I've been working on mapping out a new set of locations to visit in our QR code adventure app, Carleton Quest, which we want to have ready for this fall's frosh week. A big requirement was to reduce the amount of time it would take to visit all the locations. This meant fewer locations, or at least more locations that are very close together. This is the map we came up with.
This is a rough road map of the problems that need to be solved by our coherent emergent story system. You can learn a bit more about this project via the poster we presented at GRAND 2013.
Applying prerequisites and assigning scores to scenes using modifiers:
What are the best modifiers to use in calculating a scene’s score?
What is the best way to calculate the score (e.g. a simple formula)?
How will gameplay (e.g., movement/location, combat (?), explicit choices through dialogue or menus) affect the values used in the calculations? (It should be strongly connected.)
How can this approach direct players into a certain path according to their choices (for example, losing too much innocence might change what story paths are available for the rest of the game)?
Deciding when and how to present scenes to players:
When should a scene be chosen from the top scoring scene(s) to be offered to the player? Alternatively, when should a scene be available anytime so long as its current score is above a threshold? (can use tags to facilitate?)
When should players be given a choice about consuming a scene and when will a scene’s presentation be triggered automatically? (design questions, make sure to support with framework)
When there is a choice, how can it be creatively presented to the player? How can we foreshadow the consequences of choices?
Modifying scenes dynamically:
When and how should we dynamically change a scene to connect back to the story the player has seen so far? (Dialogue, objects, motifs, location)
How should we modify a scene to fit in with current game state (e.g., location, character availability)?
Ambiguity + development of threads -- thematic, character arcs
How can we encourage multiple interpretations of core story events?
How can reoccurring motifs be introduced into scenes in a meaningful way? (e.g. through objects that can be in the environment, colours, etc...)
I wrote a summary of this year's GRAND meeting from my perspective on my personal blog:
Last week, I attended the annual meeting of the GRAND (Graphics, Animation, and New Media) research network, held in Toronto. Although the research and discussion presented and held at the conference spanned much more, the focus for me was on games and stories in games.
In just over a week, hundreds of students (mostly in grade eight) will descend upon Carleton for our annual mini-courses. This year, a colleague and I will be doing something a little different in our course:
I've wondered in the past how important interactive storytelling might be in educational games. The potential to use story for more than just engagement seems high. In just over a week, a colleague and I are going to run an experiment that will test how useful (not necessarily interactive) story is in teaching computer science concepts to complete beginners.
You've probably heard it before: we've got a long way to go in finding artful ways to meld great storytelling with the traditional mechanics of digital games. Being a computer scientist, I usually see the attempts of improving the state of the art from the technical perspective, but this past weekend I got to learn more about what the humanities researchers in academia and the writers, artists, and designers from industry have been doing at the Experiencing Stories with/in Digital Games colloquium held in Montreal.