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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:53 pm
Posts: 5
So when you write an age you're essentially writing a specification for what world you want to go to. The book then becomes a transport to a random world that matches what you've written so far!

Now you can edit the descriptive book post-linking, but it's hard. When you add a specification, or change one, the book now has to find the nearest age that matches the new description. Badness abound.

However it has been said that you can write structures into an age. Here's where the meat of the question arises!

Are you writing the link to an age where there just happens to be these structures? Or are you writing a link to an age, and then writing the structures into existence? Similarly if you write to an unstable age it will begin degrading once you link; why didn't it before? Is it that you've linked to an age just collapsing at that point, or did your writing set it in motion?

The Art is a bit complicated at times, and I'm not 100% certain on it, so thoughts would help :)
~Longeye~


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:45 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:36 am
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Well, my response is that of course the Writer creates the Age. No other explanation fits the facts available without straining credibility beyond the breaking point. (You can Write an uninhabited Age with a Coke machine in it. Where did the Coke machine come from? Did it evolve randomly from the elements, red and white logo all complete? I don't think so. How about a barren island in an empty sea with a single ancient tree on it? Where are the others?) I can see the political and religious reasons why the other theory was created and put about as though it were truth by the D'ni, and I can see why it appealed to Atrus after what he saw of his dad's goings-on, but given that he was a scientist he must have really had some trouble with it.

Once you accept that the Writer creates the Age, all sorts of little things scattered through the backstory suddenly start to make sense. (Like the fact that the people in the Ages Written by the D'ni are always genetically compatible with the D'ni themselves and presumably with each other. Listen to a geneticist on Star Trek aliens, and then multiply the randomness by infinity for different universes.)

"Finding" is the story. "Creating" is the fact. (Unless you don't want it to be, of course. This is just my take on it.)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:59 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
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There is a bit of uncertainty to the Art.

The canon take on it is that Writers do not create Ages, but some people have argued that these issues are indications that the Art actually creates the Ages. This is a long standing discussion within the background and amongst the fans as well. (I _knew_ Zander would comment on this... ;) )

Quote:
Are you writing the link to an age where there just happens to be these structures? Or are you writing a link to an age, and then writing the structures into existence?


There is a lot we don't know about how the Art works. As for writing structures into an Age, sometimes it falls under the Observer Effect (if it has not been observed, then it's open to change). Often it just has 'always been that way' and the observer never observed it. (Insert discussions about who qualifies as an 'observer', etc).

But there HAVE been instances where this has been violated - things appear that were definitively not there before. Atrus did it a few times. Yeesha did it all the frakking time, and the Bahro seem to have similar abilities. The D'ni seemed to have avoided it at all costs.

From a game perspective, changing an Age after the first link is Really Hard™ and Unpredictable™. And we leave it up to GMs to decide what that means ;)

If I were to explain it with some theoretical physics mumbo jumbo, I'd say that Ages are in quantum states, and Writing can collapse the eigenstate in various ways.

My interpretation has been tah the first link is the main collapse. Changes after the first link cause the eigenstate to recollapse, especially those areas still under quantum indetermanency. If the changes are small enough, then the Age seems to adjust (quantum possibilities collapse into the quantum certainty of the existing Age). If the effects are large enough, the link jumps to a different quantum reality.

Quote:
Similarly if you write to an unstable age it will begin degrading once you link; why didn't it before? Is it that you've linked to an age just collapsing at that point, or did your writing set it in motion?


As for Ages that are unstable, the nature of the Art seems to find some sort of possibility out there that fits the description. So before the first link, you are just finding an Age where the destruction has always been coming but hasn't happened yet.

Writing instability into an Age... it could be either have always been happening or a reaction to the changes to the Age.

It's... messy.

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:09 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 8:53 pm
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Thanks for the responses, it's quite an interesting quandary. That is the biggest problem with the "finding" argument, that there are SO many coincidences that could be explained, but Ockham's razor would suggest that "creating" is more likely. I really like the idea that it's a social construct that sets it apart (stolen! :twisted:)!

The quantum uncertainty principal fits pretty well though, it also works with the created viewpoint.... obviously even when creating an age yourself all the miscellaneous details wouldn't be filled in by the author, and so the quantum element comes into it. I like your thoughts about the uncertainty as well, that makes sense.
~Longeye~


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:36 am
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Here's my take on changing an Age after the first link:

"Never Write directly into the Age Book," Yeesha had said. "It is like trying to build a house when you are already living in it. The forces involved are titanic."

By way of illustration, she had read to him from the journals of the original Stranger, the nameless individual who discovered Atrus's Myst book, of the second encounter with Atrus in this very house. Eric was shocked at the discrepancy between the true account and the version he had seen in Cyan's game. Far from the robust, healthy figure portrayed by the man Miller, the Atrus in the journal's account appeared gaunt, starved and half-demented. "He never once left off to write," the Stranger had written, "each stroke of his pen as though he slashed at his own flesh with a dagger; his words to me, though calm and coherent in their meaning, came as though wrung from the very depths of his soul, his eyes started from their sockets and glared upon me as upon a fiend from hell. When he proffered to me the dread book of imprisonment, it was after a maddened groping and floundering for it everywhere about him, for his eyes were ever drawn back to the page upon which he laboured, and ever and anon the pen moved, drawing groans of agony from the tormented soul. Could Satan himself have devised the foulest possible punishment for a man of culture and letters, I can imagine nothing worse than that which I beheld before me, visited upon this wretch whom I had learned to call friend."

"I am convinced," Yeesha concluded, closing the ancient book, "that the only reason my father succeeded in stabilising Riven even temporarily was because nobody had told him it was impossible. Take the lesson to heart, Mr Gutteridge. The Art is no casual pastime."


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:12 am
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Interestingly enough, the 'link but not create' viewpoint is presented in canon as the moral high-ground. Assuming creation is presented a sign of hubris and of the pride of D'ni. Atrus rejected it, but his mad father Gehn embraced it, for example.

It was a hot button issue even for the D'ni. One of the more notorious episodes in history was when the King at the time tried to force the Guild of Writers to change their oath to omit the principle that Writers did not create the Ages they Wrote. It ended up in Machievellian politics and a venerable guildmaster being murdered and left as an example...

On a certain level, there is no appreciable difference between the effects of the two opinions - each describes the Art just fine. The difference is, as you point out, largely philosophical.

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Scott L Hamilton
(BladeLakem and J.D. Barnes in Myst Online)
Unwritten designer and rules monkey

Unwritten RPG G+ Community: https://plus.google.com/communities/105 ... 0139147797


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:51 pm 
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Personally, I always preferred the idea that when writing an age, one was linking to a preexisting world somewhere in the universe rather than creating one from nothing. It sort of follows Sliders logic, but in an infinite universe anything you can imagine is possible and exists somewhere so that's where you're going. Even repaired or broken ages that undergo changes are merely links to new slightly different yet similar versions of the "same age" elsewhere in the universe.

Granted this logic starts to falter with things like Riven where the world is being "repaired" yet the people there still have memories of those who have visited before, so it couldn't be a brand new world. But with things like that, I try not to get too clinical and remember this is all fictional anyway. Imagining one's self as a world creating God was the downfall of Ghen and many of the D'ni, and I prefer the more humble idea of linking to that which exists. It helps the writer to respect the worlds they visit and keeps their ego in check.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:44 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:36 am
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Yes, because we know we didn't create this world and look how respectfully we're treating it. :D

I don't see it myself...there's no evidence in game or book that Gehn actually imagined himself to be a god; that's just what everyone says about him (over and over and over again). He was remarkably fearful for a god. He played one, to put the people of Riven in fear of him, but that's not the same thing. To me the "humility" line just sounds like shying away from responsibility, and leaping over great holes in logic to do so.

But this isn't the place, and of course you're entitled to approach the Art any way that satisfies you.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:14 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:36 am
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A parable, though:

The Maker, having finished creating the universe, was giving all the creatures of the world their names and powers.

"And to you," he said to the eagle, "I give the power of flight. You shall soar high above the earth, and look down on all my creation from the sky."

"Oh no," said the eagle, "do not give me that power. If I could do that, I would surely imagine myself equal to you, and that would be a terrible thing."

"You would?" said the Maker, nonplussed.

"I would," said the eagle, hiding its head in shame. "I am a sinful creature and prone to pride. Please, do not give me that terrible power."

"All right," said the Maker, after a moment's thought. "Then this shall be your power. When you flap your wings, I will move the entire universe around you, without disturbing one blade of grass, till the place where you want to be is where you are. Is that better?"

"Oh yes," said the eagle. "It would be much better if you were doing it all."

"All right then," said the Maker, and he gave the eagle the power of flight. And the eagle went away happy; but the Maker went away shaking his head and muttering to himself, and was out of sorts for a week afterwards.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:37 am 

Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:28 pm
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Honestly I am of the camp that says that the Ages are being created and then that once they are created they are as real as the ones created by the Maker himself.

I further add to this concept a spiritual teaching that says "just as the Maker made the D'ni and gave them free will, so does the creatures made by the D'ni have the great gift of free will. That all creations, no matter from whose hands they came, are as real and as important as any other."

Basically, Gehn accepted the first part - that the D'ni make Ages - but ignored or didn't learn about the second part (he was after all a child when D'ni fell).

This is of course just my humble opinion and one's millage may vary and nobody's opinion is wrong. :)

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