I heard an interesting talk yesterday by Michael Mateas who’s a computer science professor at U.C. Santa Cruz who works on developing tools to create interactive narrative. I’ve heard people talk about interactive narrative from a Media Studies or English perspective, but it was interesting to here about it from someone who is trying to work through all the gory technical details to make it happen. There’s a lot of tricky AI to make a character seem believable. He talked about the challenges of making characters that react to player input while still maintaining long term goals in order to shape the narrative.

The main project he described is Façde, a psychological drama in which two of your old friends reveal their unhappiness with married life. The game is different every time you play it, and it’s interesting to try different things and see how the characters respond. I think the biggest problem at this point is the natural language understanding system. You can type arbitrary English, but I was left unsure how much of what I typed actually made a difference. Still it’s definitely worth the download.

2 thoughts on “Façade

  1. I encountered that game randomly (and saw the youtube trailer), and was surprised to find I really want to try it out. They don’t have a Linux version out, however.

  2. I remember there was still a large gap between player input and game mechanics when I played it. By the second time I tried, I couldn’t resist seeing how much I could mess with their lives without them kicking me out of the house.

    Kind of like playing a first person Sims.

    Back then, people were posting their solutions to the game. There was this hilarious transcript where someone spent the entire game insulting the male lead with various…inappropriate comments. By timing his inputs though (and some keywords I presume), the character interpreted his comments as honest criticism leading to reconciliation with his wife.

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