Achieving Believable Psychosocial Behaviour in Non-player Characters in Modern Video Games Christine Bailey, Jiaming You, Gavan Acton, Adam Rankin, and.

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  • Achieving Believable Psychosocial Behaviour in Non-player Characters in Modern Video Games Christine Bailey, Jiaming You, Gavan Acton, Adam Rankin, and Michael Katchabaw Department of Computer Science The University of Western Ontario
  • Outline Overview Application Areas Work to Date First Generation System Second Generation System Third Generation System Work In Progress Conclusions and Future Work
  • Overview The goal is to create non player characters for video games and virtual worlds that act and react in a believable fashion This involves a mixture of: Computer science Psychology Sociology And, as it turns out, elements of storytelling …
  • Overview Key to this is defining “believable” We follow Loyall’s definition, with a mixture of social science/arts and computing From social science/arts: Personality, emotion, self motivation, change, social relationships, consistency of expression From computing: Appearance of goals, concurrent pursuit of goals and parallel action, reactive and responsive, situated, resource bounded, exist in a social context, broadly capable and well integrated
  • Overview An emergent and dynamic approach to character behaviour is desirable for several reasons: The interactions of relatively simple building blocks can give rise to interesting, complex, and difficult to predict behaviour in a dynamic fashion The system is more flexible and responsive to the current state of the game or virtual world It avoids exhaustive coding or scripting of behaviours for every possible situation, which is incredibly difficult, time consuming and expensive
  • Overview To provide believable behaviour we have developed a series of prototype systems with increasing power and expressive capabilities As we will see, this does come at a cost, but continuing research is aimed at minimizing this cost without sacrificing believability On-going research is extending our work further, allowing us to explore new and interesting avenues of research and gameplay
  • Application Areas Video games Non player character control, primarily in role-playing, action/adventure, and open world games, as well as games requiring believable character interactions Virtual worlds Simulations of virtual worlds whose inhabitants need to act and react realistically considering the state of the simulation
  • Work to Date: First Generation System The first generation system (Bailey) was relatively simple and based purely on emergence Provided characters with simple personality, emotions, and social ties Emergence allowed for interesting behaviours and situations to occur Characters were hard coded, models were overly simple, however This still achieved good results in simulations, and provided foundations for further work …
  • Work to Date: First Generation System
  • Work to Date: First Generation System We found, however, limitations with the purely emergent approach used in the first system Characters were too reactive, emotional, and instinctual, and needed more higher-order reasoning, logic, and planned goal-oriented behaviour Performance was at times an issue, especially with a large number of characters and complex modeling It would be difficult for characters to adhere to story since they could only react to the world around them
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System Several improvements were made in this next generation system (You): Characters now also had goals and roles in addition to personality, emotions, and social ties Everything is now data driven, so it is easier to define and refine characters Furthermore, the character models are flexible and extensible, with several models supported at once Behaviour of characters in this prototype is even better and more interesting than in the first prototype
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System While an improvement, there were still limitations to this approach While this system supported goals, planning was still fairly limited and needed more work Performance was still a potential issue, despite optimizations made during development Story interactions were still problematic
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System With lessons learned from earlier systems, a new system was developed (Acton): Includes support for utility based planning and action selection that is compatible with emergent principles This is also based on psychosocial concepts, with extensions to include a BDI model, role theory, coping, an active emotional memory, and other elements Support for a to-be-developed story manager to maintain story continuity and avoid disruptions to critical plot elements
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System This third generation system also includes performance optimizations to improve efficiency and promote scalability (Rankin): Advanced scheduling and dispatching of character execution Capability scaling and adjustment Dynamic tuning of performance elements based on need, importance, and impact on story and gameplay
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System Results to date with this system have been quite promising Re-enacting various dramatic pieces (Shakespeare, for example), and producing new scenarios Performance is far better than earlier prototype systems, with potential for further improvements in the future Still, there is much to do …
  • Work in Progress One avenue of research currently being explored is dialogue synthesis for believable psychosocial characters We are getting much better at performing actions, but a great deal of meaningful character interaction occurs within dialogue between characters Consequently, we need dialogue that is also based on personality, emotion, and social relationships, and so this dialogue must be constructed dynamically at run-time based on what is actually going on
  • Work in Progress
  • Work in Progress Other on-going work is exploring embedding our character systems into an existing game engine In our case, we are using the latest Unreal Development Kit (UDK) with characters programmed using UnrealScript and Kismet We are also building a residential level for hosting a house party to create a variety of social simulations and open up a variety of new gameplay experiences made possible through social interactions
  • Work in Progress
  • Conclusions and Future Work We have made considerable progress towards the creation of believable psychosocial characters for modern video games There is still much to do, with many open research problems to explore Completing our on-going work Further exploring story aspects of this research Continued study of performance User studies and assessment of our work This is a screen shot of Christine’s prototype system … people are represented as nodes in a graph, with edges representing relationships. The colour of the edge indicated whether it was a positive or negative relationship, while the colour of the node reflected the emotional state of the individual in question. Textual logs recorded the interactions between people and their internal states. * The modeling aspects are important here … we can now combine multiple personality models, emotion models, and so forth seamlessly together, which was not seen elsewhere in the literature … there was no longer a need to choose between competing models, as aspects of various models could be integrated together. * Similar to Christine’s prototype, Jiaming extended things so that more information was available and in use during simulations, allowed relationships with the various people feeling differently about each other, and so on. * This is a screenshot of his modeling tools. The entire personality/emotion/relationship model could be specified in data, along with all of the emergent interactions between everything. Once defined, these models could be loaded up in the simulation tool and then played out … * Goals and planning were primarily oriented towards achieving a given emotion/relationship state with yourself or other people (like making yourself happy, improving your relationship with someone, making someone else miserable, and so on). Pretty interesting on its own, but still limited to this particular domain … * Much of this was done over the past year … dialogue synthesis is purely text at the moment … doing so with spoken dialogue is a whole other issue, especially when emotional adjustment needs to be done! In this prototype, you can choose actions to perform and the characters performing the actions (such as a person hitting someone else, for example). This generates an event which is then interpreted by all of the other characters. Depending on relationships and personality, these events will be remembered differently. (For example if character A likes B, and C hits B, then A will think this event is terrible. However, if A disliked B, they would see this as a good thing.) After seeding some events, you can then initiate conversations with the people and the system will generate dialogue based on how they think and feel about the events in their memories. (You can clear them out and start over, if you like.) Fun stuff: you can talk to the dog, and it will respond based on how it is treated! (Barking, whimpering, etc.) And, if someone dies, they become a ghost you can talk to!  The ghosts can be humorous for a variety of reasons. For example, if they like you and you kill them, they might be surprised and angry, or they might assume it was an accident, based on their personality. * In terms of games, we can do some interesting social play. For example, a game where you show up at a party with the goal of getting back together with your spouse (and maybe break up their current relationship for added difficulty). Or, consider trying to cheer up a depressed friend to get them on the dance floor. Each one of these objectives could a new “social mission” that is achieved through engaging in meaningful social play with our characters. * This is the kitchen of the house level under construction … * *
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  • Achieving Believable Psychosocial Behaviour in Non-player Characters in Modern Video Games Christine Bailey, Jiaming You, Gavan Acton, Adam Rankin, and Michael Katchabaw Department of Computer Science The University of Western Ontario
  • Outline Overview Application Areas Work to Date First Generation System Second Generation System Third Generation System Work In Progress Conclusions and Future Work
  • Overview The goal is to create non player characters for video games and virtual worlds that act and react in a believable fashion This involves a mixture of: Computer science Psychology Sociology And, as it turns out, elements of storytelling …
  • Overview Key to this is defining “believable” We follow Loyall’s definition, with a mixture of social science/arts and computing From social science/arts: Personality, emotion, self motivation, change, social relationships, consistency of expression From computing: Appearance of goals, concurrent pursuit of goals and parallel action, reactive and responsive, situated, resource bounded, exist in a social context, broadly capable and well integrated
  • Overview An emergent and dynamic approach to character behaviour is desirable for several reasons: The interactions of relatively simple building blocks can give rise to interesting, complex, and difficult to predict behaviour in a dynamic fashion The system is more flexible and responsive to the current state of the game or virtual world It avoids exhaustive coding or scripting of behaviours for every possible situation, which is incredibly difficult, time consuming and expensive
  • Overview To provide believable behaviour we have developed a series of prototype systems with increasing power and expressive capabilities As we will see, this does come at a cost, but continuing research is aimed at minimizing this cost without sacrificing believability On-going research is extending our work further, allowing us to explore new and interesting avenues of research and gameplay
  • Application Areas Video games Non player character control, primarily in role-playing, action/adventure, and open world games, as well as games requiring believable character interactions Virtual worlds Simulations of virtual worlds whose inhabitants need to act and react realistically considering the state of the simulation
  • Work to Date: First Generation System The first generation system (Bailey) was relatively simple and based purely on emergence Provided characters with simple personality, emotions, and social ties Emergence allowed for interesting behaviours and situations to occur Characters were hard coded, models were overly simple, however This still achieved good results in simulations, and provided foundations for further work …
  • Work to Date: First Generation System
  • Work to Date: First Generation System We found, however, limitations with the purely emergent approach used in the first system Characters were too reactive, emotional, and instinctual, and needed more higher-order reasoning, logic, and planned goal-oriented behaviour Performance was at times an issue, especially with a large number of characters and complex modeling It would be difficult for characters to adhere to story since they could only react to the world around them
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System Several improvements were made in this next generation system (You): Characters now also had goals and roles in addition to personality, emotions, and social ties Everything is now data driven, so it is easier to define and refine characters Furthermore, the character models are flexible and extensible, with several models supported at once Behaviour of characters in this prototype is even better and more interesting than in the first prototype
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System
  • Work to Date: Second Generation System While an improvement, there were still limitations to this approach While this system supported goals, planning was still fairly limited and needed more work Performance was still a potential issue, despite optimizations made during development Story interactions were still problematic
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System With lessons learned from earlier systems, a new system was developed (Acton): Includes support for utility based planning and action selection that is compatible with emergent principles This is also based on psychosocial concepts, with extensions to include a BDI model, role theory, coping, an active emotional memory, and other elements Support for a to-be-developed story manager to maintain story continuity and avoid disruptions to critical plot elements
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System This third generation system also includes performance optimizations to improve efficiency and promote scalability (Rankin): Advanced scheduling and dispatching of character execution Capability scaling and adjustment Dynamic tuning of performance elements based on need, importance, and impact on story and gameplay
  • Work to Date: Third Generation System Results to date with this system have been quite promising Re-enacting various dramatic pieces (Shakespeare, for example), and producing new scenarios Performance is far better than earlier prototype systems, with potential for further improvements in the future Still, there is much to do …
  • Work in Progress One avenue of research currently being explored is dialogue synthesis for believable psychosocial characters We are getting much better at performing actions, but a great deal of meaningful character interaction occurs within dialogue between characters Consequently, we need dialogue that is also based on personality, emotion, and social relationships, and so this dialogue must be constructed dynamically at run-time based on what is actually going on
  • Work in Progress
  • Work in Progress Other on-going work is exploring embedding our character systems into an existing game engine In our case, we are using the latest Unreal Development Kit (UDK) with characters programmed using UnrealScript and Kismet We are also building a residential level for hosting a house party to create a variety of social simulations and open up a variety of new gameplay experiences made possible through social interactions
  • Work in Progress
  • Conclusions and Future Work We have made considerable progress towards the creation of believable psychosocial characters for modern video games There is still much to do, with many open research problems to explore Completing our on-going work Further exploring story aspects of this research Continued study of performance User studies and assessment of our work This is a screen shot of Christine’s prototype system … people are represented as nodes in a graph, with edges representing relationships. The colour of the edge indicated whether it was a positive or negative relationship, while the colour of the node reflected the emotional state of the individual in question. Textual logs recorded the interactions between people and their internal states. * The modeling aspects are important here … we can now combine multiple personality models, emotion models, and so forth seamlessly together, which was not seen elsewhere in the literature … there was no longer a need to choose between competing models, as aspects of various models could be integrated together. * Similar to Christine’s prototype, Jiaming extended things so that more information was available and in use during simulations, allowed relationships with the various people feeling differently about each other, and so on. * This is a screenshot of his modeling tools. The entire personality/emotion/relationship model could be specified in data, along with all of the emergent interactions between everything. Once defined, these models could be loaded up in the simulation tool and then played out … * Goals and planning were primarily oriented towards achieving a given emotion/relationship state with yourself or other people (like making yourself happy, improving your relationship with someone, making someone else miserable, and so on). Pretty interesting on its own, but still limited to this particular domain … * Much of this was done over the past year … dialogue synthesis is purely text at the moment … doing so with spoken dialogue is a whole other issue, especially when emotional adjustment needs to be done! In this prototype, you can choose actions to perform and the characters performing the actions (such as a person hitting someone else, for example). This generates an event which is then interpreted by all of the other characters. Depending on relationships and personality, these events will be remembered differently. (For example if character A likes B, and C hits B, then A will think this event is terrible. However, if A disliked B, they would see this as a good thing.) After seeding some events, you can then initiate conversations with the people and the system will generate dialogue based on how they think and feel about the events in their memories. (You can clear them out and start over, if you like.) Fun stuff: you can talk to the dog, and it will respond based on how it is treated! (Barking, whimpering, etc.) And, if someone dies, they become a ghost you can talk to!  The ghosts can be humorous for a variety of reasons. For example, if they like you and you kill them, they might be surprised and angry, or they might assume it was an accident, based on their personality. * In terms of games, we can do some interesting social play. For example, a game where you show up at a party with the goal of getting back together with your spouse (and maybe break up their current relationship for added difficulty). Or, consider trying to cheer up a depressed friend to get them on the dance floor. Each one of these objectives could a new “social mission” that is achieved through engaging in meaningful social play with our characters. * This is the kitchen of the house level under construction … * *
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