VR-TUOUS (Virtuous)


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VR-Tuous is the last location known to harbor human life after the catastrophic mega-eruption in 2XXX. It was the brainchild of colleagues Walter Kestin and Amanda Brenard, designed to place human consciousness into a seamless, perfectly lifelike simulated world. After many basement prototypes, the partners, along with a team of engineers, software developers, and physicists, developed the first proof of concept device, the Vertigo Chamber. In the interest of funding, Walter and Amanda reached out to various governments and organization, all of whom rejected the requests. Desperate, the duo turned to powerful corporate conglomerates, such as Ç̴̷̵͝ð͟҉̧͜͠r̨̛̕͞þ͡͠ð̷͢͠͏r̴͘͠҉å̷̡͜͢͡†̸̴̀ï̛͞͠ð̶͜͢ñ̵̴̢̛͡ ̛́́ñ̨͏å̧̢͠m̧͝ê̴̸̢̕ and Ç̴̶̡̛͞ð͘͜ŕ̢̡͜þ̛̀̕͟ð̶̢͡r̨̀̕͝å̴͡҉†̸̛́̕͜į̈͢ð̵͠ņ̸̡̧̃̕ ̢̛́͞͞ñ̀͡å̷̷m̡͜҉̶ê̴͠ ̵͡͠, who agreed to fund the project under strict conditions.

After 20 years, countless setbacks, and deeper, more stringent conditions imposed by the corporations, the team of over 1000 highly trained professionals completed development on VR-Tuous. Designed to be nearly self sufficient with the use of the LSSVP system, with upkeep conducted by caretaker drones, VR-Tuous could run a simulated reality with minimal human interference. As per the contractual agreement slowly levied on the scientist's, VR-Tuous became the property of the corporate giants who funded the project. VR-Tuous would since be used a system to test experimental ad campaigns on willing participants.

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In 2XXX, the third in a series of year-long corporate experiments began running. Hundreds of participants signed up to live inside the simulated world for a full year, in which they would be subjected to various experimental advertisements from the corporations possessing joint ownership of VR-Tuous. Life inside the simulation was designed to mimic reality in most every way, while allowing participants to only consume generic or corporate sponsored products and media. Each participant was given a place to 'live' inside the simulation, and would find work within the boundaries of a simplified economic system to allow for the purchasing of simulated goods. At the conclusion of the study participants were to be rewarded with a handsome, though unknown monetary sum. The test was never concluded however, do to the eradication of the human species following a tectonic mega-eruption in 2XXX.

It is 2XXX + 60. VR-Tuous, still being kept in working order at some capacity by the caretaker drones, but is beginning to become unrepairable. The caretaker drones only have so much materials at their disposal, and the invasive electrodes used as part of the LSSVP system were not designed for use over 60 years and are being attacked by the immune system. The result being people in the simulation losing their connection to the simulation such as feeling dissonant, feeling detached from your in-simulation body, feeling like emotions are dull or intensified, having trouble with cognitive tasks, or having trouble controlling their in-simulation body. Weird twitching thought to be a glitch is actually the electrodes on their cortex or subcortex creating lesions for example.


The world outside the complex is a barren winter wasteland, while the world inside the simulation has slowly become inundated with bizarre glitches, and even more bizarre people. The inhabitants of VR-Tuous understand that they have been in the simulation too long, but are afraid to leave it because to leave VR-Tuous could throw them into a world even more unwelcoming. They have heard nothing from those that have left, and some speculate that dying in VR-Tuous might equate to dying in reality.

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Medical centers, life-pods for VR, and industrial sectors are to the North on the map, resorts and higher quality living areas are to the West, markets, shops, and lower income housing at the center, and to the East is the cultural and religious sector. All these sectors being connected by the Procedural Highway.


1. Government


1.1 Government Involvement

A ruling party was never a component of the simulation. Later studies were planned to test political effects on brands, as well as how brands can affect the outcome of elections, but those components were never completed, are are not present in the surviving build of the simulation.

The Artificial Moderator is the only entity possessing powers comparable to that of the government, and beyond, and may decide to remove a user from the study due to bad behavior.

Small groups of remaining users have developed standards for living inside the simulation, but it is up to the individual to follow those standards. Fear of the AM keep the simulation from falling into chaos.

76f6dbc38de6a1d661d77d526c928a52.jpg1.2 Rule of Law

The Artificial Moderator was designed to maintain social order and deal with rule breaking exclusively. Low level crime such as shoplifting, traffic offences, and isolated domestic incidents are often overlooked by the AM unless severe or constant. Companies like to know how often their products will be stolen so they can incorporate it into their pricing. They also like to know if their product might become related to criminal purposes, in which case the liability of the product could outweigh the profit. To understand this to the full extent, they have incorporated police NPC's into the simulation to understand realistically how their product may be used for mischief or stolen.

Felonies, and dangerous activity that would result in death outside of the simulation, however, are dealt with based on a set of parameters. Participants acting recklessly or outside normal boundaries may receive a verbal warning by a manifestation of AM inside the Quiet Room. Anything particularly serious or multiple smaller infraction can lead to immediate removal from the study, where the participant is awoken by a caretaker drone and escorted out of the facility.

Individuals remaining inside the simulation have taken to fearing the AM and the prospects of removal. Because of its swift response to any violence or recklessness, citizens of VR-Tuous are left to toe the line between what is permissible and what is not. It is not wholly understood exactly what can trigger an AM strike, or how many strikes can cause a removal, but certain activities are known to receive a response, such as:

  • Murder
  • Starving one’s self
  • Driving extremely recklessly
  • Acting standoffish and in a sour mood.
  • Refusing to purchase brand items.
  • Refusing to participate in the simulated economy.
  • Causing general social disturbances.
  • Generally rash and abrasive behavior


Each trigger, however, remains conditional. Sometimes a user may commit an offense without any response at all. Recently, smaller offences or non-offences have been being met with strikes. These strikes are often issued verbally by the AM, and are often unintelligible or cryptic. Hacker Slicers theorize that this effect it due to corruption in the AM’s code.

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1.3 Social Services

Life inside the simulation was designed to be semi-idealistic, but also realistic. As such, all participants would receive upscale accommodations, ample food, and would never become sick or injured. No education institutes were programmed into the simulation because the age minimum made them unnecessary. Transportation, both mass and personal, would be provided, while waste would evaporate into nothing when disposed.

While much of the systems remained functional after the cataclysm, a small groups of individuals with enough knowledge of software engineering have obtained access to internal parts of the simulation. These individuals, know as the Hacker Slicers, supply alternative services to users remaining inside the simulation.

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These services generally include bodily modification and augmentation, immunity to certain low level AM strikes, the acquisition of restricted or unavailable items, or mind altering code packets.

2. Economy

The Economy largely resembles that of the world that created the simulation. In the real-world marketing, advertising, scarcity, supply, demand, competition and a changing world all can have an impact on the consumer’s opinion about a product. These variables are manipulated within the simulation to see under what constraints the product thrives, and what may lead to the downfall of the product.

2.1 Economy Wealth

The economy in the simulation was constructed to mimic that of reality. Their economy was strong, but not entirely flourishing to the point where it was paradise.

The simulation has more merchandise than ever could be bought at most times. This forces the participant to make tough choices with their money.

2.2 Economic Distribution

Every single participant in the simulation receives the exact same salary regardless of job, although their salary switches every month. Sometimes their savings carry over to the next month, and other times their account is wiped clean at the start of the month, along with the purchased possessions. The pay never drops below the poverty line. Housing and food are supplied to everyone, but home improvements and different food products are some of the products being tested. The goal is to give the participant enough spending money to mimic the amount that a certain target group may have, such as that of a rich businessman, or that of a high school teacher. The purpose of this is to see with what salary range what products are bought and how differing levels of wealth affects consumer habits.

The participants have been through enough cycles for the formula of changing salaries to be calculated, although it was not discovered until very recently by a man who was immediately banned by the AM.

Those who have heard of his work now have a model to predict how much time will pass in the outside world. Since the start of the simulation people have not been keeping track, so estimates gauging how long they have spent in the simulation vary. Yet they know it has been longer than the year they were told.

The chart below shows the gradual change in salaries for every in-simulation month. 35 in-simulation months correspond to a year of time passing in the outside world according to the theory. The bars represent the range of what the salary may actually be, and the points represent the average salary. Just like the stars were once vital to the understanding of the seasons for the purposes of agriculture, the salary cycle could be vital to their understanding of the passage of time in the real-world.

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2.3 Agriculture
There is sufficient food for everyone, and generic bland foods are available for those who do not want to buy market brands. But many of the foods are processed or modified. Not much fresh food exists in the real world, so the market in-simulation resembles this.


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3. Social
Before the incident, everybody had an equal opportunity to make whatever they wanted to come into possession. With the technology and mentality that this culture spreads, instead of a white picket fence, a green lawn, and a 401K the average working vessel is striving to purchase augmentations that prolong their life, give them the gift of immortality, or make their life easier to live. Within the simulation there is no need to prolong their life or obtain immortality, because they do not age. But they still have the need for augmentations that make life easier, and these products are numerous within the simulation world.


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3.1 Class Relations

Before the cataclysm augmentations were commonplace, while their range and application led to a considerable disparity between uses. Augs were not advanced enough to simply provide enhancement across all fields, and instead tended to focus on a particular use. A common adage stated "Legs good for running may not be good for walking." Experimental attempts to augment immortality gave rise to the Caretaker Drones, human mind melded with machine. The wealthy were known to purchase immortality cybernetics with varying degrees of success. While generally considered a misnomer due to the cybernetic's inability to completely halt the dying process, Immortality augmentations added precious years onto the lives of their recipients.

Inside the simulation, the relatively consistent economy prevents a wealthy class from forming. Regardless, a different concept of class has arisen.

3.1.1 Consumers

If you exclude NPC's as a class of people then consumers make up the bulk of the population inside VR-Tuous. They work an assigned job, in order to acquire a predefined amount of money, in which they have the freedom to purchase goods and services provided within the simulation. While generally participating in the Augs market, they remain nearly unmodified by Hacker Slicers.

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cybernetic-implants.png3.1.2 Modified

The Modified make up the second largest class of VR-Tuous. Generally possessing hidden or not so hidden modifications provided by Hacker Slicers, The Modified experience varying levels of social acceptance among their peers. It is important to note that Auged individuals do not fall under this label. The modified are exclusively individuals with hacked code. Those with less obvious or more acceptable modifications, such as enhanced vision or perception outside the range of augs or strike resistance, can often expect generally standard treatment. Individuals with obvious cosmetic additions, or entirely different avatars, are generally met with social exclusion based on a fear of the AM and the repercussions.




Hacker.jpg3.1.3 Hacker Slicers

Making up the smallest class, hackers, once known collectively as Hacker Slicers possess knowledge of the simulation's source code, enough to allow for a level of control over the internal systems. After a large scale take down of some of their key members by the AM, the remaining members expunged all records of themselves and their organization from the server. Later attempts to usurp the AM saw the group attempting to wipe references to the world itself from the source code, but failing that, and only expunging the simulator's name. While understood as a group, hackers now generally operate alone, with some modify the simulation in ways that benefit the consumers, while others take pleasure in seeing how much they can wreck everything. Glitches are often blamed on the actions of these slicers.










3.2 Race Relations

Originally way back we did have race related issues and problems but over the years of this culture developing and spreading, the Idea of race is diluted from the idea of acquiring power and commodities despite however you look or what race/species you are. The only thing that is really judged upon a person is the amount augmentations they applied to themselves and what they do with these augmentations. People look at a person with immortality augmentations that has an extreme amount of wealth to be less impressive compared to a person with no augmentations at all with that same amount of wealth.

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3.3 Gender Politics

Over time, the concept of gender has changed as underground hacking groups and individuals have learned how to modify the system. Some people opt to have more flexible genders or androgynous features. The creativity surrounding gender is no longer limited to binary concepts if you know the right person. At first, it was generally considered strange to modify your personhood in such a dramatic way, but now it is generally accepted. The roles of women and men have blurred beyond what was known outside of VR-Tuous because of this. Generally, gender swapping can be confusing and may taking some getting used to, but keeping other distinguishing features such as general facial structure and clothing style helps others distinguish you as the same person and not loose your own sense of self. NPCs are tied down to gender norms, but the humans are not. Those who have modified their gender are in danger of having their modifications wiped by the AM, so generally they try to switch back when it is around.

3.4 Sexual Identity Politics

Sexual identity in the simulation on the whole is rather similar to what it was in the outside world. While people that identify as LGBTQ have a similar level of rights to heterosexual individuals, society itself is still very heteronormative, and this is frequently seen in the ads branded towards the people as they live their daily lives, although certain companies include same sex couples in their branding schemes.

Possibly more openly disdained, however, is the rise of sexual activities inspired by glitches. People who engage in these acts often modify their bodies in the simulator to engage in various previously unheard of sexual acts (e.g. turning into giant ear monsters). These sexual deviants, known as the S.exe, are a major force in glitch art circles, and see their sexual acts themselves as a work of “post-reality art.”

4. Culture

With organic augmentation and cybernetic enhancements that can be applied to almost anything, everyone is seeking to live a life they've always dreamed. Everyone's out there working for the "best" company selling the "best" products that will earn you credits to look,feel, and live the "best" you can be. A variety of side effects are included such as, increased narcissistic tendencies, a developing god complex, and much much more.


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8fae4330629e61d057a733c4ea9b82c3.jpg4.1 Religious Influence
Religion is still apart of this world but in a more streamlined sort of spin. Most religions now, whether they are tech based or not, provide a shared mentality that all religions try to preach to there followers. It is to always be good to one another because we are all " I's " in the universe, regardless of your situation we are all given the same chance to prove our worth through creating and acquiring. Some people can interpret this as the acquiring of knowledge and creating life while others see it as acquiring power and creating wealth. Even though some of the messages of these religions are being misinterpreted, the religions leave people to their speculations and follow their own independent agenda.

Some religions test their followers by challenging their faith by either augmenting oneself for the religion or lobotomizing one's self to add an augmentation that changes your mental perspective. These challenges are all very risky, but they prove how strong your faith is to the religion.

Beyond the standard proto-religions like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Chinese Traditional, and Buddhism, stranger religions (one might say cults from an outsider perspective) have been formed as well. Some revere the Moderators like the Artificial Moderator as a god, others believe the world has been destroyed and that this is their new "reality", and others believe that this was always reality, and that the outside world was an illusion or a manipulation of their memories.



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4.2 Military Influence

There is no need for a military in-simulation because there are no other countries to pose a military threat. The simulation consists of a city, nothing should exist beyond that point to pose a threat. Any conflicts that should occur within the city can be handled by the NPC-POLICE or the moderators. These moderators usually operate in multiples of two; they are very efficient officers who are well coordinated when working with each other due to their AI. Even though you can definitely scrap a few NPC's it's almost always guaranteed that they'll manage to get you dead or alive.

They do not always kill their targets, they carry lethal and non-lethal firearms and they use their gear accordingly to whatever situation they're responding to. They will correlate the gear they use to how heavy of an offense the target has committed.

After years of being is use, some units have rusted out or have broken down. The remaining units that are still active are either still operating with their assigned units which are always learning new tactics from whatever still lurks throughout the old city or wondering around the city operating alone.

There is a headquarters where most of these NPC's reside but it is extremely fortified with automated turrets and AI. Some have tried to blow up the main operating core only to be introduced to their death.



4.3 Technology Influence

Technology is hugely important. The participants live within a simulation created by technology and they know this. Beyond that, different technologies are the most numerous types of products being sold in the simulation.

Technology is integrated with most aspects of life, it is inescapable and normal. Houses have built in AI, cars have self-driving functions, eyes have been surgically altered to allow for recording, holographic advertisements litter the streets, and new software is developed every day. Companies have to be sure that their product will be bought before they spend cash to develop their products.

Robots, varying degrees of artificial intelligence, neural interfaces, different software and information systems, hover-cars, appliances, physical augmentations, gene therapies, and more are sold within the simulation. These are the “hottest” products and people in the real-world often must choose between the products of many companies with very similar products.

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The simulation seeks to see how branding, marketing and advertising can make a person buy robotic vacuum A over robotic vacuum B even if robotic vacuum A is more expensive or no different in ability compared to robotic vacuum B. Or how they can get the consumer to purchase a newer version of a service or program that only has slight alterations.


4.4 Arts & Culture


Rare Collectibles
Sometimes, small and rare items show up within odd locations. These items are unique and never appear again within the world. Though the items have no real monetary value, they are often traded and collected. No one knows where these items come from, whether from the AM or if they're simply glitched in accidentally.

Glitch Sculptures
Resembles an object or person that has glitched in sculpture form. This art can show different perspectives of a glitch in a 3D space. Sculptures do not necessarily represent an actual glitch, but often a feeling or concept that the artist wants to portray through their work through the concept of "glitching." They can often seem random and meaningless to the viewer. Sometimes, the art itself glitches and creates a double meaning, which is quite a spectacle.
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Vandalism
Phrases or images that are written on the walls of buildings show up in increasing numbers. This mysterious graffiti always tout messages about reality, fear, and how nothing is real. It seems that some mysterious group is upset about the current state of things, taking it out on the walls.
The messages seem to make sense at first glance, but after a while, experiencing these messages has citizens doubting their sanity, forming cults around them. Messages can move locations, glitching out of existence only to show up somewhere else, change a word, and cause general havoc in the area surrounding them. The messages may go missing but they often leave behind "ghost" which are faint but still readable versions of the writings. Graffiti can create spooks and droops, glitching vision, as well as vertigo when you try to get closer to the messages. They create surges of panic in citizens as the world glitches around them. They seem to be pointing toward something, creating a strange mystery yet to be solved.

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People, Places, and Things

*Make sure you tag your things cyberpunk so that it shows up in this*
Items
People
Location
Vignettes





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World building starting values and brainstorming
Government Involvement
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2+/-
Rule of Law

3
Social Services

5+/-



Economy wealth

4
Economic distribution

1
Agriculture

3



Class Relations

3+/-
Race Relations

3 +/-
Gender Politics

2
Sexual Identity Politics

3



Religious influence

3
Military influence

1+/-
Technology influence

5
Arts & Culture

4 +/-

Size: 1 (Almost Deserted)
Geography: Plains
Season: Dead of Winter

Things Mentioned
  • Total Recall, The 6th Day, Neotopia, Ghost in the Shell, Deus Ex, Strange Days, Johnny Mnemonic, and Akira
  • Augmentations are standard
  • Takes place on Earth
  • Caretakers have switched over from their human brains to electronic ones. Not only are they ensuring the survival for those in virtual reality, they are also experimenting on them (think MK-Ultra). They do this to learn how to simulate reality better and improve their experiences (better sensors and placement in brain, possibly surgical, to allow the person in stasis to feel more real emotions, physical sensations, and to alter their memory)
  • The people have been in stasis for 60 years, so some rigging may be required by the caretakers
  • Those in virtual reality can have rapid and sudden shifts of reality, emotion, memory, etc. due to mistakes or actions of the caretakers.
The messages may dissapear but they often leave behind "ghost" which are faint but still readable versions of the writings.