Square Enix recently announced the release of Square Enix AI Tech Preview: The Portopia Serial Murder Case, a free tutorial demo for PC via Steam, released on April 24th. This program explores the application of modern Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology in the 1983 adventure game, The Portopia Serial Murder Case, created by Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii.
Originally, adventure games such as The Portopia Serial Murder Case used a “command input” system, whereby players would type text to control their character. These systems offered great freedom but were often frustrating for players who struggled to find the correct wording for desired actions due to limitations in computer performance and NLP technology at the time.
Now, 40 years later, the advances in both computer hardware performance and NLP technology have been tremendous. Square Enix aims to showcase modern NLP capabilities and its potential impact on adventure games using The Portopia Serial Murder Case as an example, while also helping players deepen their understanding of NLP techniques.
NLP is a technology that enables computers to understand and generate natural language, which is the language used in everyday communication. Using deep learning on large sets of textual data, systems can understand complex text input (Natural Language Understanding, or NLU) and generate human-like responses (Natural Language Generation, or NLG).
NLU is an important area of research within NLP that seeks to help computers correctly interpret natural language, even when it contains ambiguities. In this tech preview, NLU is used to enable the detective mini-character to understand the player’s instructions.
Speech-to-text (STT) or Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology converts voice input into written text, allowing players to give instructions using their voice instead of a keyboard. However, to optimally experience this feature, a CUDA-capable GPU and a large amount of VRAM are required.
NLG is a fundamental research topic in the field of NLP, with applications such as AI engines that answer questions on behalf of human operators and AI-powered chatbots. The tech preview originally included a function based on NLG technology, in which the system issued natural responses to questions without pre-written responses. However, due to the risk of AI generating unethical responses, NLG functionality has been omitted from this version. Square Enix plans to reintroduce this functionality as soon as the research ensures a safe and enjoyable environment for players.