Posted on May 31st, 2009 No comments
Josef tried to increase the performance of the 3D Virtual World. Portals, as provided by the Torque Constructor, don’t make sense for our 3D Virtual World. So he simply changed some structural/detail brushes and could decrease the number of polygons a little bit. Then we changed some small things in the Itchy Feet video, uploaded it again and integrated it into the media section of this homepage. He also collected some first ideas for the ecotourism Serious Game and read about ecotourism and cultral heritage. On sunday we finally received the acceptance letter from E-Learn 2009 Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education in Vancouver. The paper was accepted as full paper. The peer reviewers said that ‘future research may consider evaluating the impact of this current second life implementation by comparing with other traditional approaches’ and ‘the link with elearning is somewhat tenuous’.
Markus adapted the JForum, Webservice Client and Federation, so the username of the user who startet a thread is also provided. That might sound simple, but I had to adapted about 4 different parts of the system (JForum, Webservice, Webserviceclient an the MAS) to accomplish this. Modified the DedicatedSalesAgent so the conversation in a sales scene is logged to file. Tried to get more information about Ontotext’s Mimir search system, but it’s only mentioned in one document and that’s it. I gave GATE (General Architecture for Text Engineering) a try. It has a nice GUI that provides the user with an easy way to create a Text processing pipleline. I will have a deeper look into it’s capabilities this week.
Ingo continued to work on fixing bugs and adding new enhancements to the environment that are necessary for the evaluation that is going to take place in one week. As we did not have enough participants for the evaluation yet, we rescheduled it to the second week of June and will give away a 10 Euror Amazon gift certificate to encourage participation. Hopefully this will help us to reach the minimum participant count of 24 people.
Posted on May 27th, 2009 No comments
This week there has been a big change in our office environment as we have moved to a new office. The new office is located near the Karlsplatz directly opposite of the Technical University of Vienna. In contrast to the old office the whole Matrixware research department and the Itchy Feet project members are now located in one open-plan office. In general there were a lot of doubts before the move, but so far the location turned out to be quite ok as we have a lot of space and it has not been too loud so far.
In terms of the project, Ingo added some additional features to the 3D Virtual World that had been identified as missing in the pilot tests. One of them is a notepad which can be used to take notes during the evaluation directly in the 3D world. This way the users are able to collect information from the information tasks which is required to solve some later tasks. Also, Ingo worked on the video compression for the evaluation videos. The raw video of an evaluation run with one hour creates 35 GB in video files. This is clearly way too large and requires some post processing. With the proper compression codec the video can be compressed to about 500 MB without much quality loss.
Josef cutted a short video clip about the Itchy Feet 3D World. You can watch it in the Media section or directly here on the start screen. The main problem is that the 3D world still looks a little bit empty with only two avatars in it – the female and the male user in the video. It would be a good idea to organize a meeting with many participants in the 3D World and make some short shots of the scene. This would add a little more liveliness to the video.
Markus developed the bidding agents Erich and Elke. These agents automatically enter specific auction rooms. If a user joins an auction during the “bidding evaluation task”, Erich and Elke will overbid the user to simulate actual bidders.
Posted on May 27th, 2009 No comments
This is the first version of the Itchy Feet video. Feel free to post a comment!
Download this Video here: ItchyFeet.divx [36 MB]
Posted on May 18th, 2009 No comments
This week Ingo finished the first version of the release version. The release version is packaged as a Windows based installer and contains all five components that are required to run the Itchy Feet environment. These components are: the database where the data is stored, the Multi-Agent System where the Electronic Institutions are executed, a 3D server that runs 3D Virtual World and visualizes the Electronic Institutions, a connection server that connects the Multi-Agent System with the 3D server and a 3D client that is used to connect to the 3D server and to participate in the 3D Virtual World. The installer also contains a “Framework Manager” program that enables users to start and stop the whole environment from within a single application. This greatly eases the execution of the environment and does not require the user to have knowledge of the execution dependencies between the different components. The release version has been distributed to some test persons and is currently being tested by them. It will be released on the website in the next weeks as soon as the tests are completed and any detected bugs are corrected.
Ingo has also started to plan the evaluation of Itchy Feet that is going to take place at the beginning of June. In this evaluation we are going to evaluate the acceptance of Itchy Feet and will further compare different input control mechanisms. The evaluation will be carried out with students from the Vienna University of Technology. We did sent out invitation emails this week and hope that enough students are going to participate.
Josef changed some last details in the 3D world and tested the release version. He also did some research on Serious Gaming. Serious Games can be assigned to one of the following categories: educational technology, scientific exploration, healthcare, emergency management or military training. Up to now he gathered informations about the following SeriousGaming applications: RiverCity, CyberCIEGE, Levee Patroller, FloodSim, America’s Army, 3D Fahrschule, Techforce, FoodForce and PowerUp. Josef visited the Serious Games Award 2009 homepage and had a look at the recent winners: 2weistein (Best Health Care ‘09), World of Subways (Best Corporate Game ‘09) and Imagine Earth (Best Persuasive Game ‘09). In addition, Josef started to cut a video showing the ItchyFeet 3D world. We will upload the video in the Media area as soon as possible.
Markus evaluated the ontology authoring tool Protégé and several others to check whether we can use them to extend or simply visualize the Harmonize ontology. It has some nice features but it was difficult to get the visualization plugin working. There are several visualization plugins available with advantages and disadvantages. Since the Harmonize ontology is quite big and has may relations its visualization looks a bit confusing. The next steps will be to check whether we can use KIM to populate the Harmonize Ontology to a certain degree. This depends upon whether it is possible to easily exchange KIMO (the KIM Ontology) by another ontology. But as the Harmonize ontology is fine grained and especially fitted to the tourism domain it will be a difficult task.
Posted on May 10th, 2009 No comments
This week Josef had a look at the clouds in the demo levels and integrated them in our 3D world. By modifying the sky.dml file it is possible to define 3 different cloud layers. Every layer is defined by the parameters CloudHeight and CloudSpeed. He decided to keep it simple and added only one cloud layer. Otherwise the whole scene looks overloaded and somehow confusing. He made two buildings for the “Experimentation Area” of our usability evaluation. In the experimentation area people can get familiar with the environment before the actual evaluation is started. It consists of a stairacase and a small building where navigation skills can be practiced. Furthermore he created two animations, a hand-raising gesture and a hammer-movement gesture, that are used by the avatars in the auctions. Finally he had a look at the Muscle CMS and will install it for the AVALON project.
The creation of the release version was another big topic this week. The last version required the MySQL database to be installed on the client’s computer and we tried to find ways to avoid requirements like these. First we thought about adding a MySQL version to the installer, but due to the size overhead we looked for slicker database solutions. Our choice fell on HSQLDB as it is a well proven and widely used database engine with a small resource footprint. The challenge then was to adapt our data model such that multiple data stores are supported. This required the creation of test methods for all database access methods such that it can easily be verified if our table models and SQL statements work on a certain data store. The HSQLDB data store passed all test cases and was integrated successfully. It is now used as database engine in the release version and greatly simplifies the distribution process. The release version itself is also approaching a releasable state and will probably be published in the next few weeks on the homepage.
Markus fixed a few glitches in the EI specification and finalized the payment logic so agents are not able to leave an EI if they haven’t paid for their purchased products yet. He cleaned up some code fragments in the agent implementation and was further looking for suitable WebServices which can be used as external sources for hotel information.