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Game design in Ubisoft's NEO NPC prototype

Nathan Yu
Nathan Yu
April 12, 2024
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During GDC 2024, Ubisoft shared their first player-facing generative AI experiment NEO NPC, which leverages the Inworld Engine to power NPC reasoning, cognition, and real-time perception and awareness of the game environment. Let's break down some game design decisions that were made in that demo using footage from Corbin Brown who was invited to playtest.

Going beyond role play to impact gameplay, Ubisoft created conversational goals that could unlock new relationship levels. As the player progresses by leveling up and building rapport with Bloom, you can imagine new areas of Bloom’s brain being unlocked, revealing new side quests, missions, and knowledge. These game states are linked to the Inworld Engine, which powers NPC cognition, perception, and behavior. 

In an action game, movesets may include slashing, parrying, dashing, or jumping. With NEO NPCs, conversational moves are derived from the tone of the conversation – whether the player is ⚔️ antagonizing, 🫶 caring, or 💁🏿‍♀️ bragging to the NPC. 

The client-side intent recognition acknowledges players’ moves, and can be mapped to Inworld’s Goals & Actions to acknowledge players moves and trigger corresponding goals.

While Bloom has personality and knowledge that was created by Ubisoft’s narrative designers, he is also capable of ingesting real-time inputs from the player. In this situation, Inworld’s flash and long-term memory have noted Corbin Brown’s affinity for burgers, which Bloom brings back to the conversation, offering a more personalized and entertaining experience for the player.

During his playtest, Corbin Brown shared, “It's very interesting because you can definitely build relationships...and it really adds another layer because everyone's experience is different at that point.” Check out his full playtest of the Ubisoft NEO NPC prototype below.

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