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Bot Colony

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: North Side
Developer: North Side
Release Date: Canceled

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PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Bot Colony' Update Adds Voice Recognition, Achievements and More

by Rainier on June 19, 2017 @ 11:59 a.m. PDT

Bot Colony is an episodic sci-fi adventure game in which one plays as a robot cognition specialist investigating the disappearance of prototype robot sensors, and tracking down a spy across a South Pacific island.

Bot Colony leverages a technological breakthrough in Natural Language Understanding (NLU), a problem scientists have been trying to solve for many years. Natural Language Understanding is technical jargon for   computer understanding of human language (English in the case of Bot Colony). The characters in Bot Colony understand what the player says, and are often able to respond in a cogent manner. North Side believes that the NLU capability of Bot Colony is superior to that of Apple’s Siri or IBM’s Watson.  

Bot Colony is an episodic sci-fi adventure game in which one plays as a robot cognition specialist investigating the disappearance of prototype robot sensors, and tracking down a spy across an exotic South Pacific island.

While currently video games rely on dialog trees – players clicks canned dialog lines written by someone else – in Bot Colony players use their own words to control the outcome.  Language understanding is not limited to commands: players can ask characters questions, state facts or opinions, and clarify what a character said - and the characters will respond intelligently in most cases. Players can also ask robots to carry out commands and robots will comply, or learn new commands that are not yet part of their repertory.  The ability to speak freely with the characters increases the player’s immersion into the game and truly makes the player part of the story.

Bot Colony leverages North Side’s proprietary natural language understanding (NLU) technology – deep Artificial Intelligence. North Side first started R&D in NLU in 2001 and invested over $18 million in R&D. Currently, the software understands English sufficiently well to enable players to complete game levels, as long as they don’t veer too much off topic. Off topic conversations are also supported – and characters use them as an opportunity to learn new concepts from the player.  Reponses by the game’s robotic characters are generated on the fly by parsing the speech of players (or typed text), reasoning on a fact base, AI rules and the 3D environment, and dynamically generating an intelligent reaction. This reaction can be verbal (spoken English), or non-verbal (the character carries out a command, or exhibits a quasi-emotion). 

After North Side announced in 2015 that it was pulling the plug on the game due to low sales/insufficient funds, it has nevertheless managed to keep hanging on through community funding, ebook and Steam sales. Today the developer has rolled out a new update, adding Microsoft voice recognition technology and other features.

With new speech recognition technology, Achievements, NLU improvements and more content in Arrival – this major upgrade is a real ‘game changer’. Even if you’ve played Bot Colony before – it's worth playing it again. You'll find it plays very differently - it’s a totally new, smoother, more immersive experience!

  • We’ve integrated the Microsoft Cognitive Services speech API. No more speech training! Click Enter, start speaking, and click Enter again when you finish speaking. Check the text as it takes shape in the text box – you’ll find that much less editing is required. This upgrade is only available for Windows 8 and Windows 10 ( because Windows 7 doesn’t support websockets which is required by the cloud-based speech recognition, sorry!). More background here
  • We’ve promised the next major release will have ACHIEVEMENTS. We're now delivering on this promise: 18 achievements, with more to come in the future.
  • The game understands references to objects much better. You can now click on an object before you issue a robot command to put it in context.
  • There’s more story to explore in the Arrival level.

Bot Colony is currently available on Steam Early Access for $14.99.

Key Features:

  • Type of speak freely and discover the story using your own words. The answers spoken by the robots is generated dynamically. Contrast with typical game storytelling, where canned voice acting is controlled by dialog trees. 
  • Experience the eerie atmosphere of a South Pacific island featuring ultra modern architecture and robots amid a lush jungle setting. The techno-romantic mood is enhanced by the original music soundtrack of the game.
  • Play detective and piece together the events that took place in a house in a 48 hour period by exploring the robot's video observations. 
  • Work with the robots to scuttle violent sabotage attempts by robot-hating organizations.
  • Game sessions are unique to each player: What you say controls how robots react and what they answer. Sessions of other players will have different dialog than your session. Every session is unique.
  • Make the game your own: Teach robots new knowledge and new commands. 
  • Type or speak to play. You can use Microsoft Speech (included with Windows), to communicate with characters using a mic. You can combine speaking and typing according to your preference. 
  • Inspired by Bot Colony, a near future industrial espionage thriller by Eugene Joseph. A scientifically-grounded sci-fi novel (except for plasma-powered hovercraft), Bot Colony sets benchmarks for the verbal abilities of future robots and introduces the 5th law of robotics 'do as people do'.

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