Jesse Woo
E3 2016: Gyre Preview
Does it include gymbling in the wabe?
06.17.16 - 10:24 AM

Evodent Interactive is a small Canadian game studio, but it might as well be a Silicon Valley tech start-up. Its upcoming game, Gyre, relies heavily on an artificial intelligence program dubbed Toska to procedurally generate both story and gameplay. As advances to AI allow computers to drive cars, write books, and play Jeopardy, why couldn't a computer create a video game? If we are to believe Evodent, that is exactly what they have achieved with Gyre.

According to Evodent's creative director and technological lead, Toska will measure a myriad subtle aspects of player behavior, crunch the numbers, and create contextual story and gameplay that will be most meaningful for that individual player. For instance, if the player acts cautiously, always firing from cover and conserving ammunition, the game will generate encounters that rely on defensive tactics; if they prefer to run and gun, combat will adjust accordingly. If they demonstrate a reticence to fight at all, Toska will create a game that relies on cunning and political intrigue, eschewing combat altogether.

Similarly, the game will populate story arcs and characters based on Toska's observations. Rather than simply measure scripted choices on a good-evil binary, Toska will analyze story choice the way it measure gameplay behavior. Gyre could be a story about a hero overcoming a singular villain, or it could put you in the role of a conquering anti-hero who must subdue a city. The developers believe that the art of storytelling is actually a science, where all of the elements of good, meaningful story can be quantified and calculated.

Some elements of Gyre are constant: it is set in a steampunk sci-fi world where androids are sentient, the player assumes the role of one such android, and the game allows for parkour-like roaming and exploration. Beyond that, the gameplay and story will largely be up to the player. Whether Gyre and its Toska engine can deliver meaningful, contextually rich gameplay and story through AI procedural generation remains an open question, but the idea is certainly interesting.