June 29, 2010

Tiltfactor Interns + Bling Arrive

from tiltfactor
by @ 5:54 am

The lab is in full swing with several projects: Metadata Games, a game exploring biodiversity, and some games for health– right now, HIV games and games to combat sexual assault. Interns this summer are: Max Seidman, Alicia Driscoll, and visiting for the summer from USC, Mike Ayoob. Folks working with us this summer include Playmatics, Cecile Williams, Robinson Tryon, Vanessa Moy, and Sukdith Punjasthitkul. Welcome!

and…Finally!  After 7 years, we have Tiltfactor bling! Soon available on our web site.

June 27, 2010

Creating Adventure in Style and The Marble Index in Curveship

from Post Position
by @ 3:12 pm
The blog edition of my presentation at the Electronic Literature Organization’s ELO_AI Conference, Brown University, 5 June 2010

The process of writing and programming the first two full-scale interactive fiction pieces in the new system I have been developing, Curveship, has been a part of my poetic practice that I have found interesting and has also been a useful activity from several perspectives. Here I focus on the project Adventure in Style. I will also mention The Marble Index, a project that contrasts with Adventure in Style in an important way. These two pieces, still in progress, are initial explorations of the potential of Curveship and of the automation of narrative variation. My hope has been that these two games will serve as provocative interactive experiences, whether or not those who interact with them are interested in Curveship as a research project or as a development system. Of course, it will be very useful if they also serve as demonstrations of how Curveship works. I have, additionally, used these two projects to help me determine what additional development is critical before I release Curveship.

June 26, 2010

Choosing Chun-Li in the Rat Race

from Post Position
by @ 11:36 am

Here’s something with a good point and that’s worth watching: “Girls suck at video games” / “Les filles sont nulles aux jeux vidéo.” It makes me wonder about several things, and puts me in mind of a previous conversation about gender, gaming, and work, but for now, I’ll just mention one thing I’ve been pondering: Could a generally similar idea have been expressed as effectively in an actual video game? Or perhaps the answer to that is an obvious yes. How would it have been different if it was done as a game rather than a video?

June 24, 2010

Games + Playculture, Virtual Cinema courses begin!

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:33 pm

The 2010 Summer courses at Dartmouth have begun: Virtual Cinema, which is an exploration of Machinima practices as well as a hands-on studio course in game-related movie making, and Games and Playculture, a theory seminar on play.

Visitors to the classes include designer and theorist Celia Pearce, designer Tracy Fullerton, machinima maker Claus-Dieter Schulz, senior level designer Zach Wilson, screenwriter Lisa Dethridge, and Hugh Hancock of Strange Company (machinima).  A very exciting term in a very beautiful New Hampshire/Vermont summer (rainbow spotted today! reminding me of the students’ beloved game

June 20, 2010

@party: Weaving thread

from Post Position
by @ 1:10 pm

I spent this weekend at @party 2010, the first (and hopefully not last) demoparty of this name. The event was in the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts – a bit outside of Boston. I heard four live music performances, saw an early cut of Jason Scott’s almost-finished Get Lamp documentary, and saw and heard grafix, music, and demos (wild and windows) in the Saturday evening compos. There were great tunes, a truly excellent 4k windows demo, an incredible demo running on an Arduino, and much more. Many thanks to the organizer, Metoikos, and everyone who helped her out. And, a big thanks to the demoscene!

June 19, 2010

Netartery — new network writing blog

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 5:43 am

Jim Andrews has launched a new collaborative blog, NetArtery, together with Andy Campbell, Chris Funkhouser, Cliff Syringe, Gregory Whitehead, and Jhave Johnston, an innovative and funky group of writers who play in a number of interesting forms of digital and other writing on the network. Should be an interesting one to watch.
# Jim Andrews

June 17, 2010

Rise of the Beta

My dissertation work aims to build intelligent game AI by learning from replays. However, the major limitation of this approach is that the AI cannot be developed until a large number of players have first played the game. Fortunately, large-scale beta testing is becoming more popular for games. These beta cycles result in mountains of data that can be used to build AI for games. One of the most notorious beta releases is Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft 2, which ran from February 17 to June 7. The only AI provided with this release was “very easy”, which means that Blizzard may be analyzing how players actually play the game before finalizing the AI.

June 16, 2010

A Unique Design Approach

from tiltfactor
by @ 1:39 pm

A recent article highlights Dartmouth College’s rather unusual approach to game design by basing the process in humanistic thinking. Influenced by Professor Mary Flanagan’s commitment to social change design and human values through the Values at Play project, the students enrolled in Dartmouth’s games courses bring their eclectic backgrounds to the design process to make unique games. Currently in the works at the lab: games for pressing healthcare issues, a game on sustainability and biodiversity, metadata games, and research with the Games for Learning Institute, focusing on the links between industry designers’ everyday knowledge and popular learning theories.

A Unique Design Approach

from tiltfactor
by @ 1:39 pm

A recent article highlights Dartmouth College’s rather unusual approach to game design by basing the process in humanistic thinking. Influenced by Professor Mary Flanagan’s commitment to social change design and human values through the Values at Play project, the students enrolled in Dartmouth’s games courses bring their eclectic backgrounds to the design process to make unique games. Currently in the works at the lab: games for pressing healthcare issues, a game on sustainability and biodiversity, metadata games, and research with the Games for Learning Institute, focusing on the links between industry designers’ everyday knowledge and popular learning theories.

June 13, 2010

Short Films from ELO_AI

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 7:00 am

During the ELO_AI conference, David (jhave) Johnston shot a couple of wonderful little short films of people responding quickly to the question “What inspired you to get involved with electronic literature?” The results: 51 Keywords (33 seconds) and 51 Responses (18:25).

June 12, 2010

The Future of Newspapers

from Post Position
by @ 11:16 am

If you want to know about the future of newspapers, you might look at the ones that are thriving rather than the ones that are struggling or collapsing. I learned recently that there is at least one fairly new, very successful newspaper company – Metro International. With a price point of zero for their tabloids, they offer advertising-rich layouts and tiny stories that (for clarity’s sake) don’t jump to other pages. It’s the newspaper equivalent of that gag on Suck.com where Terry drew a Web page full of advertising that had a tiny “content banner.” (Wish I could find it … but at least Suck.com is still online, for those who want to look.) Having recently read about this newsprint wunderkind, I picked up this weekend’s issue to see what they actually write Metro stories about…

June 10, 2010

Interactive Drama and Action: Can we have it all?

‘Kasumi’s Stolen Memory’ is a DLC mission for Mass Effect 2 that adds a new perspective to gameplay in the Mass Effect series. While the DLC contains the formulaic loyalty mission for the new character, it also puts Commander Shepard in a new role in which the player interacts in a formal social setting. Shepard’s mission is to assist Kasumi in infiltrating an extravagant party in order to reclaim Kasumi’s personal artifact contained in the vault of the party’s host. Part of the DLC is a new formal wardrobe for Shepard (pictured below), that while only providing a reskinning, changed my perspective of the character. Playing through this mission reminded me of the scene from the interactive drama Heavy Rain in which the journalist (Madison Paige) needs to infiltrate a nightclub to acquire information from the owner. After drawing this comparison, I found myself asking the question: Can Mass Effect 2 be considered an interactive drama? Can the player have meaningful participation in the development of the plot in an action game?

June 9, 2010

The First Oration against the Parser

from Post Position
by @ 4:59 pm

Emily Short wrote an intriguing post about the parser in IF – actually, somewhat against the parser in IF. She explores alternatives to what she calls the “command line” in IF (not entirely inaccurate, but not the connection I’d most want to make) and ends up finding it to be more or less the worst of all systems except all the others, like democracy. The post has already garnered about 50 comments. In it, Short writes:

We have a two-part accessibility problem. One part is the interpreter: people don’t want to download separate files and don’t want to have to figure out file formats … The other problem is the parser.

IEEE TCIAIG Special Issue on Procedural Content Generation

Sparked by the strong interest in the Procedural Content Generation Workshop upcoming at FDG 2010, I have been working with Julian Togelius and Rafael Bidarra to create a special issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence in Games (IEEE TCIAIG). Deadline for submissions is November 1, with publication aimed for June, 2011. Details below the fold.

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Procedural Content Generation
IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games
Special issue editors: Julian Togelius, Jim Whitehead and Rafael Bidarra

June 8, 2010

Wheel Make You Texts

from Post Position
by @ 2:40 pm

Just posted at ebr (Electronic Book Review) is Whitney Anne Trettien’s article “Computers, Cut-ups, and Combinatory Volvelles.” (We already love computers and cut-ups, but be aware that volvelles are extremely cool.) Some illustrations are still to come, but the article’s text and references are now up … I believe in link early, link often.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 8:52 am

I posted the talk/skit I performed with Rob Wittig at the ELO_AI Conference, All Tomorrow’s Parties. I was planning a talk on the early days of the ELO, but a few weeks before the conference, John Cayley asked if I could modify my talk to make it more specifically focused on the Tribute to Robert Coover, which was a subtheme of the conference. My goal was to keep some elements of that early history, while delivering the sort of light roast that Coover deserved. That is, to make Coover laugh. I think that Coover and the members of the audience who had actually read some of his books appreciated it, though it did leave me with some explaining for the literalists in the audience who actually thought I was seriously considering spanking my maid.

June 7, 2010

ELO_AI at Brown Wraps Up

from Post Position
by @ 7:06 am

The Electronic Literature Organization’s conference at Brown University has new concluded – the workshops, performances, screenings, exhibits, and sessions all went very well, as did the coffee breaks and other times for informal conversation. Many thanks to the organizer of ELO_AI (Archive & Innovate), John Cayley!

The conference was a celebration of and for Robert Coover, co-founder of the Electronic Literature Organization and major American novelist, whose teaching and promotion of electronic literature has been essential to the field. Robert Coover was toasted and at least lightly roasted, heard papers presented on his work, and did a reading of the “recently renovated Hypertext Hotel” – a famous early project by students which did indeed turn out to have some recent renovations.

Congratulations, CMS Grads

from Post Position
by @ 5:32 am

Now that I’m out of my academic robe and back into my more comfortable usual attire, I wanted to send a blog-based shout-out to those in Comparative Media Studies who finished their work in the past year and were awarded masters degrees on Friday:

  • Jason Begy
  • Audubon Dougherty
  • Madeline Clare Elish
  • Colleen Kaman
  • Flourish Klink
  • Hillary Kolos
  • Michelle Moon Lee
  • Xiaochang Li
  • Jason Rockwood
  • Nick Seaver
  • Sheila Murphy Seles
  • Lauren Silberman

Hurrah for Technology, ‘ology ‘ology oh – and for these recent MIT graduates.

June 5, 2010

Content Selection vs. Content Generation

Lately, some of us in the lab have been having a discussion on the difference between content selection and content generation. Where does one end and the other begin? At some level, procedural content generation uses content selection. So what’s the difference?

The Diablo franchise is well-known for their randomly created levels. But is it content generation or content selection?

June 3, 2010

Robert Coover Infinite Lit Crit

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 5:23 am

This week’s ELO_AI conference is dedicated to Robert Coover, the American novelist and Brown University professor who cofounded the ELO and has taught electronic writing workshops at Brown since the 1980s. He has been an important advocate for electronic writing, and did a great deal to make it part of the American literary conversation. I’ll be saying more about Coover during my talk at the conference and during the banquet. But I thought I would share this Robert Coover Criticism, a little generator I threw together to mark the occasion. The generator is built from reviews of his work and interviews he has done over the years.

June 2, 2010

Tech Tributes…

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:29 pm

We at Tiltfactor send out a tribute to Canadian game inventor Chris Haney, one of the designers of Trivial Pursuit.  We’d also like to those who have come before us to enrich our games, especially those at Dartmouth:  Thomas Kurtz and John G. Kemeny, inventors of the BASIC programming language, invented at Dartmouth College in 1964; Richard Tait, Dartmouth Alum and inventor of Cranium; Steve Russell, one of the students behind the game Spacewar! at MIT, finished his undergraduate education at Dartmouth College in 1958; John Donahoe (a really nice guy), with Ebay and Skype; and Ernest Everett Just, a distinguished African American biologist who graduated from Dartmouth in 1907,  Dr. George Stibitz, faculty and inventor of the first digital computer in  1940, and those who, in 1956, created the field of artificial intelligence research at a conference on the campus of Dartmouth College in the summer of 1956. Those who attended would become the leaders of AI research for decades!

June 1, 2010

Expressive Processing reviews: three perspectives

The first reviews of Expressive Processing have begun to appear, and the three I’ve seen come from three distinct perspectives: a game development veteran who has become a professor, an industry computer scientist with an AI background, and a public relations intern with a games-focused website. I think the collection of perspectives is interesting, but it’s hard for others to take a look because two of the three reviews are behind paywalls. This post provides a quick peek at all three, which may be particularly interesting for those curious as to what’s being said in places where their browsers can’t tread, and identifies an area of disagreement that I hope will be addressed further in future reviews.

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