include them in my plans. The idea was to build a cabin where I could study the Cube undisturbed. So I asked Nicci, Tosh and Akku for their help. I knew they were experienced, because their people use to make their own houses on Kepler. I was relieved when they agreed. They even told me it was a good idea, because they didn’t like the idea that I was alone on the Ark, and they couldn’t welcome me in their village because of their rules. 170
*Mon. 25* We’ve been very busy building my house on Forté. There’s still a lot of work, but we have decided exactly what to do. Nicci is good at drawing things, and she made the sketches of my future residence. Tosh, Akku and I started to look for anything we could use for construction. On the Ark, we gathered various pieces of metal, and I even went back on COBALT-5 to get solar panels! *Thu. 28* My idea of a small cabin was evolving from day to day. Because there were no building materials on the islands, we used the things we got on the Ark. And honestly, I woudn’t have believed of such a place to live in. The cabin itself was quickly finished, but during my sleep, the Cube had given me a vision of a dome to protect my home. Everyone enjoyed the idea, and we decided to make it. Not surprising that the Anterrans had relations with the Keplerians long ago, because these people are really clever. They might look uncivilized at first, but they know a lot about the Ark and its mechanisms. *Fri. 29* I spoke with Nicci late at night. She wanted me to describe Terra and then asked why I named them ‘Keplerians’ (in fact, they call themselves the Sivas Nemad, which means something like ‘children of the ancestors’). So I talked of Kepler - the scientist - and I came to speak of Plato too (the Greek mathematician and philosopher of Antiquity...). Well, we laughed a lot about the fact I was pronouncing ‘Platon’ instead of ‘Plato’ (in my native language - french - this scholar is called Platon). At this precise moment, I was shocked by something huge : how was it possible that these people were speaking the same language as me? And then I realized what really happened : I wasn’t speaking in english with my friends... ‘You speak the Nemad’, said Nicci. It means I was speaking in ‘Anterran’ and it had been done all naturally. Amazing! I was speaking a language that I totally ignored three months ago, and I didn’t realise it! The Cube is definitely a strange thing! May 2011 *Tue. 3* First time I visited planet Kepler, the natives were taken by surprise and ran away from me! The Sivas (Sivas Nemad, a.k.a Keplerians) are peaceful people (stunning, when you know they’re such good hunters). They believe they can solve conflicts by words only. Not the first time I hear of such an ideal. Now when I think of it, my Keplerian friends Nicci, Tosh and Akku are probably the most important thing that happened to me since I arrived on the Ark. Of course the Ark is amazing, but you can’t compare this ship made of steel with human beings... *Wed. 4* I realize I never took the time to write in details my first steps on Kepler. The Sivas (Sivas Nemad) use to abandon their homes if they suspected danger, and they would disappear in the mountains. They know some secret caverns that I never discovered, even when I was asking Nicci to confess their location. They have strict rules, and the elders would never allow me to live with them. And these rules will never change, the old fogeys ensure that the youngers will always respect them. When everyone’s hidden in the mountains, no one can find them! I know it, because the second day I went on Kepler, I tried to find clues of footprints in the sandy soil. Nothing... So I kept trying (at this time, I really needed help with food and water). The three next days were the same, but I’m stubborn, you see... Sometimes I could see a frightened figure at a safe distance, which fled at full speed as soon as I showed. And on the fourth day, I made my first contact. One of the elders had stayed in the village, waiting for my visit. He explained that they were not afraid of me, that their nature is to try and avoid potential threats when they occurred. To summarize, he had stayed to evaluate if I was dangerous or not... *Thu. 5* This happened in February, but that’s some memories I want to preserve. Ragim - that’s the name of the old guy - sympathized with me. We spoke for hours, until the sun had set. He explained that the Nemads (the Anterrans), used to trade with his ancestors. It was long, long ago... The Nemads warned the Sivas that 171
one day, after their departure, the Ark might come back in the sky, and one or several unknown people might get out of it. Because noone could guess their purpose, these strangers should be observed closely to determine their intent. The Nemads asked the Sivas to promise this: if an outsider arrived at Kepler from the Ark, they should hide in the mountains. And because it was a promise, they still respect this rule to this day. I think Ragim found no sign of aggression in my eyes, because he agreed to introduce me to the villagers as soon as it was dawn! That’s how I met his grandchildren Tosh, Nicci and Akku. That’s the family who received me, but you have to count a dozen houses for each of them shelters as much people! *Fri. 6* My encounter with the Sivas seemed anecdotic to me three months ago, because I was totally obsessed by the Cube and the Ark. But last night, when I wrote my last words, I finally understood that I need to stay in touch with my fellow beings. I think I will enjoy my stay on Kepler for a little while... *Sat. 14* Today I visited the mines with Nicci. That was the first time I went on a walk with her alone. Usually, Akku and Tosh followed us everywhere, but this very morning, Nicci woke me up early so we could spend some time together. She knew I had some interest in the mines since I had learned more about them. It’s there, in the depth of the Keplerian moutains, that the Sivas used to excavate the black material to trade with the Anterrans. Before it becomes a Cube or anything gainful, it appears to be a misshapen dark rock, and the bigger you find it, the more powerful it would be once purified. The purification process is not very long but must be followed strictly. First, the rock must be heated to 800° for approximatively ten seconds, then suddenly cooled down to -20°. Once it had returned to room temperature, Nicci showed me how to forge into a Dice the small fragment she had picked up in the mines. There’s a sort of grinder which removes the impurities and sculpts the cubic shape roughly. Then she just left the cube in electrified liquid... When we went back the next day, the dice was just perfect! I couldn’t believe it, it was like the black material was alive and had transformed in contact of water and electricity! We had obtained a Dice like the one that activated the teleporters on the Ark! Nicci gave it to me, I observed the result of her work, and then she took it back and destroyed it with a hammer! I was flabbergasted, wondering why she did this... She explained that it was one the village’s rules. I understood that she had to obey it. This one especially, edicted long ago, stipulates that noone but the Anterrans is allowed to forge dices and cubes from the black material, or it must be destroyed. The Anterrans had a strict control on the number of manufactured cubes and dices. Thereby, if one of them were lost or stolen, they could know it almost instantly. *Sun. 15* It’s still early in the morning. I’m not used to write in my diary at this time, but this is my last day on Kepler for a while. I have to go back on the Ark, get back my Cube, then I want to study it on planet Forté. Now that I have my home there, I can find the necessary concentration for my studies... I want to discover the secret of the Cube, how it interacts with my body and brain, and if possible, find what happened to the Anterrans. They seemed to have disappeared without warning... and maybe their whole civilization collapsed long ago? I also imagined that they found a way to become invisible, and that they spend their time following me and studying each of my moves. Scary... Anyway, Ragim and the other elders warned me to leave the village soon. My presence is tolerated, but I am not supposed to live with them much longer. I told them I would go back on the ship tomorrow, and they all seemed relieved. Nicci, on the contrary, didn’t seem to share their opinion. That broke my heart to see her sad face at this moment, but she realized that it was just a temporary goodbye. I promised I’d spend my sunday with her. Besides, I can hear her footsteps outside. She’s probably on the verge of knocking at my door. /////////// I’ll have to confess to her that I’m married on Terra... 172
*Mon. 16* Back on the Ark. I’m all alone... I took my Cube with me as a comfort. *Tue. 17* I was totally downtrodden yesterday since I went back to the Ark. Some of the last events affected me more than they were supposed to. But I have to get back to work. If I can’t find the motivation to resume my research, then I’d better find a way to go back to a normal life on Terra. June 2011 *Wed. 1* From now on, I’m gonna work full time studying the Cube. I’ll stay on planet Forté so I won’t be disturbed by anything or anyone. This is my last entry in my diary for an undefined period. I’ll only add Terra’s coordinates in case I lose all sense of reality. Thus, if I want to go home, I’ll have a better chance of making it (3.2-4.4-2.4). Now, concentration... July 2011 ////////////// August 2011 ////////////// September 2011 *Tue. 6* Trying to emerge from darkness...////////////// The Cube can be a beautiful thing when you watch it, but its black color finally makes it a sad thing to look at. Absence of light, cold, death and chaos... Negative connotations.../////////////////////////////////// My research on the Cube has totally obsessed me. Despite everything, it was a fascinating experience. I now have confirmation that the Cube is made to be a huge database. I already knew it stores the science from many civilizations in the universe, but I also discovered how it is capable of gathering such a large amount of data. Once you know that the Cube is an assembly of microscopic living beings, you understand that it’s not impossible for it to ‘aspirate’ all your knowledge... These minuscule creatures are like molecules forming the cubic shape, and they can send microwaves to the brain and receive what they find in your mind. It’s not scary or disgusting, it’s not like we were eaten from the inside by some insects! No, when I speak of living beings, I mean something like nanomachines, even if I could not identify the exact nature of the things that compose the Cube. On top of that, these creatures don’t have any goal, they’re just here, assuming their two functions (1: making the cube a solid object, 2: storing data). And when they have no ‘subject’ to retrieve data from, they just go to sleep and wait as long as is required before someone wakes them up. That makes up the Cube, but the Ark also has a specific role to play... *Wed. 7* Yesterday, I was too tired to complete the diary. I was speaking of the Ark and its functions. You have to imagine the Ark like a giant computer in which I walk and live. Like any computer, the Ark has been programmed by a living being, and it’s now totally independant. It’s a kind of A.I., and it’s an impressive one. It can both preserve the data of the Cubes (there are several of them, I’ll come back to this), and find opportunities to gather more data. That’s the interesting thing: when the ship senses that a living being arrives in its zone of action, it can determine what kind of creature it is. Is it a human from Terra? Is it an Anterran or a Siva Nemad? Or anything else? The Ark compares different information stored in its database, and tries to determine if the detected form of life has some interest or not. 173
There are 2 possibilities: 1: all the data is already stored in the Cube, then the Ark doesn’t manifest. 2: the living being has knowledge that the Ark ignores, then the CTS, ‘Come To Share’, procedure is engaged. The CTS is what happened to me : the Ark launches a Cube into space! The targeted creature finds it, is somehow hypnotized by it, and then teleported aboard the ship. Thus, you’re welcome on the Ark and the Cube you hold begins its work: retrieving data. Come To Share! I know the Ark has worked like this for almost two hundred million years. Now you understand why it stores such a large amount of data. I don’t really know how the Ark’s A.I. works, but it can move the ship anywhere to complete the mission. And it always seeks isolated targets in order to stay undetected from the eyes of other beings. *Mon. 12* Left planet Forté to investigate on the Ark. I already knew there were several Cubes, because I had seen others in the middle of the central room of the Ark. In this room, the Cubes form a big black squared shape on the floor. In reality, that’s only the tip of the iceberg! This black square is the summit of a gigantic tower made of hundreds of Cubes! I called it the ‘Monolith’, because it is quite an insolite thing. In fact, you probably understand by now that it’s the heart of the database. I was quite surprised until now that such a small Cube was able to store such large a quantity of knowledge. Now, I know it’s not just a single Cube that does it. And I also know where the Cubes come from when the Ark launches one during a CTS. *Thu. 15* I have to warn anyone that might read my diary. The Cube, and a fortiori the Monolith, can eventually be dangerous in case of prolonged contact. That’s what drove me crazy a few months ago : nothing but the Cube was holding my attention, and if I hadn’t met the Keplerians and Nicci, I might have lost my mind. The microwaves emitted by the Cube embed so deeply in one’s brain that you can’t control your mind anymore. Of course, that’s a prodigious feeling, because the knowledge of the Ark flows inside you, but it has the same perverse effect as drugs, and even worse : it’s almost like radioactivity! You’re destroyed from the inside! I’m not concerned anymore as I have found a way to reverse the damages to my body. But I strongly suggest anyone keep their spacesuit on as a protection. October 2011 *Wed. 5* I just retrieved some interesting data from the Monolith. The data included information about the Anterrans. I’ve decided to report a part of it here : «The war has begun. That’s crazy, we all believed in peace and modeled our civilization on the respect for the other. How can we become an example for different people in the universe if we are unable to sustain a stable society? I assume this is all because of the Sok’as [= probably the Cubes], but I’m not exposing this publicly, as the Sok’as ARE now a part of us, and noone would listen to me if I faulted them. I still believe in this experiment and I’m sure that one day, our work will be recognized as one of the greatest inventions ever. But this technology should have been limited and studied much longer before being implanted everywhere on Talifa [= their home planet] and used for civilian purposes. Profit, always profit... We already witnessed the end of the Daeties on their own planet when then decided to use the HCFD-8 gas for their air-conditioners. We warned them that this gas would damage irremediably the ozone layer and lead to the destruction of their world. They didn’t listen. It was their right. But are we going to live the same kind of scenario, with war instead of gas? In one way, the experiment has become a success, as we built the A.R.K to save the knowledge of civilizations about to die. We would be the first ones to ‘benefit’ from the result of our work... Except that none of us would live long enough to see if it was definitely a good idea. How could things go wrong in just a few years? It’s been half a century since we started to use the Sok’as, and our lives improved immediately... But we should have noticed the evolution of the mental state among us Talifans. We became obsessed by the Sok’as, which 174
led us into a mentally unstable society. Nothing but the Sok’as had any importance to us, and it quickly became a subject of dispute. Here and there, localized incidents happened... and things became worse when the president tried to take measures to prevent this wave of madness. I wonder if I’m myself safe of mind, or if I distort reality under the effect of the Sok’a. What I know is that I’m here to launch the program A.R.K, and try to send in its memory the latest events. If one day someone finds this recording, then you should know that the A.R.K program only chooses civilizations that are in danger. So, you shouldn’t care about what happened to us Talifans or whatever you decide to call us, but you should care about your own civilization! Analyze and review the issues on your planet, and if you find a way to solve or reduce the problems, do it! You probably won’t have a second chance... Oh, one last thing : leave the A.R.K as soon as you can, the Sok’as might interfere with your health. While this technology has been a major advancement, it can have very dangerous side effects...» //////////// I have to think about all this for a while... *Fri. 14* This is madness. I studied this data in all directions, and it all leads to the same conclusion : the guy who registered this message was crazy! Even if he was an Anterran, I just can’t imagine his words to be true! First, the Cube is the most prodigious thing I know! OK, I had some problems in the past and it started to interact with my mind, but everything went back to normal on Kepler, thanks in part to my friends. Relationships are important! Second, I just can’t believe that the Ark only chooses to interact with civilizations on the verge of collapse. True, we had lots of problems on Terra in 2011, like pollution, nuclear fallout, overpopulation, and even global warming. But we are aware of all kinds of problems that have happened in the past, and our ancestors always survived. I laugh when someone speaks of the 2012 apocalypse, so I’m not the one to believe that us, Terrans, are about to disappear! Third thing, how can I trust this Anterran (probably a scientist), who doesn’t even know if he’s sane of mind? No, honestly, I think this guy panicked because of the war and all, but when I look around me, I see the Ark : it’s working perfectly, the Cube helped me a lot, and I don’t feel like someone who was influenced by the Monolith! So, no : I won’t go back on Terra to try to warn everyone that there ‘MIGHT’ be a danger. They would think that I was crazy! That leads me to a more important question : what happened to the Anterrans after this recording? Has the war begun? I think I will concentrate on this from now on... November 2011 *Tue. 1* The Anterran scientist was right////// the Cube is dangerous, it corrupts my mind and I////////////////// *Wed. 2* Th Cube is the most amazin’ thing I ever found. I just I just I///// *Fri. 5* I have to leave this place bfore it’s too late... I fear Kepler is not a good idea, I might be tempted to come back on the A.. the A... the aRK.. . I must flee as far as possible. ‘might be bet best better not to go back on Terra, people wouldn’t believe in my story. I think I’ll try to find the Neme... Nema... Nemods (? I don’t remember)... the Anterrans! if they survived their war. *Mon. 14* Hahaha! How could I be so stupid? With the power of the Cube, I could become the emperor of the universe! I’m stronger than anyone, much clever than the anterrans, and I own a great ship, and///// *Sat. 26* Luke! No... Yan! I am your father! %*@¤!??<+////// December 2011 *Thu. 1* I slept for thee... ther..... 3 days. I’m back to lucidity ofr a while. I must recongize that I’m much more affected by the Mnololith that I imagined. If you read this diary, I beg you to leave as soon as you can. I 175
searched the Cubes’ datas for help and found someting//////// There’s a way to program my brain for automatic actions in the future. I’ll lose my mind defintely, but I may heal if I leave this place once and for all. I’m notsure ///// I’ll program the followin’ : 1 - sleep all the time to avoid making crazy things. 2 - wake up as soon as a living being approaches the arK. 4 - engage the CTS procedure to send a cuBe to him/her 5- save him/her from the influence of the CUbe. 7 - help him/hr to find hs/her way on the ArK and//////// 3 - I think human brain is not made to support the amount of datas given by the cube and.. (I have such an awful headhache...) 8 - then I must leave to a faraway destination. I programmed a distant planet where the Anterrans used to retire sometimes. I’ll have to use the monnonith to travel there, accordin’ to the distanc/////// * Fri. 2* I made all the preparatives, and if everything goes well, I shuldn’t wakeup until someone else comes on th eArk. Then the program should guide me onece and for all. If the Anterrans survived and if I find them, thye’ll probably help me to heal. *Wed. 21* That’s a disaster. I woke up with no reason////// theThe the program seems to malfunction...I///I////// I’m afraid that... Oh! My head ! It’s so hard to think... I have troubles to find my word... I need everyone to understand this : LEAVE THE ARK, NOW! IF the program is failing, I can’t account for my future actions. I might cause some problems here and... What if the Ark became a trap to keep you here??? I already thought of it : having someone here to replace me after I left. There are so many things to study, and I need someone to keep an eye on the mlon.. molo.... monolith. Oh my... I can’’’t realize I’m writing this.. Please, leave while you can, or you might be confined aboard against my will... and yours of coursE... Now I’ll try to reprogram my brain and go to sleep, im so tired. *Sat. 24* Hey it’s Chritmas Eve! I’m gonna make a party with everonyne! I just welcomed Laure and my little Yan onboard, and Nicci is going to arrive soon with the others! I have sent invitations to the Anterrans also and I///// I just saw a ship through the window : I suppose it’s one of the thieves who attacked me months ago! I don’t care, the airlock securities are activated! It’s christmas, not a day to fight! CURRENT YEAR, 2057 *Recent update* Believe it or not, but the program worked... I think I fell asleep after I made a lot of crazy things, and I hope I didn’t cause too much trouble on the Ark. Now, after over 40 years asleep, I feel much better and I’m glad to welcome you on this ship. I took your Cube to prevent you from illness, and then I tried to guide you. You’re clever, I never thought you’d lock me up in one of these prison-domes! Well done, that’s worthy of a human being. What’s up on Terra? I’m sure our civilization is still in expansion and full of hope for the future. I’d love to see it with my own eyes, but as you read this, I already left the Ark for another planet, trying to learn more about the Anterrans. Now it’s all up to you, I left your Cube in the maintenance room near the Monolith. You might have found it already, in the pool. Water preserves them, that’s the reason the whole Monolith is immersed. Only the summit is in the open air in the central room, as you know. I won’t give you any orders for the continuation of your adventure, but I want you to make a choice. I’d need a human being to stay here and take care of the Ark. Will you stay? Please, write your answer here, I’ll receive it via the waves emitted by the Monolith...
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Published on Nov 4, 2014
Free full web version of the ASA artbook available on the Icehouse shop shop.theicehouse.fr This book is a collection of backgrounds and sc...