Aug 7, 2023 - Technology

In game demo, AI generates dialogue on the fly

Video game screenshot of a man in a hat asking if terrorists have been caught

Inworld Origins tech demo. Screenshot: Inworld

A police officer told me what she had for breakfast and a shady man in a fedora seemingly confessed to a crime, but everyone was reluctant to tell me how tall they were when I recently played around with a tech demo called Inworld Origins.

  • The demo is meant to show the potential of generative AI in dialogue-driven video games.

Driving the news: Origins comes from Inworld AI, a company that was just valued at $500 million, as investor interest in generative AI's use in games intensifies.

How it works: Origins, which is available to download and try for free via Steam, pulls users into a sci-fi crime scene in the aftermath of an explosion in the city of Metropolis.

  • The demo encourages the player to quiz its human and robot characters for clues by speaking casually into a microphone.
  • The idea is that nothing is specifically scripted and that Origins taps AI to understand what the player says and respond with dialogue that feels natural and adheres to the specifics of the plot.

One exchange I had with the fedora-wearing man was surprisingly slick. I'd been encouraged by my robot partner to antagonize a confession out of him, and he eventually copped to setting off a bomb.

  • But his replies would take a few seconds longer than expected, leading to us sometimes speaking over each other.
  • Here's how our chat began...
Me: "You're racist against robots."
Him: "Robots are not a race."
Me: "What are they?"
Him: "Machines."
Me: "You don't like them very much, do you?"
Him: "Because they are a threat."
Me: "To who? Who are they a threat to?"
Him: "They're replacing human labor… it's a disgrace."

Results were mixed when I went more off-topic.

  • I quizzed several robot and human characters about their height and was mostly brushed off. One eventually guessed that I was 5 feet tall.
  • The police officer I talked to about breakfast did have a joke about it. I probably thought she had pancakes shaped like circuit boards, she said.

Between the lines: Inworld's Origins demo is meant to be a case study for game developers interested in creating AI-driven nonplayer characters, Inworld's chief product officer, Kylan Gibbs, told Axios.

  • The AI is processing answers remotely via a server in order to generate the best answers, said Gibbs, who noted that some of Inworld's other AI dialogue demos run with lower latency.

The bottom line: The demo reminded me of my experience playing early text adventure games, when half the fun (and frustration) came from testing what I could type, what the game would respond to and what I needed to type to get the game to advance.

  • The demo is too slight and too rough to indicate whether AI-driven dialogue could replace human-written dialogue or make a traditional game world feel more alive.
  • As Inworld notes, it's early for now. But more tests of Inworld's tech are coming, including the planned addition of an AI-powered "personal electronic assistant" in the NetEase game Cygnus Enterprises.

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