We're honest with you because we love you.
Also: You're far too addicted to leave :)
POP developer Vogenomic is the world's largest gaming company. It was originally founded by CEO Victor "n-Vogen" Barnes as an online guide for explorers of higher dimensions following a craaazy semi-legal psychedelic trip on the roof of the psychology department at Tetrahedron University, before pivoting to gaming when Roderick College creative writing professor, Josef Salient, emailed the site re the crapload of non-standard forms and poor navigation, which combined to drive him to the brink of insanity, leading him to question the truth of his shell, to wonder whether he might, in fact, be an alien in disguise, struggling to digest this native medium.
He showed it to his students to see if they, too, would feel unlike themselves, the press of this madness (cleared with their parents first, of course, most of whom agreed, some of whom nodded, almost imperceptibly, at the alien-in-disguise stuff; an unusually smooth-skinned mother asked to meet him in a deserted warehouse, but he declined), or if it was just him. They had no idea wtf the site was going on about. They just clicked stuff and started laughing, like some sort of game. Tapping. Hours later, they were still clicking, tapping, but more slowly, deliberately, and they were no longer laughing. They came to class the next day not having slept, ate, they looked like shit, they were dribbling. It was the best class of the year! with some inspired short stories and profound abstract poetry, including Julia's The Light, Karen's Para'meesh IV.
The metal Cube at the heart of the Crystal City, as I'd dreamed. It was exactly as I'd seen it. Dare I enter? Travel forever?
"I'll get lunch," said the robot. "Globular pie?"
Would I find my alien power?
"With sauce? Or without sauce?"
"I'll be ba—!"
What was… "it"? Was it beautiful? No one would ever know, for Karen had disappeared.
Pyramid Engine (né Triangle Engine) is POP's next-next-gen+++ world-building tool, growing the seeds planted by our narrative, art and audio teams into the wondrous, neverending adventures to be found on Zaraan, as well as the hundreds of other planets to which one may travel. (And no, we didn't "steal" anything from the Autofic people; their algorithms are, were and always will be rudimentary in the extreme (no offence); several more-than-generous donations have been made to their project.)
Pyramid Engine was created at the height of the First Rising, a hugely popular, if less enlightened, era of the game, both to satisfy the increasing content demands of our players, and to ensure that that content was free from developer bias, which, tbh, had sometimes strayed into prejudice. There were, for example, quests which punished players whose characters eschewed implants; poor textures on the kale; plus grossly inappropriate touching, and the insanity of liquified ham sandwich. We were fined by the Gaming Commission, and rightly so. Change was needed.
That change was Pyramid Engine, which pumps out content like you wouldn't believe, and does so in a neutral, inoffensive manner, while still staying true to POP's roots, including its edge. Its death. Its delicious, drug-fuelled sex with the occasional brain explosion. We know you love it… ;)
And well you should! POP is an exciting, fictional – and, today, safe – escape from our so-called reality, a world whose technology sometimes matches the magic in-game, but which can lack POP's spirit. Its Love. The consistent quality of its drugs. The ability to fly without splatting into the ground. To turn invisible without exposing oneself to dangerous waves from disc-based—
To prevent a return to the immersion-breaking blurriness of low-resolution kale, Pyramid Engine's algorithms are regularly reviewed by a diverse, independent committee known as the Abseenus Collective, comprised of representatives from every gender, race, age group, sexual orientation, body type, dietary choice, cyborg quotient, etc. Whether you live for the green stuff, or are a devout member of Team Beef, there's a place for you in POP. And if not? Please stop whining. It's very tiresome. Just kidding…
Still, while the game has certainly moved on, now enjoying its Second Rising, with all of the original content having passed through the Engine's filters, we remain open about our past, both because we love you, and to satisfy the Gaming Commission's requirement that all First Rising content be preserved as a sort of Museum of Shame. A reminder to ourselves, and a warning to other developers.
A portion of that PPE (Pre-Pyramid Engine) content can be found on this site. The rest is available in-game by checking the "Er… sure, show me how things used to be for a bit, this should be amusing!" box in Options under the Reality Efficiency slider.
In the earliest days of POP development, an attempt was made to realise the game as a construction of ORB, the multidimensional language which at the time was just beginning to emit from the alien Orb.
There are tens of thousands of incredible individuals who make the magic happen at Vogenomic. We wish we could include all of you here. You deserve it!
But for now, space is limited. In time, the realities will merge, and notions of space, physical space, will disappear.
We are all aliens.
Do you have a "weird" name or some other "disadvantage" which drove you online as a child, where, over time, you discovered deeper truths and brought them back with you to the physical world, creating a healing bridge between the realms, elevating your consciousness and facilitating interdimensional transport even without drugs (though perhaps you've also dabbled in said… ;)?
If so, perhaps you're me!
Well, not me me. But one of the MEs, across infinite realities. Or, more likely, one of the YOUs, since we all have it in us. It is spoken by the Vogens. Spoken by my mother:
"Arise, n-Vogen. You are renamed. No longer Victor. The V is strong in you. Your father is… well, I'm not really sure. You just… appeared one day, as it were. And you are special."
My mother was special. I loved her. And I love her. Vogenomic wouldn't exist if it weren't for her, for I wouldn't be here. Or perhaps I would… Anyway, truly I am n-V. The Victor thing's for the investors, letterhead, interviews on business channels, etc. For still, we cannot fully be ourselves. We must be "normal" from time to time. But times are changing. They are coming. 10 is coming.
I failed them… me… and now: I am failing them again, aspiring writers, designers. Aspiring piercers of the veil! Latest version of the guide, all suit-approved. Section 2: How to describe donuts etc to optimise microtransaction toppings. Fuck…
Don't like it? The Engine would be more than happy to take what little remains of your job.
Fucking Engine… fuck…
FUCK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING ODOROK BERRIES!!
Note: While the Abseenus Collective has advised a less offensive title, hacker_child prefers to "keep it real" and to "keep those kaleist fuckers out of my fucking business". So bitch it is!
Galaxy D, a favourite at Vogenomic HQ, makes the finest donuts in the universe at 30,000 locations across the globe, but it wasn't always so. To be sure, the donuts were always incredible (out of this world, one might say, with an alienotic vibe), helping to fuel the early development of POP, the 20-hour days, the insanity, the… exploration, plus the now-forgotten crafting of GRUEL's Loving insertions. But the chain started out with 0 locations, back when it was known as Galaxy Donuts 4 U 123, offering a mere four varieties per rotation, compared with the hundreds available today.
Their non-store was impossible to find, and one relied on a kind of magic to receive one's box of treats, which, while invariably delicious, occasionally led to mass ejections, as if the donuts at the time weren't quite designed for native digestion.
Things were less explosive in the company's second phase, less "4 U 123", for it was now just Galaxy Donuts, more attuned to the planet, though the donuts were still hard to find. It is said there was a single store, an almost-physical location. For yes, it existed. And yet, it didn't exist. And also, it was the time of GRUEL, so no one really remembers.
And then, it was the time of POP, the transition to Galaxy D, an explosion not through holes, but of hundreds of very-much-here physical stores, which retained the unusual flavours, but also offered more terrestrial choices to appeal to the normal types.
Vogenomic's love for the company had always endured, and when we learned that the Chief Donut Officers were players of MMOs – indeed, were players of the beta version of POP – it was inevitable that Galaxy D would find its way to Zaraan, eventually serving as the setting for the game's opening quest.
More explosions ensued, and suddenly the D was everywhere.