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(SR4A) Ractives?

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Harvengure

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« on: <10-18-16/1546:41> »
Hoi again chummers,

So I'm going through the process of gearing my SR4A character and in the Advanced Software Rules section of Unwired is something called a ractive. Now perhaps I am being slow but I'm not sure I am getting exactly what these are.

"Ractives is a common used abbreviation for “interactives.” In general, these are programmed shells of virtual persona or pets that can are actually controlled by simsense-boosted actors (so-called “ractors”) that play them in a subscription-based manner. Although the software is not sophisticated enough yet to actually “jump into” the shell, the instant exchange of environmental and social data between the “host” and the ractive allows a new level of realism that goes beyond the programming of ordinary virtual pets and virtual persons, which have a limited array of responses and behavioral patters."

Kiirnodel

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« Reply #1 on: <10-18-16/1847:03> »
If I'm reading it right, it is basically the equivalent of hiring live-in friends, except virtual.

So, they sell virtual personas or pets, which are basically just programs that display either holographically, or through AR or whatnot. They are pre-programmed to have responses and interact on a basic level. Think like having a full-time Nintendog or one of those interactive chats but with a virtual body along with the talking back and forth.

"Ractives" are the same thing, except fully interactive because it isn't pre-programmed. There is actually someone else controlling the character on the other end. You pay a subscription fee to pay for the "ractor" to play that persona for you and keep you entertained. That's about it, I think.

Harvengure

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« Reply #2 on: <10-18-16/2126:05> »
Huh. Cool. I didn't actually get that from the excerpt. It's written oddly...nebulously. Thank you.

ve4grm

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« Reply #3 on: <10-19-16/1157:33> »
They're from a novel, "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. And if you haven't read it, they're kind of hard to explain in any sort of short manner, but I'll try.

Kiirnodel is mostly on point. Except it's not quite hiring friends, as ractors aren't dedicated to you.

Let's start over.

Imagine a holodeck, like Star Trek. Only exception being that where the holodeck is in real space, the ractive is probably in VR. On a ST Holodeck, they play Holonovels, scenarios where they act through a story with holographic, computer controlled NPCs.

In a Ractive, it's similar. You start up a Ractive to act through the story it's going to tell.

Except in a Ractive, all the major NPCs? They're played by actual people. Trained actors, called ractors.

Each time you run a ractive, the characters will be the same, but the ractors will likely be different. A good set of ractors will adapt to the characters well enough that you won't even notice, but there will still be a different person behind the face. (If a ractor wishes, they can choose to be prioritized when a specific Ractive comes up, but that could mean missing out on better paying jobs so it's uncommon. And it's all up to the ractor, so a consumer can't stalk a specific ractor by demanding them. Usually. Unless they're rich, of course.)

Each time a ractor fills a role, they get paid. It's basically what you get when you cross acting jobs with micro-transactions. Ten minutes in Ractive X might net a ractor a couple dozen nuyen. This is why a Ractive is a subscription. Or, more likely, a "pay per play" format.

Does that make sense? It's kind of a complicated subject, but it's really interesting as well.
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LordGrizzle

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« Reply #4 on: <10-19-16/1430:28> »
@ve4grm The way you describe it it almost sounds like prostitution just without any sex involved. You get the scenario you pay for, but since you are interacting with real people, it's more personal.

It also reminds me of a format that's popular in Japan right now. I forget what it's called but it's essentially people accompanying you through mundane tasks almost via Skype, so that all the singles don't have to feel so lonely. That's probably a common use for ractors as well in Shadowrun I would at least imagine. As in Shadowrun people have even less time for companionship than people nowadays...

ve4grm

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« Reply #5 on: <10-19-16/1538:07> »
@ve4grm The way you describe it it almost sounds like prostitution just without any sex involved. You get the scenario you pay for, but since you are interacting with real people, it's more personal.

That's not exactly inaccurate?

I think of it more like going to a theme restaurant. Say, Medieval Times, or anywhere at Disney. Or maybe a professionally-constructed murder mystery dinner. There's people all around paid to construct and fill out a scene for you without breaking character.

Or imagine playing a deep RPG, a la (say) Mass Effect, where it isn't constrained by the script. Where other people take on the roles of your companions (and not just internet randos like a game of, say, Halo would have) and help immerse you in the story.

Heck, I'm sure Ractives take the place of a lot of tabletop RPGs, too.

There are, of course, adult versions as well. Some ractors choose not to do those, but they pay well. Especially with the bunraku-like artificial simsense personalities that shadowrun has, I think these would be relatively common. That said, for what most people want out of prostitution and porn, ractors wouldn't be entirely necessary. A program could satisfy those needs without the subscription cost. So again, ractives would be for those not satisfied with pre-programmed responses, and with the money to pay the ractors.



It also reminds me of a format that's popular in Japan right now. I forget what it's called but it's essentially people accompanying you through mundane tasks almost via Skype, so that all the singles don't have to feel so lonely. That's probably a common use for ractors as well in Shadowrun I would at least imagine. As in Shadowrun people have even less time for companionship than people nowadays...

Most likely, yeah! Since these would only require occasional interaction, a good ractor would probably have 2 or 3 of these types going simultaneously, switching off between them  as the need arises, and letting algorithms handle just enough of the facial expressions and gestures that they wouldn't need to dedicate too much attention to any of them. They would also be cheaper since they don't need constant, full dedication of a ractor.

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Other things to note:

The main reason for ractives was that, although a computer could hold a conversation, it was wooden. It had no emotion, body language of VR avatars was never quite right, and improvisation was iffy at best. Ractives use the human ractors to provide that emotion and improvisation, even if the computer itself provides the basic words.

A single ractor might play two, three, or even all of the roles in a given ractive. With computer assistance for what to say (personality chips, or just computer-generated scripts) one or two ractors could fill an entire ractive.
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