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Suzette: Could the new KQ be text?

posted by RAnthonyMahan on - last edited - Viewed by 455 users

Not sure if any of you remember this from a while back, but Telltale programmer Bruce Wilcox won last year's Loebner Prize (an annual award in artificial intelligence) for his chatbot Suzette. Shortly afterwards he made an interesting remark in this interview.

What do you see for the future of your bot or bots in general ?

Natural language is the way we should be interacting with computers, so my bot and others are just a step along the way. Scribblenauts is a game that allows a lot of nouns and adjectives and I'm working at TellTale games on a game that does nouns and verbs. All of this is going toward NL.

When he first said this, I was curious what game Telltale could be working on that could possibly benefit from chatbot technology. With Telltale's five new announcements, I remembered how the old King's Quest games were graphical text adventures. A text adventure would require a good parser able to recognize nouns and verbs and how they can be interchangeable. (For example, in a well-programmed text adventure, "GET ITEM" and "TAKE ITEM" should do the same thing.)

I know it's unlikely (especially since it would make porting the game to consoles a bitch), but maybe the new King's Quest game could be a text adventure too?

17 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • There is no way in a million years Telltale would use a parser interface. That would alienate their key demographic, which is people who aren't smart enough to read or type.

  • @Lambonius said: There is no way in a million years Telltale would use a parser interface. That would alienate their key demographic, which is people who aren't smart enough to read or type.

    And yet you're on these forums.

  • @DAISHI said: And yet you're on these forums.

    I was just joking, dude. Making light of the common complaint about Telltale dumbing down their games' difficulty for "casual players." ;)

  • I don't see them using a text interface, seeing as how the series dropped it at KQ5 and the fact that it would hurt its play on consoles. The thing I worry about is KQ losing its large open world feel and instead it would have the few areas you jump to a la Sam & Max.

  • Just adding my voice to the pot, for what it's worth, that I would love this. I don't expect it, but it would be awesome.

    There's been a gulf between Pointy Clicky and Parser for far too long, as if one was better then the other. Both have their strong points and game developers simply need to realize the synthesis.

    If it was just for a few puzzles/riddles/passwords (see KQ1 and KQ6) then that would be cool. If you hope to really revolutionize the adventure mold, look to the design of leisure suit Larry 7 for a one of a kind flash of brilliance: simply asking characters about less then obvious topics that require the player to make the connection between! It just requires paying attention to the plot and clues.

    Quest for Glory 2 VGA did something like this too, but in the completely optional since. It's basically what we demanding gamers crave: options!

  • You might be interested in the Quest for Glory II remake, Marquillon. That game basically uses a combo parser, in that you use icon commands for general actions, but you use a parser during dialogue with other characters if you want. The dialogues largely consist of a tree, but you can access specific topics or unknown ones by typing out what you want.

    I very much hope that adventure games start to use this concept, in that we get general controls that lets anybody to play and enjoy the game, but also typed commands if they want to find easter eggs or be able to perform a wider variety of actions.

    However, it is true that console gamers would have difficulties, in that they usually lack a keyboard. Perhaps there can be an menu that they can bring up during gameplay, which has two or three sub-menus that contain letters, words, and mostly complete sentences to fill in?

    Letter Menu
    [Insert the English alphabet here]

    Word Menu

    Sentence Menu
    Take the ______(automatically asks you to fill in the blank with an letter/word)

    Remove your hat

    Pay the (Guard, Merchant, Boy, Elf...)

  • Sorry to necro an old thread, but the newest Telltale blog post seems worth sharing. These parts in particular.

    TTG placed their standard core job ad, which for years had a phrase about “natural language skills” in it. No one before me has ever replied on that and TTG just kept it in by rote. But, there was a good reason they wanted natural language skills. Once upon a time, in a videogame far far away in time, adventure games were controlled by primitive text interfaces. “Walk north”. “Pick up screwdriver.” Sure, they’ve moved on to being mouse and graphics, but TTG firmly believes the old parser interface will make a comeback. Not as text, but as voice. Or maybe as mental control. And it won’t be the microscopic vocabulary and grammar of old. It will be large vocabulary sentences- write what you want. Hence, natural language skills.

    So what does that mean I do at TTG? Actually, I’m a strange hybrid. I’m a core engineer who is also a content programmer. I work on scripting, dialog systems, lua interfaces, etc in the Tool. But I also have my own content project, an outside-the-box project to generate Fairy Tales. When I started, it seems designers had long wanted a product that would act out user’s stories. Here’s where natural language comes in. The user might say “The king picked the rose” and the system would animate a king, have him move to a rose, pick it, and now he has a rose. Then the user might say “The king gives the rose to the princess” … It’s not necessarily a game, but an experience of some kind. What the actual game design becomes remains to be seen. First, the underlying technology has to be created (that’s my job).

    Imagine the product as ScribbleNauts with verbs and more words. Then start creating limitations. OK, we handle thousands of verbs, but not ALL verbs. I mean, who really needs a lot of medical verbs I’ve never heard of? And objects, well, what will graphics limitations do to the 50,000 nouns we recognize and what scripting needs do they have? Beats me. But I wrote a prototype example of a system using my chatbot technology. I restricted things to simple sentences of Subject, verb, object. For subject, you were limited to one of the game characters. So, in my prototype I typed in “Dragon marry princess”. Since the system required “motives”, it picked one, and in text said “The dragon hands a glass of liquid to the princess. She drinks it and falls madly in love (it was a love potion). The princess marries the dragon. Not only did it require motives, but I was enthralled with the notion of twisted fairy tales. So the system tried to find a perverse interpretation of your request. If you’d said “king throw rock”, you might accidently strike and harm your own queen. Anyway… the prototype was fun, so then they said, now let’s build it using the Tool, make it graphical. And here I am in the midst of working on that with my spare cycles. If I’m lucky, it will actually ship someday, late next year at the earliest. But even if it doesn’t, it is extending core technology to handle natural language for some future product. And it makes me more sympathetic to content programmers, so I use my own experiences to improve theirs.

  • Man.... that would be awesome. But my wife might think I was weird if I was shouting "Throw Baby! Throw Baby!" at my computer!

    Still, interesting turn and twist on adventure games.


  • [quote=blackthorne519;541881]man.... That would be awesome. But my wife might think i was weird if i was shouting "throw baby! Throw baby!" at my computer!

    Still, interesting turn and twist on adventure games.



  • reminds me of the fantasy computer game from the book Ender's Game where you die a lot, it gets increasingly harder as you progress and where the avenue of progression is greatly dependent on your choices.

    To put it another way, this all makes me imagine killing a giant by climbing onto his face and burrowing into his eyeball socket until he dies from the pain.

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