Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

The production of a toolkit for experts to configure FearNot

It had been foreseen in the project proposal that the other generic component of the VLE would be an authoring tool supporting the generation of both graphical and AI-based content for the Framework. Just as the Framework had to encompass both graphical and AI elements, so the authoring tool was required to handle graphical virtual worlds, 3D graphical character bodies and animations, as well as the personality traits and behaviour repertoire required internally to drive the graphical elements. It had been decided early in the project that it was unrealistic to aim this tool at teachers and students: inspection of the 2D commercial tool Kar2ouche brought home just how much development effort would be involved in doing this. The authoring system was therefore always intended for the use of experts such as project team members.

The overall design of this system used XML output as a way of configuring library content: it would have been futile to try to produce a 3D graphics tool given that existing tools such as 3ds Max are already so widely used. The personality configuration element of the tool was clearly tied to the agent architecture, and for this reason, after the production of the first prototype-authoring tool early in 2003; work was suspended until the finalisation of the agent architecture. However, though the gross structure of this architecture was produced according to the project plan, the dependence of emergent narrative on the detailed structure of the agent architecture meant that smaller changes carried on right up until the production of emergent FearNot! at the end of the project. This was a result of the bottom-up testing strategy that is inevitable if emergence is being used as the main mechanism, and it created problems in finalising the output of the authoring tool.

The second prototype of the authoring tool used a much more robust structure in which the library content was held in an SQL database, and the data storage, manipulation and display layers were clearly separated. The project has through this achieved a platform which can be further developed and which would serve as the basis for a more widely usable tool in a future project.

Reported by

Heriot-Watt University
EH14 4AS Edinburgh
United Kingdom
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