In the Bethesda classic Skyrim, you can place a bucket atop an innkeeper NPC’s head and proceed to rob him blind. The NPC continues negotiating with you as if everything is perfectly normal, while other NPCs go about their business. As absurd as it may seem, this behavior is considered normal in games. This is largely because the coding for NPC interactions is somewhat limited in modern games. Developers prioritize other critical aspects such as combat mechanics, bug fixing, movement, and weather systems. As a result, NPCs often behave idiotically.


Skyrim is just one example of games with absurd NPC interactions. To give the game its due, it is a 13-year-old title. Even in modern titles, NPC interactions are quite limited and the gaming community seems to have accepted this absurdity. But a development promising to change NPCs for good is at the doorstep.

Skyrim Innkeeper. Source: Reddit

Sony is developing an innovative AI system that specializes in creating AI personas from dialogue snippets, which can be particularly useful for NPCs in video games and other media.

The system leverages large language models’ capability of generating personas, or in other words, role-playing. Instead of coding every possible line for an NPC in a certain situation, the existing language models are implemented to craft and maintain a realistic interaction between the player and the non-playable character. 

The Challenge of Implementing AI in NPC Interactions

Developing AI personas from dialogue is not so easy. For instance, a character might discuss topics unrelated to their specific role, like a medieval barbarian talking about the politics of the United States. A certain prompt can easily remind the AI about a reference from the latest presidential elections. 

To address this, researchers at Sony have trained the AI to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information and this training has led to the creation of comprehensive personas.

Although the initial experiment didn’t focus on developing AI agents for video games, the work shows promising adaptability. These AI personas can generate dialogue that could be integrated with other systems and allow non-player characters in games to engage in real-time conversations while maintaining a consistent and immersive character profile. The innkeeper from Skyrim can finally defend himself!

Ethical Concerns and Final Thoughts

This tech can be used in different ways, like creating imitation personas and for advertising, hence the root of ethical concerns. The main concern is about the possibility of using this tech to copy real people. The system could also be used to learn about real people’s habits and likes. Greedy companies might use this to sell things more effectively to people who are unaware of the fact that their personal choices are being collected and used to tailor ads for them. 

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While we can’t predict the exact future of Sony’s AI implementations, one thing is certain: playing RPG games is about to become much more fun. The application of this tech can go beyond video games and we may find ourselves interacting with an AI-powered salesman on Amazon. Let’s see how the researchers at Sony pull this off. 

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