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Title: E-AI : an emotion architecture for agents in games & virtual worlds
Author: Slater, Stuart
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 3199
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2010
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Characters in games and virtual worlds continue to gain improvements in both their visual appearance and more human-like behaviours with each successive generation of hardware. One area that seemingly would need to be addressed if this evolution in human-like characters is to continue is in the area of characters with emotions. To begin addressing this, the thesis focuses on answering the question “Can an emotional architecture be developed for characters in games and virtual worlds, that is built upon a foundation of formal psychology? Therefore a primary goal of the research was to both review and consolidate a range of background material based on the psychology of emotions to provide a cohesive foundation on which to base any subsequent work. Once this review was completed, a range of supplemental material was investigated including computational models of emotions, current implementations of emotions in games and virtual worlds, machine learning techniques suitable for implementing aspects of emotions in characters in virtual world, believability and the role of emotions, and finally a discussion of interactive characters in the form of chat bots and non-player characters. With these reviews completed, a synthesis of the research resulted in the defining of an emotion architecture for use with pre-existing agent behaviour systems, and a range of evaluation techniques applicable to agents with emotions. To support validation of the proposed architecture three case studies were conducted that involved applying the architecture to three very different software platforms featuring agents. The first was applying the architecture to combat bots in Quake 3, the second to a chat bot in the virtual world Second Life, and the third was to a web chat bot used for e-commerce, specifically dealing with question and answers about the companies services. The three case studies were supported with several small pilot evaluations that were intended to look at different aspects of the implemented architecture including; (1) Whether or not users noticed the emotional enhancements. Which in the two small pilot studies conducted, highlighted that the addition of emotions to characters seemed to affect the user experience when the encounter was more interactive such as in the Second Life implementation. Where the interaction occurred in a combat situation with enemies with short life spans, the user experience seemed to be greatly reduced. (2) An evaluation was conducted on how the combat effectiveness of combat bots was affected by the addition of emotions, and in this pilot study it was found that the combat effectiveness was not quite statistically reduced, even when the bots were running away when afraid, or attacking when angry even if close to death. In summary, an architecture grounded in formal psychology is presented that is suitable for interactive characters in games and virtual worlds, but not perhaps ideal for applications where user interaction is brief such as in fast paced combat situations. This architecture has been partially validated through three case studies and includes suggestions for further work especially in the mapping of secondary emotions, the emotional significance of conversations, and the need to conduct further evaluations based on the pilot studies.
Supervisor: Moreton, Robert ; Buckley, Kevan ; Bridges, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: AI ; Agents ; Games ; Virtual ; Worlds ; Emotions