Rival Theory is bringing characters to life in VR with advanced AI

by Will Mason • September 17th, 2015

Rival Theory‘s artificial intelligence engine, RAIN, is already one of the most widely used artificial intelligence engines in the world, with over 40,000 projects utilizing it.

But now the company is looking to take that engine and put it to new uses in VR, namely enabling advanced interaction with characters.

“Entertainment in VR sits at the intersection of movies and games,” says Bill Klein, Rival Theory’s President and Co-Founder. “In both movies and games, characters are the heart of the experience, driving story and providing meaning and connection with the audience.”  Utilizing their technology, Rival Theory is creating narrative experiences in Virtual Reality that focus on the interaction between human participants and AI-based characters.

“We’re attempting to realize a massive goal in human imagination – the ability to meet, talk to, and form relationships with the characters from our stories and our dreams,” says Klein,  “we are no longer just passive viewers of the narrative – we can be fully engaged participants.” According to Klein the system will allow you to converse with the AI, rather than simply using a limited set of commands, a bold

That level of simulated communication would be a game changer for VR, bringing characters to life in new ways never before seen in the medium.

“We’re attempting to realize a massive goal in human imagination – the ability to meet, talk to, and form relationships with the characters from our stories and our dreams,”

Interaction with AI in VR is going to be a crucial lynch pin for immersion and getting a sense of full presence. Some of my best moments in VR have been when there has been a feeling of agency in a space with others, but that has been in social VR settings with actual people on the other side. Rival Theory wants to utilize this technology to change the way we tell stories in VR, bringing a unique level of user controlled interactivity to a narrative.

Rival theory is planning to create their own content in their newly formed interactive content studio, Sentio Entertainment.  They are looking to bring a pilot episode to the public in Q1 of 2016, just in time for the Oculus Rift release.


 

Full interview with Bill Klein, President and Co-Founder of Rival Theory

What is the problem you are looking to solve?

Entertainment in VR sits at the intersection of movies and games.  VR audiences will still demand the emotionally compelling visuals, characters and storytelling of motion pictures.  However, the unique immersive nature of the medium also drives the desire for interactivity, action, and consequence found in 3D game worlds.

Characters hold the key to crossing this divide.  In both movies and games, characters are the heart of the experience, driving story and providing meaning and connection with the audience.  Rival Theory is an Artificial Intelligence studio and technology company creating narrative experiences in Virtual Reality that focus on the interaction between human participants and AI-based characters.  We invite the audience to step into our story worlds and engage our characters face to face, eye to eye, and voice to voice.

Why is this an important problem?

We’re attempting to realize a massive goal in human imagination – the ability to meet, talk to, and form relationships with the characters from our stories and our dreams.  We are no longer just passive viewers of the narrative – we can be fully engaged participants.

When will people be able to experience what you are working on?

We’re targeting a public release of our pilot episode in Q1 2016.

What are the major benefits that your platform/project brings to VR/AR?

We’re building a technology platform that will define how storytelling is done in this new medium.

How do you differentiate yourself from  other companies operating in a similar space?

We’re using interactive characters as the basis for story telling.  These characters provide a deep emotional connection to our audience as they form lasting relationships within the story.

What about VR and Future technology inspires you most?

Virtual Reality removes objections, creates a sense of possibility, and allows the audience to commit fully to the experience.  It allows people to believe.

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