Narrative Guidance of Interactivity
by Tinsley A. Galyean

Doctor of Philosophy, May 5th, 1995.


Making narrative interactive promises to add a new depth and richness to the act of storytelling. It will allow us to experience story at a new level, more profoundly affecting us than ever before. But to do this we need to understand how a viewer can participate in a drama in interesting and engaging ways without disrupting the plot -- which is the essential structure that transforms a mere sequence of events into a story.

This thesis describes an approach to interactive narrative that divides narrative into levels; the plot level which represents the high level goals, intentions, and events of the story, and the presentation level representing the geometry, motion and camera which produces the images seen by the viewer. Today's immersive interface technology provides a seamless and compelling link between the viewer and the presentation level. But the link between the plot level and the presentation level remains unexplored. This document described techniques as well as a theory for seamless integration of transitions (the plot's influence on the camera) and the manipulation of staging (the plot's influence on the geometry and motion) into interactive, immersive narratives.

By introducing these techniques while allowing the viewer to influence the presentation, a new method and vocabulary for storytelling has been created. This new partnership between the story and the viewer allows the presentation to be manipulated while the plot assures that story will find the viewer regardless of his/her actions.

Thesis Supervisor: Glorianna Davenport

Get the entire thesis in PDF form (16.5 MB).