Allan Schumacher

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Publications (9)0 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The unprecedented growth in numbers of children playing computer games has stimulated discussion and research regarding what, if any, educational value these games have for teaching and learning. The research on this topic has primarily focused on children as players of computer games rather than builders/constructors of computer games. Recently, several game companies, such as BioWare Corp. and Bethesda Softworks, have released game story creation tools to the public, along with their games. However, a major obstacle to using these commercial tools is the level of programming experience required to create interactive game stories. In this paper, we demonstrate that a commercial game story construction tool, BioWare Corp.’s Aurora Toolset, can be augmented by our new tool, ScriptEase, to enable students in two grade ten English classes to successfully construct interactive game stories. We present evidence that describes the relationship between interactive story authoring and traditional story authoring, along with a series of factors that can potentially affect success at these activities: gender, creativity, intellectual ability, previous experiences with programming, time playing computer games, and time spent online. Results indicate that students can successfully construct sophisticated interactive stories with very little training. The results also show no gender differences in the quality of these interactive stories, regardless of programming experience or the amount of time per week playing computer games or participating in general online activities, although a subset of female students did show a slightly higher level of performance on interactive story authoring. In the educational context of this study, we show that ScriptEase provides an easy-to-use tool for interactive story authoring in a constructionist learning environment.
    Computers & Education. 01/2008;
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    ABSTRACT: Intelligent non-player characters that exhibit realistic ambient behaviors produce more captivating and immersive stories for the player. However, the creation of non- repetitive and entertaining behaviors is challenging, since it involves writing complex custom scripting code for thousands of characters in a common game adventure. This demonstration describes the generation of motivational behavior scripts using generative behavior patterns with ScriptEase. We demonstrate interruptible and resumable motivational ambient and latent behaviors for a tavern scene in a custom Neverwinter Nights game module. by design patterns that can be reused and adapted by authors in different game scenarios to produce stories. An author attaches the most appropriate behavior pattern to an NPC, and ScriptEase generates scripting code automatically. In the tavern scene, a server NPC offers drinks to patrons, fetches supplies for the owner and talks to other servers. An owner NPC asks the server to fetch supplies, offers drinks to patrons, and fetches supplies on its own. A patron NPC asks the server and the owner for drinks, walks to the bar, and converses with other patrons. During the day, some patrons enter the tavern and some leave. These behaviors are natural and interesting.
    Proceedings of the Twenty-Second AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, July 22-26, 2007, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; 01/2007
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    ABSTRACT: This demonstration describes the generation of ambient and latent NPC behavior scripts using generative behavior patterns with ScriptEase. Our behavior model supports behavior roles, a powerful mechanism that allows an NPC to change behavior sets during the story. Our motivation model for selecting ambient behaviors generates more realistic NPC behaviors and our novel collaboration protocol simplifies and extends the NPCs' collaborations with a broader range of NPCs. We demonstrate motivational ambient and latent behaviors for a guard NPC in a custom Neverwinter Nights game module. With ScriptEase, game authors can use, adapt, and create behavior patterns that generate complex, versatile, and engaging NPC behaviors.
    Proceedings of the Third Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference, June 6-8, 2007, Stanford, California, USA.; 01/2007
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    ABSTRACT: Scripting the plot in a computer role-playing game requires a large number of scripts that are difficult to program, track and maintain. Game adventures often include simple plots, called side-quests, that are independent from the main plot. Side- quests are important, as they add value to the open-world ap- peal of the game (e.g., for acquiring experience or resources), but they still need scripts. We have designed a tool to aid in the rapid creation of side-quests. The game designer provides the game setting and a list of objects in the setting. Our tool uses this information to create an outline for the side-quests. Then we use ScriptEase, a generative design pattern tool, to generate scripts from the side-quest outlines for the Never- winter Nights game. A game designer can also adapt these outlines after the generation process, to add value such as hu- mour to the side-quests.
    Proceedings of the Third Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference, June 6-8, 2007, Stanford, California, USA.; 01/2007
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    ABSTRACT: The traditional approach to implementing interactions between a player character (PC) and objects in computer games is to write scripts in a procedural scripting language. These scripts are usually so complex that they must be written by a computer programmer rather than by the author of the game story. This interruption in the game story authoring process has two distinct disadvantages: it increases the cost of game production and it introduces a disconnect between the author’s intentions and the interactions produced from the programmer’s written scripts. We introduce a mechanism to solve these problems. We show that game authors (non-programmers) can generate the necessary scripts for implementing meaningful interactions between the PC and game objects using a three-step process. In the first step, the author uses a generative pattern (concept) to create a high-level description of a commonly occurring game scenario. In the second step, the author uses a standard set of adaptation operations to customize the high-level description to the particular circumstances of the story that is being told. In the third step, the author presses a button that automatically generates scripting code from the adapted pattern. We describe the results of three studies in which a combined total of 56 game story authors used this three-step process to construct Neverwinter Nights game stories, using a tool called ScriptEase. We believe that this generative/adaptive process is the key to future game story scripting. More generally, this article advocates the development of adaptive programming as an alternative to current constructive programming techniques, as well as the application of adaptive programming in many domains.
    Science of Computer Programming. 01/2007;
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    Proceedings of the Second Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference, June 20-23, 2006, Marina del Rey, California; 01/2006
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    ABSTRACT: ScriptEase is a tool that allows authors with no programming experience to create interactive stories for computer role-playing games. Instead of writing scripting code manually, game authors select design patterns that encapsulate frequent game scenarios, creating stories at a higher level of abstraction and being shielded from the underlying scripting language. ScriptEase has been extended to support behavior patterns that generate ambient behaviors for non-player characters. This demonstration shows how ScriptEase creates intricate non-player character scripts to generate compelling and engaging character behaviors. We demonstrate our ScriptEase motivational ambient and PC-interactive behaviors for a guard character using BioWare Corp.'s Neverwinter Nights game.
    Proceedings, The Twenty-First National Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Eighteenth Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference, July 16-20, 2006, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; 01/2006
  • Proceedings of the Second Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference, June 20-23, 2006, Marina del Rey, California; 01/2006
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    ABSTRACT: Educational games have long been used in the classroom to add an immersive aspect to the curriculum. While the technology has a cadre of strong advocates, formal reviews have yielded mixed results. Two widely reported problems with educational games are poor production quality and monotonous game-play. On the other hand, commercial non-educational games exhibit both high production standards (good artwork, animation, and sound) and diversity of game-play experience. Recently, educators have started to use commercial games in the classroom to overcome these obstacles. However, the use of these games is often limited since it is usually difficult to adapt them from their entertainment role. We describe how a commercial computer role-playing game (Neverwinter Nights) can be adapted by non-programmers, to produce a more enriching educational game-playing experience. This adaptation can be done by individual educators, groups of educators or by commercial enterprises. In addition, by using our approach, students can further adapt or augment the games they are playing to gain additional and deeper insights into the models and underlying abstractions of the subject domain they are learning about. This approach can be applied across a wide range of topics such as monetary systems in economics, the geography of a region, the culture of a population, or the sociology of a group or of interacting groups.