Using Intelligent Agents to Facilitate Game Based Cultural Familiarization Training
CHI Systems, under contract to the U. S. Army Research Institute, developed an immersive training system, called Virtual Environment Composable Training for Operational Readiness Training Delivery (VECTOR-TD), which provides scenario-based virtual environments for cultural familiarization. VECTOR-TD was designed to provide a new technology for game-based training in cultural familiarization through the application of scenario-based training. VECTOR-TD integrates the Lithtech Jupiter game engine for the virtual environment and CHI System’s iGEN® cognitive agent development toolkit to implement intelligent game characters and integrated performance monitoring. In order for VECTOR-TD to have true long term value to the Army, it was determined that it would be necessary to develop content management tools which would allow Army training personnel to edit and author VECTOR-TD scenarios. To address this, VECTOR-Scenario Editor (VECTOR-SE) was developed based on VECTOR-TD XML-based scripting language to externalize the representation of the training scenario, the behavior of non-player characters (NPCs) within the scenario, and the behavior of the instructor NPC responsible for performance evaluation and After Action Review (AAR). The XML-based language provides direct control of the behavior, dialog, emotional state, and predispositions of NPCs within the scenario. VECTOR-SE was successfully developed to provide content development and management tools that allow non-programmers to author scenarios and manipulate training parameters. VECTOR-SE is based on an instructional design process model and involves the specification of learning objectives, the creation of scenario segments (i.e., vignettes), the authoring of character/trainee dialog, the designation of dialog branching, the placement of characters at game locations, and the designation of when training assistance/remediation will be delivered. The significance of VECTOR-SE is twofold. First, it drastically reduces the time and skill required to develop VECTOR scenarios. Within the original VECTOR project, a 15-minute cultural training scenario was developed which required 2 months of programming and cognitive modeling effort. The same scenario was later implemented in VECTOR-SE in under 3 days. Additional scenarios with comparable complexity have also been implemented using VECTOR-SE and similar significant reductions in development time have been observed. Second, VECTOR-SE makes scenario development or modification accessible to a wider audience of professionals. VECTOR-TD and SE are currently being evaluated at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.