How do we get “real” customers in our virtual store? The making of…

Customers in the virtual store are behaving more and more realistic. How is this possible? What does it take? We would like to give you a short impression in the making process of virtual shopping customers.

The first step is to have realistic characters that fit the store audience. They have to make realistic movements and expressions. When the set of customers is completed the next step is the behaviour of the customers. And here comes the difficult stuff.

Virtual customers have to act by themselves. When they enter the store they take a shopping cart or a shopping basket. Customers that enter the store must have a purpose. They walk around the store, stop and search for things, put things in the basket, etc. At the end of their route they will come to the checkout and get in line. After the customer has paid he will leave the store. All this sounds pretty obvious but all of this has to be programmed and directed.

This “smart” behaviour of the virtual customers is called artificial intelligence (AI). We build, program, this in Unity 3D. We use this game engine to build our learning games like the Cashier Trainer. With path finding we can create paths for the customers. In the picture below you can see examples of the customer’s paths.

virtual customers
This customer has his own path. His path will be adjusted in real-time, depending on the behaviour of the other customers in the store.
We have to make sure that customers don’t collide, that they do not walk through shelves, that they walk a realistic route and wait for their turn at the cash counter.

realistic customers cashier trainer
This customer sees two checkouts. One checkout already has a customer so the “smart” behaviour would be to choose the empty checkout.

Want to see the virtual shopping customers in action? Watch the latest trailer of our Cashier Trainer here. Don’t forget to look at the background, can you detect the AI of the customers?