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Video Games and D&D Dungeon Master AI

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I was thinking about how much I miss D&D. Not only does COVID make it harder but I'm no longer friends with anyone that plays. It got me thinking about the future of AI in video games.

The games that turned me into a habitual gamer were Diablo I & II; naturally, I love ARPGs. I am currently playing Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. This is my first playing through and it is really enjoyable. Something that's missing from it, and really every RPG video game, is the ability to explore the world on your own terms – at least in broad numbers of choices.

I recall that Left 4 Dead incorporates an AI system which the dev team calls The Director. It actively adjusts enemy behaviour and spawns based on the performance of the individual player, as well the 4 player team. Even better is that it continually learns from its own decisions. For those unfamiliar, players whom are struggling will be targeted less and those whom have been excelling will be targeted more and/or by tougher enemies. If the team as a whole is doing too well, shorter routes across the map will be blocked off (creating more distance to the goal) and larger packs of zombies will attack and more often. These are just a few examples I can remember.

This is a great use of machine learning which makes the gameplay experience, theoretically, always challenging and just possible enough for a variety of player competency. AI in gaming will obviously become more robust as time passes but I began wondering if, one day, AI could be used to make content on the fly.

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I am specifically thinking of an RPG experience where the player's choices are able to create assets, mechanics, and content, to further develop the core game.

What if, instead of choosing between two outcomes through scripted dialogue boxes, we could literally dictate or type exactly what we want to do and the game could create the storyline and content, as needed. Maybe when you sneak behind an NPC – instead of picking their pocket – you decide to cut out a section of their robe and then attempt to reverse engineer the enchantment within the fibers. Maybe you don't want to live in a pre-built home within a town. You'd rather chop down trees and build a secluded cabin in the mountains so you can train in the necromatic arts, away form prying eyes.

A game like this would not be specifically designed to support these features but an AI could generate the needed content and rule sets to allow the player to experience it.

I know this may never happen to any degree within my lifetime but eventually our hardware and machine learning will be in a position to make this sort of thing viable. VR is certainly opening up possibilities for freedom of execution (à la Blade and Sorcery) and what I've outlined would marry well with this less restricted movement in gaming.

What are your thoughts?

I would also be very interested to know what sort of timeline might be required for processing power and AI development to have the capacity to tackle this style of game.

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