Andrew Stern
Since the beginning
Works in Portland, Oregon United States of America

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EXHIBITION: Grand Text Auto

Thu Oct 04, 2007 00:00 - Mon Oct 01, 2007

EXHIBITION: Grand Text Auto

LOCATION: The Beall Center for Art and Technology, UC Irvine

OPENING RECEPTION: October 4th, 6:30pm-9:00pm, Beall Center

SYMPOSIUM: October 5th, 1:00-5:00pm, Studio Art Bldg. 712, Room 160, UC Irvine

PERFORMANCE: October 5th, 6:00-8:00pm, Winifred Smith Hall, UC Irvine

GENERAL CONTACT: (949) 824-4339 or


Many blogs have become books - from The Baghdad Blog to Belle de Jour. But Grand Text Auto is the first blog ever to become a gallery exhibition. It opens October 4th and runs through December 15th at UC Irvine's Beall Center for Art and Technology. The exhibition features the work of Grand Text Auto members Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Mary Flanagan, Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, and their collaborators.

Grand Text Auto is a blog about the potential of digital media, from literary websites to experimental computer games. At the exhibition, the blog members will put these ideas into practice, showing a variety of cutting edge works. Some use the latest in artificial intelligence technology, such as Mateas and Stern's interactive drama Facade -- of which The New York Times says, "This is the future of video games." The Beall exhibition will feature the first public showing of a life-sized "augmented reality" version of Facade, created in collaboration with Georgia Tech's GVU Center. Virtual reality is also on display, as with Wardrip-Fruin's collaborative work Screen, a literary game played with 3D text -- never seen before outside of a research lab and presented with support from UC San Diego's Center for Research in Computing and the Arts. On the other hand, some works in the exhibition use decidedly do-it-yourself techniques, such as Montfort and Rettberg's Implementation, an experimental novel distributed around the world on mailing labels. Others are quirky, such as Flanagan's [giantJoystick], a replica Atari 2600 joystick so large that two people must work together to play (this has its North American debut at the Beall show).

In addition to the gallery show, the members of Grand Text Auto are working together with the Beall Center to present a live symposium and performance evening, both on October 5th. The afternoon symposium (1-5 p.m.) will discuss the power of collaborative blogging, new directions for computer games, and the place of language in digital media. The evening performance (6-8 p.m.) will feature the disturbing and humorous interactive cinema experience Terminal Time (which automatically creates outrageously biased documentaries of the past millennium) and a live performance of the award-winning hypertext novel The Unknown (which tells the tale of a rollicking cross-country book tour). Parking for these events is available in the Student Parking structure at the corner of Campus Drive and West Peltason.

Online, Grand Text Auto ( is a blog with more than 200,000 visitors a month, collectively authored by six artists and scholars. Offline, Grand Text Auto members have been shown in major art museums, been written about in leading national periodicals, and shipped games that have met wide acclaim and sold millions of copies. The Grand Text Auto exhibition is the first time that these artists will show their work together. Delve into Grand Text Auto's digital depths October 4 - December 15, 2007 (closed November 22-26) and witness the live debut of blog-meets-reality.


Facade Released

Fri Jul 08, 2005 00:00 - Fri Jul 08, 2005

July 5, 2005

The World's First Fully-Realized Interactive Drama is Released as a Freeware Download at

PORTLAND, Oregon, July 5, 2005 - Procedural Arts, an independent studio formed by artificial intelligence researcher/developers Andrew Stern and Michael Mateas, today unveiled the long-awaited Facade, a one-act interactive drama, as a freeware download. Integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic practices and artificial intelligence technologies, Mateas and Stern have completed a five-year collaboration to engineer a novel architecture for supporting emotional, interactive character behavior and drama-managed story. Within this architecture they have built a dramatically interesting, real-time 3D virtual world inhabited by computer-controlled characters, in which the player experiences a story from a first-person perspective.

Hailed by The New York Times Arts Section as "the future of video games" (June 7, 2005), in Facade, the player, using their own name and gender, plays the character of a longtime friend of Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that quickly turns ugly, they becomes entangled in the high-conflict dissolution of Grace and Trip's marriage. No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are made. By the end of this intense one-act play the player will have changed the course of Grace and Trip's lives - motivating them to re-play the drama to find out how their interaction could make things turn out differently the next time.

"We believe Facade can serve as a prototype for interactive drama, a new genre of character and story-intensive interactive entertainment," said Andrew Stern, co-founder of Procedural Arts and co-creator of the award-winning AI-based virtual pet products Dogz, Catz and Babyz from PF.Magic, which sold 2M+ copies worldwide in the late 1990s. "Innovation like this will only come from small independent studios willing to take design and technology risks, not from large conservative game companies."

Facade is unlike games to date in that the player is able to drive the story through direct, Holodeck-style interactions, including conversing with the characters in natural language, and moving and gesturing freely within the first-person 3D world of Grace and Trip's apartment. And unlike interactive stories to date, in Facade the computer characters actively perform the story without waiting for you to click or enter a command. AI controls Grace and Trip's personality and behavior, including emotive facial expressions, spoken voice and full-body animation. Further, the AI intelligently guides the story based on the player's moment-by-moment interaction and what has happened in the story so far, while still satisfying an overall dramatic arc. An innovative text parser allows the system to avoid the "I don't understand" response all too common in text-adventure interactive fiction.

"By treating artificial intelligence as an artistic medium, and creating story content procedurally instead of using canned cut-scenes, Facade truly breaks away from today's games," said Michael Mateas, co-founder of Procedural Arts and Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Literature, Communication and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "Procedural content will be a key technology in the next generation of interactive entertainment."

In 2004, an early version of Facade was a finalist at the Independent Games Festival in San Jose, and was exhibited at the prestigious Inter Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA) festival in Scandinavia. In his latest book on interactive story, veteran game design guru Chris Crawford said, "Facade is without a doubt, the best actual working interactive storyworld yet created."

Technical Requirements
Facade requires Windows XP/2000/ME, on a computer 1.6 GHz or faster, with 256MB or more of RAM and 1.0GB of hard disk space. A Macintosh version is planned as well.

About Procedural Arts LLC
Procedural Arts LLC is focused on creating highly interactive, emotional, personality-rich characters and stories. Their authoring system, available for licensing for entertainment, training, and marketing applications, includes technologies for lifelike character behavior, robust natural language understanding, conversation (discourse) management, and drama management. To learn more about Procedural Arts, and to freely download the interactive drama Facade, visit

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art/research interactive drama project Facade released

Fri Jul 08, 2005 00:00 - Fri Jul 08, 2005

The AI-based art/research interactive drama project Facade has been released to the public. Facade was exhibited on the art ferry at ISEA last year.

Download it for free at Here is an announcement for its release.

Facade requires Windows XP / 2000 / ME, on a computer 1.6 GHz or faster, with 256MB or more of RAM and 1.0GB of hard disk space. A Macintosh version is planned for some point in the future.