Home You haven’t played anything like this before, but maybe Talk to Me Human is a sneak peek into how NPCs in games will all be done soon

You haven’t played anything like this before, but maybe Talk to Me Human is a sneak peek into how NPCs in games will all be done soon

I get a lot of DMs to my X account with people pitching for coverage all the time. Occasionally one stands out more than others which piques my interest. I play games, I am super interested in AI as is Readwrite in general so it’s easy to get bored with the number of companies either saying they are using AI or even more like “We aren’t using AI!! How dare you

What if the game was AI? What if it was all pretty much AI, programmed by a human called Max – I least I think he’s a human, after an hour with Talk to Me Human I am no longer sure as I since was. Part of me thinks I may have been talking to Skynet.

On X we talked about where we lived, gaming interests, and the like and all the while talking about the game Max has been working on called Talk to Me Human – which has just gone into Early Access and is billed as “The talking your way out of it simulator!”

Whether Max was AI or not. I agreed to have a look at it as I usually do and dug a little deeper.

Talk to Me Human features a cast of AI NPCs who interact with you on the fly depending on your responses. They are all AI-driven and are your friends and associates in the game. You have “normal” conversations with them and you score points depending on what you say – they basically mark your social skills.

Now when I say you have normal conversations with them, I mean ‘conversations’ – you speak into your microphone, the game translates your speech to text via AI, and the AI judges how you dealt with the scenario. It’s all a bit mind-blowing.

The game starts with your roommate telling you your cat has gone missing so you have to go down to the pound where you will have an interaction of talking to your cat – actually talking mind – while it meows back at you.

I won’t spoil the plot because immediately after you have finished reading this you are going to go and pay your $5 for early access to try out but the tagline is “a game where you use your voice to get out of sticky situations,” and this is a super accurate description of events! Max describes the mechanics of the game as follows:

  • Encounter: Find yourself in unexpected, awkward, and humorous scenarios.
  • Explain: Lie, misdirect, compliment, coerce — the choices are endless. Speak out loud!
  • Receive Judgment: The AI decides if you pass or fail. You can always try again!

The game is entirely played within your browser and suggest using Chrome rather than Edge when you start. I used Edge because I am a rebel and once I had given access to the microphone things worked pretty much flawlessly.

Leaving and logging back in restarts you at the point where you left so you never feel pressured to carry on.

To get a full understanding of what is happening, because I have no doubt you still have no real clue from these words I suggest you watch the above trailer to get a feel for the flow. The voice “acting” is good and the characters believable, even if they are occasionally a little robotic – I mean think back to Skyrims NPCs and then we will acknowledge that complaint in context. Apart from the subject matter, it’s just all so, well, real.

Max told me that half the levels are complete in the EA version and the mechanics are pretty much what the final game will encompass so really we are just waiting on the extra scenarios.

Originally he planned for the game to take three months but has “just passed 1 year working on it and it’s (only) half done.”

A truly novel gaming experience

By trade Max is a “natural language processing researcher” a computer scientist with an interest in gaming and AI who on his website describes his journey so far thus:

“I’ve started an indie bootstrapped (self-funded) software studio. I’m calling it Least Significant Bit. My goal is to make small pieces of delightful software and sell them commercially. Kind of a mom-and-pop software shop.

It may fail entirely. Then I’d go get a normal job. But I knew I wanted to try, and it felt like the time was now or never. So it’s now.

And, I recently launched my first product—a game! I think it’s a totally new kind of game. I’m biased, of course. But it feels like something truly novel.”

And we are behind that, and what has been achieved so far that is unlike any “game” I have ever played in decades of doing this gig.

What we have here could almost be described in some ways as a social trainer. If you are somebody who is not overly comfortable speaking to people, you could give this a go with no fear of social anxiety. If you just want to have a bit of fun talking to robots and ‘humans’ you can do that too. Maybe try and be nice for once!

The possibilities are endless, as long as the AI behaves itself. This is just a brief first look at Talk to Me Human. We will be talking to Max more about how it all works, how he put it together, and where it could eventually lead in a follow-up soon.

For now though, go and check it out at talktomehuman.com

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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