February 12, 2018
#5: Real-Time Scheduling of Hamlet’s Fate in Indie Game “Elsinore”

AI researcher and indie game developer Kristin Siu talks about the real-time scheduling technology that is driving the indie game Elsinore. The premise is that you’re playing Ophelia, a minor character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and she has ability to loop in time Groundhog’s Day style to learn about the stream of cause and effects that lead to tragedy. Events are caused based upon information that characters know through their experiences or perceptions of events, and you play as Ophelia trying to share information to change the course of events, and to change the fated outcomes of many of the different characters.

I talked with Siu at the Artificial Intelligence & Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference in 2016 about the predicate-based logic they’re using to simulate knowledge of events, as well as their real-time scheduler that triggers events based upon who knows what during specific windows of time. It’s a fascinating exploration of the balance of fate and free will, and it eliminates the explicit branching points within interactive games through the modeling of knowledge through logic. Some of the theoretical questions that the AI researchers are investigating include whether it’s possible to prove that certain paths are possible, the likelihood of specific scenarios, and how AI can be used to improve the design process. Overall, Elsinore is a fascinating exploration of how to balance authorial control with the real-time scheduling of events.

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