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Digital illustration painting design style a dragon slayer fighting with boss of dragon in video game, against ruins city.
Digital illustration painting design style a dragon slayer fighting with boss of dragon in video game, against ruins city.

AI-written Scenario for Dungeons & Dragons Is Actually Quite Good

It is a computer revolution, not in type, but in scale

I still remember walking past the tabletop game store in the mall when I was a kid. I used to think, “that looks really interesting, but everyone would think I’m a nerd if I started playing it.” Admittedly, I am most definitely a nerd, and proud of it. But only recently have I begun diving into the world of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons (otherwise known as D&D). The poster (left), from one of the many Dungeons & Dragons-themed films of recent decades, gives some sense of the genre.

My first experience pillaging through a cave as I smashed anything and everything with my mighty hammer was way more enjoyable than I imagined. The experience was most definitely helped by having a great dungeon master (DM for short). The job of the DM is to weave the story as the players excitedly play along. The DM can either make or break the experience. A bad DM might lose track of story progression or forget major plot devices. A good DM, on the other hand, will provide suspenseful stories and engaging battles.

“Okay, that sounds cool and all but…” you must be asking, “but what does this have to do with Sci-Fi Saturday?” Well, a couple of days ago I saw a text in my D&D group chat. A close friend of mine, who is a part of our D&D campaign, sent me an article about a revolution in the text-based adventure game industry.

Nick Walton, the creator of AI Dungeon (an online text-based adventure game similar to D&D), has just announced that his game will be utilizing one of the most powerful AI models in the world to create truly compelling stories for the players. As Walton notes, “After several weeks of collaboration with OpenAI, running AB tests, fine-tuning on AI Dungeon data, and getting feedback, we’re ready to enable AI Dungeon to run on a GPT-3 based model that’s one of the most powerful AI models in the world. We’re calling the AI Dungeon version of this new model ‘Dragon.’”

Now, I’ve seen and heard AI try to be creative and funny before. For the most part, those ventures were a failure in my opinion. So, naturally, I was skeptical of Walton’s claims. However, I changed my mind when I read over the example gameplay that Walton shared:

Now, if that isn’t a convincing piece of dialogue with an AI then I don’t know what is. While Walton admits that he may have cherry picked the piece of dialogue he liked best to use as an example, he also claims that this level of performance is the norm and not the exception.

Because I’m definitely not a computer scientist, I asked my D&D buddy (who works in AI) how likely that was. He explained that Walton’s revolution isn’t a revolution in type but rather in scale. While most AIs use systems based on hundreds of millions of parameters (like Alexa for example), Walton’s system uses over 100 billion. This is a huge jump in terms of scale; and the greater the scale, the better the outcome in terms of coming up with a plausible snatch.

I’m not a “premium user” so I probably won’t be jumping into a dungeon adventure anytime soon. However, Walton does offer a free 7-day trial that I just might try. Either way, I’m curious. While I don’t think this means the end for traditional dungeon masters (yet), it’s something that will draw a lot of curiosity, not only about the still-developing field of AI but also the iconic game itself.


If you are interested in AI and creativity, you may also enjoy:

Thinking machines? Has the Lovelace Test been passed?
Surprising results do not equate to creativity. Is there such a thing as machine creativity?

Thinking machines? The Lovelace Test raises the stakes: The Turing test has had a free ride in science media for far too long, says an AI expert.

Why AI appears to create things. When AlphaGo made a winning move, it exhibited no more creative insight than when it played pedestrian moves (Brendan Dixon)

Why AI fails to actually create things (Brendan Dixon)

Creativity does not follow computational rules. A philosopher muses on why machines are not creative.

Also, a reminder about quality free sci-fi shorts:

Third Kind is a unique kind of sci-fi film Director Yorgos Zois helps us to interpret others’ real-life experiences through the sci-fi genre. I would recommend watching this when you’re done with your day, ready to unwind, relax, and sink into lethargy.

My five top picks in short sci-fi from DUST at YouTube. I’m glad I decided to revisit DUST, a wonderful community of short, free sci-fi films

and

Third Kind is a unique kind of sci-fi film Director Yorgos Zois helps us to interpret others’ real-life experiences through the sci-fi genre. I would recommend watching this when you’re done with your day, ready to unwind, relax, and sink into lethargy.


Adam Nieri

Adam Nieri has interests in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind and he holds an MA in Science and Religion from Biola University. He has background in social media and marketing, photography/graphic design, IT, and teaching.

AI-written Scenario for Dungeons & Dragons Is Actually Quite Good