The Fine Line Between Reality and Fiction

As I have become more and more involved in the Automation community over the past couple months I find myself in a constant struggle to determine where the limits of reality and fiction lie in this world we have created for ourselves. Ultimately, this game leads to more a role play scenario where we are allowed to decide what happens, what companies are created, and how our environment evolves, rather than a simulation of the real world. Yet at the same time we seem compelled to incorporate real life scenarios and entities into our universe, trying to convince ourselves that what we are creating is real. Furthermore, there seems to be an inconsistency as to this bridge between reality and fiction. One challenge, or car company, or what have you, may only take some aspects of the real world for truth, while others are trying to create an alternate reality with only hints of variation from this ball of rock and water in our universe. So I feel it’s important to ask ourselves, where do we draw the line? Do we drag a line in the sand saying this is what’s allowed and this is what isn’t, or do we go for more of a gray scale where the spectrum is open to interpretation? Because right now it feels like we are all walking a fine line between complete chaos and civilized consistency.

Cheers - Racer13

This is an excellent topic of discussion, particularly for those who are more into lore building.

Unsurprisingly, this is a question I’m constantly asking myself, both of myself, and of others. I think the answer varies. Some cases, the challenge is purely fictional and bears no resemblance to reality whatsoever, it exists solely as an exercise in gaming. At the other end of the spectrum, it is something that either replicates, or even replaces real life entirely. More complicated still is the fiction that attempts to insert itself in parallel with real life.

To put it simply, I think it is too difficult to impose any kind of uniform standard on every single player, but it is important to know where each of them stands (or whether they do). Some degree of freedom is necessary in cases where the fictions of different players intersect.

For my part, the way my fictional universe operates is largely due to my collaborator (Cen), who is adept at comprehensive fictional world building. It’s one in which certain conditions and parameters of my own fictional company are very tightly controlled insofar as character interactions, motive, logistics and even concurrent real world conditions (and economic outlook) are concerned, and even if my fiction and company is largely concerned with things ludicrous and mad, I go to some lengths to ensure that every action has an appropriate reaction and that the numbers add up as far as the Automation simulation goes. As a result, I feel like even though the development cycle of my company is quite severely compressed (a unique model a year put a huge strain on the budget as well as core staff morale), at least the struggle and growth and the risk in the story has a compelling edge to it, and there’s a certain kind of satisfaction in meeting the challenge of having to reevaluate engineering decisions beyond simply cranking the sliders willy-nilly.

On the other hand, since this is a car forum, I do deliberately ignore or gloss over other social aspects of our world and focus largely on the automotive industry and motorsports. I also assume the existence of several of the motor companies from this forum alongside those of the real ones, and therein lies the big shift away from reality: this assumes that the automotive industry is more central as a whole to the world, and also ignores any user whose preferences are that their company exists in a world without any real life parallels. I have to leave a fairly large grey area here, and at least insofar as my fiction goes, I can somewhat afford to do this because due to the nature of my company, I can afford to focus on the world of ‘flash-in-the-pan’ hypercar manufactures, 98% of which vaporise before they can make anything real, let alone sell it.

The other reason I leave a lot of grey area is because I further distort and subvert the fictional relation to reality by depicting it in a cartoon world, which is probably the biggest twist here. The advantage of this is that it affords us a lot of liberties in alluding to real-life conditions/events/people without actually going so far as to actually explicitly portraying them and risking trouble/controversy i.e. clearly, this is a parody of _______ because look, here they’re a cat and therefore it’s not them! The disadvantage is that, well, the metaphysics of the world tends to get trickier when you’ve got walking talking animals alongside humans, and not everybody is into having cartoon animals in their otherwise ‘real’ fiction. But this shouldn’t matter, since either way I leave anybody else who does get involved in my fictional stuff somewhat free to determine whether anything that happens in my fiction actually carries over to theirs.

The way I circumvent any potential incompatibility is to control the conditions within the fiction should anybody else get involved, or clarify whether I can appropriate certain things. An example of the former is the BSLL (still this forum’s only dedicated ‘story in a tournament’), in which I made sure almost everything was wrapped up so the users who got involved could determine what effects, if any, this had on their own fictions, if they had any, especially because frankly, that story turned out ridiculous. An example of the latter was my asking if I could rejig the calendar of sillyworld’s AMWEC for my own purposes to attempt to reflect real world motorsport conditions, like having the Melbourne race be tucked into the same race weekend as the real-world F1 and V8SC series, and spreading the events out over the course of the whole year in my own calendar, which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t affect anybody else’s separate interpretation significantly… apart from certain parts of the commentary, of which I know you (Racer13) were playing a big part, because let’s face it, I’m a Melbourne resident, I can hear the racing at Albert Park from where I live, and I’d be kind of unhappy if I could hear the AMWEC kicking off at 5am in the morning :stuck_out_tongue:

I do try to incorporate the results of my various tournament participations into my company storyline. This is why I created several different companies: so I didn’t clutter up my very limited timeline with all these models that had no relation to my company’s very narrow brand image. Leo’s ATCC series from way back, while modified in some aspects (namely the date), is getting a similar treatment in my fictional timeline and actually plays a pivotal role in the development of my company.

I’m well aware that there are a lot of potential tensions and clashes which we’re glossing over. I think we’d go insane if we tried to iron every single one of them out, but certainly we should discuss it so we don’t trip up unexpectedly.

Screw conformity. Chaos is reality!!

While the fictional universe in which Automation exists should have ties to the real world (cars are most certainly part of the real world, and the tech adoption loosely follows those cars), or at least the others in the fictional world, imagination and unrestricted design is, and should be, part of that universe. Only by understanding what the outcome of a headlong spiral into abysmal chaos are we able to comprehend and mitigate the illusion of control in the real world. My company has ties to the real world by using GM engines in nearly everything, and like stop’s company, isn’t pushing out full lineups and producing millions of cars per year due to financial restrictions. Of course, there is also my Experimentls Division (unpublished for the most part) which is responsible for some of the creative, one-off cars like the LS7TT powered M3. Things which break the rules of what is “socially and/or scientifically acceptable” in the automotive world are not meant to be mass produced…at least not yet. Having said this, the Automation Universe is ripe for lore and fantastic adventures to be conceived, produced, and experienced. I wholeheartedly welcome any level of insane chaos the universe can provide.

Basically, I agree with strop, for the most part.

My company within this fictional universe routinely breaks reality as I write further into the as-yet-unfinished backstory.

However, what I can reveal is this: For the most part, Storm Automotive’s challenge cars don’t entirely match the lineup at this time. So much has been lost due to the old save bug that a lot of the old stuff, I don’t have anymore.

Lately, though, I’ve been making cars that fit more along the lineup of a somewhat acceptable reality: For every high-powered monster that would make it to the streets, there’s at least three or four lines of basic cars to keep the budget coming in. There’s also a secret facility where the crazier experiments are stored, and a timeline based around a company that was handed down through the years to two or three completely different people, before meeting the last trade in 201X (to be determined by something sufficiently insane challenge-wise) to the current owner.

As for the cars per year, my belief is that the company has three or four good factories currently running, and I try to share components between cars that I make, compared to my challenge cars, which get one-off engines and, unless it’s production-based, are assumed to be built by the hidden, rarely used Experimental Racing Division. Effectively, they make prototypes and race cars.

Much like Strop, I try not to intrude my universe on others, so most of my challenge cars are driven by nameless, unmentioned test drivers hired by Storm Automotive’s Racing Division. I’m reserving a character for something crazy enough, but about the best hint I can give is that while Strop has his cast and crew of cartoon animals, the fourth owner of the company is the machine that’s been in charge of automotive production for many years. Or, more specifically, the AI that ended up hiding out in there.

As for parallels to the real world, I believe the real car companies do exist in this universe, and that in a way, we’re competing against them. I try to design cars in a way that they would sell, by focusing on things the real world cares about. Because of that, I’ve got a couple of sub-companies that have their own factories independant from the main, but which produce slightly more niche market cars. Pharte Automotive makes eco-cars, other than one major flop when they tried to dip into the luxury market. Asterisk/Arctic Motor Works (rebranded after a major flop by the first name) makes really cheap and rather crappy cars (no quality sliders above -5) aimed at those who would otherwise buy used cars. I’ve yet to think of a name for the division that will inevitably take over production of my super/hypercar market, but there will be another company, funded by Storm Automotive’s typical cheap-and-cheerful market of normal cars, because as much as I want some of them to be under the main company, I can’t logically have it be that way, because just like the real world, no one would buy a hypercar built by the same company that makes minivans and four-cylinder city cars.

At the same time, each company has a material they can’t build without. Storm Automotive uses a lot of AHS steel with steel or aluminum panels (durable and strong), Pharte Automotive uses a lot of Glued Aluminum and aluminum panels (light weight and lightly prestigious), Asterisk/Arctic Motor Works use good ol Steel (Why bother with corrosion resistance? Apply more paint), and the as-yet-unnamed company uses Carbon Fiber (Gotta go faster). Each company has an engine technology they can’t go without. Storm uses DOHC religiously, while Pharte uses SOHC with VVL, while Asterisk/Arctic uses OHV/DAOHC, and AYU uses whatever’s best at the time, usually with a magnesium block, to the point where they’d have a full Magnesium Works in their facilities, probably right next to the building full of CNC machines. Transmissions are a mixed bag, but each has one they come back to in the end. AYU uses sequential double clutch, refusing anything else, while Pharte uses Manual (gotta have fuel efficiency), Arctic uses Automatics (cheap and easy. Doesn’t matter if it explodes after 30,000 miles, right?), and Storm uses whatever seems appropriate for the task, with a favoring toward Sequential.

At the same time, I recognize that my company (well, companies) will likely have more than our fair share of commercial failures (they happen to everyone, especially for Asterisk/Arctic) and very few, if any, runaway successes. It’s part of a good story to have the company struggle onward, even if the origins weren’t fully defined (that’s why it’s been handed down so many times, because anything old can be covered under “someone built it in the past, but a fire destroyed all our records of it.” “Well, where’s the prototype?” “The records were in the prototype. Safest place we could think of.”) I’ve got a point scribbled down somewhere that Storm had to be founded some time before 1955.

I welcome the chaos of this universe. The insanity is fun.

In my opinion, in the Automation “universe”, chaos is an inevitable result of the creative process. Any attempt at conforming to offline reality or to a mutually shared fictional reality by any player is entirely voluntary. All a player has to do is buy (or, God forbid, pirate :stuck_out_tongue: ) a copy of the game, register and contribute on the forum and then they become part of the Automation landscape.

Those who choose to participate in challenges are then choosing to allow their creations to be ranked against other players which provides some structure, defining “winners” and “losers”. Yet this structure only takes into account the easily defined and ranked stats and doesn’t include how the car feels to the owner. In the Automation world the car with a driveability stat of 55 is better than one with 50 yet, without a real-life experience, the result is flawed as there is no accounting for what that car would actually feel like to drive. The “winner” may have chosen a strategy that would, if replicated in the real world, result in an unpleasant boring car and the “loser” may actually be the better real life experience. Until someone researches every aspect of a car and recreates it “perfectly” in Automation, there is no 100% accurate way to define whether a players car is “better” or “worse” or even comparable to real life.

As for real life, it does have a bearing on Automation as our personal tastes in cars are defined by our real life experiences. I admire Cobaltgirl’s willingness to compete solely with pushrods as her real life love for them is reflected in her online creations. But should this choice taken by another player influence my choices? Not at all! We all see reality differently so we all will build cars differently and with a focus on our own personal tastes. This is, in my opinion, a more authentic way to play Automation as most would agree that the ironing out of idiosyncratic design is one of the reasons modern cars are seen as soulless commodities rather than charisma filled freedom-mobiles. So when I build cars for competition or for my personal company line-up, I try to build them according to my taste and what I, as a car buyer, would like to see populating my reality. But my efforts have no bearing on others gameplay and, except for in a competition, has no value or rank beyond what I choose to give it.

The way I see Automation is that it’s like a comic book universe; there are multiple parallel “universes” existing simultaneously. When a competition is held then, for the duration of that competition, different player brands form a structure that mimics real life with the "winners at the top and the “losers” at the bottom but, once the competition ends, the structure collapses and everyone reverts to their potential state. If a player chooses to let those micro-realities shape their brand image then good for them, but the choice is a voluntary one; there is no benefit or loss from either path. So to is the choice to frame your car company choices around real world history; it’s cool to do for authenticity but since people rarely write stories in which they’re the loser and hindsight is much easier to deal with than foresight, most storylines end up sounding false and hollow. The true storylines will emerge when Automation is finished and players have to survive from model-cycle to model-cycle and deal with the realities of their simulated lifetime. Right now we’re all shadow boxing; Tycoon mode will sort out the flashes-in-the-pan from the long-run!

My position is that no-one can draw any line, outside of a competition, as no-one has the right to do so and that chaos is the default position of the community. Any attempt to do otherwise would be an insult to what games like Automation exist for; to allow our imaginations to run wild, free of the limitations of funding, resource procurement and legislation. The only time any order can be enforced is when a competition is run where limits are imposed to challenge the competitor. I personally don’t like to draw too many parallels with reality oustide of my creation paradigm which already takes real life into account but I also wouldn’t crow on about how XYZ manufacturer is crap because my simulation car has better stats either; but that’s my choice and I don’t have the right to force others to comply with my position. The only thing, as players, we can do is stop other players from using our created company in their fictions when we haven’t given consent. But beyond that, it’s all fair in love and war! :laughing:

I agree, its all up to each member how much their creations exist in the real world. In my magazine reviews, in a couple of my roundups, I’ve written reviews of member’s cars against real world cars and my company exists as close to the real world as possible.

I’m just pondering how many other game forums have posts as wordy and thoughtful as the ones you guys are making… not all that many I bet. Automation players are the best :slight_smile:

Hey Daffy, you wanna know which sector really gets into the (in)compatibility of their headcanon lore?

Fanfiction :stuck_out_tongue:

On that note I never found out the reaction from the group of authors who created the entire Star Wars Extended Universe over like 30 years that got totally axed in order to reboot the franchise with Ep. VII…

If we want to make fiction a bit more real, why don’t we have an online world where we can compete with other companies? Like a simulator of real life company competition. Just a thought.

To define the fine line of our limits is best left to each individual. I mean it’s not hurting anybody. If you want a more standartized universe, then you’d have to have a forum based RPG set up. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with pixelcar RPG sites, but this would work similarly, with each company having funds, and cars being judged as successful or not based on their desireability and affordability, and using formulas to figure out how big their next car budget is etc etc etc. Also for this to work the guy running the thing would have to advance the years of the game slowly (lets say 1 year every week, which would leave us with the 1940 to 2020 taking up a bit over a year at which point the game would restart). Having actual rules would make the roleplay more challenging and more realistic.
Challenges could be as follows - “this week we’re all getting our next year’s prototypes ready for an international car show, and then an actual car show happens” or this week we’re running AMWEC series" etc etc etc. Well ok, for AMWEC or similar seasons the time frame would need to be halted till the season runs out. Eventually everybody would fall in line, building a 2500hp hypercar every year would be economically unreal, OR you’d have to pump out econoboxes that everybody buys by a boatload every hour, and you wouldn’t be able to survive past a few years if you were to price a corvette competitor at half a million (Looking at you, Airborne :stuck_out_tongue: )the prices would start getting competetive, the market itself would be competetition based. It could be fun. ALso there could be dogs in racing coveralls, that doesn’t bother me honestly.
Eh, too much rambling from me. I probably didn’t make much sense


If you’re talking about making Automation an MMO type game, well. I think the developers can answer you on that one.

If you’re talking about making a website where everybody showcases their own company, provides feedback on other companies and so on and so forth, WizzyThaMan and some others did develop a website called AutomationHub. As far as I can tell it’s not very active at the moment, largely due to the game still rapidly changing which requires one to reupload all their stats etc. and take more screenshots etc. …basically the process turned out to be rather clunky. Also some users were deliberately sabotaging the voting system. Users who are still active on these forums. But I digress.

LOL. It’s ok, she doesn’t bite. Much.

If you’re talking about making a website where everybody showcases their own company, provides feedback on other companies and so on and so forth, WizzyThaMan and some others did develop a website called AutomationHub.[/quote]

I already know about automation hub and I have used it a lot, but that is not really what I am talking about. Imagine living like the CEO of Chevrolet or BMW. The decisions you would have to make and all that. Now take automation hub and the real world of cars, put it together, and you get what I am talking about.

No, actually, I don’t. I’m a fairly concrete thinker who likes to know how things work, and I have no idea how your idea is going to work within the realms of the game or the forum, or what level of abstraction it’s even operating on. Is it something akin to what squidhead mentioned earlier?

This thread has honestly gotten more thought than I expected. I also think it’s interesting Daffy provided no comment on the subject. Anyway. I think squidhead has an interesting idea that could be worth exploring. However, logistically I don’t think it makes sense. That would take a lot of work, almost a full time job, with how many people are active in this forum as a measure of people who would be involved. Obviously not everyone would join, but it’s still a lot of people. Also, I’m not sure a week is enough time to create a lineup of cars every year, assuming people have other obligations. Anyway, interesting stuff.

Cheers - Racer13

Well, yeah, it would take some serious moderation, but if formulas are to be devised we could… AUTOMATE… the process a bit, where every person who puts a car out calculates his own success ratio

I’m very hesitant about the idea of running an iterative, time-based market simulation because it requires intensive, consistent involvement from everybody involved for the duration that it is run. That is, commitment. And as far as I know about the Automation forum, this forum is largely populated with people who are here because they have a love of cars, not because they have no life. And life tends to interrupt at the worst times.

Real conversation I overheard from a number of years ago at work:

Doctor 1: Wow dude, you look like shit.
Doctor 2: Yeah, long night.
Doctor 1: Were you on call? Studying?
Doctor 2: Nah, my WoW guild scheduled a boss dungeon raid for 3am. You can’t not turn up to that.
Doctor 1: …

You wouldn’t want your hospital doctors to be like that now, would you :laughing:

Honestly, I don’t think this is in any way realistic. It would require a lot of dedication from everyone involved, given that you wanted to be successful. It’s purely theoretical, and on that basis it’s fun to theorize.

Cheers - Racer13

[quote=“strop”]I’m very hesitant about the idea of running an iterative, time-based market simulation because it requires intensive, consistent involvement from everybody involved for the duration that it is run. That is, commitment. And as far as I know about the Automation forum, this forum is largely populated with people who are here because they have a love of cars, not because they have no life. And life tends to interrupt at the worst times.

Real conversation I overheard from a number of years ago at work:

Doctor 1: Wow dude, you look like shit.
Doctor 2: Yeah, long night.
Doctor 1: Were you on call? Studying?
Doctor 2: Nah, my WoW guild scheduled a boss dungeon raid for 3am. You can’t not turn up to that.
Doctor 1: …

You wouldn’t want your hospital doctors to be like that now, would you :laughing:[/quote]

Well…Doctor 2 is correct. You can’t not show up for the raid event. I’m willing to bed at least a few doctors are doing this already. I can guarantee I do this regularly. :wink:

Oh, I know you can’t just not show up when you’re a part of the guild. That’s just not kosher. So most doctors eventually resign… From MMOs that is. I know I did! (Though I never played WoW, just other things).