April 19, 2004

Hollywood or would they not

by Andrew Stern · , 11:02 pm

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!

A pretty interesting twist on movie games is Lionhead’s upcoming release The Movies, discussed here.

2 Responses to “Hollywood or would they not”

  1. Jason Says:

    Wow, congratulations. What a great article!

  2. William Says:

    The Calgary article was very nice, although he does still buy into the function that visual realism is what matters.

    I was having a conversation about this topic with Chaim Gingold the other day, and we agreed that any director that wants to create a video game should at least first produce one animated feature film first, to work out the problems of generating compelling expression. I can’t think of any film director other than Richard Linklater who really took on the challenge of animation (and even then, he was rotoscoping.)

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