You are pretty average, all things considered. You are highly intelligent, but you are no genius. You are pretty skilled with computers, but you're no Gil Bates or Jeeves Stob. The most unusual thing about you is that you have yet to find anything that you are allergic to . . . including poison ivy . . . which it turns out is not so unusual after all. You are just a normal teenage boy, so you have no clue what motivation a god would have to talk to you. Despite those facts, while playing a game of The Simuls 3 by Minimus the company that brought you the Simul City, Simul World and Simul Ant series of games; now under the umbrella of the game giant Silicone Arts (SA) Games; the god Loki appeared in your game, came out of the screen, and now sits across from you drinking a Mountain Mist Code Blue. He was much more polite than you had thought that he would be.
"So," you say trying to break the awkward silence in the room, "you're the Norse god Loki?". To be fair you are relatively certain the awkwardness is completely on your part. Loki seems perfectly at ease. You might be a little more prepossessed to disbelieve his divinity if he hadn't miraculously come to life out of your game in front of your eyes. Seeing is believing they say . . .
"I thought we'd established that," he replied casually, taking another drink of the soda. "This stuff is great, by the way. We have something similar where I'm from . . . but it's green."
"Is it made from the Golden Apples?"
"Golden . . . ?" he starts to respond, "oh no. Nothing like that I'm afraid." He laughs lightly. "Loki is my user name . . . but I am the Loki of Norse Myth. Man, those were the days of real gaming. Everything has gotten pretty lame recently."
"I'm a little lost."
"You're in a game."
"I'm pretty sure I'm not."
"Irrelevant. You're in a simulation. Don't worry about it though . . . I'm from a simulation myself, as is the person who let me in on that little secret about my world. For all I know all universes are just simulations within simulations within simulations for infinity. The point is that knowing you are in a simulation has some . . . benefits."
Your mind spins for a minute while you take it all in. "I'm in a game . . . but I have free will."
"Oh, your scientists have already disproved that possibility. You have the illusion of free will. All of your actions are dictated by the synaptic arrangement of your neurons, biochemicals in your body, and outside stimuli . . . all of which can be measured and predicted . . . well, by me since I get to look at the source code. For you in the simulation that's a bit too complicated."
"Okay, fine . . . I'm in a simulation. How does that help me?"
"About time you asked," he replies with a broad grin. "It's simple really. If you learn how the simulation works you can manipulate it to your benefit; but I'm thinking of something a little more . . . aggressive? . . . yes, lets use that word. I'm talking about Life Hacks."
"Ummm . . . okay . . . like using shaving cream to get out stains?"
"What? No, nothing like that. The game you are in is called Life. I'm talking about hacks, mods, cheats . . . you have those right?"
"Yeah . . . there are mods for my reality? Mods like the Mrass Mods for The Simuls 3?"
"I'm not familiar with the mods for your games. I don't tend to pay attention to video games within video games. But mods, yes. There are mods. There have been a lot of mods installed on this simulation. I'm just saying I will give you access to some of them." He makes a point of emphasizing the word mods and making air-quotes each time he says it; which is a little annoying.
"To be honest, I didn't pick you for any particular reason. I guess you remind me a little of myself, but there are a lot of other lifies that fit that criteria. Luck of the draw I suppose."
"Yeah, that's what we call the NPCs of Life. So do you want access to a Life Hack or not?"
"Yeah, of course. Sorry, I'm just a little . . ."
"Overwhelmed? So was I. What, surprised. Yeah, I was given the same opportunity in my world. I'm just paying it forward as it were. It will probably end here though . . . your simulations are a little to . . . simple. The AI isn't close to allowing you to do what I'm doing. Oh well.
"Anyway, I'm going to give you access to one of a suite of hacks. Just one to begin with, then we'll see how that goes. If things go well I might open up access to more hacks from the suite. The suite is called Life Controller. I'm going to give you access to one of the more powerful modules to test things out called Lifie Mod.
"With this you have a tremendous amount of control over yourself and other lifies . . . basically anyone that isn't a player character. You can change their appearance, relationship, traits . . . almost anything about them. Any changes will affect how people remember them being, but will not change the past. While one might think that this would lead to confusion, The code works things out so they make sense in the lifies' minds. This hack only covers individuals. Changing the larger society is much more complex, and a different module."
He then hands you a yellow rubber bath duck.
"Ummm . . . a rubber duckie?" you ask as you take it from him.
"Well, you have to attach the code to some in game object to make it readily accessible. The hack maker chose a rubber duckie, so you're stuck with a rubber duckie. Give it a squeeze."
Feeling a little silly, you squeeze the rubber duck. You instantly see the words Cancel and Life Controller appear before your eyes.
"Good, I can tell you can see the menu. That means that my hack of you worked. Other lifies won't be able to see the menu. Go ahead and click the menu."
You tentatively reach out and press on the words Life Controller. They have a soft feel to them like dry gelatin. The words change to Back, Cancel, and Lifie Mod.
You press on Lifie Mod and a large menu quickly replaces it. The menu reads:
"Woah . . . not too different from the Mrass menu."
"Yeah," says Loki with a chortle, "you say that now; but open one of the options."
You click on the Adjust Appearance option and are suddenly inundated with thousands upon thousands of sliders.
"Holly crap!" you exclaim.
"Yeah, it's gotten a lot cleaner over time . . . but it's still a handful. It just takes some getting used to. Well, I've done my bit, I'll let you play around with it to familiarize yourself with the hack. Be careful. I couldn't find a way to let you see the main UI so you can't undo any changes you make. I'll check in with you later to see how you're doing. I gotta log off for now. Later."
Then Loki suddenly vanishes.
Huh, well that's great. As you stare at the place where your conversation partner had been sitting a moment ago before simply blinking out of existence, the first thought that comes to mind is to chide yourself that this is no where near as strange as a man crawling out of your computer screen. It is only after that that you think to look at the bath toy in your hand and the translucent display screen hovering in the air before your eyes confirming that these events had indeed just happened.
As it all slowly begins to sink in, you somehow decide that him blinking out of existence in that manner makes perfect sense if this is an MMO of sorts as he told you. You wonder briefly where his avatar is going to spawn when he logs back in. Is there a designated player spawn point? Or will he re-appear right in that chair he vanished from? You chuckle at yourself thinking these thoughts. This is all just too absurd! But... you look back to the rubber duck and the menu screen. As absurd as this is, it seems to be quite real.
There is only one logical course of action?
- Familiarize yourself with the interface.
- Adjust your attributes.
- Get one of your siblings to test this on
- Make some blind adjustments to one of your siblings
- Call your friend March over and try this out
- Save this whole business for later