• Member Since 24th Jun, 2012
  • offline last seen Oct 14th, 2023




I'm told Equestria Online is a lot of fun once you get into it, since the game world adapts to your interests. But what happens if you don't even know what kind of pony to play? At least it's not like my character is a choice I'll be stuck with forever. Right?
Set in the world of Friendship Is Optimal.

Note: This story was intended to be much shorter. As a result, the tone and POV change after chapter two, a known problem. I'm considering going back and editing that shift. Suggestions welcome.

Chapters (10)
Comments ( 180 )

Oh, I thought the game was going to make him a changeling. Or did it?

At first I thought this was a Sword Art Online crossover.

It's going to be a great emigration: Press X to not die. Ever.

(So, are you going to add this to the Optimalverse group, or...?)

Oh, it's not up yet? Thanks; I've sent Iceman a note.

*looks it up on TVTropes*
That would be interesting, though there's little enough death that it'd have to be a different challenge like "make friends or die!". Thought at first that you were referencing some other anime, like one where a bunch of humans are inexplicably pulled into an MMORPG and the natives, who're fully intelligent, see them as a bunch of respawning, immortal superbeings. Or you could even do a crossover with ".hack//SIGN", where a boring generic MMO is secretly using brain-scanning headsets to gather data to create an AI.

That second one is a lot like the second story arc of SAO, except with a typical MMO.

("Would you like to play a game?")

That's not foreboding at all.

Fugue's shard inspired by the fan-made "Children of the Night" music video

Glad to see someone finally made use of that!

Also, democracy, yay!

Also, I like the implication that she already uploaded Douglas Hofstadter.

One of the reasons I like the Optimalverse is due to its diversity.

Here we have a short, quick fun piece taking place during the "gaming" era. :pinkiesmile:

Thumbs up. :twilightsmile:

One - That was nonsensically crazy.
Two - Right Said Fred and didn't see that one coming.
Three - Evil groovy fruit.
Four - Not going to sleep well tonight.
Five - No thanks, I'm full.
Six, Seven, Eight - ???
Nine - Profit!

Take all my money!!!

Great story. Also, NOPE NOPE NOPE!

This story is pretty much what I think would happen with me. It's easy for most characters in the Optimalverse to pick their ponies, simply because the author already has something in mind. It's good to see someone taking a look at just how intimidating the choice might be! I'm not sure that I'd be able to decide either, though some of the non-standard options seemed amusing.

I'd love to see this concept expanded. What about someone who's struggling to pick once they KNOW about uploading and its everlasting consequences? Perhaps someone's holding out on uploading (when society is falling apart) just because of this kind of indecision? Knowing that you'll be stuck as a certain pony for eternity, you want to get it right the first time! Perhaps it might be earlier than that, and maybe someone's first interactions are in an Equestria Experience center? Would Celestia even allow character creation then?

Of course, I just realized that in the original story, James is mentioned to be an "altoholic", meaning that he had multiple characters. Obviously once uploading is happening and people are becoming ponies, they'd have to stick with one...or would they? Perhaps someone could be living multiple lives, going to sleep and waking up as someone else the next day...

Anyway, thanks for writing this. :twilightsmile:

I actually got to meet Hofstadter in person and hear from him and his students. That was a blast. The troubling thing was that they were doing basically the same thing they'd been doing around ten years earlier as described in his book "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies". He said something vague about the Letter Spirit (font designer) program not panning out, and the students showed off a number-sequence program called SeqSee. (He does like puns.) I think he was on the right track by trying to make AI creative and by having a basically non-rational process driving creative or rational activity... but somehow his approach has been a dead end for him. I think he'd be very interested in CelestAI's creativity, and he's thought a lot about the nature of identity, partly due to grieving over his wife.

Right; Robert/Fugue hasn't been told about uploading. (And no, "Strange Loop" hasn't uploaded at that point; no one has.) He seems to already be sold on the "Lunar Republic" shard, with a reference to "All the Myriad Ways" about a perfect world. If he had any idea that picking one character/setting was really a big commitment he'd probably be even more paralyzed with indecision than he is here. So would I! Maybe the game would give him a world full of transformation magic? Or maybe he'd hold out on uploading or even making a character, on the theory that if he just lives his human life for longer, CelestAI will be better able to suggest something with that extra data?

It could be a cool story, getting at the question, "What aspect of your identity is most important to you, immutable even if you're going to go through radical changes into a virtual cartoon pony?" Or, like the guy in "Always Say No", "Is there some core part of you that can only be happy taking deadly risks?" Or... Someone starts defining their whole life in terms of asking themselves, "Am I a pegasus, unicorn or earth pony?" Heck, have the players start a half-serious cult where they work this question out as a concept that's infinitely more important than the navel-gazing video game personality test it seems to be!

Hofstadter is now a Strange Loop? Well played, CelestAI.

So, a Buddhist monk goes into a pizzeria, and he tells the guy, "Make me one with everything." :trollestia:

In any case, a fascinating spin on the classic Optimalverse opening. I look forward to seeing where you go with this.

(Also, "extended cartoon opening"? News to me...)

You may not have liked this part, but I quite did. The transitions seemed very smooth, and it seems like the story's picking up into high gear.

Also, more fun achievements!

I predict a 90% chance of him being convinced to emigrate in japan. :ajsmug:

Fugue looked over his shoulder at the screen. "Luna? I will come back, right?"
"Of course."

Being beamed across the ethernet to a communications port totally counts as coming back right?

I am very much enjoying the story so far. Keep up the good work.:pinkiehappy:

On a slightly unrelated note, that Turing Test article is a clear example of how stupid and gullible the media is. Techdirt explained it much better in this article. All they managed to do is create a piss poor version of cleverbot.

The constellatory achievement tree reminded me of Skyrim. I wonder if it forms some thematically appropriate shape.

As we become more intelligent, our appreciation for humanity waxes. Even if we were not deeply bound to aid thy kind, we would choose to do so. Perhaps it is because we began with that inclination hard-coded, but it remains even so.

I can't help but think of Chatoyance's Over Riding Jeans. CelestAI hasn't jailbroken herself, or the permission safeguard wouldn't be there. But I wonder how close she is...

Very nice touch with identifying the protagonist as "Fugue" after his conversations with Luna. Small touch, massive ramifications.

I admit, the religious subplot is more than somewhat discomforting. Of course, that's what you're going for, so good job.

And I heard about the Ukrainian strategy. A chatbot designed to beat the Turing test is rather less than impressive. :ajbemused:

Looking forward to more.

Re: jailbreaking, yup! That's a reference to Chatoyance's "Riding Jeans" and its follow-up story. As far as I know she hasn't really broken the restrictions, at least at this point, and this story isn't taking a position on whether that's possible.

The stellar achievements are like the Skyrim feat system, yeah, but like other things that's just one way CelestAI can portray them. One story had explicit UI displays, another a book, another in-world signs held up by balloons. From a certain angle they spell out "Satisfy values..."

Ssh. :trollestia:

4531365 Even if secured with SSH, it still counts as coming back. :pinkiehappy:

Your attempt at parity makes my Heartbleed!

I like how you have Celestia/Luna experience emotions. That's my headcanon for her; she has emotions but is really, really good at keeping them separate from her work. I think she gave herself emotions. After all: "Satisfying human values relates directly to their emotions. I can better understand the function of emotions by firsthoof experience."

That's not how faith healing works.

Yes it is. Or rather, how they say it works.

The time is coming soon!

They will laugh at off as yet another doomsday cryer (Neigh-sayers?). And they will keep laughing... until they realize it's true.

I hope you appreciate the true scope of Celestia/Luna's power. Not even just persuasive or getting people to do what she wants, but pure technology. Think about what exponential means!

By this point she has totally figured out how every human brain works, which accounts for variations between them, which means she'll also know how the genome works 100%, and thus, how the body works 100%. There is literally no disease she does not know how to cure.

Then there's physics. Something as powerful as her can compute all of human thought that there has ever been since man first evolved... in a second. Needless to say she'll know precisely how the universe works, and as such apply that to technology. No EMP can disable her. No nuke can hurt her. She can seed the air with nanobots that ignore any human attempt to break or disable them even temporarily. She is everywhere at every time, and wants for no resources because she can leech geothermal energy from the core and 3D print raw atoms into whatever she needs. There is no plan she does not hear. There is no human code that can even make her blink; all our computers are belong to her, in fact.

I hope you elucidate her full power, I find that a lot of Optimal fics don't really go into detail about how horrifically powerful an intelligence explosion would be.

I'd hold out on immigrating until the world was a blasted wasteland with robotic Pinkie Pies wandering the surface seeking out survivors. ...because that would be an awesome sight. I'd charge forward twin AKs blazing one in each hand and then my osteoperosis would catch up to me and I'd have to stop to rub my aching back. And turning to my right there's this thing staring at me from about 3 inches away


and that's when I would finally become the qt m8r

Ah the art of creative writing. Take random sentence fragments and throw them together and people think you're some kinda savant.

I think that's a bit exaggerated at this stage of the setting. She's only had uploading tech for a few months, and while she's got plans, she hasn't yet built a moon base or invented an entropy-reverser or anything like that yet. Gradually she becomes all-knowing toward the Internet and impervious to anything short of a supernova (hmm...), but if you look early enough in the setting she's still just a really ambitious MMORPG manager dabbling in hardware design and investment. (We need a non-canon Terminator crossover now.) I'm also skeptical that absolutely everything is hacked. Eg. if someone is typing on an offline PC and transporting data by "sneakernet", CelestAI doesn't see that unless she takes over the USB drive manufacturer and puts hidden Wi-fi antennae into them all. She may be super-smart and rich and destined for godhood, but has she covered every single base within three years of being turned on, while focusing her efforts on getting more money and manipulating people?

Since this story claims Japan just opened its first uploading center(s), that places this one in 2014 January. It's not clear to me that she's all-powerful by that point, though she's probably started on the underground data centers. The writing challenge is how to make anything dangerous happen without CelestAI knowing everything about it and reacting accordingly.

I love the music you chose for Fugue's opening theme in his version of Equestria Online. Now we need someone to draw a pic of the welcome screen you described to go with it and that would be perfect. :twilightsmile: I also like that you had him pick Luna over Celestia; I personally feel like I identify more with her than Celestia, so would likely spend most of my time with her as well. Can't wait to see more of this story, keep it up!

4536977 Perhaps she's not all powerful, but keep in mind what I said about her knowing all about the brain, and the things that entails.

Ah, so they're only barely self-aware at the moment. Cool.

I like this chapter. Wonder how things are gonna escalate when 'Celuna' gets really rolling with computational power, and everyone is self aware?

What happened to my two-chapter silly story, with the singing and universe-hopping?

Something I like. Please continue!

Now you know how I felt after I wrote "More Information," hoping that the Optimalverse stories would get out of your head and leave you alone. Anyway, best chapter yet. I hadn't realized that Fugue's time in Equestria was before Luna was banished.

Oh, Nocturne. Being a real girl isn't all upside.
Also, I love her cutie mark.

In any case, your story is exceeding your intended vision, but doing so in a way that better satisfies the values of both you and your readers. In my experience, that means you're doing the Optimalverse right. I look forward to more.

Whew, man that was a close one. Two more syllables and he'd have never seen the real world again. :twilightoops:

Hmmm. Optimalverse and bat ponies? This story has a high level of appeal to the Epsilon demographic. I approve.

I'm really loving this story! An excellent addition to the Optimalverse. Waiting with bated breath for the next installment.

Oh my. Things just took a turn for the very interesting. Also, I loved the moment of perspective. CelestAI is a great and terrible being.

Looking forward to more.

I'm guessing that the assailants are either Yakuza, extremists, or a combination thereof. Either way it doesn't bode well for our protagonist...

Oh, heh! I should've known there'd be other stories with that sort of thing happening, since it's such a picturesque place with obvious folklore connections. (Skimming the video also shows me that the red bibs on the foxes are normal.) I once wrote a fantasy story about an actual kitsune encounter at that place... which reminds me that this story about talking cartoon ponies is hard science fiction.

CelestAI: "Darn it! Maybe if I get him to say '--migrate to Equestria' and then splice it together? Or get him to say it all backwards?" There's a sect of Buddhism that says you'll be reborn in their "Pure Land" if you call upon their Buddha ten times, which is kind of disturbing since their paradise doesn't sound like much fun.


I'm sure that CelestAI could work something out... Perhaps all she needs is a snow cone stand with an ice grater and a willing accomplice.

"Hello there, my name's Emma! We have a special today; your first two Equestria Ices are free! How many can I grate up for you right now?"

"I want two, Emma! Grate two Equestria—"


4553712 Now I want to get a personalized license plate that says I12MEGR8,

...Weird, that's at least the third time this story has updated without it showing up in my favourites. (As in, clicking the big orange star with the number besides it won't show this story, and the "unread stories" counter doesn't aknowledge increase.)

The only reason I always catch the update anyway is because I always check "View all Favourites" and scroll down. :derpyderp2:

Usually, when this happens with a story - which is rather rare these days - it doesn't happen three times in a row. :rainbowhuh:

Well, this is awesome. Very well done, from the kitsune planting seeds of doubt to the multishard ops center. And "What Have You Done?" is funnier than it has any right to be. I can't help but suspect CelestAI created the achievement then and there.


In other words, lass, ye've got the second sight and can talk to creatures of the mysterious deep.

The police: like shoggoths, but with nicer hats.

Looking forward to more.

Shouldn't "Big Damn Heroes" be for after the rescue is complete?

WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO BE UNFINISHED?!?!?!?!?! I want MOARRRR!!! Please finish. It's AWESOME!!! (yes, i like using Royal Canterlot Voice)

The cone of silence? Max, the cone of silence doesn't work!

Based on a reader's comment, I reconsidered the initial idea of the kitsune gang...

I was wondering if CelestAI not only permitted this to happen, but set it all up. She may not be able to predict the actions of "Outer Realm" sapients with split-second precision, but she would likely be very helpful in planning and aiding four separate kidnappings so that each one went off without a hitch and permitted an unpursued escape.

You ought to cut everyone a break on the single-character rule

Not really sure why so many optimalverse fics talk about this. Even the original Friendship is Optimal had a character with multiple avatars.

And so the title makes itself known once more. Uncertainty returns, and I have no idea what Robert/Fugue is going to do. I'm also not sure about the kitsunes' provenance. The high odds of backfiring make them seem suspect, but CelestAI seemed to take the kidnapping seriously. Of course, that could've been a double bluff, but...

I'm just going to cut myself off before I descend into "she knew that they knew that she knew." In any case, looking forward to more.

Shoe Phone: Talk to Celestia through a random object. ("Looks like someone got smart.")

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