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AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Making Red Dead Redemption 2 accessible with Fridai, the voice assistant

Accessibility and making games more inclusive has always been a high priority for our team, ever since the first community engagement we had about how Fridai was really helpful for our members to access information for their favorite games. We even had a documentary video made about our approach as part of the Digital Defenders Series, if you are interested you can watch the video here:

Voice access for games – our journey

The underlying technology of Fridai has always been voice, the way we process audio streams and use them to control the games and provide guides or strategies made our software unique in the industry. 

This ambient technology however is capable of so much more than we initially thought. The original pain point we set out to solve was to provide a way for gamers to eliminate distractions from their gameplay, access guides and walkthroughs without opening any other apps, or looking at other screens. While it remained as a selling point of Fridai, the main focus has been shifted towards an even bigger pain point we know in gaming: accessibility.

 

The current state of gaming in terms of accessibility

After thorough research we have found that even though games today include accessibility settings, they are most of the time far from covering the angles gamers really need. We have seen games where the only accessibility setting you could access was the subtitle settings, if you wanted to increase or decrease the size of the fonts or their colors. There was no mention of customizing keybinds, using a special controller or even providing a different way of interacting with the actual game.

Going even deeper into the numbers (US market) we can see that around 10% of the population actually has a form of impairment that would stop them from playing games. More interestingly 92% of gamers play games in spite of their impairment. The question here of course is which games can they play?

There are currently several solutions for disabled gamers to get more information about games, if they can play them or not. There are game review sites, coming from the community who test games from the accessibility perspective and after reading through them it is possible to see if a game is playable according to one’s disability or not. One of many problems with this is that you get to read a review after the game comes out, so in case you wanted to pre-order any of the games you could but risk not being able to play it. There is a great article about game previews and the lack of these actually affecting disabled gamers by our friends at Can I Play That, I recommend you to read that, too.

We have come to a conclusion that in many cases accessibility feels like an afterthought for game studios and we simply can not accept that not every game can be played by anyone.

Our contribution: NLP powered voice control

The way we approached this problem was setting a north star or a vision for our features: a person who has at least access to a headmouse and can press at least 1 button should be able to play any game they like. This might look like a limited vision, however for the first set of features we wanted to develop this set the bar very high already – since we are talking about voice technology and not neural links or eye tracking – just yet.

We know three aspects of Fridai that can make it a very powerful assistant when it comes to accessibility tools:

  1. Fridai can understand many accents and can figure out what was said even with very noisy backgrounds, pays attention to mispronunciations and gets the intent right even if the sentence being said was just remotely accurate
  2. We already have applied voice control for FIFA 20 as a multi tasking tool, where you could change players by voice
  3. Voice provides a new interaction layer when it comes to the players and their PCs or consoles and the only thing you need is the ability to speak, therefore it could help a huge amount of players.

Naturally at first we took a look at how players use current voice solutions, to create macros, setup voice recognition and so on. We had interviews with many players who were using any of these to really dig deep into the user experience. What we have found is that current voice solutions use a technique that can be described as strict match, so only if an exact word is understood will the associated action activate. In comparison, with Fridai, we could activate one action for a wider range of expressions, so as an example, you will not need to map “mount, mount horse, mount the horse etc.” one by one, once one of these is said Fridai can understand the intent of the player and work right then.

Once we saw how the natural language processing algorithm we build can aid users and can improve their gaming experience, compared to what services they use today, we set out to work out the weaknesses we had – again compared to the currently available solutions. One of these being the fact that Fridai needed to be activated using a wake word – so whenever you say “Hey Fridai” the AI wakes up waiting for the command. Now while this provides a hands-free solution, it actually can take a couple seconds to activate the action, hence might not provide a great gameplay experience. So we added keypress wakeup to Fridai, as a result you can quickly wake it up by pressing one key. (Remember our vision about only having to access one key and a head mouse? Now this is part of it.)

Once both of these were completed we set out to find a game that a lot of people want to play, but were previously unable to thanks to the complexity of the controls.

For a better explanation of how NLP works in games, here is one of our videos for the Witcher 3. It shows how different expressions activate the same intent.

SpecialEffect and Red Dead Redemption 2

Our approach about picking a game was simple: we asked ourselves, which game is the one that tons of people would want to play but they can not for some reason. So we started reaching out to accessibility focused organizations, to understand their needs and ask them to provide feedback about Fridai from their users’ perspective.

This is how we’ve found the team at SpecialEffect, who responded to our query right away. We focused first around collecting their feedback about voice control and current solutions out there and we got a great overview of the market and needs. Even during our first call, we saw that bringing our NLP into the world of voice control, could provide the seamless interface to games that we set out to build and more importantly what service users of SpecialEffect were looking for. We have settled on building the first version of voice control powered by Fridai for Red Dead Redemption 2, as that is a game that is as complex as it gets from the control perspective and many in the audience of SpecialEffect were looking forward to a solution that enables them to play this game.

Now it was about time we built Fridai into Red Dead Redemption 2, with the goal of making it playable and enjoyable through voice access.

Implementing voice control for Red Dead Redemption 2

We already have laid the foundations for supporting voice control with Fridai, therefore it did not take us a long time to implement the actual voice based game control into the game. The first task we had to do was going through the keyboard settings and current keybinds and assign intents to each one of those.

Once it was completed, we started playing the game and constantly followed the instructions on the screens during mission and free roam gameplay, so we could capture the actions and understand what users would say as voice commands while playing. As an example, when it comes to the player interacting with the horse, we added the following intents that Fridai would later recognize:
Mount horse, dismount horse, call horse, hitch horse, brush horse, feed horse etc.

All of these commands activate a corresponding intent and thanks to our NLP engine even different variations of these work when players are speaking to Fridai, so we completely removed the necessity of having to remember exact commands.

Even though we received constant feedback from SpecialEffect as we progressed with development, we made time every week to check-in for a live testing of Fridai. Each of these sessions resulted in more patterns and expressions we needed to teach Fridai, however we got closer and closer to a solution, when it finally looked like this:


As a summary, now we are proud to say you can now play through most of the story missions and do free roam using only your voice. You only need access to a piece of hardware that can control your camera – but we will fix this soon, too.

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AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Rethinking gaming guides with GPT3 – Fridai and the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The basic idea behind Fridai has always been to build an AI that behaves like a friend sitting with you while playing your favorite games – because we all remember how much fun it was to play together with our friends as kids. With an AI friend, of course, the experience will be different, but if we can make even a slight resemblance of how that felt, we will have built a truly amazing helper for games.

On the user experience side of this, our goal is to help everyone who enjoys gaming access information in a different way, without having to Alt+Tab out or even look at other screens. The first versions of the assistant delivered on this promise, however as we wanted to add more and more games, we seemed to have hit a barrier in how we could scale it efficiently to other games.

On our journey to find ways to accomplish a constantly improving, more human-like Fridai, we needed the answer to 3 questions:

  1. How can we create a better personality for Fridai?
  2. What is the most efficient way to keep Fridai’s knowledge updated?
  3. Can we make Fridai provide more native advice while gaming?

In this post we will only discuss our answers and methods to the last 2 questions, as they are related to the engine we’ve built and its connection to GPT3.

This post is not going to cover GPT-3 and how it works, so feel free to go to openai.com or read the actual whitepaper here

Ever since the first use cases of GPT-3 I have seen demos for, I’ve been thinking about how to apply the technology to reimagine gaming walkthroughs – and more importantly how gamers can access them today. So let me just insert a little sidetrack here, to explain how I think about game guides.

The idea started from a personal experience and problem, where whilst playing games, I actually enjoyed looking up guides and doing research on certain points (especially items and builds) – to be honest I needed to do this more than I can confess.

From all the content out there, I have found two types to be actually useful – longer websites where I can see the guides for my questions and of course videos with playthroughs. I am not going to go into explaining how much I hated having huge ad banners on the sites or even the fact that I had to wait 15 seconds even for a video to actually get started, we all know this (except of course, Youtube Premium subscribers, kudos).

The way I found these guides to be useful was when I was actually playing the game, for example in the Witcher 3 while collecting the griffin school gear, I constantly switched back and forth and alt+tabbed out so I would be able to find all the pieces. 

Research took time though and even if we disregard the actual search process or having to read multiple sites when looking up these pieces of information, I still had to read the actual content even the parts that were completely irrelevant to my current situation in the game.

And you guessed it right, in the meantime the game was on pause, running in the background. Then when I found the content, I started the process of switching back and forth between the game and the guide. I’ve been doing this for years and with so many games I’ve lost count.

With Fridai and GPT-3 however, I knew we could find the right way of recreating these guides in a way so it would give me filtered through content, only relevant to me, without having to leave the game – or even using my keyboard or mouse.

The marriage of these two products, would result in a human-like conversation that is tailored to the actual problem I would be facing in the game. Is this the answer to question number 2 and 3 above? Well, partially.

GPT-3 is a super creative technology and it has already been trained for usage, but putting it into an actual product requires a lot more than just connecting to it. In a way, you need to tame its creativity to make sure it works with your product. Therefore the first action we needed to take is to figure out an architecture that would serve the right content to GPT-3, so when it parses the unstructured content, it would be able to digest and produce the right piece of advice.

Then we needed to figure out where to get started, in terms of which game we should go after first. A game’s knowledge base can be very complicated, with hundreds of items, monsters, characters, quests and the list goes on. In order to make the experience work, we would need to dissect the game into the smallest parts, so whenever a user requires guidance about a monster or alchemy, we could provide the best possible response. Therefore we needed a game that we all knew, had little upcoming changes to its knowledge base but also had users who could then test it for us. This is why we picked the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

After really taking the game apart, in terms of content we identified the moving parts of how many elements exist in the game of which we will need to provide some form of content to the engine.

We had:

  • 132 monsters
  • 521 characters
  • 250 alchemy items
  • 304 pieces of armor
  • 30 witcher contracts

And more…

We collected individual pieces of content of all the elements of the knowledge base we have identified – either by having gamers in our community write something or looking up an actual guide and reformatting it. Then we saved all these pieces, made them searchable and tagged them.

Afterwards we needed to make sure, when the user’s query comes in about a given situation, we find the right piece of content, parse it and generate a response with GPT-3, format it to fit the game experience and feed it to the text-to-speech engine. Thus providing a real time, filtered piece of information about the game to the end-user.

This made us start working on an NLP (Natural Language Processing) layer to understand the user’s query, connect it to elasticsearch to find the correct file and then feed it to GPT-3, where we could take the most advantage of its creativity to craft the best response after parsing the unstructured data. (Note: I will make a post about the architecture of Fridai in a separate post).

And you can see the results in this video below, step by step:

This is a video of Mark playing the Witcher 3 with Fridai

At the end, user experience speaks for itself. GPT-3 works its magic on content that we can feed to it, however if there are no filters or NLP layers preceding the engine, it would just start crafting stories or irrelevant content for the user’s query.

The question of building a scalable, efficient way to keep Fridai’s knowledge base have been solved by the elastic engine that constantly updates itself from online guides and community generated content, while GPT-3 allows users to work with different queries, therefore getting different responses for “List the weaknesses of the griffin” or “Tell me some tips about defeating the griffin” – just the way you would ask your friend about how he solved certain problems while playing.

By the time I am writing this, we will have released Fridai’s version with full Witcher 3 support and I cannot wait to share more of our experiences in how people use this different, more interactive format of a guide or walkthrough to play with the Witcher.

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AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Fridai, The New Game Play Counselor

Back in the 1980s, Nintendo Entertainment System was on the uphill climb to success and recognized the need to have people readily available to help players get through difficult points in their video titles. The people they employed were known as “Nintendo Game Play Counselors” and, if you think about it, was every gamer’s dream job.

Unfortunately, the advent of the internet was right around the corner, which meant information was readily available at everyone’s fingertips as soon as they started installing dial-up in their home. Once the internet was more accessible in almost everyone’s household by 2005, Nintendo Game Play Counselor’s position was disbanded.

However, it was nice knowing we had people we could rely on in a pinch. Imagine playing the old Nintendo system and getting stuck on trying to beat Mario’s bosses. I ran into this issue with the NES and even with the Bowser fight on the Super Nintendo. Do you know how hard it was without the internet? Nintendo game play wasn’t challenging for a lot of children, but for me, it would have been helpful knowing there was someone I could talk to when I needed help.

As technology started advancing and Nintendo had the capability to put out more challenging games, there was the need for these professional Nintendo Game Play Counselors. Imagine playing thousands of hours worth of games all day so you could answer simple questions about bosses, hidden items, and other issues gamers were having at the time with their Nintendo game play.

Unfortunately, when Nintendo Game Play Counselors were phased out, we were forced to purchase strategy guides or strain our eyes even further on poorly developed websites with black backgrounds and green texts to read walkthroughs. Having that personal touch of hearing another person’s voice, was an experience we were deprived of for so many years. Sure there was YouTube and “Let’s Play” videos, but it never felt personal. No one wants to sit through ten minutes of someone talking about their day as they’re playing when all they want to do is figure out how to get past the part they’re stuck on.

Fortunately, the concept of Nintendo Game Play Counselors is still alive. No, you don’t have to pick up a landline phone to call into someone sitting at a call center ready to help. No, this concept lives on through easily accessible and responsive artificial intelligence known as Fridai, the gamer’s assistant.

How Can Fridai Help Me?

Imagine Fridai as a Nintendo Game Play Counselor, but without having to stop what you’re doing just so you can pick up your phone. Having to stop and minimize a game takes away from the immersion, and it’s just not fun having to sift through every website’s ads just to look for one piece of information.

Fridai can give you animal locations & prices so you can fully immerse yourself into hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2

For example, in Red Dead Redemption 2, there is a lot of information for the game’s content that isn’t readily available in the game. When I encounter a bear, I know it takes the fun away from the game when I have to pause it just to look down at my phone and look up what weapons I need to use to kill it. All I have to say is, “Hey Fridai!” and a comforting “bling” sound assures me that he is live and ready.. “How do I kill a grizzly bear?” I ask it as I don’t have to take my hands off of my keyboard or controller. Fridai then tells me the type of weapon I need to switch to and the ammo I should use for an effective kill.

Now imagine trying to do this with a Nintendo Game Play Counselor. You would have still needed to put your controller down, go to your landline phone, and call their hotline. Imagine Fridai as a similar concept except with more effectiveness and the cool-factor of getting a response as soon as you say something.

You don’t have to switch windows, fumble with your mouse cursor, or accidentally close a game. Fridai is right there, listening to your every need. If you need to step away from your PC for a moment, just say, “Friday, set my Steam status to busy,” and Fridai will set you up. You can also ask Fridai to play your favorite Spotify tunes for you, so you don’t have to stop to do it yourself.

Are You Ready To Give Fridai A Try?

  1. Visit hellofridai.com or search for Hello Fridai through your Microsoft Store 
  2. Download & sign up
  3. After logging in, browse through Fridai’s menu to learn more about what it offers.
  4. Enjoy your gameplay without ever having to leave it.
Categories
AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with a Gaming Assistant

If you are into gaming and also love the Vikings series on Netflix, there is no way you are not super-hyped for Ubisoft’s upcoming title, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Furthermore, this probably means none less than HEAVEN to you as well.

Here at Fridai, we are generally focusing on titles with repetitive tasks, that a lot of times require the players to step out of the game, go on the internet to search for information they cannot find within the game, or simply they would have to put a lot of time and effort to get that information.

Since there are tons of collectibles, places to discover, etc. in AC games, we can easily pick stuff we can build a skill around. However, we think there are different aspects of Valhalla’s gaming experience that could benefit from a voice-based gamer assistant integration. 

Background stories & lore

We love Viking lore and literally cannot wait to learn more about it while raiding old England. 

While reading stone carvings and paintings in a beautiful scenery is fun, sometimes you just want to learn more about certain characters on the go (maybe on a horseback), without having to stop or go to the menu to look things up. 

Lore and background stories can be the bread & butter of Fridai, since this intelligent gaming assistant can share more information on certain characters and mythical creatures (or basically anything) anytime the player needs it. Want to learn more about Viking lore? Just ask Fridai! 

For example: “Hey Fridai, who is Loki?”

Lore & additional background information, on-demand by Fridai

Tutorials 

Whenever there is a new Assassin’s Creed game, Ubisoft introduces new gameplay mechanics. Let’s be honest: they are doing a pretty good job of this as well, BUT as every player that just cannot wait to jump into the action, we tend to skip some tutorials…occasionally. This leads to getting stuck at some point. Awkward & frustrating.

For example I remember in Assassin’s Creed Origins, I could not recall how to change Day into Night, and after multiple search attempts within the game, I ended up doing what I hate the most while playing: searching the internet…

One of the greatest things about Fridai is that every information you need while playing is on-demand, just an ask away. For example in my situation, I could have just asked: “Hey Fridai, how can I toggle between day and night?” No searching on the internet = immersion saved.

As Valhalla seems to be packed with cool new stuff, an on-demand tutorial/ onboarding Fridai skill will definitely come in handy. 

Ability & item prices

As we discussed in the intro part, Fridai can also help out with a lot of repetitive tasks within the game. Great examples for this are the ability & item prices. Nobody can keep it in their mind, how much an ability or a certain item costs. As Ubisoft stears more and more towards RPG-s with every new installation of Assassin’s Creed, keeping everything in mind can prove trickier to the players. 

Need a new mount to get you faster to your destination? Maybe you want a new shiny hammer to crush through enemy lines without dying 10 times?

You either go to an NPC that sells these, or you need to stop the game, navigate to the specific menu, and search for it. With Fridai, it is just an ask & answer situation. No need to pause because Fridai will tell you instantly how much certain things cost. 

Item prices & tips by Fridai, on-demand

There is a pretty good chance that Valhalla will beat every Viking game known to gamers so far and we think that by integrating Fridai, we can amplify the level of immersion even more.  

By the way, with Fridai’s Spotify skill (don’t forget to connect your Spotify premium account first), you can already listen to the soundtrack for Valhalla, just say “Hey Friday, play the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla playlist”. 

How to get Fridai?

  1. Go to hellofridai.com or search for Hello Fridai in the Microsoft Store 
  2. Download & signup & login
  3. Check out the My Fridai menu to learn more about Fridai’s skills
  4. Have fun playing your game without having to leave it

Categories
AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Red Dead Redemption 2 with Fridai

When I started Red Dead Redemption 2, I didn’t think I’d be putting as much focus into the hunting aspect as I ended up doing. I would randomly run into an animal, skin it, and move on with the story. If you already player Red Dead 2, you know that hunting is so freaking deep and enjoyable, you can end up putting hours into just wandering in the wilderness.

Then Red Dead Online came along. In the online mode, money is harder to come by and hunting is one of the most lucrative methods for sure. Also, there’s just something so relaxing about hunting animals in a living breathing world where the person next to you might run off to rob a train…

Even though Rockstar explains the hunting mechanics very well, it’s hard to retain all information in mind. It was annoying to look away from the game to look up animal locations, which weapons to use on which animals, etc..

Using Fridai for Hunting

Whenever I hunt, I prefer my horse to a hunting wagon. I know that I can stow a lot more on the wagon, but the speed of the cart kinda keeps me away from using it. The issue with sticking with my sturdy horse is that I need to be very picky on which animal I go after… Would be cool if someone could tell me which animal is worth the ride, wouldn’t it? 🙂

I was just finishing up my elk hunt in the north area of West Elizabeth when I came across a pack of wolves. Fortunately, my bolt action rifle did the trick, and all four of them met their end in a minute.

Now I knew my perfect Elk pelt probably worth a lot, but I needed to check if leaving the pelt for a perfect wolf carcass would worth it.

I just said “Hey Fridai, how much is a wolf worth?” Fridai told me that I can get $5,25 for a perfect one. So I went ahead for a quick check “Hey Fridai, how much is the Elk pelt?”

Elk pelt & part prices by Fridai

Fridai quickly told me that for just the perfect pelt of en Elk, I can get $6,50, plus the Antler and Venison worth $2,15. Another cool thing: Fridai also shows me the pricing table, so I can check out my options.

So my Intelligent Gaming Companion just reassured me that I should not leave the Elk pelt and parts for the Wolf. This was so much more convenient than using my smartphone or alt-tabbing out and googling the values. Thanks, Fridai 🙂

After selling the Elk materials to the Butcher in Strawberry, I’ve decided it’s time to hunt a cougar.

Learning from my previous experience, I choose not to google anything, but just simply ask Fridai: “Hey Fridai, where is a cougar?” Fridai told me immediately that South of Blackwater or North of Tumbleweed is a great place to look for them. It’s been a long time since I rode to Tumbleweed anyways, so I decided to visit the iconic town one again.

As Fridai said, I found the Cougar North of the town. After landing a perfect shot to its head, I realized that the animal itself was only a good quality one, and not a perfect one. I saw some pronghorns nearby, so I asked Fridai how much I could get for them. A perfect one would be $6.50… So should I drop the good cougar and just go for a pronghorn?

“Hey Fridai, how much is the cougar?” As Fridai showed me on a pricing table, I can still get $8,10 for a good cougar carcass, so I decided to run back to the butcher in Tumbleweed, and make the quick sell.

Cougar carcass & parts prices by Fridai

Once again, this was so much faster and more convenient than searching for the information on the internet. I can get animal locations and also the butcher prices without leaving the game. I don’t think I want to play Red Dead Online without Fridai ever again :).

How to get Fridai?

When you’re ready to play some Red Dead Redemption 2 without needing to go on fifty different ad-filled websites for information, just 

  1. Go to hellofridai.com or search for Hello Fridai in the Microsoft Store
  2. Download & signup & login
  3. Run Red Dead Redemption 2 (Fridai understands which game you are playing at the moment, thus finding the right context is instant) 
  4. Ask things like“Hey Fridai, where is a Cougar?”  or “Hey Fridai, how much is the Cougar?” or “Hey Fridai, how to kill the Cougar?” 
  5. Have fun playing your game without having to leave it

Categories
AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

In-Game Minecraft Recipes with Fridai

If you’re like me, you’re going to start over in another Minecraft seed to explore a completely new world in survival mode even though you haven’t finished exploring the massive worlds that each Minecraft world has to offer due to its procedural generation. No matter how many times I’ve started a new Minecraft world, I still forget some of the most basic recipes and the in-game Minecraft recipe book wasn’t really helpful because it only shows recipes once you’ve obtained one of the items. It makes it hard for people like me who sometimes forget what I need to gather to create a specific item.

That’s when I turned to a voice assistant for gamers that gave me the recipes I needed, called Fridai. Fridai helped me immerse into the game without having to alt-tab out. It’s great because I like playing on full-screen anyway, and of course, you’ll never know what goes wrong after you try to get back to full screen.

Basic Crafts Eluded Me

Starting a game means I had to make a crafting table. That’s easy enough because, in the Java version, you just need to start punching one of the nearby trees to gather wood. It’s one of the easiest Minecraft recipes because you simply place the wood into your hand-crafted 2×2 item space and create wood planks. You take four of the wood planks and fill the 2×2 space to create a crafting table. After that, it’s a matter of crafting basic items. If you’re lucky enough to be in an exposed biome with cobblestone, then you don’t have to craft anything but a basic wooden pickaxe once you set your crafting table down.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to look on an ad-filled wiki website to find some basic recipes. I simply asked Fridai, “Hey Fridai, how to craft a stone hoe?” so I could start my wheat farm. I could never remember where exactly to put the cobblestone because it’s not a tool I make a lot. Fridai was able to tell me that it’s the same basic idea as a mining pickaxe but without the third cobblestone in the third slot of the first row. Pretty neat.

 

Fridai tells & shows Minecraft recipes

I normally make myself a shovel and start digging around because cobblestone isn’t very far from the ground, depending on the biome you’re in. However, unless you already have some sticks available, it’s hard to remember how exactly you make a shovel right away.

What about people who have no idea what to do? They just keep collecting wood planks not knowing they need to make sticks in order to make the handle. I can see how they can get confused when they start Minecraft for the first time. Sure, they can minimize their screens or try looking down at their phones on “how to craft in Minecraft” topics or “top 10 Minecraft recipes” but it can really be immersion-breaking.

 

Fridai tells & shows Minecraft recipes

The other thing is, I’m a visual learner. Sometimes just telling me something goes in one ear and out the other. Thankfully, that’s when Fridai came to my rescue again by not just telling me the shovel recipe but showing me the correct crafting grid as well. It just makes it more understandable for everyone.

What Other Recipes Are Hard To Remember?

Alright, so far we had fun with Fridai, but can he do more recipes?

Some of the hardest ones to remember are, not surprisingly, some of the most searched recipes in Minecraft. However, it’s not really fun needing to open a wiki page full of advertisements just to find out that the recipes are relatively simple. For example, it is easy to think you need to fill a 3×3 crafting table with cobblestone in order to make a furnace. I remembered that something is fishy there, so I just asked Fridai, and voila:

 

Fridai gives the Furnace recipe

In order to make a furnace in Minecraft, you would need to use the crafting table to place cobblestone along the outside of the 3×3 crafting grid and leave the middle box of the second row empty. Thanks Fridai 🙂

Other recipes can get a little more advanced and won’t unlock until you get certain items in your inventory. One of the items you won’t know about for some time is concrete. Concrete is a new block to Minecraft but it’s a little complicated because you can color the concrete powder to create the concrete powder. You need four gravel, four blocks of sand, and a dye of your choice. It’s a good solid colored block choice for those who are afraid of having their wool burned down in an accident.

I remembered I was testing Fridai at this point so I decided to just talk to him. He is a virtual gaming assistant after all. Of course, once again, Fridai did not fail me. I was even confident enough to open Minecraft in a non-windowed fullscreen. That takes some confidence.

A sticky piston is another useful block that is so easy to make. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to remember the two items you need to make a sticky piston when you want to make a platform or trap door. The in-game Minecraft recipe book isn’t very helpful because it’s not going to tell you how to make it until you have at least one of the items. You just need one slime ball in the middle box of the second row and a piston in the middle box of the third row.

What if there was a way for the crafting recipe you’re looking for to be magically accessible to you? I just asked Fridai about the sticky piston recipe. Keep in mind, this was my first time testing Fridai in a single session so I was trying to trip it up to see if he wouldn’t know the sticky piston recipe but Fridai came through for me again.

Who Is This Fridai You Keep Mentioning And How Do We Get Him?

Fridai is the voice assistant who can – amongst many cool things – give you Minecraft recipes in-game. The perfect voice assistant you need as a gamer so you can keep your attention in the game, but how do you get it?

 

Fridai – Dashboard

How To Find Fridai:

  1. Head over to hellofridai.com or open up the Microsoft Store and search for “Hello Fridai.” (or just use this link)
  2. Download Fridai and make an account, finish the tutorial
  3. Run Minecraft Java Edition (Fridai will automatically know which game you’re playing and instantly find the right context)
  4. Ask Fridai Minecraft recipes while you are playing, “Hey Fridai, how do I make a furnace?”

Fridai was definitely there for me when I needed it the most. Instead of taking my attention away from Minecraft, I was able to just talk to Fridai, and get the recipes instantly. I didn’t need to alt-tab out of Minecraft and go to an ad-filled website to read a bunch of nonsense to find the recipe. I can just talk to Fridai. Currently, Fridai knows over 300 recipes in Minecraft and its knowledge continues to grow. Why not give Fridai a try so you can just focus on your game?

Oh, and one more thing: Fridai can also hook you up with some tunes with Spotify so you can catch the perfect tracks during your game time.

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AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Top 10 Searched Minecraft Recipes

Minecraft has been around for over a decade now and it continues to be one of the more popular games on any platform today. That’s because Minecraft is constantly changing with new recipes and new things to do. There’s no shortage of Minecraft recipes with over ten years of existence under its belt.

The JAVA edition of the game (and later the Bedrock edition as well) even added a Minecraft recipe book that made it easier for players to find the hundreds of available craftable recipes there are in the game. Of course, it’s still better to learn some of the often-searched Minecraft recipes instead of relying on a Minecraft recipe book and commit these recipes to memory.

You don’t need a crash course on how to craft in Minecraft when you can take a look at this quick guide of the top 10 Minecraft recipes you should keep in mind.

Crafting Table

The crafting table is the heart and soul of Minecraft. You can craft certain recipes such as a torch or wood planks without one but every advanced recipe requires a crafting table. You don’t want to get caught underground without one. Creating a crafting table requires 4 wood planks placed in the 2×2 crafting grid taking up all the slots.

Crafting Table recipe

Enchantment Table

The purpose of the enhancement table is in the name itself: enchanting items. You can enchant tools, books, armor, and weapons. You can enchant your tools to break blocks faster, your weapons to add a knockback effect, your armor to have extra fire protection, and much more. You’re going to need a book in the second box of the first row, obsidian in the middlebox of the first row with diamonds in the first and third box of the second row, and obsidian filling the entirety of the third row to craft the enchantment table.

Enchantment Table recipe

Torch

A torch is your light in the darkness in Minecraft. Torches are used to light your way through dark caves, keep your village safe from monsters of the night, and light the interiors of your creations. Torches are relatively easy to make as all you need are two items in the JAVA edition. You simply need to place a stick under coal or charcoal. You don’t even need a crafting table to do so and it creates four torches per craft.

Torch recipe

Fishing Rod

If you’re stuck on an island in Minecraft with no cows, sheep, pigs, or chicken, don’t panic because the ocean around you contains an abundance of edible fish. However, just because some are edible doesn’t mean you should eat them. Consuming a pufferfish in Minecraft causes nausea and poison effects. To craft a fishing rod in the JAVA edition of Minecraft, you need to place a stick in the third box of the first row, a stick in the second box of the second row, a stick in the first box of the third row, a string in the third box of the second row, and a string in the third box of the third row.

Fishing Rod recipe

Bow and Arrow

Some monsters in Minecraft are just too much to handle up close and personal. Sometimes you need a good bow and arrow to take down the likes of skeletons, ghosts, and other monsters that are more effective to fight at range. Crafting a bow in the JAVA edition of Minecraft requires three sticks and three strings. You place a stick in the second box of the first row, a stick in the first box of the second row, a stick in the second box of the third row, a string in the third box of the first row, a string in the third box of the second row, and string in the third box of the third row. There are different types of arrows you can craft in the JAVA edition of Minecraft. The basic arrow recipe is a piece of flint in the second box of the first row, a stick in the second box of the second row, and a feather in the second box of the third row. This creates four arrows per craft.

Arrow recipe
Bow recipe

Fences

A fence is great to section off a farm, put a nice fence around your house, or just have a barrier you can see through but not jump over. You can also use fences for supports for other blocks to create archways. There’s no limit to what you could do with a wooden fence in Minecraft. You can make any number of different fences in Minecraft but keep in mind you need to have matching planks if you’re going after a certain color. In order to create a fence in the JAVA edition of Minecraft you need to put the plank in the first box of the second row, a stick in the second box of the second row, a matching plank in the third box of the second row, then repeat this for the third row. Make sure all your planks are of the same type of wood. Each craft makes three fences.

Fences Recipe

Furnace

Are you walking around with iron you’ve dug up and have no idea how to smelt it down into iron bars? Have you killed a cow for raw meat but don’t know how to cook it? Then a furnace is the perfect item for you for smelting and cooking. Crafting a furnace in the JAVA edition of Minecraft is easy as all you would need is eight pieces of cobblestone (or combination of blackstones and cobblestones) around the outside of the 3×3 crafting grid while leaving the middle box of the second row empty.

Furnace Recipe

Sponge

You’re probably wondering how a sponge could be such a popular block in Minecraft. Well, that’s because there are a lot of situations where you just want to remove water. Fortunately, that’s what a sponge does. It helps dry up unwanted water. The best part about sponges is they’re completely reusable simply by smelting them with any fuel source in a furnace. Simply open up your furnace, place the sponge at the top, and any fuel source at the bottom.

Sponge Recipe

Diamond Sword

Your starter sword made out of wood is great for basic defense and all but if you want to face a bigger badder monster, you’re going to want to upgrade to a diamond sword eventually. When upgraded with the right enchantments, a diamond sword can be one of the best in the game next to a netherite sword. Crafting a diamond sword requires two diamonds and one stick. Place a diamond in the second box of the first row, a diamond in the second box of the second row, and a stick in the second box of the third row.

Diamond Sword recipe

Pickaxe

A pickaxe is the most commonly used tool in Minecraft because, well, you mine with it. You can’t expect to go down into a mine and punch your way into resources. A pickaxe is one of the first tools you want to make when you start a new game, so you’ll need to have three wood planks and two sticks on a 3×3 crafting grid. Place wood planks across the whole first row, then create the handle by placing one stick in the second box of the second and the second stick in the second box of the third row.

Pickaxe recipe

Categories
AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

Personalize to Monetize in Gaming

Did you know that the average human being has an attention span of just 8 seconds? It’s not easy to keep someone engaged with something, especially for long enough to gain an income from it.

Gaming is no exception. In fact, with gaming, it’s even more important to keep a customer engaged, because that is the entire goal of the game’s creation.

However, a personalized customer experience, as shown by various studies and articles so many times, can significantly increase revenue – but how does this translate to the video game industry?

How Personalization Leads to Improved Engagement & Better Monetization in Video Games

When you’re treated as a person rather than merely a “number” or “customer,” you feel a lot more compelled to engage further with that particular company or business.

It’s like going to the bakery each morning, and they know your name (or perhaps even a nickname) and your exact order without you needing to tell them.

THIS makes people feel good. It gives them an emotional connection to that business or company – or in this case, the game.

Personalization in gaming also leads to improved engagement, and, ultimately, better monetization. If you’re a game publisher or developer and you’re looking for ways to maximize your revenue, you can utilize 3rd parties to do so.

For example, Fridai, the gamer assistant.

Fridai can help you with hyper-personalization to monetize with its highly intelligent gaming assistant system – essentially “AI-powered gaming.”

You can use it for your game in a variety of ways, including:

Setting Challenges

Set challenges for players to improve engagement & increase their “desire” to play your game. When a game is challenging, it can encourage people to want to defeat it. You can use Fridai to make them want to play your game.

Engagement-Based Messaging

If you have a new skin or artifact on sale, for example, Fridai knows the right time to show it to the right audience, whether this is before or after gameplay. (Obvoiusly not in the middle of a heated deathmatch.)

Game Intelligence & Tools

Get valuable data on how gamers perceive your game, the challenges they encounter that you didn’t anticipate, and what tools they use to overcome those challenges.

Gain Valuable Insight

Fridai is a voice assistant. Gamers can ask him various questions, and these can ultimately reveal pain points your player base actually has. Thanks to this approach, Fridai’s analytics not only leads to enhancing the user experience on the voice assistant-side but can also make the games much better.

From here, you can take the appropriate steps to resolve these pain points and optimize the gaming experience. In games, Fridai can track data points such as activity, competency, spending, and progression – four key data points that determine your game’s success.

As with anything “entertaining” in life, there is also some threshold of engagement involved in gaming that essentially determines if the player will leave or stay.

If you can track those four previously mentioned data points and learn from them to keep players happy, they will continue to bond with your game and are more likely to spend money to maintain that “joyous” feeling.

This is where AI-powered gaming can make a huge difference for gamers. With it, they can feel like the game is a more personalized experience suited to them.

Since Fridai can help monitor how much a gamer plays, how good they are, their ideas, and how quickly they progress through the game, you can determine how to optimize the game for their enjoyment, thus leading to better monetization.

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AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

The Evolution Of Strategy Guides For Video Games

When we were younger there was something so magical about picking up a strategy guide alongside a video game. Many video game retailers knew there was a subsect of gamers who always had to walk out of the store with the strategy guide for their game in hand. Some didn’t even open them. Some only picked up strategy guides just to physically have one for their collection. Nevertheless, strategy guides have been a staple of the gaming industry for a while.

What Content Could You Find In Strategy Guides?

Since there are different gaming genres, there wasn’t always a cut-and-paste template for strategy guides. Each video game genre’s strategy guides came with different templates, but normally, each guide contained:

A Complete Walkthrough

Many games had side quests or extra things for the player to do that wasn’t so obvious in-game. Some content in games were Easter eggs that many players didn’t find on their first playthrough. A gaming guide was the go-to gaming assistant for a complete game walkthrough.

Maps

Many games had complicated maps that were not very intuitive in the game itself. Other games didn’t even have maps at all and it often left players wondering where to go next. Many strategy guides came with hand-drawn or computer-drawn maps that helped players identify where they were or showed secret locations for them to explore.

Characters

Oftentimes, the individual stories of each character in the game aren’t fleshed out in the game itself. A gaming guide usually did a good job of filling in the blanks for character’s stories from their age to their origins.

List Of Enemies

The weakness and origin story of enemies sometimes aren’t described in the game. There were bosses, especially in older roleplaying games, that gave no major hints or indication on how to defeat them. Gamers would eventually figure out a pattern to defeat said bosses, but having a strategy guide next to them as a handy gamer assistant was a great way to find out exactly how to defeat specific enemies.

Story

There are some gamers who want to go deeper into a game’s lore and story and those who just want to play the game while skipping through the cutscene. Games have done a good job recently of mixing gameplay and storytelling, but games in the past often had the two separated. A gaming guide was perfect for filling in the blanks for those who wanted to go deeper into the story.

Checklist Of Items

It’s difficult to know how many items one can obtain in the game. In the case of games such as old Resident Evil titles, items were so scarce that gamers often had to turn to a gaming guide to see where they could find items to craft medicines and ammo. Normal strategy guides had an entire checklist of items a player could obtain in the game.

Ways To Cheat

Khm…oh yeah…cheat codes are a thing of the past, but they were sometimes included in a gaming guide. Games such as older Grand Theft Auto titles had certain cheat codes that allowed the player to obtain various items or abilities. Some strategy guides simply gave away Easter eggs for players to find hidden items or other secrets normally not found through a player’s first playthrough.

Issues With Printed Guides

Strategy guides are starting to become a novelty anymore, but some games still do come with them. However, they are few and far between as the main strategy guide publisher, Prima Books, ceased printed operations. Printed guides are mainly for collectibles more than anything now. However, even printed guides were sometimes inaccurate because many were published before the game’s release. That meant some gaming guides had different information due to changes made to the game upon its final release, not to mention the post-release updates, buffing and nerfing characters, etc..

The Move To Online Strategy Guides

Even before Prima Books decided to cease printing guides, many strategy guides were unofficially posted online, mainly by fans. Video game Wikipedias – hello Fandom – started popping up everywhere that were full of advertisements to keep their pages going. However, using online guides is not the most efficient way if you think about it.

What Makes Online Guides Inefficient?

Simply put, whether you were playing on PC or Console, it just broke the gameplay by forcing you to leave the game. Console players for example who needed to look through an online guide had to pause and look up a guide on a computer. Either that or they had to try to open an online gaming guide on their phone and it would take time to load due to the massive amount of non-personalized advertisements on these websites. Online gaming guides were also not very intuitive most of the time as the information was not organized as well as they were in printed format. This often led to gamers accidentally spoiling a story for themselves when they simply wanted to find out strategies for a certain boss. For the past two decades, gamers have been stuck without a handy gaming assistant to help them when they were stuck. Fortunately, we’re in the age of AI-powered gaming.

What Is The Next Level For Video Game Strategy Guides?

The next level for video game gaming guides is through AI-assisted voice assisting and Fridai is ready to take your call as a gamer. With Fridai, there is no need to open your phone to scroll through guides or minimize your game to look through websites. Everything you need to assist in your gaming life can be handled by this AI-powered gaming assistant. Gamers can stay immersed in their game while having an AI-powered gaming assistant tell them where to find specific items, how to counter enemies, or just simply sharing more on a character’s background to get the richest experience the game could offer – by using their voices.


The future is finally here with Fridai, your new Gaming Companion.

Categories
AI Powered Gaming Assistant Gaming Assistant Video games

The Frustration of Tutorials and Onboarding within Games

Any gamer, game developer, or game publisher will agree that games are getting more complex, and the gaming experiences even more juicer, but only where the right support is provided. At the same time, the onboarding process takes more and more time. This is a matter that any serious game developer or publisher shouldn’t take lightly. It can’t be an afterthought anymore, because breaking the gaming experience causes frustration, frustration results in lost attention, and ultimately, a gamer who uninstalls your game.

Today, very few games even come with manuals as the game itself teaches the players how to play. However, the big question is, do they do it the right way? What is the next level for game tutorials? TV Tropes has a great article about tutorials so before we get answers to these questions, let’s have a look at the different types.

Common Types of Game Tutorials

Antepiece

For an Antepiece tutorial, a great example is when the game requires you to open a portal at a certain location and go through it. In the portal, you are presented with an ostensibly simple and small task that acts as a channel to the bigger and more difficult real game level. When completing the tutorial, you’ll get subtle hints about how you are expected to deal with the next step of the game.

Auto-Pilot Tutorial

This is a visible tutorial that you can’t touch. It normally plays over and over to give a player important hints on how to play the game before throwing them into the action. The tutorial explains these directions through voice-over or written text.

Forced Tutorial

This is an in-game tutorial that you must read or watch for you to advance to the next level. In most cases, this applies when the developers feel that the challenge awaiting the player is too difficult, so they help to enjoy it.

Timed Hits

These are tutorials that are conveyed through a character that outwardly seems fictional but doesn’t break the fourth wall. In these cases, the character itself tells the player what he or she should do at a specific time.

Justified Tutorial

A justified tutorial is integrated into a game’s setting. The tutorial’s characters accompany the player throughout the game, instructing them on the moves to make. Since the character’s instructions are part of the setting, their audio directions are supported by the game’s Heads Up Display. For instance, when the instructor tells the player to shoot, the Heads Up Display reads “press R1 to fire”.

Signpost Tutorial

This is an in-game tutorial that puts instructions on the signs and the background of a game to show a player how to navigate through certain features. It is less obstructive as compared to the non-player character tutorials.

Training Boss

This is a tutorial that places you in a simulated game environment where you are battling against an unbeatable character. Don’t be surprised if you end it up with a humiliating defeat – you can’t beat the opponent anyway. However, you’ll have tested your new game skills.

Training Dummy

This is where it feels like someone is telling you, “ Hey come and practice your combat moves on me; I won’t fight back!” You can’t lose this practice fight, but again, you can’t win it either. You end it when you had enough.

How to Create A Good Tutorial That Doesn’t Break The Gameplay?

1. Prioritizing Undisrupted Gaming experience in your Game Design

First and foremost, you need to put undisrupted gaming experience in the center of your game design. The best game design is which helps a gamer to understand the rules and instructions of the game easily and enjoy the gameplay as seamlessly as possible. Perhaps there’s this game that you were playing, and along the way, you had to pause the gameplay for minutes as you try to understand what the tutorial was telling you in order to make the necessary move. How was the experience? Not the best, right? Maybe you even lost interest in continuing the game. This happens to many other players as well when they get fed up with disruptive tutorials. Others will try to skip them, only to be stranded later in the game because they lack the necessary support that they’d have otherwise gotten from the very tutorials they’ve just skipped.

As such, as you create your game tutorial, ensure it is supportive to players without being disruptive. Make it simple and optional where possible. Just think about a player who replays your adventure. Would he really want to listen to every hint and tips you have to say?

Also, text is not the best way to deliver a tutorial message. In most cases, text instructions destroy immersion and many players tend to skip them if given a chance. If you have to use texts in your tutorial, the best way is to use them as subtitles in a video-only, video-audio, or audio tutorial. Having done that, your players can opt to listen to or read and listen to the tutorial.

How about players being able to access your game’s help database hand-free using voice commands? Now, this is game experience taken a notch higher. It’s one of the best conveniences you as a game publisher or developer can offer to the gamers. They’ll be ever thankful to you because you’ll have helped them navigate through the game smoothly without them having to remove their fingers from their controls.

2. Maintaining a Simplistic Control Design

Secondly, you need to stick with simplistic control design. You cannot hide behind the excuse of “My game has so much to offer; it cannot be simple”. Gamers can be impatient if they feel that they are spending too much time trying to understand your game controls. No matter how rich you feel your game is, your target audience may hold a contrary opinion because you’ve not provided them with an easy channel to explore its richness. As such, it is crucial to ensure that your game’s controls are easy to understand and use.

3. Appropriate Placement & Timing

The third thing you need to keep in mind is to time and place your tutorials well. You just cannot break the game-flow by throwing information on the players when they don’t need them yet. They want to concentrate on the game, and when a disruption occurs, it has to be something to help them proceed as soon as possible. Give them small portions of helpful information just when they need it. With such an interactive tutorial, it’ll be easy for them to relate to the information and act on it because it’s relevant to the prevailing gaming step. Otherwise, if the presentation of the information isn’t properly timed, the chances are high that players will skip it. The tutorial will not have served the intended purpose – unfortunately.

So What Is the Next Big Step for Game Tutorials?

Considering the tips above, there’s great importance for game developers and publishers to leverage on the power of artificial intelligence and virtual assistants to offer interactive tutorials. Virtual assistants are key components of AI-powered gaming, whereby games are so ‘intuitive’ that they are able to respond to every gamer uniquely depending on their gaming behavior.

With the growing popularity of virtual reality gaming, immersion goes to a whole new level. However, without minimizing the information displayed on the heads up display, there is a barrier to this evolution. Switching to a voice-based assistant can be the way to go here. This brings us to Fridai, a leading gaming assistant.

Fridai, has been an integral part of AI-powered gaming and it’s a great tool that helps game developers to implement their onboarding and tutorials without disrupting the gaming experience. It conducts a real-time analysis of a gamer’s behavior during gameplay and provides them with small and appropriate pieces of information just when they need or ask for it.

Better still, the gamers don’t have to engage their hands to request this information. All they need to do is to speak to the gamer assistant, asking it what they want to know. For instance, a Minecraft player who wants to know how to create an enchanting table may ask the gamer assistant, “Hey Fridai, how can I craft an Enchanting table?” It’ll draw the relevant information from Minecraft and present it to them instantly. For those who want help with a bicycle kick on Fifa, asking it, “Hey Fridai, how can I do a bicycle kick?” is enough to get all the info they need and the timing will be perfect.

This way, players do not need to suffer through forced tutorials, popping up screens, and overwhelming information floods. Most importantly, they can immerse themselves in the game a lot more. Oh, and one more thing: How cool it is to pretend to be Iron Man with your own Jarvis?