Previous Entry Share Next Entry
This is my idea before anybody starts. If somebody else came up with it first, I never heard it. Now, onto my big idea for a great toy.... :o)

Picture, if you will, lego. A kitchen, made of lego, for instance. You have two lego individuals in said kitchen. A male one and a female one. There are lights in the kitchen, which are keeping it bright. Suddenly, Mr Lego walks over to Mrs Lego, talks to her for a minute, and then leaves the room.

Scary horror movie, or the next generation of children's toys? The latter. Let's go back to that scene, and look closer.

In one of the more simple settings, we have just a few things. We have a cooker, a lightswitch, a door, a table, and two people. Plus walls and floor. The floor is a complex network of detection systems - they tell the control program where the Lego People are. The walls are even more simple - they just sit there, completely neutral. There is no ceiling - the child needs some way to access the people.

Then there's the lightswitch. Rather than being anything, this is just an arbitrary region of the room, which a Lego Person much get to in order to turn on the lights. Whether the lights are on or not affects whether the people can see. If they can't see, they move slowly, and try to turn the light on. The location of the light switch is recorded by the floor, and if the player moves into the same location as the lightswitch and runs a turnOn() method (I've thinking in Java, but the control software would be coded in God knows what), then the room lights up.

The Table and the People are objects. They have properties associated with them. For instance, the table holds an array of Collectibles. These can be anything, from a newspaper, to a plate of food, to goodness knows what. The table itself contains a chip which holds the details of its contents. If I pick up the table and put it in another room, the other room will say "Hey, here's a table with some objects on it". Memory, see.

Now, the people. Complex. You think my Person class was for a GA? Well, it is. But this is where its used. Each person has genetic characteristics controlling their behaviour, and appearance. "How do you change what a toy looks like?" you ask. Well, I've not told you about the magnifying glass yet. The Lego People have their genetics, and they also have their object arrays, for holding things. They then have another array - thoughts. This is what controls their actions and interactions. They have different drives and priorities. Again, these are all stored on a chip. The people have little motorised wheels on their feet, which are magnetised so they stick to the floor.

Now, here's how their environment works. The floor tells the central computer what objects are where in the room. The Software then controls the People, via an interface through the floor. It knows where they are, so it can get messages direct to just their locations. It tells them where to move, etc., based on what the thoughts of the Person is. In this way, the Person might get hungry, and go and use the cooker. Then go back to the table to eat. Imagine The Sims, but with real toys.

Now, how to expand this. How about a neighbourhood? You build your house from special Lego blocks, have your people interacting in it, fine. But what if you want to add new locations? Well, it's all modular, so that's easy. Just connect a path from one door in the house to, say, a shop. Your person can then go to the shop and buy food or something. You can build entire towns.

What can the people do though? Well, primarily, they can interact. They can talk to each other, exchange thoughts, that sort of thing. If somebody needs food, they can communicate that to another person, who will then perhaps get them food. Perhaps not. Depends on the psychology of that person.

Breeding. Here's the thing - two people together can make a child. So you buy a Child lego toy, and put the three toys into the Hospital module. The two parents' genes combine to make the genetic makeup of the child. This is then written to the child's chip, and allows it to have a unique design. Furthermore, you can then buy new blank People. You can age a child to one of these people by using the suitable module (dunno what that'd be), and the data is transferred from one to the other. You can have your child growing up.

Now, the fun bit - the child's interaction. You can do this with the Magnifying Glass - which is sadly likely to be expensive. You put the Person on the dais, and a screen shows what they look like. Obviously, as Lego sized people, they won't have many features. However, they do have real appearances - these are shown by the magnifying glass. Additionally, the child can have real conversations with the Person - for instance, it can tell the person that it's hungry. The child can then put the Person back into the toy world, he'll go to the shop, and buy pretend food for the child. Examining the person under the magnifying glass again will reveal that the person has bought food, and you can ask him to give it to you.

Basically, you can interact with the Person in the same way that they can interact with each other (except for the breeding function). This allows the child to build a world, put some people in it who can interact with each other. He can move objects about, pick up the people and put them in different locations, and basically play God. The child can then speak to the people in the world, and tell them to do things. He can move locations, and the software will help guide the people to the correct places. If the Person wants food, the software will use pathfinding algorithms to find the nearest shop.

In the most expensive case, you can have an entire world of this stuff. You can have children's play centres where they have entire towns built like this, and you can bring your own Person along and have him interact with others. In the cheap case, you can just have one Person, and a tiny (and simply programmed) environment to play with him in. You can build a room to your own design, and the software will guide the person around it simply.

Possible expansions include the ability to learn things, form friendships with individuals, and basically increase the human-like nature of the People. And what about a doll into which you could plug your Person - the doll could then be an extension of the person - like some huge exoskeleton thing or something, allowing further interaction with the Person, in the form of a larger toy. Anyhow, what do people think? It's just a silly dream, but I think it'd rule, and I'm sure kids would love it. And that's the important thing :o)


Log in

No account? Create an account