October 20, 2011 9:00 AM | Eric Caoili
Remember Façade, that experimental AI-based interactive story in which you could hold conversations with a strained couple, helping bring them back together of pushing them further apart? I remember it being a pretty big deal several years ago, and it was even an Independent Games Festival Finalist in 2004.
One of the creators of that game, Michael Mateas, and a team of students at the UC Santa Cruz Games and Playable Media department he directs, have created what they're calling "an evolution of Façade's social simulation AI" with Prom Week, in which you "can shape the social lives of 18 highschoolers."
Developed for Facebook, Prom Week adapts its story depending on how you handle social interactions and conversations between the games' virtual teens:
"The results of these social exchanges are many and varied—ranging from mild changes in sentiment toward each other to characters professing their eternal love—and are informed by over 3,500 sociocultural considerations managed by the artificial intelligence system Comme il Faut.Mateas and his crew uploaded this new video for their IGF submission entry. You can read more about Prom Week and its premise at its official page on UCSC's site and in this Gamasutra write-up of a Gameplay Innovation presentation from Mateas at the Future of Games conference earlier this year..
Through shifting the interpersonal relationships and learning the personal intricacies of the characters, the player can solve a series of 'social puzzles'; such as making the class nerd the prom king, or bringing peace between feuding jocks and preppies.