A computational model of plan-based narrative conflict at the fabula level

Stephen G. Ware, R. Michael Young, Brent Harrison, David L. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Conflict is an essential element of interesting stories. In this paper, we operationalize a narratological definition of conflict and extend established narrative planning techniques to incorporate this definition. The conflict partial order causal link planning algorithm (CPOCL) allows narrative conflict to arise in a plan while maintaining causal soundness and character believability. We also define seven dimensions of conflict in terms of this algorithm's knowledge representation. The first three - participants, reason, and duration - are discrete values which answer the "who?" "why?" and "when?" questions, respectively. The last four - balance, directness, stakes, and resolution - are continuous values which describe important narrative properties that can be used to select conflicts based on the author's purpose. We also present the results of two empirical studies which validate our operationalizations of these narrative phenomena. Finally, we demonstrate the different kinds of stories which CPOCL can produce based on constraints on the seven dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6623111
Pages (from-to)271-288
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 IEEE.


  • Conflict
  • narrative
  • planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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