Steph. Don't mess with a hyper-intelligent Southern Girl.
J.R.: Folks, this is big. Here is an interview with Under a Bright Moon’s RazarKat, and it’s totes legit, and verified, as you will see after the chat.
J.R.: Thanks for your time, RazarKat, and let’s start with why you decided to come out of the shadows.
RazarKat: I was in a Discord with one of my favorite invaders in Elden Ring, and he started talking about your “The Two Decade Search for RazarKat” vidya. And funny enough, and don’t take this the wrong way, but he didn’t like your research.
J.R.: No offense. But it worked, yeah?
RazarKat: Heh. He said you should have appealed to my ego. Because I’ve stayed anon all this time, I “won,” and the decent thing to do would be to stuff the AI engine source into the open.
J.R.: Aren’t you outing yourself then to this guy?
RazarKat: Let’s say I’m not the only one who did naughty things in the early aughts. He’s a lawyer. He’d get fired from his cushy job if I got frosty. He knows that I know who he is.
J.R.: So it’s true? You were paid under the table in cash as a contractor, off the books, with illegal gambling proceeds from Peter.
RazarKat: Absolutely. It was a lot, too—into the felony territory. Yes, RazarKat was a felon.
J.R.: Well, your street cred has just gone up.
J.R. The big question on the table is, how does Under a Bright Moon’s NPC AI work?
RazarKat: It is an Impact AI. That is, when an NPC does anything, it creates an impact. Actions have a weighted score that determines how far that impact goes. Any NPC in the impact radius evaluates it with the NPC BaseLine or NPC-BL, and then an algorithm picks an action if it determines one should occur.
J.R.: And the NPC-BL is Needs, Motivations, Social Rank, Perception, Emotional State, Age, Sex, and Race?
RazarKat: Almost, but there is an optional NPC-BL—Aspiration. Some NPCs aspire to be something more than they currently are. But you notice GranGran in Sherdan with ten grandkids doesn’t aspire to be someone more, but she is motivated to see her grandkids regularly.
J.R.: So let’s see if I get this right. Something happens—the player does something—and that something has an impact radius that has various effects on an NPC as determined by their NPC-BL.
J.R.: And the Needs NPC-BL is where the AI keeps the NPC’s schedule and why NPCs seem to stick to a routine but can immediately adjust to changes caused by the player—or another NPC.
RazarKat: You got it! Back to GranGran. There’s a can on the road leading to her house, and you can kick it around. Kicking the can has an impact radius, but it doesn’t impact anybody’s Needs. Kicking the can doesn’t make anyone starve to death, or make them cold, or whatever. But you can, if you wait long enough, kick the can in front of the Courier. And since the Courier’s Emotional State is “bored,” he’ll play Kick the Can with you. It’s possible that if GranGran sees this, she will offer you both pie. She has a nurturing, feminine personality as defined by her Age, Race, and Sex baseline.
RazarKat: This is why the game is highly organic. NPC actions do not come from a script but from other actions. When encountering actions outside NPC-BL, the Fight-Hide-Flight response becomes a default.
J.R.: OK, things I’ve noticed over the years now make sense. This is all the more fascinating since I’ve witnessed a crow grabbing that can and flying away.
RazarKat: Really? I would have loved to have seen that with the debugger running because the can doesn’t have a narrative tag.
J.R.: I’ve obsessed over that stupid crow for hours, so I’ll leave that where it is. But that highlights that, while I have you here, I’m somewhat paralyzed with so many, many questions I could ask! But let’s make this about you.
RazarKat: My favorite subject, LOL.
J.R.: What motivated you to work on Under a Bright Moon?
RazarKat: That’s an easy one. I was going bat-poop crazy as a Stay-At-Home-Mom. My latest child was a toddler, so he wasn’t breastfeeding anymore, and my husband was spending half his time working from home. Well, those kids loved playing with their dad, would wake up at 6:00 AM, and they all would do whatever high-energy thing they would do, and even with a nap, they would totally zonk out at 8:00 PM. Adding housework and being friendly with the hubbster still left me hours of free time.
So, with DH’s urging, I put the word out I was interested in some contract work with the stipulation it had to be low-level, big-brain stuff, motivated by blowing the cobwebs off my Mommy Brain. And here we are.
J.R.: You’re… a girl.
RazarKat: Yes, last time I checked. Bwa.
J.R.: A gamer girl.
RazarKat: Big time.
J.R.: Well, now I know why all the female NPCs seem so real.
RazarKat: Ah, ah, ah! I wrote the NPC AI engine. Peter wrote all the narrative and NPC-BL attributes. And Peter is, as everyone knows, one Based Dude. While I did insist on having male and female baseline behaviors, he’s the one who plugged them in after I delivered the AI engine.
J.R.: I’m formulating a picture of the effort to make Under a Bright Moon. What’s your IQ?
RazarKat: I see where you are going. Peter, Eric, Sam, and I are all above 160. Eric didn’t even blink when I told him of the AI design and that despite its chunky boi list of features, it would run under min specs because I would write it in assembler. He said, “Good idea.” Sam, of course, with his 3D engine, needed All the CPU and All the Memory.
J.R.: Lightning in a bottle.
RazarKat: Lightning in a bottle.
RazarKat: Peter and I are polymaths. Eric could propel his car through force of will alone, and Sam—well, we all know Sam was, and still is, the best graphics programmer out there.
J.R.: And it’s 2024—nothing has beaten Under a Bright Moon for a character-driven RPG since.
RazarKat: And never will.
J.R.: How so?
RazarKat: Under a Bright Moon is a fully realized sandbox RPG with a medieval fantasy aesthetic. Because people in our Western Society are getting dumber, not more intelligent, there won’t be any other paradigm shifts—end of the line.
J.R.: Well, isn’t that depressing.
RazarKat: Not really. Take modern artwork—it’s trash. Modern architecture is trash. Our systems of government are trash. Capitalism paired with Democracy turned out, in the end, to be trash.
RazarKat: But you can admire and even recreate that old artwork. This is important—we were made in God’s image and then Fell. Enlightenment isn’t our end goal. It’s an inversion to think something perfected in the past, like a beautiful oil painting technique, can be improved.
RazarKat: You can take that concept to modding games like Moon and New Vegas—the last New Vegas mod I ran was more engaging than Baldur’s Gate III. All BG3 is a cut-scene transition game. Sure, they have a good narrative with some good redemption arcs, but they left so much off the table ten years from now all you will remember are the cut-scenes. While Under a Bright Moon, people have a hard time articulating which part of the game is their favorite—but they all remember balling their eyes out at the end as Peter gut-punches you with the conclusion of your own-led hero’s journey where you eventually come to the end of a story about loss and grief and forgiveness.
RazarKat: I didn’t mean to go into a rant about BG3. But come on, folks. It’s a game about survival. God made us to do more than survive. Survival is mediocrity, as is BG3. I don’t want to save Baludr’s Gate. I wanted to mold it into something better beyond scripted improvements to my companions.
J.R.: But BG3 and games like Star Citizen are independent. There’s still hope for progression, yeah?
RazarKat: Sure, but where I was going before I went on a BG3 rant is good games don’t need to make a lot of money. Why would a creative game developer want to make a game rather than a cool mod? To be bought out by Arts Electronica or the Big M and have your next game ride the quarterly profit machine into the Sewer of Mediocrity? That’s depressing.
J.R.: Peter was quoted saying that he’s moved on because most gaming studios are retarded.
RazarKat: And he was speaking literally. Talking to people in the game industry for Peter and I is like you talking to someone with Dow Syndrome. And they document their retartedry on X, trying to translate their tard platform into sales.
RazarKat: Sorry. You’re right; it’s not all bleak. I love games like Elden Ring, Sekiro, Dark Souls, etc., and any skills-based game with a semi-good narrative. I guess I have the same problem that Eric and Peter talked about years ago—we were expecting someone else to take it to the next level and make great Western RPGs so we could play them. And then we get crap like Skyrim, which was objectively worse than Oblivion, which was worse than Morrowind. And don’t get me started with Fallout 4. What a stupid phoned-in narrative with moldy gameplay that was. Fallout: New Vegas is still, after all those years, twice the game it was.
J.R.: You’re preaching to the choir, Sister!
J.R.: While we’re ranting, what are your regrets on Moon? Would you do anything different?
RazarKat: Heck ya, I would. Two things. First, Eric and I spent waaaaaaaay too much time worrying about what is now known as Murder Hobo Syndrome. We both played MMOs where it was “kill everything,” we were genuinely worried that all of Peter’s work was going right into the toilet by players just murdering everything. So, all the Impact AI features to spread the player’s nefarious deeds in the context of the fantasy world mainly went to waste.
RazarKat: There is no “faction” attribute beyond actual membership in organizations. Moon’s simulation is based on observations of actions. So the Gossip Fae Crows, the traveling merchants, the Courier, the patrols, the Rangers, the telepathic Kitten Snakes, etc., all are coded to spread the word of your evil deeds far and wide, and that will cut your game short, usually by the Silver Dragon or even Miri Death Maiden.
RazarKat: And that code sits unused in almost all play-throughs. Because the AI engine unshackled Peter’s time to write characters rather than script characters. His NPCs are so compelling players just don’t murder them unless they feel they have to.
J.R.: That’s hilarious.
RazarKat: It is now, but back then, it made me mad, hahaha.
RazarKat: My second regret is the morality system. Peter based it on Tolkien, and Tolkien wove Catholicism throughout his books. But, over the years, I regret not having an, shall we say, “Objective Source Morality.” That is, using the Holy Bible as the objective source of truth in what is right and wrong and what is good and evil. Peter compensated, I think, with his narrative, and his NPCs are written with a Western-style Christian morality. But it’s one thing to write a story with morality and quite another to have a moral code as a primary behavioral baseline. If I had done that, I believe NPCs would have seasons of growth in becoming better people, along with naturally occurring redemption arc quests. It would have been organic and unique.
J.R.: It would also be bigger than life, as many people have a hard time viewing their improvements as a person because many people have stopped measuring themselves based on Christian tenets.
RazarKat: Well put for a GenY guy.
J.R.: All my Boomer relatives don’t speak to me, so it’s a veil-lifting.
RazarKat: LOL, don’t get me going on a Boomer rant; we’ll be here all day.
J.R.: LOL. So, what are you going to give us?
RazarKat: I can’t give you the source code of the AI engine because nobody has it—Three Amigos Studio backups were all toast in the infamous fire. Before that, Eric paid me 100K just for the promise of deleting the code in the guise of a bonus after Under a Bright Moon sold a bazillion copies in 2005. But even if I had it, I wouldn’t release it; that would give the AAA Corpo-Hacks a freebee to continue exploiting the past rather than innovating.
RazarKat: But I can give you the crypto-keys that will let you use the engine outside of Under a Bright Moon, along with the complete BL attribute list. So, any modder to any game can use the AI engine’s API, which has been locked down since forever. You’ll need to install Moon, and then you can access it without running Moon—the keys allow AI.EXE to load standalone. The EXE will access other Moon DLLs, so if you don’t have the complete game installed, it won’t work.
J.R.: Right on! So, Eric and crew get their cuts, and the MBA wonks can’t use it. And Eric is OK with this?
RazarKat: It was his idea in 2015. I told him to talk to Peter about it, and Peter told him how statutes of limitations work and to give it more time. Then, we all collectively moved on and forgot about it.
J.R.: So you gave me 355 keys?
RazarKat: As other people have guessed, you need a key for every day, but where people go wrong is that it’s every day of the lunar year. So you have 354 keys for that. Then, you have the “Gate Keeper” key to pass the correct lunar key. That’s why Moon barfs all over itself when your computer clock has an issue, as the first thing the AI does is check for the correct key translated and transformed from your clock.
J.R.: So why this system?
RazarKat: Well, beyond the reasons to conceal ground-breaking tech, in Under a Bright Moon, the only days that count are based on the moon’s phases. The world’s magic system is so systemic that for the PC to have its own story, the game needs to understand what time it is from the perspective of the moon rotating around the game world.
J.R.: So that’s another reason for the celestial mechanics in Moon.
RazarKat: It was the primary reason. I wrote the engine in assembler; I put the code behind a veil of noise. Not only did you need the master keys and then all the other keys, but also the order in which they were accessed, which required an understanding of astronomy.
J.R.: Well, on behalf of Under a Bright Moon’s modding community, you have my heartfelt thanks!
RazarKat: You’re welcome!
J.R.: From a practical standpoint, however, only Moon Modders will use it.
RazarKat: I disagree. While this is a simplification, consider AI.EXE a state machine and all the AI DLLs as stateless microservices. They don’t have anything to do with the game world per se—because there was always the chance they would use it for a different game. Its only limitation for use is legal. Three Amigos may have died in a fire, but Eric, Peter, and Sam still own the game, and Peter has proven that he has a command of the legal system and is vicious. He had that wheelchair-bound stalker thrown in prison while suing his parents into oblivion. He didn’t even blink while doing it.
RazarKat: I believe it’s a matter of time to see every NPC in Fallout: New Vegas on the NPC-BL with AI-generated VO, and some big brain will reverse-engineer the feature code and do the engine in something like Rust. Even if Eric patented the AI engine, it’s been 20 years since the game went gold. Reverse engineering the functionality will also let modders get around the inherent bugginess of Intel’s latter chips.
J.R.: I see your point.
RazarKat: Before I go, a word of caution. Remember that lawyer I talked about? Well, being Gamer Girl and him being Gamer Chad, he eventually reached a point where he was like “Tits or GTFO.” So, I taught myself hacking, and one week later, I sent him a picture of boobs—his wife’s boobs. Finding out who he was and hacking his footprint was almost absurdly easy. He got the message, and that’s a warning to all you obsessive autists, Reddit gamma stick bundles, and the Woke stalker brigade. Like Peter, I will destroy you if you use anything I’ve said here to try and ferret me out, and my bots and honeypots will ensure that happens before you find my IRL name. Momma Bear can think of worse things than have you sent to prison.
RazarKat: My lawyer buddy and I will burn our current game personas. While there is no link between RazarKat and my other game accounts, just in case I give something here away, it will all go poof.
J.R.: Noted. Before you go, speaking of getting spicy, can you comment on the persistent rumor that Eric, since he previously worked for the government, created Under the Bright Moon as a front to use advanced software for intelligence agencies?
RazarKat: Hahaha! That’s some funny crap right there. Eric is Eric. Of course, he had a military intelligence career. But no, think of what you’re asking in the context of the world we live in. The USA was chased out of Afghanistan by a bunch of goat herders, and Putin destroyed NATO by proxy while elevating his tech and industrial output to unseen heights. And so on and so on. By all objective measures, the American Empire has screwed the pooch on almost every measurable thing that can be measured since Moon’s release. There is zero use for any of Under a Bright Moon’s tech for anything the government does. They’re not that smart, and really, never were.