Discussion: Chatbots with Custom Characters AND with Good Roleplay

Appreciate your thoughts on this weirdass rabbit hole I fell into. (Warning: long post)

It’s is a no-brainer that the quality of a custom/preset character chatbot depends on how good they speak, yeah? You know: what they say; how they say it; how they respond to what you say; the works.

While I don’t dispute these standards, here’s the thing— those are all focused on what they say, yet I think attention should also be equally given to what they do.

Enter roleplay, the part that’s italicized or in parentheticals that signify non-verbal or narrative-style responses. It can be descriptive as (I suppress my mounting disappointment and plaster on the brightest smile I can get away with, my teeth gritting against each other despite my best efforts), or it can be short and sweet as (unzips pants).

There are times I’m more interested in how the bot uses roleplay to move around and progress a scenario. Does bot reply well, but it roleplays with very generic gestures or even uncharacteristic gestures (I’m looking at you preset Makima from Char AI that blushes waaay to easily)? Is the roleplay descriptive, but the bot’s response is nothing but roleplay? That kinda shit

So since I was bored, I whipped up a baseline custom character and scenario: Brother Marcus of the Imperial Fists chapter, fighting alongside Captain Iruel (as me) of the Blood Angels chapter against an advancing squad of Death Guard legionnaires. I’m in a 40k phase again right now since I’ve been getting back into Darktide recently, so yeah.

Anyway, I’ve plugged this character setting into the platforms I’ve been dicking around with these days: Character AI, Chai, and Haven Chat (new shit I found). I wanted to see how each handled the roleplay, especially in an action-heavy setting like 40k that has a lot shooty and stabby things going on. Here’s what I’ve found:

Character AI exchange can be found here. First thing is that it’s hard to read; the italicization doesn’t quite contrast enough with the standard font to separate roleplay from actual dialogue, especially in lengthier responses.

That being said, the roleplay fits well into the 40k stage as it draws focus on things like the astartes’ helmets and how the Death Guard are literally rotting. It also uses language and turns of phrase like “fury”, hatred”, and “by/for the Emperor” which are common 40k parlance. The AI model clearly has been fed 40k training data.

I have nitpicks with the mechanics, as it were, of certain actions depicted: like when Brother Marcus uses the butt-end of his bolter to smash in a Death Guard’s visor, which is fine, but then he apparently unleashes a flurry of blows that then shatter the same Death Guard’s pauldrons and arms— presumably with the same bolter, which paints an odd picture to say the least.

Overall though, I like how the roleplaying was able to give it the specific 40k thematic, but I just wish it were easier on the eyes to read.

CHAI exchange can be found here (more caps since I had to use my phone with a smaller screen). Same with Char AI that it’s hard to read; the italics just aren’t enough, especially if there aren’t any punctuations in between italicized roleplaying text and standard font dialogue text.

While not as extensive as Character AI, there are still evident 40k-specific elements incorporated the roleplay, such as voice (vox) modulator, the influence of the warp taken as pollution to an Imperial Fist, and Brother Marcus drawing, specifically, a chainsword.

My gripe is that, every now and again, responses are dominated by if not completely roleplay text. I’d really want a better balance between action and dialogue. Pure roleplay might be “realistic” in this action sequence, but it’s still a chat at the end of the day, so imo I’d still want some actual banter even at the expense of realism.

Overall, it has some very descriptive roleplay but sometimes to the detriment of any dialogue.

Haven Chat exchange can be found here. Stylistics first: it takes getting used to, coming from Character AI and CHAI, but using parentheses for roleplay is better on my eyes. While not related to roleplay, it has to be said— there is something fucky going on with the frequent misspellings, names especially, which adversely affects immersion in its own way with how often it occurs.

For the roleplay itself, it can be quite creative. It’s only with this chatbot that had Brother Marcus suddenly roleplaying psyker things so that I myself had to improvise. The bot was also smart enough to roleplay throwing a grenade into the demon’s mouth as a response my previous input to being grabbed by it and just screaming “Your grenades!”

Evidently, the roleplay has less 40k thematic spins on it (prolly means less specific training data) compared to Character AI and CHAI. What I will say though is that it strikes a good balance between roleplaying and dialogue. Admittedly for this case, I enjoyed the dialogue more than I did the roleplay.

Overall, good dialogue with serviceable roleplay. If only the misspellings get sorted out.

So there we go. This isn’t really the part where I try to crown a winner; was just interested to see how differently things played out per chatbot given as similar a character setting/background as possible with particular attention to roleplay. Character AI had very thematic 40k roleplay but can sometimes stumble on the logistics/details of it. CHAI also has the same thematic roleplay capabilities but tends to sacrifice actual dialogue. Haven doesn’t have that same thematic polish but has more spontaneity to its roleplay with a good balance with dialogue.

Needless to say, it was a fun way to kill time. You guys got any similar sentiments or experiences on chatbot roleplay? (I also like reading through screencaps)

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