Narrative Designer

The Project

Avery is a playable mystery of an Artificial Intelligence in love. It's a chatbot game with a word parser for Android and iOS that uses IBM's AI powered 'question answering' machine, Watson and was made for IBM Italy to showcase Watson's ability. It was created from conception to shipping in a little over one month, in time for IBM Think 2018 in Milan. 

The game itself was created by MixedBag and the design was done by myself and Mattia Traverso.

the work

  • Writer
    • Co-created the concept.
    • Filled out the backstory of the world.
    • Created voice character bibles.
    • Wrote and re-wrote story structure in high level and low level.
    • Wrote/edited the dialogue lines.
  • Voice Actor
    • Voiced Morgan.

What I learned

IBM Watson was not made for creating video games and creating a linear structure for something that was not made to do so was a very interesting challenge. 

Initially, Mattia was the driving force in the creation of the concept. He had pitched a chatbot app and we went back and forth on what kind of a story would be told and what the world was. This changed massively as the project went on and we went through 4-5 very different ideas until we struck on our final one. We had built the world initially but taking the story from it to fit the design space was difficult since there was a million different variations we could've done. 

Ultimately, my aim was to create a strong and memorable character. AIs have a tendency to be written as being emotionless, of not being human and I find that to be a lack of imagination and empathy. AIs are like Gods in many ways: Humanity wrote both of them into existence, and deny their handiwork. I initially began by creating a voice, one that wasn't subservient, that wasn't interested in you per se. After all, the game's structure, one where the story happens to someone else, fits with that idea. Don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story.

Creating a parser game was incredibly difficult. Neither I nor Mattia fully appreciated just how much content is necessary because of it and we know there was so much room for failure every single time a player inputs a sentence. However, the moments when the system works to our advantage was incredible. It felt alive, human, which maybe made it even more frustrating when it failed. 

I'm happy with what I made. It's not perfect, but it's evocative.

Additional information

"Avery" is the playable mystery of an Artificial Intelligence in love. Chat with Avery and help her piece together lost memories to discover what happened to her. Why is she suffering from amnesia? Why has her human lover suddenly disappeared? Talk to Avery.