ACM - Computers in Entertainment

A word from the editor

By Newton Lee
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 3, No. 1]

DOI: 10.1145/1057270.1057431

Welcome to the third volume and first issue of 2005 for the ACM Computers in Entertainment online magazine!

In this issue we publish seven interesting papers on entertainment technologies, including animation, games, interactive TV, storytelling, and artificial intelligence. The article on inverse kinematics was voted the best paper and presentation at the Second International Game Design and Technology Workshop, held last September at Liverpools John Moores University.

To begin, the Interviews column features video interviews with three of our distinguished advisory board members: Bill Kinder, Elisabeth Freeman, and Eric Freeman. Bill Kinder, Director of Editorial and Postproduction at the Pixar Animation Studios, talks about the new technology for the Pixar movies "The Incredibles (2004)" and "Cars (2006)", digital cinema, home theater, and animation. Elisabeth and Eric Freeman, authors and computer scientists, discuss digital rights management, movies on demand, disruptive technology, and their new book, Head First Design Patterns (O'Reilly, 2004).

In the Animation section, Michael Meredith and Steve Maddock (University of Sheffield) present a technique that enhances an inverse kinematics solver such that when the results are applied to a computer character, they can generate a level of individualization tailored to both the character and the environment, e.g. a walking motion can become "stiffer" or can be turned into a limping motion. The article is accompanied by four exciting videos that demonstrate the authors techniques. Bill Tomlinson (University of California, Irvine) describes the differences between linear animation and interactive animation in several areas of character design: character intelligence, emotional expressiveness, navigation, transitions among animations, and multi-character interaction.

In the Games section, Jesse Schell (Carnegie Mellon University) explores the common principles that underlie both story- and game-based entertainment. He argues that with the advent of computer games, story and gameplay, two age-old enterprises with very different sets of rules, are showing a similar phenomenon to the "wave-particle" duality in the physical world. Bride Mallon and Brian Webb (Queens University of Belfast) report results from a series of empirical studies exploring narrative dimensions of adventure and role-play in computer-game design. A phenomenological, reader-response methodology was used in their studies to identify narrative considerations appropriate to the game-players experiences.

In the Interactive Television section, Lydia Loizides (Paphion Inc. & National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) dispels the mistruths and misconceptions in the media concerning interactive TV. She shows some examples of advancement that iTV has made over the past decade, and ponders how quickly the industry can embrace and deploy interactive applications that will ultimately make watching television a more relevant and satisfying experience for the viewer.

In the Book Reviews column, Georgios N. Yannakakis (University of Southern Denmark) reviews the book AI Game Development: Synthetic Creatures with Learning and Reactive Behaviors by Alex J. Champandard (New Riders, 2004). The book attempts to bridge the current gap between artificial intelligence research in academia and computer game development in industry. The language-independent open-source project FEAR (Flexible Embodied Animat aRchitecture is used extensively in the book for demos and examples. Edgar A. Maldonado and Joseph A. Zupko (The Pennsylvania State University) review the book Interactive Storytelling: Techniques for 21st Century Fiction by Andrew S. Glassner (A K Peters, 2004). The book analyzes games and storytelling, and describes the principal problems that developers face in their attempts to merge these two activities into an interactive form of entertainment. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the book and Jesse Schells paper "Understanding Entertainment: Story and Gameplay Are One" published in this issue.

Last but not least, we join the world in expressing our deep sorrows and sympathy for the earthquake and tsunami victims in many parts of Asia and east Africa. We support the United Nations Childrens Fund, the American Red Cross, and other disaster relief agencies. The meaning of life for human beings is to serve one another for the survival of humanity and the advancement of civilization.

Thank you for your continuing support. Please enjoy this exciting issue of the magazine.


Newton Lee


ACM Computers in Entertainment

Los Angeles— January 2005

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