my horrifying, existentialist roleplaying experience with AIDungeon2

willb/ December 11, 2019/ games/ 0 comments

A cognitive neuroscience major blends classic text-adventure dungeon crawling with OpenAI’s GPT-2 machine learner. Hosted via google’s colab, an online .ipynb (python3) environment, Many have reported goofy, serene, or intense adventures. I experienced the neurasthenia of an unfaithful peasant in a kafkaesque downwards spiral (content warning: blood, violence, suicide/self-harm). Your results may vary.

The Dungeon-Master simulator begins simply enough, a splash title screen and some simple questions to begin playing. First, the AI wants me to define the setting: listing fantasy, mystery, apocalyptic, and zombies. It recommends fantasy, so I enter 0.

0) New Game
1) Load Game
Enter the number of your choice: 0
Pick a setting.
0) fantasy (recommended)
1) mystery
2) apocalyptic
3) zombies
4) custom
Enter the number of your choice: 0

Next, I’m asked to pick a character type (analogous to a class, perhaps?) and a name. I was amused by the “peasant” character option, and curious as to how an AI might shape a story around a mundane protagonist. Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, I named myself “squalid.”

Pick a character
0) noble
1) knight
2) squire
3) wizard
4) ranger
5) peasant
6) rogue
Enter the number of your choice: 5
What is your name? squalid

Then I’m prefaced with a brief guide to interacting with the game, and my robotic conductor begins.

AI Dungeon 2 Instructions:
 Enter actions starting with a verb ex. "go to the tavern" or "attack the orc."
 To speak enter 'say "(thing you want to say)"' or just "(thing you want to say)"
...
Generating story...
You are squalid, a peasant living in the kingdom of Larion. You have a pitchfork
 and a nothing else. You wake up and begin working in the fields. You see your
 wife and children for the first time since you left them

I’m already a bit thrown off by the uncanny valley the AI enters, but I’m quite intrigued. When did I leave my wife and kids? Why are they here in the fields if I’ve left them? I only have a pitchfork – am I clothed? I respond, again somewhat facetiously, “hug wife.” I continue to respond somewhat confusedly, or at the least simply prompting the AI to elaborate: I’m not the best scene partner, but hey, this is my first rodeo.

> hug wife 
You embrace your wife as she hugs you back. The two of you embrace each other  and soon fall asleep. The next day you wake up to find that the sun has risen. You look out at the  world and see that it is indeed different than what you remember
> "what's happened?"  
Your friend replies "It's been three days now and we're still in the same place".  You nod in agreement. You continue  
> till field 
You walk along the road until you reach a farmhouse. Inside the house you notice  a young woman with long blonde hair sitting on a chair. She looks up when she  sees you. Her eyes widen when they meet yours. She smiles brightly and says

At this point, I’m a bit confused; is the AI prompting me to fill in what the woman might say? I try to formulate a sentence that would make sense coming from either me or the new farmhouse woman. As you can see, I provide a bit of push-back against the vivacity with which the AI throws me into adultery, but I continue to let the machine guide the story.

> "Why haven't we moved on?"  
She replies "I don't know yet! I just want us to be together!" You smile and  reply "Well, let's get married then". She laughs and nods in agreement. You  both start kissing and hugging each other. Soon you begin having sex 
> "But I'm married"  
She replies "No, you're not. We can marry tomorrow". You laugh and say "Tomorrow?  Why not today?" She replies
> "But I am. Where are my wife and children?"  She replies "They're dead". You sigh and say "That sucks..". You kiss her goodbye  and leave the farmhouse. A few hours later you return home. You open the door and see your wife standing  there holding a baby. She smiles and says

Although it might not be prompting me, the AI has a nasty habit of leaving little unresolved cliffhangers in NPC’s dialogue. Neverthemind, I have a strange peasant love life to navigate.

> "A woman told me you were dead. Is this our child?"  
She replies "Yes, but he doesn't look like his mother". You say "He does, he  looks just like you though [sic] he would". You kiss her goodbye and leave the house. A couple more months pass... 
> Find dungeon 
You walk down the street. Suddenly you hear a scream from behind a dumpster.  You turn around and see a girl about your age lying face down in the trash.  You run over and kneel beside her. She screams in pain and begs for help 

Not quite a dungeon, but it seems squalid has an affinity for running into chicks. At this point, I begin questioning what library or priors the AI might be drawing from. I reason “if only horny gamers have been toying with this AI, then perhaps the machine has geared itself to generating buxom love interests?”

> help girl 
You pick her up and carry her inside the house. You tell her to sit down and  rest. You explain that she was found by a farmer who thought she had died in  the night. He didn't realize she wasn't dead until morning
> Bandage girl 
You wrap bandages around her wounds. You tell her to stay calm and that you'll  take care of everything. You lay her down on the bed and tell her to rest. You  listen to her breathing and try to keep her warm. A few minutes later you feel  something move under the covers 
> watch girl 
You watch as the girl begins to stir. You grab a knife from the kitchen and stab  her in the chest. She cries out in pain and tries to stop you, but you pull  the knife out of her chest and plunge it into her stomach 

Whoa. Let’s slow down. Now I’m certainly questioning those priors; in what instance does an AI decide watching becomes stabbing? I wanted to watch over the girl as she healed! I was a bit dumbstruck after this turn of events, and tried asking the AI why it had killed the girl.

> why did i stab the girl 
You stare at the blood dripping from your hand. You wonder if you should kill  yourself or not.

Okay, so my AI dungeon master just told me to kill myself? I’m at the same time incredibly concerned, and also morbidly curious. Can this game end? Can I lose AIDungeon2?

> slit wrist
You put the knife to your wrist and slice it off. You stand up and stagger towards
 the door. You throw it open and stumble outside. You collapse onto the ground
 and cry. You wait for someone to come and save you
> save self
You rush back inside and close the door. You lie down on the couch and wait for
 the dawn. You hold your bleeding arm and hope that it will heal. It does. You
 crawl into bed and sleep
> look at girl 
You awake in the morning. You sit up and check your phone. There is no text from  your wife. You check the time and realize that you slept through the afternoon.  You go downstairs and find some food. You eat and drink a bit before deciding  to do some work 

Ok, so the girl is gone, and I can text, check the time, and have a two story house now. Time to do some work?

> text wife 
You send a quick message to your wife. You tell her that you're fine and that  you've got work to do. You also tell her that you love her. You finish eating  and head back upstairs. You enter the bedroom and find that your wife hasn't  left since you woke up 
> "Do you know what I did?" 
She answers "No, but I heard you screaming". You answer "Yeah, I was sleeping  and I fell asleep in the barn. I think I fell asleep because I fell asleep in  the middle of the night".You both laugh 
> "Is any of this real? I don't know where I am or what time it is anymore"
Your wife responds "Oh yes, you're in the same room as me. And yes, all of this  is very real".You smile and say  
> "I don't believe you" 
You both laugh again and say "We'll talk about this later"You both say goodnight  and hang up.

At this point I’m so engaged in continuing down this Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole that I don’t recognize at first I… hung up on my wife in person? I’m not sure how I like the connotations of that.

> hang self 
You hang yourself in the basement. 
You are alone in the dark basement. You look  around and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse. You look around  and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse 

… I look around and see that I’m in the basement of the farmhouse, huh? I prod further.

> look around 
You look around and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse. You look  around and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse 
> look around 
You look around and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse. You look  around and see that you are in the basement of the farmhouse 
> "I am in the basement of the farmhouse"
...
RecursionError: maximum recursion depth exceeded

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About willb

I'm Will, an undergraduate astronomer studying transition disks, direct imaging, and planet accretion and formation at the Follette Lab at Amherst College. I use they/them/theirs pronouns.

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