I suppose you could call Tacoma an adventure game, although it more of an interactive story than a game. There are a few instances where you need to figure out people’s passcodes, but they’re so easy to figure out that they don’t really count as puzzles.
You play as Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to Tacoma station by Venturis, the company that owns Tacoma. A short while ago an accident happened and the station, which had housed six human employees, one AI named ODIN, and a cat, is now abandoned. Your job is to explore the station and retrieve AI-recorded data and ODIN’s wetware.
The AI-recorded data takes the form of recordings that your augmented reality device allows you to see as though you’re glimpsing into the station’s past. All the characters are represented by colored silhouettes of themselves. You can rewind and fastforward in order to follow different people and occasionally access their emails and other files.
I can’t say too much about the story because it’s fairly simple and it’d be too easy to give everything away. The big question, as you’re playing, is what happened and whether anyone survived. Although you play as Amy, you aren’t privy to her thoughts. She knows more about the situation and what’s going on than you do, but it’s okay, because nothing in the game prevents you from taking as much time as you’d like in each area of the station. Just make sure you don’t leave a particular part of the station until you’ve done everything you want to do - I’m fairly certain you can’t go back or, if you can, AR data will no longer be accessible in that area.
As you travel through the station, you learn more about each of the characters: E.V., the station administrator; Clive, the operations specialist; Natali, the network specialist; Roberta (Bert), the mechanical engineer; Andrew, the botanist; and Sareh, the medic. You also get to see them interact with ODIN and, if you purchased the game through Steam, you can try to find the station cat in order to get one of the Steam achievements. I had fun trying to think of where the cat might decide to nap in each area, although I did worry that I'd end up witnessing its death. (Spoiler:
the cat makes it through just fine.)
The cast is diverse, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. As you look through their belongings (to whatever degree you’d like - I was curious and it didn’t feel too creepy, so I looked through every drawer and locker I could), you find out more about how they all got along and what their problems and issues were. My favorite character out of the bunch was probably Sareh, who had anxiety and panic attacks due to an event in her past, but who was still competent and professional despite that. I really liked her and ODIN’s interactions, even as I worried about ODIN being the only one she could confide in.
As someone who loves AI characters, I enjoyed ODIN and I loved the role he played in the story. I did find myself wishing for a bit more from him - players don’t get much of his perspective until the very end of the game.
Tacoma is very short. Even though I spent quite a bit of time exploring and looking at unimportant things like random packages, wrappers, and coffee mugs, I finished the whole thing (minus a few Steam achievements) in about four hours. That said, my biggest complaint about the game wasn’t the length, but rather how playing the game affected me physically.
When I first started, I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes or so before developing headaches and nausea. I tried messing with the Gameplay and Graphics settings, turning off “head bob” and trying out different FOV settings, but it only seemed to help a little. The best solution I found was actually remembering to wear my glasses while playing. I don’t usually wear them at home and rarely wear them while watching TV or playing games, and it almost never causes a problem. In this case, though, it turns out they were vital. They never completely got rid of my headache and nausea problem, but without them I’d probably still be creeping my way through the game in 20-minute increments.
All in all, this was a simple and fairly short story told in a fascinating way. I loved getting to find out what happened in bits and pieces via AR data, files, notes, ads, and emails. Although I found myself wishing that the story had been a little bit more flexible and allowed for other endings, I was happy with the one ending players were given.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Amazing! This is one of the best books on AGI I ever read. Tsang not only shows that there is a perfect functional mapping between the genetic realm and the neuronal world, Tsang develops his ideas about universally occuring binary trees to a true recipe to one day generate artificial general intelligence which may reach and even surpass the human level of intelligence. Tsang describes a recursive self-modification process, in which the process takes itself as an object and maps this, like in the Yoneda mapping. A combination of divergent and convergent forward and backward chaining which result in an intersection where they meet is not only a current heuristics technique in present day AI, but is developed in the framework of Tsang's binary tree mapping process as the mapping means to select succesful candidates. This is the recipe to create self-improving AI. This is the book that heralds the advent of superintelligence and the technological singularity. This is the book I always wanted to read. Wholeheartedly recommended!
Do you wish to improve your intelligence? Then we’ll first have to figure out what “intelligence” actually is.
Join me on a journey that starts with Nature’s ways to generate complexity. I will show you that from bacterial wisdom to the quagmire of human social interactions the same steps are followed to generate so-called “meta-system transitions”, where singleton entities organise into societies and finally into new emergent entities built there from.
In this book I will not only dissect intelligence into elements of cognition, pattern recognition, reasoning, problem-solving and diversity generation, I will also venture into the more elusive realms of emotions and intuition.
From these concepts I will provide strategies, heuristics and architectural plans to create a new generation of Artificial Intelligence. A conceptualisation of Artificial Consciousness and a blueprint for a quasi-conscious Artificial Webmind.
And as a bonus I will provide you with tools. Tools to organise your thoughts, tools to solve any kind of problem, tools to navigate through the wild waves of our emotions.
This is the abstraction of the dissecting knife of the intellect and the great integrator of cliques allowing to spawn a plethora of novel and inventive solutions which are screened and pruned to generate an apotheosis of ever increasing complexity.
This is the book that reveals nature’s inherent simple algorithm to achieve complex goals in complex environments.
By Antonin Tuynman, the author of this book.
“In 2016, nineteen years after my loss to Deep Blue, the Google-backed AI project DeepMind and its Go-playing offshoot AlphaGo defeated the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol. More importantly, as also as predicted, the methods used to create AlphaGo were more interesting as an IA Project than anything that had produced the top chess machines. It uses machine learning and neural networks to teach itself how to play better, as well as other sophisticated techniques beyond the usual alpha-beta search. Deep Blue was the end; AlphaGo is a beginning.”
In “Deep Thinking - Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins” by Garry Kasparov, Mig Greengard
My personal experience with Go dates back at least a decade. I remember getting slaughtered every time by the free GNUgo software, just as I had been by every human opponent for the last 20 years. Never got the hang of it, though I was school chess captain back in the day. Totally different mindset. I first came across it in a little-remembered crime series called 'The Man in Room 17', with Richard Vernon and Denholm Ellit eponymously solving crimes without leaving their office, where they were always playing go. I also remember a funny little story while I was attending the British Council. Back in the 80s, a Korean guy gave me a game. After every move I played, he stifled a laugh and started a rapid fire of, "No! Cos you purrin ['put in', I presume] there, then I purrin here, after you purrin there an' I purrin here, you lose these piece" None of which made anything clearer. At chess, the first (okay, tenth) time I got mated on the back row by a rook, I learned not to leave the king behind a wall of pawns. Never got my head round the simplest 'joseki' (corner opening) at Go. Beautifully elegant game though.
If you're into Chess, and Computer Science of the AI variety, read on.