Research

My current research revolves around the co-creation of game content such as levels, items or the gameworld. To accomplish that, I look at existing methods of computer-aided design and enhancing them by making the computer more proactive, generating suggestions or increasing the level-of-detail of the user's creation. To accomplish that, content is generated procedurally either to maximize a quantifiable measure of game-specific (or level-specific, or artistic) aesthetics or to maximize the novelty of the content pool. Since most game content must fulfill a number of criteria regarding playability, balance and often quality, constrained optimization methods have been developed to allow for a more efficient exploration of a segmented search space containing both feasible and infeasible content. Beyond mixed-initiative tools, my academic interests include fully-automated procedural content generation, digital aesthetics, computational creativity and evolutionary computation.

The entries below provide some more insight into the different topics that my research tries to tackle. Each entry contains a short overview of the publications relevant to this line of research. An overview of all publications can be found in list form here.

Procedural Content Generation

Whether generating spaceships, game levels, dungeons or gameworlds, a major part of my research lies within the general area of search-based procedural game content generation through genetic algorithms.

Computer-Aided Design

A core goal of my research is to inject some creativity on the part of the computer and become an artificial designer contributing its own ideas and providing feedback and advice similarly to a colleague of the human designer.

Constrained Optimization

Unlike other forms of art, games are bound by playability concerns. Game content is often divided between playable and unplayable. My research focuses on satisfying playability constraints either via objective-driven search or via novelty search.

Novelty Search

Novelty search targets divergence rather than the satisfaction of an expressly stated objective. For the purposes of my research, novelty search is appropriate for open-ended game content generation as it can break designer fixations and create surprising content.

User Modeling

Several of my research projects aim to discover the preferences and visual taste of a designer from interactions with interactive evolutionary systems, learning the underlying factors of users' choices in order to better accommodate them.

Game Aesthetics

"Game aesthetics" is a broad and ambiguous term which encompasses believability, challenge, surprise, novelty, visual and aural appeal, interestingness, and more. Examining the "human" aspects of games from a computational perspective is of particular interest to my research.