We’re happy to bring you a major update focused on what makes Bot Colony unique: language-based investigation. You now have a second mission in the Intruder episode: learn more about the family members and find out why the house was empty – by asking questions that will trigger Jimmy ‘s Robot’s Visual Memories (RVM’s). RVM’s are videos of significant events a robot (Jimmy in this case) witnessed. If you do well, you’ll see all the 14 RVM’s – your new challenge in Intruder, in addition to erasing all traces of the intrusion. You’ll be offered the RVM mission after you restore 18 objects to their original position (easier now since you can now Continue from the last checkpoint!).
With this update, Bot Colony offers more than commanding robots – the focus of the previous version. Now, you can investigate using your own words to discover the key information you need to advance in the game. To do this, we made a major improvement to our Natural Language Understanding pipeline – temporal Question Answering. We’ve always wanted to bring you a credible experience of speaking with machines. We hope that this update delivers on this vision.
We went to great lengths to reduce the percentage of IDK (I don’t know) answers. The key idea was to put in place a principle guiding what a robot should know: a robot should be able to answer questions about events that he experienced first-hand. Jimmy is now able to tell you how he came to know any item of information you’re uncovering (how do you know that?) – he’ll answer I saw it, or I heard it. To offer a completely credible experience, we’ve actually placed Jimmy and the characters in the scene, and then enacted the situations Jimmy observed using our text-to-animation technology: we moved the characters around like in a theatre performance and created a textual database out of their movements and utterances, that COULD have been used to drive our text-to-animation technology IF 1) we had IK for all the animations you’ll see (slapping, hugging, playing with toys, etc.) 2) animation quality was good enough. Since 1) and 2) are not yet there, the cut scenes were done by animators – but in principle they could have been generated just by commanding the characters to do what they do. The distances from Jimmy to another character he observes and the angles were logged during this enactment process, and you can query them. We’ve done this for 48 hours for the Intruder house. In the future, we may extend this to Arrival and other levels. By placing Jimmy in the situations he actually witnesses and recording what he saw and heard, we get more credible, complete and coherent information about what happened (Jimmy would be able to tell you who he saw at 11:30:41 on Thursday 27 August 2021, and that the distance was 10.3 m). This approach provides better coverage for question answering and reduces IDK – previously, Jimmy’s fact base had to be written manually. This is why this update took several months to release.
We plan to continue investing in making our robots more ‘intelligent’, and enabling you to get to information irrespective of the words you’re using – this is what is unique about the Bot Colony game experience, that no other game offers. We appreciate any feedback about things that didn’t work as you expected.
Finally, with this Update we’re also releasing a video of Riot (Landfall Episode 3) Prototype. In the Riot Humanity Test, you converse with robots about what emotions a certain situation is likely to trigger – their goal is to learn this to be able to able to react like a person ( simulate a person’s emotional behaviour through quasi-emotions, as described in the Bot Colony novel). All done through conversation, this is truly genre-defining gameplay!
UPDATE FEATURES AND HOW TO PLAY
• Robot Visual Memories (14 robot recorded video segments for you to discover)
The software now supports the basic investigative questions that you need to get to RVM. There is a time-context set by default for questions, so you don’t have to always specify the time and date (though you’ll need to specify it when you want precision). Here are some useful questions you can ask:
Who is X?
What do you know about X?
How do you know that?
When did you first/last see X?
What did X do at HH:MM on Day? (example: What did Ayame do at 20:15 on Thursday?) What did Ayame do then? What did Masaya do next? What did X do before that?
What happened then? What happened before/after that? What happened at HH:MM on (day of week)? (What happened at 11:30 on 26/08/2021?) – this will work even if after/before don’t return more facts because Jimmy doesn’t look back/forward far enough.
What happened to X? What happened to X at (time) on (date)/(day of week)?
When did X arrive/enter/leave the house? When did you arrive? Where did X go after that?
What did X say at (time) on (day)? What did X say before/after that?
Where was X at (time) on (day of the week)/date?
Other questions that will help you find out more about the characters, like :
What does X like? When did X play? When did Y speak on the phone?
• Dialogue history is accessible through F10. You may want to leave this window open during RVM gameplay. Use the middle mouse button to scroll through the dialogue text, use Up Arrow to repeat a previous question and hit Enter.
• We’ve added a Garage scene (the player’s home location) to better anchor the game story – your avatar starts here in 3rd person before you get the mission. This way, you actually see your own character before playing the ninja in Intruder.
• Male and female character selection is available before Arrival and you can play using a name you choose (we had to do that before Arrival because we can’t re-shoot Ogata, the Japanese actor proposing the mission to Jeff Philips).
• The game now has Save and Continue. This is critical to be able to re-play the RVM mission in different ways, WITHOUT having to worry about putting objects back in place. You do that once, Save the game, and then Continue from there in each new session.
• Jimmy now has lip synch.
• The align command is improved (and like on a ship or plane, red is on your left side and green on your right when you face forward).
• When you look through Jimmy’s eyes, you can control his head – useful to look inside cabinets, after Jimmy opens the door and blocks your view. Or to see inside the treasure chest.
• Speech-to-text did NOT improve in this version, and we recommend that you type. If the game sells a decent number of units, we’ll be able to re-bundle Dragon NaturallySpeaking to offer you better performance (Dragon 11 is still supported, and early customers can still use it).
• Why questions are not supported – Jimmy doesn’t know why people do things.
• You may get an “I’m thinking…” message, when Jimmy needs more time to react to what you’ve asked him. Please bear with him.
• (Not a bug) Your investigation takes time, and you’re playing close to end of Friday 27 August 2021. Until Friday is over –ie, going past midnight Agrihan time, just saying ‘on Friday’ will mean Friday 20 August 2021. After midnight, it will mean Friday 27 August 2021. This CAN make a big difference in the answers you get.
THE GAME FOR GEEKS
With this update, Bot Colony has a lot to offer. To encourage more people to experience the game and especially this new update, we’ve decided to price the game at $9.95.
For non-native English speaker, Bot Colony is a fun way to improve your English. While Bot Colony appeals to many players, it looks like it has a special appeal to tech geeks and fans of sci-fi – please help us by mentioning our game to friends with these interests and Recommend-ing us on Steam.