FACADE, the interactive play.

So. There’s this little game. You might have heard of it: Facade. I came across it when researching writing and I was extremely interested in it. The download is free, which sometimes is a sign of poor quality. But, that isn’t the case here. This is a nifty game. In fact, I feel Facade is a great experiment of what games could be.

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What is Facade? You play yourself. You’re an old friend of Grace and Tripp’s. They’ve invited you over for dinner. It’s been awhile since you’ve all visited. But, within seconds of getting through the door, Tripp and Grace seem to be fuming with one another. Your job is to either fix their marriage or tear them apart.

How does the game work? Via the keyboard, you’re able to type what you want to say. Based on what you type, Grace and Tripp deliver prerecorded dialog that moves the story forward. The game is billed as an “interactive drama.” I’d go as far as to compare it to a lucid dream.

I’ve only had a few lucid dreams in my life. These are dreams where you are aware you are dreaming and have some control over what’s going on. I relate the two because, in regular dreams, we simply watch our conversations with characters. In lucid dreams, we directly control the conversation.

The game has a lot of replay value. I’ve played many times and in my last play through, Grace said something she never had before. (Tripp has a secret!) It was so astounding. I thought I had heard every piece of dialog, but I know now that I haven’t.

You might be thinking, “Well, okay. But lot’s of game’s let you talk to characters…” Yes, that’s true. But, FACADE does it differently. Most role playing games allow you to speak to characters via dialog options. You could have three, maybe four pre-set questions you can ask a certain character. While you are picking which questions to ask, it somewhat feels limited. It doesn’t feel real.

What makes Facade different is the allusion you’re controlling more than you are. We can type any word we want when talking to Grace and Tripp. While the questions are not directly posed to us, the story is moved by the prerecorded dialog. We feel like this is real because we can say or ask anything we want.

Sure, we are limited by how many lines the actors can deliver and exactly what those lines are. But, there are hundreds of lines. We also feel more in control, because of how closnit the story is. We’re at someone’s house and the couple is fighting. In the context of being in this environment, we’ll say things that relate to marriage, answer questions they ask, and so on. We feel as though we can ask Grace and Tripp anything that pertains to them. And this is not something many games have.

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There are countless adventure games where you can roam around the environment freely. In that respect, we have games that make an environment seem real. But, role playing games still have aways to go where the characters seem real. This is where Facade succeeds greatly. I believe this game opens the door for other game designers. There needs to be more games where the characters are the focus and players truly feel that interaction with them is unlimited.

The creators of Facade where creating a second game, THE PARTY. One could assume that the set up would be similar to Facade, but there would be more than two characters to interact with. But, as of 2013, it has been confirmed it’s no longer in production. That is truly saddening.

As I said, I found this game through research on writing. Besides it being a “game”, it makes an excellent study on story, character and dialog. The story is tight. The characters are well-rounded. The dialog doesn’t come across as a written line, but as someone would actually speak. It’s something you need to experience to really understand. The game has been called an interactive play. So, why not take your shot at it? FACADE can be downloaded here.

Some elements of this article come from: http://aigamedev.com/open/review/facade-ai/

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