Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
The process of building Façade, a first-person, real-time, one-act interactive drama, has involved three major research efforts: designing ways to deconstruct a dramatic narrative into a hierarchy of story and behavior pieces; engineering an AI system that responds to and integrates the player’s moment-by-moment interactions to reconstruct a real-time dramatic performance from those pieces; and understanding how to write an engaging, compelling story within this new organizational framework. This paper provides an overview of the process of bringing our interactive drama to life as a coherent, engaging, high agency experience, including the design and programming of thousands of joint dialog behaviors in the reactive planning language ABL, and their higher level organization into a collection of story beats sequenced by a drama manager. The process of iteratively developing the architecture, its languages, authorial idioms, and varieties of story content structures are described. These content structures are designed to intermix to offer players a high degree of responsiveness and narrative agency. We conclude with design and implementation lessons learned and future directions for creating more generative architectures.