Worlds and Images

The Oz project is designing technology to make it possible for artists to create interactive, dramatic microworlds. To demonstrate the potential of this work, we have built a few systems ourselves.

There are currently 2 versions of the Oz system that we use. One is a real-time animation version which is built on top of C and RAL (a C preprocessor with a built-in Rete matcher). Using this system we built a world we call The Edge of Intention (or The Woggles).

The other version of Oz is a text system which looks similar to classic interactive fiction titles (like Adventure or Zork). This system is built on top of Lisp. Using this system we built Lyotard.

Scott Neal Reilly, who works primarily on emotion and social behavior for Oz agents has also built 3 small demo worlds called Robbery World, Office Politics, and The Playground. (Descriptions and traces of Office Politics and Robbery World will be available soon.)

Edge of Intention

The Edge of Intention is an interactive animated art piece. The world (which looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book) is inhabited by ellipsoidal creatures called Woggles. The "user" of the system controls one of the Woggles while the other three (Wolf, Shrimp, and Bear) are controlled by the computer.

There is no set story in this world. It is primarily a demonstration of our attempts at creating believable characters for simulated worlds. The Woggles have individual personalities, they display emotions, they engage in social behaviors (like fighting and playing follow-the-leader), and they react to their dynamic environment (including the user-controlled Woggle). They communicate by stylistic squashes and spins and they move by jumping. They can also move their eyes to watch what's going on around them.

This piece was first shown at the AAAI-92 Art Exhibit in San Jose, CA. Since then it has been shown at SIGGRAPH-93, the Hewlett Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA, and is on permanent display at the Computer Museum in Boston, MA. It was also awarded an honorable mention at the 1993 Prix Ars Electronica.

The Edge of Intention was a joint effort with the Computer Animation group at CMU and a number of other artists and researchers. The complete list is: Joseph Bates, Andrew Witkin, James Altucher, Alexander Hauptman, Mark Kantrowitz, Bryan Loyall, Koichi Murakami, Paul Olbrich, Zoran Popovic, Scott Reilly, Phoebe Sengers, William Welch, and Peter Weyhrauch.

Here are a number of still pictures of the Edge on Intention and the Woggles:


Lyotard is the name of a simulated house cat that lives in a simulated apartment. The user "sees" this world by reading computer generated descriptions of the surroundings and "acts" in the world by typing actions to perform.

Lyotard was our first attempt to build a believable character for a simulated world. He displays complex behaviors in response to his changing environment. He displays emotional behavior and has a relationship with the interactor that changes based on the way the interactor treats him.

Like the Edge of Intention, this world has no designed story. The experience is that of interacting with a house cat. We expect future systems to be more story-oriented than either the Edge of Intention or Lyotard.

The Playground

The Playground is primarily a test and demonstration of our ability to build interesting characters that engage in reasonably complex social behaviors. These behaviors have to reflect the personality of the character, the emotional state of the character, and the relationship the character has with the other characters.

This is a simulation of 3 kids (one is the user) on a playground. Although they can engage in a number of different behaviors, one of their favorites is trading baseball cards.

There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home.

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