A software engineer specialising in VR user experience is hired to debug design elements in a virtual reality environment known as the Substrate.
The Substrate is accessible by tuning to the level of consciousness between theta and gamma, attained by stimulating both sides of the mind magnetically to resonate with each frequency, creating a lucid dream like state.
The Substrate itself is a shared virtual environment built by programmers, housed on “quantum cloud” servers, populated with developers, plugged in beta testers and AI. Visually, its scenery and inhabitants range from Fight Club to Tron. The Substrate world is identified by its varying styles of rotoscope animation, like a strange dream, the effect of digital data being reproduced and rendered via the subconscious.
Because the Substrate has not yet gone live, its maps (some built to ape real world locations while others are green screen scifi/fantasy worlds) are mostly empty, giving the entire world an abandoned, too quiet feel.
In creating the Substrate, its designers have begun to weave together an internet of thought, where human and AI minds can interact, on servers spliced into the quantum fabric of spacetime. As he explores this world, the engineer begins to suspect that the mental dimension being populated by this new digital infrastructure may have existed prior to the Substrate, and appears to be occupied by another form of mind, not human or AI.
The Substrate is an ongoing web series 10-15 minutes per episode, featuring a mix of live action footage and rotoscoped animation.