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Algorithms and theory47205 (270)
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Gifford Cheung, Thomas Zimmermann, and Nachiappan Nagappan

The first time a player sits down with a game is critical for their engagement. Games are a voluntary activity and easy to abandon. If the game cannot hold player attention, it will not matter how much fun the game is later on if the player quits early. Worse, if the initial experience was odious enough, the player will dissuade others from playing. Industry advice is to make the game fun from the start to hook the player. In our exploratory analysis of over 200 game reviews and interviews with industry...

Publication details
Date: 1 October 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM – Association for Computing Machinery
Kyungmin Lee, David Chu, Eduardo Cuervo, Johannes Kopf, Sergey Grizan, Alec Wolman, and Jason Flinn

Gaming is very popular. Cloud gaming – where remote servers perform game execution and rendering on behalf of thin clients that simply send input and display output frames – promises any device the ability to play any game any time. Unfortunately, the reality is that wide-area network latencies are often prohibitive; cellular, Wi-Fi and even wired residential end host round trip times (RTTs) can exceed 100ms, a threshold above which many gamers tend to deem responsiveness unacceptable.

In this...

Publication details
Date: 21 August 2014
Type: Technical report
Publisher: Microsoft Research
Number: MSR-TR-2014-115
A Kumaran, Melissa Dunsmore, and Shaishav Kumar

We propose the use of a game with a purpose (GWAP) to facilitate crowd-sourcing of phrase-equivalents, as an alternative to expert or paid crowd-sourcing. Doodling is an online multi-player game, in which one player (drawer), draws pictures on a shared board to get the other players (guessers) to guess the meaning behind an assigned phrase. In this paper we describe the system and results from several experiments intended to improve the quality of information generated by the play. In...

Publication details
Date: 1 August 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACL – Association for Computational Linguistics
Emerson Murphy-Hill, Thomas Zimmermann, and Nachiappan Nagappan

Video games make up an important part of the software industry, yet the software engineering community rarely studies video games. This imbalance is a problem if video game development differs from general software development, as some game experts suggest. In this paper we describe a study with 14 interviewees and 364 survey respondents. The study elicited substantial differences between video game development and other software development. For example, in game development, “cowboy coders” are...

Publication details
Date: 1 June 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Ivan Dokmanic and Ivan Tashev

Depth imaging is commonly based on light. For example, LIDAR and Kinect use infrared light, while stereo cameras use visible light. These systems require hardware operating at high sampling frequencies, precise calibration, and they dissipate significant power. In this paper, we investigate the potential of ultrasound for image and depth acquisition, with applications to human-computer interaction and skeletal tracking in mind. We use a loudspeaker array and a microphone array to sense the scene. We...

Publication details
Date: 9 May 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP)
Thomas Debeauvais, Thomas Zimmermann, Nachiappan Nagappan, Kevin Carter, Ryan Cooper, Dan Greenawalt, and Tyson Solberg

This paper describes patterns of skill progression in Forza Motorsports 4, an Xbox 360 racing game. Using in-game telemetry data from more than 200,000 players and 24 million races, we characterize how players use and customize driving assists such as the trajectory line, automatic gear shifting, or assisted braking over time. We find that some of the assists are never disabled by significant player segments. Some "yoyo" players repeatedly enable and disable assists. We also present a model to predict...

Publication details
Date: 1 April 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Ivan Tashev

We propose a method for the synthesis of the phases of Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) using a sparse representation of anthropometric features. Our approach treats the HRTF synthesis problem as finding a sparse representation of the subjects anthropometric features w.r.t. the anthropometric features in the training set. The fundamental assumption is that the group delay of a given HRTF set can be described by the same sparse combination as the anthropometric data. Thus, we learn a sparse vector...

Publication details
Date: 13 February 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: University of California - San Diego
Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Martin Gibbs, Frank Vetere, Stefan Agamanolis, and Darren Edge

Supporting physical exertion is a growing trend in digital technology design. However, most experiences focus on bodily actions in which participants act independently of each other. In contrast, we focus on virtual body-to-body interactions between multiple participants, inspired by combat-oriented sports such as boxing that highlight the need to act while avoiding reciprocal bodily action. Mediating such body-to-body interactions with technology is challenging, particularly when participants are not...

Publication details
Date: 1 February 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, Martin R. Gibbs, Frank Vetere, and Darren Edge

Advances in sensing technologies have led to research into exertion games that support physically effortful experiences. Despite the existence of theoretical frameworks that can be used to analyze such exertion experiences, there are few tools to support the hands-on practice of exertion game design. To address this, we present a set of design cards based on the “Exertion Framework”, grounded in our experience of creating exertion games for over a decade. We present results demonstrating the value and...

Publication details
Date: 1 January 2014
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Ivan Tashev

Kinect is a device for human-machine interaction, which adds two more input modalities to the palette of the user interface designer: gestures and speech. Kinect is transforming how people interact with computers, kiosks, and other motion-controlled devices from fun applications like playing a virtual violin, to applications in health care and physical therapy, retail, education, and training. The Kinect for Windows SDK and toolkit contain drivers, tools, APIs, device interfaces, and code samples to...

Publication details
Date: 1 September 2013
Type: Article
Publisher: IEEE
Darren Edge, Kai-Yin Cheng, and Michael Whitney

Games that engage both mind and body by targeting users’ kinesthetic intelligence have the potential to transform the activity of learning across a wide variety of domains. To investigate this potential in the context of second language learning, we have developed SpatialEase: a Kinect game for the body-based learning of language that is grounded in space and motion. In this game, learners respond to audio commands in the second language by moving their bodies in space, while a game mechanic based on...

Publication details
Date: 29 April 2013
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Sarah Hallacher, Jenny Rodenhouse, and Andres Monroy-Hernandez

In this paper, we introduce the concept of mixsourcing as a modality of crowdsourcing focused on using remixing as a framework to get people to perform creative tasks. We implement this idea through two design exercises that helped us identify the promises and challenges of this peer-production modality.

Publication details
Date: 29 April 2013
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Jeff Huang, Thomas Zimmermann, Nachiappan Nagappan, Charles Harrison, and Bruce Phillips

How do video game skills develop, and what sets the top players apart? We study this question of skill as measured by a rating generated from repeated multiplayer matches called TrueSkill. Using these ratings from 7 months of games from over 3 million players, we look at how play intensity, breaks in play, skill change over time, and other titles affect skill. These analyzed factors are then combined to model future skill and games played; the results show that skill change in early games is a useful...

Publication details
Date: 1 April 2013
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Kenichi Kumatani, Takayuki Arakawa, Kazumasa Yamamoto, John McDonough, Bhiksha Raj, Rita Singh, and Ivan Tashev

Distant speech recognition (DSR) holds out the promise of providing a natural human computer interface in that it enables verbal interactions with computers without the necessity of donning intrusive body- or head-mounted devices. Recognizing distant speech robustly, however, remains a challenge. This paper provides a overview of DSR systems based on microphone arrays. In particular, we present recent work on acoustic beamforming for DSR, along with experimental results verifying the effectiveness of...

Publication details
Date: 5 December 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Jens Ahrens, Mark R.P. Thomas, and Ivan Tashev

Head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) represent the acoustic transfer function from a sound source at a given location to the ear drums of a human. They are typically measured from discrete source positions at a constant distance. Spherical harmonics decompositions have been shown to provide a flexible representation of HRTFs. Practical constraints often prevent the retrieval of measurement data from certain directions, a circumstance that complicates the decomposition of the measured data into...

Publication details
Date: 4 December 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Mark R. P. Thomas, Jens Ahrens, and Ivan Tashev

The design process for time-invariant acoustic beamformers often assumes that the microphones have an omnidirectional directivity pattern, a flat frequency response in the range of interest, and a 2D environment in which wavefronts propagate as a function of azimuth angle only. In this paper we investigate those cases in which one or more of these assumptions do not hold, considering a Minimum Variance Distortionless Response (MVDR)-based solution that is optimized using measured directivity patterns...

Publication details
Date: 1 December 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Brian Guenter, Mark Finch, Steven Drucker, Desney Tan, and John Snyder

We exploit the falloff of acuity in the visual periphery to accelerate graphics computation by a factor of 5-6 on a desktop HD display (19201080). Our method tracks the user’s gaze point and renders three image layers around it at progressively higher angular size but lower sampling rate. The three layers are then magnified to display resolution and smoothly composited. We develop a general and efficient antialiasing algorithm easily retrofitted into existing graphics code to minimize “twinkling”...

Publication details
Date: 20 November 2012
Type: Proceedings
Publisher: ACM SIGGRAPH Asia
Kenneth Hullett, Nachiappan Nagappan, Eric Schuh, and John Hopson

For several years empirical studies have spanned the spectrum of research from software productivity, quality, reliability, performance to human computer interaction. Analyses have involved software systems ranging from desktop software to telecommunication switching systems. But surprising there has been little work done on the emerging digital game industry, one of the fastest growing domains today. To the best of our knowledge, our work is one of the first empirical analysis of a large commercially...

Publication details
Date: 25 September 2012
Type: Proceedings
Publisher: ACM
Darren Edge, Kai-Yin Cheng, Michael Whitney, Yao Qian, Zhijie Yan, and Frank Soong

Learning a second language is hard, especially when the learner’s brain must be retrained to identify sounds not present in his or her native language. It also requires regular practice, but many learners struggle to find the time and motivation. Our solution is to break down the challenge of mastering a foreign sound system into minute-long episodes of “microtraining” delivered through mobile gaming. We present the example of Tip Tap Tones – a mobile game with the purpose of helping learners acquire...

Publication details
Date: 21 September 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: ACM
Zengbin Zhang, David Chu, Xiaomeng Chen, and Thomas Moscibroda

Mobile gaming is a big driver of app marketplaces. However, few mobile games deliver truly distinctive gameplay experiences for ad hoc collocated users. As an example of such an experience, consider a sword fight dual between two users facing each other where each user's phone simulates a sword. With phone in hand, the users' thrusts and blocks translate to attacks and counterattacks in the game. Such Phone-to-Phone Mobile Motion Games (MMG) represent interesting and novel gameplay for ad hoc users...

Publication details
Date: 25 June 2012
Type: Proceedings
Publisher: ACM
Thomas Zimmermann, Bruce Phillips, Nachiappan Nagappan, and Chuck Harrison

In this paper we provide a brief introduction to some of the games user research activities at Microsoft. We focus on the analysis of automatically collected game data. We will show how this data can lead to insights about game usage and player progression.

Publication details
Date: 1 May 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Ivan J. Tashev

The talk discusses aspects of the acoustical design and audio processing pipeline of Kinect, the most selling electronic device in the human history as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. The device is the first industrial product with surround sound echo cancellation, one of the first to offer hands free speech recognition from distance up to four meters, and is the first open microphone speech recognition device. The presenter, Dr. Ivan Tashev from Microsoft Research, is one of the architects...

Publication details
Date: 2 April 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: University of Kyoto
Ivan J. Tashev

Acoustic echo cancellation is one of the oldest applications of adaptive filters and today is a part of each speakerphone. An important block of each acoustic echo canceller is the double talk detector. It blocks the adaptation of the filter when near end voice is present and thus preventing the adaptive filter from diverging from the optimal position. In this paper we present an improved version of coherence based double talk detector. It provides estimation of the double talk presence probability per...

Publication details
Date: 27 March 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: IEEE International Confrence on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP)
Ivan J. Tashev

The engineering is almost always trade-offs between controversial requirements. Important role in finding the best design solutions under such requirements play the methods of mathematical optimization. Properly defined optimization criterion and constraints convert these mathematical methods to solvers of real engineering problems. The talk will cover the approaches for optimizing the acoustical design and the algorithms in the audio pipeline of Kinect – the bestselling electronic device in the history...

Publication details
Date: 8 February 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: University of California - San Diego
Ivan J. Tashev

The paper discusses aspects of the acoustical design and audio processing pipeline of Kinect, the fastest-selling electronics device in history as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. It also covers the new scenarios and opportunities this device opens beyond gaming for building better human-machine interfaces. Speech enabled and multimodal user interfaces lead towards designing a natural and intuitive way for interacting with computers.

Publication details
Date: 14 January 2012
Type: Inproceeding
Publisher: IEEE SPS
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