Activision has found a rather unique solution for creating realistic and convincing non-playable characters (NPCs) in future games.
The publisher was spotted (via PCGamesN) to have filed a trademark (US2019291007) for a system that analyzes online profiles of players to create clones of those very players. It starts with monitoring player-activity such as in-game handles, sportsmanship, playstyles, choice of weapons and items, choice of modes and companions, and spending habits. The mining methods also cover demographic information such as gender, location, income levels, and such.
Once all of the necessary details have been stacked, the patented system will then begin creating NPCs that behave in similar fashion. Hence, populating online games with clones that will be difficult to distinguish from real players. Activision is also involving artificial intelligence to better control behaviors so that NPCs will mimic their human counterparts to the bone.
NPCs may be styled to resemble human players in terms of both player profile attributes and gameplay actions such that players may not recognize NPCs as non-human, computer-controlled players.
What’s really interesting is that Activision wants its lifelike NPCs to do more than just gameplay. In an example, the patent description quoted a scenario where a NPC demonstrates sportsmanlike conduct during gameplay because its human counterpart demonstrated sportsmanship as well.
Activision is certainly looking to blur the lines between human players and online bots in the future, and the idea, while a bit creepy, has merit. Being able to mimic online players would also allow developers to forge storylines and dialogues. The Destiny franchise may as well be creating NPCs on the fly to generate random missions based on the players. It will heavily rely on machine learning techniques but you can imagine as well how far Activision could go in this regard.
Elsewhere, Modern Warfare is gearing up for launch later in the month. There’s still a lot of noise over the netcode, availability of weapons in supply drops, absent details about post-release content support, and the Specs Ops Survival Mode being kept exclusive to PlayStation 4 for a whole year. Infinity Ward has promised to provide an update on all concerns in the coming days.
Activision was rumored to be taking the boycott campaign seriously. If you’re not part of the protest, you can pre-order Modern Warfare before it releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25, 2019.