SIAT Faculty Publications

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Learning through Game Modding.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

We seek to understand how modifying, or modding, existing games can lead to various forms of learning.

Document type: 
Article

Desktop 3-D Interactive Drama – Applying Design Principles from the Performance Arts.

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

Increasing emotional engagement in 3-D interactive environments is a hard, but important problem. It is important for its potential utility in increasing motivation, involvement, and engagement. These constructs are not only useful for entertainment applications, but also impact training and edutainment applications due to the impact of emotions on learning (Ulate, 2002; Wolfe, 2001). Many researchers have explored several techniques, including enhancing the story content to stimulate emotional engagement, developing new algorithms for dynamically creating stunning visual effects, and enhancing 3-D sound. Theatre and film have integrated many techniques that increase engagement, attention, and emotional involvement. In this paper, I describe a set of new design techniques integrated in an architecture that uses theatric and cinematic theories, specifically acting and screenwriting methods, to stimulate and improve emotional engagement in 3-D interactive narratives. In this paper, I discuss two research directions: (1) defining an interaction model for 3-D interactive narrative based on screenwriting theories, and (2) developing an actor-based agent architecture to simulate believable actions within an interactive narrative. The resulting architecture was implemented and tested within Mirage, an interactive story based on the Greek Tragedy Electra. Based on the critiques from several participants, I deduce that the resulting architecture presents significantly encouraging design techniques that can potentially increase emotional involvement and dramatic content of an interactive desktop 3D VR experience. The system and approach presented in this paper demonstrates an important new direction that adds to the set of techniques currently used and expand the design methodologies to include methods from disciplines, such as performance arts, theatre, and film.

Document type: 
Article

DigitalBeing: an Ambient Intelligent Dance Space.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

DigitalBeing is an ambient intelligent system that aims to use stage lighting and lighting in projected imagery within a dance performance to portray dancer’s arousal state. The dance space will be augmented with pressure sensors to track dancers’ movements; dancers will also wear physiological sensors. Sensor data will be passed to a three layered architecture. Layer 1 is composed of a system that analyzes sensor data. Layer 2 is composed of two intelligent lighting systems that use the analyzed sensor information to adapt onstage and virtual lighting to show dancer’s arousal level. Layer 3 translates lighting changes to appropriate lighting board commands as well as rendering commands to render the projected imagery.

Document type: 
Article

Using Game Modding to Promote and Provide Basic IT Skills to a Female Audience.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

Many researchers have argued for the use of video games as a useful learning tool. This presentation examines the use of video game modding in motivating female students to learn basic IT skills.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Fun & Games: On the Process of Game Design.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

The game design process is largely driven by practice. While some work has been done in academia targeting the definition of a theoretical foundation for the process of game design, these two communities rarely came together to discuss their perspective theories or processes. As a result, both communities work in isolation. The game industry is often involved in game-specific game design methodologies and academics are concerned with theoretical foundations. The goal of this workshop is to start a dialogue between the two communities and generate general themes and underlying theories. These theories will serve to aid game designers in constructing games, and help tool designers build tools that allow designers to focus on critical issues.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Projecting Tension in Virtual Environments through Lighting.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

Interactive synthetic environments are currently used in a wide variety of applications, including video games, exposure therapy, education, and training. Their success in such domains relies on their immersive and engagement qualities. Filmmakers and theatre directors use many techniques to project tension in the hope of affecting audiences’ affective states. These techniques include narrative, sound effects, camera movements, and lighting. This paper focuses on temporal variation of lighting color and its use in evoking tension within interactive virtual worlds. Many game titles adopt some cinematic lighting effects to evoke certain moods, particularly saturated red colored lighting, flickering lights, and very dark lighting. Such effects may result in user frustration due to the lack of balance between the desire to project tension and the desire to use lighting for other goals, such as visibility and depth projection. In addition, many of the lighting effects used in game titles are very obvious and obtrusive. In this paper, the author will identify several lighting color patterns, both obtrusive and subtle, based on a qualitative study of several movies and lighting design theories. In addition to identifying these patterns, the author also presents a system that dynamically modulates the lighting within an interactive environment to project the desired tension while balancing other lighting goals, such as establishing visibility, projecting depth, and providing motivation for lighting direction. This work extends the author’s previous work on the Expressive Lighting Engine [1-3]. Results of incorporating this system within a game will be discussed.

Document type: 
Article

Visual Attention in 3D Video Games.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

Understanding players’ visual attention patterns within an interactive 3D game environment is an important research area that can improve game level design and graphics. Several graphics techniques use a perception based rendering method to enhance graphics quality while achieving the fast rendering speed required for fast-paced 3D video games. Game designers can also enhance game play by adjusting the level design, texture and color choices, and objects’ locations, if such decisions are informed by a study of players’ visual attention patterns in 3D game environments. This paper seeks to address this issue. We present results showing different visual attention patterns that players exhibit in two different game types: action-adventure games and first person shooter games. In addition, analyzing visual attention patterns within a complex 3D game environment presents a new challenge because the environment is very complex with many rapidly changing conditions; the methods used in previous research cannot be used in such environments. In this paper, we will discuss our exploration seeking a new approach to analyze visual attention patterns within interactive 3D environments.

Document type: 
Article

Middle-to-High School Girls as Game Designers – What are the Implications?

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2007
Abstract: 

The percentage of young women choosing educational paths leading to science and technology-based employment has been dropping for several years. In our view, the core cause for this phenomenon is not a lack of ability, but rather a combination of low self efficacy, misconception of the IT field, and lack of interest and social support from families and peers. The specific aim of this paper is to discuss a case study – a class named Gaming for Girls. This class was offered to middle and high school girls three times from Fall 05 to Summer 06. In these classes, female students assumed the role of designers and developers engaged in developing their own games using commercial game engines. Based on this experience, we assert that through the activity of designing games using game engines, girls can (a) gain an understanding of the game development process, (b) acquire computer science skills, and (c) increase their confidence level with regards to computing.

Document type: 
Article

A Tool for Adaptive Lighting Design.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

Filmmakers, theater directors, and designers take extreme care in aesthetically composing their scenes. This sense of aesthetics is important to promote presence, immersion, and involvement. Video games have adopted many design theories and techniques from linear media, particularly film. However, interactive environments are dynamic and unpredictable, and thus require the development of theories, techniques, and tools specific to their interactive nature. In this paper, we present a lighting design tool that algorithmically adapts lighting to user interaction within game environments at runtime. Previous work includes our work on the Expressive Lighting Engine (ELE), which uses intelligent algorithms to adapt lighting in real-time accounting for variation in context, narrative, and intended artistic effects defined through numerical constraints. We encoded cinematic lighting techniques within ELE as mathematical formulae that guide the system’s choices in terms of lighting to achieve artistic constraints while maintaining visual continuity. The work presented in this paper expands this work in several directions. First, ELE did not take objects’ or scenes’ materials into consideration. This is important since the appearance of objects under lighting conditions depends on their materials. Second, using numerical constraints as a method by which designers encode their artistic intention for lighting proved to be unintuitive. Thus, we present a prototype that builds on ELE and focuses on exploring solutions to resolve these problems.

Document type: 
Article

Exploring Non-verbal Behavior Models for Believable Characters.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2008
Abstract: 

Believable characters constitute an important component of interactive stories. It is, therefore, not surprising to see much research focusing on developing algorithms that enhance character believability within interactive experiences, such as games, interactive narrative, and training environments. These efforts target a variety of problems, including portraying and synchronizing gestures with speech, developing animation tools that allow artists to manipulate and blend motions, or embed emotions within virtual character models. There has been very little research, however, devoted to the study of non-verbal behaviors, specifically mannerisms, patterns of movement including postures, gaze, and timing, and how they vary as a function of character attributes. This paper presents a work in progress of a study conducted to (1) identify key character characteristics recognized by animators using an acting model, and (2) formalize non-verbal behaviors patterns that animators use to express these character characteristics.

Document type: 
Article