If you've been reading this blog long enough then you should know how I feel about the piece of vaporware known as Octopus City Blues. I remember twenty years ago, when the ambitious "Octopus City Simulation" software was announced, I was skeptical. I got a lot of heat for my unpopular opinion at the time. I was the 'party pooper', the pessimist who wouldn't bow to the glorious vision of the 'imagineers' at the hypothetical Ghost in a Bottle corporation. People thought I was crazy, that I was one of those loony conspiracy theorists who have nothing better to do than question everyone and everything.
It's been twenty years, and the -lambs- still wait for such a simulation software. You think I'm being harsh here? Maybe, I don't really care. It's not that I wouldn't like Octopus City Blues to be real either. In theory, it would easily be the definitive Octopus City experience, there is no doubt about that. From the beautifully rendered beetles to the multitude of branching choices and the complex gossip system, never has a simulation been so immersive and faithful to the source material. I have to give the marketing 'team' at Ghost in a Bottle credit for how well their lie is constructed. I don't blame the -lambs- for being fooled. After all, that's what they were bred to do. Ghost in a Bottle is the world's greatest magician, and they've pulled their best trick.
You can see the most recent screenshot of the simulation above. I pulled it directly from their twitter account. Notice how it's showing Kaf's room, one of the first locations we've seen of this product. In general, my calculations show that the Ghost in a Bottle team is releasing less and less content. Years ago they had a demo, and before that they regularly released new screenshots and alphas. These days there are less updates, and instead of communicating with the -lambs- in plain language, they write long irrelevant posts in an attempt to be humorous.
The Ghost in a Bottle spokesperson claims that they don't want to show new content to avoid 'spoilers'. I don't know about that. My hypothesis is that the original team involved with the simulation died in an accident 10 years ago, and having no one to replace them, the corporation has been trying to keep up appearances by remixing the existing content ad infinitum. This is corroborated by an old article on their own website.
Another thing I noticed is that they spend a lot of time talking about improvements to tools. Map editors, sprite editors, gossip editors, etc. I understand how complex making a simulation could be, but to me it signals that the 'team' is not prioritizing the things that really matter. Decades later they are still polishing technical tools that no one else would ever use, when they should be adding more tentacles (I bring up tentacles because according to their CEO, having more of them is the company's raison d'etre.)
Perhaps I am being too critical. The -lambs- seem very understanding and supportive of the company, even when it apologizes to them repeatedly. That's why I'm starting to question the so-called 'supporters'. Hundreds of people supported this game, but do we know who these people really are? Now, hear me out, I'm not saying it's not conceivable for passionate, kindhearted people who want more tentacles in their lives to exist. However, wouldn't it be more likely, given the current grim and depressing state of our world, a world run by nameless corporation where people are driven by self-interest, wouldn't it make more sense for the -lambs- themselves to be part of the lie? Just think about it. Who actually pays for an uncertain hypothetical product based on a video and some screenshots? Who puts their faith into some faceless 'company' that wouldn't even confirm whether dual-wielding tentacles is an option? That's what I thought too.
This was a 'joke' posted on the corporate social media account a couple of years ago. But the more I think about it, I wonder if all these modes were actually developed. Maybe that's why it's taking so long. In the 20 years since the project was announced, Steve Buscemi is probably too old to continue playing Kaf. This leads me to the idea that the company diverted its fund at some points into genetic engineering research in order to preserve and/or clone the aging actor. What if, during one of these experiments, the original team perished as I mentioned earlier. What if the -lambs-, the supporters, were born out of such experiments? What if we're dealing with powers beyond our understanding? With evil personified?
I came across a passage in an old cuneiform manuscript from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Akkad. According to it, a mysterious and evil presence would manifest in the end times. A cunning and deceitful false prophet beckoning the gates of hell to open. That reminded me of a character in Octopus City known as the Conman. It could be a coincidence, but when you consider the mythological significance of tentacles and octopuses as creatures of the deep, eldritch monstrosities beyond human comprehension, things start making too much sense. What's a ghost in a bottle after all? Doesn't it conjure images of a sealed demon? A hidden danger waiting for the right time?
Ghost in a Bottle recently talked about how they spent a lot of time modifying the existing artwork to support 'widescreen resolutions'. Sounds like pointless busywork, doesn't it? It might be cool for the handful of people using the over-hyped 'HD displays', but for the rest of us it's just another feature no one asked for. Where is the enhanced demo they promised so long ago? More frequent updates? Special alpha versions for supporters?
What if Ghost in a Bottle is actually an artificial intelligence of some sort, stuck in an endless marketing loop. Maybe during the Steve Buscemi incident, when the -lambs- were created, a new form of consciousness was spontaneously generated in the company's mainframe. A so-called 'neural network' was formed, a black box that crawled the darknet consuming all recorded human knowledge and feeding it into the machine. Over time, the network gets more and more complex, to the point where it achieves a certain self-aware or 'meta' quality. You can see it in the company's updates, they get weirder and weirder over time. More self-referential and less about Octopus City. At that point, can you really believe anything they tell you? You could ask for a release date and they would instead go and write a mock article about a conspiracy theorist.
Or maybe I'm just overthinking the whole thing. Time to take my medicine, I guess..
In other news, the Octopus City social media account was recently promoting an 'indie fighting game'. The game itself looks fun, and I doubt it has any relation to what I just wrote. I do find it fascinating how the artificial intelligence running Ghost in a Bottle has learned to collaborate with other entities to divert attention from the project. I wouldn't be surprised if 100 years from now Kaf will be known more for a small cameo in Indie Pogo than for the Ghost in a Bottle fiasco. You can support that project by clicking this link: Indie Pogo on Kickstarter.