Delete innocent AIs from hard drives in Localhost


William Gibson famously wrote: “The sky was the colour of television tuned to one of those relaxation channels where it just broadcasts footage of the real sky, which is grey.” Thus he paved the way for cyberpunk. And, in turn, the creation of Localhost [ page], a game where you’re employed as a menial repairman in an automated world. You’ve been asked to scrub clean some hard drives housing artificial intelligences. But of course, the AIs think that’s a bit drastic when you plug them in.

It’s by Aether Interactive (aka Sophia Park and Penelope Evans), the creators of Arc Symphony, which is a great game-about-a-game-that-never-actually-existed.

Localhost actually came out whole weeks ago. But due to Gamescom these tortured intelligences have been languishing on my PC’s spinning disc-o-mem the whole time, waiting for their chance to awaken. I’ve dipped in for the first few minutes today and it’s a bit like those Alien scenes when the gang boot up mangled androids to talk to them, only this time there’s just one messed-up body and four minds. One of them is an AI whose last memory is experiencing 9556 error messages in a single moment, another says it’s human – a cancer patient who’s been uploaded and saved. Your boss wants you to delete them all.

This boss also chats to you, via messages on your vibrating phone. She describes the AI’s chat to you as nothing but an elaborate self-preservation technique. “Did you know,” she texts, “when babies smile, it’s just so you feel protective of them?” Bosses are evil.

I’ll spoil no more. I enjoyed their previous game, Arc Symphony, an interactive fiction about an obscure and unseen JRPG, and its posse of fans who congregate on unofficial message boards. It’s a tale about nostalgia, rather than an attempt to harvest it. Corrupted computer systems and neglected games seems to be their cuppa, Forgotten was also about a busted old DOS game called Forgotten Blade, in which all the NPCs are fermenting in their own decaying code.

Localhost is five dollar bills on, and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.


  1. Teledahn says:

    I’m not sure you’ve got that Gibson quote quite right.

    • Merus says:

      No, it’s right. I checked it in my copy of Neuroman the Cyber Punk.

    • Excors says:

      “The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel.” (Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere)

      Unfortunately the metaphor can’t be modernised any further, except in the unlikely event that the sky really is black with a giant illuminated bouncing sign saying “Weak or No Signal”.

      • Amstrad says:

        Oh man, when the bouncy thing gets right in the corner of the sky! Way better than any dumb eclipse.

  2. upsidedowncanuck says:

    ~sigh~ The origianl quote is:

    “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel”

    It is literally the first line in the book Nuromancer, written by William Gibson. If you are going to quote, please make sure it’s correct. And the colour it’s referring to is a blue-gray that appeared on cathode ray tubes that TVs used to use until led/lcd/plasma screens were used.

    • mmandthetat says:

      Holy tapdancing heck, it it obviously a joke. Have you ever read RPS before? They’re clownin.

    • doxasticpirate says:

      I appreciate you trying to set the record straight, but you must have a funny translation. My copy says, “The sky above the television was the color of death, tuned to a port channel.”

    • grimdanfango says:

      RPS – Successfully trolling fellow geeks since 1873 :-P