A good open world game is filled with little details that add to a player's sense of immersion. One of the key elements is the presence of background chatter. Each piece of dialog you hear is known as a "bark" and must be individually written by the game's creators — a time consuming, detailed task. Ubisoft, maker of popular open world gaming series like Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs, hopes to shorten this process with Ghostwriter, a machine learning tool that generates first drafts of barks.
To use Ghostwriter, narrative writers input the character and type of interaction they are looking to create. The tool then produces variations, each with two slightly different options, for writers to review. As the writers make edits to the drafts, Ghostwriter updates, ideally producing more tailored options moving forward.
The idea here is to save game writers time to focus on the big stuff. "Ghostwriter was created hand-in-hand with narrative teams to help them complete a repetitive task more quickly and effectively, giving them more time and freedom to work on games' narrative, characters, and cutscenes," Ubisoft states in a video release.
Ubisoft touts Ghostwriter as an "AI" tool — the big thing at the moment with seemingly every company, from Google to Microsoft, hopping onboard the AI train.
Like similar tools, though, the question is how to get people — namely staff — to actually use it. According to Ben Swanson, the R&D scientist at Ubisoft who created Ghostwriter, the biggest challenge now is integrating the tool into production. To better facilitate this, the production team created Ernestine, a back-end tool that facilitates anyone to create new machine learning models in Ghostwriter.
If Ghostwriter proves effective, writers should be able to spend their time and energy building more detailed and engaging gaming worlds to explore.