Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eudeamon : what now ?

Some time has passed since S-6734's release. During that time, several other Banes (L-1109, V-4275, L-8746 and others) were born and enjoyed (sort of) their short sentences their own personal way. All of them learned how hard Banishment is, how alienating and sometimes depressing it is to not be able to communicate with friends in a world where communication is the key. But at the same time it is very rewarding, like an accomplishment, a challenge, and a vacation from the everyday concerns. From all I could read and all I've discussed about with friends, SL Banishment has the exact same effect it has on Katrina in the novel. I would call it "asymmetrical isolation" as the Bane is isolated from the world but the world is not isolated from the Bane. To pull the plug off would be "symmetrical isolation", you just cease to exist but it frankly becomes old and unrewarding very quickly. This, on the other hand, to me is BDSM at its best. Helplessness and vulnerability to an entity (the Custodian), and safety and isolation from the rest of the world.

Isolation... well sort of. It's more a matter of focusing the attention on something in particular instead of the usual scattering and waste of time. Banishment requires an Operator (a human) and/or a Custodian (a machine) to "handle" the Bane and monitor/correct her actions. For now, the two are the same because there is no script made to punish the Bane for her Protocol Violations yet. Some people are on it already. I will be working on a Custodian script as well, that will interface with the Spy plugin of my stuff (as in : the remote will have a special Custodian sub-menu and both scripts will communicate and act like one). I have done the specs already and have plenty of wicked ideas. But as it will take a while before I'm even able to start coding (some other projects are higher priority), I will not talk about what it does yet. And I need to build ground rules for a Banishment Project prior to starting anything technical. And last but not least, I don't want other people to stop their work when learning I'm working on something similar, while their creativity and experiences are what the project needs the most.

So far the group will be divided in two categories : Banes and Operators. The former will have to buy a Banesuit, while the latter will be paid to monitor the Banes (several Banes per Operator). Now will they be paid by the Banes, or by a donator (me for the matter), I still don't know. It will be a business, I'm pretty sure of it, because it requires time to monitor someone, leading to a retribution. What I'm sure of is it will be a select business, not just anybody will be able to join. To be a Bane requires an iron will and a strong personality. And only non-violent "criminals" will be allowed to go for Banishment.

So there will be Operators, and there will be Custodians. N Banes per Operator, and every Bane will have her own wicked Custodian. The Custodian-to-Eudeamon transition will of course require human roleplay (I may be specialized in AI, there is no such thing as an AI yet, let alone coded in LSL. lol). That's where things have to be really kept under control because each Eudeamon will be unique. Will an Eudeamon played by an Operator ? Or by the Bane's best friend ? I would love the second option but that would require the friend to read the novel, and that would lead to clashes when other friends learn they have not been "selected" to be part of the Bane's mind.

Mind. I'm weighting my words here. What is an Eudeamon anyway ? Barebones it is something that enters your mind, judges your inner self and decides your "value". It leads to inner peace, it creates a symbiosis that transcends human abilities, to make something almost supernatural out of the poor isolated hopeless creature, to become a human computer. In the novel we only hear about "good" Eudeamonic-Banes, those who have been judged "worthy" and granted "salvation" by their Eudeamons. But what about the others ? Those whose mind is dark enough to create a conflict with the Eudeamon ? How do they survive ? Do they turn insane ? Do they desperately attempt redemption ? Do they exist at all ? We don't know. As I said, each case is unique and that's what I want to reproduce here. The Banishment Project might become an institution one day, but it will never be an industry. Of course there will be little ways to tell one Bane from another but inside their helmets, the experience has to be unique and earned. Those who come demanding "I want to try Banishment ! Put me in a Banesuit ! Show me my Eudeamon !" will be kindly ignored.

But there is no such thing as a mind-reading computer yet. Someone has to read the Bane's mind and that's where S-6734's brilliant idea of writing her own experience down on notecards solves the problem. Other Banes did the same and I think this is the key to a successful Banishment experience. But let's take a break here. How does it work in the novel ?

Katrina is banished and starts thinking about her own condition, strives to keep her own sanity, and suffers merciless punishments from an autistic computer solely programmed to make her life miserable. But as her mind takes the heat and as time passes, that computer learns about her inner self. After some time (months usually, but in Katrina's case it went faster due to the child rescue), the Custodian is able to decipher all these thoughts, to put a pattern on them, and to find the right way to learn and anticipate the future violations (it's what it has been programmed for in the first place). And it judges. One day, the Custodian strays from its primary function and you know the rest.

The learning process is long, and I would very much compare it with reading notecards written by the Bane herself in SL. The Bane writes her thoughts, fears, findings, insights... Not necessarily long stories (I would encourage her to keep things short), but key informations that would be useful to "improve the efficiency" (whatever the meaning) of the sentence. These notecards would be aimed at the Operator and used as a base to the roleplay. Saying too much only gives them more means make her life even worse, while saying too little delays the ability to turn the Custodian into an Eudeamon. There are several possibilities : the Bane could keep all the notecards to herself until she decides to give them to someone in particular, or she could keep them until an Operator requests them and gives them to a friend of the Bane's, or something in the middle.

Perhaps the Operator will be in charge of deciding when to hand the notecards to the person who will take the role of the Bane's Eudeamon, if any. Perhaps several friends can incarnate the Eudeamon even (who said it could not be schizophrenic)... Perhaps most Banes shall never find their Eudeamon because their sentences are too short (I would tend to think the majority of Banes will be in this case, as it's about isolation in the first place). As I said earlier, this Project will not be a "find your own Eudeamon in ten days" diet program.

Anyway this duality Isolation/Salvation is the key part of the Project. Some people will come for the first part, others for the second one. Both will have to be carefully thought, tested, trashed, thought again, tested again... but we have time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

RealRestraint update 1.12

Finally ! I've been quiet for a while, working on my stuff for this update and finally released it last Saturday. Well first of all let me explain what an update really means. As I use my stuff a lot (even if not always the prims I designed), I immediately spot weaknesses and things I would want to add. And customers sometimes send suggestions (okay, a lot of them send a lot of suggestions :p), so an update is the result of a long process.

When I decide to go for it, I start working on it relentlessly until everything gets ironed out, it usually lasts two weeks. And then, notecards to write, is everything there ? Have I not forgotten anything ? Let's check again. No I did that. Did I ? Shoot, what is the version of this script again, did I compile it or is it still on my local hard drive. I check. Oh noes SL has crashed again ! And so on. It can drive you nuts, really.

Finally, the big jump, the day of release. Usually I try to release at the beginning of weekends so people have time to enjoy the new features, and I have time to correct mistakes when there is any (I say "when", not "if"). But it's a loooong process. Let's see : there are 11 items to update, every one of them being quite different from the other. Some require a new Leash script, others require a new RealKey, some require new scripts, and some even require a new build. Now, every content creator knows that SL must not be trusted. It crashes, it rolls back, it reverts permissions, a pure joy. Each product is a list of items contained in a folder, that must be put in a box, the box needing a notecard which embeds another one, and a landmark. Each box goes into the sales server and voila.

Only... this is an update, not a new release. This means that all the items must be put into the update servers (the white mushrooms), and this is where it gets funny. The Police handcuffs are in 3 versions (basic, elbows, belt), the shackles have 3 parts (of 4 items each average), and the other items are quite scattered and heterogeneous. And my inventory is a mess. lol. So it's not easy. Not mentioning that there is not 1 server but 15 scripts, each almost identical to the others, but different enough to recognize the footprint of the item to be updated.

So there are several thousands ways to make mistakes and to only spot them after the update, and it took more than 8 hours to process it all. Busy day. But not rushing, being patient and double-checking every double-check helped. Now the update 1.12 is out.

Hah ! You really thought I would go technical and put release notes here, right ? You wanted to be bashed with "Fixed this and Changed that" lines, just for your geek pleasure ? You perv. This is a well-educated blog, you know. Check my shop for details. :p

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eudeamon (end... for now)

So it's over now, S-6734 is no more, and Sophia Barrett is reborn. I could release her last Sunday in the afternoon, and we were not alone... The moment she could hear words from someone who was not me was... strong, to say the least. It took a while to unlock all the restraints from the Banesuit and discover the fragile girl beneath, smiling. It really is like a chrysalis, after all. I checked for Banesuit Withdrawal Syndrome but fortunately there was none. She was not speaking very clearly (two weeks gagged and all that) but I could gather that she was feeling good and enjoying fresh air. After being denied almost everything for so long, even the simplest things can give you pleasure. There had been no protocol violation prior to her release, as she behaved in an exemplary manner. She was feeling a bit depressed, that's true, but the hope of freedom helped her staying in the tracks. But... part of her wanted to stay in the suit. I could tell by looking at her.

And we discussed, OOC. Not for as long as I wished (we both had some obligations) but enough to point out what was good and what was going to be improved (I sound like my boss here, lol). Essentially, boredom due to S-6734 depleting her pool of interesting places to visit. Not being able to touch anything is somewhat unnerving as well (although it's a powerful part of the isolation as the sub has to make people understand that she's asking for help to, say, open a door). Talking is of course to be prevented, but hearing should not be at all times I think. After all Banes are able to hear. And last but not least, monitoring. That's the Eudeamon part and can be roleplayed well enough to transcend the isolation itself, and make the whole experience unforgettable. But it needs a few means of coercion (right now it's only monitoring, one cannot act remotely on the Bane). I will be working on it soon.

The only important thing is that she loved it, as I did. And that she does not want to be back in a Banesuit again before some time, which for someone like Sophia means a lot, trust me. We're already discussing about the Project and all that, how to make the perfect Banesuit to match the one of the novel, how to organize things so one Bane gets one Operator, things like that.

But it seems other people are having a good time already :) I would like to mention Subbie Union, where Lex and Velicia are experiencing an isolation not far from Banishment, and doing a good job at it. Better, they even published an awesome tutorial about a do-it-yourself Banesuit. With some of Marine in the gear (no, not in the suit. Hehe). This is an interesting blog by the way, not only about this particular kink. Check it out there : Subbie Union

There are so many things to say about all this, and yet so few ways to say them. Because it is so personal, you know. I will probably talk about it more in the future because it's too good to be put aside :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Eudeamon (2)

This story has been making so much noise around us lately... The experiment is going as planned, the subject S-6734 is behaving in accordance to the rules of her sentence.

Subject has expressed concerns about her own captivity. Feeling lonely, unable to do anything, isolated from the outside world for a long time can get on your nerves, and even S-6734 gets the blues from her past life. Although the experiment is really aimed at feeling totally isolated, and on this matter it is a total success, I am glad her sentence is almost over so she can recover and reunite with her friends.

I have received quite a lot of requests from people who want to try the Banesuit... To these people I want to say two things : thank you for your interest and please reconsider. Think about Katrina and her fantasies that turned into a nightmare in no time. It is fucking hard and depressing to be alone, believe me.

It just so happens that I have not experimented on S-6734 without knowing how it feels first. Oh I was not in a Banesuit, I had never even heard of this novel at that time, but I was trussed up to a wall, in an empty skybox, forbidden to IM, unable to move, always staring at the same wall in front of me... and it lasted a full week. I do know how it feels to be alone.

What S-6734 is missing the most is not her friends (although she does miss them terribly), but another Bane. More than one even. I do want more Banes around. But I want to make some additional scripts to reinforce the control and restrictiveness of the Banesuit first : punishments, requirements and if possible the "keep distance from other Banes" rule. I want it to be hard, really hard, so the experience is real.

Being a Bane is no walk in the park. Hehe. But I'm here for S-6734.

PS : Thank you all for your comments, it shows how powerful the novel is for us...