The Grant Scheme of Things

This month, we’re applying for a grant.  Full disclosure as follows, minus trade secrets.

Grindcraftia will allow users to configure any part of it.  In addition to modes like hardcore, survival, and creative, Grindcraftia will have a “meta” mode.  In meta, you have complete control over every aspect of the application.  You can change the color, size, shape, rotation, and position of things… almost every property, in fact.  Change names, layouts, labels, whatever you want.

I love Minecraft, but I think they only went a little ways down this path.  Like, I don’t know about you, but given the choice between an update for fish, and the ability to mod anything in the game I was playing, I’d take the mod option.

In Grindcraftia you can mod anything, even behaviors.  For instance, drag a behavior called “shoot and seek cover” onto an archer, and the archer will shoot an arrow, then look for a tree or something, and run behind it.

But what about modifying the behavior itself?  You can script your own behaviors and events, using a proprietary high-level subset of javascript.  So you can make that archer run zig-zag to the nearest cover.  Or maybe you want him to shoot two arrows and then run away.  Or you don’t want him to seek cover until he’s down to 1 heart.  Whatever you decide to do, it’s all done in-game, during runtime.  No IDEs to download, no tutorials needed, and no compiling.

When you’re done with your mod, upload it to the store if you want.  Players can try it out with one click.  They don’t have to download a potentially virus-ridden plugin, find the right folder, download Forge, make copies of the original file, and just hope it all works.   They just click and go, no matter if they are on a phone or desktop, or a browser on their grandma’s computer.

So, we’re totally turning modding on end, and opening the floodgates to all sorts of opportunities and trouble.

Ok, so what does all this have to do with a grant?

Well, all the above adds up to being able to do whatever you want to any app, not just a game, not just Grindcraftia.  You can change the look, layout, functionality, events, and more of any app which uses the framework.  All updates propagate in real time across all devices and OS’s.  Instead of weekly updates, there’s a storehouse of user-generated functionality to choose from.  The result is that anyone can modify the applications they use.  That’s powerful, maybe even scary.  Maybe it could be said, When everyone’s a programmer, no one will be.

But then think about hooking it all up to an AI and that’s skynet scary.  (If we can get it to work.)

These type of high-risk, high-payoff ideas are what institutions like the National Science Foundation like to fund.  So, if we get picked, you’ll be playing Grindcraftia a lot sooner, and probably learning how to code for a very crazy future.