Campus and Community

Técnico student increases character’s intelligence in Skyrim

The modification of the original game developed by Manuel Guimarães has been successful in the player community and has attracted international media attention.

Until you can defeat the evil dragon, which is the great enemy of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, you must go through many stages and Non-Player Characters (NPC). The store owner who buys and sells weapons, the old farmer who rests in front of a mill or the child who plays in a frantic manner on our way became more challenging characters after the modification developed by Manuel Guimarães, a student from Técnico, who has turned the whole game into something more realistic and dynamic. “Compared with several other games, which are rich in story and good graphics, I was surprised that skyrim characters show little or almost none intelligence” explained the student.

Pedro A Santos, professor at the Department of Mathematics (IST) and researcher at GAIPS – Intelligent Agents and Synthetic Characters Group (INESC-ID), was Manuel Guimarães’ supervisor and challenged him to develop a mod (an alteration that changes some aspect of the original game) based on Comme il Faut (CiF) social simulation architecture that adds a social behaviour to characters. Skyrim’s characters can perform up to ten different social actions to reach their goals such as flirting, insulting, etc. When combined, these actions “create an unpredictable number of situations that, although being different, are consistent with the world and with the character relationships”, explains the mod author.

According to the student “this social aspect is something that players have always wanted. No one wants a game where characters simply “dump” the history and are almost “slaves” of the plot”. This mod developed by Manuel Guimarães brought a new dynamic to the game and is captivating the player community, having already more than 15 thousand different players and 95% positive reviews. This work has attracted considerable media attention, namely Eurogamer, Kotaku and Rolling Stone. Over 30 articles on this topic have already been published in more than 12 different countries such as Brazil, Germany, Russia, USA, United Kingdom, among many others.

The main goal of Manuel Guimarães, professor Pedro A. Santos and Arnav Jhala, from the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University and partner in this research , is “to show companies that video games can become more realistic, interactive and fun using the academic knowledge, in this case artificial intelligence”, points out Manuel Guimarães. Recently, the three researchers published an article that will be presented at the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG), to be held from 22 to 25 August, in New York.