SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

Receive updates for this collection

Understanding and evaluating cooperative video games

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-02-21
Abstract: 

Cooperative design has been an integral part of many digital and table top games since their inception. With the recent success of games like Resident Evil 5 and Left4dead , many video game designers and producers are currently exploring the addition of cooperative patterns within their games. In this thesis, I present two contributions. First, I present a set of cooperative design patterns. This framework can be used by game designers to add co-op content in their games. Second, I present a set of validated performance metrics that can be used to gauge the users' experience in a cooperative game. In this study, we developed the performance metrics. I then applied them to evaluate four commercial cooperative games. I further validated these metrics through a qualitative content analysis method where I investigated the relationship between the metrics derived by our study and the metrics derived by game reviewers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Acquisition of directional knowledge in virtual environments created by panoramic videos

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-12-02
Abstract: 

This thesis documents the creation and analysis of virtual environments generated using panoramic video. These virtual environments offer greater visual realism, but are expensive and time consuming to produce. Experiments were needed to assess how efficiently they support directional tasks or sense of presence. In this study, participants’ ability to locate specific places in the environment and their subjective sense of presence were compared across three conditions: panoramic video, regular video and slide show. Participants reported a stronger sense of presence in the panoramic video condition, although none of the techniques demonstrated a greater efficiency in providing directional knowledge. Thus, it does not appear that the costs of creating panoramic video are warranted, especially for those applications involving only the sequential learning of specific landmark locations. However, the current experimental design was found not revealing differences between the three different locomotion techniques, as the tasks were too difficult for participants.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tom Calvert
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Supporting information handovers: Lessons from first response

Date created: 
2010-12-13
Abstract: 

This thesis addresses the challenges associated with the handover of information in the pre-hospital care chain, with specific attention to the information management issues experienced by first responders. The intention of this work was to develop a more complete understanding of the stakeholders that exist in this system, the data they work with, and their needs in terms of data fields and formatting. The investigation of handover processes in this document includes an overview of information collection, record-keeping and communication practices and protocols used by first responders, informed by data drawn from an ethnographic case study conducted in Whistler, British Columbia, during the summer of 2009. This material forms the foundation for design guidelines for new technology. This thesis considers the tools currently in use, as well as the environmental and cognitive constraints that are intrinsic to crisis management as a domain, in order to offer concrete recommendations for future innovation.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Ellen Balka
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Social presence in a co-located networked art installation

Date created: 
2010-11-15
Abstract: 

This thesis describes the exploratory art research project, Eavesdropping, which aims to increase social presence between individuals in shared public spaces. This internet-based system is designed to create an audio ecology in localized, networked environments like cafes where several computer users are gathered by playing audio from each participant’s laptop and capitalizing on the personal affinity and proximity between individuals and their computers by attracting the attention of others via audio. Two versions of the system were created, the first passive, the second interactive which attempted to increase engagement and immersion to subsequently increase social presence by adding self-representation with the audio and meaningful interaction with the system. User studies involving an engagement and immersion questionnaire designed for this project and an established social presence questionnaire, showed that differences between the versions had a significant negative impact on engagement but did not create an overall change in social presence.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Comparing tangible and multi-touch interfaces for a spatial problem solving task

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-12-07
Abstract: 

This thesis presents the results of an exploratory study of a tangible and a multi-touch interface. The study investigates the effect of interface style on users’ performance, problem solving strategies and preference for a spatial problem solving task. Participants solved a jigsaw puzzle using each interface on a digital tabletop. The effect of interface style was explored through efficiency measures; a comparative analysis of hands-on actions based on a video coding schema for complementary actions; participants’ responses to questionnaires; and observational notes. Main findings are that tangible interaction better enabled complementary actions and was more efficient. Its 3D tactile interaction facilitated more effective search, bi-manual handling and visual comparison of puzzle pieces. For spatial problem solving activities where an effective and efficient strategy is not important, a multi-touch approach is sufficient. The thesis uniquely contributes to understanding the hands-on computational design space through its theoretical framing and empirical findings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Alissa Antle
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The evolution of fun: a generic model of video game challenge for automatic level design

Date created: 
2010-12-08
Abstract: 

This thesis presents an approach to automatic video game level design consisting of a novel computational model of player enjoyment and a generative system based on evolutionary computing. The model is grounded in player experience research and game design theory and is used to estimate the entertainment value of game levels as a function of their constituent rhythm groups: alternating periods of high and low challenge. In comparison to existing, bottom-up techniques such as rule-based systems, the model affords a number of distinct advantages: it can be generalized to different types of games; it provides adjustable parameters representing semantically meaningful concepts such as difficulty and player skill; and it can facilitate mixed-initiative collaboration between the automated system and a human designer. The generative system represents a unique combination of genetic algorithms and constraint solving methods and leverages the model to create fun levels for two different games.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

EmailTime: visualization and analysis of email dataset

Date created: 
2010-11-25
Abstract: 

Although the discovery and analysis of communication patterns in large complex email datasets is a difficult task, it can be a valuable source of information. We describe the design and visualization technique of EmailTime, a tool for visual analysis of email correspondence patterns over the course of time that interactively portrays personal and interpersonal networks. EmailTime helps email dataset explorers interpret archived messages by providing interactions, visualizing histograms and measuring centrality (To, Cc and Sent) and frequency (sent and received). We performed case studies on the Enron dataset to discover impacts of executive position on the email behavior of organizational workers using a series of metrics e.g. number of sent and received emails as determined by From:, To: and Cc: fields, recipient counts of sent emails. In addition, we evaluated the visualization through pilot and user studies to find out whether users were able to recognize the selected capabilities.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Christopher D. Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Emotion depiction: expressive character sequences using painterly rendering

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-12-03
Abstract: 

This thesis proposes a technique to enhance emotional expressiveness in games and animations. Past studies have shown that people associate specific colours with certain emotions. Furthermore, some studies demonstrated the effect of textural variations and brush properties on viewers’ perception as well as their gaze pattern while looking at a portrait painting. Motivated by previous studies, we hypothesized that the appropriate use of colour palette and brush properties increases the emotions perceived in a facial character sequence. In order to examine this hypothesis, we programmed test sequence data and conducted a series of studies. In general, the results of the studies supported our hypothesis, which verifies the importance of visual style on viewers’ perception while watching an animated sequence. This technique can provide the animator with a depiction tool to enhance the emotional content of a character sequence in games and animations.

Document type: 
Thesis
Supervisor(s): 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The effect of previous gaming experience on game play performance

Date created: 
2010-11-26
Abstract: 

In this thesis, I looked at how the skills/knowledge gained from playing games from different genres can influence players’ gameplay performance when playing a new game; this is critical as different genres provide players with different abilities. Although understanding players’ gameplay behaviours and performance abilities is one of the growing areas of research, none of the previous research within this area has deeply investigated players’ behaviours and its relation to knowledge/skills gained by playing specific genres. Knowing the details of the skills gained and their influence on performance of target audience’s playing habits plays an important role in making informed decisions about game design. Since many game genres exist, to narrow it down I explored the influence of prior gaming experience, specifically with Role Playing and First Person Shooter games on players’ ability to navigate and solve spatial puzzles in 3D games.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Tangiplay: prototyping tangible electronic games

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-11-22
Abstract: 

Tangible electronic games currently exist in research laboratories around the world but have yet to transition to the commercial sector. The development process of a tangible electronic game is one of the factors preventing progression, as it requires much time and money. Prototyping tools for tangible hardware and software development are becoming more available but are targeted to programmers and technically trained developers. Paper prototyping board and video games is a proven and rapid means of testing game mechanics, and requires minimal technical skill. However, paper prototyping is unable to reproduce the experience of interacting with a physical object. This thesis explores development issues regarding tangible electronic games and then introduces and analyzes an environment for conceptualizing tangible electronic games. Finally, the thesis discussed the outcome of the project and future implications.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.