August 7, 2007

“Narrative Variation in IF” Dissertation Online

by Nick Montfort · , 4:49 pm

My dissertation, “Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction,” is now online.

Dissertation on faux paper If my slides and defense summary interested you, you can check out this long form writeup of my work. I guess there will be an “official” version coming from ProQuest/UMI before too long, too, via their open access option. I think that “official” in this case will mean that the papers I printed out will be scanned in again, imbuing the result with the authority of the page.

15 Responses to ““Narrative Variation in IF” Dissertation Online”


  1. andrew Says:

    congrats again, I look forward to reading it soon.

  2. dsm Says:

    Yeah, UMI is no longer free. I think (can’t recall, though) that at participating institution you can
    get the first 24 pages. And yeah, I think the first page of that might even be some junk they stick on
    there to make it “official” as you say. But the general public at home you can’t get more than the titles
    these days from their site, I’m afraid. I’m looking forward to reading this through, when I get a chance.

  3. Vance Bell Says:

    Ah, thanks for this. Saves me coming hat in hand to ask for an electronic copy. Looking forward to the read.

  4. Generating Narative Variation in Interactive Fiction — AiGameDev.com Says:

    [...] th, 2007 | Links | alexjc | Share This
    Nick Montfort of Grand Text Auto has just posted his dissertation online. It’s entitled &# [...]

  5. nick Says:

    I signed up to have this appear in PQDT Open, so the whole thing should be available through ProQuest for free, even though other UMI material isn’t. This option was only recently made available, and you have to jump through a few hoops (open access wasn’t advertised as being available at Penn) and a pay an extra fee.

  6. Malcolm Ryan Says:

    Excellent work, Nick. This is one of those thesis I wish I wrote.

    Have you given any thought to how ‘nn’ could be adapted to a MUD environment? I’ve been toying for a while with the thought of making a new MUD with up to date parsing and NLG algorithms.

  7. Two readings of possible interest « Emily Short’s Interactive Fiction Says:

    [...] ps’ review of Planetfall. I’ve never gotten around to playing this one myself. Nick Montfort’s dissertation on nn, an IF develop [...]

  8. dsm Says:

    Having begun to read the thesis (not finished it), I am happy to see an attempt to divorce
    the worldmodel from agency. It would be correct to say there are multiple agents inhabiting
    the IF game: narrator (and facilitator- for save/restore/help/breaking the fourth wall/etc),
    PC, and NPCs. I think they all deserve their own agents, and I am happy to see the most important
    division being made- that between the PC and the worldmodel itself. All the other objects that
    inhabit a game- brass laterns, containers, chairs, doors, keys, etc. are something other than agents.
    What is clear to me from a CS perspective is that while a message passing interface will suffice
    to allow all the worldmodel stuff and the non-narrator agents (PC, NPCs) to get along, there is
    a lot of work still yet to be done to allow the narrator to work optimally. The narrator “container”
    contains a lot of attributes and some of those include the plot arc, in order to tell the story
    in different orders, from different perspectives, etc. But in order to take the results of all
    the message passing, collate that into attribute switches that reside predominantly in the narrator
    object, and then determine what “summary text” gets displayed on any arbitrary game move, it seems like
    it requires a lot of nonlinear processing to get it right. Without an *actual* demonstration game
    to show the ability (or inability?) of the agency model to cope with typical IF-game level stresses,
    it’s hard to evaluate whether nn is a “useful abstraction” or whether it is the difference between
    trying to compute armed with a knowledge of Roman numerals and an abacus versus with a Cray and a fortran
    compiler.

    > STILL AWAITING INPUT

  9. dglen Says:

    Nick– thanks for your generosity in making this easily available. So far, it looks quite solid.

  10. William Patrick Wend Says:

    Thank you for making this available, I look forward to reading it soon, Nick!

  11. Ash Says:

    Nick, thanks for letting everyone read it,
    am I right to think that nn is currently implemented in Python?

  12. nick Says:

    Ash, that’s right. I am planning to make the Python system available, too, as soon as it expresses the ideas of the project a bit more usably and coherently.

  13. Grand Text Auto » Updates on the Pursuit of Interactive Story Says:

    [...] arget=”_blank”>Familiarity breeds contempt: Buidling game stories that flow, and of course Nick’s recent dissertation on a new IF system foc [...]

  14. Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction (part 1) « Renga in Blue Says:

    [...] ction) So, I promised last month to Nick Montfort I would be posting on his dissertation. Then I got stalled for various reasons, due [...]

  15. Narrative Variation (part 4) « Renga in Blue Says:

    [...] 55 pm (Interactive Fiction, Narrative Variation) Continuing with the dissertation, there’s an interesting section in 3.3 [...]

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