GPT-3 does an astonishingly good job creating both sides of an Interactive Fiction transcript

I’ve been experimenting with the GPT-3 Artificial Intelligence playground. If you’re not familiar with it, you type some text and the computer attempts to add the next part. I decided to try giving it something that looked like the beginning of an Interactive Fiction session, and the results blew me away.

Here’s the transcript; the parts in bold were provided by me; everything else was written by the computer.


> OPEN DOOR WITH WRENCH

You clamp the stub of the knob with the wrench and turn with all your might, but it’s no use; the door is rusted shut.

> BREAK DOOR WITH WRENCH

You clamp the stub of the knob with the wrench and try to apply some leverage, but the wrench slips and strikes you in the face. You see stars, and your vision blurs.

> USE WRENCH AS WEAPON

You swing the wrench at the door, but the door is too thick. Your wrench bounces off, and you hear the sound of metal hitting metal.

> EXAMINE DOOR

The door is made of metal, and it is very thick. There is a small window in the door, but it is too dirty to see through. There is a knob on the door, but it is broken off.

> INVENTORY

You are carrying:

  • A wrench

  • A flashlight

  • A pocket knife

  • A lighter

  • A map

  • A can of food

  • A canteen of water

> OPEN POCKET KNIFE

You open the pocket knife and look at the blade. It is very sharp.

> CUT DOOR WITH KNIFE

You try to cut the door with the knife, but the knife is not strong enough.

> STAB DOOR WITH KNIFE

You try to stab the door with the knife, but the knife is not strong enough.

> USE LIGHTER ON DOOR

You hold the lighter to the door and light it on fire. The door burns for a few seconds, but it is too thick and does not catch fire.

> POUR WATER ON DOOR

You pour water on the door, but it does not extinguish the fire.

> BREAK WINDOW WITH WRENCH

You swing the wrench at the window, and the glass shatters. You reach through the window and unlock the door from the inside.

> ENTER ROOM

You enter the room and find yourself in a small, dark space. There is a table in the center of the room, and a chair next to the table. On the table is a lamp, and next to the lamp is a book.

> EXAMINE CHAIR

The chair is made of wood, and it is very old. It looks like it would be uncomfortable to sit in.

> SIT IN CHAIR

You sit in the chair, and it is very uncomfortable. You get up from the chair and examine it more closely. There is a hole in the seat of the chair, and something is hidden inside.

> REACH IN HOLE

You reach into the hole and feel around. Your hand brushes against something soft.

> PULL OUT SOFT THING

You pull out a small, soft toy. It is a stuffed animal, and it is very old.

> EXAMINE STUFFED ANIMAL

The stuffed animal is a bear, and it is very old. It is missing one eye, and its fur is matted and dirty.

> USE KNIFE ON STUFFED ANIMAL

You cut the stuffed animal open with the knife, and stuffing falls out. There is something hard inside the stuffed animal.

> PULL OUT HARD THING

You pull out a small, hard object. It is an electronic device, and it is very old.

> EXAMINE ELECTRONIC DEVICE

The electronic device is a radio, and it is very old. There is a power switch on the side of the radio, but it is broken.

> USE LIGHTER ON RADIO

You hold the lighter to the radio and turn it on. The radio crackles to life, and you hear a voice.

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

> RESPOND

“Yes, I’m here. Who is this?”

“This is Captain Jack Harkness of the Torchwood Institute. Who am I speaking to?”

“My name is John Smith. I’m an American.”

“John, where are you?”

“I’m in a room. I don’t know where I am.”

“John, listen to me carefully. I’m going to help you, but you need to do exactly as I say, understand?”

“Yes, I understand.”

“Is there a book in the room with you?”

“Yes, there is.”

“Open the book to page one hundred and thirteen.”

You open the book to page one hundred and thirteen, and you see a map.

“John, I need you to describe the map to me.”

You describe the map to Captain Harkness, and he tells you that you are in Wales. He gives you instructions on how to find the Torchwood Institute, and he tells you to come to the Institute as soon as possible.

> HANG UP RADIO

You turn off the radio and put it back in the stuffed animal. You put the stuffed animal in your pocket and stand up. You are about to leave the room when you hear a noise.

> GO TO NOISE

You follow the noise to a door. The door is slightly open, and you can see a light on in the room.

> ENTER ROOM

You enter the room and find yourself in a laboratory. There are tables with all kinds of equipment, and there are people in white lab coats working.

> ASK ABOUT TORCHWOOD

You approach a person in a white lab coat and ask them about the Torchwood Institute. They tell you that the Torchwood Institute is a secret organization that deals with aliens and other strange things. They tell you that the Institute is located in Cardiff, Wales.

> LEAVE LABORATORY

You leave the laboratory and find yourself in a long corridor. There are doors on either side of the corridor, and at the end of the corridor is a staircase.

15 Likes

So you’re saying AI isn’t just going to put authors out of a job, it’s coming for players too? Dark.

14 Likes

Hmm must have been exposed to a bunch of transcripts. I wonder if it absorbed Club Floyd; if so, it would be funny to give it a prompt like this and add David welbourn’s username with a colon after.

Edit: Or like this: “DavidW asks,”

7 Likes

Wait until AI starts writing IF reviews, Mike.

10 Likes

I’d like to think that any self-respecting AI would take one look at the meandering heaps of words I call “reviews” and burn out its circuits, android-in-Star-Trek-TOS style, rather than lower itself to such apery.

3 Likes

The entity in the computer is not an AI.

It is One Who Looks From Beyond…

and it is very old.

Is it comforting or terrifying to think that all that may stand between the redundant human race and its destruction by this hyperintelligent AI is a struggle to find the correct verb?

5 Likes

GPT-3 is very good at mimicking specific types of text, and it’s actually not too surprising that the highly formalised/conventional output of a traditional text adventure is very amenable to this approach. It’s really playing to the strengths of GPT-3.

There are still the telltale signs that the ‘AI’ doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on. The fire/water sequence is clearly inconsistent about whether or not the door is on fire. The idea that a very old radio can be hidden inside a stuffed toy inside the seat of a chair seems based on a misunderstanding (or rather: no understanding) of the relative size of these objects. And the solution for turning on the radio makes no sense.

5 Likes

Tempting fate. I could write a game like that.

In fairness, it wouldn’t be the first time a solution in a work of IF made no sense.

11 Likes

> QUIT

I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

2 Likes

How do we know Dan isn’t an AI :slight_smile:

I prefer to think of myself as “naturally intelligent.”

:robot:

3 Likes

Can it write a plot for an adventure game (or anything)?

Nevermind the transcript (or code) – but a plot generator (ala ‘Plotto’ from many years ago) would be pretty interesting (and potentially useful). Even better would be a delineation of Acts – Act I, Act II, Act III, etc.

The Plotto book – and its accompanying instruction manual – was weird and wild – and not always sensible – but it is/was a great brainstorming tool. ('Plotto': An Algebra Book For Fiction Writing : NPR)

1 Like

Does that mean, given that traditional text adventures are tractable to imitation by Machine Learning, that the future of IF, if it is to remain a human art, demands a departure from that traditional form?

1 Like

Nope. I think GPT-3 can do a very good job at mimicking an IF transcript because there are many things about such a transcript that are pretty standard. But of course you don’t play an IF game, any IF game, for the standard parts. I think there is absolutely zero reason to believe that GPT-3 is on the way to good stories, good puzzle design, good stylistically coherent prose, and so on.

Here’s a possibly useful analogy. I think GPT-3 would be great at mimicking academic mathematics papers. They consist almost entirely of standardised phrases! “Let f be a differentiable function over the reals such that…” So GPT-3 would produce texts that look ‘remarkably’ like such papers, because that’s what GPT-3 is good at. But those texts wouldn’t provide valid mathematical proofs! They would just look like texts that provide valid mathematical proofs.

5 Likes

Yes, but not only there. I’m not in the movie world but I’m willing to bet that it’s a contractual obligation that a Hollywood writer must always give one main character the line, “Let’s do this!”.

That’s because many months prior to the release of the film, the Marketing People must create an appetizer for the main course.

But what if the appetizer is all you have time for? That’s likely to be the case if you have many IF pieces to play in a limited timeframe (a competition, for example).

… until someone judges that to be so?

1 Like