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Computer Science
Project Proposal

Dynamic Story Construction from Narrative Building Blocks in Role-Playing Games

Tom Ellman (Computer Science)

Role-playing computer games allow a player to be a character in a story set in a virtual world. The story develops over time in response actions and choices made by the player-character (PC). Some games allow the PC to wander freely in the virtual world; however, the resulting story usually lacks drama and narrative coherence. Other games realize drama and coherence by narrowing the range of the PC's choices and actions; however, the player usually feels he/she has little control over the evolving story-line. Future replay of the game leads only to minor variations in the story-line. In previous work we attempted to overcome this trade-off by developing a drama manager that uses constraint-based adversary search to respond to the PC's actions/choices. The drama manager controls actions/reactions of non-player characters (NPCs) and offers actions/choices to the PC. In so-doing, the manager promotes drama and narrative coherence while giving the PC considerable freedom of choice and action. This summer we will build on our previous work by developing a library of narrative building-blocks. The library will be used by the drama-manager to offer choices/actions to the PC, and to respond to his/her choices/actions with outcomes that promote interest, uncertainty and suspense, i.e., drama.

Pre-requisites:

Required: CMPU 102 Computer Science II

Recommended: CMPU 203 Computer Science III; CMPU 376: Computer Games"

How should students express their interest in this project? Interested students should contact me by email (thellman@vassar.edu) to arrange an appointment to discuss the project.