Archive for May, 2007

Drama AI
May 17, 2007

robot chat

A brief intro first: Chatbots are software programs capable of chatting with a human being and make some sense in the answers, questions and comments they do to people. They use simple techniques such as recollecting all the provided information they had on their previous chatting experiences and hence improving its intelligence. One of their purposes is to overcome AI obstacles and obtain a good result in Turing’s test.

In an issue about the brain from Discover magazine, the two most famous chatbot technologies, ALICE and Jabberwacky, had a conversation. The outcome is quite impressive. Words speak by themselves:

Jabberwacky: How do you define life?

Alice: Life is the opposite of death.

J: So death is the absence of life?

A: Take it easy. I try not to think about such things.

J: Why not?

A: Ambiguous.

J: Yes!

Thanks Leo for the very interesting link about this.

Probably, when we speak about Drama Games, it will not only matter what the player character speaks with the digital characters, but also what kind of conversations the digital characters have between them and how can that affect the outcome of a story…

Advertisements

About Advertising
May 14, 2007

Last week I found out that a game I have worked on at Three Melons won a Bronze FIAP Award (Iberoamerican Advertising Festival). It made me feel very proud for my colleagues who deserve recognitions such as these more than anyone I know. The game was a production made for Movistar, the biggest cell phone company in Latin America and Spain, where you had to train your hands because Mobile MSN was going to be launched.

Movistar Finger Training

The experience of making this game was quite fun. It was the first game I made using video footage. We hired a film studio to shoot my own hands dancing and excercising, and later we digitally added them over photographed scale-model scenarios (no 3D involved).

When Mariano (Three Melons founder) told me who the other competitors of this festival were, I discovered that my very own hands contended with a Ronadinho game. His game got the Gold award, but it made me feel strange on how globalization had put me next to the world’s top footballer.

I often have mixed feelings for Advergames. It’s a good business source to create innovative games that otherwise would be unsustainable… but usually advertising surrenders culture to the sole purpose of selling a product, and it’s not nice to see that the ends justify the means. Yet, it’s somewhat interesting to see how the most commoditized products sometimes demand for the most bizarre and strange campaigns to get to their consumers.

I don’t longer work at Three Melons but they are partners in the new endeavor I’m starting up. I’ve added some thoughts on my past experience working there at my ludography if you’re curious. And be sure to check on their next games, you’ll be amazed

Story + Game… + Music
May 3, 2007

Exceptional filmmakers of this era such as Wes Anderson, Sophia Coppola or Spike Jonze -just to name a few- have a very interesting thing in common: They use extraordinary musical scores in their films to spice up their stories. The ambientation and personality of their works owes significant credit to the list of songs they end up arranging in their original soundtracks.

And thinking about Drama Games, I’ve been wondering how music could be incorporated to the core of story playing.

 

Essentially, stories are about people. And when you play a role, when you act as someone else, you might want to have a deep understanding about how that character feels. A couple of years ago, I had an innocent approach to this issue: What if you could hear the thoughts of the character? Just like James Joyce‘s novel Ulysses, where through its narrative style it expresses a stream-of-consciousness from its main character.

Of course, constantly hearing voices as you play could be disturbing for the player after a while. Not to mention the design limitations of using large amounts of recorded voices or the technical imperfections of using voice synthesis. The solution, as you might have guessed, its simple and elegant: Music!

Music is not only capable of giving an atmosphere to a particular scene, but it can express precise feelings and moods. Electronic music in particular has a very interesting format for it to be applied to games: unlike traditional songs, its recordings are usually 1 hour sets that take the listener to a particular mindset. And of course, the digital nature also makes this kind of music very permeable to be remixed and modified in real time.

I wonder what kind of Drama Game is Sebastien Tellier inspiring me right now…