"I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee." If that sentence is forever seared into your brain through sheer repetition, you may have played Skyrim a little too often. Games can only contain so much recorded dialogue and so many dialogue options, so even in huge games like Skyrim, you get a few repeats. Well, that might not be the case for much longer if ChatGPT enthusiasts have anything to say about it.
One modder has created a version of Skyrim where the non-playable characters (NPCs) use dialogue generated by the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT. As well as allowing players the chance to talk to the in-game characters – who can respond to you via generated voices – the mod gives the characters a memory.
"I have a basic memory system set up to allow NPCs to remember past conversations with the player," mod creator Art from the machine explained on Reddit. "In-game events such as the time of day and the NPC's location are also passed to ChatGPT to give context."
A video demonstrating the mod shows the player talking to characters, some of whom are able to "view" and respond to items held by the player.
"So were you ever told campfire stories," one character by a campfire is asked. After responding "let me think" and leaving a reasonable pause, the NPC goes into a fairly uninspiring anecdote.
"Yes, my family and I used to tell campfire stories during our hunting trips. We would share tales of great Nordic Heroes and legendary creatures such as trolls," the NPC says in the video. "I remember once my father told us a story about a warrior who battled a powerful Dragon and emerged Victorious. It was a thrilling and inspirational tale that instilled courage in me and my siblings."
In another interaction, a shop owner responds to a sword shown to him by the player. It's clunky – though of course, it is just a mod designed for a bit of fun, not a polished game release. Actual games that use chatbot AIs are in the works, however.
The Skyrim mod, like other projects, has been met with enthusiasm by some – largely large language model enthusiasts – who are impressed with the concept. Others, meanwhile, are concerned for the future of gaming itself.
"If you’re happy with word soup dialogue written by a machine that was trained on stuff that was already pretty generic in the first place, no amount of me saying 'we need to value human art as the only true human experience' will convince you that if this is the future of video games that you want," games writer Luke Plunkett wrote for games website Kotaku, "you’re going to get everything you deserve".