Category: Research

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eBee: An Electronics Quilting Bee

eBee is an art and research project that merges quilting, game design, and e-textiles. It investigates the opportunity for new kinds of playable and educational experiences to emerge from non-traditional technologies, and questions the role of gender in craft, game, and technology communities. In eBee, players either compete or collaborate to build circuits on a quilted game board using quilt patches that are augmented with channels of conductive fabric. eBee won the Boston Festival of Indie Games Most Innovative Tabletop Game award in 2016, and has been shown at venues including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Indie Arcade, DiGRA Blank Arcade,...

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History of Procedural Content Generation

What is the role of procedural content generation in game design? How has this role changed over the last five decades of digital game development? How has procedural content generation manifested in non-digital games throughout history? This ongoing project examines the history of procedural content generation and generative design in games.

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Viv: AI for Creative Inspiration

Viv is an AI artist that creates small, 3D-printable vases that have been inspired by an image. As a computational creativity research project, it investigates how to believably model creative inspiration across media: just as a human sculptor may be inspired by a photograph of a scene, or a human painter may be inspired by a piece of music, how can an AI capture the aesthetic characteristics and qualities from one creative domain and transfer them to new artifacts in a different domain? The Viv project also aims to examine how humans interact with an AI artist.

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Hoopla: Generative Embroidery

Hoopla is a system that procedurally generates embroidery designs in the style of traditional cross-stitch samplers. It pulls quotes from the internet, generates motifs and images to surround those quotes, and attempts to mimic the layout of a traditional sampler. The project is currently in a prototype phase, with plans to add more functionality and have the system generate designs that can be both created by humans and machine-stitched on an embroidery machine.

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GrACE: Computer Science Education through Procedural Content Generation

GrACE is an educational puzzle game that aims to teach computational thinking. The puzzles are procedurally generated, allowing share strategies for solving the puzzles with other players without giving each other the answer, as well as to experiment with different puzzles at a similar difficulty level. The puzzles and mechanics are designed around the classical computer science problem of finding the minimum spanning tree of a graph. This project is part of the larger Gram’s House project, a collaboration between Northeastern University, Carleton University, Kean College, and Arizona State University. GrACE is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Mad Science

Mad Science is a game and research platform in which players can create their own scientific experiments in the form of social scenarios. This is a work-in-progress project with a large interdisciplinary team of faculty and students at Northeastern University. An important offshoot of the Mad Science project is a set of custom scenarios designed to help self-represented parties represent themselves in civil court, in partnership with Connecticut Statewide Legal Services and funded by the Legal Services Corporation.

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Expressive Range: Evaluating and Comparing Generative Systems

With the growth in popularity of procedural content generation, it is important for us to be able to measure not only the quantity of a generator’s output but also it’s quality. It is easy to claim that a generator produces thousands of unique artifacts; it is harder to evaluate how similar or different these artifacts from each other. This ongoing research project looks at methods for evaluating and comparing content generators in terms of qualities of their outputs: the range of content that can be made, how controllable that range is, and how that range compares to that of other...

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Endless Web: PCG-Based Game Design

Endless Web is a game that explores how procedural content generation can enable entirely new kinds of games. It is a PCG-based game: one in which the generator is so closely tied to both the mechanics and aesthetics of the game that player strategies revolve around it. The game was also created to help us understand Launchpad’s expressive capabilities and better understand its strengths and weaknesses  for use in a complete, polished game. This project studies how the PCG system affords certain mechanics and aesthetics in the game, and how the game imposes additional requirements on the PCG system. There...

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Tanagra: Mixed-Initiative Level Design for 2D Platformers

Tanagra is a prototype mixed-initiative design tool for 2D platformer level design, in which a human and computer work together to produce a level. The human designer can place constraints on a continuously running level generator, in the form of exact geometry placement and manipulation of the level’s pacing. The computer can fill in the rest of the level with geometry that guarantees playability, alter existing geometry to meet the new cosntraints, or inform the designer that there is no level that meets their requirements. This work was supervised by Jim Whitehead and Michael Mateas, as part of my PhD...

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Launchpad: Rhythm-Based Level Generation for 2D Platformers

Launchpad uses a grammar-based method for automatically generating levels for Mario-style platformers based on rhythms that the player feels with his hands. A designer has some input to the generator in the form of parameters that specify the general path that the level should follow, and the frequency at which different level components should occur.

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Enhancing Introductory Programming with Game Technology

The goal of this project was to make computer science more engaging for introductory programming students through the use of computer game technology. We deployed a set of assignments based on a Virtual Pets game, where the students could exercise their creativity by programming different scenes and pet behaviors.