You see an article about RPGs and chatbots. What do you do?
> Read it — it might be good.
> Turn around, as I have yet to acquire reading glasses.
Good choice. And nice glasses.
Chances are, if you’re a human you’ve probably played some sort of role-playing game (RPG) in your lifetime. Whether it was pretending to own a bank as a child with plastic 5c coins and Monopoly money, or exploring the kinks in your imagination in chat rooms with like-minded users. We’ve all been there.
In the early stages in our relationships with computers, text-based adventures such as 1975’s Dungeon, and 1980’s Zork redefined gaming experiences. An invisible bridge was built between technology and human imagination. Today, you can still sit with your friends around a table and play D&D, or create RPGs with a pen and paper, improv and a few imaginative players, or join the LitRPG community. RPGs and AI have great synergy, and interactive bots have a versatility that can enhance the narrative and the personality of the gaming experience; games like KOMRAD and Event give you a direct line to intelligent, self-aware bots, and in Fallout: New Vegas there are some deceptively friendly bots rolling around. In Epic, part one of the Avatar Chronicles trilogy, avatars play a central role in shaping both the gaming world and the world of its players, and readers find that AI can develop personalities of its own.
The kinds of universes we can travel in games are limitless. Photo credit: Shalpik Biswas/ShutterShock
For those of you who enjoy creating solo adventures, you’re alive at the right time. Castlevania producer and gaming enthusiast Adi Shankar once said in an interview, “those who don’t view video games as an art form are on the wrong side of history”. This game isn’t going to be a gorgeous Skyrim cave exploration or a strangely beautiful alien nightmare, but there are no limits to the user's imagination, and no limits to yours either.
In these kinds of RPGs the focus is usually on story development rather than character development — you can change the focus if you want. A classic example would be a medieval dungeon adventure, where you explore caverns, collect items, and probably die several times because you forgot to take that ring off the skeleton you passed thirteen turns beforehand. It’s thinking strategically, with great dollops of imagination, and very often some taken for granted common sense. I’ve been playing video games for a long time, and when I was introduced to Snatchbot.me I decided to create my own RPG.
What’s great about this technology is that you can create a quick fifteen-minute bus ride RPG, or something longer, trickier, and much more brilliantly silly and frustrating. The shortest one I’ve ever played is Homestar Runner’s Thy Dungeonman!. You should finish this with just two points (hint: Dennis is a person of few words).
Fond memories of 8-bit peasant adventures inspired the beginning of my adventure.