Emergent movies

In a very odd and strange dream I saw last night, I came upon a thought inside the dream of a movie, that would have a “dynamic” plot. In other words, the plot of the movie would change every time you watch it. We could potentially possess the technology for accomplishing this.
Then I started searching for similar content, because this would hardly be such a unique thougth.

Turns out, there isn’t such a great deal of information of this.
Of course, what this needs is
1) a powerful AI to decide when to change plot, to what, in every plot turn.
2) Either a) a great deal of pre-produced content to replay at will, or b) a very powerful AI (or several) to produce the content as the movie runs.

I’m not thinking about interactive movies, what I’m looking for is more like procedural or emergent.
Everything starts with computer games, and what is called non-linear gameplay, where the player has eg. geographical or narrational freedom (like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The Fallout series or Assassin’s Creed)

A new milestone in emergent narrative is the game Left 4 Dead and its AI Director, which changes the gameplay in a way that suites the current state in the game (changing the difficulty, amount of ammo, supplies etc).

Something other I stumbled upon in this search was a Markov chain. From Wikipedia: [A Markov chain is a sequence of random variables X1, X2, X3, … with the Markov property, namely that, given the present state, the future and past states are independent.] [A Markov process, named after the Russian mathematician Andrey Markov, is a mathematical model for the random evolution of a memoryless system, that is, one for which the likelihood of a given future state, at any given moment, depends only on its present state, and not on any past states.]

In essence, the movie at point T1 (time) will have a plot turn to A1, excluding the other alternatives, which can affect the ending. At a further key point, the plot will change at T2 to A2, and thus excluding further developments that are dependent on A1.
I’m a visual person, so I drew a small figure to understand this.

Plot development

Here is naturally only one possible beginning and seven different endings, depending on how the plot advances.

The technical limitations are beginning to diminish, because an emergent movie needs a lot of filmed material, a point which is kinda moot, given the thought how many hours of footage the clients do not see. I guess it wouldn’t be that hard to film multiple variations of the same scene.
And if it wouldn’t be accomplished with live-action actors, computer animation nowadays is very powerful (if Disney/Pixar wouldn’t use it as a money-printing device with the same dull one-liners and the same goddam fish).
I a sense, animation would make a more powerful impact, with much more possibilites than pre-recorded footage. Key points would be truly random.
The only limitation is naturally the narrational AI running everything, and there’s not coming anything out, maybe in a decade.


Still, a fascinating idea. Imagine a horror movie which surprises you at every time. Or what will happen when the bad guys do actually win.

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