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Welcome, Da'amo'o the Magician. You have 14 new messages and one Urgent Message.
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FROM: NEBULA-STEAM STARLIGHT PROGRAM
TO: Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o
Your submitted game "Terran Maintenance Attack Simulator" has been reviewed by our Quality and Standards Team as well as undergone our six day playtest system. Your recent patch 0.4.1.A2.a (Food Dispenser Update) was received and applied.
We are proud to announce to you that your game, "Terran Maintenance Attack Simulator" has been approved for sale on Nebula-Steam as part of the Starlight Program, which seeks to amplify the reach of indie developers such as yourself.
Simply go to your Developer's Page and follow the instructions. Remember to upload both your 2D and 3DVR game cover art as well as double-check your splash-page stinger for translation errors.
At this time, you are approved for Early Access Release, Alpha Test Release, Beta Test Release, or Full Release.
Additional options are available to you for release of your media as well as advertising your media.
Once again, we here at Nebula-Steam would like to welcome you to our Starlight Program and we look forward to working with you.
--The Digitally Simulated Brain of Gabe Newell, Nebula-Steam LLC
Would you like to see your Developers Page and Tools?
Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o galloped around the relaxation lawn behind the Planetary Maintenance Facility, feeling his chest swell with an unidentified emotion. He knew that upstairs, on his computer, files were being uploaded to Nebula-Steam, rolling out the Early-Access Release of what had started as a mere way of passing the time.
Neo-sapients stared at him as he galloped around, but merely smiled to one another. Da'amo'o was known to be a bit eccentric for a Lanaktallan, but he authorized plenty of overtime, divided up maintenance across the planet into zones where one had to travel very little to reach a work order, and had even broken open the stores and allowed neo-sapients to use government vehicles rather than take public transportation to job sites.
Why, he had even authorized uniforms that displayed that a neo-sapient worked for Planetary Maintenance, complete with badges of ranks and coloration that displayed what part of Maintenance they worked for.
One of the Savashan sitting on a bench eating a sandwich (with actual RealMeatTM
in it) had been accosted by LawSec two weeks ago. Most High Da'amo'o had arrived personally to release him from the jail cell, took back the tools, chastised the LawSec Commander, and then, weirdly enough, when heating failed to all of the LawSec Officer's offices, had put the repairs on low priority.
As far as that Savashan was concerned, if Da'amo'o wanted to run in circles wearing a purple paper hat and blowing a musical instrument, the Savashan would defend Da'amo'o's right to do so.
Da'amo'o himself was sweating and blowing heavy, his heart still full of something he couldn't describe, as he leaned into the corner he was running around. He couldn't believe it, it was too incredible, too outlandish.
He had logged into his "Developer Options" page on Nebula Steam and carefully read through the contract. It was mind-boggling. It was outrageous.
He retained full control of his program. All rights to it.
Nebula-Steam would host it on their servers, even offered the option for hosting of multi-player servers, and only asked for FORTY PERCENT! of the take. It was outrageous.
Then, he had discovered he could release different versions as long as they were functionally different. He had spent nearly a week coding heavily, allowing the VI 'supervisors' to handle the basic maintenance, and had come up with multiple versions of his game.
Why, he'd be getting six credits out of ten! He had set the price of one hundred twenty credits for the full version, sixty credits for the limited version, eighty credits for the multiplayer, forty-credits for the "Food Dispenser Panic!" DLC (what a wonderful concept. Downloadable content that could just be patched into the game, changing the game, updating it, without having to completely redo it! Just the thought of such a remarkable idea made Da'amo'o quiver with excitement), and the five ten-credit "World Map Packs" and the "City Procedural Generation Software" that was available as a free download to anyone who owned the 'Executor Freakout' version. Then there was the "Building Artpack" for various planets and species, even including a special building relevant to each species, for only five credits, that came bundled in the "Executor Freakout" version. Not to mention the Demo that would unlock into the limited version if a neo-sapient put in their worker ID number.
He had, at first, ensured the settings were put right so that his implant would be pinged for each sale. In the beginning, there was only a handful of pings the first few hours. Then more. Then even more. Until his implant couldn't keep up.
He was terrified to look into his Nebula-Steam wallet.
There was a shimmering in the air and he slowed down, coming to a stop and panting. He tapped the shimmer and a VR representation of a door appeared.
The Pink Panty Fairy stepped through, wearing her new outfit that he'd carefully designed for her. It was modeled after Terran "power suits'. Not the combat kind, no, the kind that projected authority and dominance, consisting of a pair of shined high heeled boots, slacks with creases on the front of the legs, and an official looking torso covering with long sleeves and cufflinks. She wore a pink sash that displayed that she was Da'amo'o's personal assistant and operated with his full authority.
Da'amo'o had carefully gone over Terran images of powerful females and what they wore. He had agonized over current fashions, dressing properly for various jobs, and other media.
He had eventually settled on a modification of the Space Force female Terran uniform, complete with sash.
"You made Gold, Da'amo'o, baby," she said, her glittering iridescent wings twitching. "Ten million sales in the last two hours."
Da'amo'o shuffled nervously.
"Even your map packs, the DLC, and the Executor Freakout versions are firmly in the Gold status," she said. She lifted up a clipboard and looked at it. "At current projections, you should hit Platinum within a week. Returns are less than two percent. Your rating is 'Oustandingly Positive' and average customer engagement on first playthrough is three hours."
Da'amo'o nodded, reaching into his pouch and pulling out a wad of carefully harvested expensive cud. He jammed it in his mouth and slowly began chewing it, thinking. He had been thinking of adding a "Work Crew Supervisor Expansion Pack" where a being could take on the role of a supervisor and move through a procedurally generated building to watch over the neo-sapients as they worked.
If the game was doing that well, he might have to adapt the old public domain software that generated dungeons that he had found on a code repository site. Combining it with the shopping trip simulator software that he had found abandoned might work...
"Currently, using proxy servers to upload the game mean that the majority of purchasers and interested parties think that the game was developed and uploaded from Hesstla, which still has a high Lanaktallan population despite being nominally under Terran control," she said. She lowered the clipboard and it vanished.
"So, Da'amo'o, baby, what's your plan now?" the Pink Secretary asked.
Da'amo'o trotted toward the door that would lead to the elevator that would take him to his office. "What's my schedule look like?"
The Pink Secretary looked at another clipboard. "Clear for the next two days. That's when you have scheduled an inspection of the worker's maintenance vehicles."
Da'a'mo'o nodded. That gave him an idea. "Maintenance Street Racing" where the players could race bulky, unresponsive cargo vehicles and tool vans through city streets to a job, competing with other maintenance teams to reach the contract and clock in first.
He quickly mentally jotted a note and passed it to his datalink to pass it to his console. Perhaps have the wild card where overpowered flaming Terran vehicles attempt to run the maintenance crew vehicle off the road?
"How is the reference gathering for Project Blah Bleh Blah going?" he asked her.
She consulted a datapad. "Not well. Mostly we've had to use police sketches and mockups as well as video taken from Gal-Net." Damnation and tarnation, as a Treana'ad cattle rustler would say,
Da'amo'o thought to himself. He had ridden home in a limousine one foggy night, staring out the window, and had gotten the idea to create an entertainment game completely based on fiction, starring the Night Terran.
But he was having a hard time gathering concrete data on the elusive figure.
"You asked me to remind you about tonight, baby," the Pink Secretary said.
"The motion capture actors," Da'amo'o stated. He stopped and waited for the elevator.
The neo-sapients and a few female Lanaktallan were supposed to arrive at his domicile for dinner and then motion capture. He was planning on rewarding them handsomely.
Credits bought more cooperation than his rank, and he had learned to appreciate it.
In the elevator he brought up data on his retinal link, examining it. Most of what he wanted was available on the public domain software repositories. He'd gained an eye for being able to determine if the software might be usable. If it contained extensive documentation, it would be easily usable.
If it did not, there might be hidden gems within in, but by and large, the programmer would have been deceased for tens of thousands of years.
An idea for another entertainment simulation bubbled up in his mind and he clapped his lower hands together excitedly even as he made notes on his datalink.
True, most of his ideas would prove to be unworkable or not as exciting as he had thought at the time, but for every score that had be discarded one would provide the kernel of a great idea.
The door opened and he trotted down the hallway. Opening the door to his office he nodded at the Ikeeki receptionist, who professionally ignored him as she applied dye to the very tips of her pinfeathers with a small brush. She was wearing the finest clothing, her plumage was lush and lavish, and her jewelry sparkled in the light of the office.
Just her appearance had been enough to put many complaining Lanaktallan in their place. The fact that she was so pampered and lavished upon told all Lanaktallan that she was more valued by Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o then they ever possibly would be.
He sat down in his comfortable chair and waited for the backrest and armrests to rotate into position. He checked his real maintenance program, not his entertainment one, and authorized overtime, dispatched work crews, and scheduled time off for his crews.
Once he had spent two hours working, he had a break and leaned back in his chair, slowly chewing the expensive cud.
He had an idea.
Logging back onto Nebula-Steam, he perused the Terran Confederacy stores, using a proxy server to pretend he was logging in from one of the Confederacy controlled worlds.
he had seen it briefly. Now he was sure.
He said the word slowly, savoring it.
Checking one of the most popular games, he then ran a search to see who was playing the game that had at least twenty hours into it. It was a popular game, a magical primitivism simulation where a user could fight fantastic creatures, romance attractive and unattractive beings, explore ruins and wilderness while wielding steel weapons or magic.
There it was.
He examined it closely. Terrans prized the most difficult achievements. Some achievements had been acquired by less than 0.0001% of those with at least 10 hours in the game. Such achievements as "I Tawt I Saw a Puddy-Tat" for fighting a giant saber-toothed cat with only a flint knife in a blizzard during the full moon while only wearing wolf-skin armor and a hat made from yellow bird feathers. Or the achievement "Chrome Lips Sink Ships" for any Battleship Gunner's Mate rating five or higher who killed at least one enemy vessel as their own ship was being destroyed and choosing to respawn in the ship's clone bank and return to their station even as the ship broke up.
Da'amo'o checked his schedule. He still had six hours he had to be at his desk. He checked the work program. The only thing that needed his attention was a Wandering Terran had set plants ablaze in a park in eVR enhanced reality and the maintenance team needed a Level III Exorcism team. He authorized it and closed the program. What if I could make it a status symbol?
he thought. Sashes proclaimed various ranks and awards, but if one had a retinal link, like any proper gamer (R-Link Lyfe Yo!) , then a being's 'gamer tag' as well as their Nebula-Steam Rank appeared in your vision when you looked at another gamer who was broadcasting his ID.
By nightfall, he realized he'd been in his office till almost dinner. He rushed home, hosted the fancy dinner, then used his motion capture equipment to record various beings doing mundane tasks, right down to washing dishes by hand. He paid everyone, then galloped down the hallway to a solid battlesteel door.
He quivered with excitement when his Gal-Net link cut off. The electronic warfare system he had managed to get transferred to him via a long looping shipping circuit kept anyone from accessing what was beyond the door from outside.
The door cracked open, white light appearing. He quivered with excitement. He had taken the visuals from exciting Terran games and he had to admit, it was psychologically powerful.
He trotted into what was beyond. What had been a wine cellar had been built, off the books, by heavily bribed neo-sapient work crews that he had paid in cred-sticks, promotions, and prestigious employment locations.
His programming lab.
Full eVI assist. Enhanced Virtual Reality.
He had modeled it after Vehicle Repairbeing v823 that he had managed to get onto his account.
He rubbed his hands together as he activated his assistants.
The girls from that wonderfully subversive program appeared, all working hard, with the exception of the red-head, who sat in the corner reading a magazine and smoking a cigarette, giving him a haughty look as she smoothed her black and red plaid skirt with one hand.
He worked far into the night, going to bed only after the Pink Programming Assistant Fairy woke him up for the third time.
He had done it.
He, Great Most High of Planetary Maintenance Da'amo'o, had managed to complete the impossible!
When he trotted into work the next day, everyone could see scrolling on his sash the fact that he had platinum Nebula-Steam achievement awards, that his sash edging wasn't a straight line but was, instead, a flickering violet and pink flame pattern.
Da'amo'o could feel the envy of his lessers as they gazed in awe at the achievements displayed on his sash.
Any being could get attendance and good parking awards for their sash.
When he finished the morning's required maintenance he leaned back in his chair and pressed the eVR button.
The Pink Secretary Fairy appeared, holding a clipboard.
"How's it hanging, Da'amo'o, baby?" she asked, smiling.
"You tell me, dear one," Da'amo'o replied.
She looked at her clipboard. "The Retinal Link Nebula-Steam Account Interlink has gone platinum. The Sash link is the same," she smiled widely. "Nebula-Steam approved your proposal that only icons that match your specifications can be used as a basis for the award displays."
Da'amo'o rubbed his hands together. "And how many software entertainment organizations have purchased the icon and software packages I offered them?"
"All of them, Da'armo'o, baby," she replied.
"Excellent," Da'amo'o said.
"Already Dewie, Cheatum, and Howe have successfully defended your proprietary programming and styles," she said. She consulted her datapad. "They have been paid in full for their services and put on retainer."
"Excellent," Da'amo'o said. He thought for a long moment, swinging around to stare out the window. "I need another assistant, someone to assist me in this job to free me for my true passion."
The Pink Secretary Fairy frowned slightly. "Which is?"
Da'amo'o motioned with all four hands out the window. "To make work into something enjoyable. To use VR and Gal-Net to provide a sense of accomplishment that seems to have been stripped from real life."
He rubbed his hands together.
"To give everyone a sense of achievement."
Forty-Second Assistant Most High of Food Processors Ga'ame'er clopped into the lunch room of the massive building that housed licensing. He adjusted his sash and ensured his retinal link ID header was on as he crossed the room to the line waiting to order lunch.
He realized that in front of him was a Lanaktallan who had their gamertag, Nebula-Steam score, and achievements displayed on their expensive and fashionable sash as well as over their head.
The Lanaktallan, who's sash proclaimed him a twelfth Most High, had only silver achievements.
Ga'ame'er reached forward and tapped the other Lanaktallan on the side. The Lanaktallan turned, frowning, looking a Ga'ame'er.
"Move, lowly one," Ga'ame'er said, reaching up and tapping his sash.
The Twelfth Most High of Traffic Supervision Pehza'ahnt started to lift his lip and then saw the top ranking achievement far outstripped anything he had accomplished.
Feeling shame before one of his peers, he moved out of the way, letting Ga'ame'er take his place.
Pehza'ahnt ground his cud and promised himself that he would grind extra-hard that night. That achievement flaunted by Ga'ame'er would be his.
Oh yes, oh yes it would be.