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Branching Simulations

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A presentation I gave in March 2008 to the Michigan IGDA chapter on the use of branching simulations for corporate training.

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Branching Simulations

  1. 1. Corporate Social Simulations: One Solution Tom Crawford VizThink, CEO Wednesday, March 26, 2008
  2. 2. A Little Bit About You <ul><li>Have you developed a game? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you a programmer? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you an artist? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Have you developed a game or simulation for any of the Global 2000? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you developed a social simulation for any of the Global 2000? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Branching? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State-based? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Low Bandwidth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes total </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes concurrent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes non-existent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting better </li></ul></ul>100 Mb 10 Mb 1.5 Mb 768 Kb
  4. 4. Corporate Needs <ul><li>No Audio </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open environments limit speakers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Headphones inconsistently available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Buying is cost prohibitive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harder to update </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Costs more to make </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting better </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Corporate Needs <ul><li>No Plug-ins </li></ul>(Except usually Flash) (rules out most traditional PC game formats)
  6. 6. Corporate Needs <ul><li>No installations </li></ul>(rules out most traditional PC game formats)
  7. 7. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Limited physical distribution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hard to reach certain employees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost prohibitive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To create </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To manage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To send </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To update </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To recycle </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Corporate Needs <ul><li>High Security </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proprietary information </li></ul></ul>(rules out many game engines)
  9. 9. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Limited development time frame (4-8 weeks) </li></ul>1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
  10. 10. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Limited budget </li></ul><ul><ul><li>used to $5-10k </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>current simulation prices $60-250k </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Compliance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professional certification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Other Corporate Needs <ul><li>Detailed user-level tracking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning Management System or Content Management System </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Editable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frequent changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faster turnaround </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduce costs </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Other Corporate Needs <ul><li>Internal Hosting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing thanks to Salesforce.com </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rules out Internet options </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mobile workers </li></ul><ul><li>Workers without desks </li></ul><ul><li>Harsh environments </li></ul>
  14. 14. Corporate Needs <ul><li>Oh yeah, and… </li></ul>Learning
  15. 15. What We Know <ul><li>People learn best by doing </li></ul><ul><li>Practicing is a great way to prepare </li></ul><ul><li>When “doing” is risky, costly, or infrequent, simulations can be a great way to practice </li></ul>
  16. 16. What is a Game? <ul><li>“ A series of interesting choices” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sid Meier </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What is a state-based game? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a branching game? </li></ul>State-based Branching
  17. 17. Abridged History Choose Your Own Adventure
  18. 18. Abridged History Zork
  19. 19. Abridged History King’s Quest
  20. 20. Abridged History Knights of the Old Republic (Crossed with Real Time Strategy)
  21. 21. Abridged History Enchanted Arms (Crossed with Puzzle)
  22. 22. Abridged History Mass Effect (Crossed with First Person Shooter)
  23. 23. Social Simulations Branching State-Based Development Ease Development Speed Development Cost Engaging ~ Realistic Realistic Enough Known Outcome Bandwidth ~ ~ Audio ~ ~ Plug-Ins ~ Branching State-Based Installation Distribution ~ Security ~ Hosting ~ Tracking Editing Vary Location ~ Harsh Locale Mobile
  24. 24. Clue vs. ROI Rooms Suspects Facts Distributed info Hidden knowledge Ulterior motives Any order Multiple visits Deductive reasoning One choice per turn Key=Right suspect + right question Offices Executives Facts Distributed info Hidden knowledge Ulterior motives Any order Multiple visits Deductive reasoning One choice per turn Key=Right person + right question Network model Network model
  25. 25. Abstraction <ul><li>With sufficient abstraction, patterns start to emerge </li></ul><ul><li>Successful patterns can be re-used </li></ul><ul><li>The visual becomes the story, but the pattern remains the same </li></ul><ul><li>Not all patterns work for all stories </li></ul><ul><li>Tools can help with creating the various layers </li></ul>
  26. 26. Common Patterns Adapted from Simon Puleo and Carolyn Miller Linear Exponential Tree Hub & Spoke Network Funnel Diamond Hour Glass
  27. 27. Popular Variations Loop Backs with Removal Linear + Diamond Diamond + Diamond Precedence (or state-based) +1 +1 +1 +2 -1 >3 >3 >3
  28. 28. Branching Limitations <ul><li>Exponential – just 2 options equals 2,046 nodes in 10 steps, 3 equals 88,572 </li></ul><ul><li>Even then, not enough to feel “real” </li></ul><ul><li>Subtleties can’t be reflected </li></ul><ul><li>Not as easy as it looks to develop the story </li></ul><ul><li>Loop backs, diamonds, and funnels remove significance of decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Loop back’s boring unless something changes </li></ul>According to Chris Crawford
  29. 29. Corporate Examples Gronstedt Group http://www.gronstedtgroup.com
  30. 30. Corporate Examples Will Interactive http://www.willinteractive.com
  31. 31. Corporate Examples Simulearn http://www.simulearn.net
  32. 32. Corporate Examples <ul><li>Others </li></ul><ul><li>Ninth House </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Arts </li></ul><ul><li>Live Demos </li></ul><ul><li>Enspire Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Root Learning </li></ul><ul><li>NexLearn </li></ul>Others
  33. 33. Tools <ul><li>Custom </li></ul><ul><li>Off-the-shelf </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adobe’s Captivate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TechSmith’s Camtasia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NexLearn’s SimWriter </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Books <ul><li>Interactive Storytelling – Chris Crawford </li></ul><ul><li>Hamlet on the Holodeck – Janet Murray </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Storytelling – Carolyn Miller </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive Storytelling – Andrew Glassner </li></ul>
  35. 35. Contact Information <ul><li>Tom Crawford </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>734-944-8833 </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.vizthink.com </li></ul><ul><li>http://thcrawford.blogspot.com </li></ul>

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