Prom Week Overview from Ben Samuel on Vimeo.
Prom Week is a game from the Expressive Intelligence Studio at University of California, Santa Cruz. In a nutshell, Prom Week is a research game in the field of Artificial Intelligence aimed at accurately simulating and manipulating a social state.
The player interacts with Prom Week in a control scheme similar to that of The Sims, however the results of the clicks have a different impact on the game. Each of the characters in Prom Week has a rich set of memories and attitudes toward other characters, as well as their own traits and personalities. The player goes through the game manipulating the social state to achieve various goals, which range from simple things like getting Monica to go out with Doug, to complex social maneuvers such as making them break up with each other through manipulating their friends.
My contributions to Prom Week have given me a great range of experience in both design and programming. I started out doing 2D character animations in Adobe Flash, and quickly dove into code. My first major task was creating an authoring tool (image below) that was needed to let our content authors focus on content instead of dealing with a mess of XML. When I say "a mess of XML", I mean over 20,000 lines of XML elements with dozens of attributes each.
Using my work on the authoring tool, I gained a rich understanding of how the Artificial Intelligence system Comme il Faut functioned. Together with a few other undergrads, we submitted a poster (available here [2.6MB]) to the Baskin School of Engineering Research Review Day.
After the authoring tool was functionally complete, I spent some time working on server backend tools and data visualization, which helped show the effectiveness of Comme il Faut as a tool to create rich and unique procedural stories.