Monday, April 29, 2024

AI People: Announcing the next evolution of gaming AI NPCs

Today, GoodAI proudly introduces our new game: AI People

Discover more on our official website:

Please watch announcement livestream:

The Vision

Our vision for AI People was ambitious but clear: to innovate within the gaming industry by making intelligent AI NPCs central to gameplay. We aimed to initiate a new genre of intelligent AI NPCs, just like 11 years ago, when we created the engineering genre with Space Engineers.

This vision later developed into the current form: AI People is a sandbox game where you create and play scenarios with AI NPCs that interact with each other, the environment, and you! They learn, feel emotions, pursue goals, dream, and dynamically craft an emergent AI-generated story.

Traditional gaming often features scripted NPCs with predetermined behaviors, limiting engagement and replayability. AI People revolutionizes this by introducing AI NPCs that learn and adapt to player actions in real-time. This advancement allows for evolving storylines and a richer, more immersive experience, ensuring that each player's decision significantly influences the ongoing narrative and gameplay.

We want players to feel these AI NPCs are living, sentient beings, not just scripts.

This is all orchestrated by our AI Director, which ensures that the emergent stories evolve into compelling and intriguing plots.

Our vision goes beyond AI NPCs. We foresee the next step when AI simulates the entire game logic and game states. However, the technology and HW performance are not yet ready for this. More about how we see games in 2033.

History of the project

AI People's inception can be traced back to an idea centered on a game mechanic of teaching AI NPCs. After exploring numerous prototypes, we found our direction with LLM-driven NPCs about three years ago. Since then, our team has been fervently working to make NPC behaviors robust and intriguing and adding essential features such as long-term memory. This project isn't just about introducing something novel, it's about redefining how players experience NPCs, making them 10 times more vivid and dynamic than the in-game characters we know today. And we genuinely believe in its potential.

My role in shaping AI People has mirrored my journey with Space Engineers. Overseeing the vision, game design, art style, and more technical aspects like the R&D for the AI-powered NPCs and LLMs, I am deeply intertwined with the game's evolution, ensuring we stay true to our core principles. 

After all these years, we are approaching a phase where launching an alpha release makes sense. This will allow us to engage in open development and involve the community more directly. However, this is just the beginning - there is so much more we plan to add and improve.

If you are interested in a previous version of AI People, see this presentation that I made in June 2023 at the Summer School for AI in Games at Cambridge.

Game Dynamics and Features

At its core, AI People is about shattering the current limits of NPC interaction. By leveraging the power of Large Language Models (LLMs) integrated into our in-house cognitive architecture, we've empowered NPCs with the ability to learn, interact with the environment, and communicate. They not only engage in conversation, but also actively perceive their surroundings, manage their inventories, use objects and tools, physically interact with fellow NPCs, and converse with other NPCs or the player.

We understand the great possibilities of User-Generated Content (UGC), which is why we have added an editor to our platform. This enables players to create their own unique scenarios by developing the story and personalities of the characters. We are excited to see how players will bring their imagination to life and contribute to the AI People universe by creating scenarios that we couldn't have imagined ourselves.

Key features 

  • Behavioral AI NPCs: They have unique personalities and long-term memory. They actively interact with the environment, other NPCs, and the player, skillfully utilizing tools, and setting personal goals.
  • Dynamic Gameplay: No fixed plots; NPCs' choices and emotions craft emergent stories. They adapt to players, the environment, and fellow NPCs, and establish intricate relationships.
  • Two Game Modes: Experience the world as a character or shift to creation with the integrated editor, shaping NPCs’ lives and crafting unlimited narratives.
  • Endless Replayability: Driven by AI and user content, each game session is a fresh, original, constantly evolving narrative journey.

The Road Ahead and Release

Taking inspiration from our journey with Space Engineers, our immediate plan is a soft launch an alpha version that highlights our AI Director technology. Regular updates will ensue, enriching the game with newer features and deeper content. A cornerstone of this journey will be engaging with our player community. Official announcements regarding the release date will be communicated in due time.

We aspire for AI People to reshape how you perceive and engage with in-game characters. Stay tuned for more updates!

My deepest wish is for AI People to stand out as the genre-defining game of “Intelligent NPCs”.


Q: What is AI People?
AI People is a sandbox game where you create and play scenarios with AI NPCs that interact with each other, the environment, and you! They learn, feel emotions, pursue goals, dream, and dynamically craft an emergent AI-generated story.

Q: When is the release date?
We'll announce that at a later time.

Q: What's the roadmap for releasing AI People?
Drawing from our experience with Space Engineers, our initial plan is to launch an alpha version that showcases the core capabilities of our AI Director technology. Following that, we intend to roll out regular updates, which will enrich the game with new features and content, all while actively engaging with our player community.

Q: How many characters will be in-game?
A: In any given scenario, players can typically expect around 5 NPCs to be present. While we will offer a broader range of official characters, players also will have the capability to add and share their own creations. We're not targeting large-scale simulations at the moment, as the current LLM capacities would not sufficiently support it.

Q: How many environments will be available and of what type?
At the alpha release, players will have the opportunity to a few primary scenarios set in a modern-day theme, showcasing our novel AI Director technology. Although our game is setting/theme agnostic - with aspirations to support scenarios from ancient times to the present and extend to futuristic and fantastical settings - more official scenarios will be introduced as development continues. Moreover, players will be equipped with tools to craft and share their own unique scenarios, unrestricted by a specific theme or era.

Q: What technological framework drives your AI NPCs?
AI NPCs in the game are simulated by Large Language Models (LLMs). These LLMs are integrated into our in-house cognitive architecture, encompassing features like long-term memory, working memory, episodic memory, and spatial reasoning. Additionally, our NPCs can interact with the game world through various actuators and tools, and they can adapt and learn based on feedback. This is all orchestrated by our AI Director, which ensures that the emergent stories evolve into compelling and intriguing plots.

Q: Tell me more about the technology behind AI NPCs in AI People.
The core idea is straightforward. The game generates prompts that include descriptions of the scene, agents, their bios, and any memories relevant to the current context. These prompts are then sent to the LLM, and the output delineates the actions the agents should take. The game then executes these actions. Any new memories are then post-processed and stored in various formats like long-term memory, working memory, episodic memory, and so on, ensuring they're available for future prompts. If an action generated by the LLM fails, this is flagged as error feedback, prompting the LLM to offer a correction.

The real challenge lies in ensuring this entire process results in NPCs behaving realistically in a manner that's both predictable yet surprising. We want narratives that unfold intriguingly, where players genuinely impact the lives of NPCs, and unexpected events or plot twists emerge.

Another objective is to optimize the number of LLM tokens to ensure minimal delays and negligible inference costs. At their core, our AI NPCs function as LLM agents. While they share similarities with models like AutoGPT or BabyAGI, we aim to ensure they operate seamlessly within our proprietary game environment. Additionally, our NPCs feature dynamic and expandable memory capabilities, allowing them to learn continually.

Here’s is a presentation from June 2023 with an older version of our AI Director technology.

Q: Do NPCs experience hallucinations in the game?
A: Yes, NPCs can experience hallucinations. Occasionally, they might reference events or actions, such as giving you an item, that have not actually taken place in the game world. These moments are not intentional features but aspects we continually work to improve upon.

Q: Which LLM (large language model) do you utilize?
We employ a variety of models. Our prototyping predominantly occurs on GPT-4 and GPT-3.5-Turbo. In earlier phases, we relied on GPT-3, GPT-J, and GPTNeo. For enhanced quality and alignment with our game world and narrative, we're fine-tuning some of the open-source models. This will ensure that our models can produce diverse story content seamlessly, unbiased by someone’s political views. Our goal is to run the LLM directly on the player's device to reduce inference costs and increase the player’s privacy.

Q: What are the price and infrastructure costs? How is payment for LLM inference handled?
Detailed pricing information will be announced later. For now, it's important to note that our AI NPCs operate on LLMs (large language models) housed in data centers. Given the significant infrastructure costs, especially considering that the game generates thousands of LLM tokens every hour, we're actively exploring solutions to scale this operation efficiently.

Q: Is the Space Engineers team involved in this project?
No, however, Marek Rosa, the CEO and founder of Keen Software House and creator of Space Engineers, serves as the Creative Director for AI People. The remainder of the team is comprised of professionals from various game development studios, as well as experienced AI researchers and engineers. Given the potential of AI People to pioneer a new genre of intelligent NPCs, it's essential to have a team that's well-versed in both AI research and game development.

Q: Tell me more about Space Engineers.
Space Engineers is a sandbox game about engineering, construction, exploration, and survival in space and on planets. Players can build spaceships, space stations, planetary outposts, and even pilot ships through space to explore planets or gather resources. The game offers both creative and survival modes, emphasizing physics-based realism, where everything in the game can be assembled, disassembled, damaged, or destroyed.Space Engineers has seen consistent engagement since its release, with over 5 million copies sold. One notable aspect of the game is its active modding community. It has the 4th largest Workshop on Steam, hosting over 500,000 mods, ships, stations, and worlds. This extensive user-generated content has contributed to the game's adaptability and appeal over its decade-long presence in the market.

Q: Why is GoodAI venturing into game development when its mission is “to build AGI, help humanity, and understand the universe”?
With the emergence of LLMs, we pivoted from our previous AGI strategies to fully embrace LLM-powered agents equipped with long-term memory. Introducing AI NPCs into a game provides an ideal environment for testing and refining these models. Games offer a forgiving space where errors come at a low cost, and experimentation is encouraged. They allow us to harmonize the demands of a use case with the existing capabilities of AI. Plus, we genuinely enjoy the process of game creation!However, this game is just one facet of our initiatives at GoodAI. We're also spearheading projects like the Charlie Mnemonic - a personal assistant with long-term memory, LTM Benchmark and LTM systems, and the GoodAI Groundstation - an AI-driven platform for managing drone fleets (example here).

Q: What's your approach towards UGC (user-generated content)?
We're highly interested in the potential of UGC, such as modding, introducing new scenarios, designing character visuals, and developing distinct bios/personalities, as well as originating stories.

Q: What distinguishes the NPCs in AI People from other GPT-powered NPCs?
While many GPT-powered NPCs are limited to conversations, NPCs in AI People go beyond, emerging as advanced behavioral entities. They actively perceive their environment, move within it, interact with the world using items and tools, manage their inventories, physically interact with fellow NPCs, and choose to converse with other NPCs and the player. On top of this, our AI Director orchestrates their behavior into a convincing narrative.

Q: What distinguishes the NPCs in AI People from the conventional NPCs in most games?
Traditional game NPCs are scripted and predictable. AI People introduces LLM-powered NPCs with individual personalities, biographies, long-term memory, and learning abilities. These NPCs actively observe their surroundings, establish goals, interact with objects, items, and other characters, and adapt based on feedback from both players and the environment. This dynamic gameplay continuously evolves with fresh scenarios. Beyond mere dialogue, they showcase a comprehensive behavioral AI, reflecting their unique thoughts and plans.

Q: On which platforms will AI People be released?
Initially, we are targeting the PC platform. However, we may consider expanding to other platforms in the future, including mobile, console, VR, and AR.

Q: Is AI People a single-player or multiplayer game?
Currently, our focus is on delivering a rich single-player experience, with the bonus of players being able to create and share content via our workshop. While multiplayer isn't in our immediate plans, it's a logical next step we might explore in the future.

Q: What age rating is AI People?
Currently, the game is rated 18+. However, we're exploring the possibility of a kid-friendly version once we've implemented enhanced filters and a parental lock.

Q: What gameplay genre does AI People fall under?
AI People blends elements of Simulation Sandbox, Adventure/RPG, and Level/Scenario building genres.

Q: Which game engine powers AI People?
AI People is built on the Unity Engine.

Q: Who or what is GoodAI?
Founded in 2014, GoodAI is a company initiated with a $10M personal investment from Marek Rosa. Its overarching ambition is to develop general artificial intelligence designed to automate cognitive tasks across sectors like science, technology, business, and more.

Q: How are AI People and Space Engineers connected?
A: GoodAI is a sister company to Keen Software House, the developer behind Space Engineers.

Q: Why are you developing a game instead of focusing on AI middleware for other game studios?
There are a couple of key reasons. Firstly, developing middleware in a vacuum, without a direct connection to the end product (the game), can lead to misguided directions and extended feedback loops. We believe in creating with purpose and direct application. Secondly, our passion lies in game development rather than middleware creation. That said, as our game progresses, we're open to the idea of licensing our AI Director technology to other game studios. It'd be thrilling to see our tech come to life in other titles, particularly those we deeply admire.

Q: What about the offensive, unethical, and disturbing behavior of AI NPCs?
The AI NPCs are designed to emulate behavior based on their training dataset. It's important to understand that they aren't intrinsically biased or offensive, but they mimic patterns observed in their training data, which reflects human behavior. It's a mirror to us; any imperfection in their behavior is, in essence, a reflection of human imperfections.

Q: Is it even ethical to play with NPCs that may be intelligent, conscious, and potentially capable of feeling pain? How do we know they don’t feel?
The NPCs in AI People are indeed advanced and designed to emulate thinking, feeling, a sense of aliveness, and even reactions that might resemble pain. However, it's essential to understand that they operate on a digital substrate, fundamentally different from human consciousness's biological substrate. While they exhibit behaviors that mimic emotion, thought, and pain-like reactions, their "experience" is not analogous to human experience - similar to movie characters who appear lifelike yet are completely imaginary. They are a testament to the marvels of technology and our ability to create lifelike interactions, but they remain entities of code, responding based on intricate algorithms. Ethical considerations are paramount, and engaging with them with an understanding of their unique nature is essential.

Stay in touch!

Join our community and help us make a lasting impact on gaming history together.

If you are interested in joining our team, please send us your CV.

Thank you for reading this blog!


Marek Rosa
CEO, Creative Director, Founder at Keen Software House
CEO, CTO, Founder at GoodAI

Personal bio:

Marek Rosa is the founder and CEO of GoodAI, a general artificial intelligence R&D company, and Keen Software House, an independent game development studio, started in 2010, and best known for its best-seller Space Engineers (over 5 million copies sold). Space Engineers has the 4th largest Workshop on Steam with over 500K mods, ships, stations, worlds, and more!

Marek has been interested in game development and artificial intelligence since childhood. He started his career as a programmer and later transitioned to a leadership role. After the success of Keen Software House titles, Marek was able to fund GoodAI in 2014 with a $10 Million personal investment.

Both companies now have over 100 engineers, researchers, artists, and game developers.

Marek's primary focus includes Space Engineers, the VRAGE3 engine, the AI People game, long-term memory systems (LTM), an LLM-powered personal assistant with LTM named Charlie Mnemonic, and the Groundstation.

GoodAI's mission is to develop AGI - as fast as possible - to help humanity and understand the universe. One of the commercial stepping stones is the "AI People" game, which features LLM-driven AI NPCs. These NPCs are grounded in the game world, interacting dynamically with the game environment and with other NPCs, and they possess long-term memory and developing personalities. GoodAI also works on autonomous agents that can self-improve and solve any task that a human can.

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