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This is an archived version of the class, which was taught in Spring 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania by Lara Martin and Chris Callison-Burch. For a more recent edition, check here.

Course number
CIS 700-001 - Interactive Fiction and Text Generation
At least one of the following courses
CIS 419/519
CIS 520
CIS 421/521
CIS 522
CIS 530
Course Description
We know now that artificial intelligence (AI) can play chess or even Go, but can AI play text adventure games (also known as interactive fiction)? What about roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons? In this course, we will be looking at the subfields of automated story generation (teaching computers to tell stories), interactive fiction (teaching computers to play through stories), and their intersection (teaching computers to tell and then play through the stories). This class will teach you about computational creativity and help develop your skills in natural language processing and cognitive modeling.

Learning Objectives

  • Understanding the challenges of creating text-based games and automatically generating stories.
  • Implement and appraise the value of different technologies (Neural Language Models, Dialogue Systems, Scripts, Planning, and Commonsense Reasoning) in story generation/interactive fiction playing.
  • Argue for the appropriate components of a working story generation system or interactive fiction–playing system.
  • Create your own story generation system or interactive fiction–playing system.
Lara Martin
Chris Callison-Burch
Liam Dugan
Artemis Panagopoulou
Discussion Forum
Ed Discussion
Time and Place
Spring 2022, Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1:45-3:15pm EST via Zoom
First day of class is January 13, 2022
Last day of class is April 26, 2022
Office Hours (see the Staff page for office hour locations)
Chris - Mondays, 2-3pm EST
Liam - Tuesdays, 3:15-4:15pm EST
Lara - Thursdays, 3:15-4:15pm EST
Artemis - Fridays, 12:15-1:15pm EST
There will be six homeworks and a final project. In addition, you will be required to present a paper in class.
  • 10% Paper Presentation + Class Participation
  • 55% Homeworks (6 in total)
  • 35% Final Project
Paper Presentations
Over the course of the semester, each student must prepare a 10-15 minute presentation on a research paper relevant to the course. Since these presentation will be a substantial component of the learning experience in the class, slides must be prepared and emailed to us at least 72 hours in advance of the lecture they will be presented in (e.g., by 3PM on the Monday before the presenation date), so that we can provide feedback on them. Failure to send us the slides ahead of time will result in a grade penalty on the presentation.
Collaboration Policy
Unless otherwise noted, you ARE allowed to work in pairs on the homework assignments, and teams of 3-5 for the final project.
Late Day Policy
Each student has five free “late days”. Homeworks can be submitted at most two days late. If you are out of late days, then you will not be able to get credit for subsequent late assignments. One “day” is defined as anytime between 1 second and 24 hours after the homework deadline. The intent of the late day policy it to allow you to take extra time due to unforseen circumstances like illnesses or family emergencies, and for forseeable interruptions like on campus interviewing and religious holidays. You do not need to ask permission to use your late days. No additional late days are granted. Late days only apply to the homeworks. They cannot be used on the final project, which must be finished by the final day of class. Late days may not be used for paper presentations.