What's the name of the planet again?"
"Unuk 4. Our Environmental Simulator doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.
Pria Lavesque and Ed Mercer[1]

An Environmental Simulator was a virtual reality system used by civilizations of the Planetary Union. The simulator's processing systems[2] used force fields and holographic projections to generate virtual environments.

The simulator was able to generate sights, sounds, physical sensations, and even smells - although Doctor Claire Finn remarked that it was "never completely accurate."[3]

Users designed programs containing interactive synthetic environments, objects, and virtual persons with customized personalities. The purpose of a simulator was primarily recreational.

Participants were protected from harm via safety settings,[4] or "safeties",[5] which could be turned off by the Chief of Security.[6]

Some facilities hosted multiple simulation chambers, such as the USS Orville, which had at least three simulators,[7] and Planetary Union Central, which had at least seven.[8] Chambers were identified by number, such as 'Simulator 3.'[7]

Description[edit | edit source]

Layout[edit | edit source]

Observed Environmental Simulators consisted of at least two rooms, with the first being the simulation room proper and the second housing the computer that generated the simulation.

The simulation room measured roughly 4.5 sq. meters (15 ft.); and was covered with lined panels resembling a graph, presumably for the computer to approximate relative distances and movement. Although users appeared to traverse vast distances in a simulation, users moved very little and the computer altered what was perceived to create the illusion of movement.[6] The computer could cause the actual exit door to appear in a simulation.[8]

The computer room observed the simulation room from above through one-way glass. It contained a monitor, keyboard, and access to the ship's simulator.[6] Bio-signs of any participant could be observed, such as levels of adrenaline.

Simulations[edit | edit source]

The Environmental Simulator was interactive with real-world consequences. Not only could users actually sense what is simulated through sight, hearing, smell, and touch, but a program could be adjusted to cause harm or even kill the user as well.[6] The simulator was limited, however, as users did not have costumes projected onto them; they had to show up in non-simulated costume.[6][8]

Simulated characters came with pre-programmed default personalities[9] that could be re-programmed at will by the player.[8]

Simulations were recorded in "playback layers"[10] by time index and could be played back by by the Chief of Security.[4]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Environmental Simulators seem to have been ubiquitous throughout Union space, as they were used in both official Union facilities and in popular recreational locales.

  • Union vessels - Environmental Simulators could be found in major Union vessels, although the only directly attested simulator placed in a Union ship was the mid-level exploratory craft, the USS Orville, which hosts at least three Enviromental Simulators.[7]

Programs[edit | edit source]

Programs were typically named for their creator, followed by a number.

  • "Beach program" - A simulation of "moonlight on the beach."[12]
  • "Bowling program" - A simulated bowling alley.[3]
  • "Boxing program" - A simulation of a boxing training facility.[13][14]
  • Bortus 486 - An erotic fantasy program featuring a large Moclan man, a campfire, and open terrain.[15]
  • Bortus 497 - The participant played the role of a prisoner sentenced to die the next morning. A Moclan prison guard coerced the participant into sex in exchange for release.[15]
  • Bortus 931 - An erotic fantasy program in a Moclan medical clinic featuring Doctor Gulnar.[15]
  • "Cove of Pleasure program" - An erotic fantasy developed by a friend of Lieutenant Unk, which contained a virus that compromised control of the Orville. The program featured a Moclan orgy in the "Cove of Pleasure:" a grassy knoll by a lake.[15] Ed later called it the "sex lagoon" program.[2]
  • "Cowboy program," Malloy, number unknown - Known as the "cowboy program."[16] Participants acted as United States Marshalls to face 19th-century bandidos in a gun battle. However, Malloy had tinkered with the program beforehand and the standoff turned into a dance competition.[17] Captain Ed Mercer stated the program was owned by both himself and Helmsman Gordon Malloy.[2]
  • "Dueling program" - A simulation of 18th-century France where participants dueled with flint-lock pistols.[13]
  • "Golf program" - A simulation of an Earth golf course. Isaac, Gordon, John, Bortus and Klyden have all participated in it.[18]
  • Grayson, number unknown - A program created by the time-displaced younger Kelly recreating a night club she enjoyed visiting on Earth in her own time. She later gave Talla a copy of the program.[19]
  • Isaac, number unknown - A recreation by Isaac of Doctor Claire Finn's favorite restaurant on Earth based on the Orville's database. Claire said the restaurant "feels like home."[3]
  • "Jerusalem program" - A simulation of the battle between Saladin and the Knights Templar holding Jerusalem. John LaMarr played the role of Saladin, with Gordon Malloy as one of his soldiers. As John understood it, both sides believed in the same god but differently, with different prophets, and so they went to war.[20]
  • Kitan, number unknown - A program created by Isaac for Chief of Security Alara Kitan to test herself. It is notable in that the participant could experience real harm and even death.[14]
  • LaMarr 3594 - A dating simulation with ten levels of difficult set in a bar. At level one, the participant met a simulated human named Danielle. At level eight was a dark-haired Xelayan woman who had just been dumped by her boyfriend and was tired of being hit on. At level nine, she was still dating the guy. At level ten, she was married and had a gun.[21]
  • "New York, 1945 program" - A simulation of New York city in the year 1945, immediately following the end of World War II. Cassius remarked that the program was so authentic one can smell automotive exhaust, and Kelly quipped, "I hope the safety settings cover lead poisoning."[4]
    • Kelly broke up with Cassius while on a date in this simulation.
    • Chief of Security Talla Keyali took Locar here and taught him to dance. When Talla was called away, Locar manipulated the simulator; he created an illusion that Klyden murdered him with a simulated PM-44.[4]
  • "Ogre fighting program" - A program belonging to Gordon, stored in Environmental Simulator 7 at Planetary Union. The player fought Justin, an ax-wielding ogre, in a samurai village.[22]
  • Shipmaster Qualification test - A practice test of the Command portion of the Shipmaster Qualification Program. Placed in the role of a Union captain of a vessel, the participant was pitted against a Krill commander to stop him from destroying the ship.[23]
  • "Tree program" - A large white tree in the middle of a field.[24]
  • "Unuk 4 program" - A recreation of the planet Unuk 4.[25]

Laura Alpha[edit | edit source]

One noteworthy program was Laura Alpha, a simulation set in the year 2015, created by Helmsman Gordon Malloy. The simulation recreated the historical person of Laura Huggins, her on-again, off-again boyfriend Greg, her friends Trisha, Lorenzo, Melissa, and Karl, and the world of Saratoga Springs, New York. Laura Alpha was simply an algorithmic reconstruction by the Computer based on the myriad text messages, photographs, and videos contained in Huggins' cell phone.[2]

In the original version of Laura Alpha, Gordon fell in love with the simulation of Huggins, who had recently broken up with Greg, and the two began a brief relationship. However, as the real-world woman returned to her ex-boyfriend, simulated Huggins returned to Greg as well and broke things off with Gordon.[2]

In a modified version of Laura Alpha, Gordon deleted all history of Greg. However, Greg had a profound impact on Huggins' personal growth, including her love of playing the guitar in public. Gordon realized that to remove Greg was tantamount to changing Huggins into a different person, and he discontinued using the program.[2]

Laura Alpha was run in Environmental Simulator 2 of the Orville.

Alternative uses[edit | edit source]

Gordon Malloy is the most frequent user of the Orville's simulator.

When the threat of irreversibly adapting to Earth gravity forced Alara to return to her home planet of Xelaya, Doctor Claire Finn and LaMarr devised a way for her to continue serving aboard the Orville with the creation of a finite area of stabilized synthetic graviton particles in Environmental Simulator 3. However, Alara stopped after her first afternoon of training.[26]

Simulator characters[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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