Concepts and Modelling Techniques for Pervasive and Social Games
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Modern computer games are difficult to develop. Emerging pervasive games make this situation even harder, mainly by introducing physical space to computer games. To help developers create games more quickly and easily, various authoring tools are used as they provide visualized user interfaces and code automation. However, these ready-made tools are usually targeted towards certain and narrow game domains. They may not be able to meet certain requirements coming from other game domains. Customized (authoring) tools may provide an alternative between creating games from scratch and creating games with ready-made tools. Model Driven Software Development (MDSD) and Domain Specific Modelling (DSM) can be utilized to implement such customized tools in a formal and efficient way. MDSD has been widely applied in many other domains, and research has shown it to be useful. When it comes to the game domain, research exists where MDSD has been applied. However, some important conceptual and procedural characteristics of computer game development have not been well addressed. These issues can have a major impact on the quality and efficiency of the final application of MDSD. The pursuit of improving the quality and efficiency of model driven pervasive game development has been the inspiration for this Ph.D. thesis. In this thesis, the following research questions are proposed to address the conceptual and procedural challenges: RQ1: What important concepts need to be considered regarding creating pervasive games with a model driven approach? o RQ1.1: What important characteristics should/ may a pervasive game have? o RQ1.2: What concepts can be used in a Domain Specific Language (DSL) of pervasive games? RQ2: How can MDSD techniques be applied in a traditional pervasive /computer game creation process? o RQ2.1: How can a formalized domain vocabulary be used to enhance the domain analysis process in order to create pervasive games with a DSM approach? o RQ2.2: How can a traditional computer game development process be adapted to support DSM tasks in an efficient and iterative way? These research questions are answered mainly through one review and several rounds of DSL development. Case studies and a user acceptance survey were performed to evaluate the research results. The main contributions of this thesis are: RC1: A conceptual framework named TeMPS (meaning Temporality, Mobility, Perceptibility and Sociality) to summarize important characteristics of pervasive and social games. RC2: An ontology named PerGO (meaning Pervasive Game Ontology) to structure and accelerate domain analysis for model driven pervasive games development. RC3: A process named GCCT (meaning Game Creation with Customized Tools) to make use of model driven techniques within the traditional computer game development process. The first two contributions add to the conceptual base of the computer game and pervasive game domains towards wider application of model driven game development. And the third contribution utilizes the conceptual base, and provides a compact and practical solution to apply MDSD in the computer game domain.