MUD Aetolia used ChatGPT to generate NPC dialogue and grant a fake quest


Some game developers continue to laud AI generation tools like ChatGPT as the future of many frontiers, including NPC behavior in MMORPGs and gaming in general, all while downplaying the potential negative human impact. One such developer is Matt Mihaly, the man behind the MUD Aetolia, who ran a live experiment on players that used ChatGPT to create NPCs in the game to interact with players.

Mihaly used a set of specific instructions to ChatGPT in an API call, commanding it to be a fantasy NPC and follow specific response parameters. This in turn made several NPC characters that did things such as discuss the virtues of cake, chastise players for being unruly in a grove (or weirdly being happy at a player’s random chuckling), and even send a player on a fake quest to the other side of the game’s world in an apparent attempt to make the player go away.

While Mihaly believes the tech can scale to graphical MMOs, he does point out a couple of problems, such as the fact that API calls require every response to consider an NPC’s backstory and the backstory of the entire game world; pair that with the requirement of having multiple accounts to power multiple NPCs and graphical games also needing NPCs to animate, and AI still isn’t quite the catch-all answer for the genre.

Fans on Reddit also call out other problems, namely how AI would do nothing more than generate kill 10 rat quests or that things like quest generation would be better served as something players post for one another in a sandbox MMO. Still, Mihaly called his experiment a success and claims that players loved what happened.

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