This upcoming Sunday, Oct 23, I’m doing a talk at Roguelike Celebration, a conference about the creation, appreciation and analysis of roguelikes; that odd genre of game incorporating procedural generation, permanent consequences (often called permadeath) and maximalist systems.
This year, I’m talking about a project I’ve been working on for nearly 8 years on and off. I haven’t talked about it at all publicly, except a quick demo on a Dirty Rectangles stream last year.
The project is Spirit of the Ages, in the immersive sim genre, where you play as a series of characters through history, co-generating with a world as it grows and changes. It’s a deranged beast of a project (as all roguelikes are), and one that I’ve put aside for years at a time before coming back again when the inspiration strikes. After the forced seclusion of the pandemic, I hit an insight around September 2020 that led to the most recent flurry of work.
My talk is titled Simulating History as You’re Living Through It AKA Everyone is a Bunch of Concerns in a Trench Coat, and the keyword is Concern. I’ll be talking about how I built the AI for agents in SOTA to feel like a set of cultures that shifts and changes over time. As the player, I want you to feel like you have a bit of tangible influence, but to still feel surprised by Rube Goldberg-like outcomes that you may have had an influence on. A technically correct but more boring title could be “Composable and Transmissable Agent AI via Atomic ‘Concerns’, as inspired by Internal Family Systems“. This has some similarity to previous work of mine:
* Moatboat, a VR app that used voice input to turn declarative sentences into AI behaviour, i.e. “bears chase sheep”
* The ouija-board like interface in The Aluminum Cat, where remote audience interacted with a live performer using only their mice.