Wednesday, April 5, 2023

I had Bard and ChatGPT fill in the backstory for my kitbashed G.I. Joe character. This is what they gave me.

This past weekend, I took a little time to put together a "new" G.I. Joe character from pieces of some of my childhood figures.  A little work with a screwdriver and a bit of sloppy paint later, and I had this guy:

Naturally, I wanted to figure out the story behind this new Joe.  Something about the goggles and gloves...or maybe it has a little bit to do with the fact that his head (from Breaker) is the same mold that was used for Clutch...had me thinking he's a driver/mechanic type.

Then, I did what makes the most sense to do in April 2023 when you'd like a character backstory:  I asked a computer.

I started with Google's new chatbot Bard, with a simple request:

Create a GI Joe character, with a code name. He should be a driver and mechanic.

And Bard, true to its programming, delivered quickly (bolding by me, btw)...

Sure, here is a GI Joe character I came up with:

Code Name: Wheels

Real Name: Robert "Bob" Smith

Occupation: Driver and Mechanic

Nationality: American

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 190 lbs

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Blue

Backstory: Bob Smith was born and raised in a small town in the Midwest. He was always fascinated by cars and trucks, and he knew from a young age that he wanted to be a mechanic. After high school, he went to trade school and became a certified mechanic. He then got a job at a local garage, where he worked for several years.

One day, Bob was approached by the GI Joe team. They were looking for a skilled mechanic to join their team, and they were impressed with Bob's skills and experience. Bob accepted the offer, and he has been a member of the GI Joe team ever since.

Bob is a valuable member of the GI Joe team. He is a skilled mechanic, and he is always willing to help out his fellow teammates. He is also a brave and courageous soldier, and he is always ready to fight for freedom.

Bob's code name, "Wheels," is a reference to his love of cars and trucks. He is always seen driving around in one of the GI Joe team's vehicles, and he is always up for a race.

Bob is a great friend, a loyal teammate, and a skilled mechanic. He is a valuable asset to the GI Joe team, and he is always ready to fight for freedom.

All right!  Wheels.  Not terrible.  Not terribly clever, but not terrible.  A solid first effort for a bot that may or may not have ever been tasked with creating a Joe.  I's a pretty straightforward origin story, so Bard probably hadn't put a lot of thought into it until that very moment.

Let's see how its more famous colleague ChatGPT fared...

Create a GI Joe character, with a code name. He should be a driver and mechanic.

Code Name: Gearhead

Profile: Gearhead is the ultimate driver and mechanic for the GI Joe team. His real name is Jack Riley and he hails from a small town in the Midwest. He's always been fascinated by cars and mechanics, tinkering with engines and machines from a young age.

After completing his mechanical engineering degree, Jack joined the army and quickly made a name for himself as a skilled driver and mechanic. He was soon recruited by the GI Joe team for his expertise and passion for all things automotive.

Special Skills: Gearhead is a master of all types of vehicles, from tanks and helicopters to motorcycles and speedboats. He can fix any mechanical problem on the fly, and his driving skills are unmatched. He's also an expert in demolitions and can rig explosive devices with precision.

Gear: Gearhead's signature vehicle is a custom-built, heavily armed jeep that he personally designed and assembled. It's equipped with an array of weapons and gadgets, including a missile launcher, smoke screen, and night vision system.

Personality: Gearhead is known for his cool demeanor under pressure and his unwavering dedication to the mission. He's always eager to get behind the wheel and take on any challenge, no matter how dangerous. He's also fiercely loyal to his fellow Joes and will stop at nothing to protect them.

Okay, so not sure if many folks are going to actually take the time to read through those, but I just want to point out that both bots created a character from "a small town in the Midwest."

(Hmm.  Springfield, perhaps?  Kinda crazy either way.)

So, I'm sold on that detail.  Also, Gearhead.  Not bad!  Once again, not great, but not bad, and probably better than Wheels.

Now...time to work out some gaming stats for Gearhead.  Maybe the bots can handle that for me too...

Also, relevant:


  1. Interesting how both of them picked the Midwest; it suggests that they are both pulling from the same source data. It's also weird how mundane the first one is; is GI Joe so desperate for a mechanic that they picked the first guy that applied?

    "What will you bring to the fight against the terror of COBRA, Bob Smith?"

    "Well, gee, I have a mechanic's certificate from Midwestern Night School."

    "You're in! YO JOE!"

    1. Ha! I wondered about that as a reason for the Midwest connection. It just seems so...I dunno, lazy(?) for a generative AI, when asked to create something, to just draw from the shallow well it has available and settle on something like that too easily. I know next to nothing about it, though.

      These were also my first Joe-related queries. Later tries have included me asking one to create a Cobra officer, and it's like, sure, I just created one called the Baroness. So maybe there are topics that really don't have enough dialogue around them to offer much depth...

    2. Oh, and you're right, the first one is almost painfully mundane! It's like some very polite GI Joe fans did a Mad Lib.