Friday, July 23, 2010

Artificial Intelligence Decides Orcs Are Funny

Preamble To Weird Thing I Have To Ask You About:

Sometimes people want to know how I manage to make art full time, occasionally write a book or "perform" in a porn movie, DM games, direct, edit and produce a web tv show about some of those games while also leaving time to read all these goddamn gameblogs.

One of my time-saving techniques is: if I feel like reading stuff on-line, I cut the text, paste it into a note in the Stickies utility of my Mac and then press "Edit">"Speech">"Start Speaking". Then the program starts reading the text out loud to me (usually while I draw or paint or something) in a sort of Stephen Hawking voice.

I think the most recent verison software has something subtle programed into it--it's improved over earlier versions and doesn't sound quite as wooden as these things used to. It also has weird quirks like it'll sometimes say "Gygax" and sometimes say "Jigg-axe" . I'm not sure, but I think there's something in there designed to make the autoreader sense the inflection of the sentence.


The Weird Thing:

Try this:

Go to Jeff's post about his World of Cinder game.

Cut this bit:

(orcish arrows pepper the party)
Anyanna (quickly pulling on mask): Wait! Don’t shoot!
Orc #1: Who are you? What tribe are you with?
Amyanna: Uh… the Oonga Boonga tribe!
Orc #1: Hey, Lenny! Are we at war with the Oonga Boonga tribe?
Orc #2: What tribe aren’t we at war with? Mort, you ever heard of an Oonga Boonga tribe?
Orc #3: Can’t say that I have.
Reginald: Sleep spell!
Other PCs: Stabbity stabbity!

Paste it into Stickies.

Have Stickies read it to you.

Does you computer laugh after the line "What tribe aren't we at war with?"?

My computer fucking laughed. It has been reading stuff to me for months and has never laughed before, but I swear to god it fucking laughs at that line. Every time.

Try it. The little menu tells me I've got Stickies version 7.0.


  1. I'm using Mac OS X 10.6.whatever, and Stickies 7.0, and the voice Alex, and there's a quick intake of breath after that line, like a quiet chuckle. There's a couple of other places it makes that breathing sound, too, like right before the next line when it says "Orc #3".

  2. does it laugh at anything else?

  3. Nothing else in that snippet. And I don't generally use speech so I can't say I've noticed it doing it elsewhere.

    Maybe your computer is possessed. Have you been feeding it wizard brains?

  4. I was going to suggest switching to the fairly sexy "Vicki" voice even before I got to the part of your post about the laugh producing text. But yeah, no laughing here with 10.6/Stickies7. Unless I change the system voice to "Hysterical" that is.

    Unless the joke's on me of course. :(

  5. I can get something similar out of

    "What kind of fork do I like to eat with? Man, you ever eat with a really large fork?"

    Seems to want a couple of questions to get the inflection right, and the sentences need to be long enough to get it to make the breathing sound.

  6. Two things:

    First, long time reader, first time commenter. Twenty-plus-year gamer. LOVE this blog.

    Second, my Mac doesn't laugh, but that's probably because I recently installed a British voice (called Rachel). Although she may not chuckle, she nonetheless provides me with a James Bond-esque sense of satisfaction no matter what is being read.

  7. Since I am still currently a slave to Gates' Evil Empire, this is not a feature in my Stickies. Ho hum.

  8. Different voices for Speech. The things you can learn from the internet ...

    As for the laugh, I kind of head it also. More clearly with a cut and paste from the original text however.

  9. Sorry, nothing -- but then I've got 4.something.

    Did insist on calling the Oonga Boonga tribe the Oboona tribe. Donn'o why.

    But hearing the computer say: "Stabbity stabbity" was worth it. Maybe save it as a ringtone....

    "Stabbity, stabbity." Heh, heh, heh.

  10. Version 6.0 doesn't laugh. I'm bummed.