For our CMP group project, our initial goal was to try something different. Faced with three options, we quickly turned to interactive film.
We set up a meeting that same day and had a brainstorming session.
Murder mystery was the first feasible idea, we thought the simple concept would lend itself well as a balance to the complexity of interactivity. We played around with a few ideas, but ended up with something even simpler.
The main character wakes up in a room. There’s bottles and empty beer cans everywhere. He’s obviously feeling very rough from the night before.
There’s a bunch of objects in the room that might serve as clues to where he is, and why he’s there. As icing on the cake, there’s a woman lying next to him, and he doesn’t know who she is.
At this point the character stands up, panicking, the camera switches from 1st person view to 3d person, and he’s now faced with a series of decisions. This makes the basis for our project.
I personally have always liked the idea of mixing game and film. I almost find the story progression and cut scenes in games more intriguing than the actual playing, and I’m not sure I have the patience for a lot of films out there. This left me baffled for a few years… Not really knowing what was wrong. In steps Telltale games from California, and literally put to words what I’ve been after. Every single one of their games is heavily focused on the story, and the characters, but don’t think for a second you can sit still. Because if your interaction with the game isn’t swift enough your favourite character might die and not come back.
To make the interaction smooth, and to improve the feeling of the user experience –
we took direct inspiration from the aforementioned Telltale Games, which specialty is user interactivity-styled pieces of film (games).
A thing they do a lot in their games, and specifically in Batman: The Telltale Series game (Telltale games, 2016) is have a set of choices displayed over a screen that is moving slightly. The game won’t continue until you’ve made your choice.
Another Telltale which is a good example is The Wolf Among Us game (Telltale games, 2013) where they offer the user small non-meaningful choices as the story progresses to enhance the experience. This will result in something happening, but not altering the meaning or progression of the story.
We wanted to include some of these styles of interactivity in our film, one plan for doing this was filming the character for 20-30 seconds, and finding an appropriate place to loop the footage. Serving as one place for the user to make a choice.
Another feature we wanted to implement was a slideshow type thing displayed on a camera. The player is supposed to scroll through the pictures, and can at any time right click move through. The twist is that there’s a situation that’s escalating in these photos, and if the player flicks through too many, he/she will be thrown into a completely different ending. By using different types of interactive features we’re hoping to immerse the viewer/player further into the experience.
For further immersion we made use of high quality audio throughout the game. We did overdubbing voices, we all did our own radio advertisements, and we even wrote a little intro song for the start of the film/game. We felt its important that we make use of our strengths, and audio production is something we’re all comfortable doing, so that influenced our final outcome for the better.
For ease when coding all this, we planned it all as sections in time, grid 1+2+3+4 corresponds to a certain order of things happening, every grid has its own set of choices that will alter the story, and even let the user experience different endings based on what choices he/she would go for.
This is an excerpt from our pre-production sheet, which was shared conveniently for the team via Google Drive. This is grid 2.1 in the story, where the user has made a choice to examine a radio. The idea is that scrolling through frequencies will play different radio messages, which will lead the user to a new place in the story.
This particular interactivity is more ambitious than just clicking through to the next bit in the story, we felt it important to showcase our ideas and the interactivity in different ways.
In the end we’re hoping all these things end up in a piece of enjoyable and playable content. By doing a lot of research and planning we’re confident we’ll achieve our goals!
Telltale Games, Batman: The Telltale Series, video game, PlayStation 4, San Rafael, California, United States
Telltale Games, The Wolf Among Us, video game, PlayStation 4, San Rafael, California, United States