Autonomous Actors in Networked Collaborative Virtual Environments

Pandzic, I. S. and Capin, T. K. and Lee, E. and Magnenat-Thalmann, N. and Thalmann, D.

Abstract: Introducing seemingly autonomous virtual beings into virtual environments to co-habit and collaborate with us is a continuous challenge and source of interest. Latest proof of human excitement for virtual life is the current world-wide craze for electronic pets that must be fed and cared for lest they develop a bad character or die. Even more interesting is the inclusion of autonomous actors in Networked Collaborative Virtual Environments (NCVEs). They provide a meeting place for people from different geographical locations and virtual beings. In NCVEs we don’t see our correspondents, only their graphical representations in the virtual world, same as for the virtual ones - therefore the communication with virtual beings can come naturally. There is no single solution to the simulation of autonomous behavior. This is an ongoing research topic. Therefore it is interesting to provide an open NCVE system for easy interfacing with various implementations of autonomous behavior. In this way, the system can serve as an application platform with existing algorithms, as well as a research testbed for new autonomous behavior algorithms. This paper studies the requirements for such an open interface and, based on this study, presents an implementation within the Virtual Life Network (VLNET) system. Results are presented in terms of two case studies: a simple one implementing a dumb servant character and a more complex one connecting VLNET with the autonomous agent program Eliza [Weizenbaum66]. Our study is based on the assumption that the implemented autonomous actors are to be humanlike. However, a lot of principles outlined here can be applied to non-human virtual beings.

  booktitle = {Proc. MultiMedia Modeling '98},
  author = {Pandzic, I. S. and Capin, T. K. and Lee, E. and Magnenat-Thalmann, N. and Thalmann, D.},
  title = {Autonomous Actors in Networked Collaborative Virtual Environments},
  publisher = {IEEE publisher},
  pages = {138-145},
  month = oct,
  year = {1998},
  topic = {Networked Collaborative Virtual Environments}