3D and GIS

Today Ikrom had his milestone presentation and (it was the first for me at Curtin so training wheels) but the reviewer questions were more,..ok can you do this for this project of mine..which actually is great..

A Survey of Geospatial Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage

Ikrom showed his project development to build a  web-based 3D landscape or building model viewer with GIS and Semantic Web/RDF compatibility using open source technology. It is basically the starting demo for the paper released, open source, at:

So, cultural heritage people, what would you want to do with 3D online models with LOD, Semantic Web technology, and the ability to question, select or annotate the 3D online model using say a drawing tablet pen or lassoo or…what questions would you want to be able to ask it or what parts or argument would you want to be able to show?

CAADRIA 2019 Wellington

Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award
Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award

I was the second-author of two papers presented at CAADRIA 2019: INTELLIGENT & INFORMED in Wellington New Zealand, and they are now published in CUMINCAD. The primary authors were Mafkereseb Bekele for the first paper (he won a Young CAADRIA award) and Hafizur Rahaman for the second paper, both are colleagues at Curtin University, Mafkereseb is a PhD student here and Hafizur is a Research Fellow.

The primary objective of this paper is to present a redefinition of Mixed Reality from a perspective emphasizing the relationship between users, virtuality and reality as a fundamental component. The redefinition is motivated by three primary reasons. Firstly, current literature in which Augmented Reality is the focus appears to approach Augmented Reality as an alternative to Mixed Reality. Secondly, Mixed Reality is often considered to encompass Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality rather than specifying it as a segment along the reality-virtuality continuum. Thirdly, most common definitions of Augmented Reality (AR), Augmented Virtuality (AV), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MxR) in current literature are based on outdated display technologies, and a relationship between virtuality and reality, neglecting the importance of the users necessarily complicit sense of immersion from the relationship. The focus of existing definitions is thus currently technological, rather than experiential. We resolve this by redefining the continuum and MxR, taking into consideration the experiential symbiotic relationship and interaction between users, reality, and current immersive reality technologies. In addition, the paper will suggest some high-level overview of the redefinition’s contextual applicability to the Virtual Heritage (VH) domain.

To validate the hypothesis that virtual heritage papers are reliant on providing scholarly argumentation based on 3D models, and convenient access is provided to these models where relevant, this study reviewed 264 articles from the last three available proceedings of major digital heritage events and conferences (14 in total). The findings revealed this was not the case, few contain references to accessible 3D models. We discuss why this may be so, and we outline recommendations for ensuring that virtual heritage 3D models can be preserved and accessed.

CAA 2019 presentations

More for my own use, here are two papers accepted for CAA2019 in Krakow Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

Author Erik M Champion (Mafi?)

Title Mixable reality, Collaboration, and Evaluation (S36: User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage)

If we are to move past one hit AR wonders like Pokémon Go, scalable yet engaging content, stable tools, appropriate evaluation research, long-term and robust infrastructure, are essential. Formats like WebVR and Web XR show promise for sharing content across desktop and head-mounted displays (without having to download plugins), but there is also a non-technological constraint: our preconceptions about virtual reality. For example, in a 2018 Conversation article “Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing” by Professor of Philosophy Janna Thompson) she argued that virtual reality (and virtual heritage in particular) attempts to provide accurate and equivalent realistic interactive simulations of the existing real world.
VR is not only a possible mirror to the current world. As Sir David Attenborough noted about the Natural History Museum’s “Hold the World” VR application, it provides a richer understanding of process, people can move and view virtual objects that are otherwise fragile, expensive or remote. And it allows people to share their mashups of reality, mixable reality. Collaborative learning can compel us to work in groups to see the bigger picture… your actions or decisions can be augmented and incorporated into the experience. However, there are few studies on collaborative learning in mixed reality archaeology and heritage. This presentation will discuss two projects, (one using two HoloLens HMDs, one a game where two people with different devices must share and control one character,) the theories adopted, and the range of possibilities for evaluating user experience in this collaborative mixed reality.

This is related to part of an article on VR for tourism that was submitted to the online Conversation website, this abstract will be further modified and updated.

Authors: Erik M Champion, Hafizur Rahaman

Title: 3D Models: Unwanted, Unknown, Unloved (Session S37: 3D Publishing and Sustainability: Taking Steps Forward)

Given the importance of three-dimensional space and artefacts to archaeology and to heritage studies, one might therefore assume that publications in the area of virtual heritage are heavily reliant on providing scholarly argument based on 3D models.

To corroborate this hypothesis, we reviewed virtual heritage proceedings of five major digital heritage conferences one could expect to be focused on projects incorporating 3D models. A total number of 264 articles across 14 proceedings were studied, and the results will be tabulated and presented.

The lack of accessible 3D models, usable projects, or ways in which the 3D model could be used and critiqued in a scholarly argument is of great concern to us. We suggest that long-term usage and preservation of virtual heritage models are worrying and persistent issues, and their scholastic impact is severely compromised. We suggest there are least three critical issues: we lack accessible, durable and complete infrastructure, which is essential for storage and preservation; we still don’t have a shared understanding of how to develop, integrate and demonstrate the research value of 3D heritage models; we also lack robust, long-term publication systems that can integrate and maintain both the 3D models and their relevance and functionality in terms of both community engagement and scholarship. We recommend seven practical steps for ensuring that the scholarship going into the development of 3D virtual heritage models, and arising from 3D virtual heritage models, can be fully implemented.

Planned European trip 2017

Last trip of the year planned (still to be confirmed, approved, of course)..




Conference paper: Inside Out: Avatars, Agents, Cultural Agents

Paper accepted for Researching Digital Cultural Heritage – International Conference, Manchester UK, Dates: 30/11-1/12/2017 twitter #digheritage17

Keywords:Digitally enabled collaborative, participatory and reflexive approaches in cultural heritage design, research and practice.

If conveying cultural significance is a central aim of virtual heritage projects, can they convey cultural significance effectively without an understanding of the contextual role of cultural knowledge? In this talk I will argue this is very difficult, but even populating virtual environments with others (human-guided or computer-scripted), there are still vital, missing ingredients.

In virtual heritage projects with enough computational power and sophistication to feature intelligent agents, they are primarily used as guides (Bogdanovych et al. 2009). They lead players to important landmarks, or perhaps act as historical guides (revealing past events, conveying situationally appropriate behaviour). Intelligent agents are usually designed for limited forms of conversation and typically help convey social presence rather than cultural presence. For an enhanced “sense of inhabited place”, engaging narrative- related elements, or embodiment, a cultural agent recognizes, adds to, or transmits physically embedded and embodied aspects of culture. They could provide a sense of cultural presence, becoming Aware-Of-Not-Quite-Being-‘There’.

Cultural agents would not be mere conversational agents if they were able to:

  1. Automatically select correct cultural behaviours given specific events or situations.
  2. Recognize in/correct cultural behaviours given specific events, locations, or situations.
  3. Transmit cultural knowledge.
  4. Modify, create, or command artefacts that become cultural knowledge.

To fulfil the above criteria, cultural agents would be culturally constrained. Not just socially constrained; their actions and beliefs would be dependent on role, space, and time. They could understand and point out right from wrong in terms of culturally specific behaviour and understand the history and possibly also the future trajectory of specific cultural movements. In this talk I will discuss three scenarios for cultural agents, their relationship to roles and rituals, and two more missing ingredients. The result? A more situated, reflexive appreciation of cultural significance via virtual heritage.

CAA 2017 Mechanics, Mods and Mashups session

Our session of presentations, projects, play-testing, game pitches for CAA2017:
March 14-16, 2017: ATLANTA

Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists

“I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”: Ruin Interactions and Attitudes in Fallout-Emily Jean Booker

Video games are a popular form of media, with over 155 million gamers in America today, and they thus serve as a unique way to analyze how pop-culture can influence public perceptions of the past. The player’s ability to move through, interact with, and have an effect on virtual environments creates intimate, complicated relationships with virtual materials, including artifacts and ruins, that can have real-world effects. Although aspects of archaeology are often included in video games, the discipline is not always portrayed as scholars would like. However, as problematic as games like Tomb Raider or Uncharted might be, they are quickly becoming a key way in which the public learns about and interacts with archaeology.

This paper will explore the ways the popular 2015 game Fallout 4 shapes ruined landscapes (‘ruinscapes’) for specific thematic purposes that ultimately influence player interactions with ruins in both the virtual and real worlds. To do this, I will create a walkthrough exploring the ruinscapes of Fallout 4 and consider how the game’s strong themes of anti-capitalism and relative morality can create biases and preconceptions of Mid-Century Modern ruins.

Games like Fallout 4 are extremely popular and consumed by millions of gamers worldwide. Video game analysis is an essential element to understanding current public perceptions of ruins and, more generally, archaeology. By considering the representation of virtual ruinscapes and how their thematic underpinnings can affect popular attitudes towards ruins, archaeologists can become better equipped to engage with public audiences.

Sailing with the Gods: Argonauts and Samothracians in an Ancient Sea-Robert C Bryant, Sandra Blakely, Joanna Mundy, Cole Furrh

The goal of the Samothracian sailing simulation is to recreate the ancient social networks of Greece through the lens of the maritime infrastructure as a video game. How did maritime trade affect the societies of the Mediterranean and their interaction? By reconstructing the physical landscape of the ancient Mediterranean in the Unity3D game engine, we can study the behavioral patterns and decision making of contemporary human beings as players when placed under the same stressors and variables as their ancient Greek mariner counterparts. With this data we hope to bolster the existing social network analysis of the area with quantitative human behavior. This data is gleaned by tracking all player interactions of sailing and trading through the simulated environment to search for patterns that help explain ancient analogs. The game also serves as a ludic and pedagogical experience for the players through attached myth and literature that act as the narrative for the world. Currently, we have a working and very functional prototype already tested in a classroom of 60+ students. By the time of this conference, the prototype will be finished with plans for expansion.


How Waterloo was Won-Stuart Eve

The Battle of Waterloo (1815) as well as being the turning point in a huge European struggle has been the subject of a number of computer games. These range from the innovative turn-based mechanics of Mirrorsoft’s Amiga game – Waterloo (1989) to the sophisticated and highly graphically appealing Napoleon: Total War with a vast number in between. However, none of these games allow for a detailed examination of the individual parts of the highly complex battle, mostly focusing on the wider strategy of the day.

The charity Waterloo Uncovered is currently excavating at the battlefield in Belgium and uncovering new information every year about the minute details of the day of the battle. Our current focus is the struggle for Hougoumont Farm and we are discovering how the micro-topography, architectural structures and even the types of plants in the gardens would have affected the soldiers and how they moved and fought on the day. We would like to see how a gaming engine and game mechanics could be used to investigate this – charting the fall of musketballs (and comparing them with the recovered remains), simulating the visual and physical impact of hedges and ditches, and even modelling the build-up of dead bodies on the field and how they would have affected movement, morale and the will to continue the fight.

Blur the lines – Games as tools for archaeological research-Lennart Linde

In the past decade, Agent Based Models (ABM’s) have become a functional part of the archaeologist’s toolbox. Many ABM’s include elements of game theory in their ruleset, which is the foundation of a working model. The line between a purely scientific ABM and a video game from the simulation genre is already thin, but why not blur the line further and blend an ABM into a full-blown game experience?
The use of games as tools of research is the next logical step. Instead of formalizing our theories in a ruleset for an ABM, we could design a game based on them. Where the player makes choices through gameplay and be monitored exploring various strategies!
This talk will investigate the potential of the given approach, based on a fictive open-world game, set in the European Bronze Age. The players will have to manage resources and tackle the spatial organization of a village. They are also bound to make decisions on the social organization of their village. There is no direct interaction with the inhabitants of the game world as they act as agents. The collected datasets will be analyzed with emphasis on the correlation between certain forms of social organization and the rise of warfare, as well as on connections between wealth distribution and tensions within the tribe.
Archaeogaming does not need to be limited to the research of games anymore; we can try to take a step forward and do research through games.

Arpilleras and Ayni: Roleplaying Reciprocity-Natalie Underberg-Goode and Peter Smith

The project is based on the work of Peruvian arpillera (appliqué) artist Flora Zárate, whose three dimensional “story cloths” narrate cultural stories both of people from her native Peru and of immigrants in the United States. Although not created in the ancient past, these works illustrate very old and persistent themes found in Quechua-language (the language of the Incas) mythology and folktales such as the concept of ayni, or reciprocity, expressed in such activities as cooperative labor. In addition to identifying key themes in Andean mythology, we consider how elements of mythic thinking and Andean worldview that figure in Quechua folktales—such as the presence of religious syncretism, the relation between time and space in Andean thought, and the conception of gender complementarity and dependence—could be integrated into the design of the interactive experience based on exploration of an arpillera reimagined as board game prototype. Throughout the game, the main character will have to make choices that relate to Andean culture, including understanding and demonstrating the importance of reciprocity or, “today for me, tomorrow for you.” We will present a paper prototype using materials including paper, blocks, dice, and index cards, identifying the presence of these recurring Andean cultural themes in the arpilleras, addressing how the design is intended to present characters whose roles relate to corresponding knowledge and tasks, and how objects are linked to culturally-relevant potential uses. Participants will be invited to play through the prototype, giving feedback and making design suggestions.

Designing and Using Game Environments as Historical Learning Contexts-Juan Francisco Hiriart

The virtual presentation of landscapes in games, thanks to the exponential increase of representational power of digital technologies, has been progressively challenging the capacity of gaming audiences to distinguish virtual environments from real-world referents. This spectacular growth, however, has not been mirrored by a comparable progress in the simulation of the natural and social processes from real environments. Although highly realistic, game landscapes in most commercial titles still remain as inert theatrical scenery, devoid of any capacity to reflect the effects of human life agency and the inextricable nature of social and natural processes.
In this presentation, I would like to demonstrate a historical game prototype that I have been developing as part of a PhD research, with the purpose of investigating possible design solutions to the problem of creating game environments capable of transmitting the inherent complexity of historical landscapes. The game reconstructs Early Medieval Britain, focusing on the micro-histories of everyday life instead of more stereotypical forms of gameplay centred on the simulation of violent conflicts. Currently in its final version, the game has been iteratively produced in cycles of development and play-testing sessions with the participation of archaeologists, historians, and educators who have given valuable feedback about its design, direction, and potential use.