Project frustration

Tue 17 Dec 2019 02:20:52 PM MST

Hello! My name is gasconheart. I am a proud user of SDF, Grex and Tilde. There is this interesting game at Tilde called botany. It is an interesting game. Playing it requires time and patience. Here is an idea for a more or less similar game. Real life frustration and botany’s user interface gave me the idea.

The game should mimic the Samsara of the Buddhist religion. The player should cycle through the different Buddhist realms. The player should not change realms easily. Rather, a player should be “trapped” for weeks or months in each realm (but see below). Needless to say, this is a game, so no smart asses allowed to nag about the inaccuracies of the game—just as there is no botanist lecturing players about the inaccuracy of botany at the tilde server. Just kidding. But I’m not kidding.

Creation is not deeply dealt with in Buddhism. So the game should mimic some kind of sui generis creation, probably in the following way. A sign-up period should be open. After a given number of players are in the game, no newcomers should be accepted and the Samsara should start.

The game ends when all the players achieve Nirvana.

There are two possibilities in Buddhism. Either all the beings strolling through realms will ultimately reach the Nirvana, or some will and others not, remaining trapped for good—hopelessly— in existence or Samsara. This game, frustration, will assume everybody will reach the Nirvana. Otherwise, the game would not have an end, as some will have successfully finished the game, while others would remain playing for ever, without even the hope of ever winning (like Randy Marsh’s Chasing the Dragon game). That would prompt a game named “super frustration”. This is only frustration.

Once all the players have achieved Nirvana, all the players’ statistics can be made public. The statistics can also be shown as players exit the Samsara, i. e., at reaching the Nirvana. The stats should show: the realms through which the player cycled, in order, and how long they’ve been at each. Just as in botany, where a player should never leave their plant unattended, frustration players should score towards changing realms.

The dynamic of Buddhist realms

In Buddhism there are six realms or sets of realms:

  1. The Heavens
  2. Realms of the Asuras
  3. Human existence
  4. Animal existence
  5. Realms of ghosts who eat faeces and corpses
  6. The Hells

Contrary to a somewhat widespread belief, there is no reincarnation in Buddhism. Beings exist, live, die, and are re-born. Buddhists speak of re-birth, not reincarnation. A person is born, lives, dies, then is re-born. They can be re-born as another person, as an animal, as a God in a Heaven, as an Asura in one of their realms, as a ghost hungry for corpses and faeces, or they can be re-born in one of the many hells. Cycling though these realms is what is called Samsara. The goal of a Buddhist is to go poof out of existence, to die once and for all, to die for good, and this ultimate death is called Nirvana.

Only humans can reach Nirvana. The game has to take this into account. A dog cannot reach Nirvana. Nor can a horse. No animal can reach Nirvana. A guy in a hell cannot reach Nirvana. A ghost busy eating fecal matter cannot reach Nirvana. An Asura cannot reach Nirvana. Not even a God can achieve Nirvana. Only humans can.

A person can gain foreknowledge that they will achieve Nirvana after death—and I suggest that the game emulate this as well.

Animals can interact with people. Other than this, there is little communication between realms. Ghosts who eat fecal matter can visit or “haunt” people. The game should use this as well.

There is no reincarnation as such. In other religions, like Hinduism, it is “you” who live, die and come back reincarnated as a pig. That pig is still yourself. There is a continuity guaranteed by that self. Well, it is not like this in Buddhism. In Buddhism there is no soul in the Western or Hindu sense, there is no “self” that reincarnates. Cornered, facing the necessity of admitting that there is no element of continuity between existences while strolling the Samsara, Buddhists made up the subtle body. It is that what is re-born and what guarantees the continuity. In each re-birth it has its own personality and soul, which are not kept through re-births. In our game, players should be precisely this: subtle bodies. Your human instance dies, is re-born as a dog, the dog dies, etc., but the subtle body is constant. It remains. It only disappears at Nirvana.

The beginning of the game

A sign-up period should be opened. People sign-up. Each player is assigned a subtle body. It can bear the name of the user at tilde, this is a good idea since thus players would be able to easily recognize each other.

Each player should begin playing at a random realm. As a suggestion, the human realm could have less than 1/6 chances in this initial raffle, since it is the prior step to Nirvana or finishing the game. Remember, the game is about frustration. Also, a minimum succession of 3, or 4, or 5 (or let the game begin, then let the programmers set this variable) changes of realms should be mandatory before Nirvana, thus hard-avoiding flukes like someone just begins playing, their first existence is a person, and upon death, bang, Nirvana. No. This game is about frustration. Or, if the first existence is in human form, a minimum succession of human existence, then a non-human existence, should be a requirement before giving the player the possibility of jumping into Nirvana in a subsequent human existence.

Gameplay

The gameplay should be slightly different in each of the six realms or sets of realms.

As a general rule, players can only exchange messages with other players in the same realm. People can chat with people, gods can chat with gods, animals can growl at animals, ghosts can chatter with ghosts, the inhabitants of hell can chat only with fellow hell-dwellers, etc.

Chat should be off line. You request a list of all the subtle bodies (i. e., players) in your realm, pick one, and type a text message to them. You can read your off line inbox.

Intercommunication between realms should be limited to the following.

People and animals can exchange messages freely. Only that animals will have a vocabulary capped by their nature: a dog can only issue a “woof!” to any other animal or person; a cat can only utter “meow!” to other animals or to people, etc. The goal of an animal is to be re-born as a person, so as to be elligible for Nirvana at some point, so they don’t have to annoy people very much.

Ghosts can haunt people. Ghosts can access the list of players in human and in animal form. They can attempt to haunt them, by sending them a message. Ghosts can’t haunt at will. A random mechanism should be in place so that only one in, say, ten or twenty attempts to communicate with an animal or a human is successful. Don’t forget, this is about frustration.

Gods can only exchange messages with other gods. Asuras can chat only with other Asuras. Hell-dwellers can only exchange messages with other hell-dwellers.

At some point, people and animals will die, and gods, asuras, ghosts and hell-dwellers will have exhausted their existence, so a change of realms is due. The next realm will be decided by an algorithm that combines the score with some randomness. You should have no certainty that you will be re-born at a better realm in the next life if you play your card’s right. This is about frustration after all.

Leaving a subtle body unattended shouldn’t have elimination from the game as a punishment, since … elimination from existence, or Nirvana, is the goal of the game!

All beings will achieve Nirvana sooner or later. The algorithm should allow for even all those who left their subtle bodies unattended to achieve Nirvana at some point. A mathematician will be required to do the calculations and allow for a non-exasperating span for that to happen. One year? Half?

Or, if it becomes evident that there are only unattended subtle bodies in the game, the admins can trigger a fast-forward of some sort. For example, ending the game immediately, and the last (unattentive) players will have their last existences only calculated, not played. This has to be frustration, not necessarily super-frustration.

People and animals can send their faeces to ghosts to increase their score and have some fun.

Those in hell should have the worst experience of all. Perhaps the length of stay there should be double the average or something. They will be able only to exchange messages to other hell inhabitants. Perhaps those can be limited to five or ten a day. They won’t be able to do much to score towards the next life.

A player should be able to check their curriculum at any time, that is, a list of all the past lives and the amount of time spent there.

Scoring to change realms

Just as in botany you keep yourself alive by watering your plant, in this game you should message other players to keep yourself alive. A series of, say, five days with your subtle body unattended would mean immediat death and re-birth. You shouldn’t automatically go to an inferior realm though; the algorith should make this more likely instead.

The flow through realms shouldn’t be completely random. Hell-dwellers should be able to be re-born in hell again or in the realm of ghosts. Perhaps very small chances to be re-born as an animal can be granted in the algorithm. It doesn’t sound right that a hell-dweller can be re-born as a god, an asura or a person in the next life—especially when human existence is potentially the last step towards the Nirvana.

Ghosts can be demoted to be re-born as ghosts again or go to hell. They can be promoted to the animal kingdom. Perhaps they should have a 1% chance to be re-born as a human.

Animals should be demoted to ghosts or to hell, and promoted as humans.

Gods and Asuras can be re-born as Gods, Asuras or people.

People should be able to be re-born in just any of the six realms, and of course they are the only ones allowed to strive for Nirvana. Outstanding subtle bodies in human form heading to Nirvana will be applied a random factor so that they can or cannot learn they will achieve Nirvana. A human with the knowledge that they will reach Nirvana should be considered the highest honour in the game.

Perhaps a very low chance of passing from ghost to god, from Asura to go to hell, etc., should be considered, I don’t know.

Unchartered territory

Should the game be a competition—a free-for-all—or a collaborative game?

For it to be collaborative would be interesting. Still, a feature I don’t really like in botany is that you can water someone elses’s plant.

A way should be found so that when a player comes to play and committs themself, all the players fare better (chances increase of being re-born in a better realm, or to reach Nirvana for humans). To offset this, idle, negligent or poor players SHOULD harm the overall performance of ALL players. There will indubitably be abandoned subtle bodies (characters), but yet everybody has to reach Nirvana at some point. Perhaps when a character is denounced as abandoned it can cease to have an effect on the whole? and it can follow a standard protocol for cycling through realms, still with some unpredictable, random, factor. An abandoned character should never, by rule, have the privilege to know they’ll reach the Nirvana while in their last human form.

Perhaps a way of making the game collaborative could be this. The highest the percentage of players playing at the same time, or in a given span, the highest scores everyone gets, and perhaps this could be complemented with an expedited death and re-birth. Let’s say that in a given span of 24 hours, 90% of the players logged in an played for a while. That should increase the score of all players (not automatically; according to rules), and hasten their death and re-birth: with a high score, players will have more chances to be promoted to a better realm. A rule can be made that if 90%, or 80% (I don’t know; 50%?) of the players are actively playing for several days in a row, the lifespan can be reduced to 24 hours or less, so that constant re-births are encouraged, for everybody, with increased chances of getting promoted to a better realm. Everybody (or close to everybody) plays and does things right, everybody wins. A way should be found to avoid replicating the possibility of watering someone else’s plant, effectively playing someone else’s guy.

Time could be a factor in the following way. The life-span could be shorter as the game progresses. The first existence could last 4 to 6 weeks, then 3 to 5 weeks, the third 2 to 4 weeks, it could stagnate like this for a while, then from 1 to 3 weeks, then, say from 6 to 12 days, then from 5 to 10 days, until a frenzy of re-births at a rate of one per hour can be reached after, how long?, perhaps one year, one year and a half, or two years.

The appeal of the game could be the comparison of different successive instances of the Samsara, comparing the overall performance of the players as a whole. Remember, the game ends when everybody reaches the Nirvana.

What the heck is my problem?

The problem is that I am not a programmer. I once wrote a 50-line C++ script or program. Other than that, all I do the closest to programming is some BASH scripting to automate some regular tasks. A 50-line script in a real programming language takes me two weeks.

Anyone out there up for picking the torch?

Contact me through this offline form, this IRC channel, or visit my web site or my web page at tilde. Or reach me though Discord, gasconheart#1668, or through email: gasconheart@sdf.org, gasconheart@tilde.club, gascony@grex.org, gascon@email.dot.org.es. Be excellent to each other.