Thanks and Publications

The Curveship Project


The Curveship project originated when I was working on my dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania with the help and support of my advisors, Mitch Marcus and Gerald Prince, and my committee members, Aravind Joshi, Mark Liberman, Fernando Pereira, and Marie-Laure Ryan. I continued to develop the system that was called “nn” in my dissertation and in some articles and books under its new name, “Curveship.”

Almost a decade before I started programming the system, I began reading about narratology and considering its application in computing as I was working on my masters at MIT under the supervision of my advisor, Justine Cassell, and Glorianna Davenport and Janet Murray.

In my early years on the MIT faculty, the Institute’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences supported the development of Curveship along with other academic work of mine by allowing me to focus on my research during my Junior Faculty Research Leave and Old Dominion Leave.

Discussions with and encouragement from members of the interactive fiction community have been invaluable, both those I’ve had online, on ifMUD, and the ones that happened in person during meetings of the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction.

I’m grateful that Rafael Pérez y Pérez collaborated with me on a Curveship project and that Pablo Gervás, Inderjeet Mani, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin have written about the system in books and articles. Since my initial collaboration with Rafael Pérez y Pérez, he and I have done another collaboration with Fox Harrell and Andrew Campana.

I also thank those who invited me to speak about the system prior to release at the UC Santa Cruz EIS Lab, the Tufts Department of Computer Science, the Workshop on Situated Understanding of Intention at Penn, the NAACL HLT Workshop on Computational Approaches to Linguistic Creativity, the MIT Hyperstudio, and the University of Florida Conference on Games and Digital Media. Thanks also to the Electronic Literature Organization and HASTAC, whose conferences included presentations of mine about Curveship, and to two AAAI events where I presented about the system, the Intelligent Narrative Technologies symposium and the Computational Aesthetics workshops. Norman Ramsey, in addition to inviting me to present at a colloquium at Tufts, also hosted an extremely useful day-long discussion of the system there, in which Eddie Aftandilian and Brad Larsen also participated.

After October, 2009, pre-release versions of the Curveship-py system have been provided to a group of researchers, IF authors, and programmers; I appreciate that several have helped me as I have developed the system since then, including Malcolm Ryan and Max Battcher. On November 7, 2010 I hosted a Curveship Codefest (for Curveship-py) at MIT at the suggestion of Fox Harrell. My thanks to the attendees: Amaranth Borsuk, Andrew Plotkin, Angela Chang, Brad Bouse, Doug Orleans, Jake Eakle, Jason McIntosh, Kevin Jackson-Mead, Luis Blackaller, Flourish Klink, Fox Harrell, and Ralph Lombreglia.

Curveship-js originated in the late 2010s and was first made available to my fall 2019 Interactive Narrative class at MIT. Not only is it intended as a partial implementation of Curveship-py, but what has been developed so far only implements a small subset of what I would like for the system to do. It has not been at all extensively tested, but I appreciate Judy Heflin and Milton Läufer having taken time to look over my work so far.

The system was developed further by me and two UROP students, Alan Zhu and Joanne Yuan, during the spring of 2021. During this time we transitioned the project onto GitHub. However, we were not using GitHub’s issue tracking system and during this semester my collaborators were not set up as contributors to the repository. For this reason, GitHub greatly understates their very significant contributions.

The transition to GitHub was aided by Milton Laüfer, who also reviewed the code with us. Late in the summer of 2021 I was assisted by Angela Chang and Ardalan SadeghiKivi, who contributed to the repository as we worked toward a relase of Curveship-js 0.4 for use by students in my fall 2021 Interactive Narrative Class.

Publications about Curveship

These publications document research advances that have been made and the overall approach of Curveship, but only the publications from after 2010 use the current terminology and reflect the most important details about how the system currently works. Note, also, that there are no publications specific to Curveship-js as of summer 2021.

Montfort, Nick, Rafael Pérez y Pérez, D. Fox Harrell, and Andrew Campana. “Slant: A Blackboard System to Generate Plot, Figuration, and Narrative Discourse Aspects of Stories.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Computational Creativity (ICCC) 2013, Sydney, 12-14 June 2013. [Curveship’s text generator is used as part of the large-scale system Slant.]

“An Interactive Fiction System for Narrative Variation.” In New Narratives: Stories and Storytelling in the Digital Age. Edited by Ruth Page and Bronwen Thomas. University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

Montfort, Nick. “Curveship’s Automatic Narrative Variation.” Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ’11), pp. 211-218, Bordeaux, France. 29 June-1 July 2011.

Mani, Inderjeet. The Imagined Moment: Time, Narrative and Computation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010. [pp. 188-190 discuss Curveship, referred to by its original name, “nn.”]

Gervás, Pablo. "Computational Approaches to Storytelling and Creativity." AI Magazine, pp. 49-62, Fall 2009. [pp. 56-58 discuss Curveship, referred to by its original name, “nn.”.]

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah. Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009. [pp. 292-295 discuss Curveship, referred to by its original name, “nn.”]

Montfort, Nick. “Curveship: An Interactive Fiction System for Interactive Narrating,” Proceedings of the NAACL HLT Workshop on Computational Approaches to Linguistic Creativity, pp. 55-62, Boulder, Colorado. 4 June 2009.

Montfort, Nick and Rafael Pérez y Pérez. “Integrating a Plot Generator and an Automatic Narrator to Create and Tell Stories.” Proceedings of the 5th International Joint Workshop on Computational Creativity, pp. 61-70. Edited by Pablo Gervás, Rafael Pérez y Pérez and Tony Veale. Mardrid, 17-19 September 2008.

Montfort, Nick. “Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania. 2007.

Montfort, Nick, “Ordering Events in Interactive Fiction Narratives.” Intelligent Narrative Technologies: Papers from the 2007 AAAI Fall Symposium, pp. 87-94. Brian S. Magerko and Mark O. Reidl, Program Cochairs. Technical Report FS-07-05, AAAI Press, Menlo Park, California. 9 November 2007.

Montfort, Nick. “Natural Language Generation and Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction.” Computational Aesthetics: Artificial Intelligence Approaches to Beauty and Happiness: Papers from the 2006 AAAI Workshop, pp. 45-52. Edited by Hugo Liu and Rada Mihalcea. Technical Report WS-06-04, AAAI Press, Menlo Park, California. 16 July 2006.

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