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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:44 am 
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I would have to say that the Ages already exist, and someone writing a linking book, is simply translating that Age. Hmm.. I'm sleepy and that has already been said. Goodnight.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:42 pm 
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It's the rubber band theory. Think of an age like a rubber band. When you write an age, you like to a rubber band. The rubber band you link to is EXACTLY like the link you create, so there is no creation of the age. Even some of Catherine's weirder ages, they all already existed on the great tree of possibilities.

Then, you start writing new things. Now you are stretching the rubber band. It's the same rubber band, but you're pulling at it. You're actually creating. Most of Atrus's ages are like this, as he's the science guy who writes a link and then starts toying with it. You pull too far, however, and the rubber band snaps. Now you are linked to a new rubber band, a new age. This is what happened in the Book of Atrus after Gehn changed the age too much. People there were similar, but not the same people, they no longer recognized Atrus. This is also why Atrus couldn't just save Riven, doing so would have snapped the rubber band.

At what point does the rubber band snap? We don't know. If the D'ni or Atrus knew, he did not give us any hard and fast rules. Plus, since each age is different, each rubber band may be different. Some may snap after just a little tug, while others you may be able to stretch quite a bit. But there's no true creation involved. There's linking, and then there's manipulation, but there's always that hard line of "snap" to keep us humble. Writers are not gods, merely artists that reflect the face of the divine.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:22 pm 
Or...

*pause to allow everyone who's heard me on this time to get clear*

...Writing the Descriptive Book creates the Age. All possibilities exist on the Tree, but only some have actual physical existence. The act of conceiving and describing a particular set of possibilities, in the language that the D'ni used, brings that possibility into reality. There is no indication in canon of any evidence to contradict this, beyond what the D'ni, and subsequently RAWA, say; there is no sign of any proof that they knew it to be a fact, and it would be hard to imagine how such proof could be gathered. There is, moreover, ample reason to suppose that the "anti-creative" explanation (if I can call it that) was promulgated by the Kings, and later the Guilds, in an attempt (which, of course, failed, because it was misconceived) to prevent the D'ni thinking of themselves as gods and abusing their power.

I don't expect to convince anyone of this, and I don't need to. I don't get on with the idea that all possibilities have simultaneous real existence, because I prefer to think that what I do matters and will not be duplicated by a virtually infinite number of nearly-me's. I don't get on with the idea that what is, at the time and to the Writer, a pure creative act, becomes merely a travel ticket to something that's already there. And I don't have any problem with imagining that people might have the power to create worlds, while still remaining fallible and human and vulnerable.

But I recognise that some people prefer to believe otherwise, so this is simply offered as an alternative perspective.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:59 pm 
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If the ages already existed and all the writing does is create a link to that age, then how is it that the writer is able to make changes to an age.
In order for them to be able to appear to "make changes" to an age then they would actually be erasing a link to the previous age and linking to a VERY similar age that already has those subtle differences.
I don't like to think this though because then all those people (assuming the age has a civilization) will be left behind and you are really linking to another civilization.


This actually seems much less likely though because the people would still remember you even if you made changes (It's not impossible, just less plausible). So this is why I think that the books actually give you the power to change, and create things.

Let me know what you all make of my logic.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:25 pm 
Makes sense to me.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:22 pm 
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It's both.

Writing a Book takes you to an iteration of a world that meets your description. (Setting aside the Schrodinger's Age concept for a bit, and just going to once you're there, it exists.)

You can make changes to that descriptive book, and change the Age you're already linked to...but if you make too drastic a change all at once, then the link snaps to another iteration of that Age.
Atrus saw that in action, when Gehn changed the 37th Age, which is why he only made minor changes to Riven to keep it stable before Catherine escapes, and was wary of changing Haven and Spire.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:49 pm 
Well...this brings us up against the question of "who decides what is too drastic a change?" I mean, from the point of view of the Age itself there's no difference between Writing in a half-degree increase in the temperature of the water and Writing in a species of giant flying aubergine that excretes orthopaedic mattresses. A change is a change.

If I remember my BoA the reset happened when Gehn undid a whole bunch of changes, not just one, and it isn't stated exactly what he undid. We may theorise that additive changes work on the original Age, while subtractive changes create (or link to) a new iteration...or that subtractive changes re-edit the time-track of the Age from a point before the first subtracted change was made, thus erasing any events that happened during that period. It was notable that the new Age 37 was identical even down to the individual people who lived there--Atrus recognised Koena, even though Koena didn't recognise him. A new iteration, a different world from the outset, would have produced different genetic outcomes all the way down its history, so the chances of any individual being identical to an individual from the "old" Age 37 would be slim to nil.

This is what I keep finding with this universe, and it's one of the things I love about it. The accepted wisdom is that something is one way, but the clues in the narratives keep pointing a different way, impelling us to question the accepted wisdom and find it wanting. Which is why threads like this keep cropping up.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:13 am 
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In terms of the ontology of linking, there is a logical conundrum here. I don't think we can hold the paradigm of linking being an interdimensional transporter beam as consistent.

Docoiana mentioned the example from Book of Atrus, where Gehn began toying with an age until suddenly the natives didn't recognise Atrus. But the far more interesting point in this example are the changes that did not create this phenomenon, and what it means. The natives implored him to make the mist surrounding their island go away, and so he did so, by making the entire planet's ocean warm. The natives were relieved that this had happened. Now think about this: this was a change to an age that did not merely make the linking book link to a new age; the planet actually changed because Gehn wrote in its descriptive book. We know this because these changes took place while Atrus was in the age, and he witnessed the change, rather than leaving the age, seeing the writing, and linking back. Unless Atrus and the Natives suffered from a mass hallucination or delusion regarding a temporary mist surrounding their island, we must conclude that linking has the power not merely to link to places, but to affect changes in a given planet.

Now I very-much want to be proven wrong here. But we ought not reject the creation school of thought just because we're concerned that belief might lead to hubris, hegemony, and dictatorship.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:44 am 
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Ro'Mallinson wrote:
...because we're concerned that belief might lead to hubris, hegemony, and dictatorship.

Haha, let's not get ahead of ourselves here... Remember any age we create is a graphical illusion from a computer code- we're not gods, we're nerds. :) I don't think we need to worry about logic we accept having ramifications. Like you said, don't shun that logic; I don't see why we should (other than because Rand Miller is very convincing when he talks...?)

I'm not sure if it's been put out there before, but what if you linked to your own age with slight differences and met yourself? Could this same logic be implied to say that, for example, Gehn's natives existed as copies on an island with and without mist, and with and without having been visited by (an) Atrus? This seems illogical though, due to Sirrus having noticed a change to the age in revelation.

So, here's an important thing: What is the difference between a linking book and a descriptive book? They seem to be modified seperately. Does someone want to clarify this and its ramifications?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Well I'm not sure you fully realise the implications of linking in both schools of thought: if one believes in the creation school, then one thinks that writing in one's book created all the lives in that age; and we have seen repeated instances of people who believed that beginning to think of themselves as gods; Gehn being the quintessential example. To think of this process only as computer code ignores the ramifications of creating life and in fact an entire universe, unless of course one rejects the creation school.

As for the different between a descriptive book and a linking book, a descriptive book is the book that writes the age, and it's the only book that has control over what your age looks like. If you were to make changes to a linking book, it would simply fail to bring you to that age, and it suddenly becomes a trapbook.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:31 pm 
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Before I continue the argument, you do know that this isn't in-character, right? Whatever we decide is mot logical simply is; we're still playing a video game; any choice in logic only effects our characters, fond of them though we may be. ;) That aside, I might add that the paraphrase (before, in the later games, the story really begins to focus on D'ni and its conflicts) between "writing an age" and coding a video game is uncanny (and kinda creepy).

IC, I'm quite aware of the implications. The current logic seems to suggest that a greater set of parameters exist than the descriptive book -the branches of the tree?- and that a descriptive book must fit within these. So a few logic questions:
Obviously copying a linking book just duplicates the linking book. But what if you copy a descriptive book? What if you have two very similar descriptive books as you make changes (rather than making changes to the book itself?

And finally, what of trap books? In Revelation and Uru, it seems to be that it is simply defined as an age in which there are no books to link out with. However, in Atrus' journal in Riven (at least, I think it was that one), he describes a trap book as using a specific change in the wording to "...cause the person using the book to become trapped in the link between..." ages. So what's the deal there?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:32 pm 
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There is no such thing as trap books. Rand has said that trap books were just a game mechanism for Myst; the closest thing to a trap book is a Prison Age.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:21 pm 
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Well Frisky, I anticipated that objection, but if we accept that, then we have a big gaping question of how the stranger trapped Gehn: he hd to go in first, to convince Gehn to come in after him. When Gehn followed, the stranger was displaced. Now yes, we can say that 'the writers just chose to change their minds', but can you blame me for taking the position that throwing away part of the story as inconsistent should be a last resort? If there's a possible way that the whole thing is feasible, then there's no reason to throw away part of the canon. It's a misnomer at best and a cop-out at worst to respond to a dilemma in the story by breaking the fourth wall and saying that the writers were on a bad diet that month. We can give them the benefit of the doubt. Speaking of this whole IC/OOC business, this is the first I'd heard of it... are some of us currently roleplaying in character? That's great if we are, and I'm all game for it, but I'm just letting you know that I'm just trying to pay homage to this mythos by speculating about its implications.

Now, as for your questions: bear with me for this one. Now, we received some evidence from Atrus' description of linking that since there are an infinite number of possible ages, including ones that are identical, thus even trying to write the exact book you want will probably have unexpected turnouts... the colour of the flowers, the type of air, the balance of the eco-system... so if there are many worlds that are about the same, then copying a book even word for word will almost definitely not bring you to the same age; just an identical, or even nearly identical one. This is why: whatever you don't explicitly state in your writing is left to chance, and it's impossible to describe absolutely everything in your age, whether it be everything on your island, everything on its planet, or everything in its universe. So who knows what would happen. But a linking book, of course, is a homage to its descriptive book, and I'm sure there's some way of making that parent connection between Db & Lb.

Shorah!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:48 pm 
Ro'Mallinson wrote:
...if one believes in the creation school, then one thinks that writing in one's book created all the lives in that age; and we have seen repeated instances of people who believed that beginning to think of themselves as gods; Gehn being the quintessential example.


Well, suppose that one of our early ancestors discovered the ability to make fire. He might well think of himself as a god, as long as he was the only one who knew the secret. Would the right way to prevent that be to tell him that the fire was already there and he just found it (i.e. to lie*), or to tell him "yes, you can make fire, and that makes you responsible for keeping it safe and making sure nobody is hurt by it"?

I am quite sure that some among the D'ni and the Ronay thought of themselves as gods. I don't believe Gehn was one of them: he pretended to be a god, just as any colonial Englishman coming upon an undiscovered tribe of natives in the African interior might, but there's lots of indications that he didn't believe it himself, his fear for his own safety being one of them. Remember, he'd narrowly escaped the Fall: if anyone knew the D'ni were mortal, it would be he.

I don't see the inevitability of the god complex. And absent that inevitability, there is no problem with the creation theory.

*I can see Gondar or someone saying "well, yes, the fire is already there potentially, in the energy locked up in the materials" and so on...but our early man isn't going to be ready for that level of abstraction. The fire was not there, he made it, and then it was. Just like an Age.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:09 am 
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I'm aware that what is left to chance in writing is set into the age by some factors other than the writer's intent. But remember how Atrus says he's always "discovering" new things about the Art. I think it's more akin to a pseudo-random number generator- entering the same information will always generate the same thing. A very literal example of this is the world creator in Dwarf Fortress: You enter parameters (not as complex as the Art, but they're there) and a 'seed' of a bunch of random digits (now it's capable of generating a truly random seed, bsed on factors like whether the hour is an odd number and the average temperature of all the cities in the world named Bellevue). The same seed and parameters invariably create the same world, though it's mostly hopeless to find order in guiding a world by entering a seed.

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I don't see the inevitability of the god complex. And absent that inevitability, there is no problem with the creation theory.
As for the 'god complex thing' which I argued in my first post- allow me to reword myself. Ahem- The inevitability, probability, or lack thereof are ramifications of whichever school of thought or mix therof which is true, has always and will always be true. Whatever we decide to be most accurate will cause no ramifications, because these ramifications have always been in place.

In other words, simply because a truth is or is not distasteful should not bias our examination of it. The only effects of what we decide would be, at most, our comprehension of the story and how we write ages in the open source project.

Alright, that's a mouthful- as for there being no such thing as trap books, I guess they're just an inconsistency. The storywriters simply had not though as far ahead as URU and Revelation, when those come to be problems. To continue the story the way they want to write, they're going back on a few things they established when Myst was a novel (pun not intended) story of books that could link to places, and a show of what could be done with computer programming. Most egregrious is the trap books that put whoever fixes them inside. That would put a ton of weird questions up about the art and its logic.

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