Computer Games and Immersive Technologies Research Group

Overview

The Computer Games and Immersive Technologies Group is a multi-disciplinary research group whose members have a diverse range of backgrounds spanning Computer Science, Games Programming, Social Sciences, Psychology and Art. Consequently, the group approaches computer games and immersive technologies from a variety of different perspectives including Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Agents, Virtual Environments, Multimodal Interfaces, Virtual and Augmented Reality, User Modelling, Player Experience and Game Design.

Our application areas are mostly in Entertainment Computing, with some work in Serious Games and Health Informatics. We are best known for our work in Interactive Storytelling and Automated Planning (the main AI technique supporting this work), although recently we have also explored Qualitative Reasoning, Natural Language Processing and Complex Systems Simulation.

Research Activities and Current Projects

Recent research within the group includes:

  • Automated Planning Domain Model Acquisition from natural language traces.
  • Immersive Interactive Storytelling: One of the challenges of storytelling in VR is to ensure that viewers keep "on track" with the story when they are free to move around and explore an environment. This research aims to develop intelligent story control mechanisms for such immersive settings.
  • Agent-based modelling of Virtual Urban Environments for Population Health Applications
  • Crowd Simulation for Interactive Entertainment. Controlling crowds of virtual characters in computer games is paramount to creating believable and compelling user experiences. This research aims to devise new techniques to support the real-time staging and visualisation of crowds and background characters in virtual narratives.
  • Automated Planning for Interactive Media. This domain represents an emerging area of application for planning technology (traditionally applied in application domains such as control of autonomous robots). This research aims to automate parts of the domain authoring process for such systems via learning from stories and plot synopses.
  • Interactive Storytelling for Pervasive Entertainment. In the context of the horror video game genre, this research aims to devise intelligent techniques to control game response to pervasive input from users, such as emotions
  • Procedural Generation of Diverse 3D Alien Creatures: using modern computation geometry, sketch-based modelling and genetic algorithms, this project aims to develop techniques to generate plausible and diverse alien creatures for computer games and applications.
  • Immersive Experiences: Performance and Place. The aim is to develop innovative experiences that bring the agency of computer games to live theatre performance and vice-versa.

We have published extensively in relevant conferences including the Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS) Conference, the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), ACM Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI), ACM Virtual Reality Software Technology (VRST), ACM Multimedia, and the ACM Symposium on Document Engineering.

We have developed many fully-implemented prototypes which have been publicly demonstrated at the above conferences. We have been awarded the Best Demonstration Prize at AAMAS 2010, the second prize at the EuroITV 2011 grand challenge, and the Best Application Prize at ICAPS 2013.

Previous Projects

  • NLOCM (Numeric Domain Model Acquisition from Action Traces) - Many industrial and commercial applications of planning technology have to reason about numbers (e.g. an autonomous robot reasoning about its position in space, power levels and storage capacities). We seek to automate the construction of the internal representation that the robot has of its environment ie its model of the world. | http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/N017447/1
  • ALTERNE - constructing an Alternative Reality platform to support the development of digital, interactive and participatory artistic activities.
  • BARDS - Addressing one specific AI challenge, which is to reconcile the formalisation of character behaviour with the specific demands of computer games in terms of i) integration with the gameplay and the narrative aspects of the game and ii) authoring and re-usability of behaviours.
  • CALLAS - The FP6 Integrated Project CALLAS aims to design and develop a Framework based on a plug-in multimodal architecture, invariant to configuration of Multimodal Components, to interpret and process emotional aspects in real-time for easy and fast development of applications for Art and Entertainment, paying attention to the value of users, who are no longer passive spectators of artistic performances, but stimulating sources of human communication.
  • COMPANIONS - changing the way we think about the relationships of people to computers and the Internet by developing a virtual conversational "Companion".
  • IRIS - Integrating Research in Interactive Storytelling. Creating a virtual centre of excellence that will be able to achieve breakthroughs in the understanding of Interactive Storytelling and the development of corresponding technologies.
  • MUSE - Machine Understanding for interactive Storytelling - introducing a new way of exploring and understanding information by "bringing text to life" through 3D interactive storytelling.

Staff Members

  • Yingke Chen
  • Julien Cordry
  • Cat Dixon
  • Paul Elsam
  • The Anh Han
  • Ismail Kazmi
  • Julie Porteous
  • Satish Shewhorak
  • Jing Tang
  • Casto Vocal
  • Ian Wood
  • Yifeng Zeng

PhD Students

  • Thomas Hayton
  • Jamie Matthews
  • Ope Ladeinde

Selected Publications

2019

  • Ronan Paterson. “The Percy in his Border Heartland” book chapter, “Shakespeare in The North and Scotland”, Edinburgh University Press,2019

2017

  • Julie Porteous, Fred Charles, Cameron Smith, Marc Cavazza, Jolien Mouw, Paul van den Broek. 2017. Using Virtual Narratives to Explore Children's Story Understanding In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Jamie Matthews, Fred Charles, Julie Porteous, Alexandra Mendes. 2017. MISER: Mise-En-Scene Region Support for Staging Narrative Actions in Interactive Storytelling In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Alan Lindsay, Jonathon Read, João F. Ferreira, Thomas Hayton, Julie Porteous, Peter Gregory. 2017. Framer: Planning Models from Natural Language Action Descriptions In Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), Pittsburg, USA, June 18-23, 2017.
  • Eric Silverman, Fred Charles, Julie Porteous, Ian Wood, Louisa Ells. 2017. Agent-Based Virtual Urban Environments for Population Health Applications In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Agent-based modelling of urban systems (ABMUS 2017).
  • Malcolm McNeely, Julie Porteous, João F. Ferreira, Alan Lindsay. 2017. Towards a Constraints Approach to Generating Personalised Horror Film Variants in Proceedings of the Workshop on Constraint Satisfaction Techniques for Planning and Scheduling Problems (COPLAS). The 27th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), Pittsburgh, USA, June 18-23, 2017.
  • Thomas Hayton, Julie Porteous, João F. Ferreira, Alan Lindsay, Jonathon Read. 2017. StoryFramer: From Input Stories to Output Planning Models in Proceedings of the Workshop on Knowledge Engineering for Planning and Scheduling (KEPS). The 27th International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), Pittsburgh, USA, June 18-23, 2017.
  • Fabrizio Guerrini, Nicola Adami, Sergio Benini, Alberto Piacenzo, Julie Porteous, Marc Cavazza, Riccardo Leonardi. 2017. Interactive Film Combination ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications, and Applications (TOMM) Volume 13 Issue 4, September 2017.

2016

  • Julie Porteous. 2016. Planning Technologies for Interactive Storytelling Chapter in Handbook of Digital Games and Entertainment Technologies, (Editors - Ryohei Nakatsu, Matthias Rauterberg and Paolo Ciancarini), Springer Singapore.
  • Julie Porteous, Fred Charles, Marc Cavazza. 2016. Plan-based Narrative Generation with Coordinated Subplots. In Proceedings of the 22nd European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2016), The Hague, The Netherlands
  • Thomas Hayton, Peter Gregory, Alan Lindsay, Julie Porteous. 2016. Best-Fit Action-Cost Domain Model Acquisition and its Application to Authorship in Interactive Narrative In Proceedings of the 12th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE-16), Burlingame, California.
  • Eric Silverman, N Geard, Ian Wood. 2016. Job Insecurity in Academic Research Employment: An Agent-Based Model Alife XV: The 15th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems.
  • Julie Porteous. 2016. Planning Technologies for Interactive Storytelling Chapter in Handbook of Digital Games and Entertainment Technologies, (Editors - Ryohei Nakatsu, Matthias Rauterberg and Paolo Ciancarini), Springer Singapore.

2015

  • Julie Porteous, Alan Lindsay, Jonathon Read, Mark Truran, Marc Cavazza. 2015. Automated Extension of Narrative Planning Domains with Antonymic Operators In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), Istanbul, Turkey, May 2015.
  • Jonathan Teutenberg, Julie Porteous. 2015. Incorporating Global and Local Knowledge in Intentional Narrative Planning In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS), Istanbul, Turkey, May 2015.
  • Alan Lindsay, Fred Charles, Jonathon Read, Julie Porteous, Marc Cavazza, Gersende Georg. 2015. Generation of Non-Compliant Behaviour in Virtual Medical Narratives. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA 2015), Delft, The Netherlands, August 26-28, 2015, pp. 216-228.
  • Marc Cavazza, Fred Charles, Stephen Gilroy, Julie Porteous, Gabor Aranyi, Julien Cordry, Gal Raz, Nimrod Jakob Keynan, Avihay Cohen, Gilan Jackont, Yael Jacob, Eyal Soreq, Ilana Klovatch, Talma Hendler. 2015. Virtual Agents in Brain-Computer Interfaces. The International Journal of Virtual Reality, 2015, 15(01), pp. 48-60.