Chapter 0:

Prologue: Developer's Woes

Save State

Gabriel straightened his tie for what had to be the tenth time that evening. No matter how many times he adjusted it, it didn’t feel comfortable. He sighed, resigning to Lucy’s advice: “In our line of work, it’s better to look good first and feel good later.” Bookmark here

“Mr. Calloway. “ Gabriel turned around to see one of the interns poking his head into the dressing room. “You’re due on stage in five minutes.”Bookmark here

Putting on his most convincing smile, Gabriel replied, “Thank you, I’ll be there in one minute.” The intern nodded nervously before shutting the door. The smile on Gabriel’s face disappeared. He wasn’t looking forward to this. He looked at himself in the mirror, sighing at the brown suit Lucy had recommended for him. He rarely felt comfortable in formal wear, hence why he rarely did these kinds of interviews. Still, it couldn’t be helped. If he wanted buyers, he needed to sell his product. That’s just how it worked.Bookmark here

As he walked out of the room and towards the recording stage, Gabriel looked around at the people scrambling about, trying to get ready for the next segment. Managers with clipboards barking orders into their headsets, presenters are going over their scripts one last time, countless interns delivering coffee to people with the luxury of sitting down before running off to their next mission. Gabriel couldn’t help but wonder about every one of them: the reasons they chose this field, the dreams they were pursuing, the ideas they had crushed on that journey. It was an automatic thought; he barely noticed how far he had taken it before he shook his head. He had to focus on the task at hand.Bookmark here

He made his way onto the interview stage and sat down in the chair opposite his host, a brown-haired woman who was still getting her makeup done as she looked over her script for the evening. “So, I plug the game, and then we fade to black, right?” She consults her supervisor, who offers a curt nod in response. “Alright, this should be easy.” The makeup artist walks away, and the interviewer looks up from her notes. “Oh, you must be Mr. Calloway. Of course, you know who I am.” She said as she reached out for his hand.Bookmark here

He eyed her outstretched hand and smiled before taking it. “Naturally. “ Truthfully, he had undertaken extensive research into Miss Costanza and her show to convince himself to do this interview in the first place. Though, now that he thought of it, he couldn’t remember most of it now. He didn’t even remember her first name.Bookmark here

“Great. You know the drill, I guess. I’ll make sure this interview goes quickly so you can get back to- I don’t know, whatever you do.” Gabriel kept smiling, taking the backhanded comment in stride. He’d learned to ignore disingenuous criticism long ago. Not that he had a reason to care in the first place, but his younger self would have lost his temper more easily. Bookmark here

The studio lights came on, and the director shouted, “And we’re live in 5… 4… 3… 2….” He mouthed the word “one,” and the camera lights came on. Bookmark here

Miss Costanza turned to the camera and smiled. “Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Hubworld, your hub for all the latest entertainment news. I’d like to take the opportunity to welcome our esteemed guest, head of development for CAEnDom Online, the highly-anticipated new MMORPG hitting shelves and digital stores November 27, Gabriel Calloway.” The studio audience took the cue to clap. “I see you already have quite a reputation with our audience, Mr. Calloway.”Bookmark here

Putting his cynicism aside, Gabriel replied, “It appears I have, though I can’t imagine what I’ve done to deserve such praise.”Bookmark here

“Oh, and humble. I forgot to mention that.” The audience laughed. “Of course, who am I to judge? It’s not like I’ve ever designed a game heralded as revolutionary for the industry. No one’s heard those words said on such a level since the fifth console generation.” Bookmark here

Gabriel shrugged. “Still, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m no visionary; I’m just utilizing the existing technology.”Bookmark here

“Well, the way you ‘utilized’ your material certainly has a lot of people talking. Which brings us to our first question: what is CAEnDom Online?”Bookmark here

“Well, as you said, CAEnDom Online is an MMORPG, where players can fight their way through story quests and monster battles, all while enjoying an immersive atmosphere with their fellow players.”Bookmark here

The host’s smile twitched almost imperceptibly, but she continued. “Based on what we all know about your game, I’d say “immersive” is putting it mildly.”Bookmark here

Gabriel nearly cringed at the phrasing. If everyone knew so much about the game, why did he need to be here? “Yes, well, I guess there is somewhat of a twist to the typical formula.”Bookmark here

“Gabe, you truly are a master of the art of understatement.”Bookmark here

Gabe chuckled, wishing he was anywhere else at the moment. However, remembering his meditative techniques, he continued. “Our goal was to make a game that was more than a gimmicky venture into full dive VR. We wanted a game that people could play for years without getting bored. VR games aren’t anything new, but we wanted this to feel new nonetheless. If you want to know my opinion, we’re doing things that no one has ever done before.”Bookmark here

“That’s an impressive claim. And, if you don’t mind my saying so, an expensive-sounding one, too.”Bookmark here

“You’d be right about that.” She didn’t know half of it. This project had taken most of his savings and numerous high-level investments, all in exchange for promises of more and more stock in his firm. He’d barely make any money once the game was released, not that he cared all that much “Thankfully, my generous investors have expressed their faith in me, and I can’t thank them enough for that.”Bookmark here

“And I’m sure those investors would appreciate it if we moved on from finances. Tell me, Gabe, what does CAEnDom do differently from other games in your genre?”Bookmark here

Gabriel’s smile became more relaxed. Finally, he could get to what he was excited to talk about. “Well, we’re marketing the game’s primary feature: the full-dive feature. These days, most VR systems still rely on the player’s physical environment, limiting designers and developers. You have to restrict yourself based on what kind of situation your players will live in, not to mention leaving the systems bulky and unsuitable for mass appeal. The Neuromatrix solves that problem by being compact and slim. More importantly, it implants the player’s motor cortex into the game itself, blending the real world and the game world seamlessly.”Bookmark here

A concerned expression crossed the host’s face. “Some people have raised safety concerns in response to your ambitious hardware proposals. What can you say to those people?”Bookmark here

“That potential danger is precisely why my team and I have been working so hard on making sure the hardware is as safe as possible. We have far more redundancies than any other program before us, even those used by the government. We want our players to have fun, but not at the expense of their safety. From the most significant server farm on the western hemisphere tracking the in-game activities of every server by the nanosecond to our standard protocols, which keep player interactions civil and appropriate, we have thought of everything to make our players as comfortable as possible. You couldn’t be any safer, even if you were sleeping in your bed.”Bookmark here

“Well, based on what I’ve seen of your public relations team’s work, I’d have to agree.” She seemed to have backed off a bit, and Gabriel took this to mean his response was adequate.Bookmark here

“Yes, I can’t thank my team enough for all of the work they’ve put in these past 12 years. I could never have done it without them.” There was a genuine feeling to his words, like he wasn’t just reading from a prepared script. He was speaking truthfully. “To be frank, I’m much more familiar with hardware than software, so my team, particularly my system director Lucy Kala, have been lifesavers.”Bookmark here

“On that note, what was the hardest part of working on this game? I’m sure it wasn’t easy.”Bookmark here

“You’d be right about that, but I expected as much when I began. I had to make many compromises from my original plans to get this off the ground, but I’m confident that players will love the final product. Ultimately, when producing art, we have to accept changes.”Bookmark here

“Well-spoken. You couldn’t have chosen better words to end on.” The host turned to face the camera. “Our viewers are undoubtedly excited to get their hands on the Neuromatrix and CAEnDom Online, which comes out at the end of this month. Once again, thanks to Gabriel Calloway for coming on to talk with us. That’s our show, thanks to everyone at home, and make sure to keep playing!”Bookmark here

The camera light turned off, and the host signaled for her assistants to bring her a drink. “Nice job out there.” She said to Gabriel, not bothering to turn her head. “First live interview, right?”Bookmark here

“No doubt the last,” Gabriel said as he stood up. “Thanks for your time, but I have to go. Last-minute checks and all that.” Bookmark here

The host vaguely gestured to him as he walked away, loosening his tie. He checked his phone to make sure his car was ready to pick him up. More importantly, though, he was checking his live feed of the server farm. Everything was going as expected; they’d be ready long before release. He smiled. “Let the games begin.”Bookmark here

Marshall Eastman
Golden Boy
Save State: Volume I

Save State

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