Artificial intelligence? More like artificial deficiency. At least that seems to be the case for recent Square Enix AI tech demo Portopia Serial Murder Case. The reactions on Steam, and on the internet, aren't probably what the company expected.
The Japanese game company debuted its AI tech demo as the first use of Natural Language Processing (NPL) in a video game. NPL is a technology that allows computers to learn from the language which we use every day which, when applied to a text adventure, should make the overall gameplay and interaction with the characters more natural and less boring than usual, right?
Well, apparently no. Something has apparently gone wrong in in the way Square Enix has implemented the AI for the demo. Players have been reporting issues with the dialogue which seems to be randomly populated with words that the AI expects the player to use. In order to progress, the player is basically "forced" to guess what the AI wants.
The tech demo actually aimed at bringing back for modern players the classic Portopia Serial Murder case, an adventure originally designed by Dragon Quest-creator Yuji Horii which originally debuted in Japan in 1983. The game ended up being hugely influential, especially in Japan for the whole visual novel genre.
"This is an insult to a game with such an important legacy" says one of the Steam reviews. Another goes on explaining how "the parser feels totally arbitrary, sometimes requiring grammatical things like articles or possessive pronouns and sometimes not." Another reviewer bitterly concludes "early text-based RPGs are way smarter at responses than this".
Square Enix has yet to comment on the issues reported by many of the players, so it remains to be seen if they are planning to fix the problems or, instead, just release a straightforward port of the game without any of the AI issues within. But one thing is for sure: this sounds like one serious Portopia Case to be solved as swiftly as possible.
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