Interactive Storytelling

CMPS 148/248 - Winter 2010
Tuesday-Thursday 12:00 to 13:45
Physical Sciences 114
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Last Updated: March 15, 2010

Final Exam: 8 AM to 10 AM, Wednesday 17th March

Slides from Week 8 updated
Homework #6 submission requirements updated (in HW section)
Final Exam Sample with Answer Key
Final Projects due on Monday, March 15th at 5 PM
WideRuled homework due Friday 12th March at 5 PM


Arnav Jhala
Jack Baskin School of Engineering, Room 269
email: [mylastname] @ cs [dot] ucsc [dot] edu
Phone: (831) 459-2502
Office Hours: Monday 3:30 to 5:00 E2 269
Teaching Assistant

Benjamin Samuel
benjamin.m.samuel [AT] gmail
Office Hours: Wednesday 1:30 to 2:30 BE358

Schedule and Lectures
Homeworks and Projects


  1. Virtual Reality, Art and Entertainment. Joe Bates. In Presence: The Journal of Telepoperators and Virtual Environments, 1(1):133-138, MIT Press, Winter 1992.
  2. Lord Burleigh's Kiss. Hamlet on the Holodeck. Janet Murray. Chapter 1, pp. 13-26.
  3. Narrative Schema. Narrative Comprehension and Film. Edward Branigan. Chapter 1, pp. 1-17.
  4. The Structure Spectrum. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and The Principles of Screenwriting. James McKee. Part of Chapter 1, pp. 31-47.
  5. Introduction. Narrative Fiction-Contemporary Poetics. Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan. Chapters 1 and 2, pp. 1-28.
  6. The Substance of Story. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and The Principles of Screenwriting. James McKee. Chapter 7, pp. 135-180.
  7. Narrative, Media, and Modes. Avatars of Story. Marie-Laure Ryan. Chapter 1, pp. 3-30.
  8. Narratology for Interactive Storytelling: A Critical Introduction. Marc Cavazza, David Pizzi. TIDSE 2006: 72-83
  9. A Platform for Symbolically Encoding Human Narratives. David K. Elson, Kathleen R. McKeown. 2007. In Proceedings of the AAAI 2007 Fall Symposium on Intelligent Narrative Technologies, Arlington, Virginia.
  10. A Critical View of Interactive Drama Systems. Maria Arinbjarnar, Heather Barber and Daniel Kudenko. April 2009.  In Proceedings of the AISB'09 Symposium: AI & Games, Edinburgh,Scotland.
  11. Planning, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, Stuart Russel and Peter Norvig, Chapter 11
  12. [Discourse: Natural Language] Attention, Intentions, and the Structure of Discourse, Barbara Grosz and Candence Sidner, Computational Linguistics, 1986. [Discourse: Natural Language] Pragmatics and Natural Language Generation, Eduard Hovy (Secondary Reading)
  13. [Discourse: Camera] Cinematic Visual Discourse: Representation, Generation, and Evaluation. Arnav Jhala and R. Michael Young, (under review) IEEE Transactions of Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, 2010.
  14. [Discourse: Lighting] Dynamic Intelligent Lighting for Directing Visual Attention in Interactive 3D Scenes. Magy Seif El-Nasr, Thanos Vasilakos, Chinmay Rao, and Joseph Zupko. IEEE Transactions of Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, Vol 1, No. 2, 2009.
  15. [Discourse: Camera] A Lightweight Intelligent Virtual Cinematography System for Machinima Production. David K. Elson and Mark O. Riedl.  Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment, Palo Alto, California, 2007.
  16. [Interaction] Interactivity.[missing pages] Chris Crawford on Game Design. Chris Crawford. Chapter 6, pp. 71-92.
  17. [Interaction] A Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and Games. Michael Mateas. In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin.
  18. [Ludology v/s Narratology] Genre Trouble. Espen Aarseth. In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game. Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Read the responses as well.
  19. [Ludology v/s Narratology] Towards Computer Game Studies. Markku Eskelinen. In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game. Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Read the responses as well.
  20. [Ludology v/s Narratology] Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology. Gonzalo Frasca. In Video Game Theory. Edited by Mark J.P. Wolff and Bernard Peron.
  21. [Ludology v/s Narratology]  Game Design as Narrative Architecture. Henry Jenkins. In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game. Edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Read the responses as well.
  22. [Ludology v/s Narratology] Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space. Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. In Proceedings of the Digital Interactive Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2005), Vancouver B.C., June, 2005.
  23. [Ludology v/s Narratology] Beyond Myth and Metaphor - The Case of Narrative in Digital Media. Marie-Laure Ryan. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2001.
  24. [Systems] Narrative Intelligence. Narrative Intelligence, Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers (Ed.). 2003.
  25. [Systems] A Declarative Model for Simple Narratives. Raymond Lang. In Narrative Intelligence, Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers (Ed.). 2003.
  26. [Systems: Tale Spin] Tale Spin. James Meehan. Chapter 9 of Inside Computer Understanding: Five Programs Plus Miniatures. R.C. Shank and C.K. Riesbeck (Eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 1981.
  27. [Systems: I-Storytelling] Planning Characters' Behavior in Interactive Storytelling. Marc Cavazza and Charles Mead. The Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation. 13: pp. 121-131. 2002.
  28. [Systems: Fabulist] An Intent-Driven Planner for Multi-Agent Story Generation. Mark Riedl and R. Michael Young. Proceedings of the 3rd International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi Agent Systems, New York, 2004.
  29. [Systems] Gervás P, Díaz-Agudo B, Peinado F, Hervás R. 2005. Story Plot Generation based on CBR. Knowledge Based Systems.
  30. [Systems: Mirage] Interaction, Narrative, and Drama Creating an Adaptive Interactive Narrative using Performance Arts Theories. Magy Seif El-Nasr. Interaction Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2007.
  31. [Systems: Improv] Narrative Development in Improvisational Theatre, Eric Baumer and Brian Magerko, In the Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, Guimarães, Portugal, pp. 140-151.
  32. [System: Facade] Facade: An Experiment in Building a Fully-Realized Interactive Drama. Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. Game Developers Conference. Game Design Track. 2003. 
  33. [Systems: Facade] A Behavior Language: Joint Action and Behavioral Idioms. Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. In Life-like Characters: Tools, Affective Functions and Applications. H. Prendinger and M Ishizuka (Eds.). 2004.
  34. [Systems:Universe] Story Telling as Planning and Learning. Lebowitz, M. Poetics 14, pp. 483-502. 1985.
  35. [Systems:Minstrel] Chaper 2 PDF, Chapter 3 PDF. The Creative Process. Scott R. Turner. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994.

Schedule and Lectures

Week 1 Introduction: Story
Jan 5
Slides [PDF][PPT]
Notes: Readings 1 and 2

Jan 7
Slides [PDF][PPT]
Notes: Primary Readings 3, 4
           Secondary Reading 5, 6
Week 2

Jan 12
Slides [PDF][PPT]
Notes: Primary Reading 7
Secondary Readings: 8 and 9
Jan 14
Slides [PDF][PPT]
Notes: Primary Readings 8, 10, 11
Dana Nau's Slides from Automated Planning: Theory and Practice

Assignment 1 handed out
Week 3
Telling: Textual and Cinematic Discourse, Lighting
Jan 19
Slides [PDF][PPT]

Terminology Review
Reading 12

Link to MIT Opencourseware course "Computational Models of Discourse"

Jan 21
Slides [PDF][PPT]

Additional Slides on Pauline [PDF]

Reading 13
Secondary Reading 15

Assignment 1 Due
Week 4
Interaction: Narratology v/s Ludology
Jan 26
Slides [PDF][PPT]
Camera Control (Contd. from previous week)

Scott McCloud on Comics

Reading 14 (Lighting)

Jan 28
Slides [PDF][PPT]
 Lighting and Camera Contd...

Assignment 2  Assigned
Week 5
Inform 7

Feb 2

Slides [PDF][PPT]
Mid-term exam information

Visiting Lecture: Aaron Reed,  Infom 7 Tutorial and Making of The Blue Lacuna

Reading "Creating Story Worlds in Inform 7" by Aaron A. Reed. Chapter 1: Introduction
Secondary Reading:
"The Prose Medium and IF" by Emily Short
"Action and Interaction" by Emily Short

Assignment 3 Assigned

Feb 4

(tentative) Visiting Lecture: Michael Mateas on Poetics of Interactive Drama and Ludology/Narratology Debate

(ITunes Podcast Link)
Michael Mateas on ITunesU: Stanford HCI Seminar Series

Assignment 2 Due
Project Proposal Due for 248 Students
Week 6
Computational Storytelling: Interactivity

Feb 9

[PDF Part I]
[PDF Part II]

Visiting Lecture: Aaron Reed, Interactive Fiction Clinic

Feb 11

Mid-term exam

Interactivity : Readings 16, 17
Ludology v/s Narratology debate: Readings 18, 20, 21
Game Studies: Readings 19

Inform Project Samples
Method Actor 2000: design doc, ZBlorb file, source, description and walkthrough.
Zombie Politics: design doc, Z file, source, description and walkthrough.
Graveling: design doc, ZBlorb file, source, description and walkthrough.

Week 7
Computational Storytelling: Narrative Grammar and Plan-based Models

Feb 16


Assignment 4 handed out
Reading: 34

Feb 18

Mid-Term Exam Due
  Assignment 3 Due
Readings: 26, 35

Micro Tale-Spin Download
Week 8
World and Character Modeling

Feb 23


 Podcast: The Authoring Challenge in Interactive Storytelling, Michael Mateas

Sample Grammar for Avatar: The Last Airbender shown in class

Feb 25

Assignment 4 Due

Assignment 5 Cancelled
Mid-Project Review for 248 students

Week 9
Author Modeling: Storycanvas tool

Mar 2


Assignment 5 Due
WideRuled 2 Link

Guest Speaker: James Skorupski
Assignment 6 Handed out

Mar 4

Week 10
Interactive Drama

Assignment 6 Due

Final Projects Due for 248
Inform Project Due

Homeworks and Projects

Homework 1:
Pick one of the games on course reserve (BioShock, Fable: The Lost Chapters, Final Fantasy XII, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Half Life, Kingdom Hearts, Orange Box (Portal), Planescape Torment, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, The Sims 2, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Grim Fandango, Indigo Prophecy - if you want to play a different game, consult with me first) and play it for at least 8 hours. Games are available on course reserve in the science and engineering library. Answer the questions on this homework sheet: [RTF][HTML]
Submission: Email your responses to the TA Ben Samuel as a single attachment by midnight on the submission deadline OR hand it in during class on the day of the deadline.

Homework 2:
Play 3 IF works (Zork I, Photopia, Galatea) and write a 3 page short paper comparing the works with each other and with the game you played for assignment 1. Use the concepts and terminology from the readings (all the narrative, interaction and ludology/narratology readings). For Zork I, play for two hours (it's a big game - you probably won't finish in two hours). Photopia and Galatea are short - both should playable to (an) ending. For all the games you can find walkthroughs and hint guides online. Each of these IF pieces is an example of a different approach to IF (and, more generally, interactive narrative design). Playing a bit of Zork I provides a baseline for what early IF was like. If you are new to playing IF, this guide might be useful.
Downloads for IF
Download Zork. 1. The Win95 and Mac versions are stand-alone versions of Zork. The ZIP version is a Z-machine file that is interpreted by a Z-Machine interpreter.
Zork 1 clues
Z-machine Interpreters. A Z-machine is a virtual machine (analogous to the Java VM) that Infocom developed for their interactive fiction products. Much of contemporary IF runs on the Z-machine (written using languages such as Inform that target the Z-machine) - all of the pieces we're looking at run on the Z-machine. On the PC, WinFrotz is a popular choice. On the Mac, Zip Infinity is a popular choice.

Homework 3:
Write a short design document for your IF project. The purpose of the design doc is to help you to think about all the design decisions you will need to make in the game. Use this design document form to structure your design document: [DOC]

Homework 4:
Pick a genre serial story of your choice (e.g. H.P. Lovecraft horror stories, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica) and develop a paper-and-pencil grammar (morphemes plus rules) that generates new stories in the genre. Demonstrate your grammar by presenting three different stories generated by the grammar.

 Homework 5:
Given the game you played for assignment 1, answer these questions, related to the ludology/narratology debate, on the homework sheet: [PDF] [DOC][TXT]
Grade for HW5 folded into Inform Project (50%) and Final Exam (50%)

Homework 6:
Use the Universe-based story authoring tool to create a story-plan representation of the same serial story you picked for your story grammar analysis.
Submission requirements

. YourName.wr2 file emailed to Ben
. Requirements
  . Must run (must generate text story)
  . Must use each of these features at least once:
    . Characters - traits and relationships
    . Environments - traits and relationships
    . Plot Points - traits
    . Author goal - parameters
    . Plot fragments
      . Preconditions
      . Character precondition, environment prec, plot point prec.
      . Save a trait to a variable
      . Use variable within precondition
      . Actions
        . Print text (with inserted variables)
        . subgoal
        . calculate value
        . edit character
        . edit environment
        . create plot point
        . edit plot point
        . delete plot point
    . Interactive Actions


Inform Project
Create an interactive story using Inform 7. The Inform development environment can be downloaded here.
If you are new to interactive fiction, you may find these beginner's guides useful: Guide 1, Guide 2.

248: Final Project


148: Undergraduate

6 assignments: 30%
5 assignments: 25%
Inform storyworld: 20% (now 22.5%)
Midterm: 25%
Final: 25% (now 27.5%)

248: Graduate

6 assignments: 30%
5 assignments: 25%
Inform storyworld: 15% (now 17.5%)
Midterm: 20%
Final: 20% (now 22.5%)
Project: 15%

Project Deliverables
  1. Zip file with entire source (including source for any external libraries)
  2. Readme with instructions for compiling and running your project (including keyboard/mouse commands and cheat codes, if any)
  3. One sample walkthrough (screenshots okay)
  4. 1-2 page essay on a) what you learned from the project b) things that you originally set out to do that you couldn't accomplish c) how your project relates to any of the concepts you came across during this course


  • Scheherezade Download link: HERE
  • GADIN Download link: HERE
  • Façade Download link: HERE
  • Automated Story Director: HERE
  • Warren Sack's implementation of Micro Tale-Spin in Lisp: HERE