Archive | December, 2005

Australia’s newest single faculty university

22 Dec

Ok so the Australian International University is a joke, but what an interesting one. Only one faculty, you buy your own books, why not?

Because university staff still see the physical environment as an institution, and the mental environment as an intellectual retreat, a wizard’s college.

Adding realtime animation to chatbots inside games

22 Dec

Played WingCommander or its derivates? Or a similar game, where a talking head tells you what to do next? Imagine a talking head with believable facial expressions, that is actually generated in realtime (in your realtime!) from a real person, a game master, just by using a webcam! It is called face tracking. I imagine some people would rather see videos than read an academic paper.

And here are some SourceForge related links for facial recognition. Also, Facade (not the Mateas and Stern interactive story game creation) is also an interesting free realtime character animator. Expression is a research based facial animation kit.

Now, if we wanted to have a realtime 3D character with facial expressions generated in realtime from your face, and send it 3D information about a player in a game or virtual environment, how would we do it (cheaply)?

Could we also have a chatbot create this character with expressions to match the dialogue, generated from a pseudo AI engine? Perhaps the words in the AI database could be tagged with emotion tags that generate suitable facial expressions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Does this talking head need to be of a real person? AIs that can generate 3D facial expressions on generated characters include the 3D AIML (A.L.I.C.E.) Ebba. The only convenient alternative to A.L.I.C.E. would be jabberwacky as it beat A.L.I.C.E. to win the 2005 Loebner AI Prize. On a side note: GameBots is an Unreal Tournament modification that allows software agents to play for bots in Unreal.

3D models
We need a 3D environment as a test case. I better start adding links to this little research topic, extending on from the Palenque in Unreal game engine project.
Or, the 3D content could be using the planet jeff models available.

Side note: There really should be a world wide library for 3D models available for academic research and prototyping.

3D web environments
Ok so we need a game that exports to webpages as an embedded plugin so the 3D realtime embedded character can get sent info from the virtual environment (the energy of the player, their itinerary, where they have come from, what they are looking at, where they can go next, and so on).

Possible 3D web environment plugins

  1. Blink 3D
  2. Blender 3D
  3. Quest3D (but only DirectX)
  4. Unity (Mac OS X only)

Lettting the Audience Onto the Stage (notes)

22 Dec

Interesting powerpoint slides of the day, Lettting the Audience Onto the Stage: The Potential of VR Drama. This talk by Ernest Adams, at Virtual Storytelling, which I did not attend (shame! as I was on the review committee), raised some good points.

*Good interactive stories require good interactive actors.

*Head mounted displays (like my new HMD) destroys the social nature of many console games and teleporting breaks immersion (well, not always, but that is a post for another day).

*MMOGs are not good for storytelling, too many people etc. Hmm, not sure if that is a cause or a related effect. Maybe it is hard to focus or feel unique with too many other characters, or maybe it causes coginitive overloading.

*Tactical and strategic immersion “If the player wants to solve it and is good at it, he will become immersed”–new and useful terms for me!

*Role playing is not about player freedom but player complicity (for want of a better word). The player must care about the role. Huizinga said cheaters are still in the magic circle and spoilsports are not. Hmm.

When a game could be art..

20 Dec

This is from the grumpy gamer.

Wanting to be like all the cool kids, Roger Ebert has jumped into the discussion about games being art.

A tad unfair, Ebert wants not to be cool ie he does not think games can be art as a medium. A discussion done to death that does not die, hence I want some answers to some questions!

IE:

*people don’t define what art is, only what it isn’t.

*art is not art because someone famous wrote it or because an institution says so (sorry Dickie & Danto). It has to be more than that.

*the discussion would go further if Ebert explained what factors are needed to make art first. Then, because he perhaps does not know the game world fully, people could have a go at giving counter examples.

* So games lack authorial control? Authorial control is not actually what causes great art, it might afford factors that cause great art.

*I am not sure if authorial art can have only one author or cannot happen in realtime. You could argue that great plays happen in realtime and have a cast, they are not works of art through script alone. One could also point out the authorial or auteur control does not directly relate to film success, at least commercially. Hollywood interferes you know and sometimes Directors are not always right (or focused)!

*perhaps he believes great art have to be experienced and reflected on, and we typically don’t have time for that in games–we are too busy playing. Then again, there are films that we are too busy experiencing to reflect on their aesthetic worth or great inspiring ideas until after we saw the film.

*perhaps he believes that you cannot enjoy great art as the creator–because creating art is a realtime interactive process such a belief would be logical. Ie art cannot be truly and deeply appreciated while being created. This is of course controversial.

Academic Boredom

20 Dec

What better way to start off a blog than refer to an article in the Australian on academic boredom

the rigour that is purely defensive: the rigour of endless authorities trotted in, of obscure language, of massive amounts of information deployed to scare off inquiry.” That, he says, is rigor mortis — “it wants to bore us to death” — and has been confused with the true ideal of “living rigour … a kind of rigour that constructs things to be used, inspected, evaluated”.

This has an interesting implication. No matter how carefully scholars prepare their work they cannot be sure of its rigour in advance. To be rigorous, to be shocking, this requires an audience.

“You might think you have written the most shocking piece of literary criticism ever, yet if no one in your audience of veterinary surgeons is actually shocked, you cannot really maintain that it was shocking, absolutely. Likewise, rigour: if rigour demands that your audience can manipulate your idea, and no one cares to manipulate it, then you lose the right to boast that you have been perfectly, objectively, and in the mind of God, rigorous.”

The problem of rigor in virtual heritage and virtual environments is a case in point. When did we last say what proves our project to be a success or failure, how do we develop a pattern of personal ethics criteria and parameters? Or is there too much funding and career pride involved to admit one learnt from mistakes?