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The inner workings of Memory Stone Detectors [16th anniversary quest]


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With the Golemus lab open to the public, I have found myself using memory stone detectors more often (yes, that is what they are called, and not memory stone collector like some people seem to think!). It is a fascinating tool, so I wanted to find out more about them... But the item description has been a huge letdown:

Spoiler

A fine mechanism with no apparent logic. In the right hands it can differentiate between empty normal stones and raw untainted memory stones. The difference is a very subtle one because all stones are memory stones at first..

Seriously, what the hell... There is no way I can be satisfied with that, so naturally I came up with my own theories regarding the composition and inner mechanisms of these tools. But I can't be sure how deranged they are, so I decided to post a quest to ask the public about their ideas on the matter. And, after a brief discussion, Chewett was nice enough to sponsor it. So, here it is: 

Your task is to explain how a Memory stone detector works. 

  • What does it look like? 
  • What are its various parts used for? 
  • Consider the connection between regular stones and memory stones... How is it able to differentiate between the two? 
  • What method does it use to detect memory stones? 
  • Why does it have such a long cooldown? 

You should answer the above questions, and add anything else that you feel like is necessary for a thorough explanation. Although it is not mandatory, you can even draw if you think it will help driving your point through (it doesn't have to be an artistic masterpiece either).

You should send your submission to me through forum DM, preferably with the title "[Memory stone detector quest]". It's not like there is any secrecy here, I just don't want people to draw ideas from others' submissions. I want to see how many different ideas you come up with, and whether there are any common themes in them (hopefully to determine how the detector works).

1 entry / person. So, please send your best one (though feel free to modify it if you come up with something better after you sent it). 

I will publish all of them in this thread once the anniversary is over. The deadline for submission is the last day of the 2021 anniversary. 

Entries will be judged by me, based on the following criteria: 

  • Attention to detail (the more thorough the explanation the better).
  • How "realistic" your idea is within the world/lore of MD. 
  • Uniqueness of the idea. 

Obviously, this is all very subjective. But I'm hoping we can all learn something from this quest. If I can't make up my mind, I'll ask someone with no stake in the contest to help determine the winner.

Now for the rewards:
(Sponsored by @Chewett)

1st Place: 1 Anniversary creature + 1 Wishpoint
2nd Place: 1 Anniversary creature
3rd Place: 1 Anniversary creature

Obviously, there will be no WP if there isn't at least 3 submissions. I may decide to throw in a bunch of coins for those who didn't make it to the top 3, if we really have a lot of entrants. 

This is all for now. Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

I'm rather busy at the moment, so I probably won't be evaluating your submissions until next week. 

Because of that, I'm extending the deadline until the end of this week (2nd of May, which is Sunday). So, if you wanted to do this quest but failed to do so, now is your chance!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The results are in! I'd like to thank everyone for their participation. Without further ado, here is the result I came up with: 

result_table.png.282e848f63b3c34360dc3e38ced1a6be.png

Allow me to explain the logic behind the scores. 

  • The winner is determined by total points. 
  • The "detail" column represents how well you explained your concept. Everyone starts from 10 points, the subtractions represent details I was missing (in most cases this was because you explained "how" a certain thing works, but not "why"). I also took into consideration how well you explained your concept relative to the other submissions. 
  • The "lore / realism" column also starts from 10 points, but in this case you get points subtracted for inaccuracies regarding how things work in MD, OR if the mechanism you describe is somewhat questionable in my opinion. Since nobody really knows how a memory stone detector works, this is a very grey area. And because of that, it's nearly impossible to get max points for this, so keep that in mind. 
  • The "Uniqueness" column has 5 points as a maximum (equal to the number of entries, so 1 point per entry). How it works is that you get 1 point subtracted for every other player who submitted a similar concept. There were only 2 cases like this, both of them used heat signals but other than that they are pretty different too... 

Also, please keep in mind that these things are very subjective. Just because you did not win this time, doesn't mean I do not like your design. Anyway. 

I will start posting the submissions in short order.

You have until tomorrow 23:00 server time to contest the result (11th of May). If nobody complains until then, the result will be final and I'll submit it to Chewett and I'll begin handing out rewards as soon as I can. 

Those of you who did not make it to the top 3 will get a 10 silver note each from me for your efforts. 

As for the submissions. When I came up with this quest. I was hoping for one of two things:

Either some kind of common theme in the submissions that would hopefully help us determine how the damn thing works.

OR

A different idea for each submission. 

The latter happened basically :D Even though 2 of the submissions use heat signals for detection, that's about the only things they have in common...

What this means I do not know, but it was a fun experiment regardless. 

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First off, a submission by @Demonic God. This guy is very thorough with his explanations :D Although the submission is very long, it did not receive first place for that alone, as you will soon see: 

Quote

Now, there are several parts to this (attempt of) explanation.

First, to understand the Detector, it'd be wise to take a closer look at the nature of memory stones.

They are stones that one can use to store spell casts. They can be compressed to create a stone capable of storing weaker spells.
As per the stone description itself:

  Quote

A thought-permeable stone, very common on any road. In the right hands this stone can be imprinted with a complex thought so that someone else could use that thought when needed.

  • Memory stone possess the ability to store "thoughts" and specifically, spells.
  • A compressed memory stone can store spells with less cast amount.

Studying further interactions:

  • A spell can't be stored with insufficient casts
  • The cutoff point is 5 spells - any less casts and you'd need a compressed stone.
  • The stone stores but a small amount of casts, 2 to 3. This does not seem to correlate with how many casts you have - even a spell with 50 casts will give just 2-3 upon enchantment.
  • The condensed tablet is capable of storing even spells with just 4 casts
  • The condensed tablet can only store the same amount of casts as a stone
  • One needs 80% of their cast count left to make a stone
  • A failed store does not degrade the stone

From these behaviors, I theorize that memory stones have a fixed capacity - and the compressed version simply enhances its "writability". Writing a thought to a memory stone would require repeated exposure to the spell itself - with repeated casts required to imprint a single cast.

The process to determine a stone as a memory stone

Trying to store a spell to it, and successfully, would certainly prove a stone to be a memory stone. This simple concept is not very useful - we want to obtain raw, untainted memory stones. However, certain things could be done to improve upon this method. Particularly, we require improvement in these aspects:

  • The method may not alter nor degrade the quality of the stone
  • The method must be able to fully determine if a stone is a memory stone, with high confidence
  • The method must miss as little memory stone as possible
  • The method needs to be fast and convenient

We can break these requirement into two separate methods working in conjunction:

  1. A method to quickly eliminate normal stones and detect potential stones
    • The method needs to have as low false negative rate as possible
    • The method needs to be able to scan extremely fast, ruling out as many stones as possible
    • The method needs to have a reasonable false positive rate, to reduce work load for method 2
    • The method needs to alter the stones as little as possible
  2. A method to conclude if a stone is a memory stone, with high confidence
    • The method needs to be able to confirm a stone as a memory stone
    • The method needs to not miss any memory stones
    • The method needs to not alter the stone in any way

These two methods, in conjunction, should be able to efficiently scan for memory stones. An indefinite numbers of intermediary methods could be added as further filtering steps for efficient mass production, if needed.

A conceptual design:

We rely on these two main characteristic of a memory stone to design the detector:

  • Memory stones are meant to store thoughts
  • Failure to store casts will not ruin a memory stone

This allows the possibility to purposefully try to badly store a thought into the memory stones, and observing the result. I'll take the liberty to skip over the exact interactions, different "thought" experiments (hehe, pun intended), and go into the immediate results:

  • The heat spell, granted by heat stones, is capable of slightly heating up memory stones.
  • The locate spell is capable of making the memory stones echo a strong signal that quickly degrade with distance

The heat spell will be used in conjunction with a sensitive heat detector to quickly determine stones that responded on a large scale.
The locate spell could then be used to ping each stone, and recording if there's a strong response.

Components

These major components forms the core working mechanism needed for a memory stone detector:

  • A thought broadcasting matrix capable of mimic the effect of spells.
    • A matrix capable of sending out a thought wave resembling the heat spell
      • This cannot be considered a functional spell
      • The matrix needs to elicit a heat response as strong as possible on memory stones
      • By designing a thought highly incompatible with the stones itself, the "thought" attribute lessen in favor of the "heat" effect, improving efficiency
    • A matrix capable of sending out a thought wave resembling the locate spell
      • This cannot be considered a functional spell
      • The matrix needs to be able to "locate" the stones itself
      • By altering the idea behind "locate" to an inanimate object, the spell causes a stronger "bounce" against memory stone, useful for detection
  • Sensory devices capable of analyzing the stones' response:
    • A heat detecting sensor
    • A signal analyzer
  • Amplification devices to enhance the matrixes
  • Focal devices to control the thought-broadcasting area
  • A passive heat collector, capable of gathering heat used to cast the spells
  • Feedback devices to alarm user of potential spell stones.
  • Various housing and interconnecting component

Mechanism:

  • Upon activation, the heat matrix sends out a pulse directly in front of the emitting matrix
    • The heat sensor will capture the immediate heat response - with stronger heat feedback indicating a potential memory stone
      • The feedback device will emit sound based on the captured heat response
  • The user collects stones with high probability
  • Each stone is tested individually
    • Each test consist of placing the stones on a pedestal
      • The pedestal is the focal point of the locate spell
      • The sensor is placed right below the surface of the pedestal to prevent signal decay
    • The focused spell is casted
    • The sensor records the response, and outputs a high confidence audio feedback.

Commentary

As all stones were originally memory stones decayed by the elements, many exhibit behaviors similar to memory stones under tests

As such, the components of a memory stone detector are highly sensitive, as well as a lot of data were gathered to improve testing accuracy

Needless to say, they are very complex and delicate!

 

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Second place by @Yoshi :

Quote

A memory stone detector is a very curious thing. The best way to describe it, is to call it an anomaly of sorts. It is both, at the same time, a very complex item, and also a very simple one. It looks very much like a weight scale, but it vibrates and hums and makes all sorts of noises. It seems to have no moving parts, at least on the outside. The inside however is very intricate with gears, tiny crystals, and tuning mechanisms. It is a somewhat rigorous process that occurs, especially if the detector has a difficult time to come to any stable conclusion. The more time it needs, the louder and more volatile it becomes to determine the outcome. With all of the vibrations and shaking, the detector needs time to settle down before it does its job again to mitigate any damage to the sensitive components.

There are various ways for raw untainted memory stones to differ between, what can be best described as 'used' ones. Size does not play a significant role in the determination, but rather the stones density. Memories can be both a great burden, but they can also be very uplifting. This affects the density of the stone, however minimal, and the detector, over time and use, gets better at its differentiating. Happy memories are normally light and positive, while sad memories weigh heavily. Thus the density of the stone gets changed accordingly. The density is determined by the weight and size of the stone, as the detector shakes and moves, and records the movement and behavior of the stone.

Another way the detector works, is through the use of vibrational resonance. The detector exposes the stone to varying degrees of vibrations to determine the stones natural frequency. Depending on the frequency it detects, through the use of various crystals and inner tuning mechanisms, the detector can determine what kind of memories the stone has been involved in, if any.  If the stones vibration comes back with near perfect pitch, then it was a relatively positive memory imprint. If the vibration comes back completely out of tune, then it was a relatively negative imprint. Neutral imprinting wavers between both. Raw untainted stones have very little vibrations, and what vibrations happen, are very dull.

There are perhaps other ways the machine works in it's determination, but I only know of these two. I am no expert in such things, nor would I be able to create such a device.

 

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Third place, @Pipstickz. One of the 2 people who actually sent me an illustration! 

Quote

What does it look like?
The Detector looks like a shovel, with two glass chambers on either side of the scoop that visibly react when it detects a memory stone with a small tunnel on the back side of the scoop.
    What are its various parts used for?
    &
    What method does it use to detect memory stones?
Held like a normal shovel, one simply scoops up a stone, and the dust within the glass chambers will clearly react if a memory stone is present. It is important to only scoop a single stone at a time, as this "sandstorm method" of detection can't tell you which stone in a group is causing the reaction. On the backside of the scoop is a small glass tunnel that connects both glass chambers and allows occasional transfer of dust particles. Sometimes this tunnel becomes clogged and must be shaken or tapped to dislodge any stuck or built up dust. The dual-chamber-tunnel design works to ensure that the dust only reacts to stones in the scoop, and not any that just happen to be nearby when detecting.
    Consider the connection between regular stones and memory stones... How is it able to differentiate between the two?
Stones whose "memory" has faded cause no reaction in the substance within the glass chambers and can be safely returned to their stone-homes if no longer needed.
    Why does it have such a long cooldown?
The "sandstorm" in the glass chambers takes quite a while to die down as the dust used for detection is quite light while the reaction to a memory stone is rather strong and imparts a lot of energy into that dust.

pips_drawing.jpg.09966456e5f4d75d4bb2e586e5e5e3ae.jpg

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4th place from @Kaya:

Quote

The Memory Stone Detector

In essence all stones are memory stones. Most stones, however, are too old, and stuck in their ways to be of much use for the sake of magic. What we need is a fresh, curious stone that is interested in learning new things. The easiest way to find them is by sending out random patterns of heat pulses, and listening for stones that repeat them.

The detector does just that. It's a simple split stick (like a dowsing rod), with intricate semi-random patterns carved on the outside. The pattern on the left side being the exact inverse of the pattern on the right side. You can use it by passing a small amount of heat through one side, letting it roll over the patterns to create a pattern.

When a stone returns this pattern it will be received by the other side, causing the stick to start vibrating, letting you know where to find the curious stone.

After it starts vibrating you need to let the detector rest for a considerable amount of time to ensure any residuals of energy are out of the receiving end to prevent interference.

 

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And finally, @Fang Archbane. I have to say, this design is by far my favorite. Essentially a magical roomba that detects memory stones on its own :D Too bad it lacked the level of detail some of the other submissions had. It was also the first entry, at which point I did not know what level of submissions I can expect, so I did not send it back for more details. On the other hand, I felt like it wouldn't be fair to send it back for reconsideration AFTER someone submitted a more detailed design (hell, I could have done that to everyone after DG submitted his...). So, here we are. A fun design regardless. I'd love watching this thing fall off a cliff, splash into a lake or enter the necro gate while you aren't watching... Anyway, here it is: 

fang_0.jpg.25dbbf2c75c5266fe6a35f277bbcf9be.jpgfang_1.jpg.d71f66dbb6a16317b31abfd890e933c9.jpgfang_2.jpg.7f3b173ab565bf470b00598bca4bbd61.jpgfang_3.jpg.1a88ffda7a45c8c1333d3ac971d72867.jpgfang_4.jpg.454e081b94bddd1943bd101413a6b725.jpg

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Unfortunately I was unable to scan this picture earlier, or take a picture of it. Even though it's late, and I don't suspect it will increase my score, I feel that I should post it nonetheless.

I would be curious in the breakdown of my submission, either on here or privately.

No description available.

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On 5/11/2021 at 12:09 AM, Yoshi said:

Unfortunately I was unable to scan this picture earlier, or take a picture of it. Even though it's late, and I don't suspect it will increase my score, I feel that I should post it nonetheless.

I would be curious in the breakdown of my submission, either on here or privately.

Yes, adding pictures won't change the score, I didn't want to make it a factor because many people don't like to draw. That said, thank you for submitting it :) 

Here is the breakdown of your score: 

Quote

Detail 8/10 - Pretty detailed description, more detailed than others in my opinion, but not quite DG level, which is why I gave it an overall score of 8. 

Lore/realism 7/10 - The mechanisms described here could indeed be used to detect memory stones, if they really worked in the way you described them (negative memories making the stone more dense, reacting differently to vibration frequency depending on their load, etc). I can neither confirm or deny these findings, but despite that they do sound plausible, which in my opinion would make it an 8. What I found lacking was the device's (in)ability to scan stones in large quantities or at least help finding the right ones without actively placing them on it. Since you already said the detector needs to "settle down" between scans, having to place stones on it randomly on top of that would make the process overly long in my opinion. So, I gave it an overall score of 7. 

Uniqueness 5 - A pretty unique concept, so no point deduction here.

 

Anyway, sorry for the delay, again. (I've been rather busy with the tax man lately.) I'll submit the scores to Chewett in a few minutes. 

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