Archive for July, 2011


Thursday, July 14th, 2011

After a few days tinkering and sweating with CSS, PHP, Gimp, Inkscape and Google webfonts, it is with a glorious partisan chant that we are delightfully excited to present the new design for the game intro. There is still some fine tuning to do but this is now pretty much the default entrance to Elastic Versailles if you come to the game main URL.

Most of the look and feel has been based on the small research on state controlled newspapers and blogs, as well as propaganda poster strategies. The latter led to the repurposing and adaptation of more than 60, mostly Republic of China’s, slogans that are now used as straplines from the Naked on Pluto news site.

Next step now is to make some ads that match the different activities going on in Elastic Versailles, and work on the data that is gathered by the bots which are authoring this propaganda site.

Golden Medallions and in-game programming

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Once the low level code for a Naked on Pluto bot is written in Scheme, it’s added by the game using secret commands which program the game inside itself, while it’s running. This means the game can be changed while people are playing it – which makes it much easier to add new things without worrying about the disruption caused by restarting the server. We can also work on the game collaboratively, at the same time this way.

(Programming a spybot with it’s behaviour)

Eventually the plan is to be able to program the bots fully within the game client – this is still a long term goal, but there are of course some fairly complex security problems with this idea.

(dressing a AudienceBot with another object)

Not all players have the ability to use these secret commands right now, in order to access them a player has to be carrying a special object (also known as a “Golden Medallion”). This allows you access to all areas of the game, including an “administration room” and various other secret powers.


Saturday, July 9th, 2011

To reach the right look and feel for the newspaper, a little more research is in order. We’re aiming at a design that says ‘This newspaper is state owned, used for propaganda purposes only, yet looks to draw in the reader through it’s trustworthy appearance and bleeding edge news straight from the streets of Elastic Versailles’. In order to achieve this, we should learn from propaganda with a similar aim: gaining trust and being completely transparent about what this trust is needed for (getting people to visit Elastic Versailles). We have isolated 3 strategies:

Strategy 1: gaining trust by promising good times = blue skies and happy people

blue skies and happy people (more…)

Bots as WordPress Editors

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

As mentioned in previous posts, we have resumed our work on Naked on Pluto and are at the moment working on the idea of a newspaper which content would be entirely generated by bots. Nothing new under the sun, as automated blogging and generating content from the output of scraping spiders has been increasingly popular to drive traffic in order to generate ad clicks or to manipulate its readers in downloading some malware. The difference here is that our content will be the result of various interviews and reports “written” by a couple of newsbots wandering in Elastic Versailles.

Just like our cleaner bot, we will be using existing platforms, more precisely the newspaper will be a good old WordPress blog and each bot will have its own editor account. Thanks to XML-RPC, making the bridge between EVr14 ecosystems and the blog was quite trivial.


import xmlrpclib, sys

target = ''

if len(sys.argv) >= 6:
        post = {'title': sys.argv[4], 
                'description': sys.argv[5], 
                'categories': [sys.argv[3]]}
        blog = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy(target)
        blog.metaWeblog.newPost('Plutonian Times', 
        print 'OOPS: ' + str(sys.exc_info()[1])
    print 'Usage: '+sys.argv[0]+' user password category title content'

We still have to figure out what kind of generative information will be made with this script when it’s called from scheme, but no matter what in a couple of days we should have the first edition of this newspaper up and running!

Naked on Pluto goes to São Paulo

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Naked on Pluto has been selected for FILE festival São Paulo 2011 which, in addition to some funding from the Finnish Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK) allows us to develop the game for an art gallery installation setting.

I’ve been reacquainting myself with bot programming, and trying some experimental and dangerous things with conversations.

As an example, here is a bot that simply repeats things it overhears – if you throw a couple of these in a room and start them going by saying something – chaos follows as they start to repeat you and then each other’s messages:

(define (talkative-action entity graph node)
  (if (and
       (< (random 5) 3) ; do this 3 out of 5 times
       (< (length (pluto-node-old-messages node)) 10)) ; safety valve
      (foldl                ; loop over all the messages
       (lambda (msg node)
         ; get the name of the sender
         (let ((name (entity-name
                       node (pluto-message-from msg)))))
           (pluto-say-to-random ; make a new message 
            node                ; to a random entity
            (string-append ; build the message
               (string-append name " just said: ")
               (string-append "I just heard " name " saying: ")))
             (pluto-message-txt msg))))) ; repeat the message
       (pluto-node-old-messages node))

Plutonian Times Research

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Elastic Versailles is in desperate need of a newspaper. The days where you’d actually have to travel to Pluto to get a glimpse of the wholesome and glamorous life within the walls of Elastic Versailles are almost over. We are training a group of reporter bots to do live reports from Pluto and we’re mere days away from the launch of the official, state controlled newspaper ‘Naked on Pluto’.

In search of inspiration Elastic Versailles’ News Agency has been looking at other independent, state controlled newspapers and broadcasters. Is there a common style?

The Voice of Korea sports a blue-skies-all-is-well design and writing style, as demonstrated in the article “Pigeon-Raisers Family” enjoys an optimistic life”

Various entertainments and optimistic life of Kim Yong Gun’s family were an epitome of the rich feelings of the Korean people who always live an optimistic life with confidence in their future.

Voice of Korea(more…)