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Melanie Dickinson

designer-programmer, specializing in expressive simulation

About

Hey! I'm an interaction designer and expressive, playful computational model-maker. I make social simulations and also games that engage with stuff from the player's real life. I mostly work in symbolic, rules-based AI, procedural interactive narrative, and web technologies. I'm currently a Computational Media PhD student in the Expressive Intelligence Studio at UC Santa Cruz. I also love woodcarving, graphic design, and crafting of all kinds.

Projects

Diarytown

A weird game about crafting diary entries about your real life using a symbolic action library, and having the described experiences imaginatively reflected back at you by a creative AI, simulationist storytelling system, to facilitate self-reflection and positive self-image. It uses the Felt library for story sifting.

Why Are We Like This?

An AI-augmented digital story construction and collaborative, improvisational writing game in which two players write a story in a pastiche of the cozy mystery genre, with support from a simulation-based AI system that operationalizes character subjectivity. It also uses Felt and was formerly called the Cozy Mystery Construction Kit.

Gemini Tool

Gemini is an abstract game generator that takes statements of design intents (about potential play experience and rhetoric) as input and generates games that satisfy those intents. I joined this project at the Expressive Intelligence Studio after Gemini was largely complete in order to adapt it for use in a mixed-initiative game-making tool. I've also contributed to the main Gemini codebase, documentation, and a human subjects evaluation of Gemini.

Ensemble

An open-source, rules-based JavaScript library for social simulation. The generalization and JavaScript port of Comme il Faut (CIF), the social AI engine that powered Prom Week. It was originally developed by Aaron Reed and Ben Samuel, but I'm one of its current primary maintainers, along with partner-in-crime Max Kreminski.

Publications

Is Your Game Generator Working? Evaluating Gemini, an Intentional Game Generator

Joseph C. Osborn, Melanie Dickinson, Barrett Anderson, Adam Summerville, Jill Denner, David Torres, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Michael Mateas

Artificial Intelligence in Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE), 2019

Nominated for best paper

Felt: A Simple Story Sifter

Max Kreminski, Melanie Dickinson, Noah Wardrip-Fruin

International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS), 2019

Cozy Mystery Construction Kit: Prototyping Toward an AI-Assisted Collaborative Storytelling Mystery Game

Max Kreminski, Devi Acharya, Nick Junius, Elisabeth Oliver, Kate Compton, Melanie Dickinson, Cyril Focht, Stacey Mason, Stella Mazeika, Noah Wardrip-Fruin

Procedural Content Generation Workshop (PCG Workshop), 2019

Crafting in Games

April Grow, Melanie Dickinson, Johnathan Pagnutti, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Michael Mateas

Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ), 2017

Crafting in games visualization demo

Author Assistance Visualizations for Ice-Bound, a Combinatorial Narrative

Jacob Garbe, Aaron A. Reed, Melanie Dickinson, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Michael Mateas

Foundations of Digital Games (FDG), 2014

Selected as an exemplary full paper

Ice-Bound visualization demo