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Magy Seif El-Nasr visits UCSC

Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr will be giving a talk at UCSC this Friday. All interested are welcome!


Effective 3D Visual Design for Games: Integrating Artificial Intelligence Techniques, Results from Experimental Studies, and Artistic Tacit Knowledge

Time & Location:

March 18, 11:00 am, E2-599


During the past few years, interactive 3D environments that facilitate engagement and involvement, such as 3D video games, have become an important area of research and development. The technical contributions and design innovations made to advance such environments have a direct impact on education, training, and entertainment applications. Designing such visually rich 3D environments is very time consuming, taking 30+ artists and designers numerous weeks to construct a successful 3D level. Successful levels are required to satisfy both aesthetic and perceptual requirements: levels need to be designed to guide the player/participant through a space without much frustration, and also allow players/participants to visually enjoy such a journey. To accomplish these two requirements visual designers are often trained to take into account unwritten perceptual and aesthetic rules – these rules are the artists’ tacit knowledge.

In the past few years, we have been collaborating with several industry partners, including Electronic Arts, to conduct several experimental studies focused on gauging and understanding users’ abilities with respect to the visual level design, including navigational and visual attention abilities, and identify breakdown issues caused by visual design problems. Based on these studies, we are currently developing adaptive systems, specifically in terms of visual composition (color, contrast, lighting, and rhythmic properties of motion), to enhance the 3D level designs, and consequently, the play experience.

In this talk, I will focus the discussion on one of these adaptive systems, specifically, a lighting design adaptive system, called ALVA (Adaptive Lighting for Visual Attention). ALVA is an extension of a lighting system I developed in 2003 called ELE (Expressive Lighting Engine). ELE is a constraint optimization system built based on cinematic and theatric lighting techniques. Using this lighting system, I then developed ALVA. ALVA is an adaptive lighting design system that dynamically adjusts the lighting color and brightness to enhance visual attention within game environments using our experimental results as well as features identified by neuroscience, psychophysics, and visual design literature. In this talk, I will discuss this system in detail as well as discuss some results showing the utility of ALVA in directing player’s attention to important elements in a fast paced 3D game, and thus enhancing the players’ experience especially for non-gamers who are not visually trained to spot objects or characters in such complex 3D worlds.


Seif El-Nasr is an assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University, where she directs the Engage Me In Interactive Experiences (EMIIE) Lab. She earned her Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in Computer Science and her master’s degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. She published over 60 international peer reviewed articles on her work. In addition, her work received several awards and recognition within the games and interactive narrative communities, including Best Paper Award at the International Conference of Virtual Storytelling 2003 and several notable citations in industry books and magazines. She is on the editorial board of ACM Computers in Entertainment; she has chaired and organized several workshops including, Games User Research Summit 2011, American Association of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Interaction Entertainment 2002, which became its own conference: AIIDE (Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment). Her research work includes designing and developing tools that enhance the engagement of interactive environments used for training, education, and entertainment. She has collaborated and has on-going relationships with several game companies, including Electronic Arts, Bardel Entertainment, RedHill Studios, and Radical Entertainment. http://www.sfu.ca/~magy.

About the author:  Serdar Sali is a PhD student at the Expressive Intelligence Studio at UCSC. Read more from this author

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