If you don’t know this already, I really dig adventure games. Seriously. Just click these words to see how much I dig them.
And I keep running into adventure game stuff in the most unexpected places. A few days ago, Yuri Takhteyev from the Faculty of Information spoke to the Software Engineering group about his work studying the use and popularity of the Lua language in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When he brought up Lua, I couldn’t help remembering that Lua was used by the GrimE engine to script Grim Fandango…
Wouldn’t it be awesome to find a way of turning my passion for adventure games into something that is useful in the field of Computer Science?
My supervisor has advised me not to think too much about my research paper just yet, and to just peek around to get a feel for what’s going on in the various facets of Computer Science. I take this advice to heart, and yet I can’t help noticing where my passion for adventure games might be applied…
Here are a few things I’ve come up with:
Storytelling Alice is an attempt to find a fun, intuitive way of teaching basic programming with the Alice language to middle-school students. It was designed and developed by Caitlin Kelleher as part of her PhD thesis at Carnegie Mellon. Storytelling Alice is designed to use storytelling as a motivating context to get students to learn various programming techniques.
In Storytelling Alice, students are compelled to learn more in order to tell more of a story. I wonder if they’d be willing to learn more to reveal more of a story? This would be very similar to the way adventure games reward players with story after solving a puzzle.
I’ve recently started taking Khai Truong’s CSC2514 – Human-Computer Interaction course. One of the first papers he got us to read this week was one that he’d written on storyboarding.
Put simply, storyboards are used by interaction designers as a low-cost way of testing out designs with their potential audience. They are similar to the storyboards used in writing/designing movies or television productions, but are instead used to communicate use cases, environment of use, physical embodiment of the system, etc.
Here is a copy of the paper, if you’re interested in reading it.
Here’s something I found interesting:
Commercial products marketed specifically for storyboard creation are available, but they are designed for experts and can be difficult for novices to use … Also, expert designers expressed that the greatest challenge for them is storytelling. These software products are not designed to support that process and may even be detrimental to it, because they do not provide complete creative flexibility in terms of what can be developed.
Very interesting. Adventure games are designed from the ground up to tell a story. I wonder if the tools that adventure games are created with could lend something to these storyboard creation tools?
As my studies continue, perhaps I’ll report more potential uses for adventure game technology.
Until then, I’ll leave you with a clip from a playthrough from one of my favourite adventure games of all time, The Dig. It might not be Dicken’s, but damned if it doesn’t hold my attention with an iron grip.