March 8, 2006

Bad Machine Mysteries Unfolded

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:15 pm

Long have people puzzled over the strange system of Dan Shiovitz’s game Bad Machine (available online at Poems that Go.) But the attempt at careful discussion I made in my review of Bad Machine now seems unnecessary, because a page that explains everything has recently come back online.

March 7, 2006

Rettberg’s talk “Wherefore Genre?”

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:53 pm

It’s spring break, so I decided to take a trip to Maryland and hear a talk…

Wherefore Genre?

Scott Rettberg’s talk at MITH (University of Maryland). I was pleased to hear Neil Fraistat plug Grand Text Auto in introducing Scott…

Scott uses the Electronic Literature Collection volume 1 (eds. Hayles, Montfort, Rettberg, Strickland) to discuss the notion of genre in e-lit. There is no established publishing model, economic market. This causes problems with in presenting work in the classroom, assigning work.

March 6, 2006

Lebowitz’s Universe, part 2

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:01 am

This is the last in my series (1 2 3 4) of posts about two story generation systems that were first published about in the mid-1980s: Minstrel and Universe. I think they’re not just interesting in themselves, but also in the lessons they give us for how we might approach story generation today (including interactive story generation). In fact, I think they’re interesting in helping us think about how we might design any system meant to exhibit behaviors we consider “intelligent” — behaviors meant to be interpretable to a human audience as similar to things we do ourselves.

March 5, 2006

Façade at PAGDIG

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:54 pm

Join us this Thursday March 9 at 7:30pm for a presentation about the development of Façade at my local indie dev hangout, the Portland Area Game Developer Interest Group (PAGDIG).

I’d make a joke about the rain in Portland, but that’s just a myth Portlanders perpetuate to keep too many Californians from moving here. ;-)

March 4, 2006

Lebowitz’s Universe, part 1

As mentioned in the first post of this series (1 2 3), the primary designer of Universe is Michael Lebowitz (also, according to the acknowledgments in Lebowitz’s 1984 and 1987 papers, work by Paula Langer and Doron Shalmon made significant contributions to the project and Susan Rachel Burstein helped develop many of the ideas). The Universe system shares a certain intellectual heritage with Minstrel and Tale-Spin, and it also has another unusual shared feature in common with Tale-Spin. As we see with Tale-Spin‘s “mis-spun tales,” the most famous story attributed to Universe has a somewhat more tenuous connection to the project’s output than one might assume. Here is the story:

March 3, 2006

… plus a constraint!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 1:18 pm

There’s a new issue of CIAC’s Electronic Magazine, an online French and English publication of Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal. This Winter 2006 issue is “Hyperlittérature IV: contraintes / Hyperliterature IV: constraints,” and it includes an article by Patrick Ellis on my Ad Verbum (2000) and Neil Hennessy’s Jabber (2001).

Living Game Worlds 2006

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:04 am

February’s Living Game Worlds symposium, held at Georgia Institute of Technology and hosted by the GVU and Ivan Allen College/LCC among others, was a superb thinktank, bubbling forth ideas, strategies, studies, art forms, and communities around computer games.

March 2, 2006

Turner’s Minstrel, part 2

In my previous two posts (1 2) I gave some background about two story generation systems, Minstrel and Universe, and outlined the basic set of plans and goals used by Minstrel. In this post I’ll discuss the main engine Minstrel uses for creating new stories: transformation and adaptation. As we’ll see, it’s both intriguing and problematic.

3 in 7: New IF

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:36 am
The Reliques of Tolti-Aph Damnatio Memoriae Bronze

Leading IF author Emily Short has released two new games, and Graham Nelson, IF author and creator of the widely-used IF system Inform, has a new IF offering, too. Graham’s piece is entitled The Reliques of Tolti-Aph. Emily’s new games are Damnatio Memoriae (set in the Savoir-Faire universe) and Bronze (a “fractured fairy tale” based on the legend of beauty and the beast). They were all coded in the soon-to-be-released Inform 7, and they come with lavish virtual “feelies” such as PDF manuals, a map, and a walkthrough (for the weak). Among these is Emily’s IF Instruction Manual and similar instructions in the Bronze manual, which will prove very useful for IF newcomers.

March 1, 2006

Turner’s Minstrel, part 1

As mentioned in my previous post, the first publication about Minstrel appeared in the mid-1980s. The system was brought to completion over the course of a decade, resulting in Turner’s 1994 publication of The Creative Process: A Computer Model of Storytelling and Creativity. Over the first few years of Minstrel‘s development, some of the ideas at its foundation continued to evolve. Particularly, in Schank’s lab the model of dynamic memory and its adaptations was extended into the idea of “Case-Based Reasoning” (CBR). The basic idea of CBR is in some ways quite close to that of scripts: in the main people do not decide what to do in each situation by reasoning from first principles, but rather by drawing on previous knowledge. However, rather than suggesting that each of us has a “restaurant script” and a “sports event script” and so on, case-based reasoning assumes that we remember many cases, and reason from them — much as the learning of previous cases is formalized in legal and business education. (I’m adapting this account from 1989’s Inside Case-Based Reasoning.)

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