State of the grad student

[General] (08.25.09, 8:26 pm)

Classes started last week. So far, it’s looking to be a good semester.

I am taking a computer science course, Storytelling in Virtual Worlds, which has been fun and looks to be promising. I don’t exactly agree with the stated goal of the course, which is to develop a story generation system. Instead I have been more interested in story world simulations. However, there is a lot to be learned by looking at generation, and it’s an exposure to a lot of AI literature. Furthermore, it’s exposure to how computer scientists think about narrative theory. This is valuable, since a lot of AI projects seem ill suited toward the types of stories that I am thinking of adapting. The class has a lot of readings, and I am going to be posting notes for them up here very soon.

Quals are over, miraculously so. Maybe I’ll be able to post the actual fruit of that endeavor at some point. At the moment I am stepping back, getting a good look at what it is that I have done, what it is that I can do, and trying to identify what it’s likely that I’ll be able to accomplish. It’s been my hope for some time to produce some sort of artifact, a prototype or proof-of-concept, but it’s looking at the moment like that may not come to fruition. This is very irritating, but it can be difficult to allocate time toward the project. Right now I am engaged in two primary activities. The first is a review of games and AI projects, to look at how mechanics of social worlds (and story worlds) have been expressed, and then come up with a few ideas as to how this could be synthesized into something cohesive. The second endeavor is coming up with a solid outline and view of the entire dissertation project. This is especially difficult, since what I want to do touches on so much: games, AI, narrative, adaptation, and sociology. I may need to break it down, but I really hope to make something solid out of the works. Ian has suggested to me an idea of writing a single 500 word document that captures the entire thing. It’s a great idea, I definitely will do it, but it’s going to be hard. I’ve looked at a few “conceptual mapping” programs to try to untangle the mess of ideas in my head, and have come up with a VUE chart mapping some of these ideas to readings and other such stuff. It may not be going anywhere, but it’s good for thinking things out.

In other projects, InTEL has undergone a huge UI overhaul this summer. It’s going to be deployed to a hundred students or so this semester. We’re smoothing out UI and other sorts of issues, and I think it will turn out OK. Mermaids is going to have a huge team this semester, with lots of programmers, so I am hoping it is going to move smoothly of its own accord. I am going to try to get it working with Multiverse 1.5, and hopefully that will prove to not be disastrous. I have a secret independent project that I have been working on, which, at the moment, doesn’t do anything at all, but it might at some point in the future be worth talking about. Independent projects are very strange. They are hard to focus on, but can be useful to keep perspective in times of stress.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to indulge my immature side and play Overlord. Moo hoo ha ha ha.


  1. So you liked VUE?

    Comment by Ben Medler — August 26, 2009 @ 9:43 am

  2. Well… I’ve never really liked concept mapping software, but VUE is definitely pretty decent. What I need to do is come up with a strategy for putting the concepts down. Namely, have some sort of standard for core ideas, points, sources, and so forth, and also have some sort of code for linking the concepts together. What does a link mean?

    Not doing that turns everything to a jumbled mess, which is what I’ve got right now…

    Comment by ashmore — August 26, 2009 @ 10:22 am

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