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Academic Page

This page lists all projects created for the Combine in collaboration with Universities or other academic Purposes.

The Star Wars Combine is an extremely rich development environment and test platform for new technologies. One of the researched goals is to interest students from all over the world to work on useful projects and innovative developments. The Combine is always ready to coach University or College thesis, senior projects or any other important projects. The main areas of interest include: networked virtual environment, distributed applications, distributed database applications, programming, project management, Web technologies (Web Services, Web Semantic, XML, XHTML...) but also some more social aspects like socialization.

Any student looking to work for an ongoing project and wanting his work to be useful may propose a subject to the Combine. Any request must include the University name and country, the ongoing studies and final diploma, the lessons title and description, and the desired project title and description. Naturally, the student will have first to obtain the permission from his university. If interested or if you have questions, please mail to the Sim Master.


THE IMPACT OF ONLINE ROLE PLAYING GAMES AND ENGLISH WRITING SKILLS
The online community has many different uses. This study is a design on how online message board role playing games assist learners in developing stronger English writing and comprehension skills. A part of the study will be to observe how different learners, both primary English speakers and non-primary English speakers write in an informal setting as well as studying the effects of online role-playing has in the comprehension of the English language. In studying the gaming community, surveys and interviews will be conducted to get information about the types of players as well as how the players view their own English writing skills. This study looks at how online role playing games as well as live role playing games can be a supplement to established educational methods.

Date: September 2005
Score: 100%
Author: Stephnie Retkofsky
University: American Intercontinental University Online (USA)
 
LINK:
+ Complete study

WEB SERVICES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF PERSISTENT ONLINE GAME FACTIONS
The Star Wars Combine is a game involving thousands of players in a virtual world. Each player impersonates a character that continues evolving even when the player is not connected. Players have formed groups, called factions, that are self-organized. The more members a faction has, the more complicated to manage it becomes.

The goal of this work was to create an infrastructure to allow faction management tools to automatically update their data with the information maintained on the game server. The web services technology was chosen for the various advantages it offers. The new component has been implemented successfully and has been appreciated by many faction tool developers.

While this technology is already widely accepted in the business world, its use in a game context is totally new. It seems that Web Services have gained their place in the game world and will continue to be developed. Hopefully, this experiment will convince other game designers to adapt their platforms in a similar manner.

Date: September 2005
Score: 18/20
Author: Fran�ois Deli�ge
University: Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
 
DOWNLOADS:
+ Presentation (PPT - 3.49MB)
+ Presentation (PDF - 1.53MB)
+ Full thesis (PDF - 12MB)

EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF INTERNET COMMUNITIES
Previous psychological studies suggest that Internet communication benefits introverted people by allowing them feel more comfortable talking about themselves, providing opportunities to feel validated for who they really are, and decreasing their feelings of loneliness. Introverted people are typically described as more socially reclusive and more likely to be lonely than extroverted people. Introverts may feel the most comfortable socializing when they have the greatest control over personal information and are the least threatened by an invasion of privacy, as research indicates. In addition, online communities have different expectations for how strictly members are expected to present themselves, such as the flexibility of personal identity, and the pace of conversation. Flexibility of identity was examined through comparing role-play to non role-play groups. Pace of conversation was compared through synchronous (real time, like Instant Messenger) discussion and asynchronous (a variable pace, like e-mail) communication.

Some groups asynchronously discuss real-life topics (e.g., real-life discussion groups on message boards); others in role-play games use pseudo-identities and communicate synchronously (e.g., Multi User Domains or MUDs) or asynchronously (message board role-play communities). Role-play is believed to allow experimentation identity, and asynchronous communication was theorized to allow more time to compose one's responses. This study examined how role-play and asynchronous communication benefits introverted people. Specifically, introverts who participated in asynchronous message board role-play communities were theorized to feel truly themselves online as opposed to offline, report talking about themselves more in different ways (more self-disclosure aspects), and less loneliness in their online communities compared to introverts who were more restricted in their self-presentation (e.g., in real-life discussions and in MUDs). I also explored how social benefits were related to involvement in online communities, sense of community, and experience communicating online.

Three hundred thirty four participants recruited from all three types of Internet communities (note: including the Star Wars Combine) completed surveys from the range of geographical locations in which U.S. citizens live. Online community members were significantly lonelier and more introverted than normal. Participation in online communities was typically equivalent to a part-time job (two hours per day, seven days per week) with medium or high levels of involvement and a fairly high sense of community. Participants categorized themselves most often as "Veterans" at communicating online and felt they were truly themselves between offline and online lives. Typically, self-disclosure within online communities was characterized by moderately high intent to self-disclose, moderate amount (duration and frequency), moderate positive and negative aspects that they share, moderately low dishonesty or inaccuracy, and moderately low control of depth (intentional intimacy). Participants approached the study in a valid manner, taking the study seriously and not attempting to deceive.

Introversion was related to greater amounts of self-disclosure, dishonesty and inaccuracy, loneliness, and related to less depth (intimacy) of disclosure. Amount of self-disclosure, and dishonest or inaccurate disclosures, were related more loneliness. Either talking about oneself more leads to more loneliness, or lonely people simply tend to talk about themselves more than those who are less lonely online. No community type (message board role-plays, MUDs, and message board real-life discussions) was more or less socially beneficial than any other. This means that lonely people online weren't lonely because of the type of online community they are associated with (be it role-play or not), they were lonely because they were introverted. Introverts were less likely to feel a high sense of community than extroverted people, and sense of community was associated with less loneliness. It was most common to find "Veterans" or "Experts" at communicating online in synchronous role-play communities. Those with "Intermediate" experience endorsed feeling truly themselves offline more than those with greater experience. "Veterans" and "Experienced" online communicators typically endorsed feeling truly themselves between online and offline.

The variable that was most related to social benefits was level of involvement in one's online community. Highly involved participants tended to feel like they were really themselves online and reported less loneliness in their online communities than those who were moderately or minimally involved. Recall how online community members in general were lonelier than normal. In-fact, when community members were highly involved, they were not lonelier than normal. While introverts were no more likely to be highly involved than extroverts, this may be good news. High level of involvement appears to be beneficial, and every type online community member (introverted or extroverted) was just as likely to be highly involved. Interestingly, MUD players rated themselves as highly involved more frequently than other community types.

Future studies may look at whether role-play (or synchronous communication) in general is particularly involving, and therefore, particularly beneficial. This study was a "snap-shot" in time of online communities, and future research could look at how people benefit socially over time in online communities. Do introverted people become less lonely over time because they self-disclose more often and for longer periods of time than extroverted people? Similarly, research could include non-US citizens and represent the Internet as a whole � a method I could not use given time restrictions and the red tape involved in cross-national studies. Additionally, level of involvement appears to be an important factor in gaining social benefits online and could benefit from future research. Do introverted people gain social skills online that can be transferred offline? Or, could online communities provide an independent outlet for social and emotional needs without the need to transfer anything into "real life" at all? These are questions open to future studies that may lead to positive real-world implications for Internet users in general and introverts in particular.

Date: May 2004
Score:  
Author: Alexandra Bond-Upson
University: Reed College (Psychology)
 
 

STAR WARS COMBINE STRATEGIC OVERVIEW
The Star Wars Combine is a free massively multiplayer online role-playing simulation game, based on the Star Wars universe, developed by amateurs during their spare time. Throughout this document, we will describe the Star Wars Combine project. From the assigned objectives to the work, planning and organization, every aspect of the Star Wars Combine will be reviewed including the financial and legal facets.

The purpose of this paper is not only to provide a comprehensive overview of the project and how it is designed and managed, but also to share the experience accumulated in five years of development. It is our strong belief that the Star Wars Combine online game can teach a few lessons to many.

Date: August 2003
Score: N/A
Author: Veynom
University: --
 
DOWNLOADS:
+ WINDOWS 98/ME/2000/XP

MANAGEMENT OF NETWORKED VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS
A virtual environment is a computer-generated simulated space in which individuals interact with each other. A networked virtual environment (net-VE) allows these individuals to interact even though they may be located around the world. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the design and implementation of net-VEs. Several companies are deploying interactive environments for entertainment, commercial applications are being prototyped, and military training systems are growing in size, scope, and complexity.

The design and implementation of net-VEs create several problems: managing consistent distributed information, contending with limited network bandwidth, processing and rendering resources, and supporting a large user base. Increasing numbers of computer scientists are beginning to develop infrastructure for net-VEs, develop net-VE applications on these infrastructures, and use net-VEs in day-to-day work. Rather than starting anew, these developers and users can be more effective in their work by learning the techniques used by existing systems.

The purpose of this report is to propose an architecture solution to the scalability problem of net-VEs, and particularly how to support more users in net-VEs. We expose how we partition the virtual environment, and for each partitioning, we describe a model of architecture based on a client-server system using several servers. We also relate the successful implementation of a prototype based on one of our models, and which supports an existing online application.

This paper will first define the key concepts associated to net-VEs, and we will illustrate these concepts while summarizing the evolution of net-VEs. We will then detail the taxonomy of net-VE, and their related problems. As we will see, these problems are related to the network and to the architecture of the system. The conclusion of this analysis will serve as basis for the next part where we will expose our architecture solutions. Finally, the next chapter will describe the implementation of our prototype.

Date: June 2002
Score: 18/20
Author: Veynom
University: Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
 
DOWNLOADS:
+ PowerPoint Presentation
+ PDF of full thesis
SPACE STATIONS IMPLEMENTATION
As university programming project, the space station system has been designed and implemented. The project included the introduction, creation, upgrades, and management of space stations into the Combine and the integration of their command into the Holocom interface.

Date: February 2002
Score: 19/20
Author: Veynom
University: Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
 
DOWNLOADS:
+ WINDOWS 98/ME/2000/XP (french)
APPLICATION OF THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT THEORY TO THE COMBINE SIMULATION
This work illustrates the Project Management theory, and how it applies to the Combine development and conception. The report includes discussions about the team structure, work breakdown structure (WBS), global planning, financial analysis, etc. The zip file includes a PDF report and the PowerPoint slideshow. Created by Veynom and friends.

Date: June 2002
Score: 16/20
Author: Veynom and friends
University: Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
 
DOWNLOADS:
+ WINDOWS 98/ME/2000/XP
HOLOCOM
Holocom, an early applet to provide basic ground movement, was designed by Fizzban as university project for a programming course.

Date: April 2000.
Score: --
Author: Fizzban
University: Rheinisch Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (Germany)