Chat Transcript: July 15, 2001

Interactive drama with Andrew Stern and Adam Chapman. Interactive drama lets readers drive the story. What are the essential elements in interactive drama? Where does the reader enter the story? What are some reader/author interactions in interactive drama?

Andrew Stern is developing an AI-based interactive drama, in collaboration with Michael Mateas. Motivated by their belief that a "fully-realized" computer-based interactive drama has not yet been built, the authors are currently engaged in a three-year collaboration to build Facade, an interactive story integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic practices and AI technologies. Facade will combine a reactive behavior-based architecture (an extended version of the Oz project's Hap language) with a deliberative story manager - an attempt to merge of "character" and "plot" - designed to integrate the user's interactions into the space of potential plot directions and character behaviors in the story.

Certain techniques from Aristotelian drama such as the story "beat" and dramatic value change will be operationalized. The system will have a natural language and gestural input interface, within a 3D virtual world. See for details, publications and links. Previously Andrew was a designer and programmer of the interactive characters Babyz, Dogz and Catz from PF.Magic in San Francisco. Along with his fellow creators Adam Frank, Ben Resner and Rob Fulop, he has presented these projects at a variety of conferences including Digital Arts and Culture 99, AAAI Narrative Intelligence Symposium 99, and the Siggraph 2000 Art Gallery. Catz won a Design Distinction in the first annual I.D. Magazine Interactive Media Review, and with Dogz and Babyz was part of the American Museum of Moving Image's Computer Space exhibit in NYC.

A.C. Chapman is a writer and artist originally from Hawaii, but now residing in Brooklyn. A collaborative project of his was short listed for the Electronic Book Awards. His work has been presented at the Guggenheim and shown at The New Museum and other points about the globe. He is Arts Editor for the print magazine, CROWD. His work has been written about in The New York Times, Newsweek, MITís New Technology Review and Leonardo amongst other places. In August, he will be an artist-in-residence at the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center. chapman received an MFA in fiction from The New School University, where he studied closely with Mary Gaitskill. Currently, he spends an inordinate amount of time in his garden, planting, replanting and keeping an army of feral cats at bay. some of his online art can be seen at -- ADM's Design Machine

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-- Start log: Sunday, July 15, 2001 2:38:09 pm CDT

Deena says, "Hi Lucio"

A.C. Chapman says, "How was epoetry?"

Deena says, "Epoetry was fantastic. Right before DAC. Lucio was there :)"

Deena serves round beer

Deena says, "Adam, are you and Noah working on anything..."

A.C. Chapman says, "Yumm, round beer."

Lucio_Agra says, "Good. Thanks for the beer, make me remember some I had in Buffalo"

A.C. Chapman says, "Noah and I _are_ working on a project. It involves a custom browser that alters images and text that one browses. All to be launched under the auspices of a fictitious company. I'd hate to spoil the surprise, though, so In won't say much more about it. It should be done, with any luck this fall."

Deena says, "Great. If it doesn't cause a security problem, we might let Rob Kendall know. He is looking for stuff like this that messes with the browser..."

Deena serves square beer just to be equal

Deena says, "A.C/Adam, do you want to be A.C. or Adam in this chat?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Regarding name, either way. Maybe a.c. would be easier, as that's what I logged in as."

Deena makes a mental note to call A.C. A.C.

Deena says, "Lucio, any other questions? Now is the time to practice--and drink some virtual beer..."

Lucio_Agra says, "Sounds great, A.C.! What are the aspects that can be customized? Only appearance or..."

Lucio_Agra says, "No, Deena, no more questions and beer tastes good!"

Deena says, "Is this going to use the same programming as the Impermanence Agent?"

Andrew Stern quietly enters. Andrew Stern says, "Hi all."

Deena says, "Hi Andrew, we are just warming up :) Thanks for coming."

Andrew Stern says, "Sure!"

Lucio_Agra says, "Hi Andrew."

Andrew Stern says, "How's everybody doing?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Great. Cold and pollution in Sao Paulo, but we overcome."

Deena is looking out at a sunny Colorado day where 15 minutes before we had a thunderstorm.

Andrew Stern says, "I'm enjoying the nice weather in my new apartment in Chicago. Just moved here a few weeks ago."

Lucio_Agra says, "Man, it is not fair. You are all in the summer in North Hemisphere!;)"

Deena basks in the glorious Northern summer and plans to travel to Sao Paulo in October...

Lucio_Agra says, "Deena, do you really plan to come in October to Wilton's festival?"

Deena says, "Well, actually, I didn't know about Wilton's festival... what is it?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Wilton is organizing a show at his University in Sao Paulo. Visual poetry show he published a notice at the E-poetry list. It is in E-poetry list and is going to happen in August."

Deena says, "In August and not October?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Yes. As I said, I misunderstood the dates. Deena, why are you planning to come to Sao Paulo?"

Deena says, "Lucio, I'm not really, I just want warm weather all the time :)"

Deena says, "Andrew, do you know Scott Rettberg in Chicago? You guys should get together..."

Andrew Stern says, "I know almost no one in Chicago :-)"

Deena says, "There are lots of e-lit folks in Chicago. Scott will know them..."

Andrew Stern says, "Great, yeah I want to meet everybody. Unfortunately I missed DAC, I was out of the country."

A.C. Chapman says, "Oh, and it's not the appearance of the browser which is customized. It's the actual images you browse, and some of the text and link hierarchy. only on a particular type of site though."

Deena says, "The project sounds marvelous, but we better keep it secret."

A.C. Chapman says, "Andrew, why Chicago?"

Andrew Stern says, "Why not? "

A.C. Chapman says, "Fair enough."

Andrew Stern says, ":-) well my s.o. is hoping to work/study at the Chicago Art Institute."

A.C. Chapman says, "Ahhhh. she's a painter, right?"

Andrew Stern says, "And we got tired of the bay area, we wanted a change."

Andrew Stern says, "She's also doing installation now."

Deena says, "Lots of e-folks in the bay area--Talan Memmott, Rob Kendall, ..."

A.C. Chapman says, "Ooh. what sort of installation? -- oh, and I have a couple of close friends in Chicago, you might enjoy."

Deena says, "When will the show be, Lucio?"

Andrew Stern says, "Her last piece was a science experiment set up in the gallery."

Andrew Stern says, "Adam is it true you'll be in California, as an artist in residence?"

Deena says, "Intriguing. So people could participate and do the experiment?"

Andrew Stern says, "Yeah, it was quasi-participatory."

A.C. Chapman says, "This is, in fact, true. I'll be working on some video/computer installation stuff. -- involving a seesaw."

Andrew Stern says, "Excellent. For how long will you be there?"

rixax arrives.

Deena says, "Hi rixax, we are warming up for the elit chat on interactive drama"

rixax says, "Cool" rixax finds a seat in Eliterature.

Andrew Stern says, "

Lucio_Agra says, "Sorry, Deena, I misunderstood the dates. But here's the invitation:"

Lucio_Agra says, "Dear friends,"

A.C. Chapman says, "Doesn't you s.o have a biochem background or something?"

Andrew Stern says, "Yeah, vision science"

A.C. Chapman says, "My friend in Chicago is working at a graphics lab, doing laser stuff. maybe they could play together."

Clare arrives. Everdeen says, "Hello Deena "

Everdeen grins around at everyone.

Deena says, "What is vision science?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Graphics as in physics, not as in repo house."

Andrew Stern says, "The study of vision -- the retina, brain, etc."

Deena says, "Hi Clare and Ev, we are warming up for the elit chat on interactive drama"

Deena passes around ice tea coolers and lemonades for the folks up north and hot toddies for Lucio down south.

Deena says, "I guess we can get the show on the road. Welcme to the

Eliterature/trAce chat on interactive drama. Our guests today are Andrew Stern and A.C. Chapman."

Deena says, "Would you guys like to explain your respective projects in in interactive drama?"

Andrew Stern says, "Adam, why don't you start"

A.C. Chapman says, "Damn."

Andrew Stern says, "Ha. Actually you already know about my project, I haven't heard about your latest projects yet"

Deena says, "Well, yes, Andrew, but many of our audience may not know about the project..."

rixax nods.

A.C. Chapman says, "My projects in regards to interactive drama, seem, for lack of a better term, flat, in comparison to Andrew/Michael's projects."

Deena says, "A.c., I think you and Andrew are approaching interactive drama from different directions, and it is good to compare the two..."

Margaret arrives.

Deena says, "Hi Margaret, we are introducing Andrew Stern and A.C. (Adam) Chapman, who have different interactive drama programs."

A.C. Chapman says, "There are a couple of projects which might fall under the interactive drama category though, not the least of which are the interactive video installations I'm working on with Camille Utterback. These will involve bits of stories which the user experiences by interacting with a "Real" physical space."

Deena says, "How does the user interact with the real space?"

A.C. Chapman says, "I one, projected characters react to your proximity-- the user enters a hall, at either end, are projected characters (video of real people) each relating an event which happened at dinner the previous night. The user, by approaching one (say the left one) makes the left happier while the one behind the user grows more upset. The closer the user get, the more favorably they're rewarded (in dialogue and facial ques) by the one."

A.C. Chapman says, "Does that make sense?"

Andrew Stern says, "Interesting!"

Everdeen says, "Intriguing"

Lucio_Agra says, "I saw a kind of similar thing - I think - in Dessau, Germany, in 97. But it was interactive for the actors engaged. One in Belgium, other in Dessau, made a sort of couple dance. "

Deena says, "So you want through a hall and get closer to the characters by walking closer to them?"

Deena says, "How do the characters change as you move toward them?"

Everdeen says, "How many users could be interacting at one time?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Well, There's an audio dialogue, and there's the video of the folks standing at either end, the rules of the interaction should be pretty apparent from the get go. One user at a time. it's all about the individual choosing a side and how that structures/alters our perceptions of story and daily life."

A.C. Chapman says, "Or so I claim."

Deena hands A.C. claim check

A.C. Chapman says, "Thank you."

Deena says, "Have you set this up and tested it? How do people react?"

Andrew Stern says, "I'm curious, how do you only allow one person at a time to enter?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Well, we haven't done a full version yet. that's what LA/August are for."

Margaret says, "Is this for the web or on cd?"

A.C. Chapman says, "This a real space installation."

Deena says, "Once more, what is LA/August?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Oh, Camille and I are going to be artists-in-residence at Cal State Fullerton Art Center."

Deena says, "A.h. so this will be set up at Cal State?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Ostensibly."

Deena says, "How did you determine the story lines? The thought pattern: if the user does this, then this will happen?"

Margaret says, "Is there a time limit on user use"

Deena thinks about the questions of setting up a physical space for interaction...

Everdeen says, "Will There be anything in the hall other than the two video screens at either end?"

Deena hands round advance tickets to Cal State to all.

Everdeen carefully tucks ticket in vest pocket.

Andrew Stern says, "Real space installation is so nice because it can be so much more immersive than experiencing something on a small computer monitor"

A.C. Chapman says, "Well, the story lines are pretty set. I'm writing a script for these two characters (There will be probably ten different video actors). little phrases will be thrown in. the video won't synch to their lips, it's nicely independent and somewhat more abstract. no time limit. nothing at either end of the hall except a hidden speaker (so it'll also get louder as you approach) and the video. it's actually pretty low tech."

Deena says, "Andrew, on the other hand, your project is on the computer"

Everdeen says, "What sort of diffs in the two initial video characters? to prime choice? or just a left/right bias?"

Deena says, "Want to explain it?"

Andrew Stern says, "Sure"

Andrew Stern says, "My collaborator (Michael Mateas) and I are halfway through a 3-year schedule to build an interactive drama called "Facade".

Deena says, "A.c., yet physical space presents different challenges than technology--how to interact with the user as the user moves through a space rather than mousing through a screen"

Andrew Stern says, "Facade is an interactive drama performed in a 3D world with animated computer characters. The player, from a first-person POV, can type the dialog they want to say at any time, and can move freely within the world, picking up and using objects."

A.C. Chapman says, "I agree with Andrew. one of the things I'm primarily concerned with in computer art is making it more, well, emotionally resonant. installation is just a nice way to do that. I've also, always been concerned with the incorporation of the audience into the piece. In like making things that are as much about the viewing/experiencing as othey are about the "Content"."

Margaret says, "Sounds like the museum at Hadrian's wall except I guess you have enlarged the choices"

A.C. Chapman says, "Hadrian's wall?"

Deena says, "Margaret, do you have a reference for Hadrian's wall?"

Margaret says, "It is not a website. It is a place--a museum along the wall that has the first extant handwriting written by a woman."

Margaret says, "You know, the characters start speaking to you as you enter a shop or temple or such like."

Deena says, "What conscious choices have you guys made to make this more emotionally resonant?"

Andrew Stern says, "The story is a domestic drama in which the relationship of a married couple, Grace and Trip, falls apart during an innocent evening visit by the user (the "Player"). It's a short one-act play, about 15 minutes long, but meant to be replayed several times."

Deena sounds out the names and takes a graceful trip.

Deena says, "Andrew, do you have the URL for facade?"

Andrew Stern says, "There is some info on, including a sliver of a screenshot and some papers."

Deena says, "Andrew, same question as A.C., how did you storyboard this and set up what would happen if the user did such and so?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Andrew, you and Michael have put a lot of thought in to the balance between character autonomy and the necessity of plot/story. can you talk a little about that?"

Deena says, "Yes, how do character and plot relate when the user can influence the plot--and presumably, the character's reactions?"

Andrew Stern says, "To me the question of "How does the reader interact" is the hardest question, and the most difficult to solve, both technically and artistically. "

Andrew Stern says, "It is also identifies where I think most or all computer-based interactive stories to date have fallen short."

Andrew Stern says, "I had a few things I wanted to say about the term "Drama" first, if could"

Deena says, "I would even venture to extend the observation to games--when in play things still seem stilted and preset--the plot is either stopped until I hit key x or it goes on and I am lost..."

Deena says, "Listens to Andrew's talk on the term "Drama" with open ears"

Andrew Stern says, "By "Drama", what people often mean is a story with a lot of conflict, with a dramatic arc -- an inciting incident, a building crisis rising to a climax, ending with a denouement."

Andrew Stern says, "But another important characteristic of drama (in the traditional definition of the word) is that drama is a story _performed_ for an audience, in real-time. So in this way drama distinguishes itself from other forms of story such as the written novel, or the typical hypertext for that matter, where the reader is the one doing the reading (turning the page, clicking on links). And therefore have some control of the pace that the story is being experienced. For our Facade project, we're adhering to the _performance_ characteristic of drama; the experience of playing Facade will be a lot like being on a theater stage with other actors during a continuously performed play."

Deena says, "So there is a more linear, time-based feel to drama as an experience rather than a static reading?"

Andrew Stern says, "Not the linear aspect of drama, but the real-time performance aspect. we want the plot to be non-linear."

Deena imagines herself in Edward Albee living room and shudders

Andrew Stern says, "How could a dramatic performance become interactive?"

Deena says, "So your real time elements come into play within scenes that then are part of a non-linear plot?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Would you think to use devices like data glasses to interact via long distance? "

Deena says, "Lucio, what are data glasses?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Sorry, Deena, my English is awful. I mean these devices attached to computer to see the ambient in a 3D way. I mean, suppose I could see it in Sao Paulo and not by going to LA."

Deena says, "A.h.. Lucio, now I understand. A.C., are you thinking of fixing up a computer-based presentation or will it have to be visited in person to be experienced?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Thanks, Deena"

A.C. Chapman says, "This will be an "in person" only thing."

Andrew Stern says, "One way is for an "Audience" member to become one of the characters in the performance, which is the approach we're taking with the Facade project. You, the "Player", are in effect on stage performing the drama with the computer controlled characters."

Andrew Stern says, "Another way, A.C.'s approach, which I think is more common in successful interactive narratives to date (e.g., hypertext narratives, and computer games with story elements like the Sims) is not to be a character in the story, but an outsider viewing the story from above, navigating through the "Space" of the story, and perhaps poking at the characters or the plot, making it change in some way."

Deena says, "Wait Andrew. Are you performing or are you writing as you decide how the plot will go by influencing the characters?"

Lingua Guest arrives.

Deena says, "Hi Lingua, we are talking about interactive drama with Andrew Stern, who has Facade, a computer based program and A.C. Chapman who has a real time and space installation"

Deena passes round and square and triangle Guinness to everyone.

Deena says, "A.C., why did you choose the outsider looking in view (or the on the shoulder narrator view?"

Andrew Stern says, "We felt that it would be too limiting to only give users a menu of dialog or action choices, or small set of hypertext links to choose from. Instead we're taking the (foolish?) risk of allowing open-ended text input (players can say anything they want at anytime), and allowing them to freely move anywhere within the "Set" (the apartment)."

A.C. Chapman says, "Andrew, I think two of the things about your project that seem so promising, are the parameters of duration (short), and story (somewhat rigorous). Then operating within the freedom of these constraints."

Andrew Stern says, "So you are performing in realtime (speaking by typing, and performing actions by moving around in a 3d world)"

Deena says, "Andrew, how is the typing recorded and analyzed?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Andrew, I think, in the very least, your piece promises to end up something like Time Code, where there were certain plot points which needed to be addressed and everything else improvised."

Andrew Stern says, "A.c., exactly, we tried to put some big constraints on ourselves, and work within them, relaxing other constraints"

Andrew Stern says, "Time code was a really interesting film, yeah it has similarity"

rixax says, "What 3-d programming environment are you working with?"

Andrew Stern says, "We are trying very hard to give the player as much _agency_ as possible. That is, what you say and do truly have meaningful effects on what happens in the story -- exactly how Grace and Trip confront each other about the problems in their marriage, and what state their relationship with you and each other is in at the end of the story."

A.C. Chapman says, "This sort of play within story constraints is talked about a lot in theater CCIT/analysis, but not so much, it seems in interactive (computer) field."

Andrew Stern says, "We have written our own 3d world from scratch, this is part of what is taking 3 years to do this project! ugh."

rixax says, "WOW"

Andrew Stern says, "It's all from scratch, but we're building upon the design and AI techniques from our past projects and inventing new ones. We're rewriting and extending a behavior programming language from the CAU Oz project, and adding several new layers of AI hierarchy on top of it. And to "Understand" the player's dialog, we're attempting to use some powerful but quick-n-dirty natural language understanding techniques."

Deena imagines the insane mountain of work to do that and applauds Andrew's courage

Andrew Stern says, "Well, I'm sharing the insanity with Michael Mateas, who works like a fiend"

Andrew Stern says, "Plus we will be getting others to help us soon."

Deena leads a round of applause for both Michael and Andrew

Andrew Stern says, "It's a bit premature for that :-)"

Deena says, "Why did you decide to program this from scratch?"

Andrew Stern says, "Because the approach we wanted to take required it."

A.C. Chapman joins applause, throws flowers and little candy treats at the feet of Andrew and Michael.

Andrew Stern says, "Although I worked on hi-tech projects in the past, I didn't own any of that code, it was for a company. Plus, it's always good to re-write fresh, it is just much cleaner. takes a long time though.""

Deena says, "A.c., Andrew, what experiences will users have in your world that they would not have in a pre-programmed, non interactive work?"

Deena checks to see if the code passes the white glove test

Lucio_Agra says, "What is the white glove test?"

Deena says, "Lucio, it is an English term, where you put on a white glove and run your hand along a surface to pick up dust..."

Lucio_Agra says, "Ok, :)"

Andrew Stern says, "One big appeal of interactivity to me, as a user/reader/player, is the joy of experimenting, to be able to try doing and saying things that you might not in real life, for various reasons"

A.C. Chapman says, "Well, in my case, I view it much like I view a scene in a story. It's a structured, archived interaction which the user experiences at any point in time. Hopefully, it inspires reflection and a certain sense of transcendence, as, I believe, any real work of art does."

Deena says, ""So you are giving people the freedom to try on new roles and new ideas?"

A.C. Chapman says, "I think that's for you, Andrew."

Deena says, "A.c., Adam, you both said that you designed to have people run the or experience the story more than once. Why do you want people to repeat the story?"

Andrew Stern says, "When something is interactive, I think you can be very immersed in it, perhaps a different kind of immersion than when reading a book or watching a play or film..."

Andrew Stern says, "Actually, we are giving people the freedom to be themselves, to express themselves."

Deena says, "Margaret, Ev, Lucio--have you ever experienced a game or iinteractive story? Was the immersion different than in reading? I do feel more immersed when I have to decide what to do--and Andrew, I at least do try things that I would *never* do in real life..."

Andrew Stern says, "You are not given a role to play in our story, you are invited to be yourself (or to make yourself up), using whatever name you what"

Deena says, "Yes, but don't readers take on a role anyway? At the very least, the role of observer, of someone other than themselves in real life..."

Everdeen says, "There certainly is more of a split in the locus of control, particularly with respect to the pacing and timberline, so that There is a difference in how to move into, to commit to the moment and the flow."

Andrew Stern says, "A caveat : Doing this really well is the Holy Grail of interactive story. With Facade we're hoping to make an evolutionary advance towards this. At best, playing Facade will still feel very limited I think, but I hope less limited than what's been built to date. "

Margaret says, "In a way--you know Monopoly is an interactive experience and you know the passions that arouses."

A.C. Chapman says, "I find well-executed interactivity enormously compelling. I also find that the most compelling instances of this, for me, are when I have little, or, as Camille would say, ambient interactivity. It allows for some relaxation and enjoyment of what's present without being self-conscious."

Loki93c arrives. Loki93c says, "Hi"

Deena says, "Hi Loki, we are talking about different ways immersion feels in an interactive drama or a pre-outlined story..."

Deena plays roles in monopoly, too, particularly with the car and the top hat...

rixax says, "In the recreation of the Metamorphosis at ATHEMOO performers have incorporated their lives and culture into the play. Those with a knowledge of Kafka often have more resources for improvisation in the specific environment."

A.C. Chapman says, "Monopoly is different though, as it's goal-oriented."

Deena surreptitiously checks her back to make sure she is not turning into a fly.

Lucio_Agra says, "I can say for myself, for instance I reviewed Myst these days, for example, and I can say There are lots of things that are more then a book could offer... But, in the other hand, it is a very book-based plot."

Andrew Stern says, "Right, I really enjoy non-goal-oriented immersive interactive experiences."

Deena says, "I wanted to talk a moment about goals--do readers/users come with certain goals in mind when they experience these interactive drama?"

Andrew Stern says, "That's a really good question."

Deena says, ""And are these goals different than those we have for non-interactive readings?"

Loki93c says, "Like random violence Andrew?"

Deena says, "Lucio--Myst still has a goal, though..."

Andrew Stern says, "I don't really know, yet, exactly what people will be expecting."

Deena hands round random violence umbrellas with lead linings.

Margaret says, "With role playing games, although there are no outside goals set I think most people set their own."

Andrew Stern says, "In fact they may have some expectations based on the how computer games have operated to date, that hopefully can be shedded."

Deena says, "A.C, Andrew, have you done any usability studies on these interactive dramas?"

Andrew Stern says, "Not yet"

Deena says, "Would you tell them outright, this is not a game,?"

Andrew Stern says, "Yes"

Andrew Stern says, "It's a story, in which you are one of the characters."

Deena says, "Would you have a preface that set up expectations, and if so, what expectations would you want the user to have?"

Deena says, "Andrew, what did the usability testing show?"

A.C. Chapman says, "One of my goals in experiencing interactive art, fiction, drama, etc. is pleasure (though it's really more of an expectation than a goal -- and that's very different than a goal)."

Andrew Stern says, "I haven't done any usability testing yet... we hope to eventually"

Andrew Stern says, "We're still building, we have a long way to go"

Andrew Stern says, "I totally agree with a.c. :-)"

rixax says, "Will this be accessible from the net?"

Deena hands out indulgences and permissions to have fun...

Margaret says, "Role playing, ostensibly not a game, as in racial awareness sessions, for instance. "

Deena says, "Margaret, racial awareness sessions? What are these?"

Margaret says, "Perhaps you don't have them nowadays. When you take on the role of some person perceives as having little power and the organisers play the racially prejudiced bureaucrats."

Andrew Stern says, "I think the goal-oriented-ness of interactive experiences is an expectation that will need to be shedded to enjoy interactive drama."

A.C. Chapman says, "I think what Andrew/Michael are doing requires an adaptation of existent aesthetic models of appreciation. And that's both promising and exciting."

Andrew Stern says, "It will be downloadable "

Deena says, "How do you propose shedding that? Are you building in components to the story that will help rid people of goal-obsessions?"

Lucio_Agra says, "I agree with A.C. Started to think about implications if the plot goes on in a way like Beckett or Ionesco, for example."

Deena says, "Lucio, what are these implications?"

Andrew Stern says, "That might be necessary, yes. We may have an introductory character set up the situation for you, and kind of help set your expectations... I don't know."

Deena says, "A.C, does the physical space and set up help to shed these expectations for people in your installation?"

A.C. Chapman says, "That's an interesting question. I think of the big problems with developing an audience for e-lit, art, etc. is that people expect to do certain things on a computer, and relax and enjoy is not usually one of them."

Andrew Stern says, "User testing may help us understand that one."

Loki93c says, "That sounds interesting. Like a mentor?"

Deena says, "Andrew, I think an introductory character would help in many ways to set the stage explain what is going on as well as to build expectations."

Andrew Stern says, "One of a.c.'s past web pieces was a great experience of relaxing and enjoying an interactive work... suture I believe it was."

Deena envisions a butler opening the door and saying, simply have fun.

Everdeen says, "Along the lines of the stage manager."

A.C. Chapman says, "Thanks."

Loki93c says, "Like the old in the round plays?"

Deena says, "Andrew, do you meana manager of the browser experience like the Impermanence Agent?"

Lucio_Agra says, "I mean if, for instance, the categories of non-linear drama created by Beckett and Ionesco would be applied to that kind of play..."

rixax looks at the clock and has to run, "Thanks for the inspiration gang!"

rixax gets up from his seat. The housekeeper arrives to remove rixax.

Andrew Stern says, "Yeah, or a Burl Ives story-host kinda thing."

Deena says, "When I played with the agent, I found that my expectations changed as I went along and discovered what it was doing..."

A.C. Chapman says, "I think of the Imp. Agent as passive and peripheral, but not necessarily relaxing or pleasurable."

Loki93c says, "I enjoy the things with a narration/guide/intro"

Andrew Stern says, "Eventually I would like to get into more experimental modes of story (e.g., Beckett or Ionesco) but first we're trying to understand how to build a traditional Aristotelian drama. It's old fashioned, we know."

A.C. Chapman says, "Burl Ives as Greek chorus."

Andrew Stern says, "Or maybe Mr. Rogers"

Margaret says, "Without the intro I don't think I could relax and enjoy"

Andrew Stern says, "Hmm good user data already!"

Lucio_Agra says, "Thanks Andrew, you answered my question."

Loki93c says, "I'm not overtly academic, so sometimes a guide is real useful"

Andrew Stern says, "I really liked the opening of laws von trier's Zentropa film, it totally set up my expectation for the story."

A.C. Chapman says, "A big part of art (especially on the computer) involves conceptualization. On the computer, it's especially important because of people's preconceived ideas of what computers are for."

Andrew Stern says, "Right"

Lucio_Agra says, "WOW. I am really with you, A.C., about Trier's films."

A.C. Chapman says, "I also think that any successful work of writing establishes its narrative rules from the get go, be it Beckett, Joyce or Wolfe."

runran arrives from trAce

Andrew Stern says, "A.C., you mentioned you may have other narrative projects underway as well?"

A.C. Chapman says, "Um, yes. many. perhaps too many."

Lucio_Agra says, "I was asking because I think there is a strong - and sometimes overwhelming - tradition of linear narrative in USA. Sometimes the RPG games seem to ignore that some changes occurred in the act of narrating a story."

Andrew Stern says, "I'm reminded of the Simpson's episode where some kid was playing the "My dinner with Andre" video game and pushed the joystick upwards towards "Tell me more."

Lucio_Agra says, ":)) great, Andrew!"

A.C. Chapman says, "There's the collection of rather traditional short stories for print. there's the aforementioned project with Noah Wardrip-Fruin. there's another interactive installation piece with Camille. I'm also interested in hooking up with a good NLP person to do a dynamic PR project."

Loki93c says, "Dynamic PR? what would that involve?"

Andrew Stern says, "I'm very frustrated by the conservativeness of the computer game industry, in the US and abroad, I wish it was more experimental."

A.C. Chapman says, "I love that "My dinner with Andre" game. I made it to the third course."

Deena says, "Andrew, why is the computer game industry conservative? Is it a mater of economics?"

Andrew Stern says, "Yeah, it's risk averse, it tends to go for spectacle (e.g., polygons and photorealism) instead of more interesting content, or deeper interactivity."

Lucio_Agra says, "Seems it is Deena. But it reveals also ignorance about the public. I have students that tried to crack Doom to make an art-interactive game."

Deena thinks about flash and grins

Loki93c says, "Nomad soul has some good off centre story content."

Andrew Stern says, "But making things more deeply interactive is hard, so I can understand why progress has been slow."

Deena says, "What is the audience for deeper interactivity and story content?"

Andrew Stern says, "Everybody. Everybody loves stories, so theoretically an interactive story will appeal to lots and lots of people."

A.C. Chapman says, "Dynamic pr would involve user input, say they typed in the opening passage of Moby Dick, then a particular "Spin" would be applied (say, damage control) the end result would be a quicktime movie of a PR person at a podium reciting the Damage Control version of "Call me Ishmael"."

Loki93c says, "You could roam about and explore"

Deena says, "What are the approaches to making things interactive... I guess you could anticipate every possible action, or make a subset of actions..."

Deena says, "Are people looking for stories to interactive with or are they looking for cool graphics?"

Loki93c says, "Nice one A.C."

Lucio_Agra says, "I think both, Deena."

Loki93c says, "I'd like to see an RPG that was totally randomised by the software"

Lucio_Agra says, "As for the commercial constraints, see the case of Voyager that tried some experiments in this field."

A.C. Chapman says, "Though, Voyager was doing those experiments in a very unstable and highly novel market."

Andrew Stern says, "Right, there have been some experimental commercial narratives, and of course lots of interesting hypertext work."

Andrew Stern says, "On a previous chat, I was pushing the hope that e-books will become the way to bring interactive ht fiction to the masses! :-)"

Deena says, "Yes, Andrew, but unfortunately ebooks are pushing ASCII linear action, not interaction..."

Loki93c says, "I have 2 go, good night all"

Deena says, "Thanks for coming Loki."

Lucio_Agra says, "Masses still do not have money to buy computers. They receive the linear plots from TV and movies. I agree with you in the aspect that it is a long way ahead."

Deena says, "Right, Voyager is gone now..."

Andrew Stern says, "But besides the PC as a medium, there's so much room to explore in real space installation, as A.C. is working on"

A.C. Chapman says, "I think computer, as object, poses certain psychological barriers tin regards to cultivating an audience which may not be overcome. however, as new objects are created, there's more hope of finding that audience."

Andrew Stern says, "Hmm, that's interesting."

Deena says, "So there is a lot to be said for conservative approaches, if your livelihood depends on this.."

Lucio_Agra says, "Definitely, Deena"

Andrew Stern says, "Console game system (e.g., playstation) are essentially pc's in the living room. "

Andrew Stern says, "If need be, one can port a work to that platform, although it may be tricky"

Lucio_Agra says, "And Andrew, sometimes it is more interactive than we get in computers"

Deena says, "A.C., I wonder about that psychological barrier. I don't think that is the real issue...but it raises marketing concerns..."

Lucio_Agra says, "In fact, there was an article at Wired speculating about that I do not remember when."

A.C. Chapman says, "I was just at this show in New York of new Japanese art (at ps1) and there were some games there, but no one doing anything really interesting with them. it made me sad. Eric Zimmerman at game lab continues to do meaningful game exploration."

Andrew Stern says, "Perhaps sophisticated e-books (that allow interaction, like palm pilots) and console games in the living are the way to overcome the psychological barrier of the computer as an impersonal medium...?"

Andrew Stern says, "(consoles in the living room)"

Deena says, "Andrew, why do you see computers as more impersonal than e-books or palm pilots or any other tech device--or pen and paper, for that matter?"

Andrew Stern says, "Well like A.C. was suggesting, perhaps people feel intimidated by them?"

Andrew Stern says, "Maybe that'll change over time as a new generation of people grow up with computers."

A.C. Chapman says, "I think people still approach computers expecting to do work, research, or play games. -- plus, when I read, I like to slouch into a chair. I think the hand held devices make this form of interacting with a text much more accessible."

Lucio_Agra says, "Computers are a sort of mixed devices. Sometimes it impose some barriers, yes. The well succeeded campaigns to sell computers in Brazil showed it as a closed pack in order to overcome people' difficulties"

Deena says, "Lucio, so the commercial sold the computer in the box, unset up as a way to overcome people's fears?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Yes, Deena, it was a marketing strategy. For instance, AOL sells the idea it is easy to get to the net. Well, their net...;)"

Deena says, "I think the intimidation factor is mostly worn off..."

Andrew Stern says, "I can't wait for a wireless web browser, where I can sit anywhere comfortable and browse / read Deena's latest ht work."

Everdeen says, "The intimidation factor has worn off...among those for whom it has worn off."

A.C. Chapman says, "Here here."

Lucio_Agra says, "Say it again, Andrew"

Deena hands round innocuous smiley faces and harmless masks for computers.

A.C. Chapman says, "I'd love to get my hands on that digital paper stuff developed at MIT. a.h the possibilities."Deena says, "Yes. digital paper is incredible."

Andrew Stern says, "Ooh yeah digital paper, that could be great."

Andrew Stern says, "My parents (who actually are now using email) still would never dream of having a meaningful interactive narrative experience on a computer."

runran says, "Just a comment, jumping in here, but I find that people don't spend enough time with Web work, they expect content to be delivered quickly, instead of viewing a large work as if it were like going to an exhibition or a movie."

Deena says, "Hmmm... a year ago, my father would have been the same way. He had a massive heart problem, and now can only communicate online. now he sees the computer as a wonderful narrative tool and reads on it, plays games... He plays bridge with other humans--it is now his only look on the world..."

Andrew Stern says, "That's great"

A.C. Chapman says, "My mom still uses MS word as though it were a typewriter. not cutting and pasting or anything."

Deena says, "Runran, exactly. it is expectations. we spend so little time on a web page we can't appreciate the depth that is in the Impermanence agent or any of the other elit works..."

Everdeen says, "Runran I wonder if the proportion differs greatly from people who move through museum say in five minutes and say I did the Louvre...."

Deena thinks about the millions of AOL users running through the Louvre and shudders

runran says, "And I don't know if there is much sense to the notion of 'educating' them"

Lucio_Agra says, "I agree with you runran."

Deena says, "We could go on all night, but should probably wrap up...any last questions on interactive drama, games, reading, expectations, computer fears?"

Deena hands out stopwatches for the Louvre-50 yard dash.

Andrew Stern says, "A.C. do you have a website where we can keep track of your projects?"

Deena re-winds her watch to slow down for the e-lit.

Deena says, "Andrew, what is your URL as well?"

A.C. Chapman says, "My art site is"

Margaret says, "You make it sound as if the aged are the only ones who skim the net"

Deena says, "Oh no, I think it is a CORPORATE problem. I was just in a flash class where they said expect people to spend less than 10 seconds on a page."

runran says, "No Marg, my 12 year old step son surfs at light speed."

A.C. Chapman says, "I'm thinking about crafting a story and possibly an interactive space totally devoid of characters -- story within object, along the lines of Antiques road show. -- I want to know what Andrew thinks about this idea."

Andrew Stern says, "Sounds fascinating..."

Lucio_Agra says, "Margaret, check it at Third Age Media inc."

Deena says, "Ac. wouldn't the objects become anthropomorphized characters?"

Everdeen says, "Margaret, I think it's the opposite....the "Aged" tend to be willing to go slowly and absorb."

Deena says, "Lucio, do you have that URL?"

Everdeen says, "At least the ones I'm working with"

Andrew Stern says, "My url is"

A.C. Chapman says, "Deena, no. each object would contain a history though."

Deena says, "So the history would tell the story of characters who handled, made objects?"

Lucio_Agra says, "Deena, I don't know. But try in a search by the name. Sorry.;)"

Deena says, "I'll search it for the log. The archive of this chat should be up on the eliterature site next week."

A.C. Chapman says, "I suppose, yes. The trick is how to make it rich -- involving some sort of arch."

runran says, "I tutor seniors in their homes, word processing and internet, and first I have to teach them about the mouse, which is sometimes very hard for them because of arthritis."

Deena says, "Runran, try touchpads, etc..."

runran says, "My students have what they have, often computers given to them by their children"

Andrew Stern says, "A really interesting work I saw at a symposium was Brandon Rickman's "Dr. K", people should check that out"

A.C. Chapman says, "Dr. K? tell us more."

Andrew Stern says, "It wasn't exactly character-less, but..."

Deena says, "A.C. what kind of arch? connections with characters"

Everdeen says, "Thanks Deena, Andrew, ac"

A.C. Chapman says, "Thank you."

Andrew Stern says, "It was a story that you fabricated over time. It's hard to explain"

Deena leads a cheer for A.C.'s installations and many works

Andrew Stern says, "Any way, thanks Deena!"

Deena Leads a cheer for Andrew's babyz and catz and many interactive drama works

runran says, "Sorry for being so late, I think I missed much of interest, and will be looking forward to reading the log"

Andrew Stern says, "Thanks!"

Deena says, "Thanks you guys!"

A.C. Chapman says, "Yes! thank you to Deena for her tireless efforts."

Lucio_Agra says, "Cheers and applause for Andrew and A.C."

A.C. Chapman bows

Margaret says, "Thanks Deena for an interesting evening"

Everdeen claps and throws flowers

Deena says, "Aug 5 we will talk with Katherine Hayles and the NEH seminar and then Aug 19 we will have an international check on the state of elit"

Deena smells the flowers and smiles

runran catches a flower in his teeth

Deena passes round parting glasses of Guinness and genius

Lucio_Agra says, "See you in Aug 19 Thank you Deena."

Andrew Stern pulls himself offstage with a big wooden hook

Deena says, "Thanks all. you can stay later, but I need to get some lunch :)"

Deena has disconnected.

Everdeen says, "Bon appetit Deena"

Andrew Stern says, "Bye all, food sounds good to me too"

runran swallows flower

A.C. Chapman says, "Ciao. thank you Andrew.""

Everdeen says, "Now THAT's hungry runran"

Andrew Stern says, "Have fun in LA!"

Andrew Stern has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove Andrew Stern.

A.C. Chapman has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove A.C. Chapman.

Lucio_Agra see it is already night through the window

The housekeeper arrives to remove Lucio_Agra.

The housekeeper arrives to cart Deena off to bed.

The housekeeper arrives to remove runran.

Everdeen says, "Busy housekeeper"

Margaret says, "Bye Everyone"

runran says, "Goodbye all"

runran has disconnected.

-- End log: Tuesday, July 17, 2001 8:36:14 am CDT


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