December 4, 2004

Hard to Believe

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 3:23 am

Robin Hunicke attended last week’s Game Tech industry seminar, I assume circumventing the $2450 registration fee :-). The gathering was comprised of a Creating Believable Characters Seminar and a Game Tech Leadership Summit. She wrote up a great three part summary of the event. (Update: Make that five!)

Robin reports that the believable characters seminar was pretty much limited to (impressive) animation techniques; the presentations went little into AI and behavior, because there’s little tangible work to talk about there.

…about AI and believablity, it’s clear that they tried to find a good speaker or two – and just couldn�t. It�s not that people aren�t trying some simple things… or even that they aren�t attending the conference. For example – Checker (at Maxis) and Jay (at Valve) had a long debate during a break on Day Three about whether the industry is ‘doomed’ because for all our realism, characters are still empty husks. So clearly, it�s being discussed. But results are limited, work is slow, and not a lot of people are stepping up to say what they think will take us in the right direction. That worries me.

Um, hello… (pdf GDC04 powerpoint GDC04 video)

But, okay, generally speaking, Robin is right — no group has yet built a working demonstration, let alone entertainment experience, with a broadly capable, non-shallow believable interactive animated character.

December 3, 2004

Emergent Behaviorists

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:44 pm

A recent Gamasutra article reminds me that there’s actually quite a few small, under-the-radar startups or commercial groups out there that you may have never heard of, who are attempting to tackle interactive character and/or story in some form or fashion. Some groups are new, some have been around for a while; some are just one or two people, some have reasonably large teams of people (i.e, more than 2). Some have external funding, some are self-funded, some have no funding, or have already used it up; some are building polished products or freeware, some are building tools and technology. They’re all worth keeping tabs on.

December 2, 2004

Thank You

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:25 pm

Please visit the exhibition “Thank You”an activist art project conceived by Danish/Australian/U.S. group Wooloo Productions (I’m in it!). It launched yesterday on World AIDS day, December 1st, 2004.
thank you image

Thank You “confronts its audience with the relationship of exchange between Africa and the West. Dealing specifically with issues of exploitation and disease, the project utilizes possibilities afforded by online technology to illustrate the absurdity of today’s co-existing economic reality.”

mary is…

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:33 am

mary has been so quiet…. because . . .

In Debugging the Sims, Fiction is Stranger than Truth

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:25 am

The Sims 2 now has a patch that fixes a few bugs. If only real life was debuggable like this. Here’s a few highlights:

  • Fixes a problem with Sims’ jobs not functioning properly when 3 or more Sims go to work in a helicopter.
  • Visitors will no longer kidnap a baby or toddler by leaving the lot while carrying them.
  • An adopted baby no longer snaps to the ground when the social worker that delivers it puts it in a crib.
  • A Sim whose fianc dies can now become engaged again.

December 1, 2004

Game Studies Social and Serious

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:01 pm

A new issue of Game Studies is online, with articles such as “Social Realism in Gaming”, “Social Dynamics of Online Gaming” and “The Challenge of Serious Videogames”. Also, articles on game music, German gaming, and a review of Rules of Play.


I just got back from Europe (my most recent post was from an AI lab in Zurich) where I attended a great gathering at the University of Siegen organized by Peter Gendolla und Jörgen Schäfer. Titled “Netzliteratur — Umbrüche in der literarischen Kommunikation,” it featured Marie-Laure Ryan, Loss Pequeno Glazier, Roberto Simanowski, and yours truly as the U.S. participants. Others came from Germany, France, Spain, Finland, and Switzerland. (Program PDF.) One of the highlights for me was finally meeting people who I’d corresponded with (like Marie-Laure) or who I’d long heard of (like French participants Philippe Bootz and Jean-Pierre Balpe). Everyone’s papers will be online at Dichtung Digital before long, so I won’t say too much about the presentations here — except to note that Markku Eskelinen’s was based on his excellent Six Problems in Search of a Solution: The challenge of cybertext theory and ludology to literary theory, already online at DD.

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