4. Engineering a Body – The Skeleton (Part 2)
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"System, I would like to try out the modified avatar. I want to know how the changes feel."

A button appeared in Floras User-Interface. She took a deep breath and pressed it.

She felt her skin, meat, and organs vanish and caught a glimpse of her hand. White skeletal fingers clenched and then fell apart.

She tried to curse, but that proved difficult without vocal cords.

The world went black, and a moment later, she was back in her original body. She stared at the bare-boned avatar.

'Forgot to add the other layers back, before testing ... I guess I got a bit too excited, well.' The encounter unsettled Flora. You don't experience everyday dissolving into bones and then collapsing.

She created a savefile of the avatar. Then she opened the original avatar. Newbies would just have replaced the bones, but that would displace the soft tissues in the space where the bones had a different shape. An advanced user like Flora knew a better method. She created a transform sequence, which allowed the old bones to morph into the modified form. The benefit was that the tissues moved with the transformation. Of course, even that method wasn't perfect. She expected bruising or maybe even internal bleeding. After creating another save file, she watched the avatar concerning these problems.

'Looks good. Ready for test 2!' She smashed the button enthusiastically.

Immeadly she felt 20 years younger. She rolled her shoulders and hips and did a few jumping jacks.

"System, add a note to this savefile: Good mobility, less pain, no bruising noticeable."

She stopped the test.

"System, please change the shirt of this avatar to one with the print 'V0.1'. Could you animate it to do continuously jumping jacks? I want to see if there are any longterm problems."

System complied with her wishes, and now two of her avatars occupied the workspace: the skeleton and the jumping V0.1. Of course, the S rated female model was still there, too.

Flora pointed to the mandible in the skeleton avatars head. "System, please show me a model of this bone with the best material."

"Because of privacy concerns, all data shown must incorporate at least 1000 individuals."

"I know, dear. When I say 'show me the best', treat it as if I would have said 'show me an aggregated version of the thousand best', if displaying the real best violates the rules. Accommodate grammatical variances."

She forgot how arduous it was communicating with AIs.

After the model of the mandible appeared, she selected a layer of the bone and a similar segment of the bone of the avatar. Then she exchanged the material of the avatar with the content of the model.

Flora repeated this approach for all the bones and all cartilage in the head.

Only then she noticed that V0.1 had stopped jumping. Not only that, it was stock-still.

"System, why did you stop the animation?"

"The avatar died of exhaustion. I didn't restart the animation, because you wanted to monitor the condition of the avatar."

"Good job!" Flora praised System because he got that right, but she was still dismayed that her avatar had perished.

System even told her the reason for the death; it was exhaustion. Flora didn't know that this was even possible and System elaborated.

"In Cetviwos, CentralTank virtual worlds, everybody has a stamina pool. The stamina pool can be overdrawn according to the strength of the avatar, but if it exhausted the player gets defeated."

"The animation ran at most 10 minutes. In the real world, I would probably die of a heart attack, but I expected more from a game."

"After finishing the character creation, the character attributes will be normalized. Additionally, free stat points will be given to you to distribute, and identity-related modifications will be possible. These adjustments will elevate the attributes of the avatar. Therefore your stamina pool will get bigger, and you can last longer."

"I understood every word you said, but none of the sentences ..." Flora sighed. "What attributes do I have? And please include their rating or value or whatever."

"We stopped publishing the rating of the attributes because people got offended. The same goes for the original values of their attributes. Our process to determine these values is crude. Thus to some extent, the complaints were justified."

"Just spill it. I'm a big girl. I will get over it."

"The following table is a list of attributes. The first column is the official name of the attribute. The second column is the unofficial name users may know from other games. The third is your rating. The fourth is the level value. The fifth is the operative value."

Attribute Streetname Rating Attr Level Value Operative Value
Physical Power Strength E 2 4,2
Physical Macro Control Agility D 1 3
Physical Micro Control Dexterity B 6 7,3
Physical Vigor Vitality D 3 5,2
Physical Regeneration Health and Stamina Reg E 2 4,2
Physical Defense Toughness E 1 3
Physical Perception Sensory Awareness B 6 7,3
Attribute Streetname Rating Attr Level Value Operative Value
Magical Power Intelligence F 3 5,2
Magical Macro Control Modeling/ Focus S 23 14,4
Magical Micro Control Intend S 24 14,7
Magical Vigor Mana F 24 14,7
Magical Regeneration Mana and Concentration Reg F 24 14,7
Magical Defense Resilience F 0 0
Magical Perception Spiritual Awareness F 0 0

 

Table of derived attribute pools:

Pool Calculation Value
Health Operative Physical Vigor * 10 52
Stamina Operative Physical Controls * 10 103
Mana Operative Magical Vigor * 10 147
Concentration Operative Magical Controls * 10 291

 

'Agility 1! I will not be offended. Toughness E! I will not be offended. Perception B! I'm a big girl. Dexterity 6! I will not be offended. Intelligence 3?!! Where is my army of lawyers? I will sue the shit out of this dunce! He will be toast! Um, I mean, I'm not effing offended! And what the heck is this 'operative' stuff? '

Flora exercised her breathing and swallowed the curses that she would love to throw at System.

"We will postpone the discussion of attributes after the character creation." Flora decided, but then she had a thought. "Did my changes to the avatar influence the table?"

"Yes."

Flora rolled her eyes and urged him to elaborate.

"The rating of physical vigor rose from E to D, and the value from 2 to 3."

"Yes, baby!" Flora pumped her fist. "Now back to my avatar, I changed with my fancy magical model skills of 23. How do you rate the skull before and after the changes?"

"C original, B in V0.1, S latest changes."

"Yes, baby part two!" She fist-pumped again, but then she noticed the still motionless V0.1. 'Let's look at that beauty.'

She inspected the avatar layer by layer and found no internal bleeding.

"System, resume the jumping jack animation. Pause the animation before defeat and let, um, whatsit regenerate, then continue the animation and repeat."

"Stamina."

Flora nodded. She copied V0.1 and gave it a V0.11 shirt. After that, she transferred the changes of the skull and tested the avatar. 'My head feels a bit heavier, but it could be my imagination.'

She proceeded with the modification of the skeleton. Every bone and cartilage got its material upgraded. After each significant step, she interluded a short test.

Finally, she finished the skeleton and transferred the changes to avatar V0.17. Her workspace had gotten crowded. To tidy up, she deleted the jumping avatars V0.11 to V0.16 after checking them for injuries. Then she took a step back to look at her work.

"What do you think, System?"

"S"

"Not bad, but I believe I can do better." She smirked. "Now we play 'better or worse'. I will make changes and ask your opinion. Let's save my spit. I will just ask 'And?', then you will judge whether it is better or worse. If it is worse, you will reverse the changes by going to the last temporary save file. If it is better, you create a new temporary save file."

First, she reinforced the back and the top of the head.

"And?"

"Better."

Then she fused frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal and sphenoid bones into one.

"And?"

"Worse." System undid the fusion.

So she went over every bone again looking for ways to optimize them subtlely. If the shape of the bone was too flimsy, she reinforced it. If the cartilage was to thin, she thickened it. One rib she completely replaced just to test if her body would repel it. When the waggishness overcame her, she added an 11th finger or bone spikes on the arm. Luckily System reversed the more excentric changes.

"Alright, System! Please rate the skeleton."

"SS"

"Yes, baby part 3!" Flora did a little happy dance. She created V0.18 and tested it.

Her movements where smooth and her hump was gone. Now, she was sure, that she was heavier, but guessed that it would regulate itself when she added better muscles. The hours spent modifying her skeleton were worth it.

After basking in the glory of a superior body, she opened the web browser to look up ligaments. She found out that the human body had over 900 ligaments. Her mood turned sharply.

"System, is the time in the character creation restricted?"

"No."

"Please give me a comfy couch and a fluffy blanket. I'm gonna take a nap!"

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