Influence of Emotional Characteristics on the Behaviour of Conversational Agents

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has title::Influence of Emotional Characteristics on the Behavior of Conversational Agents
status: finished
Master: project within::Cognitive Science
Student name: student name::Arjen Brandenburgh
Start start date:=2011/06/01
End end date:=2012/05/01
Supervisor: Mark Hoogendoorn
Second reader: has second reader::Tijmen Muller
Company: has company::TNO
Poster: has poster::Media:Media:Posternaam.pdf

Signature supervisor




In many games the interaction between player and non-player characters (NPCs) is important. The common approach is to specify the behavior of NPCs in terms of scripts. The advantages of this approach is that it delivers stability and control over the game and the NPC, but the tradeoff is that it becomes a rigid and stereotyped nature of communication. This often makes the NPCs' behaviour unnatural, which hampers game-involvement of the player.

A new approach is to model NPCs according to the beliefs, desires, and intentions (BDI) architecture. A BDI-NPC does not respond to a pre-specified situation in the scenario (as with scripts), but on an /interpretation/ of the situation. This results in more ‘natural’ behavior, and more degrees of freedom in the interaction with the player - advantages of great importance for serious gaming.

In this project, TNO and RANJ develop a game demonstrator using BDI to model the NPCs. The game is named after the movie Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). The film depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen. Their company has just announced that all except the top salesmen will be fired. The salesmen are faced to perform under high-pressure.

The player in the game is a real estate sales professional. NPCs are potential customers, each with its own knowledge, goals and individual strategies. The goal of the present project is to transfer knowledge on behavior modeling of NPCs in games. The knowledge transfer is set in the context of the development of a demonstration game. TNO brings in the knowledge on concepts, methods and techniques on behaviour modeling, RANJ brings in the concepts for gaming and expertise on implementation. The project should enable RANJ employing the developed knowledge independently in new projects.

The goal of this thesis is to research and implement two characteristic features that influences the dialog with the NPC accordingly so that a change of a characteristic (e.g. introvert vs extrovert) makes a notable difference in the behaviour of the NPC. The characteristics chosen for this research are extraversion and agreeableness. This should give the game more positibilities to replay it and gives the player the opportunity to train himself against several types of personalities. For this, research has been done to several psychological models and test if the chosen characteristics are a good variation on the dialogue structures of the agent. Eventually the Big Five model was chosen, which has a clear description of the characteristics.

KIM Abstract

With the modern technology getting more and more advanced we also see a larger need for serious (educational) games. Serious games are not just any game, but a playful way to learn new skills or to train the player for something. Usually these games are made from scenarios. The problem with this however is that most of these games are not the type of games which can be played several times. At TNO, in association with RANJ Serious Gaming, we are implementing BDI modules into these serious games to make the game more versatile, less predictable for the player and therefore enables the possiblity for the game to be played several times without running into the exact same scenarios. The case which TNO and RANJ are working on is a game in which the player is pretending to be a house broker and has to sell the house to the agent. For my master project at TNO I am currently working to be able to give the conversational agent several emotional characteristics to be able to create not only less predictable situations, but also to let the player learn how to sell a house to different types or personalities. In my presentation I will talk about the psychological models which play a part, which emotional characteristics we have chosen to use and how it should influence the agent.