The Athena Project - 7 Years, Ai Engine, and Content!
Well, I guess it's time for another wild and woolly update. In the last update I said that I was basically finished with the UI and now I was starting on the Ai Engine itself. Afterwards, I discovered that I needed to add a few more threads to the Database Editor. It took me nearly a month to fix it. On a side note, I probably will be adding some more threads to other editors, but for now, it's not a high priority. So, once I finally finished with the threading issues, I began to re-focus on the Engine. As of now, I am more or less finished with it. I say, 'more or less' because I will be perfecting it within the next stage of development.
The next stage of development for Athena is 'Content'. This is where I turn from a programmer to a writer, although, I will be making programming tweaks along the way. This is also the stage I could use everyone's input the most. Athena's personality and behaviors will be developed here. I really want the communities input on this. It won't be easy to do, but, I've been preparing myself for this stage of development for awhile now. I have some thoughts dwelling in the back of my mind. So getting your input should help me flesh some ideas out. I know that I have secluded myself while working on this project, however, now is the time for the community to throw in there two cents. I may not always interact much, but I do still listen.
Here are some of my ideas concerning Athena:
IDEA #1 - Conversational Threads
Athena is build around a custom text-adventure game format. For those who don't know what that is. Back around 1979, and all through the mid 80's, there were brand new cutting-edge games being made known as text-adventures. You can look this up on YouTube for specifics. These games, as the name suggests, were role-playing games that were totally based in text. If you wanted to go north of a house, you would type NORTH, if you wanted to pick up a battleaxe, you would type PICK UP AXE. Another name for this genre is IF or Interactive Fiction. It was like reading a book, but you made the decisions for the character. It also had stats, remembered your choices, and had countless puzzles, (ie. mazes). It was, and still is, fun to play, and there is still a community making new text-adventure games.
What does this have to do with a chatbot. Well, this allows a person to custom build conversations. Instead of the simple detect and response format of most Chatbots, Athena can have longer and more topical-based discussions. It does this by limiting the number of choices you have at each stage in the conversation, and by allowing a person to traverse a conversational thread. BASICALLY, it forces Athena to stay on topic.
I don't know if you guys can understand what I'm saying here. Much like a whole world is created in a text-adventure game, Athena's mind will be that world, and it's your job to traverse it, explore it. Athena will learn from you and use that knowledge in template style conversational threads. To trigger a conversational thread, Athena will attempt to lead you into a conversation by bating statements, hints at secrets, or by simply asking you questions that are designed to gather info. I think the success of Athena will revolve around excellent writing skills and a diverse and massive world of conversational threads.
This is where the community, such as it is, will be invaluable. I made the Node Editor so that people can make there own shareable conversational threads, so that Athena's content will continually grow and her world will become more extensive.
IDEA #2 - Games
I want to be able to play games with Athena. Art Gladstone, suggested this idea. He suggested that Athena had secrets. For instance, she would know a word, and that you had to guess what that word was. She could give hints but you had to actually guess it to receive a reward. This is a cool idea. It's so good that I thought of a few more like: having to guess a word once it's spelling has been scrambled. It could gradually get harder as you progressed. You could have riddles. Maybe even Jeopardy style Questions (ie. It is known as America's past-time: What is baseball. or Who won the Battle of Waterloo?) . You could aquire points in these games, even unlock achievements, perhaps even unlock hidden conversational threads that speak of treasures or hint at even darker mysteries.
Of course, it goes without saying, but remember, Athena is written in a text-adventure style mechanic, so.. you could play full text-adventure style games in Athena. You could roam the countryside of a forgotten world, fight demons, and ultimately save the princes.
Overall, I want to have leveling with Athena, I want there to be unlockable hidden conversations, a reward for exploring her mind. As you learn more about Athena and she learns more about you, her conversations need to get deeper. As a side note, I want to figure out a way to procedurally generate new conversations. I'm sure I could do it. I just haven't pored much thought into it yet.
Can anyone here think of any more text games that would work with Athena? I'm sure some of you can come up with something. I'm really not all that good at it. Please, don't hold back.
IDEA #3 - Tamagotchi
If anybody here remembers, a tamagotchi is a toy that the Japanese created in the 1990s with the intent to teach kids how to take care of and raise children. The tamagotchi was a small handheld electronic devise that housed a digital pet. You had to feed it (electronic food), play games with it, etc. It had a weight stat, a tiredness stat, a health stat, a lifespan, and others as well. It was a form of Ai. It is my idea to have Athena have some of these tamagotchi features. It adds realism, a sense of immersion, and some urgency to take care of your Chatbot. I'm sure a lifespan may be out of the question, but the need for Athena to play games and be interactive with the user could put Athena in a better mood, and thus she would give happier responses. I would definitely consider moods as a stat. Your actions would effect it or correct it. Hunger could be added as well, but I'm not sure what you would feed a chatbot. All moods and current states should be reflected in the Avatar's animations. Also, stats can be displayed in the UI if you want that. Again, this is open for others opinions and ideas.
Well, I think I've said enough for now. I've also added an update video to my YouTube channel but it is just a brief update. What I've written here is just for this community, however, you can share it if you think you know some people who can help with this. Thanks as always.