Emotional input for character-based interactive storytelling

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Authors: Cavazza, M., Pizzi, D., Charles, F., Vogt, T. and André, E.

Journal: Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS

Volume: 1

Pages: 236-243

eISSN: 1558-2914

ISBN: 9781615673346

ISSN: 1548-8403

In most Interactive Storytelling systems, user interaction is based on natural language communication with virtual agents, either through isolated utterances or through dialogue. Natural language communication is also an essential element of interactive narratives in which the user is supposed to impersonate one of the story's characters. Whilst techniques for narrative generation and agent behaviour have made significant progress in recent years, natural language processing remains a bottleneck hampering the scalability of Interactive Storytelling systems. In this paper, we introduce a novel interaction technique based solely on emotional speech recognition. It allows the user to take part in dialogue with virtual actors without any constraints on style or expressivity, by mapping the recognised emotional categories to narrative situations and virtual characters feelings. Our Interactive Storytelling system uses an emotional planner to drive characters' behaviours. The main feature of this approach is that characters' feelings are part of the planning domain and are at the heart of narrative representations. The emotional speech recogniser analyses the speech signal to produce a variety of features which can be used to define ad-hoc categories on which to train the system. The content of our interactive narrative is an adaptation of one chapter of the XIXth century classic novel, Madame Bovaiy, which is well suited to a formalisation in terms of characters' feelings. At various stages of the narrative, the user can address the main character or respond to her, impersonating her lover. The emotional category extracted from the user utterance can be analysed in terms of the current narrative context, which includes characters' beliefs, feelings and expectations, to produce a specific influence on the target character, which will become visible through a change in its behaviour, achieving a high level of realism for the interaction. A limited number of emotional categories is sufficient to drive the narrative across multiple courses of actions, since it comprises over thirty narrative functions. We report results from a fully implemented prototype, both in terms of proof of concept and of usability through a preliminary user study. Categories and Subject Descriptors H.5.1 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Multimedia Information Systems. General Terms Algorithms, Human Factors. Copyright © 2009, International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.

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