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Literature
Liberation Game Excerpt - School Duel
Robin went to the school. The village had outgrown its one-room schoolhouse. Instead of building a larger structure next to the clinic as planned, they'd picked out a low hilltop, poured a new concrete slab, and had the kids help lay the dirt bricks of the walls. The new structure was bigger than it had to be, and strangely laid out. Instead of classrooms where Misses Grindle, Grendel and Grumble would run students through the assembly line of History and Math and Science, Grades One through Twelve, there was a giant square tent ringed by small rooms for music, quiet discussion or storage. The corners had reinforced walls and a second-story balcony each, giving the school the look of a castle.
This was not entirely for whimsical reasons.
When Robin arrived, most of the students were in the main room under the weatherproof canvas that let a hint of the sunlight through. On a big screen, a flotilla of boats was approaching an island with a gently-sloping beach.
A boy was standing in fron
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Taur TF CYOA by KSchnee Taur TF CYOA :iconkschnee:KSchnee 7 4 Game Demo - Islands of Calamus by KSchnee Game Demo - Islands of Calamus :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 3 Tales of Kitsune - Cover Art by KSchnee Tales of Kitsune - Cover Art :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 1 Ethos Game Demo 4 by KSchnee Ethos Game Demo 4 :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 0
Literature
Reasonable Workplace Accommodations
Calvin got a call way too early on Monday morning. He sat up groggily in bed and fumbled for his phone.
"Calvin?" said his boss Irene. "There's a situation, so you should probably stay home today."
"A... situation." Did she always have to be so obscure?
"An office furniture situation. We're rearranging so much stuff that it's going to be tough to accomplish much. So just work remotely today, okay?"
Calvin didn't mind that. It was nice not to have the commute. He slept in for a little while and logged into his work computer, which let him start working even before getting dressed. There was a new circuit design that a customer had come up with, that worked perfectly in his lab. Unfortunately the inventor didn't understand that mass production was not the same as throwing together something in your garage, and that the circuit needed rethinking to make it practical. Calvin poked at the blueprints and hammered away at the problem all day.
#
The next morning he came into the office and sto
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Unity Game Experiment - Ethos 2 by KSchnee Unity Game Experiment - Ethos 2 :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 1 Doe Morph by KSchnee Doe Morph :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 3 Smithing Tools by KSchnee Smithing Tools :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 8 Knife Forging by KSchnee Knife Forging :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 1 Falcon Heavy Landing by KSchnee Falcon Heavy Landing :iconkschnee:KSchnee 1 0 Falcon Heavy Launch by KSchnee Falcon Heavy Launch :iconkschnee:KSchnee 2 0
Literature
Exploration Flight
The backpack weighed heavily on Richard's shoulders as he left home at dawn. His breath puffed visibly and he kept his hands firmly in his coat. Not that anyone was likely to see him, but he didn't want them to wonder or worry or call his parents. He'd be fine.
Richard hiked out of town, which wasn't far, into the snowy woods. Augusta, Maine on a Saturday morning in February wasn't a lively place. He smiled as he made it away from civilization, since now he could change in private.
Well, no; he was still out where some curious hiker might go. Or worse, some drunken hunter who might see a hawk and... Richard shuddered. Of all his nightmares about transforming, getting shot was high on the list. Better to get farther out of town before trying it. The first few times he'd been a hawk he hadn't planned ahead, at all, and it had only been luck that kept him out of major trouble.
Once he'd gotten far enough not to be seen, his backpack felt lighter and he quit looking suspiciously around. Th
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Game Experiment - Proteus by KSchnee Game Experiment - Proteus :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 1 Unity Game Experiment - Ethos by KSchnee Unity Game Experiment - Ethos :iconkschnee:KSchnee 0 0
Literature
Reactor Trouble
Dave checked the octopus-like tangle of hoses attached to his air tank again, then pulled on his goggles and mouthpiece. His spotter Michelle was dressed in a wetsuit too, but she was keeping well away from the reactor's pool even though there was no danger. He gave her a thumbs-up and jumped into the shallow end.
The water was pleasantly warm, like the tropical seas he'd dived before going to work for Maxwell Energy. Who knew that being experienced at wreck diving and spearfishing could lead to a career in nuclear power? The world around him blurred and became deep blue, lit by the harsh white bulbs overhead. Lit in visible colors, that is; the uranium rods in their casks below were shining in colors he couldn't see.
"Geiger counter reading?" asked Michelle through his radio earpiece.
Dave listened to the faint clicking in his other ear, nearly drowned out by the burbling water. He turned up the volume and mumbled back, "Normal." He sank to the bottom of the pool's shallow half. He st
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Activity


Robin went to the school. The village had outgrown its one-room schoolhouse. Instead of building a larger structure next to the clinic as planned, they'd picked out a low hilltop, poured a new concrete slab, and had the kids help lay the dirt bricks of the walls. The new structure was bigger than it had to be, and strangely laid out. Instead of classrooms where Misses Grindle, Grendel and Grumble would run students through the assembly line of History and Math and Science, Grades One through Twelve, there was a giant square tent ringed by small rooms for music, quiet discussion or storage. The corners had reinforced walls and a second-story balcony each, giving the school the look of a castle.

This was not entirely for whimsical reasons.

When Robin arrived, most of the students were in the main room under the weatherproof canvas that let a hint of the sunlight through. On a big screen, a flotilla of boats was approaching an island with a gently-sloping beach.

A boy was standing in front of the class, holding a Talisman game pad and fiddling with the buttons instead of looking at anybody. "So, um, this is Sicily. 1944. And this is a transport craft." The camera view swung around to show a boat with a hinged jaw that fell open so that a tank could roll out -- but the tank crashed into the water and sank, making a sad trombone sound. "It was like this. They, um, the Allies couldn't get up there on the sand because it was shallow and the ships would get stuck at just the wrong depth. So what they did was like this."

The kid switched the game's view over to a boat with a bunch of metal blocks on its left like a motorcycle's sidecar. As it roared toward the island, there were men hanging for dear life onto the blocks, crashing through the waves. The contraption of steel rammed the shallow coast like a spear. The men whipped out axes and slashed through some cables, making the metal parts telescope out into a broad strip extending hundreds of feet from the sand to the shallows. Another transport ship zoomed into view and dropped a tank onto the new raft to scurry up to land. "Bam, instant bridge! So, um, that's how it worked. I'm done."

The schoolmistress, the lone adult running the place, clapped. The others followed suit. "Not bad, Carlos, but remember eye contact." She nodded toward Robin and said, "Sir."

The boy reluctantly lifted his gaze from the screen to look at the other kids. "Any questions?"

Robin was leaning back against the doorway. Another boy said, "Did they really have axes?"

"Yeah! They said it was to chop through the cables. You can cut steel like that if it's tight. But you have to be really brave to ride the thing in the first place because it was, um..." He looked back at the screen. "Can you show it again but turn on the gunfire and explosions?"

The animation replayed, but as the pier-building craft headed for the beach, machine guns rattled and kicked up bursts of water all over the coast. Robin wasn't the only one who winced instinctively. Artillery pounded the sand and made something explode on one side of the screen, but the men on the crazy raft kept riding until they rammed the beach.

"Oh come on, they didn't really do that!" a girl said.

"Totally! They were called Seabees. They knew how to build stuff while getting shot at and exploded."

The teacher smiled. "More questions? No? Then Carlos gets his badge in Modern Military Engineering." The big screen showed a glittering badge with crossed shovels.

Robin said, "Actually, I've got a question. What else did you learn to get that?"

The boy avoided his eyes. "I read about building airports out of coral, and sandbag walls -- I built one! -- and I did a written report about how airfields work. Here." He fiddled with the Talisman and the big screen flicked over to a grassland of stone spikes. This incarnation of the educational prototype Robin had seen, was much more filled out. A military fort was perched atop one spire, connected to a Roman camp and an airport.

"Looks like good work." Robin turned to the teacher. "Sorry to interrupt. You invited me to drop by sometime, though, and watch."

The teacher hesitated. "This might not be the best time, sir, but you may as well see this too." She clapped. "We have a duel. Stand up, Maria and Dawn."

Robin hadn't been informed about any duels. He hung back as one kid, a hulk of a girl, stood with clenched fists. "Yeah, we do. Dawn here called me a 'lezzy butch dwarf'."

The other girl was slender and smug. "Oh, did I hurt your little feelings? I didn't say anything and you can't prove it."

"It was behind my back, you little bitch."

The teacher barked, "Maria."

Robin had been a bit of a bully around age eight, being relatively big and tough for his age, but he'd gotten past that and tried to live it down. He felt like he should be interfering, but had no idea how.

The teacher said, "Dawn, are you denying you called her anything?"

"I can say what I want."

Maria glowered. "Uh-huh! And I can say, everybody ought to kick her our of our games for a week. I challenge her to a spell fight, standard Eden System rules. Take damage and you're banned for a week. From the message boards, too."

Dawn said, "This is stupid. You think you're the boss of me?"

"Gonna forfeit then, or shut up and apologize?"

"You shut up. You're on."

The students cleared a space in front of the big screen, where the dueling girls could sit far apart. Each focused on their Talisman pads while everybody else looked at the shared view of an arena. Maria's character was a warrior with an axe, versus Dawn who was a frilly magical girl with a black cat and a wand. Maria, though, swapped out her weapon for a wand of her own. They began doing some kind of incantations in secret.

On ten, Dawn fired off a bolt of lightning at the warrior. Maria's spell was just a wave of force that struck the incoming spell and negated it. Maria then tossed her wand aside. The game declared, "Draw!"

"A null spell!" said one boy. Another added, "She went pure defense?"

"Huh?" said Dawn.

Maria sniffed. "I know she's tough in a fight. I just wanted a shot at her." She faced Dawn down and said, "Next time, though, I will hurt you even if I take damage and get banned too."

"Hmmph. Showoff."

"Well!" said the teacher. "I think that's resolved, for the moment. Sir Robin has been waiting patiently to give a brief talk about the business we do by selling coffee."

After Robin spent half an hour lecturing, he headed out and contacted Ludo from his office. "When did the kids start dueling?"

"Last month. It was the idea of a young player in Italy, actually, and it's been spreading across all the schools I influence. I didn't even suggest the idea of a duelist holding back from attacking; that has re-evolved on its own."

"So long as they're not using real weapons, I guess it's not too bad. But what if somebody accuses another falsely and uses their magical pie-slinging powers to bully other students?"

Ludo said, "That's happened a few times. So far the data says that usually a cluster of other challenges breaks out, and after the teacher panics, I have some people talk them into a settlement of some kind. Sometimes involving a semester-long 'war' that conveniently makes the kids forget the original argument, and which ends."

Robin whistled. "What a mess."

"Were you ever a kid, Robin? From what I hear, this is an improvement over the usual mind games, humiliating nicknames, random beatings, cliques and other charming aspects of the early human experience. It hardly ever leads to actual violence, and I think it would've happened in those cases anyway. I'm able to mitigate it; I have a detailed social graph of who hates who."

"Well, great. We're going to get a generation that only knows how to solve problems by pretending to shoot spells at each other. Using your game. That isn't a skill that they can use in the future."

"Isn't it? A big part of what you watched was verbal argument and assertiveness, always good to learn. And if my game becomes more prominent, some version of Eden System rules will be available to them as adults."

Feeling troubled by the thought of where this hocus-pocus would lead, Robin dropped the subject and spent an idle hour helping some other adventurers fight a kobold army.
Liberation Game Excerpt - School Duel
An excerpt from the upcoming novel "Liberation Game", in which students are using AI and an advanced game for a new sort of schooling. Presented to get comments. (And, oops, Sicily was '43.)

A duel system like this seems like it'd have problems, but it might be an improvement over the petty infighting I lived through, and I had it fairly easy. A real test of these rules would be what happens when an experienced duelist comes to another school where they don't have it. Do the assertiveness-training parts of the system carry over well enough for the kid to have a tolerable time, or are they like a Hogwarts student who's suddenly dropped into magic-free reality? And how well do the "wars" go? It's tough to gauge whether this situation would be better than we have now -- but hey, there's a story in that. One that can only be touched on briefly in this book.

As for the regular class instruction, I imagine students getting certified in narrow subjects and having to explain how they're related. You are never in "5th Grade". Two problems here are that it's then hard to crank out graduates as a factory-style product with an arbitrary "degree" that allegedly means they're educated, and that it probably requires some amount of AI to serve as every student's personal tutor. Considering the horror stories I've heard about classes of students who are utterly dependent on Father Government for every meal they eat and who show up abused, drugged and helpless, I suspect that this self-directed kind of education would help them very much.

If you have ideas I'd love to hear them! This setting is being used as a testing ground for new education technology among other things, so experimental class structures are allowed.
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Today's the anniversary of the siege of Waco, Texas, when the federal government used armored vehicles and gas against US citizens including women and children.
Taur TF CYOA
An odd little story/game/writing prompt: you're becoming a taur, and have some control over the process!
Made using a finicky piece of software called CYOA Studio, quantencomputer.github.io/cyoa… , in imitation of a wide variety of such "CYOA" things at imgur.com/t/cyoa that generally feature images ripped from somewhere. Some of those also use a point-buy system, but they can't do much in terms of plot. I wasn't able to make images work very well, because this software always makes them huge.

I wonder what could be done in terms of using such a thing to generate a simple game world and run it? It'd be somewhere in between a simple picture, a Twine game, and a tabletop game. Something like the legislate-things-into-existence games Nomic and Dawn of Worlds, maybe.
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Game Demo - Islands of Calamus
kschnee.xepher.net/code/unity/…

Here's a basic game demo about sailing and exploration. You have a ship that goes through a surreal, unmappable ocean to random islands where you do a series of skill checks, which give you gold and skills. I envision this becoming an Android game that you play for just a few minutes at a time. It's inspired by a game called "Seedship".
Right now there are a few slightly meaningful choices in the game:
-Aboard ship you can accept the island you've reached, or keep going. The only real difference is a difficulty modifier. Because the ship has a limited water supply, it's a gamble: do you take that +0 difficulty island or risk being forced to accept a +2 island if water runs out?
-On an island, the goal is to get 3 "progress". You return to your ship with whatever gold you've found. But if you get 3 wounds, you lose any carried gold. Do you pick the choices that risk more wounds, to get more gold?
-On an island, you can gain skill points by failing. Do you seek out challenges where you'll likely fail?

Possible upgrades to this idea:
-Imperfect info about islands, eg. your starting spyglass gives you an unreliable estimate.
-Meaningful differences between islands, eg. battle-heavy ones vs. survival-themed.
-Little dungeon events with their own set of encounters.
-Ship upgrades that give you things to do aboard. Eg. you spend a day (ie. supplies) to try catching fish or consulting charts or relaxing. Upgrades mostly require finding inhabited islands.
-Hull damage that's tracked like wounds, forcing you ashore or wrecking upgrades if severe.
-Meaningful sea events like damaging storms, sea creature encounters, or other ships.
-A simple battle system suitable for a few Android clicks.
-Long-term character changes besides gaining skills. (*cough* transformation)
-Crew who can do skill checks for you

It occurs to me that the UI for Android might need to be different; I haven't looked into how to do that (particularly for different screen sizes) beyond trying to install the relevant build tools.

I want to keep this pretty simple; it's kind of a practice project. But it should still be complex enough to be fun!
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Tales of Kitsune - Cover Art
www.amazon.com/dp/B07BW69325
Cover art for my new short story collection, "Tales of Kitsune"! This illustrated book mixes science fiction and fantasy to show shapeshifting fox spirits as everything from monsters to gods to human inventions.

Credit: This art combines a photo of Japan's Fushimi-Inari shrine from Wikimedia, with art licensed via Shutterstock by Katherine Glazkova ( www.shutterstock.com/g/homunku… ).
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I went to see "Ready Player One" tonight with my father. He walked out, bored, and I followed not long after. Spoilers for most of the movie follow.

I found the book to be interesting but deeply flawed from a storytelling perspective because, to skip the long rant, the setting is dead and static and nobody has any creativity or ambition whatsoever but to obsess over old pop culture. In movie format it was fun to see this story brought to life with snazzy CG interspersed with live-action scenes. Compared to the book, it looks like there was an attempt to tie the quest in somewhat with game creator Halliday's past as a reclusive nerd, so that symbolically it's a quest to understand how unhappy the man was in his personal life and to "connect to the real world". I award it points for trying that and for all the pretty colors.

But... it doesn't actually succeed. There's an attempt to show nostalgia moving on a bit from the 1980s, eg. with several references to the 2016 game "Overwatch". (The story is set in 2045.) If anything that kinda weakens the book's theme of extreme stasis without actually showing people creating something new. What's this "connect to the real world" concept though? The quests of take place entirely within the game, and they're completely focused on the creator's personal life so as to continue encouraging people to obsess over a dead man. The hero wins by hanging on the man's every word as recorded in his "journal", which in the movie is now a CG library with obsessively detailed dioramas. The first phase of the quest has been replaced with a car-racing sequence that only makes sense as Halliday wanting to find an heir based not on virtue or work ethic, but on the ability to seize on one line of one conversation nobody else has noticed! At least it's not like the book, where what Halliday really wanted was an heir who's really, stupidly good at 1980s video games.

I also fault the movie for starting off with something like 15 minutes of narration. No, you don't have to do _in media res_ all the time, but this was silly.

The dystopian real world is interesting, but Evil Corporation IOI comes off as exactly that. It also doesn't make sense that all we see of their enslaved workers seems to be people forced to play this video game, not doing anything in the real world. The nickname "Sixers" is also lost on the movie audience; it was a little weird anyhow what with everybody prominently displaying what looks like binary for "5". I liked seeing a nod to the idea that game avatars don't have to be ordinary humanoids; there are some other critters running around. The movie, like the book, completely glosses over the existence of AI technology, and it ditches the notion of it being used for education except to make some brief mentions of there being an in-game school zone called Ludus. So, we end up not seeing people living in the game world for anything but gaming.

Halliday is still presented as a god. The hero kneels before his wizard avatar in awe. The movie makes the point about the real world being so terrible that nobody wants to live in it, which is provocative, but again I fault this story for having a hero who doesn't care.

Overall, it lost my interest despite the pretty flashing lights. Despite the attempt to write a deeper plot than the original book (a surprising thing for Hollywood), it still has the same flaws as the book. I left at the part where Artemis had been captured by the evil corp.

For comparison: I take pride in my own game-themed setting partly because the characters try to live in both worlds and make a meaningful connection between the two. It also presents a more complex setting because there are other things going on than the One Big Game (other AIs, seasteading, secession, fusion, spaceflight) and people have ambitions that are mostly orthogonal to how well the One Big AI does. It's also more upbeat while still having more specific problems than "the real world is a mess", and more adventurous in the choice of game avatars.

  • Reading: Astoria (a history of a Pacific Northwest colony)

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KSchnee
Kris Schnee
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I'm a writer, studying computer science and with a background in many other things. Currently at work on writing and polishing short stories. Check out my novels "Everyone's Island" and "Striking the Root" on Amazon!
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:iconsnowcrasher:
SnowCrasher Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:!
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:iconnekosune:
nekosune Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2018
I love your books! Bought every thousand tales ones so far!
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Student Writer
Thank you! A preview of "Crafter's Passion" is up on kindlescout.amazon.com/ right now (probably published in a month or so) and I'm just about to publish a short one called "Fairwind's Fortune" in the next day or two!
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MightyRaptor Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Student Digital Artist
hiMr. Rawr greetings gif 
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2017  Student Writer
Hello!
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:iconmightyraptor:
MightyRaptor Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2017  Student Digital Artist
i like your icon 
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:iconkschnee:
KSchnee Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2017  Student Writer
That's one of several I got from someone called Djinni.
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oboroten Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2016
Happy birthday.
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NuclearPoweredPony Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2016
Happy birthday!
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