Remains: Experiments with Procedural Dialogue

Apurv Rayate
Remains title image

Remains is a narrative driven game about a future Earth where most people have left for a new life in a colony on the distant planet Aurelion. It tells the story of the people who were left behind on the declining Earth and the messages they receive from the colony through a comm robot, Skybot. The dialogue for this game is generated procedurally with the help of an AI along with some human curation and structuring. 

Ultimately my goal was to create a system where the human builds upon the text generation of an AI to improve its tone and ability to feel expressive. This system is then applied to a story, (in this case a game) in order to create a loop of endless yet also emotional writing. This project was an attempt to prove that procedural text and affect need not be mutually exclusive.

Below is example dialogue from Remains along with formatting.

Messages from Aurelion to Earth

(bold are Apurv’s words, regular are AI words)

Dear Albert, Just a quick note to say I really hope this finds you out there well. I miss you. I wish I could hear your voice, but I wish we could have been here on Aurelion together even more. All my love, Seema.

Veena, the Aurelion sky is so bright! Every day is an adventure. I cannot believe we made it here. I have been negotiating for them to send a craft for you too. Please know that I love you and I wish you were here with me and I will make this right. Emily.

Hey Zen, my main man! how are you? Are you still playing that wretched game? Even though we can’t play anymore, I still have the board you gave me. I will remember you by it. –Love,  Leon.

Hey Dear Scarlet, I love you! I know you feel betrayed by my decision  I really did not want to leave Earth without you, but please understand that I did it because I had to no choice. I couldn’t stay on a dying planet any longer. I hope one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Yours, Shun.

Dialogue from person on Earth to Skybot

Expecting message

Hey robot, will can you give me a message? I have been expecting one for some time from Alice. She hasn’t sent me anything at all ever since she left for Aurelion.

If you did not get one, it cannot be helped. I will ask again later tomorrow.

Trading information about Aurelion message recipient

Aww, Wow, Albert sure is lucky they got one a message! Do you have a some toys butterfly? I’ll tell you something about Albert in exchange.

Niceee! Thanks, my sister has been asking bugging me for one more games lately, she’ll be so happy! Been rough since Mom left for the Aurelion colonies she has been very sad. Here’s your tip: Albert has a single eye.

Trading object

Oh you are looking for Albert, not sure who that is, but if you can find me an apple, I will give you this extra pair of shoes if you give me an apple.

Oy Skybot! I see you if have shoes, will you give me a pair for two lemons?

Trading wistful story

I can’t believe this. Do you have a frog? I’ll tell you a story if you give me one a frog.

Yes, this is indeed a frog! Well here’s your story: there was no need to send messages like this just a few years ago. There used to be so much a web of communication between all the people. But now all the people have left for Aurelion. It is just us left. All that is left is us. And you, Skybot.


Go away you robot. I have nothing to say to you.

Remains in-game dialogue image

The process of choosing and eliminating text made me interpret language structures that are responsible for conveying tone and context; aspects of speech that AI generated writing is still unable to consider. Some of my edited messages are a significant improvement but also required more effort than creating them from scratch myself. Alternatively I could also have created an AI model specifically trained and fine tuned for this game; a task that was both outside my skill set and one I did not have time for. After experimenting with procedural dialogue using AI; the learning that sticks with me is that you cannot achieve quality at mass without significant effort, one of the promises of generative AI. The choice is instead about where to direct the effort; on post production and curation like I did, or to generate a custom model.

Apurv Rayate

Creative Technologist + Game Developer
I'm Apurv, I make interactive experiences. My work ranges from quantum games and AI narratives to 3d websites and data visualisation. I currently work as a creative technologist and front-end developer.