“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” – Albert Einstein

The progression of technology careened into the unknown for many years, producing things only marveled about and depicted in science fiction mere decades before. Computers and the programs they supported advanced and quickly rendered their predecessors obsolete in a matter of years.

In particular, the world of graphical processing and physics engines is where this came to a particular head. In late December of 2052, over a century after the announcement of the ENIAC, one of the world’s first physics engines, software developer PIOMA announces their flagship project’s completion – Confictrealis.

The project is, even by the standards of the 2050’s, a marvel. A graphical engine that is completely and wholly real in its depiction of its worlds. Every minute detail, right down to each grain of sand, was individually depicted and behaved as it should in the face of gravity. The laws of physics were wholly and truly represented in a virtual setting for the first time. Alongside this program were various means of interface, most prominently the AVI system, a helmet that allowed the wearer true immersion of the senses in whatever was depicted. Sight, sound, smell, even the optional inclusion of pain. This helmet came with either suits, or control pads likened to those of video games to manipulate a viewer’s actions within the engine.

The system revolutionized the technological world. Experiments were run in a completely safe environment, which pushed the bounds of what humanity could strive to understand. Hospital patients, from the elderly to the disabled to the terminally ill, were able to be provided with a haven to relax, to ease the burdens of their life, to move and feel in a way that their lot in life had previously prevented.

Then the company took its first foray into the commercial world. They had earned untold fortunes from the initial implications of their software, and now were going to break into the industry of entertainment. A few simple “vacation simulators” emerged here and there, before the company began to take a much grander undertaking.

Assembling a team of some of the brightest minds in the game-development world, all bought out from under their own employer’s noses, PIOMA began development of the world’s first truly VR Massively Multiplayer Game. A game that would eventually be known as “HeroPlane.” The game was set in a medieval fantasy universe, in a planet constructed from the ground up by PIOMA. But alongside this game, came the next announcement from the company – their new inclusion of “created” living beings.

Prior to HeroPlane, the engine only supported plant life that existed in one state, they never grew or bred, they simply existed in one point of their life in order to react to the engine’s physics appropriately. The game introduced plants, animals, and even sentient beings that all acted as if they were real. Their biology, while all created and fabricated, worked. Plants grew, spread, and died. Animals roamed, bred, ate, and died. And everything rotted and decomposed to help further the growth of the next generation.

And then the company began to draw negative attention. It’s next huge announcement was easily its most controversial – thinking, breathing, and feeling intelligent beings. Beings that could be affected by players that could act however they pleased with complete freedom, empowered as they created strong, skilled, and often dangerous characters with which to explore the world. Early tests of the game saw the world of HeroPlane descent into bloody war. Players slaughtered, tortured, and in some cases violated these beings with very realistic results. Many called for the game to be canceled, claiming that such freedom should never be given in such a trivial way, as it would teach their youth of violence and depravity that they would never have access to otherwise.

This demand, however, was ultimately not met, as the game proceeded with its development, and was eventually released on December 25th of 2075. The issue of a violent and anarchistic player base was address by the inclusion of AI enforcers, who would police the world as the developers saw fit. Under the narrative of the game, these “Wardens” acted as potent enforcers of the laws of HeroPlane’s various lords, each one an exceedingly powerful character with its own personal preference and moral compass. These lords would engage in political and military exchanges with one another, and players would find much of their fun in taking part in skirmishes, diplomatic visits, and even acts of espionage.

The game is nearing the second anniversary of its launch. The game is talked about by millions, but the subscriber base is growing at a very slow pace, many would-be players barred financially by the high initial cost of the game’s hardware. You are one of a group who have started the game together. As a player, you are one of a group of friends who have each obtained a copy of the game and the necessary hardware to play. You’ve just created your first character, and are about to see what all the ruckus is about.

Welcome aboard.