- Jack Preston: the Quantum Conspiracy
- Dive into the story
- Chapter 1: Tip-Off in the Big Apple
- Chapter 2: The Silicon Secret
- Chapter 3: Desert Mirage
- Chapter 4: Trek Through the Amazon
- Chapter 5: Showdown in Shanghai
- Chapter 6: Standoff in the Alps
- Meet the characters
- Jack Preston
- Arthur Brooks
- Lily Sanders
- Alex Griffin
- Victor Sterling
- Learnings of this project
🌧️ In just the time of a rainy weekend, with three young kids yelling around me, I created the plot, characters and graphical design of a new adventure video game in the glorious style of the 1990s.
To be fair, I had some help. My story writer is ChatGTP, and my illustrator is MidJourney.
- ChatGPT outlined the chapters, wrote the situations in detail, imagined exotic locations around the world, described a nice cast of characters, found a title and summarized a compelling pitch.
- Then, I asked it to write prompts for MidJourney, in order to create images of the game in the visual style of 16-bit screenshots.
- And MidJourney took over, generating dozens of screenshots of my new game, for each situation of the adventure.
After spending a few hours into iterating and perfecting the output, I am thrilled to present the new adventure video game of the year 1992:
Jack Preston: the Quantum Conspiracy
Here is the pitch, entirely written by ChatGPT:
Embark on a thrilling journey into the heart of the 1990s as Jack Preston, an audacious journalist in New York City's most prestigious newspaper, the Metro Herald. A mysterious tip-off plunges you into an international conspiracy that stretches from the gleaming towers of Silicon Valley to the verdant depths of the Amazon jungle, from the isolated tranquillity of the Swiss Alps to the vibrant, bustling streets of Shanghai. Your mission is to unmask Victor Sterling, a cunning CEO with ambitions of controlling a revolutionary quantum processor technology that could change the world as we know it.
Armed with only your wit and determination, you join forces with Lily, a tech-savvy hacker who can crack any code, and Alex, your athletic childhood friend with a heart full of courage. Together, you'll navigate treacherous corporate labyrinths, decode cryptic clues, and race against time to expose the truth. Along the way, you'll confront corporate henchmen, navigate foreign lands, and unravel a plot that threatens to shift the balance of global power.
In this epic 1990s adventure, every decision matters, every clue counts, and every moment is a step closer to unveiling the truth. Experience the thrill of an investigation, the suspense of a worldwide chase, and the satisfaction of justice served. Can you thwart Sterling's plans before it's too late? The fate of the world rests in your hands.
Dive into the story
Chapter 1: Tip-Off in the Big Apple
New York City
Jack Preston, a young journalist at the "Metro Herald," stumbles upon an anonymous tip regarding suspicious activities in the Sterling Corporation, a multinational tech company. Intrigued and sensing a major scoop, he begins to dig deeper. His research reveals connections between Sterling Corporation and some recent tech thefts. His director, seeing the potential for a big story, authorizes a full investigation. Jack forms a team with tech genius Lily and his best friend Alex, a sports enthusiast with unmatched courage.
Chapter 2: The Silicon Secret
San Francisco, California
The team heads to Silicon Valley to investigate Sterling Corporation's headquarters. Posing as IT workers, they manage to infiltrate the corporation’s research lab. They discover that the company is developing advanced technology far beyond the current era, raising suspicions. The team also uncovers an encrypted file that, when decrypted back at their hotel, reveals the next location: a Dubai bank, where evidence about Sterling’s secret project financing may be found.
Chapter 3: Desert Mirage
Jack, Lily, and Alex arrive in Dubai. They've learned that Sterling Corporation has a major stake in an bank here, but suspect the connections go deeper. After days of surveillance and investigations, they intercept a document that reveals Sterling has been funding illegal archaeological digs worldwide, searching for a single artifact - the quantum processor blueprint. Their next clue leads them to Amazon jungle in Brazil.
Chapter 4: Trek Through the Amazon
Amazon jungle, Brazil
The team ventures into the dense Amazon jungle following the clues found in Dubai. There, they travel to the nearest city and hire a local guide with knowledge of the treacherous jungle terrain. As they trek through the dense foliage, they face numerous challenges, including dangerous wildlife, unpredictable weather, and rough terrain. After several days of arduous travel, the team arrives to the hidden bunker, concealed by vegetation. Jack and his team carefully document their findings, gathering digital and physical evidence of Sterling's research.
Chapter 5: Showdown in Shanghai
Discovering technical evidence was not enough, since it’s impossible to understand without the help of a scientist who worked on the project. The team travels to Shanghai, to track down on of the original creators of the quantum processor blueprint, who was forced into hiding due to Sterling's threats. The scientist provides the final piece of evidence they need to expose Sterling - a confession and the original blueprint. Finally, they need to fly to Switzerland, where Sterling is hidden in a highly secured chalet in the Alps, to find the last piece of the puzzle.
Chapter 6: Standoff in the Alps
The team arrives in Switzerland and discovers Victor Sterling's secret hideout - a luxurious chalet. They infiltrate the chalet during a lavish party thrown by Sterling for his high-profile associates. Pretending to be guests, they navigate through a crowd of unwitting guests, trying to locate Sterling and the final piece of the quantum processor blueprint. Meanwhile, their tech-savvy companion sets up a secure link to broadcast Sterling's misdeeds to the world.
As the truth starts streaming across global news outlets, Jack confronts Sterling, revealing his true intentions to the startled crowd. In the ensuing chaos, Sterling tries to escape, but Jack and his team, with the help of some newly-turned allies, manage to apprehend him.
Meet the characters
A young, tenacious journalist from the Metro Herald, a famous New York City newspaper, Jack is known for his investigative instincts and relentless pursuit of the truth. He's witty, resourceful, and has a strong sense of justice.
A seasoned journalist and the director of the newspaperJack works for. He's been in the industry for decades, and his wisdom, mentoring, and experience are invaluable. Arthur is dedicated to finding and publishing the truth, no matter the cost.
A brilliant tech-savvy young woman who has an unrivaled ability to decipher complex codes and bypass advanced security systems. Lily is quick-thinking, witty, and always seems to have a solution for every problem.
Jack's old friend, a sports enthusiast with a knack for action. Alex is courageous, loyal, and has an uncanny ability to think on his feet. His physical agility and bravery often come in handy during high-stakes situations.
The CEO of Sterling Global, a multinational corporation. Victor is a formidable businessman who's willing to cross any line to get what he wants. He's cunning, ruthless, and has a grand scheme to monopolize a lucrative quantum computing technology.
Learnings of this project
Using the two most hyped generative AI tools was a good way to learn about their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating stories and visuals. They are not yet ready to totally replace writers and graphic designers. I had to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the details, and the results were not good enough to earn an art student a C grade, either in terms of technique or originality of ideas.
Here are my main take-aways from this week-end project:
- ChatGPT is good at crafting a story, if you want it full of clichés.
- ChatGPT 4 is not useless to generate MidJourney prompts.
- In MidJourney, achieving consistency between a visual style and a non-typically associated theme remains hard.
- With MidJourney, the more directive the prompt, the harder it is to reach a satisfying output.
I didn’t want an original scenario, I was looking for a typical adventure in the style of 1990s video games, and that was perfect. ChatGPT just generates the classical plot, exotic scenes around the world, and characters that you would expect, with the young fearless team of heroes, and the ruthless villains.
Now I'd like to create a vintage adventure video game, taking place in the current era. Imagine a storyline of an adventure that will take the hero, a young intrepid reporter working in a NYC newspaper, to an epic investigation around the world. He will start in NYC, and then gradually travel around the world in epic places. He will encounter a rich and power villain, CEO of a multinational corporation. This CEO wants to take control of some profitable technology, and is ready to take bad actions to pursue his goal. First, name and describe the main characters: - the hero, a young journalist from NYC newspaper - his director at the newspaper (good guy, middle-aged, experienced) - his first companion: a young women, smart, tech-savyy, whose computer skills will help the story - his other companion, a good friend, likes sport, action-oriented and courageous - the villain, CEO of a big corporation - other characters that the heroes will meet during the adventure Then imagine the 7 chapters of the adventure. Have a title for each chapter, describe the situation and outcome, describe the place where it happens. The first chapter happens in NYC, in the newspaper office. Several chatpers will happen around the world, in epic, exotic and mysterious places. For each chapter, include a "midjourney prompt" of the place, not too complex.
Imagine 3-4 technological artefacts that the villain would like to get, in the context of 1990
Now write a compelling pitch of the video game, and suggest 5 names for the game.
Version 3.5 struggles to generate meaningful MidJourney prompts, but ChatGPT 4 is much better, especially once being taught the exact format and pattern to use. However it’s not yet perfect, since it sometimes introduces character names, or irrelevant details that would be more appropriate to brief a human freelancer.
Start by asking it to provide examples of MidJourney prompts:
List a few examples of prompts for the image-generative AI MidJourney. It should be background scenes for a 1990 vintage adventure video game, in the 2D pixelated style. You should explicitely express the visual style in your prompts
Then you slightly adapt the format:
Remove the quotes and the final point. Forget the action verb at the beginning of each prompt. At the end of each line, append " --ar 3:4".
Finally, you ask ChatGTP to remember this specific format:
Very good. Remember this pattern as a "midjourney prompt". Ok ?
For now, it’s better to have more vague outputs and let the AI generate credible images typically associated with this era and style.
screenshot of a 1990s adventure video game, 16-bit
But if you want to force a specific scene with a style that does not naturally fit with the clichés of a certain visual style, you’ll get weird, inconsistent results, and you may lose a lot of time trying to rectify it with additional instructions.
screenshot of a 1990s adventure video game, 16-bit, modern hardware equipement, flat screens, iphone
Clearly, the current version is not yet ready to convincingly draw detailed elements of a scene. I spent hours in vain trying to reproduce actual scenes from the movie “Drive” in MidJourney, in the style of a 1990s adventure video game.
But it was a fail: it’s almost impossible to steer the output in the right visual style and with the precise elements that you ask. For example, I made dozens of attempts to recreate the famous elevator scene… with less-than-perfect results:
/imagine inside a spacious elevator, view from above, three video game characters, style of 16-bit screenshot from 1990 video game --ar 16:9
Let’s hope it will be easier in the next version 👍