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

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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.
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