Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Interactive Narrative - Presentation of a Digital Narrative

The purpose of this assignment is to extend your awareness of the
plurality and diversity of digital narratives.


Official Description:

Façade is an artificial intelligence-based art/research experiment in electronic narrative – an attempt to move beyond traditional branching or hyper-linked narrative to create a fully-realized, one-act interactive drama.

Façade is like a game in that, using your mouse and keyboard you control your movements in an artificial space. However it is unlike a game, in that the narrative is dependent on your actions and interactions with the characters. Making it more realistic to everyday life than a standard computer game. You play the part of a long-time friend of a couple. They invite you for dinner one evening and you quickly become involved in their troubled marriage and they start arguing and attacking each other. Gradually different problems are revealed depending on the path of the conversation. You will often be asked difficult questions with only yes or no answers, or be provoked to take sides. The outcome will depend on what you say. They will either break up, stay together or throw you out.

My first impression of the game was that the graphics are very simple and quite crude.
However after a short while I forgot the simple graphics, as you move around the perspective changes and the characters follow you. They will turn to face you, ask you questions often and step in front of each over to gain your attention, demanding you to interact. I was lucky in that I could input my own name, so it was more personal and when I came to play the game properly, I actually felt a kind of connection with the characters. A strange feeling but I couldn't help trying to please and help them. Sometimes they will question your friendship or tell you that what your saying is helping them. This kind of feedback made me feel as if I was really taking part in a two-way interaction. Saying the right or wrong thing was affecting their feelings and they were telling me. Sometimes one of them would storm off if you sided with the other. This made me feel bad, as if I had done something wrong, so I immediately would try to correct my mistake.
On most occasions the characters understand and respond to what you type. When this happened I felt a strong connection with the game and its characters. After my second play I managed to save their marriage, they thanked me and said that what I had said really helped.
However, another play ended abruptly as I got thrown out. I’m not really sure what I said but they didn’t like it.

Tom, look around this apartment. It's got everything anyone would ever want. But, Grace, oh no, she's never satisfied.

Trip, ... ugh ... I'm so sick of this.

what are you sick of?

Alright, Tom, that's it, you've got to leave.

Overall I think that this game is more emotionally involving than most computer games I have played. The objective of the game is not to save their marriage. There isn’t a goal that you must reach in order to complete the game. You simply take part in the ‘one act drama’ and the outcome depends on your interaction. So perhaps this isn’t as fun or entertaining as a normal computer game. But in some ways, just as challenging and engaging.

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