Andrew Stern --- Marie-Laure Ryan


Andrew Stern

Embracing the Combinatorial Explosion: A Brief Prescription for Interactive Story R&D

Abstract. This talk offers a reassessment of ongoing research and development efforts to create both capable and entertaining interactive story systems.  Both academia and industry have been working on this problem in various forms for decades, with mixed success.  To help calibrate our expectations for what is reasonable progress over time, we find it useful to compare interactive story technology to other endeavors that have both similar and different characteristics, to help us understand the special nature of the challenge and what research and development it may take to accomplish it.  Next, we focus on the quintessential requirements of interactive story, and along the way, prescribe an agenda for R&D in the field.  Specifically, we focus on the importance of agency, generation, interface, and terminology.  Finally, we recommend some specific guidelines, such as: researchers should begin their projects with a specific concept of an interactive story in mind to target; build an architecture to accomplish that target; and strive to release publicly playable projects.

Andrew Stern is a designer, writer and engineer of personality-rich, AI-based interactive characters and stories. In 2005 he completed the interactive drama Façade, a 5-year art/research collaboration with Michael Mateas, which received the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Game Festival. Andrew recently co-founded the game studio Procedural Arts to develop next-generation interactive story games.  Previously Andrew was a lead designer and software engineer at PF.Magic, developing Virtual Babyz, Dogz, and Catz, that sold over 3 million units worldwide.  Press coverage for his projects includes The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Newsweek, Wired and AI Magazine.  Andrew has presented and exhibited work at the Game Developers Conference, Independent Games Festival, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, Digital Arts and Culture, DiGRA, TIDSE, AAAI symposia, and several art shows internationally.  Andrew blogs at grandtextauto.org. (http://quvu.net/andrew/resume.html)