Façade (interactive story)

Façade (interactive story)

Infobox VG| title = Façade

developer = Procedural Arts
designer = Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern
engine =
released = 5 July 2005
genre = Interactive Drama, Interactive Fiction
modes = Single player
ratings =
platforms = PC,Macintosh
media = Digital distribution, CD-ROM
requirements = Windows XP, 2000 or ME, 1.6GHz or higher, 1.0GB hdd, 256MB memory; Mac OS X v10.3 or higher, 2.5GH G4 or G5, 210MB Disk Space, 512MB memory
input = Keyboard, Mouse

"Façade" is an artificial intelligence experiment by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.

"Façade" puts the player in the role of a close friend of Grace and Trip, a couple who has recently invited the player to their home for cocktails. This pleasant gathering, however, quickly grows into domestic turmoil as the couple begins to argue immediately upon the player's arrival. Taking full advantage of the incorporated language processing software, the game then allows the player to type sentences to "speak" with the couple, either supporting them through their troubles, or driving them farther apart.

Containing elements of both video gaming and drama, Façade takes advantage of voice acting and a 3-D environment, as well as natural language processing and other advanced artificial intelligence routines to provide a robust interactive fiction experience.

Façade was released for PC in July 2005, as a free download from the InteractiveStory.net web site. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival; an early, incomplete version was a finalist at the 2004 Independent Games Festival. It has exhibited at several international art shows including ISEA 2004 and Game/Play 2006, and was the subject of a feature article in The Atlantic Monthly in November 2006. [http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200611/rauch-videogames "Sex, Lies and Videogames"] , by Jonathan Rauch in "The Atlantic Monthly", November 2006]

Façade has been the basis for a great number of academic publications and presentations co-authored by Mateas and Stern, as well as contributing to Mateas's PhD dissertation from Carnegie Mellon.

The game is celebrated for its ability to provide a close simulation of human interaction, albeit with flat-shaded 3D graphics and pre-recorded sound clips. The game is noted because the progression of conversation between the two characters Grace and Trip is rarely entirely the same, although it does cover the same major themes of dispassion, art and marriage. The player can take an active role in the conversation, pushing the topic one way or another to provide an interactive stage-play. These stage-plays are saved as scripts which can be saved after the game is finished.

Although the original installation file was extremely large even for broadband users (around 800 megabytes), it was included on several game magazine coverdisks, which helped bring it to the eyes of more gamers and interested parties. In February 2006, a 167-megabyte version 1.1 was released which used better audio compression, as well as a Macintosh version.

According to the Atlantic Monthly article, the creators of Facade are developing a game called "The Party".

Game events

Most games finish with the player either offending Grace and Trip to the extent that Trip forcibly removes the player from the apartment or the couple manage to semi-reconcile and tell the player they need to be alone. It is however possible to get the couple to rediscover their love for each other or to push one character into leaving the other - sometimes admitting an affair, a fact decided at random upon game-start.

Because much of the game is designed to be 'on-the-fly' reactions to the player or other characters/events and because the game scenario is based on a random compilation of events (such as what topics are bought up, what drinks Trip wants to serve, whether either Grace or Trip have been adulterous, etc.) the game has a certain amount of replay value.

The parser through which the player communicates to the actors is also mentionable as being able to recognise and accept a high number of complex commands and respond to them adequately. Many questions and responses can all be fully incorporated into the game engine and the actors can respond in a variety of ways dependent on their mood, random settings and how the player has acted thus far. I.e. in one game an actor may respond favorably to the statement 'I love your decorations.', while in another setting Grace may feel as if you are being condescending towards her.


External links

* [http://www.interactivestory.net/ InteractiveStory.net] - Home of Façade
* [http://grandtextauto.org/2005/07/05/facade-is-released/ Façade's release covered on Grand Text Auto]

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