Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ICIDS Photo Diary Tuesday

 Tuesday morning: Michael, David and Federico initialize the conference.

David, Federico and
Michael Young introducing the conference

I was first out giving an invited talk, and I could start before schedule given that everyone was in place - that was great, I didn't have to feel pressed for time and talk quickly in order to get to say everything I want to say.
Me giving invited talk:
The Grails of Interactive Story Telling at ICIDS'12

I started my talk by telling about a letter I got this summer from a Masters' student in Canada. He had read the thesis on Story Construction I wrote in 2001/2002 and wondered about my thoughts on how the field have advanced during the past decade. Since I got that letter I've been thinking a lot about this, and realized that there have been huge strides made. Even though it often feels like trampling in the mud, and that the area just creates tool after tool that no author wants to touch, and that we just keep doggedly chasing after grails that we don't even know if they exist... We have found pretty cool goblets on the way, and that constant chase is what can keep us going. I named a few of the grails many of us keep looking for, then, I gave a recount on my journey, and what I found on the way. I told about the play-testing about the Pataphysic institute, of how players
- simultaneously use mental models of how a mind works and that of MMORPG role taking in battle,
- how they co-create boss monsters with the system, and how intense it can become when they play, and an autonomous entity in the game bleeds in meaning from the real world, but how that is re-interpreted in dialog when players cooperate to neutralise the negative feelings that these boss monsters represent,
- how players attribute intentionality to the autonomous entities despite that they even authored them themselves. Still, they read in and interpret their behaviour as if was something that would have its own will.
Then I went on to note that we have indeed achieved to come closer to some of the grails we thought about ten years ago. For example, we know now thanks to the Sims series, that it indeed is possible to have a sandbox world as a basis for performing actions that in turn can be a sequence of event that, when retold, actually becomes an engaging narrative. The blog stories of Alice and Kev is an example of that. Another dream, an authoring environment that can take the rules implied in language and use them in a functional way is manifest in Inform 7 and its constant development. And "the book that writes itself", generative planned stories, we are coming along in that area too. Of that, Richard Evans' and Emily Shorts Versu is a prime example. Richard talked about this the day after. It felt really nifty that we had worked together on our talks the day before, because then I could just talk about this, our past grails and where we seem to be now, grail-wise, because then, on the last day of the conference, Noah gave a talk on the future of digital interactive narrative. Along the conference I noted that one of the grails that shine most brightly is that of the automated game master. That is, something more than the state of the art/general idea of an automated story manager. An automated game master would also use the game mechanics afforded in a game world together with judgements about how to use plot-points, story-beats, levels of dramatic tension and what-not. Of course, the idea of automating, or having support for the human game master of a table top or live action game is not new, it was just, as topics go, quite a shiny one.

ICIDS was a single track conference, which I was thankful for. I get so frustrated of this condition that you have gone somewhere to be, and to see, and to participate, but then anyway ending up feeling that one misses crucially interesting talks all the time, because one has to choose. (GDC solves this by having the GDC Vault where the talks are recorded, that's the only reason I don't go nuts there).
Below are some pictures of how the day in this blissfully single track continued. The conference program is available here: http://icids2012.vicomtech.tv/files/Program.pdf
Suspending Virtual
Disbelief: A Perspective on Narrative Coherence Veli-Matti
Four Quantitative
Metrics Describing Narrative Conflict Stephen G. Ware, R. Michael Young, Brent
Harrison, and David L. Roberts
The Expressive Space of
IDS-as-Art  Noam
Lunch is served
Digital Interactive
Narrative Tools for Facilitating Communication with Children during Counseling:
A Case for Audiology Sarune Baceviciute, Katharina Rene Rtzou Albk, Aleksandar
Arsovski, and Luis Emilio Bruni
audience day
Coffee Tables &
Cryo Chambers: A Comparison of User Experience and Diegetic Time between
Traditional and Virtual Environment-Based Roleplaying Game Scenarios Bjoern F.
Temte and Henrik Schoenau-Fog

Genres, Structures and
Strategies in Interactive Digital Narratives Analyzing a Body of Works Created
in ASAPS Hartmut Koenitz and Kun-Ju Chen

In the evening, we had a delightful time. I took a picture of myself and Hartmut, and tried to take it the same way as last time I saw him, which was seven years ago when we were both at Georgia Tech. We were about fifteen-twenty people, and we did dinner the way that seem to be the local custom: to go from different bars and have a pinto at each one. Many interesting conversations, I was for example very intrigued to hear about Uli Spierling's work of using the STRIP planning language as the base for a prototype that let authors experiment with interactive Storytelling.
Hartmut and me 2012
Hartmut and me 2005

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