skip to main content

Title: A Good Story Is One in a Million: Solution Density in Narrative Generation Problems
Narrative generation systems can be classified on a spectrum from strong autonomy to strong story. Systems on the strong autonomy side treat characters as fully independent agents but may struggle to meet the author’s requirements, while those on the strong story side direct character behaviors centrally but may struggle to create the illusion of character believability. In this paper, we use benchmark story generation problems as a framework to compare the spaces of stories that could be generated by prototypical strong story and strong autonomy systems. Comparing the relative solution densities of these spaces helps us quantify how common certain desirable narrative properties are. This can be informative for system designers when deciding, for instance, whether to strictly enforce all desired properties or to generate and filter from a broader class of solutions.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 16th AAAI international conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Intelligent interactive narrative systems coordinate a cast of non-player characters to make the overall story experience meaningful for the player. Narrative generation involves a tradeoff between plot-structure requirements and quality of character behavior, as well as computational efficiency. We study this tradeoff using the example of benchmark problems for narrative planning algorithms. A typical narrative planning problem calls for a sequence of actions that leads to an overall plot goal being met, while also requiring each action to respect constraints that create the appearance of character autonomy. We consider simplified solution definitions that enforce only plot requirements or only character requirements, and we measure how often each of these definitions leads to a solution that happens to meet both types of requirements—i.e., the density with which narrative plans occur among plot- or character-requirement-satisfying sequences. We then investigate whether solution densities can guide the selection of narrative planning algorithms. We compare the performance of two search strategies: one that satisfies plot requirements first and checks character requirements afterward, and one that continuously verifies character requirements. Our results show that comparing solution densities does not by itself predict which of these search strategies will be more efficient in terms of search nodes visited, suggesting that other important factors exist. We discuss what some of these factors could be. Our work opens further investigation into characterizing narrative planning algorithms and how they interact with specific domains. The results also highlight the diversity and difficulty of solving narrative planning problems. 
    more » « less
  2. Planning-based narrative generation is effective at producing stories with a logically-sound flow of events, but it can be limiting due to the rigidity of its constraints and the high burden on the domain author to define story-world objects, initial states, and author and character goals. Giving the system the freedom to add objects and events to the story-world history arbitrarily can improve variety and reduce authorial burden, but risks leading to stories that seem jarringly contrived to the audience. I propose to use question-answering as the antidote to contrivance in a highly-generative interactive narrative system: By modeling the player's beliefs about the story world, inferring the implicit questions the player may be asking through their interactions, and answering those questions in a way consistent with the player's prior knowledge, a system could focus on creating cohesion in the ways that matter most to the player while accepting a degree of contrivance in the details that the player is likely to overlook. 
    more » « less
  3. Creating engaging interactive story-based experiences dynamically responding to individual player choices poses significant challenges for narrative-centered games. Recent advances in pre-trained large language models (LLMs) have the potential to revolutionize procedural content generation for narrative-centered games. Historically, interactive narrative generation has specified pivotal events in the storyline, often utilizing planning-based approaches toward achieving narrative coherence and maintaining the story arc. However, manual authorship is typically used to create detail and variety in non-player character (NPC) interaction to specify and instantiate plot events. This paper proposes SCENECRAFT, a narrative scene generation framework that automates NPC interaction crucial to unfolding plot events. SCENECRAFT interprets natural language instructions about scene objectives, NPC traits, location, and narrative variations. It then employs large language models to generate game scenes aligned with authorial intent. It generates branching conversation paths that adapt to player choices while adhering to the author’s interaction goals. LLMs generate interaction scripts, semantically extract character emotions and gestures to align with the script, and convert dialogues into a game scripting language. The generated script can then be played utilizing an existing narrative-centered game framework. Through empirical evaluation using automated and human assessments, we demonstrate SCENECRAFT’s effectiveness in creating narrative experiences based on creativity, adaptability, and alignment with intended author instructions.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The EngageAI Institute focuses on AI‐driven narrative‐centered learning environments that create engaging story‐based problem‐solving experiences to support collaborative learning. The institute's research has three complementary strands. First, the institute creates narrative‐centered learning environments that generate interactive story‐based problem scenarios to elicit rich communication, encourage coordination, and spark collaborative creativity. Second, the institute creates virtual embodied conversational agent technologies with multiple modalities for communication (speech, facial expression, gesture, gaze, and posture) to support student learning. Embodied conversational agents are driven by advances in natural language understanding, natural language generation, and computer vision. Third, the institute is creating an innovative multimodal learning analytics framework that analyzes parallel streams of multimodal data derived from students’ conversations, gaze, facial expressions, gesture, and posture as they interact with each other, with teachers, and with embodied conversational agents. Woven throughout the institute's activities is a strong focus on ethics, with an emphasis on creating AI‐augmented learning that is deeply informed by considerations of fairness, accountability, transparency, trust, and privacy. The institute emphasizes broad participation and diverse perspectives to ensure that advances in AI‐augmented learning address inequities in STEM. The institute brings together a multistate network of universities, diverse K‐12 school systems, science museums, and nonprofit partners. Key to all of these endeavors is an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    more » « less
  5. Tracking characters and locations throughout a story can help improve the understanding of its plot structure. Prior research has analyzed characters and locations from text independently without grounding characters to their locations in narrative time. Here, we address this gap by proposing a new spatial relationship categorization task. The objective of the task is to assign a spatial relationship category for every character and location co-mention within a window of text, taking into consideration linguistic context, narrative tense, and temporal scope. To this end, we annotate spatial relationships in approximately 2500 book excerpts and train a model using contextual embeddings as features to predict these relationships. When applied to a set of books, this model allows us to test several hypotheses on mobility and domestic space, revealing that protagonists are more mobile than non-central characters and that women as characters tend to occupy more interior space than men. Overall, our work is the first step towards joint modeling and analysis of characters and places in narrative text. 
    more » « less