Review of The Gaming Chatbot – Captain William Wrathe

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Captain Wrathe (he likes to call himself Cap’n Billy) is actually a research project of the Nanyang Technological University. The goal is to see if something with minimal investment can be deployed across a variety of platforms and industry verticals.

Functions

The pirate is a chatbot which functions using the Unity web player on PCs. The reason why this needs to be installed is because he is a three-dimensional character. Nanyang Technological University could have gone with something simple; but, always looking for a challenge, they specifically wanted to see if they could develop a chatbot that could have potential applications in gaming.

Game chatbots require them to have a specific character. You might have noticed this in several games that allow you to chat with characters. Captain Wrathe is just one persona of the simple Artificial Intelligence program that they have developed. He can be reprogrammed quite easily to suit different roles, which includes changes to speech patterns, vocabulary, cadences and even gender with suitable responses reformulated with minimal effort. With Captain William Wrathe already being a three-dimensional chatbot capable of both speech, body language and displaying emotions, he (or rather ‘it’) will fit right into any game.

This could bring down game development costs considerably. With Singapore becoming a game development destination, this technology could help a lot.

Some of major the game development publishers that already present have studios in Singapore include

  • Ubisoft (Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, Prince of Persia)
  • Electronic Arts (FIFA, Medal of Honor, Need for Speed, Star Wars, NBA Live)
  • Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft series)
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment (it develops games for the PlayStation console series)

It would be great if Captain Billy Wrathe or one of his avatars make their way into one of these famous games.

But the potential applications for the fun loving pirate go beyond gaming. Three-dimensional chat bots are still something of a rarity. Were Captain Billy or another persona based on similar technology were to be implemented on say a government or weather website, there would be more user engagement. Chatbots are gaining ground, but chatbots that provide entertainment and still answer queries – that is something very few have explored.

Verdict

The Captain gets a score of 3 out of 5. This is because he is still under development, and in a nascent stage as of now. He needs to update his knowledge considerably. However, there is no doubt that the team at Nanyang Technological University will refine him into a gentleman when they are done with him.

At present, his pirate speak is bit hard to decipher. While this is done on purpose, one can only imagine how the technology will work with other characters.

The real problem is that the Unity Player that needs to be installed. This effectively rules out Chrome browser users, and inconveniences Internet Explorer, Opera, and Firefox users. Hence the current rating.

Chrome is the world’s most popular browser worldwide. Its popularity is due to security loopholes with Firefox, and Internet Explorer is slow. Opera is gaining popularity among mobile users on Android platforms, but it doesn’t figure anywhere near the top three browsers.

It remains to be seen how many would be willing to abandon the safety of their favorite Chrome browser for an encounter with the Captain. Captain William Wrathe has been designed to work on Android devices.

It is essential that Captain William Wrathe works natively (without having to install any other applications) across all operating systems. Linux users may be a minority, but there is a growing pool of ChromeOS users. Both cannot be left out. And then there is the all-prevalent iOS user population to be considered. In Singapore, iPhone/iPad users cannot be ignored.

It is hoped that Nanyang Technological University will overcome this hurdle as well.

 

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