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Subject: Re: The far distant future of IT entertainment ( 6 of 6 )
Posted by Adam

The problem with this view of the distant future is that what you are proposing is not a technological issue, but a writing and workload one (this is in response to the idea about a non interactive film where you can wander around and look at whatever you want as opposed to the freely created world).

Many years ago, there was an adventure game called Personal Nightmare, developed by Horrorsoft, who later became Adventuresoft. The opening sequence of the game had you (the player) sitting in a pub. After a short period, there was a crash outside, at which point one of the people in the pub got up and rushed outside, not returning for a few minutes. If you left the pub before this happened, you saw an accident, the man coming out of the pub to see what happened, and an ambulance turn up. This was a very limited example of what you proposed, where the player could see the world from where he wished. This game appeared on the Amiga, and thus showed that this sort of thing could be done even in those days...

HOWEVER, the complexities involved in writing and developing such a product are immense. Not only does every character in the "film" have to be scripted for the full duration, but interest has to be maintained, the player has to be aware of where the main interest of the plot is, and the scriptwriter has to worry about the player missing important information.

Films are great because the writer knows how much information the viewer has and can therefore tell a story in the best possible way, using pace, dialog, action, humour etc to entertain the audience. If the writer has no knowledge of the information known, he loses the tightness that is required to make a film great. Much of the dialog may make little sense as it refers to characters that the viewer does not know, events that the viewer is unaware of etc. In a situation where I can follow who I want, there is a serious risk that I will miss everything interesting in the whole film. The only way to do this would be to have full and interesting scripts for every single person in the film, and everyone that they interact with. For example of simple pitfalls: the film starts in a hospital, with a doctor treating the hero for minor injuries. After the hero leaves, I don't know whether I should follow him, or stay with the doctor. I decide to follow the hero, missing some important pieces of information that the doctor gave out. Whilst walking through the hospital, I see a suspicious looking man lounging around. I decide to follow him - maybe he is one of the bad guys. After about ten minutes of this man just waiting around (for a doctor, who he will see in about an hour), I decide that nothing is happening here. Now I have missed much of the set up for the story. I can't find the hero (I don't know where he is), and therefore decide to restart, disgruntled because I have wasted the last 20 minutes. This type of situation could be repeated ad nauseam, with the player simply unable to find areas of interest that keep him playing.

Due to this, money is the hindering factor in creating a game of this sort, with technology being a lesser concern. With enough money, you *may* be able to employ enough writers, animators etc to make the product work. A product such as you describe would be extraordinarlly expensive to make, and runs the risk of having very limited appeal.

I'm not saying that something like this cannot be done, but I believe that the problems lie in other areas than the ones proposed.

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