‚Äč Heidi Erwin
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N-Tale
Language and AI Project
WHEN:  Spring 2018 - Now
WHAT:  UX Design, C#, Unity, Game Design, Art

A game/simulation centered around creating NPCs (non-player characters) whose dialogue is not hard coded. The language system of symbols allows users to build expressions and say them to NPCs who can then procedurally generate and interpret expressions.

The AI system allows NPCs to act on what a user (or another NPC) says to them, using planning based on goals and beliefs. This includes an ability to say things to the user which are not hard-coded, and are contextually variable yet relevant.

Created by a two-person team of Bill Marcy and myself. To learn more, read the Design Document here, or check out our work on Github!

My Role



I am a programmer (C#, Unity), designer, and artist for this project, which is still in development as of March 2019.

fun fact: "N-tale" both refers to the n (unknown quantity of) tales that might unfold and alludes to the logical entailment in the system


As a programmer, I've built a drag-and-drop system with a custom keyboard which allows user to intuitively construct expressions with varied complexities.

Utilized data structures (trees, hash tables, lists) to manage and manipulate information about user-constructed expressions. Served as half of the two-person team for this game/simulation centered around a language system and an AI system.

As a designer, I have collaborated with Bill to develop a game narrative that frames the educational components of the game as exploratory, engaging, and open-ended, rather than pushing forward a single message.

As the team's artist, I've also created art assets for the game. For instance, we wanted to build non-human NPCs (non-player characters) that processed information logically but weren't made by humans. The designs below were some concepts I created to reflect natural beings with organic, rather than forced, technological integration.

NPC Concept Art

Moving Forward



Bill and I continue to work on this project, and are currently porting the simulation to 3D!

If you'd like to stay updated on this project, I post project updates and gameplay snippets on Twitter!
Concept of Language Structure
Concept of Language Symbols
Initial Symbol Concept