Imagine this scenario: You hear the buzz of conversation as you near the local pub, so you walk in. Immediately, since you're a 7'9" 300 pound herculean adventurer, the locals gawk at you and temporarily hush up. Then, as they figure youre not going to start slaughtering anyone, you walk up to the bar and sit down. All around you, locals are making small talk, about the price of wheat, the thief that was lynched the other night... typical backwater drudgery.
The bartender approaches and engages you in conversation. Since he is directly within your targeting range (imagine 2.5 ft radius) the chat also appears in your chat reader. You can clearly hear his words over the crowd.
Basically, the tech design here would require realistic 3D sound emitters, a text to speech engine, and a localized AIML set (dynamic, of course, so that the NPC's aren't totally stupid.) Real-Time phonetics emulation would be an option to turn on/off based on performance... but having realistic conversations with NPC's (not perfect, AIML is dumb sometimes) would be awesome.
It seems to me that running an AI server to handle all the 'Chat' AI functionality would offer one helluva lot to the immersion. All that's needed is a script that handles efficient conversation targeting and a "Text In/Sound Out" script that reads the chat from the AI server and tags the source. Everything else would be fairly standard for MMO NPCs.
I'm thinking of adding phonetics based "Voice Styles" and different voice types, for accents, customization, and a real feeling of having A Person on the other side of the pixels.
I understand the limitations of AIML, but the overall structure makes it ideal for NPC chat, and I was wondering if anyone has looked into this at a serious level. Are there games out there utilizing this approach, or is it too bandwidth consumptive/CPU draining?
I'm still in a conceptual process, but the idea seems sound. Anyone see any glaring errors?
You could also allow players to submit ideas for additions to the AIML. Combine this with a relatively large community (5000+) and you're guaranteed to snag some obsessive compulsive gamer who will devote dozens of hours developing perfect conversational AIML sets for your npcs.
Ok, that would be unwarrantedly taking advantage of a sick person for coroporate gain. :whistle:
Anyway, what are some thoughts?