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Title: Story authoring and management for dynamic virtual worlds
Author: Paul, Richard J. S.
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Storytelling plays an important role in providing an engaging player experience in modem computer games. Typically in single-player games, stories are highly linear and carefully scripted by the story authors, with events occurring in exact pre-specified sequences. This method of storytelling can result in a highly crafted experience that helps to enhance player immersion in the game world. Storytelling in multiplayer online game worlds, as in their single-player counterparts, also tends to be based on a set of highly scripted stories. However, the technical problems caused by the presence of many players in these worlds are typically dealt with by various devices or tricks that are inherently detrimental to the storytelling experience. The devices used include observable world state manipulation by the system and allowing player actions to have only limited consequences in the world. Both techniques diminish the believability of the storyworld and are likely to reduce player enjoyment of the game narrative. An improved method of storytelling in multiplayer games is therefore needed to address this problem. It is demonstrated in this thesis that a more adaptive and effective approach to storytelling in multiplayer game worlds can be provided by incorporating hierarchical task network (HTN) planning as part of a wider story management process. A novel approach to story authoring and management in dynamic, multiplayer worlds is presented in which the methods from which story plans are generated are defined by the story author in the HTN formalism. The story authoring and management techniques presented in the thesis include a story repair method that detects and responds to events that threaten to invalidate an ongoing story plan, and an extension of the HTN formalism to enable player interaction at a higher level of abstraction than that used for the enactment of generated stories. A virtual world designed to provide the richness and variability required for adaptive storytelling in a multiplayer environment is also presented as a basis for evaluation of the proposed methodology. The results presented in the thesis demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach to story authoring and management in terms of the adaptability, variability, and robustness of the stories created in a dynamically changing, multiplayer environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available