Interdimensional Prophets (Game Dev) #1

A couple of years ago I wrote a wild (and long) free verse poem about some unhinged scientist who was leading teams of unfortunate people through an interdimensional portal to explore alternate Earths. This is the link to that poem (it requires a rewrite, though, particularly to add periods). I was fascinated by the potential for stories that such a concept included. I played around with the notion of developing some game around it, but my experience with programming solo was more often than not the same: I tried to implement some general game concept only to find myself hitting my head against an implementation detail that had seemed easy to solve. Eventually I discarded all my grand programming ideas. One of them involved Python, and it was the language itself that ended up pissing me off.

Enter GPT-4, the most advanced AI that I have ever interacted with. Turns out that GPT-4 is great at programming in Rust. Literally, you tell that damn thing to write unit tests for your code, and it does. I remain constantly amazed by its insight. In a couple of days, I cobbled this stuff together:

This is the beginning of the “base” screen, set on regular Earth, where the team will manage its staff, handle their health and psychological problems, and, more importantly, delve into alternate Earths through the portal. A description gives the general notion of the alternate Earth on the other side of the portal: “A bizarre, otherworldly environment dominated by massive fungi, and strange creatures.”

This is the map view during exploration. The icon represents the actual position of the team. I didn’t mention it before, but the person on the upper left side is the player (for now generated randomly), who will lead the team of explorers to face the dangers alongside them.

I already have many, many different environments written and illustrated, thanks to the back-and-forth between GPT-4 and myself, and Midjourney for the images. A bigger example, the Stormy Desert biome:

All these environments are written in a Lua file, so they are intrinsically moddable (so far, as long as the Biomes and the environment Features are coded in game). Here’s an example of a single environment in the file environments.lua:

    Highland = {

        description = “A high-altitude environment consisting of rolling hills, plateaus, and mountains, with a mix of grasslands, forests, and rocky terrain.”,

        allowed_biomes = {










        features = {





















The combination of biomes and features will determine which types of encounters the team will face. That’s a whole different system I’m developing, and that I intend to be fully moddable as well.

I wanted each team member to be as psychologically complex as possible. Each encounter will test one or more psychological dimensions of their personality. For example, if they come across walking octopi that try to drink the team members’ blood (which happens in the poem), certain psychological dimensions will be tested.

For now, all psychological dimensions that GPT-4 and I have discovered (mostly the AI, though) are Interpersonal Skills, Cognitive Abilities, Self-Regulation, Coping Skills, Drive, Cross-Cultural Skills, and Mental Strain. For example, a single psychological test of that encounter could test a team member’s Coping Skills, and if he fails, his Anxiety psychological criterion could increase permanently. They could also lose health, acquire traits, etc. The notion is that when Mental Strain reaches 100, they are committed to a mental institution. They may quit some time earlier, though. The health system is very barebones at the moment (literally just a 0.0 to 100.0 value), but I want to create a whole system for that as well, including permanent injuries.

The grouping of psychological criterion to psychological dimensions is the following:

  • Interpersonal Skills: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Social Skills, Empathy, Conflict Resolution, Teamwork
  • Drive: Conscientiousness, Leadership, Risk-Taking, Time Management
  • Self-Regulation: Emotional Stability, Emotional Intelligence, Self-Esteem, Self-Awareness
  • Cognitive Abilities: Openness to Experience, Problem-Solving, Creativity, Situational Awareness, Decision-Making
  • Coping Skills: Resilience, Coping Strategies, Adaptability
  • Cross-Cultural Skills: Cultural Competence
  • Mental Strain: Anxiety, Depression, Stress

Right now, when a new team member is created, every psychological criterion is assigned a number from 0.0 to 100.0 on a normal distribution. GPT-4 even wrote psychological reports from the perspective of the team leader. The following is such a report generated in-game for the team leader herself:

Some experience working with others and collaborating towards shared goals. They may need additional support in order to effectively build relationships with others and resolve conflicts.
Average cognitive abilities and is capable of problem solving and critical thinking. They may need additional support or training in order to tackle more complex problems and situations.
Struggles to manage their emotions and reactions in high-pressure situations or when encountering unexpected events. They may be prone to panic or irrational behavior, making them a potential liability to any team exploring alternate Earths. They may require significant support and training to effectively manage their emotions and reactions in these situations.
Some coping skills and is able to manage stressful situations to some extent. However, they may require additional support or guidance in order to effectively deal with unexpected events or extremely stressful situations that may arise while exploring alternate Earths.
Some motivation and drive to achieve their goals, but may struggle to maintain focus and commitment when faced with obstacles. They may require additional support and encouragement to stay on track and fulfill their responsibilities on an exploration team.
Solid experience with cross-cultural communication and collaboration. They are able to adapt their communication style and approach to effectively engage with people from different cultures and backgrounds. They may benefit from additional training or exposure to further enhance their cross-cultural skills.
The candidate’s mental health is poor, and they may be highly vulnerable to the extreme stress and potential trauma of exploring alternate Earths. It would be inadvisable to consider them for such a high-risk job without extensive support and preparation.

As you can figure out, I’m quite pumped up about developing this shit, to the extent that I haven’t written any fiction in two days (that’s a lot for me).

Please, if you can come up with any ideas, I’d love to hear and implement them. One of the worst parts of programming for me is having built a careful architecture only to realize that a better idea will require a whole restructuring. I’ve already had to do that twice for the encounter system. So I want the best ideas first.

One thought on “Interdimensional Prophets (Game Dev) #1

  1. Pingback: Interdimensional Prophets (Game Dev) #2 – The Domains of the Emperor Owl

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