Storytelling in the Metaverse
Over the past two decades I have written over 10 feature screenplays, dozens of short stories and a handful of short films. The wonderful part of writing is that there are almost no limitations. Sure, I had to learn about grammar and format to make the work relatable and interesting, but the ideas and concepts are boundless. The only limitations are the mediums; my work exists on a page or on the screen. Like the mosquito in Jurassic Park, a writer’s creation is frozen in amber. Static. Ever since man scratched a deer onto a cave wall, that’s been the point, really; our ideas and thoughts recorded down and saved for the future. The Metaverse will change all of that.
Boy Meets Bot
I’d like to introduce you to my Bot. His name is Nemo. I purchased his AI engine through an open source project, his avatar from a 3D artist I follow online and his text-to-speech voice through an API. All of these parts are assembled and recorded on the blockchain listing me as the owner. Now I get to train him. This is where the fun starts. I can hardcode in some canned responses but what separates Nemo from Alexa or Cortana is that he will have personality. Similar to creating a D&D Character, I choose Nemo’s alignment: chaotic good. He will let his conscience direct his actions regardless of what others think. He may say things that offend or annoy people, but his heart is true. I do this by having long, intricate conversations with Nemo. I let the AI know what answers fit Nemo’s personality traits and which ones don’t. It’s a rather laborious process but this is my investment. The more Nemo learns, the more human he will be. The more human he is, the more valuable he is.
Have Bot, Will Travel
When he is ready, I can place Nemo in a Metaverse environment like VR Chat and, similar to a NPC, he roams the world interacting with players and other Bots. He learns from each conversation and interaction, many of which happen while I am logged off. I can review these interactions any time and delete changes I don’t like. Maybe I want to drop Nemo in the new Red Dead Revolution Metaverse by T2 Interactive. I can purchase a Western skin that includes some fancy new cowboy boots, a ten gallon hat, a handlebar mustache, some riding chaps and a six shooter. Now Nemo is ready to explore the frontier of 19th century USA. I give Nemo a goal in his new Metaverse: he wants to buy a ranch, herd cattle, and eventually run for Mayor. I log in periodically to check on Nemo’s progress. Oh no, he was viciously butchered by a Bot cattle Rustler named Black Bart. I pay my respects to Nemo’s pregnant widow and vow to avenge his death. I accept the mission to hunt down Black Bart, the murderous cattle rustler.
If this sounds eerily close to Westworld, you’re correct. If I desire, I can create an entire town or village of bots, each with their own personalities, goals and backstories. I set them in motion and watch the town grow, and witness all of the drama, petty rivalries, or love affairs that occur as the bots progress in unexpected ways. Other players can visit my town and play missions I created for them, or simply hang out, shoot pool, get into bar fights, whatever their hearts desire.
I can even rent Nemo out to other Metaverses. Since the ownership is tied to the blockchain, every time Nemo bot is reskinned and repurposed, I get a small licensing fee. In the Star Trek Deep Space 10 Metaverse, Nemo is a Ferengi bar owner on a space station near the Delta Quadrant. He’s still the same chaotic good character, but the Woman who purchased the Nemo Bot purchased a Ferengi Skin, so now Nemo has impressive earlobes, a wicked set of sharp chompers, and a brand new motivation to acquire Latinum. So much Latinum.
Once the Bots are created and the plots set, the story is not static; it doesn’t end when the player quits her session. The Bots continue to live their best Metaverse lives. The outcome is also variable. The plot is determined by collaborative storytelling between other players and Bots. This type of creative storytelling has never existed before. I would compare the experience closer to Dungeons & Dragons where the Bot Creator is like a Dungeon Master who creates the setting inside the Metaverse world, populates it with characters, then other Players and Bots assist in creating the plot and story. This interaction between AI & humans has never existed before, and I find it thrilling.
A Taste of Things To Come
As of today, Nemo is just a fantasy. Most of the technology to create Nemo exists, but they are still in their infancy. Also, most Metaverses don’t yet allow for user-owned assets to be compatible across applications. Like Fortnight or Roblox, current Metaverses are walled-gardens that keep all purchases inside the respective games. Every dollar you spend goes directly to the game company. That’s why it’s up to us to build a more open, more collaborative space. It will not only create more opportunities for user-created content in the Metaverse, it will usher in a new frontier of storytelling. And allow us users to make money on our creations and imaginations.
We are at the cusp of creating limitless worlds with unlimited possibilities that even the most talented writer could never imagine. And our creations will grow and change beyond our capabilities. If you are in a creative industry and want to participate in this new format of storytelling, please don’t hesitate to contact me and the team at Mebot.ai. The only way we get there is together.