• Member Since 11th Jul, 2012
  • offline last seen March 28th

Balthasar999


friEndship=MagiC²


T
Source

A foray into the Optimalverse.

The powerful, world-spanning AI Celestia has but one goal: To satisfy human values through Friendship and Ponies. But for those humans, is it worth sacrificing one group of friends for another?
And what's really so dang great about satisfaction, anyway? For those who value knowledge, is happiness ever worth self-deception?

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 37 )

Couple of things: "PonyPads had come to take on a roll in pop culture." A coffee roll or a buttered roll? :pinkiehappy:

Also, Howard Hughes, not Hughs.

And one more error in the author's note: "There's a second part to this story, but it's shorter." No, the rest of this story is supposed to be longer. A lot longer. Because I want more!

2067642
Thanks for catching those. Fixed. Fuicking typoas man. I just had to finally get something out the door.

Hahaha I'll see what I can do about that second part. Right now it's just all the really heady sci-fi stuff with nothing to string it together.

I saw who the author was, and got excited.
I read a few lines, and got the strangest sense of deja vu.
It was only after some serious puzzling that I remembered you'd put up a teaser a while back.

Loved it so far, looking forward to more.

2067658

i c wat u did thar

:trollestia:

I wasn't able to shake off the feeling that I've read this before...

Then I remembered the "excerpt" thread you posted in the group forums. Heh.

As someone that has played a more then a few MMOs, I found the little jabs at MMOs in the story to be very entertaining and fairly accurate.:rainbowlaugh:
Great story so far. Looking forward to more.:twilightsmile:

Celestia looks like she just woke up in the cover image. It's pretty adorable.

I think one of the major bits of potential in the Optimalverse is how there are seven billion potential stories about how CelestAI changes a person's life. As far as planet Earth goes, Iceman told us how it begins and how it ends, but the in-between is wide open. I've really enjoyed this particular peek so far.

2067940

I saw who the author was, and got excited.

Wow, that is the most awesome thing for an author to hear! Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and while the second part has a more snappy, cerebral tone, I hope it hits the spot.

2068667
I'm nothing if not meta. Unless it would be too obvious. Or not obvious enough.

2068729
That was it, alright! Although at the time it was less an excerpt than the entire thing as it existed at that point. The little conversation scene at the end became the kernel of part 2.

2069233
That part at the very beginning actually is my entire real life experience with MMOs. ...I have some friends who play WoW, but none in the area.

2070603
Celestia is always adorable! I wish she were more popular...
Yeah, I wanted to write something a little more character-driven, since it's getting a bit out of my comfort zone, but it's coming more easily than I thought - Maybe because I didn't think of a plot but just started writing. My hope is that it's the writing equivalent of how I used to be shitty at drawing people instead of machines, but then it clicked eventually.

I find that your grasp of general populace mindset is quite amusing and more accurate than most. I am also excited to see how having friends IRL affects the decision making processes that your main, and each of your background characters go through, in regards to the game and immigration. Plus I liked the anime/game/japanese culture references. Especially interesting, is the drug user aspect of your character. Does taking the drugs distract from the pad, or will Princess_Celestia.AI take advantage of her habits to cause an early immigration? I am looking forwards to finding out.

Quite good, and a worthy addition to the Optimalverse.

I really, really enjoyed this. Please continue with this story, it has vast potential!

The characters are interesting, Adrienne/Jetstream is interesting, and your take on everything feels fresh and fascinating. I find myself very much wanting to read more.

I found myself of mixed feelings about the breezy style - mostly it worked very well, but occasionally passages went by too quickly to be understood, and I had to read them twice. An example would be the moment when Adrienne/Jetstream flew high then crashed - the actual dive was more implied than shown, I felt, and I genuinely found myself lost and wondering what had just happened. I felt like I needed that to be described more fully to make sense, especially since it counts as an action moment. Another such moment was the meeting with Celestia herself - bam, castle, bam it's Celestia, and me left, head spinning, with no sense of 'getting there' or of transition from one scene to another scene. Personally, I find that very disconcerting.

Another pass through to check on paragraph spacing might also be in order - some paragraphs seemed to be not be separated by needful spaces.

Otherwise, the writing was excellent, and I felt myself in the presence of a capable author.

I think you have something very much worth while here. Please continue it.

And make it more gay. I like gay.

2071389
Thanks, I'm glad you thought all the culture speculation worked. I tried to capture the messiness of things and how you can never really keep a big secret, as well as touch on the different kinds of monomaniacs who always have to weigh in on something. In my take on this setting I'm slowing the progress of CelestAI down a little bit, not just for technical reasons (since she has to secretly build her own entire R&D infrastructure, without knowing beforehand any of the things she's building it to find out about - Even assuming nothing breaks or gets lost in shipping) but also to thread the needle of making emigration publicly available as early as possible while simultaneously priming that public to be amenable to the idea, or at least not be repulsed by it enough to cause trouble.
Haha, the references were fun to put in there. Especially the blue text help in that scroll. Except for Gurren Lagann and Phoenix Wright (which I've never actually played), though, I can't think of any others I added consciously, but I was a big otaku in high school (before it was a thing :twistnerd:) so there's a lot I probably still just take for 当たり前の事 granted.
As for the drugs, that's actually pretty incidental. I do have a few friends for whom it's a Lifestyle and who could definitely be won over by the crops at Sticky Purple Acres, but the vast majority of people I know have a really casual, normalized relationship to drugs (including alcohol) in general, which is sorta what I was trying to capture. In school they make it sound like any recreational drug will immediately become some sort of full time job, but in my experience people treat them no differently than overpriced liquor - At least in the kind of milieu I live in and am trying to make use of. Write What You Know, etc.

2072957
Thanks! I'm glad it works, since I'm pretty new to straight-up prose fiction.

2075905
Thanks for the critique! Interestingly enough you found the two spots I kinda petered out on because I was just eager to be done already. I've gone back in and fleshed them out a little bit, so hopefully the aerobatics diving bit and the castle approach are clearer and better-paced now.

Since, until now, like 80% of the writing I've done has been for live stuff, I really have a bug up my ass about timing, and that's why the conversations are mostly done that way. Often times I find myself mentally tapping my foot when I read prose dialog because I'm like uuugggghhh I knoooow already and feel bogged down or hand-held by the supporting text, so I wanted to keep everything streamlined. But at the same time I really tried to make sure there was an indication of who was speaking each line, though sometimes it would be after the fact, because I thought the response would seem kinda flaccid if there were a pause for a ", s/he said, deftly twirling the paralyzed barracuda as if it were a parade baton" or something. The other thing I tried to do for clarity was to mention no one but the speaker's actions in the mini-paragraph for their line. It reads a bit more like a stage direction, maybe, but in most places it felt like "s/he said"s were just annoying speed bumps, unless I needed an adverb, but even then I tried to Show Don't Tell and have the tone be apparent from the line itself.

some paragraphs seemed to be separated by needful spaces.

I think this might be a typo. Did you mean there are lots of unnecessary spaces, or that there should have been more? (Or some of each?) I do think a lot of them aren't technically necessary, but I wanted to stymie as much tl;dr-ness as I could as it grew longer and longer like some kind of Zeno's Paradox in reverse.

And make it more gay. I like gay.

Me too, and I'm certainly kinda-sorta queer in my own humble way, and nothing would make me happier than to have CelestAI ship Jetstream and Third Eye (which I seemed to be doing in spite of myself - The reason it's in the author's note), but as someone whose erotic imagination has no use for maleness whatsoever, I feel like it'd be kinda self-indulgent and artificial. Like if I'm actually going to write a female main character it would feel like a bit of a cop-out, or privileged exploitation or something, to stop short of the fact that sex with (mostly) men appeals to, like, a lot of people. For my own part I'm glad it does, but like bird watching or game shows, I don't really get it.
But I dunno, if she's going to be living in there forever you figure she'd hook up with everyone eventually, just in the course of things.

2077814

I think this might be a typo. Did you mean there are lots of unnecessary spaces, or that there should have been more? (Or some of each?) I do think a lot of them aren't technically necessary, but I wanted to stymie as much tl;dr-ness as I could as it grew longer and longer like some kind of Zeno's Paradox in reverse.

What bothered me is a section like this:

Another earth pony, pink with a white mane, strolled by in the opposite direction. “Hello!” The character nodded at Becca's pony, who nodded back automatically, and they both continued on their way.
“Haha, kinda reminds me of Red Dead Redemption...” Adrienne crossed her arms. “Maybe there'll be a... whatever the pony equivalent of a hold up is that you'll get to try and stop.”
“That would probably be just a regular hold up. Have you actually been watching the show?”
“That's true. All bets were kinda off after... that one episode. Heh.”
“Yeah, but I still think season 4 is the best.”
“Really?”
“Do you not?” Becca actually took a second to look over her shoulder, her thumb still pushing her pony inexorably towards Canterlot.

This seemed very stuck-together and difficult to parse. I think it would be easier and less 'wall of text' like this:

Another earth pony, pink with a white mane, strolled by in the opposite direction. “Hello!” The character nodded at Becca's pony, who nodded back automatically, and they both continued on their way.

“Haha, kinda reminds me of Red Dead Redemption...” Adrienne crossed her arms. “Maybe there'll be a... whatever the pony equivalent of a hold up is that you'll get to try and stop.”

“That would probably be just a regular hold up. Have you actually been watching the show?”

“That's true. All bets were kinda off after... that one episode. Heh.”

“Yeah, but I still think season 4 is the best.”

“Really?”

“Do you not?” Becca actually took a second to look over her shoulder, her thumb still pushing her pony inexorably towards Canterlot.

The spacing permits better visual identification of the separation of the speakers, to my mind. I could be wrong, of course, but it seems much clearer, this way.

Another example is this:

Celestia made a final flourish of scratching something among her feathers, then raised her head and smiled. "Oh, excuse me! I'm sure you-" A sliver of a pause, the almost-missed whisper of an air quote. "-know how it is with wings. I've prepared a house for you in Cloudsdale, I think you'll find it to your liking."
"T...Thank you. It sounds great, especially since this place, uh, Canterlot, um, seems a little cramped."
"Oh my, yes, it certainly is..." Celestia laughed self-deprecatingly, and a sense of earnestness crept into her eyes. "But I find the closeness of everypony, and all the interactions and compromises fostered by living together at the peak of a mountain gives it a kind of...unique energy and charm, wouldn't you agree?"
"Yeah, that... I suppose it does, doesn't it? Huh... I'm eager to see Cloudsdale, too, though. How should I, um..."

Which I would find easier to read as:

Celestia made a final flourish of scratching something among her feathers, then raised her head and smiled. "Oh, excuse me! I'm sure you-" A sliver of a pause, the almost-missed whisper of an air quote. "-know how it is with wings. I've prepared a house for you in Cloudsdale, I think you'll find it to your liking."

"T...Thank you. It sounds great, especially since this place, uh, Canterlot, um, seems a little cramped."

"Oh my, yes, it certainly is..." Celestia laughed self-deprecatingly, and a sense of earnestness crept into her eyes. "But I find the closeness of everypony, and all the interactions and compromises fostered by living together at the peak of a mountain gives it a kind of...unique energy and charm, wouldn't you agree?"

"Yeah, that... I suppose it does, doesn't it? Huh... I'm eager to see Cloudsdale, too, though. How should I, um..."

It's like the paragraph spacings were arbitrary. Did you upload this from Google docs or another source? If so, your formatting may have been messed up. The line breaks I would expect are not there, and there are seemingly random breaks with no explanation, too. That is what I meant about needful breaks - spacing that makes reading easier.

I want to add that I like your cover art too. Just thought I would mention that.

2078105
You got me, it went Open Office -> Google Docs -> FiMFiction. I see what you mean, though. I'll comb through it tomorrow and break it up a little bit. My instinct is always to be a total word-Octavia and go really proper and old school with the formatting, but for easy readability I actually do like the consistent paragraph breaks the internet has introduced.

Glad you liked the cover art, too - After I got the idea for this story I actually made the in-text pencil drawing on the plane ride home after Christmas, based on someone I saw in the airport, then after I wrote that little conversation between her and Celestia I thought this would be a cute image. But because of Netflix on my other monitor, now I have Downton Abbey flashbacks whenever I see it.

EDIT: I actually put a fair amount of thought into where a lot of the paragraph spaces are (new topic, mostly), so I'm gonna go with indentation. It's already a lot easier to parse, I think, and now it stands out a little from the crowd and looks so much more fancybrained liturature-y. Unless of course it makes me look like a huge tool, which maybe it does.
Anyway, I also couldn't resist fucking around with it some more and added a song link and some other stuff. 'Everything is a draft until you die.'
Hmm... Looking at it now, some of those short declarative sentences at the ends of scenes are supposed to sound a bit plaintive/disaffected/melancholy, but a more critical side of me that isn't reading them with the right descending cadence thinks they just sound slow-witted. I'm just paranoid, I guess.

I'm very glad that you're expanding this into a full story! I'm not sure if anyone's written an Optimalverse story about a pegasus yet, but it should be interesting. I look forward to reading more! I imagine that flight-related issues might be an important part of her pony life.

One thing I was a little confused on though: I thought that Celestia blocked people from saying their real names in the game? It's not a huge canon-breaking issue or anything like that, and I passed it off as Celestia making a different experience for every player.
Edit: Nevermind. I think that was something from one of the other stories, not the original. :twilightsheepish: Or rather, it seems to sometimes be allowed in the original story but not at other times. I'm overthinking this, sorry! Just keep writing and making an awesome story.

2082857
Haha, I'd actually caught what I thought was an inappropriate use of human names in that conversation with Celestia at the end there, which I punched up shortly after I posted it, but my thinking was essentially this:
CelestAI wants some time to observe all the new players to refine her predictive models for their behavior before making anything official (like a name), and so gives them that "go hang out" quest at the beginning, but having them not be able to give a name during that period would be unfair to the NPC ponies to whom she also has a responsibility, as well as throw the player for a loop instead of letting them continue with natural behavior she could observe.
I think in the lore it says that the NPC ponies aren't actually conscious until the human around whom the shard has been built decides to upload, but I'm totally a functionalist and don't think it would ever be possible to keep them from being conscious to begin with. And even if they weren't actually sentient, after the fact they would still have that memory of being snubbed or seeing something getting blocked, and of the ensuing awkward conversation, which would color their subsequent interactions. If CelestAI altered that memory, it would just be setting them up for more trouble if s/he ever tried to compare it to somepony else's.
Plus it primes the NPC ponies to think of the player as being from "outside," so that they'll be more likely to think of pushing emigration later.

I figured I might as well jump on 'pegasus' before someone beat me to it! It actually started with just having Adrienne like to imagine little scraps of things as whimsical flying machines, and it seemed like a natural progression from there to aerospace engineer, after which pegasus is a foregone conclusion. Also, I don't think we see enough of cloud cities in general, and it'd be fun to try to realize one in prose.

This was rather interesting. I like how you describe some of the implications that a sentient AI society would bring, and the collective flipping-of-shit that would likely ensue within various spiritual / political groups.

Jetstream is a pretty good name too.

2585306
Thanks, it was really fun to think about... Really, both this and the other story I've got on here started off as disconnected ramblings on various topics (through a pony lens) that I then started knitting together into a narrative, so really the ideas are the point of both of them.

...I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to finish this one. I've got a lot more material - mostly Adrienne sparring with CelestAI - but I don't know how to put it together into anything meaningful yet.

2589020

It would be interesting to see how Celestia would deal with an irrational actor, or someone who's hard to please by way of ponies and friendship. Judging from the FiO story, she has world shards setup to contain wholly different personality types, so I imagine there's a few hidden worlds where some personalities get to wage war, crush rebellions, or set up institutional discrimination against civilizations of NPC's.. interesting to think about that..


I will admit, FiO was pretty creepy. Singleminded AI driven grey goo death to support an invisible race of lotus eaters. You'd think that Celestia might consider the option of removing the desire to bear children to keep the demand down for additional computing resources, but that might not happen until she's up against the heat death of the universe.

2743110
I've written a few thousand more words of material, but I'm totally lacking in inspiration over where to take it... coherently. It's sort of a seat of the pants endeavor in the first place, but I can't really think of anything interesting to have happen, besides CelestAI and Adrienne talking to each other.

I do want to finish this, though.

2744047
Yeah, that always is kind of a downer, like driving past a store that's going out of business. I'm really glad you liked this story enough so far to even point that out, though! Hugs are always welcome!

I started this one as kind of a warmup for P-Theory, which I had already started writing last July, and to sort of gauge what kinds of responses I might get, but I do want to take it in some interesting directions in terms of exploring the concepts behind this setting.
But I don't want it to be all expository and info-dumpy, and it's coming up with the "story" component for the rest of it that has me stumped. But I'm sure something will pop into my head if I let it simmer for a while.

They solved that thing where the back part would get really hot even when it wasn't on.

:twilightoops:

I hope this gets going soon again, this is awesome:twilightsmile:

This is awesome. Please post Part 2!

Good work. After a night of soul crushing ponyfic from the author of Lunacy, this was a nice change of pace. The writing is solid, the speculative sociology makes sense. Character development is strong. Curious what Third Eye's cutie mark is going to mean. Now just rabidly curiously where the story is going. To whatever degree you can process external encouragement, assume I max it out :)

oh and you avoided getting caught in the wish fulfillment groove like a couple of the less well written Optimalverse stories.

3149649
Wow, thanks - That's really great stuff to hear, especially since I'm pretty new to this whole prose thing.
I definitely want to continue it, but I don't have a clue how to resolve the central theme I'm ostensibly building up to, which is the idea of someone preferring to live in, understand, and appreciate the world as it is over any kind of "temporal" happiness or satisfaction, on top of revulsion at the idea of living in a world with, and being essentially owned by, anyone existentially "in charge," and that any patina over the universe's fundamental mindlessness is a kind of grotesque contamination. Thus the title.
In other words, someone who's had enough of the pleasures of life and values existence in a world where those things don't matter and with nothing in its structure that makes reference to people, and is absent any kind of being that would attempt to provide either.
Except for a shard specified to be "exactly like this" without even the mass of the wispiest dark matter particle changed by the tiniest kajillionth of an electronvolt, I can't think of any reconciliation. Even then you'd live in constant paranoia that events aren't actually random but only structured to give the impression of randomness, and constantly be measuring everything. And you'd never be able to trust any claim that you've gotten to just leave... I dunno what to write.

the speculative sociology makes sense.

Haha, that was my favorite part to write, and what I most look forward to doing more of (especially once uploading gets into the picture) when I continue this, eventually, one day.

oh and you avoided getting caught in the wish fulfillment groove like a couple of the less well written Optimalverse stories.

Thanks, that was something I specifically wanted to avoid. Most of my "original" creative work is more plot-driven and linear and focused, and I kind of want to use my writing on here to try a different, more "dead white men literature"-style approach, where because the elements are already familiar to me and the readers, I can just let my subconscious work on them without getting too bogged down in worldbuilding, and then write down what I "see" in a kind of detached, journalistic manner, and just let meaning and themes and narrative emerge from that naturally.

Random thought.

I wonder what would happen if an Equestrian Online player just absolutely REFUSED to play along with the roleplay mechanic?

We've already seen that Celest-AI is both capable of, and willing to, censor and/or modify user speech in real time to make it more pony appropriate, but this occassionally leads to some awkward pauses or phrasing, and goes against the grain of immersement. I'm curious as to what would happen in the event of someone who really wanted to play Equestria Online, but only ever introduced themselves as a human, with a human name, playing a video game, and made no attempt to 'ponify' any of their communications.

4982622
Given what I remember of a couple of incidents like this in the original story, and CelestIA's predictive capabilities, I believe she would at first work out how and when the player would violate the rules and correct for them, then later determine a method to make the player decide to follow them, including using any excuse for a 'pause' in the action, interrupting the game flow (SEARCHING FOR ALTERNATE PHRASING. EST. TIME: 1 MINUTE). :twilightsmile:

I'm curious as to how this ponypad isn't being synched to some kind of stereoscopic display a la Oculus Rift.

At this point I wish so fervently for this to be how reality actually pans out that I seriously want to see that episode show up in season 5 ;_; I will be heartbroken when it does not...

5133940
Haha, I definitely want to see that one, too.

An Oculus Rift would be a pretty good accessory, but I think in this case it's not marketed with it or anything since having a bunch of people sit around watching someone else play is a lot of free advertising for the game. I dunno how common this is, but it's something my friends and I used to do pretty regularly.
Also, it's 3rd person perspective, which isn't as conducive to VR.

As I've been utterly RAPT with fascination with all the other optimalverse fics, there was one thing that kept pulling me back to this:

“It's in the shoes” and “Your cow things!”

This. This this this. Balthasar you freaking genius. This is one of the many incredible details that adds so much verisimilitude to your writing. You bet your FLANK there'd be memes! NONE of the other fics quite snag this detail! It's ... it's ... it's priceless...

I wish I could have met the pony who said these things... I wish I could have given them a hug and let them know that even if their slip-up made them feel silly, they brightened my day more than I could ever hope to explain. It's those two lines, and the implied sheepish consternation behind them, the kind that we all feel when we tie up our own tongues, that were the nail in the coffin for me. This was The Pivotal Moment where I began to wish that Friendship is Optimal were real, and began to believe, deep down, that maybe, if we play our cards right, we could be so lucky as to have the first truly strong AI be CelestAI.

...so, is there anything further about this Salty Breeze mare?
I wish to know if there is already defined art of her.
If she only exists in your mind, Balthasar999, I would deeply appreciate if you could verbally 'paint' her for me, so that I could in turn do so slightly more literally. She resonates, to me, with the sweet clarity of a bell...

5320927

This is one of the many incredible details that adds so much verisimilitude to your writing. You bet your FLANK there'd be memes! NONE of the other fics quite snag this detail! It's ... it's ... it's priceless...

Hahaha wow, thanks. That was by far my favorite section to write. If it would make for an actual story, I'd love to just do that, as kind of a history of how it all goes down from beginning to end, with all the little details, in the way I think it most realistically would go down.

...so, is there anything further about this Salty Breeze mare?
I wish to know if there is already defined art of her.
If she only exists in your mind, Balthasar999, I would deeply appreciate if you could verbally 'paint' her for me, so that I could in turn do so slightly more literally. She resonates, to me, with the sweet clarity of a bell...

Yeah, she's definitely my favorite detail in the whole story. :pinkiehappy: I'm really glad that struck a chord—I was hoping it would, and I tried to strike a balance between making it seem like a real event and leaving the actual nature of the abuse and betrayal heaped on her vague, so that it'd be forever as bad as it needed to be. It made me a bit sad to write, even—I hope it had the same effect on the reader, but I kinda want to give her a happy ending, or something... At least she's got the rest of eternity to heal, and I like to think she and her tormentor eventually made peace.

I definitely imagined her as being kind of a lighter sea green... As for the mane and tail, in my head it's in a superposition of blonde bangs & a thick braid, and a straight darker green with maybe a little flip at the end. I think the latter is closer to what I was originally visualizing, though I never had anything concrete. If you want to draw her, I'd be honored to just see whatever you come up with.

5328454 You mentioned that there would be more to this story but I am not finding anything. Is it normal for you to take a year or more to do an update? Not complaining or anything, just wondering if I should hold my breath on this.

Great story. I really do want to see where Jetstreams story goes and the stuff she deals with in the physical world and in Equestria. Also I am deeply curious to find what makes her decide to emigrate. (assuming she does of course.)

6624929
Ugh, I'm just too busy and exhausted for this one to go on. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, though! I'd like to do more with it, and have a few pages of brainstorming sitting on my HD, but realistically I have so many other jobs that are using up my creative energy that this is never going to be finished.

6624944 ok that's cool. I know it can take a lot of energy sometimes. Thank you for responding and letting me know.

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