Date of Award

6-2020

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

College

College of Engineering

Advisor

Foaad Khosmood

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering

Abstract

Role-playing games (RPGs) rely on interesting and varied experiences to maintain player attention. These experiences are often provided through quests, which give players tasks that are used to advance stories or events unfolding in the game. Traditional quests in video games require very specific conditions to be met, and for participating members to advance them by carrying out pre-defined actions. These types of quests are generated with perfect knowledge of the game world and are able to force desired behaviors out of the relevant non-player characters (NPCs). This becomes a major issue in massive multiplayer online (MMO) when other players can often disrupt the conditions needed for quests to unfold in a believable and immersive way, leading to the absence of a genuine multiplayer RPG experience. Our proposed solution is to dynamically create quests from real-time information on the unscripted actions of other NPCs and players in a game. This thesis shows that it is possible to create logical quests without global information knowledge, pre-defined story-trees, or prescribed player and NPC behavior. This allows players to become involved in storylines without having to perform any specific actions.

Results are shown through a game scenario created from the Panoptyk Engine, a game engine in early development designed to test AI reasoning with information and the removal of the distinction between NPC and human players. We focus on quests issued by the NPC faction leaders of several in-game groups known as factions. Our generated quests are created logically from the pre-defined personality of each NPC leader, their memory of previous events, and information given to them by in-game sources. Long-spanning conflicts are seen to emerge from factions issuing quests against each other; these conflicts can be represented in a coherent narrative. A user study shows that players felt quests were logical, that players were able to recognize quests were based on events happening in the game, and that players experienced follow-up consequences from their actions in quests.

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