SIAT Faculty Publications

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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

Looking at the Interactive Narrative Experience through the Eyes of the Participants.

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

The topic of interactive narrative has been under research for many years. While there has been much research exploring the development of new algorithms that enable and enhance interactive narratives, there has been little research focusing on the question of how players understand and internalize their interactive narrative experiences. This paper addresses this problem through conducting a phenomenological study on participants playing Façade; we specifically chose a phenomenological methodology due to its emphasis on the participants‟ lived experience from the participants‟ viewpoint. We chose Façade, because it is the only accessible example of an experience that revolves around social relationships, conflict, and drama as its core mechanics. In this paper, we discuss sixteen themes that resulted from the analysis of the data gathered through the study. In addition, we reflect on these themes discussing their relationship to participants‟ backgrounds, and project implications on the design of future interactive narratives.

Document type: 
Article

System for Automated Interactive Lighting (SAIL).

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

Successful lighting in video games is more than a physically accurate illumination model. Aesthetics and function are of equal or greater importance. Lighting designers may deviate from physical accuracy to help a player identify an important object or to more powerfully evoke a desired emotion. Under the assumption that fulfilling the pipeline needs of interactive lighting design requires more than solving the computer rendering equation, we set out to develop a System for Automated Interactive Lighting (SAIL). The goal for SAIL was to develop an adaptive system that maintains lighting design goals (aesthetic and functional) in the context of unpredictable, interactive experiences. This paper presents SAIL and the results of a qualitative evaluation of SAIL’s contributions. We describe the algorithms of SAIL, where it succeeds, and where it fails. We conclude with a plan for future work.

Document type: 
Article

Gestural Turing Test. A Motion-Capture Experiment for Exploring Believability In Artificial Nonverbal Communication.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2010-05-10
Abstract: 

One of the open problems in creating believable characters in computer games and collaborative virtual environments is simulating adaptive human-like motion. Classical artificial intelligence (AI) research places an emphasis on verbal language. In response to the limitations of classical AI, many researchers have turned their attention to embodied communication and situated intelligence. Inspired by Gestural Theory, which claims that speech emerged from visual, bodily gestures in primates, we implemented a variation of the Turing Test, using motion instead of text for messaging between agents. In doing this, we attempt to understand the qualities of motion that seem human-like to people. We designed two gestural AI algorithms that simulate or mimic communicative human motion using the positions of the head and the hands to determine three moving points as the signal. To run experiments, we implemented a networked-based architecture for a Vicon motion capture studio. Subjects were shown both artificial and human gestures, and were told to declare whether it was real or fake. Techniques such as simple gesture imitation were found to increase believability. While we require many such experiments to understand the perception of humanness in movement, we believe this research is essential to developing a truly believable character.

Document type: 
Article

Auditory Self-Motion Simulation is Facilitated by Haptic and Vibrational Cues Suggesting the Possibility of Actual Motion

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

Sound fields rotating around stationary blindfolded listeners sometimes elicit auditory circular vection, the illusion that the listener is physically rotating. Experiment 1 investigated whether auditory circular vection depends on participants' situational awareness of "movability", i.e., whether they sense/know that actual motion is possible or not. While previous studies often seated participants on movable chairs to suspend the disbelief of self-motion, it has never been investigated whether this does, in fact, facilitate auditory vection. To this end, 23 blindfolded participants were seated on a hammock chair with their feet either on solid ground ("movement impossible") or suspended ("movement possible") while listening to individualized binaural recordings of two sound sources rotating synchronously at 60 degrees. Although participants never physically moved, situational awareness of movability facilitated auditory vection. Moreover, adding slight vibrations like the ones resulting from actual chair rotation increased the frequency and intensity of vection. Experiment 2 extended these findings and showed that nonindividualized binaural recordings were as effective in inducing auditory circular vection as individualized recordings. These results have important implications both for our theoretical understanding of self-motion perception and for the applied field of self-motion simulations, where vibrations, non-individualized binaural sound, and the cognitive/perceptual framework of movability can typically be provided at minimal cost and effort.