February 13, 2006

Gathered Links

by Andrew Stern · , 3:46 pm

More big name film directors are getting into games — James Cameron of Titanic Terminator fame will be creating an MMOG for his “completely crazy, balls-out sci-fi” film in development, Project 880. “We’ll create a world for people [the game] and then later present a narrative [the film] in that world”. The game will developed with Multiverse, newly formed by two Netscape veterans to create a MMOG platform for indie game development.

The ELO is hosting a Windows, Mac and Unix re-implementation of James Meehan’s pioneering 1981 story generation system, Tale-spin. Warren Sack re-implemented it in 1992 as Micro-Talespin. Installation instructions are included there.

At this August’s Intelligent Virtual Agents conference in Marina del Rey (submissions due April 7) there will be a GALA — a Gathering of Animated Lifelike Agents. Neat. GALA submissions due June 15, with an award for best student entry.

Mark Bernstein points us to a clever new fiction, Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. “In this world, it is sometimes possible for people to jump into books and interact with their characters… The books, it turns out, have their own police force which protects the integrity of literature from outside agents…”

Lastly, there’s an interactive story / adventure game in this March’s IGF The Witch’s Yarn by Keith Nemitz of Mousechief. According to the website, it’s the first Cineprose(TM) adventure, with a control scheme called Direct’Nject.From a Gamasutra interview:

Direct’Nject gives players powerful tools to manipulate a story, in the form of characters and props. Instead of controlling a single character with simple verbs, the player ‘injects’ complex nouns into a dramatic situation. Different nouns influence the story in different ways. Some would be more obvious than others. The results of placing the Thief of Baghdad in a bazaar should be pretty clear, but placing Oliver Twist into a London street market would have more subtle or pervasive effects to the story.

Direct’Nject is a deliberate attempt to break the ‘player control vs. narrative’ dichotomy in current interactive fiction. Direct’Nject gives designers full control over the story’s presentation. The simplicity of it’s mechanism, selecting nouns from a list, is easily under-appreciated, but it allows for dramatically rich interaction. It also enables adventure games to be picked up and fully enjoyed by anyone who can use a mouse.

… That was the inspiration, to bring interactive fiction to the masses, cut costs, and increase the player’s immersion. Casual gamers were the only market we could approach for $10,000. So, The Witch’s Yarn was written as an interactive sit-com. Dear readers, please tell your non-gamer friends and relatives, who enjoy a leisurely read, The Witch’s Yarn was developed for them.

That reminds me, when is that Cecropia filmgame(R) gonna hit the pizza parlors?

2 Responses to “Gathered Links”


  1. michael Says:

    I use Micro-Talespin in my interactive narrative class. As an architecture for story generation,
    it’s a good lesson in how the autonomous pursuit of individual goals does not necessarily lead
    to a story. I have had students modify Micro-Talespin before – one built a high-school love
    triangle story using the Micro-Talespin architecture.

    I’ve downloaded the sample chapters of The Witch’s Yarn a couple of days ago, but haven’t had
    a chance to play it. Reviews (1, 2, 3, 4) tend to have the tone
    “it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m glad someone’s trying this.” Several of the reviewers complained that
    the story event interaction didn’t give them enough agency in the game world. Reviewers are mixed about
    whether the game is worth the $20.00 price point – an interesting data point for those of us considering
    the causual game market.

  2. Grand Text Auto » Notes from Massive Says:

    [...] away free to academe, and developers get it for no up-front cost (just revenue sharing). (Andrew blogged about this recently.)

    One [...]

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