Disney has recently filed a patent for developing what they’re calling a “Procedural System for Emergent Narrative Construction.” Think of it like a giant Mad Libs: by changing certain important parts of the narrative, the overall structure changes. In a Mad Libs, if you replace the nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, you can come up with new, and oftentimes wildly different, story structures. Mathematically, a relatively small number of changes across a narrative could yield a comparatively large number of different story structures. The patent states that “a user interface may be presented to a creator to facilitate the creation of narrative content.” This user interface would “generate recommendations pertaining to narrative content.” The creator in this case could be a computer algorithm that then selects these user-generated data sets
to construct a narrative framework. By collecting data on a user’s choices within the virtual world, aggregated over time, the algorithm could then select the pieces of future narrative most likely to lead to a positive overall experience. The experience could be further enhanced by player responses, meaning more favorably reviewed experiences would be more likely to occur within a given narrative framework.
If you’re thinking this all sounds very complex, it’s because it is. It would require an immense level of computer software sophistication, not to mention processing power and storage. Bold claims of possible immersive guest experiences within Galaxy’s Edge and the to-be-named Star Wars hotel have been floating around for some time now, and this recent filing seems like a promising step in that direction. However, the complex interactions referred to in the filing are almost always called “virtual experiences” and users are often referred to as “players.” This would seem to indicate that the patent is looking at a possible implementation of virtual reality technology occuring in real time, during which the story is continuously evolving. Whether or not this will be a key feature within Galaxy’s Edge remains to be seen, but it might not be the in-depth personal experience that many people have been hoping for. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for a virtual world with an evolving storyline customized to each user, and it is possible that Disney could scatter checkpoints around Galaxy’s Edge and the Star Wars hotel through which guests could interact with their personal storyline. Another, even more exciting, possibility is the integration of the experience with users’ smartphones via a dedicated app that would provide real-time updates on the state of your character and give you new goals or missions, like a far more advanced version of the scavenger hunts Disney has in most of its parks. Some might find this to be disappointing when compared to the enormous expectations created by the mere mention of personalized storylines (overreactions are expected in regards to all things Star Wars), but I for one remain positive. It took twenty years to go from the Matterhorn Bobsleds to Space Mountain (and another thirty to get to Expedition Everest), and Peter Pan’s Flight
predates Flight of Passage by more than sixty years. The point is that Disney is constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to apply the latest technology to the guest experience, improving both in the process. Remember, “the era we are living in today is a dream come true.”
What do you think about this new technology and how it might be implemented? Let us know in the comments down below!
And thanks to @zaddcrew and @mickeys_photographer for the pics!