SimFaux Interactive Network News Simulation

I've just uploaded the first version of the SimFaux Interactive Network News Simulation to the Huffington Post's Contagious Festival!

It's pronounced "Sim Foe". Like the Colbert report: it's french, bitch!

It has an cinematic interactive interface consisting of several different screen layouts, each with a different number of frames, which you can configure to display a variety of simulated characters, streaming videos, interactive surveys, and text talking points. Here's the conference screen layout showing several videos, a couple of characters, a survey and talking points:

SimFaux Conference Screen (an OpenLaszlo application, by Don Hopkins)

SimFaux is an open ended simulation, so it's easy for me to add more content including video, simulated characters, spoken expressions, surveys, talking points, and other artificially intelligent interactive content, that you can plug together and play with. The contest rules specify a 15 meg limit, otherwise it could present gigabytes of streaming video.

When you first start it up, you'll see a full screen animated simulation of Dick Cheney's talking head and waving hands, saying "Bla Bla Bla" and all kinds of other horrible stuff. In the upper right corner is an inset frame playing a video, which switches between more than a hundred streaming video clips. And of course text message scroll along the bottom of the screen, telling you all kinds of useless stuff.

You can point and click up "pie menus" to control the interactive user interface. The main pie menu is the "Direct" menu, which has two submens for "Screen" (up) and "Camera" (down).

The "Screen" submenu lets you select between eight different screens: Full screen, full screen with an inset box, double split screen, triple split screen, quad split screen, confence layout (just like the Katrina tapes), and the Bradey Bunch layout (in a 3x3 tic-tac-toe board like Celebrity Squares). There is also an "About" screen with credits and instructions.

The "Camera" submenu lets you choose the content to display in the frame you clicked on. The top item is a submenu of people, currently including Dick Cheney and Arianna Huffington. I'll be adding many more people soon. The right item is "Talking Points", which displays quotes and other text. The left item is "Survey", which displays an interactive survey that asks your opinions on important issues of the day. The bottom item "Video" displays a constant stream of video clips in the frame.

Each type of content you can display in a frame has its own specialized pie menu to control it. Every one has a "Go Away" item to get rid of it, and a "Direct" item to pop up the "Direct" menu.

When you click on a character, you get a pie menu several special options: The top item is "Cheat Codes", which pops up a submenu of secret cheat codes that make the character do something. Not all characters have the same cheat codes, or any at all. (Cheney has 60 of them because he's such a big cheater, and Arianna doesn't have any because she's such a straight shooter.) The "Talk" item on the right makes the character start talking, and the "Shut Up" item on the left makes them shut up, as you'd expect.

When you click on a video, you get a pie menu with the following special options: The top "Change" item switches to another video. The way it determines which video to play next is secret, and subject to change. The "Pause" item to the left pauses the video, or starts it back up if it's already paused. The "Rewind" item to the left rewinds to the start of the video. The "Repeat" item to the north west toggles the video player's repeat mode, which will loop the video if enabled.

Talking points and surveys both have a special "Change" menu item at the top, which switches to another talking point or survey.

There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. All the content is marked up with keywords and scores and social commentary, that the simulation engine uses to determine what to do next.

SimFaux is designed by accretion, so as I add more characters, content and keywords, it will become much smarter and surprising with interesting emergent behavior.