Unity Technologies today announced a new feature under development aimed at aiding game developers bring their visions into reality.
The new feature is dubbed "The Semantic Game Builder Interface" and it will let developers create a natural language based description of the desired game outcome which the tool will interpret and convert into a working implementation of the game using a combination of natural language processing and a ontology of knowledge of existing game genres and games. The development is lead by Professor in Computational Linguistics Mark Höffenberg, one of the lesser known architects behind the Semantic Web.
"In my prior work [on the Semantic Web] the progress was going very slow and the Semantic Web still hasn't reached any widespread use due to the almost limitless scope of it which makes it very hard to reach a critical knowledge mass." said Mark Höffenberg. "When Unity Technologies approached me six months ago and offered me a position to make a semantic interface to building games I immediately recognized it as a very exciting opportunity because games is a much more limited domain with more or less well defined boundaries, which make it actually within reach to create a working ontology of it."
Behind the scenes the Semantic Game Building Interface will perform a lexical analysis on the description of the game to build a semantic model of the description. Markov Chains and Semi-Structured Relational Queries are then used to link the description up against a database of known information about game genres, game conventions, and popular released games, which also include data on construction and asset dependencies.
"We're building this huge database of game construction knowledge that has never been done before." said CTO Joachim Ante. Unity Technologies' experience with automated testing has come in handy here, as the process is mostly automated, mining game reviews and descriptions off the Internet, although outsourcing is used for some of the manual data can can't be constructed automatically.
According to Unity CEO David Helgason the feature is the newest among the efforts from Unity Technologies to democratize the games industry. "First we made the tools to let people focus on making fun games rather than solving technical problems. Then with the Asset Store we let people buy assets and extensions they couldn't create themselves to let anyone be able to focus on and mine their own strengths while buying things from each other to compensate for individual shortcomings. But one barrier has continued to prevent many people from making games, and that is the lack of talent. With the Semantic Game Builder Interface, that is something we're going to solve as well. We're very excited about it!" said Helgason.
The feature is going to be very easy to use, the interface consisting largely of an input field where the semantic game description is typed in. "The technology is still in an early stage, but we're seeing promising progress. Just the other day I tried to use [the Semantic Game Builder] to make a turn-based strategy game with it, and it was quite fun to play, actually." said Höffenberg, while also admitting that there may be "some manual tweaking involved" after the game has been built.
When asked about if not the new feature will result in tons of games being made that are almost identical, Helgason replied, "Sure, this kind of democratization means that there will be some, or maybe quite a lot of games made that are very similar, without a lot of originality or vision - but then again that's already the current state of the industry anyway."