Crafting satisfying narratives while preserving player freedom of action is a longstanding challenge for computer games. Many games use a quest structure, allowing players to experience content nonlinearly. However, this risks creating disjointed stories when side quests only minimally integrate with the main story. We propose a flexible, scene-based story system that reacts dynamically to the player’s actions.
In the proposed system, stories are defined within a graph where nodes represent scenes and edges represent causality. Nodes are tagged with information including possible locations for the scene, the plans or goals connected to the scene, and the agents and objects involved in the scene. At any time, the distance from the player’s current game state to nodes in the story graph is measured according to five dimensions of nonlinearity: time, space, causality, agents involved, and the player’s goal. The system will use the distance to determine what nodes should be available at any given time. Scenes will be modified dynamically according to when and where they ultimately take place, ensuring that each node has a narrative connection to its predecessors. This system allows for potentially connected stories driven by player action, leading to a more cohesive emergent story.
Computer Scientist, Educator, Blogger
Hi there! My name is Gail (Banaszkiewicz) Carmichael. This is my academic and creative portfolio. Be sure to stop by my blog, The Female Perspective of Computer Science.
A few quick facts about me:
- I am currently a PhD student at Carleton University researching nonlinear narrative and interactive storytelling in games. I am also interested in educational games and computer science education.
- I was a founder of Carleton's Women in Science and Engineering group, their Internal Affairs Executive for several years, and now continue to advise the group.
- I'm on the Board of Advisors for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.
- I love teaching. I am a contract instructor and teaching assistant for Carleton's School of Computer Science.
- I am an amateur photographer and take some requests for hire. I administer my photo club's website.
Other places to find me:
Are you a high school girl who ever wondered about programming? Or do you know one that might benefit from seeing what it's all about? Then be sure to sign up for Go Code Girl, a one day workshop being help at the University of Ottawa on April 20!
An article published online by Carleton University discusses my research project:
A team of Carleton researchers is trying to find out why so many computer games shy away from using nonlinear storytelling techniques – that is, techniques that help present stories out of chronological order. Traditional media like films and novels use all kinds of interesting nonlinear techniques, like those found in Run Lola Run, Groundhog Day and Memento. Many games tend to stick to fairly simple techniques like flashbacks, but more sophisticated approaches could result in more games with critically acclaimed stories.
Read the rest in Creating Compelling Computer Games.
I recently spoke at TEDxSandyHillWomen about women in tech, and will be giving a tutorial in the new year about interactive storytelling at the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC).
My work linking cognitive theories to augmented reality has been accepted to be published in Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2012. Check out the abstract and download the paper on this page.
I was interviewed and profiled in a book designed for women considering a career in tech. The book is called "Bit by Bit: A Young Woman's Guide to entering and succeeding in High Tech Careers." It is currently available on Lulu and should be on Amazon soon.
I just got word that I was chosen as one of the two winners of this year's award for teaching assistants in our department. Even better, the other winner was one of my TA's the first summer I taught!
I was nominated for my term as TA this past fall. I TA'ed for our third year game development course, which focuses on 3D graphics. In addition to the usual grading and office hours, I maintained a course blog, guest lectured, and held an informal tutorial before the midterm.
A good friend and colleague of mine, Serena Ngai, recently started an Ottawa chapter for Girl Develop It. I have been helping her get things off the ground and recently taught at our very first event.
We decided to hold a free, one-day workshop that would give attendees a taste of programming and have them wanting to come back for the more extensive, multi-day classes to be offered later on. Our workshop was called Intro to Scratch Programming and was a great success!
The slides I used at the event are available for download in the following formats: