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Video: Valve's system for creating AI-driven dynamic dialog
August 16, 2013 | By Staff

"The more creative writers are, the more easily they can iterate, the more autonomous they can be, the more writing they can do... the better dialog you will have."
-- Elan Ruskin, former Valve developer (now at Insomniac), explains a mechanism deployed in several Valve games to allow for dynamic AI in this GDC 2012 talk.

Ruskin uses Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and internal experiment Two Robots, One Wrench to demonstrate Valve's system for tracking thousands of facts and possibilities, allowing intelligent characters to remember history, and, most importantly, providing writers a friendly interface for creative freedom.

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R. Hunter Gough
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great presentation! lots of really useful info and insight at all levels of fiddlyness.

Michael Joseph
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Excellent talk. This seems to resemble a flattened behavior tree where you end up with a list of all the possible paths and where the query takes the place of tree traversal.

Freek Hoekstra
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fantastic talk, very interesting results as well.
But imaging as soon as the AI also starts responding to things moving in the environment if little else is going on, say pidgeon flying away view triggered by either movement or sound that could be very intersting.

Also upon losing an enemy in a game like splintercell, having something fall over could spawn interesting interaction between guards:
for example calling other guards over, then slowly scanning the environment and covering eachother,
dialog: you go look I cover you , which also exposes the last guard for an attack from behind, but also if the first guard doesn't find anoyone, calling that out and having the covering guard suggest another spot.

All the while communicating to the player what is going on which guard is exposed and where they will be searching (and thus loooking at) next. hinting a possible safe attack trajectory to the player.
also based on the level of certainty about where the player is, they might go in together (very sure about player location), fan out (not really sure) or clump up (very unsure but high threat level)

This is a much more clear system then the normal if then approach, also as all the variables live in one space one can pick out the strongest influeces and act on those. a bird should not draw attention in a fight, but when nothing is happening, (and there are no other strong influences the bird could trigger a startle reaction. --> dialog etc etc.

Or if the player is lost and the AI is specifically searching for a player, this might be a modifier to what happens, it could trigger a "trigger happy" response. firing at te bird etc.

overall wonderful talk, sorry for my random rant, but a lot of potential here!

Andrew Syfret
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This is a great idea. What Valve has implemented is a search engine that functions almost exactly the same as enterprise search engines do (minus indexing functionality, it's a pre-baked search set).

The have initial query, query annotation, matching, etc. Inspiring stuff.

Charlie Cleveland
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Just awesome. We're trying to figure out other applications for this idea.