My INtr

By IgnorantWookie

Ontology is a study of conceptions of reality and the nature of being. In philosophy, ontology (from the Greek ὤν, genitive ὄντος: of being (part. of εἶναι: to be) and -λογία: science, study, theory) is the study of being or existence and forms the basic subject matter of metaphysics. It seeks to describe or posit the basic categories and relationships of being or existence to define entities and types of entities within its framework.

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I just got back from a presentation by Professor Lynch on Ontology. It is really pretty interesting.

Ontology is aimed more at social games because it tends to deal with models that are less of games and more of toys. Games like the Sims or Civilization or other games that can be classified more as toys. It is particularly exciting to see this as a new emerging social interaction between people. The internet is changing. Exchanging of information is becoming faster, more readily available, and more user friendly in some senses. The opportunities are expanding.

Building AI for games has been and continues to be a challenge. Since AI are generally only seen for 8 to 12 seconds, they can reasonably be faked. Games are progressing at an amazing rate towards being highly photo realistic. Our minds see the pixels of a fridge, and it is a fridge. We see people, and we connect them to real human beings. The brain is very complicated and is able to intake huge amounts of information with facial emotion alone. So while playing games, we now see players that are photorealisitic, but don't act like humans. Something is wrong. Ontology is looking for ways to make NPCs (Non Playing Characters) seem intelligent, even if they aren't. One way to do this is to build up libraries of interactions, if this then with trees flowing out of possible options. The problem with stories is that stories are linear and games that run on stories are linear, which makes them run on rails. Games full of interesting characters with detailed lives and stories but no direct plot (because the plot is supposed to emerge from the character's personalities) generally fail because they have no plot. The player just bumps around some interesting characters, but nothing happens.

I am quite interested in total immersion. I think it would be absolutely fascinating to be able to live in a virtual world. I am looking at something more like what was presented in the Matrix, where you are completely and totally immersed. While there is ongoing research on virtual reality, it will be many more years before we are able to achieve something remotely close to that. We can however create worlds that are not as entirely immersive.

The Sims was a major breakthrough in new a new type of genre. The player interaction makes the game more of a toy than anything else. Look at how the internet is evolving today. People enjoy sites such as facebook and myspace and blogging because it is a convenient way to network with all of their friends. What if that could all be done in 3D? What if the internet was in 3D? What if you could visit worlds where you projected yourself into there and you could chat and express ideas in a way merging 3D with the flat 2D text of the internet?

Virtual and Movement oriented games and computer interaction is going to be the human computer interaction of the future. Maybe some of the stuff may look nerdy, geeky, and useless now, but one has only to look at the popularity of the Wii, DDR, and Guitar Hero to see that these new methods of player interaction work well. People want to immerse themselves, escape from the world, relax, concentrate on the game. Adding the movement allows them to dive in far easier. In addition, it makes playing games with friends more fun.

What if you had to navigate the web with a 3 dimensional mouse? A joystick? Are these ideas so far off? Are we so narrow minded to think that with the discovery and invention of the keyboard and mouse that we have discovered the best and most efficient way to transfer information, thoughts, and ideas?


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