Interacting with virtual characters in interactive storytelling

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Authors: Cavazza, M., Charles, F. and Mead, S.J.

Journal: Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents

Issue: 2

Pages: 318-325

In recent years, several paradigms have emerged for interactive storytelling. In character-based storytelling, plot generation is based on the behaviour of autonomous characters. In this paper, we describe user interaction in a fully-implemented prototype of an interactive storytelling system. We describe the planning techniques used to control autonomous characters, which derive from HTN planning. The hierarchical task network representing a characters' potential behaviour constitute a target for user intervention, both in terms of narrative goals and in terms of physical actions carried out on stage. We introduce two different mechanisms for user interaction: direct physical interaction with virtual objects and interaction with synthetic characters through speech understanding. Physical intervention exists for the user in on-stage interaction through an invisible avatar: this enables him to remove or displace objects of narrative significance that are resources for character's actions, thus causing these actions to fail. Through linguistic intervention, the user can influence the autonomous characters in various ways, by providing them with information that will solve some of their narrative goals, instructing them to take direct action, or giving advice on the most appropriate behaviour. We illustrate these functionalities with examples of system-generated behaviour and conclude with a discussion of scalability issues.

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