My research goal is to develop a dynamic “story” engine for games that requests meta-data about the game world from the game engine via a standardized callback API, and then creates sensible stories that fit into the game world. Ideally, the stories created by the engine would equal or even surpass purely static content, but simply augmenting static content would represent a significant advance of the state of the art.
- Dynamically generate satisfactory stories
- Directly (via questionnaire) and indirectly (via measuring actions) measure player satisfaction/immersion, compared with “purely static” stories
- The goal is not “stickiness”, and developing measures that tease apart positively compelling vs. merely addictive content would be a potentially useful contribution (Rosanna suggested the distinction between playing for enjoyment vs. a sense of obligation which seems like it's on the right track)
- Iteratively improve the engine based on testing; if the engine is able to surpass static content, then test versions against each other.
- Create at least one commercially viable game.
A Turing Test for Dynamic Stories
The question is, can we create a story engine that creates stories that seem at least as hand-made to players as actual hand-made stories? Obviously, concocting a fair test for this is non-trivial, since we're either comparing ourselves to pre-existing games ("would you rate the stories you experienced as more/less original and clever than the stories in Baldur's Gate?") or to our own contrived "control" group ("do you like story A more/less than story B?" setting aside the fact we're responsible for both, and we want A to win).
The devil will be in the details. Can I/we operationalize such a comparison and document it in such a way that the comparison seems fair and compelling? (And, that's before tackling the harder job of faring well in the comparison!) I suspect that the methodology will be something like: compare hand-made stories to dynamic stories. Based on results, iterate, improving both kinds based on what was learned. This will tend to lead to increasingly demanding conditions A vs. B becomes A vs. B vs. A' vs. B'. In order to make our documentation of the process compelling, we will need to capture multimedia from actual gameplay (so when we compare a hand-made story to a dynamic story we can show what the player experience of each was actually like).goals markdown 12/16/2014 14:58:39