Brainstorming with AI

Skateboard decks on a wall
Apr 18, 2024

I recently listened to the Ezra Klein podcast ”How Should I Be Using AI Right Now?”, which was interesting in how they discussed how different the various AI models are. Now I have a lot of mixed feelings about AI in general. There are a lot of negatives: how it amplifies the enshitification of the information on the web, how it leads to devaluing of creative labor, and the bomb it is throwing into education. At the same time, I have definitely found it useful as a coding helper.

I’m not going to go into all that though. Instead, I want to talk about using it as a brainstorming helper. Last night, we had our regular game of Slugblaster hoverboarding dimension hopping teenagers — highly recommend this game btw! I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try out different AI models for brainstorming session ideas.

Here is the question I asked:

Hi I’m working on an adventure for a game called Slugblaster about a group of hoverboarding teens who can jump between dimensions. In their last adventure they got back from another multiverse where they met their dopplegangers and ate burritos — there are no burritos in their home multiverse. They created a portal to get home and drove a taco truck through it. When they got back to their home dimension the portal shrunk down to burrito sized, so now they have a taco truck and a portal they can request and receive burritos from. They landed right in front of their high school just as the end of the day bell rings. How do the other teens and teachers and principal react to all this?

I went and asked this same questions to a number of different AI Models. Here is ChatGPT 3.5:

ChatGPT 3.5’s Response

The other teens, teachers, and principal are initially stunned as they watch the hoverboarding teens emerge from the portal with a taco truck. Some students cheer in excitement, while others whisper in confusion. Teachers exchange bewildered glances, and the principal rushes out to assess the situation. As the hoverboarding teens explain their wild adventure, reactions vary from disbelief to amusement. Some students start lining up for burritos, while others are skeptical. The principal, after a moment of processing, decides to embrace the unexpected turn of events and declares it a day of celebration, allowing everyone to enjoy the newfound taco truck and the fascinating story behind it.

Pretty basic and dry. Let’s try the upgraded version ChatGPT 4.

ChatGPT 4’s Response

In the game “Slugblaster,” your hoverboarding teens’ return from another dimension with a taco truck and a burrito-sized portal presents a fantastic opportunity for some dynamic storytelling and character reactions. Here’s how different characters at the high school might react to the teens’ spectacular entrance:

  1. The Principal: The principal is likely the first authority figure to react. They could be a mix of baffled, concerned, and curious. Maybe the principal, who has a reputation for strictness, sees this as a major disruption but is secretly intrigued by the dimensional technology. Their main concern would be safety and ensuring that school policies are adhered to, even in such an unusual situation.
  2. Teachers: Different teachers might have different reactions based on their personalities and subjects they teach:
    • The science teacher could be utterly fascinated, asking the teens detailed questions about the physics of dimensional travel.
    • The gym teacher might be less interested in the science and more in how the taco truck and portal could be used in the next school event.
    • The arts teacher could see this as a form of performance art or an inspiration for creative projects.
  3. Fellow Students: The student body would likely react with a mixture of excitement, envy, and skepticism:
    • Some might crowd around the taco truck, eager to try out the exotic burritos from another dimension.
    • The popular kids might see this as a new trend and try to befriend the protagonists to increase their own status.
    • Skeptical students might doubt the true origin of the truck and portal, assuming it’s a prank or a staged event.
  4. Student Rivals: If there are any rival groups or antagonist students in the story, they might react with jealousy or attempt to discredit the protagonists’ achievements. They could spread rumors or challenge the protagonists to prove the authenticity of their adventure.
  5. School Journalists: The school newspaper or media club members would likely be all over this story, interviewing the teens, taking photos, and perhaps even trying to document the burrito portal in action.
  6. School Security: If there’s a security team at the school, they might be in a dilemma about how to handle the taco truck and the crowd it attracts, concerned about safety and unauthorized exits or entries through the portal.

These reactions can lead to a variety of potential storylines, such as dealing with school fame, handling the responsibilities that come with possessing a dimensional portal, or even using the portal as a plot device for further adventures. This event could also attract the attention of external forces who might want to explore, exploit, or shut down the portal, setting up future conflicts and challenges for the teens.

Ok so this is more “stuff” but again it’s blah. The bullet pointed list sounds like a well meaning intern without an ounce of creativity. The only idea I found interesting is the part about having school journalists interviewing the protagonists. Let’s try the base version of Google’s Gemini.

Google Gemini’s Response

The scene at the high school explodes with a mix of confusion, awe, and (of course) hunger. Here’s a breakdown of how different groups might react:


  • Confusion: Most students will be stunned. A taco truck appearing out of nowhere is already strange, but then there’s the lingering question: “What’s with the glowing portal on top?”
  • Awe: The adventurous teens will be wide-eyed. A portal? Hoverboards? Taco truck access to another dimension? This is the coolest thing ever!
  • Hunger: The aroma of delicious tacos wafting from the truck will instantly attract a crowd. Lines will form faster than you can say “guacamole extra.”
  • Social Media Frenzy: Photos and videos of the portal truck will go viral instantly. Local news might even show up. The hoverboarding teens are about to become local legends.


  • Principal Aghast: Principal Stricterson will not be amused. A random taco truck? A glowing portal? This is a major safety hazard and a violation of school grounds! He’ll probably threaten to call the authorities.
  • Science Teacher Amazed: Ms. Frizzle (every school has one!), the science teacher, will be fascinated. This could be a breakthrough in interdimensional travel! She’ll be begging for a taco (and maybe a peek through the portal) in exchange for keeping Principal Stricterson at bay.
  • Other Teachers Puzzled: Most teachers will just be confused and concerned. Some might even be a little scared.


  • Overprotective Panic: Some parents will freak out, fearing for their children’s safety near this “dimensional food truck.” They’ll be calling Principal Stricterson, demanding answers.
  • Chill Parents Intrigued: The cooler parents will be curious about the whole interdimensional taco adventure. They might even ask their teens for a bite (and a story).

Overall Chaos:

This is a recipe for a hilarious scene packed with chaos and confusion. The schoolyard will be buzzing with activity. Students will be arguing about who gets the first taco, teachers will be trying to maintain order, and Principal Stricterson will be running around like a headless chicken. Bonus points for:

The hoverboarding teens having to explain their adventures to Principal Stricterson (good luck!). Using the portal for strategic purposes during the ensuing confusion (sneaking out detention, anyone?). Parents trying to understand the concept of “interdimensional burritos.” This is just a starting point, of course! Feel free to add your own twists and turns to make the scene even more exciting and funny.

Clearly, Google’s Gemini really likes it’s bullet points. It’s not quite as dry and uses colloquial language to get more in the spirit of things. There is also a bit more of an attempt at creativity here with some ideas for NPCs and what they might do. I like the part about the science teacher Mr Frizzle. I didn’t use it but it’s good. Ok now let’s try Anthropic’s Claude 3 sonnet.

Claude 3 sonnet’s Response

Here’s one way the zany scenario of the hoverboarding, dimension-hopping teens returning with a taco truck and burrito portal could play out at their high school:

As the final bell rings, students pour out of the front doors, chatting and making plans for the afternoon. Suddenly, a strange rumbling sound draws everyone’s attention to the front parking lot. Jaws drop as a beat-up old taco truck comes barreling through what appears to be a shimmering portal in mid-air!

The truck skids to a halt, narrowly missing a group of stunned cheerleaders. The side door opens and the familiar faces of the Slugblaster crew pop out, munching on bizarre-looking burritos.

“Whoa, did you guys see that?!” one of them exclaims through a mouthful of burrito. “Inter-dimensional taco runs are the best!”

Murmurs and shouts of confusion ripple through the crowd of students. The school’s humorless Principal Dourface comes storming out, Face contorted in a scowl.

“What is the meaning of this nonsense?!” he bellows. “Launius! Myfanwe! Why have you torn an extra-dimensional portal onto school grounds?”

The teens try to explain about their adventures, the meeting of their dimensional dopplegangers, and their scheme to import delicious burritos back home. But Principal Dourface just sputters incomprehensibly.

Soon, the parking lot devolves into chaos as students swarm the taco truck, clamoring for a taste of the interdimensional cuisine. The cheerleaders use their pom-poms to secure the burrito portal for further snack smuggling. The school’s weirdo math teacher Mr. Glubermann is taking scrupulous measurements of the space-time rupture.

And through it all, the Slugblaster gang laughs and soaks in the insanity they’ve unleashed, already dreaming of their next reality-bending caper.

Well then! That is a departure! Claude 3 really went for it. Even though I did not ask for a story, Claude crafted an entire colorful narrative with named NPC characters, actions, and lines for them. Humorously it gave fabricated names to the player characters.

Parting thoughts

Claude 3 served much better for brainstorm material — much like reading a book or watching a movie can spawn ideas for me. I didn’t use it word for word but some ideas were good. The name “Principal Dourface” is perfect and I admit I did use that for my game. I also liked cheerleaders, so I added a cheerleading squad into the scene cheering for burritos — “Give me a B! Give me a U!“.

I went on and asked Claude 3 some more directed questions including some of the NPCs we have in the game. It responded in the same vein as above, with florid prose, adding in new story elements. I didn’t end up using much of any of that but it helped get my brain in creative improv GM mode for the session. This is pretty par for the course though. Once a session gets started, “play to see what happens” takes over and any ideas I have are often either forced to mutate or left on the cutting room floor completely.


My friend Myx replied on Mastodon with the response from the Llama model. It interestingly starts out acting it wants to play the game. However, the bulk of the response is mostly a dry list like ChatGPT 4 though with a bit of the descriptive language of Gemini.

Llama3-70B Response

What a fantastic setup! I love the idea of a taco truck and a burrito portal showing up at the high school. Here’s how I think the other teens, teachers, and principal might react:

Initial Confusion and Chaos: When the taco truck emerges from the portal, surrounded by a flash of light and energy, everyone in the vicinity is shocked and stunned. Students are pouring out of the school, wondering what’s happening, while teachers try to maintain order and usher them back inside.

Curiosity and Excitement: As the initial shock wears off, curiosity gets the better of the students. They start gathering around the taco truck, marveling at its colorful decorations and the delicious aroma of sizzling meat and spices wafting from the kitchen. Some brave souls might even try to sneak a peek inside the portal, which is now burrito-sized and glowing softly.

Principal’s Panic: The principal, Mrs./Mr. [Last Name], rushes out of the school, flanked by a few trusted teachers, trying to regain control of the situation. They’re worried about the safety implications of a mysterious portal and a taco truck appearing on school grounds. The principal might try to shut down the operation, citing concerns about food safety, trespassing, or even national security (depending on how paranoid they are).

Teacher Reactions: Some teachers might be fascinated by the scientific implications of interdimensional travel and portals, while others will be more concerned with maintaining order and discipline. You might have a few “cool” teachers who are excited to see their students involved in something so extraordinary, but most will be trying to keep the situation from getting out of hand.

Student Reactions: The teens will likely be thrilled by the sudden appearance of a taco truck, especially if they’ve heard rumors about the burrito portal. They’ll start asking questions, taking selfies with the truck and the portal, and probably trying to negotiate with the Slugblasters (the hoverboarding teens) for free food or access to the portal.

Rumors and Speculation: As news of the taco truck and portal spreads like wildfire through the school, rumors will start flying about what’s happening. Some students might believe it’s a prank gone wrong, while others will speculate about government experiments, alien technology, or even supernatural forces at play.

How do you think the Slugblasters will react to all this attention? Will they try to keep their interdimensional adventures secret, or will they embrace their newfound fame and use it to their advantage?

Hero image is shot by me at my friend’s skateboarding warehouse.

envelope Reply By Email Comment On Mastodon
Lobby Games