I just received my unique copy of Robin Sloan’s latest weird experiment, MageFrame / ‘And Every Time the Dark Lord Wins...’ and it’s super interesting.

The fictional premise is that wizards are trying to fight back against the ‘Dark Lord’ and are running simulations to find a successful approach, but in each simulation the heroes are defeated.

The way MageFrame works is that each reader (e.g. me) fills out a Google Form with narrative prompts (e.g. What do the questers seek?) which them is fed into a AI (GPT-2) algorithm that fleshes out a meta-scenario designed by Robin. The unique result is then mailed out to the reader, including a map!

You can see my results below – the AI did a surprisingly decent job of creating a legible story, though how much is due to Robin’s meta-structure I’m not quite sure.

I think this is a really cool approach to interactive storytelling I’m keen to see more experiments like it in the future. A few natural extensions could be:

– Serialized stories where the reader provides new prompts after each “chapter”

– Prompting more storytelling on the part of the reader through both open ended and pointed questions. Single-player rpgs and larps have been exploring this space for a bit and I think there could be a cool hybrid approach with a GPT-2 algorithm