April 19, 2004
The last few weeks have seen several articles and presentations about games as movies, or Hollywood directors interested in games — a NYTimes article, reactions on Slashdot Games, Ludology.org and Terra Nova, a GDC presentation by Neil Young (designer of Majestic, now head of Maxis) about producing the successful Return of the King game for EA:
According to Young, the key to the success of the games lies in the understanding that these titles were not simply mass appeal games, but also mass entertainment experiences. Gameplay — the mechanics of game design — can certainly make or break a game, Young said, but on a broader level, the widespread success of a title depends equally on how broadly engaging a title is in terms of its general entertainment value.
In other words, does it have a movie tie-in. So it was refreshing (and ego-stroking) to find this article in the Calgary free weekly paper, FFWD:
Hollywood-backed games best illustrate the primary difference between the two mediums. Whereas movies are a visual depiction of a story, video games are the physics and environment of one. The Lord of the Rings games, for instance, recreate scenes from the films to minute detail, but have only a superficial semblance of their camaraderie and character development. Without the movies or books, the games come across as a series of unconnected battles. The story is just an arbitrary framework for the action.
At least until games like Façade arrive. A finalist in the 2004 Independent Games Festival, Façade has become the most controversial example of video gaming’s latest buzzword: interactive drama. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, collaborators Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern have combined dramaturgical theories with a provocative take on artificial intelligence.
… Immersive and wholly convincing, Façade is like nothing I’ve played before.
Hey, cool, in Canada, they get it!