2015 Keynote – Emily Short

We are excited to announce that our keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Emily Short, an author, game and systems designer whose work centers around interactive fiction, narrative design and dialogue systems. She is the author of many acclaimed works including Galatea and Counterfeit Monkey, as well as a key contributor to the Inform 7 system for engineering interactive fiction, and was responsible for the Versu interactive narrative system which she developed with Richard Evans and Graham Nelson. Emily is a world expert on topics relating to both generative narrative and text, as well as the design of systems which enable others to be creative in designing their own interactive worlds – we think she’s a perfect fit for our conference and we’re really looking forward to welcoming her to the field. We hope you’ll join us in Utah for Emily’s talk and the conference itself! You can find an abstract of the talk and an extended biography of Emily below.

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Machine Improvisation on a Human-Authored Script: Beyond Versu

Versu is a system for interactive narrative built around AI-driven agents who can choose among various pre-authored options for how to act; the largest story built in Versu is Blood & Laurels, a piece with over 150K words of content which could be combined in response to character and player actions into individual playthroughs running to about 15,000 words each. This project presented a number of challenges around authoring recombinable segments, setting the limits on permitted computer improvisation, and providing sufficiently flexible text to reflect the complexity of the underlying world model.

This talk reviews some of the challenges and successes of that project as well as the author’s subsequent text generation work, all of which aims to produce participatory drama with playful, apt, and surprising juxtapositions of human-made text.

Emily Short is a narrative design consultant with a special interest in interactive dialogue. She is the primary author of over two dozen works of interactive fiction, including Galatea and Alabaster, which focus on conversation as the main form of interaction; Mystery House Possessed, which creates a mystery with a randomly chosen, AI-driven murderer on each playthrough; and First Draft of the Revolution, an interactive epistolary novella. Her more puzzle-focused work includes the critically acclaimed wordplay game Counterfeit Monkey.

She has provided a variety of content creation, world-building, and narrative systems design services for large and small clients including ngmoco:), ArenaNet, and Failbetter Games, as well as finished white-label games for advertising and publishing clients. She is also part of the team behind Inform 7, a natural-language programming language for creating interactive fiction, where she assisted in feature design and wrote over 300 code examples included in the standard manual.