Thursday, February 28, 2013

Half way through GDIII and Richard Evans giving invited talk today

We are half-way through the Game Design III course in the Masters of Digital Games at Malta University. In this course we look at AI and computational intelligence approaches useful for game design. We also look tools for, and ways to conceptualize, game design, doing some hands-on work in workshops trying out tools and methods.

Last Seminar was about Interactive Narrative, so we looked at stuff like Tale Spin and STRIPS. For the theoretical grounding we turned to Ryans’ Avatars of Story. In the workshop we tried the story modeling tool that Ulrike Springer told me about at ICIDS. It turned out to be a very concrete way to demonstrate how STRIPS type planning can be used used when conceptualizing stories for games.

Story Modelling with STRIPS the paper prototyping way

We also looked at some of the big applications that have emerged on the game scene the past decade, and I again noted that Richard Evans has been pioneering all over the place when it comes to systems that can result in emergent narrative. Then, the day after the seminar I got an email that the latest thing him and Emily Short has been working on, Versu, was released! It is a true interactive series of interactive narratives inspired by the storyworld of Jane Austen, and can be read/played on the IPad. In today’s seminar Richard will skype in and tell us all about it.

Today’s seminars theme is Characters and agents, so we will talk about what characterization and true character can mean for games. For that we are picking up an old article Steve Meretzky wrote for Gamasutra in 2003 - in that he manages to lightheartedly cram in many of my favorite theorists almost seamlessly. System wise we are reading papers about BDI, OCC, Brooks subsumption architecture. Classic stuff and how the roots of some approaches made games like F.E.A.R, the Sims, and Black&White possible. Then, in the workshop, we will have a stab at making some conversational agents. If we get time we will try a card game, Game Seeds, that can help generate character based games as a result of the game play. Or we leave that for next week’s seminar, which has the theme of procedural generation.


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