[MUD-Dev] Chatbot

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Fri Jul 6 08:32:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Aaron Mulder posted on Thursday, July 05, 2001 4:43 PM

> This is exactly where I was going with the language parsing
> thread.  Step one is for the NPC to understand what you're saying
> to it.  Step to is for it to think of something coherent to say
> back.  We'll just take this one step at a time.  :)

> BTW, the parsing of sentences is coming along well.  It takes a
> surprisingly small amount of code, and then a big dictionary.
> Still have a ways to go on attaching the concepts to the words.
> I'm trying to figure out how to modularize the words and concepts
> so they don't all have to be loaded at once, and somehow find a
> good balance between all NPCs sharing the same data set (which
> performs well but doesn't distinguish them much), and NPCs all
> having a unique data set (which makes them very personalized, but
> required a ton of background for each one and isn't very
> efficient).

Hmm, I didn't elaborate on how ALICE works.  Here's more


If you've ever talked with Eliza (one of the first chatbots, read
more here: http://alicebot.org/articles/wallace/eliza.html), you'll
find that ALICE is a more advanced version.  And the trick is, these
chatbots are not using massive dictionaries.  It's simply spewing
back what you say to them in a way that seems as if the bot is
genuinely conversing with you.  It's an illusion (see
http://alicebot.org/articles/wallace/pnambic.html for more details).

So if you swear at it, and ALICE has a list of swear words, it
responds with, "Can't you be more polite?" or "No need to be rude!"

If you ask it a question, and it's not in a list of predefined
answers, Alice may say, "Very interesting, tell me more" or "I'm not
sure I know what you're talking about, can you elaborate?"

Then you start getting fancy with descriptors.  If the PC says, "I
hate NOUN" the NPC can say, "I know what you mean, NOUNs bug me

Sometimes this work.  Sometimes, it doesn't.  For people who are
unaccustomed to this kind of interaction, it can seem very realistic
for short conversations.

For MUDs, the next step is to create different templates of ALICE
for your NPCs.  We have grumpy ALICE, happy ALICE, polite ALICE,
aggressive ALICE, etc.  Tweak the way the responses are said, and
VOILA!  You now have a foundation to speak with the various NPCs
that will make them respond in a semi-logical manner.  And of
course, you can always pile on the dictionary later to customize
each particular PC.

Point being: you can fake communication to a limited degree, as
ALICE proves, without coding massive dictionaries to account for
every noun and verb.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator

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