I’ve been reading the Slashdot comments on the Liquid Narrative story, which is titled ‘Infinite Games’. Nothing much interesting there, except a post from someone who took an AI class with R. Michael Young:
“I had an AI class with him. In one of those classes, he demoed this stuff. It was using the Unreal Tournament engine. Two demos he gave. One, two characters were put in a maze, without scripted moves and only knowledge of their immediate surroundings, and the knowledge of where they want to be and how to open doors (seemed like they had to go press and hold triggers or something, it’s been awhile. Wasn’t too terribly exciting by itself. This is along the lines I think when I think about traditional AI research, but doesn’t strike me as very useful to a game..
The other was the user walked around an aquarium, and fish swam however they saw fit. The interesting part was the plaques that gave information about the animals. There was a database of factoids, and some rules about grammar and various languages, but no pre-written plaques. When viewed, the plaques contained a generated paragraph which presented some of the facts. The paragraph was always different every time you looked, and it could do it in several languages. This demonstrated how it could be used in an educational application, but also how it could be used to make NPC dialog more dynamic and realistic (‘Times are Tough…’).
The ultimate goal was to have a few stated conditions, and maybe end conditions, and allow the gamer full control over the environment, and have the story adapt to the conditions the player causes, if the story as planned to that point becomes impossible due to a players actions (say player is on an island with only one boat around, and he is expected to go to another island, but destroys the boat instead), a new story is generated on the fly. The computer adlibs. Also, if the game absolutely, positively requires that the player go to another island, some mechanisms can be put in, such as if the boat is not there, helicopter or another boat comes in and the occupants conveniently walk away from it.
He described the goal to be a fully interactive story, that is never the same twice through. A very interesting boon to RPGs as we know it. The aquarium demo at least showed promise for better NPC dialog. I don’t know if they have anything to show the evolving story yet though… ”
I think the best remark is right at the end:
“I have a hard enough time winning finite games.”