From Abstraction to Reality: Integrating Drama Management into a Playable Game Experience

Anne Sullivan, Sherol Chen, Michael Mateas

Often, video game designers must choose between creating a restrictive, linear experience and designing an open world with many different story lines that fail to form a tightly crafted narra- tive arc. A drama manager (DM) can provide a solution to this dilemma. A DM monitors an interactive experience, such as a computer game, and intervenes to shape the global experience so that it satisfies the author's expressive goals without decreasing a player's interactive agency. Previous work with declarative op- timization-based drama management (DODM) has focused on simulated player studies in abstract game worlds. In this paper, we present the integration of DODM into a real-time adventure- style dungeon game called EMPath. We describe the game world as well as the modifications that had to be made to the DM as the result of integrating with a concrete, playable experience. These changes include the development of new story evaluation fea- tures, improving drama management move refiners and creating a new player model. We also describe the results of a play test comparing player experiences with the drama manager on and off.

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