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Narrative AI and Games

And speaking of Stéphane*, guess who is the only person representing the games industry on the programme committee for the Narrative AI and Games conference? That's right.

The conference sounds pretty cool:

Papers sought in the following areas, but are not limited to:
  • Interactive narrative and virtual storytelling
  • Applied AI in games
  • Believable synthetic agents for games or narrative
  • Agent strategy planning in a games or interactive narrative context
  • The application of narrative based games in education
  • The use of games as test-beds for research

Go Stéphane! Make this something useful!

*) If only he had a website I could link to...

Beating Procrastination

43 Folders is a blog that takes scary deep looks at productivity and how to improve it. Productivity, and its cousin effectiveness, are topics that interest me deeply, but somehow I never find the time to read more about it.

But I did somehow find the time to read this article on procrastination, written by Mark Taw, which I found via 43 Folders. It contains some interesting theories on why we procrastinate and how we can stop it. Perhaps I'll try it soon.

Reading the article reminded me that I should read the copy of Getting Things Done which my friend Stéphane so kindly gave me (and that I should send him a copy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

Yeah, I must remember to do that.

Night on the town

Last night I went to the Roboëxotica, the annual festival for cocktail-robotics organized by Monochrom, to meet the lovely Alice Taylor of Wonderland fame.

We listened to Cory Doctorow read the first chapter of After the Siege (despite a sore throat, poor guy). I asked what was probably the most unexpected question during the Q&A afterwards, then Alice and I went to another part of the Museumsquartier to chat about the games industry, our respective jobs, mutual acquaintances, etc. over some wonderful chai and curry coconut soup and Weisswurst.

Afterwards, Alice, Cory, Johannes, Jake, David, Anika, Daniel, Ben, Roli and me went to the Weihnachtsmarkt in front of the Rathaus, aka 'the kitschiest place in Vienna'.

(Jake takes a lot of pictures and puts them on Flickr almost instantly (hence all the links). Here are the pictures he took of Vienna's Naturhistorisches Museum the day before. I didn't realize how creepy it was - butterflies eating fish? Brrr... And here is a picture he took of me. The wool hat was to keep my head warm, not because I want to look like a garden gnome.)

After some punsch and more Wurst we moved to Objektiv, a nearby student bar, where we had dinner. My Kaiserschmarren had way too much rum in it, but various people graciously helped clean the plate. There was much excellent conversation on a wide range of topics. Sadly, this is a family blog, so I can't repeat any of the witty repartee exchanged between Jake and David, but I can mention the German word Jake inadvertently invented: Geschluchzverkehr. What a lovely word, I don't understand how people have gotten by all this time without it. (Only now am I discovering that Jake went to Iraq in April and David is a widely respected robot builder.) Johannes told us about the most unspeakable image ever, which he intends to post on the Monochrom website. I can't even talk about it here: just thinking about it makes me shudder. And all I know is the title!

It was a really great night. Meeting interesting people, good conversation, food and drink: what more does one want? And all by pretty much pure chance - only 24 hours before I had no idea I would be doing this. Yay mysterious forces of the universe!

Update: And tonight we did it all over again, except David was replaced by Evelyn Fürlinger and Francesca Birks (sorry David, no contest :P). We went to the same Weihnachtsmarkt, where this time we noticed several forms of food that just did not seem made for consumption by ordinary humans. We trudged through the snow to a TV studio where some interview was recorded, then to the Plutzerbräu for food. I sat next to the lovely Francesca, and we quickly discovered we both have professional backgrounds that are all over the map, although neither of us have figured out how to turn this to our advantage yet. The Kaiserschmarren was better this time, although the kitchen's first attempt had chives in it. Luckily the waitress was excellent and gave me another one. Good times were had once again. I even caught two Canadians saying 'eh', which I always thought was just a legend!

Another update: Johannes has posted the unspeakable image here.

Sony disaster

BoingBoing has a nice roundup of the various steps and developments in the Sony DRM PR catastrophe.

The PS3 rumor is particularly awful - let's hope it's just an unwarranted conclusion.

How many other record companies but sleazy malware on their audio CDs?

Update: So according to Sony the bit about the PS3 is false speculation. It really was too awful to be true. I buy a lot of games, but often they're second hand, or I buy em, play em a bit, then sell em to friends. Not being able to do that would seriously affect my buying / playing habits. (If only I could rent games here... but as far as I know that only exists in the U.S. I recently read the history of game rentals somewhere, but forgot where.)

8 Megapixel Phone

I just read a report on Gizmodo about Samsung's phone with a built in 8 megapixel camera.

You know, by now I've gotten over the shock I had in 1995 when I realized the HP printer in the office had more RAM and CPU power than my first two computers. Combined. (It also had a built-in webserver.)

But still. I'm getting old.

(Via Gizmodo.)


I fiddled with the site layout. More space for text! Hurrah! I want to do a larger overhaul at some point, but that may not be possible with TypePad.

I also removed or updated various links. If I couldn't remember the last time I looked at a site or if a site no longer mentions games on a regular basis, I took it out. At some point I will add new sites.

Feedback is welcome.

Update: Should I put an IE blocker on this site? Check this out.

Another boss fight peeve

So I'm playing Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow for the DS and I get to the first boss. I die after a pretty short time period. Do I then get another life? Do I get to press continue? No. I go back about as far as you can go without going to the DS system menu: the 'Licensed by Nintendo' screen. Followed by the 'Made by Konami' screen, the intro sequence, the main menu, the saved game selection screen, until finally I am back in the game, where after a short cut-scene I can have another shot trying to find out how to defeat this boss.

You know, I like retro-gaming as much as the next guy, but some things should stay buried in the eighties.