Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I need a little more guidance.....

I need a little more guidance.....

I haven't thought about it extensively, yet, but I want to explore the significance of game decision making strategies and deeper explorations of human nature. The psychology of gaming deeply intrigues me. I'd like to develop and nourish my comprehension of 3-D technology as well. I do, however, feel as if I need more information in gaming technology to truly understand what I want to develop in the 6-week period, but I've been exploring my tools. I really enjoy the 3-D Face simulation technology and would like to learn more abut downloading the Bender program- now that looks extensive! I have some rough ideas about developing an interactive story, but I think I need more guidance to help me understand how I am to constructively and effectively use the tools build my story. How am I to integrate the interactive tools and which tools do you think are easiest for designer with little experience to utilize

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Interaction Vs. Story

As I mentioned in class I had the thought yesterday that perhaps stories and interactivity are incompatible. That maybe we are trying to force it, maybe stories are inherently un-interactive. Now that of course would be blasphemous and make this course awkward, but let's look at it. In a sense what makes stories such a powerful and enduring medium is that the user/listener is passive to the active storyteller (be it a person, book, movie etc...) An incredible story completely enraptures you.

A quick example: I finally saw Toy Story three last night; the movie took me in and created a an experience. I laughed, I cried, and I marveled at Pixar's ability to reveal elegant truths through the use of story. All of this emotion and realization came from a masterfully constructed combination of storytelling, sound, and visuals.

So this leads me to the topic; is it actually possible to create a story as compelling as the one i just experienced if I was forced to make decisions? But free will and choice are always good things right? I'm not so sure when it comes to stories. When you must interact, that is make a decision on the conscious level you are immediately ripped from the visceral flow of the story. When you read an enthralling novel you first lose conscious awareness of the page turning, than the pages themselves seem to disappear. However in the format of a modern interactive sory such as a video game, the constant high level decision making ultimately pulls you out of the narrative and lessens it's effect on you. That is why I have seen plenty of people cry over movies, books, or theater, but not over videos games (well not for the same reasons).

However, I did re-read some of Jesse Schell's game design book and he did bring up some interesting emotions in chapter 2 that games can engender that maybe other formats can not, such as feelings of accomplishment, or of responsibility.

So computer or video games are not at a complete loss as a format for an interactive story. They can create some experiences and emotions in the user. However, the challenge than is, how do we make the action or decision making process in interactive stories become so non-demanding that it can become as unconscious as turning a page. Sorry the post got so long :) (bonus question: can we keep users from making bad stories and still call it interactive?)

Very short stories

Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway is one of the pillars of American Literature. As a journalist covering the bloody Spanish civil war or in his novels based in his extraordinary experiences during two world wars or in his tumultuous life and failed relationships, he managed to engage the reader as a participant of the story through the use of extreme economy of words which were able to convey deep meaning and emotions.

When he was 18 years old, both his legs were wounded by mortar fire in Italy. During his six month hospital stay he fell in love with the the beautiful nurse that tended him. Their failed relationship (she left him for an Italian officer) provided material for A Very Short Story .

His shortest story however is the six word one we read in class today, and of which he said that it was the best thing that he had ever written:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn"


Two ride, screech, one wakes up.
Hawkins,Benjamin A

Upper class. Expensive lock. Bike stolen.
Shay Earhart

Oil Spill? Say goodbye underwater ecosystems.
Ashley Aguirre

Do better thanHemmingway?
I'll try
Garrett Strobel

Just put the gun in there.
Jasmine Earls

Turned it on. Didn’t get burned.
Jen Meyerson

She looked better under the veil.
Gene Goldmintz

Pencils down. His fate is decided.
Francesca Lyn

Crossing. Stuck on median! Bus gone.
Yukari Takata

Change approach? Let's consult the lemur.
Courtney Hayes

Original six word stories are hard.
Collins Obinwa

Jobeless Homeless Cohabiting couples: demographic explosion!
Irvika Francois


My name is Gene Goldmintz and I am a fourth-year history major minoring in Russian Studies and East-Central European Studies. I have taken literature courses in the past, and the readings I found most thought-provoking were those which were told by an unreliable narrator. Examples of such characters include Jonathan Swift's Gulliver as well as Venichka of Venedikt Erofeev's Moscow the End of the Line.

I am looking to create an interactive story in which the protagonist is unclear of his origins, casting his character and his past exploits into the shadows, leaving a blank slate for the player. This is intended to engage the player on a more personal level, generating a more intimate connection with the player-character on a degree impossible through traditional media.

One perceived difficulties with this experiment is the inherent contradiction between gameplay and narrative. If I, as the writer and designer, am looking to deliver a particular narrative of self-discovery and possible self-delusion how does this contend with a player-controlled character who may bypass certain narrative branching paths. In a word, the difficulty lies with the interactive medium itself while simultaneously providing for the unique richness of the experience.

Samorost 1

play this game

Hi Everyone

My name is Ashley and this is my first semester at UF as well as my first semester taking Interactive Storytelling. Some of my hobbies are reading, surfing the web, shopping, and being with my babies, which are in actuality, my dogs, Rosa and Peppito. I am very excited to be learning something new like this class, and believe it or not, blogging. I've never blogged until now so we'll see how it goes. Bye for now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello Again

Following Francesca's post I thought it would be appropriate to formally introduce myself on the blog here. I will also share some photo's of my past work. As I mentioned before my name is Garrett and am also a masters student here at digital worlds. I have my undergraduate BFA in sculpture and a BA in anthropology. Here are some pics of some of the stuff I did last semester (spring 2010).

This is a radio frequency enabled gameboard

This is the tracking device used to find the gameboard

This is an empathy enhancing device

This is a heart rate sensor for the device

Anyways It was nice meeting you all today and looking forward to a fun filled (and unfortunately short) semester.

Art as Practice Based Research

I suggest we put our preconceptions in suspense
until the whole story is told,
which will be... never

Welcome to this instance of Interactive Storytelling. We will use this blog stream to capture the evolution of our thoughts and perceptions on what Interactivity and Storytelling is.

Perhaps as a starting point we can think of interactive anything, as something that exists only in the context of user behavior and story as a shared social construct facilitating human communication. But even then, these broad assumptions can and are being challenged as technologies evolve and dissapears into the very fabric of society.

As the image of the iPhone-like device on the left suggests, we, as humans, are constantly recombining and re-inventing the primitive elements of storytelling and interactivity which makes us who we are.

And today we are, in many ways, surrendering our individual voices to the datasphere, which, when analysed (or mined, to use a common term) reveals another type of collective being, which by its twitts and blogs, reflects our commonalities more that our differences.

It is out of this phenomena that a bigger story is emerging, one in which we lose consciousness of the medium and see neither print nor film but just the power of the story, of which we are both actors and audience.


I thought I would sort of reintroduce myself as I know I have a hard time remembering names at first.
So hi, my name is Francesca Lyn. As you guys know I am a Digital Worlds Master's student. I have my own blog, Ophelia's Swim Team and I have been blogging regularly for about 5 years. Additionally, I am a social media/marketing intern for Lady Vanderbilt, a jewelry brand. I really enjoy blogs about personal style and design. I use Twitter frequently.
I hope to develop an interactive story this summer session that will inform the work that I will do for my Thesis project. I know I want to create an interactive experience in the REVE but as far as an actual story, I am not sure. So, this class will be perfect to test a lot of things out.
I am really excited to have class with everyone, having such a diverse set of majors is really interesting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Final Project Presentations

Just a reminder to all:
The final project presentations will be taking place today and tomorrow at the REVE (Old Norman Gym). Best of luck to everyone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

virtual internships

I have an internship with a jewelry company called Lady Vanderbilt. This internship is being conducted entirely virtually, we mostly correspond by emails throughout the day and then conference by phone or online once a week.

I am handling social media PR and some online marketing. It's interesting how these things are changing due to Twitter and Facebook. So far we have really had a lot of success contacting fashion bloggers and having them host giveaways. It's an amazing amount of press for a very little money spent. Plus, fashion bloggers are really driving trends. Blogs are much more accessible than most print media.

Meeting with Peter Blaskovic

I found yesterday's talk with Peter Blaskovic to be very interesting. Yesterday I experienced one of those ah ha moments when I saw Peter's most simple demonstration of Perlin Noise. While the later examples of the work were far more refined and more beautiful, I loved seeing the basic particles move around the screen as they were governed by physics. Maybe it's because I have modeled and studied such systems before, but I really enjoyed watching the ebb and flow of the particles.

What really surprised me the most was I had no idea that processing was as powerful as was Peter showed us. Knowing the math behind what he was doing I was very impressed. Processing has always been somewhat of a toy for me, something I use to prototype with, but after seeing yesterday's demonstration I started to see the real power of processing. Processing will be a tool I continue to explore and use.

Project update

So I have got my tracker working somewhat. I'm going to try to include a controller for a mouse, so I can demonstrate for everyone and hopefully convince woulds to fully interact with Python.

Project update

Besides the final adjusting, I'm trying to expend the functionality of the system. Now there's two mode to control the mouse cursor, the user can switch the mode to click the item or to drag the window/item around. I considered to implement the two different command together and differentiate by different amount of time the cursor stay in the same position, but I think it will make the system less easy to control since most of the time we will use click rather than drag things. So I set the click mode as default and if need, we can change to the drag mode by click on the Processing control interface.

Guitar Writer Update

As the time alloted for this course winds down a final status update regarding my project is needed. I plan on presenting my progress in class on Thursday. The newest development is that I'm able to control when the notes are written into the final product(tablature). Before there was no control on what the program wrote which was due to the resonance and noise that was created after each note was struck. I recently acquired a new way to input my guitar to the computer by purchasing a guitar port (basically a better version of the cable I was implementing). This should reduce my noise and hopefully solve the dilemma of having different settings for different guitars (difference of loudness of sound). I'm still making progress on the timbre identifications and plan on continuing making progress on this task. I also did some minor modifications with the presentation of the tab as part of the html code.
My goal is to have a demo prepared for my presentation where the notes that are played will be updated in the tablature format in real time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Conversation With Peter Blaskovic

Today we had the pleasure to have an online conversation Peter Blaskovic a true Processing Artist. He draws his inspiration from nature. He designs his interactions based on what is interesting for him and then improves them based on user feedback.

He shared with us how he developed his fire simulation. It started by curiosity of noise and how it moved base on Perlin Noise models. He kept adding features to it based on feedback from the people who were visiting his site. One of his newest demonstrations or products is Fire Painter. It differs from professional image programs such Adobe Photoshop in that the brush is always changing which allows for anyone to create beautiful design without much complications.
Peter also shared with us that he prefers using Processing because the only limit is the speed of Java, he believes it is simple and it allows him to focus on just what he needs.
Another thing that Peter shared with us was how he uses research of published works and then adapts them to take advantage of its contents in order to develop his Processing demos.

Overall the conversation was very educational and inspiring. When myself and my classmates told him what we were working on as part of our projects he was impressed with all of our ideas.
The following were links that he shared with us as to demonstrate the progress of his developments:

His website is found here:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interesting MIDI Controller

This is an interesting example of interactive equipment. I believe it was designed for the use of single person due to the fact that there are no labels but simply remapping could expand its use. Click the title to link.

Peter Blaškovič

Designer Peter Blaškovič from Slovakia will be with us tomorrow Tuesday via Skype at 11 am.

This is a good opportunity for everyone to chat with a fellow designer who has some exceptional skills with Processing and interaction among other things.

I expect everyone to be present and actively participate. I will unfortunately miss this chance to ask my own questions, but I am sure you all will. Needless to say I expect posts from everyone during this last week of work. Pat will accompany you during this stretch, thanks Pat:-)

Enjoy and warmly welcome Peter Blaškovič to our lab.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Here is one possible layout for the website I am developing for my class project.


I have been working on an online portfolio and decided to try an give it a "glitch" aesthetic. I'm still working on it but it's fun to take screen captures of when things go wrong. Sort of pretty isn't it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an ad man

We had a big fight today about apple and marketing. I think this talk is a good one for this topic.

Quaternions and more

So. need to post something. So I decided to explain how I managed to "stabilize" the camera in my 3D scene.

The problem was pretty simple. I receive a stream of transformation matrices from Organic Motion stage. These matrices represent 3D positions of body parts. Unfortunately, there is an instability and all the bones move constantly even if a person tries to be calm and not to move (I even tried to hold my breath).

The solution that I chose is to take the previous transformation matrix and the current and interpolate them.

At the beginning I tried to implement interpolation of the three angles of a rotation (x, y, and z axis) manually. For example, the previous angle was 0.5 radian, the current angle is 0.7 radian. I take an everage value (0.5 + 0.7) / 2.0 == 0.6. So the actual rotation should be 0.6.

After I tried this method, I found out that the way an angle is represented creates problems to use my implementation of a interpolation. The angle is represented as a value from -2*PI to 2*PI and a rotation -2*PI equals to a rotation 2*PI. In this case I cannot easily interpolate two angles when there is a sign change. Lets take for example -3.1 and 3.1 angles in radians. These angles are actually almost the same for the camera, yet the everage value is 0 and that rotation is completely wrong.

To fix this problem I decided to work with cases when a the previous and current angles change the sign individually using a condition block. Then I found out that there is another point where an everaging algorithm does not return a correct value.

Then I recalled quaternions. They can help to implement rotations. I tried to understand how to interpolate a pair of quaternions and... That became too complecated for me.

And only at this moment I realized that JMonkeyEngine API and it's implementation of quaternions (and transformation matrices) has alreay implemented method "interpolate"!!.
So I just used it and fixed my problem.

I think it is a good idea to read a little bit about quaternions. It might help in the future if you are going to deal with 3D graphics.

The end.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Just found this video about a guy named Muti Randolph from Brazil. He is an audio-visual master builder and makes some really cool stuff. It's something I would definitely like to do.

Monday, June 7, 2010


This doodle is drawn by the paintbrush in this Harmony project by Mr.doob. I found this interesting toy on google lab's Chrome experiment. It's really fun to play with it, when drawing quickly, the brush works like a magic pencil with automatic shades, when drawing slowly, the effect is some what like using a chinese brush to write calligraphy, and the best part is that you can save the picture you drew if you like it. It is written in javascript, and the author even shares the code on his website for people who are interested in it. There're many other project on his homepage, but I think I'd better play with them after I finish my project and short paper.

Project update

Time goes so fast, it's already the 5th week! For my project, I finally linked the pd tracking program to control the real mouse cursor that can move around and make click by staying at a same point for a few seconds. However, there are still some problem need to be solve. When I tested it, I found that there are some positions that can't be reached by the tracking control. This is because I translate the rather small head movement space into much more bigger screen cursor movement space by multiply it to some ratio. The example below shows how this gap happened. The ratio in this example is 3, when the tracked target moved from the blue pixel to the green pixel, the movement are enlarged so there will be two pixels jumped (but it's almost unnoticeable on the screen).

This gap is a trade off between movement sensitivity and control, the smaller the gap the more we had to move our head. For now, the ratio is around 7 to 20, still try find a balance.

Project Update

A brief update as to where I am with my project. Thus far I have managed to convince Python to take in video data and to track an object, very basically, it looks for a programmed object. I have also contrived together, in a solid modeling program (Inventor), a rig that is compatible with what currently exists in the lab. It does just have to interact with me it must also interact with the surgical environment. The next step is to have the program spit out a value that can be input into a micro-controller, which is hopefully on its way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Update: Guitar Tablature Writer (Still working on the name)

I would like to share the progress of my project as another milestone passes and the completion date approaches.

As previously posted in earlier posts, my idea is to create a program that identifies musical notes as played in a guitar which then are translated into the popular guitar tablature format, "TAB".

The Basic flow of information or Backbone of the program is as follows:

As previously posted, the communication between Pure Data and Processing is being performed using OSC toolbox as it was documented before.

The challenge that still remains is in the Note Identification process. I'm currently working on determining the position analysis using Fourier Transforms and Timbre to observe the difference between notes at different positions. My current approach is to use the [fft~] block of Pure Data to identify the peaks of the sound of the note to differentiate between positions. I plan to identify this by finding the highest peaked as observed in a fourier transform, and have ranges for notes at different positions as it is currently being done for the frequency and note identification.

The last step is to work on the presentation of the tablature. At the moment this tablature is displayed using HTML as it allows for the flexibility of formatting the tab as desired.

In the future I plan to explore ways to pack all of the components of this project into one program which can be installed and used by any guitar player.

Reaction to "Inteaction Forms and Communicative Actions in Multiplayer Games"

As the gaming industry grows there is one field which have created a culture, this field are multiplayer games. Today games such as "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" and also Sports games by EA, have created a culture in which the game has extended beyond the computer or tv monitors.

The paper presented by Tony Manninen, introduces a way to categorize these forms of interaction in games as based on CAT(Communicative Action Theory) as framework.
The many examples introduced by the author show how important this aspect has become into creating this new culture.
The results of the analysis indicate that the communicative aspect of current multiplayer games is enabled by a relatively limited set of interaction forms. Still, the available features of the games that contain a limited amount of language-based communication would seem to be enough to enable a certain level of communicative actions. This level, however, is usually achieved by overcoming the restrictions and limitations of the system. In-game support for communicative interaction forms is, as a rule, notably low.
Although newer games such as those previously mentioned have increased the level of interaction and communication between players, I agree with the author as he recognizes that the communication is limited but yet enough to be successful.

Reading Response: Common Sense for Interaction Design

Imbuing computers with "common sense" has long been a holy grail of computer programmers and users alike. This article detailed some of the various attempts by researchers at the MIT media lab to create such AI systems that could do things such as discern user meaning without direct statements of mood, or suggest images and pictures based on content.

As Stephen and I mentioned in class, while reading this article we kept picturing the loathsome Microsoft paperclip. The paperclip was designed to facilitate document creation, however users HATED it. The application was intrusive and insulting (not to mention smug).

I think it is important to note that not only must these common sense systems understand content and context they must also have the sense to recognize user need. In general people hate being offered help or advice when they were not seeking it or when they were intent upon solving a problem themselves, it makes the person feel inadequate, or less than.

As I type this blog post I realize a successful "common sense" application that users have been using and loving for well over a decade now; the spellchecker. The spellchecker is unobtrusive as it does not immediately demand my attention. It simply underlines misspelled words that I can fix in the moment or go back through my document and correct all at once. In addition the spellchecker does not pretend to be my friend in the way that the paper clip does, it simply is. I want my machines to support and expand my sentience, not compete with it.

Reaction to Beyond Myth and Metaphor: The Case of Narrative in Digital Media

One of my favorite book series when growing up was "Choose Your Own Adventure". The ability to be the maker of my own experience, made reading a fun task.

My reaction to reading "Beyond Myth and Methaphor: The Case of Narrative in Digital Media", presented different types of techniques where hypertext is being used to aid the narration of stories. In my understanding Hypertext is that in which a reader can interact beyond just reading the word it spells, such as discovering a picture or a reference to another similar text.

The author presents one point that I believe is very enriching as she describes how Hypertext can be used to aid narratives:
"By making a choice, the spectator assumes an authorial stance toward the protagonists, since he creates their moral character, which in turn determines their fate. This activity of playing with parameters to see how the system will evolve is similar to the operation of a simulation system. Since the operator of the narrative system is external to the fictional world, he has no interest at stake in any particular branch of its virtual history; gratification resides instead in the contemplation of the whole field of possibilities. The individual forking paths in the plot are therefore less interesting than the global pattern of their interconnections."
This method which in my childhood was presented as part of the books "Choose your Own Adventure" is a good educational tool to help learn more about yourself and the kind of person you are, depending on the choices that you made while interacting with the text.

Another reaction to this reading was that it reminded me of computer programmers. With video game development and computer usage for story telling, I believe the biggest role to tell the story is on the programmer. As a programmer or developer your job is to look inside and outside of your program or code and always predict the next step of interaction with a user.
This by itself I believe is an example of hypertext as users are able to go beyond just simple textual words. We could say that computer programmers are in a way responsible for modern day storytelling. This final statement is also supported by the Author of the article as follows:
Games thus embody a virtualized, or potential dramatic narrativity, which itself hinges on the virtual diegetic narrativity of a retelling that may never take place.


For working with tangible interfaces, reactivision has been mentioned as an open source solution. For my project I am using Trackmate, a similar solution that came out of the MIT Media Lab. Trackmate can work with a number of programing languages, including processing. Trackmate uses makers similar to reactivision, which are places on objects to be tracked. Below is a sample marker and video demo.

Linking webpages to people with Trackmate from adam kumpf on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interaction Forms and Communicative Actions in Multiplayer Games

Sometimes it is hard for me to follow articles on computer game theory as I do not play these type of games. It must be my small girl hands.

Seriously, I find the "suspense of disbelief" the most fascinating element because it is is something ancient and integral to creating a good story. People too often confuse story with plot. Plot is just what happened, story is the seduction.

"Whether the activity is about shooting each other with rocket launchers or arranging virtual weddings, the underlying theme is about togetherness."

I would argue that an degree of isolation is also integral with creating a story. In fact I was surprised that this was not mentioned within the scope of this paper. The ability of creating a story alone and then sharing in in a neutral collaborative space like the web gives people a degree of freedom. They become their online avatars, and have a level of comfort in this separation that I think makes it easier to engage in this type of play.