AI driven text adventure game give players true non-linear gameplay

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,120   +862
Staff member

Artificial intelligence creating the narrative on the fly in a video game would genuinely open up the possibilities of real non-linear gameplay. If it could not only create the story, but also learn from the player's actions, the game could become a sandbox of infinite possibilities, with each playthrough being completely unique. Such a vision is creeping a little bit closer to reality with a text adventure game called AI Dungeon 2.

AI Dungeon 2 was developed by Nick Walton using an open-source text-generating algorithm created by OpenAI. He trained the AI by feeding it choose-your-own-adventure stories from the Choose Your Story website.

The game plays a lot like a text adventure game (TAG) from the 1980s, such as Zork. The difference here is that you can pretty much do whatever you want. Old-school TAGs limited players by only allowing them to go in specific directions, perform a small number of actions, and had very linear storylines. AI Dungeon 2 throws all that out the window by responding to virtually anything the player types.

Walton said that the game took him hundreds of hours to create, but it was "completely worth it."

"AI Dungeon 2 is a first of its kind," he tweeted. "[A] completely AI-generated text adventure that allows you to enter any action you can imagine."

Users start by picking the type of adventure they want to play. Genres include mystery, apocalyptic, zombies, and fantasy. Fantasy is recommended because it is presumably the most polished of the styles with more stories of that type having been fed into the AI.

Next, players will choose a character type and enter a name. From there, the AI takes over and provides descriptions of the setting. As you can see from the above screenshot, I got a little bit stabby right off the bat (really, I'm a nice guy). Things quickly got weird as the person I stabbed died but didn't die. Wait. What?

AI Dungeon 2 is not without its flaws. My first adventure came to a screeching halt when the algorithm threw an exception error after only about five or six turns. Of course, in college, I was notorious for finding bugs and breaking classmates' programs, so your mileage may vary.

If you decide to try it out, be patient at the beginning as it does take a minute or two to load. It is an amusing diversion worth a look.

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Posts: 5,216   +5,910
If you really want to give players a non-linear adventure, then you need to be willing to allow the player to do whatever they want and effect changes in the game's universe at will.

For example: Colony Wars had a branching mission structure and multiple endings based on your performance from level to level.

Far Cry 4 and 5 allowed you to end the game as soon as it begins with inaction.

Fallout - for example - has very similar branching endings, but doesn't allow you to simply "die" and end the game, or turn evil and just become a bad person - branching off to a new experience as a bad person.