PLM and Euphoria

I first mentioned the Euphoria technology last year (reLink). The recent video I posted (reLink) reminded me of it, so I decided to go looking for more and found what appears to be an early tech demo for “Endorphin”, the code that may have evolved into Euphoria. Even in rough form it’s amazing. I was watching this and thinking how my comments earlier this month to Jerry Paffendorf, about machinima being the next big thing, were more true than I imagined at the time.

Besides what this stuff might mean for machinima, the football player at the end dropping the ball had me once again thinking that we’re near the point where determining the outcomes of those kinds of interactions could depend on all sorts of extraordinarily realistic variables: a player’s arm/hand/finger strength, coefficient of frictions on the various body parts and on the ball (and whether the environment impacts them), the air pressure in the ball and the elasticity of the ball’s material, ambient temperature and it’s effect on the materials and their properties, the force of impact between the players, and so on and so forth. Then add into this the “determination” of the player, driven by character behavioral routines, based on other factors which could be even more extensive than the basic physics, and things get even better. Did the player have an argument the previous night? Did that make him more or less determined to win, or more or less prone to error? And what of the other players? The coaches? The fans? Imagine a Spectator influencing gameplay merely by shouting insults and crude remarks (maybe not the best implementation, but you get the idea).

I’ve previously linked videogames and PLM software. With realistic materials and NPC’s of this sophistication, the scenarios I’ve described where factory managers create layouts and test them becomes almost trivial (here are some references and reminders: reLink 1, reLink 2, reLink 3, reLink 4, reLink 5). While I may not believe that factories have much of a future in a rapid-manufacturing world, I do think we’ll see a stage, perhaps a long one, where virtual technologies are integral and vital to their design and operation. The interesting question is: how long before someone takes a mind-numbingly boring occupational activity, mashes it up with a videogame and turns it into an engaging telecommuter pastime?

{Note: for those coming here from the Seemage corporate website which is mirroring 3D Mojo’s post but not the comments, may I suggest reading the original post and my comments on it – Link. The 3D Mojo/Seemage post misinterprets this entry and I’ve clarified things there.}

{Update: In the event the 3D Modo site disappears, I’m copying my comment and adding it here:

Thanks for the plug, however, I need to clarify that I’m not saying PLM is the “basis of the factory-less future”; I’m suggesting the advancement of fabrication technologies will be the eventual demise of factories.

What I’m suggesting in that post is that PLM will increasingly become gamelike as it incorporates those elements that videogames and simulations do well. So, for example, a behavioral NPC system as shown in the Euphoria demo could be used by plant managers to help with simulations (e.g. hazardous material scenarios). Imagine using the HR data available, plugging psych profiles into NPC’s, mapping those into Euphoria’s character behavior system, then doing the same with physical attributes, and then testing a containment/escape plan for a particular workshift. A plant manager might discover that fireteam members working that shift are physically unable to do a task in the manner expected. That could lead to any number of changes to both human resources (e.g. swapping workers among shifts to achieve a better balance of capability) and the factory (e.g. changing the factory layout).

On the PLM side, I could see people in R&D running simulations using the DMM system from the other, related post on this subject. But that has less to do with factories (and the quote you posted above) than with product development issues.}

6 thoughts on “PLM and Euphoria

  1. You wondered: “how long before someone takes a mind-numbingly boring occupational activity, mashes it up with a videogame and turns it into an engaging telecommuter passtime?”

    It’s not exactly an engaging telecommuter passtime, but it does take a mind-numbingly boring occupational activity, and mashes it up with a video game which is amusing for about 2 1/2 minutes: Disaffected! a video game parody of the Kinko’s copy store.

    The problem remains how to extract useful output from these scenarios, and still make them fun. “Slot It! The Mail Sorting Game” isn’t going to hold anyone’s interest for too terribly long, but with some out of the box thinking and a bit of imagination one could envision all kinds of ways to apply real world scenarios to these kinds of simulations that can be presented and influenced just like a game.

  2. I’ve previously written about Disaffected. It’s one of a number of videogames that starts to venture into some interesting areas. But as you say, it’ll take a bit of thinking (and some venture capital) to pull it off… especially when it seems that if some activity can be turned into a game it can also likely be automated.

  3. For sure. The low-hanging examples here all explicitly fall outside the domain of “easily automatized” like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or Google Answers. I think it would be a very interesting exercise to get a bunch of smart people in the room together and just brainstorm about how to make a “fun” game while distributing human intelligence to help computers preform tasks that computers cannot do well, especially in the context of casual gaming. The above imagined level of sophistication with simulations just adds a whole new dimension to that discussion. Great stuff, man!

  4. Agree. I was thinking along the same lines. Whereas something like checking DVD’s for scratches (ala the Netflix example) could be automated, some of the things that already seem to be migrating (and in some part also being “crowd-sourced”) lend themselves to this opportunity. Imagine guilds and game clans as production cells (in a non-manufacturing sense).

  5. When I was thinking about those DVD’s I also had something else in mind: scanning medical images. As it turns out, Ars Technica has touched on this topic today – Link.

  6. Pingback: 3D Mojo » Blog Archive » Do factories have a future?

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