Fascade

Facade Screen

A game of Facade, played seriously. I spare you the “I want your hot cock one”. Until, perhaps, later.

Full transcript.

Interesting experiment. For those willing to read it, how naturally do you think it plays?

I’ve played it a couple of times, but (nervous laugh) after waiting all seventy hours for it to…load…I find (giggles, blank expression)…

The scripts are much more fluid, thanks to dropping the near constant pausing and meandering around and focusing firmly on the scripted dialogue. In some ways, it reminds me of the creature training in Black and White – it’s not enough to simply do something, you have to do it at precisely the right time, or the illusion of control fades pretty quickly.

It’s a really frustrating game. When it works, the effect can be really good – but to a large extent, that’s during the opening bits, before the shouting match begins and it starts feeling like a yes/no parser, with nonsensical answers and situations coming out of it (for instance, I’m fairly sure that when I urged Trip to tell Grace he loved her, I was not in fact flirting with Trip, despite the game clearly flicking that flag somewhere). Once the ‘point’ of the game is reached, I stopped feeling like I was a third member of the conversation, up until the point where Trip kicked me out for yelling ‘I SEE DEAD PEOPLE’ instead of talking about the sofa.

Which a real shame, because it’s so much easier to focus on those glitches than on the actually cool interaction going on – things like the very emotive faces (even if I really, really wish they’d blink a little more).

Uncanny Valley or not, it’s still the best attempt at ‘real’ communication thus far – certainly light years ahead of stuff like Sentient or Starship Titanic. The one thing that really seems to let it down is the parser – both the speed you have to type and its range. I can’t help but wonder if some form of gesture interface, combined with camera tracking, would have been able to do it without a lot of the forced pauses and misunderstandings.

I’ll comment more later on this, but part of the reason I asked people to read the actual script who haven’t played the game is that I wanted to see how the non-sequitors came across. In a script form, I get the feeling they seem more like misunderstandings than fuck ups. And misunderstanding is actually a core aspect of human communication.

Oddly, even some of the awkward pauses make a lot of sense. Christ – it’s you being invited to a break up. I’d be awkward to.

Not to say that anything you say isn’t true. In fact, it did get me sitting there, trying to work out ways around the problem. A reactive gesture system with or perhaps some kind of expanding series of circles ala the Sims, opening up topics to approach may be a way to do get something more fluid.

I’m going to see if I can get them to tell me off for interupting them constantly.

KG

I was thinking less convoluted than that even. In that context, just nod the cursor or shake or head to answer questions, with the rest tailored to interaction.

(“Here’s a drink. Well, come on, take it. Well, okay, be that way. Oh, I see you’re looking at our holiday photos.”)

It’s also a bit unfortunate that by about the third time you fire it up, what seems to be a pretty specific response turns out to be pretty generic. In particular, the final reveals that I’ve found so far (You’ve got his, there’s one for her about her sleeping with someone else the night before he proposed) really come out of nowhere – by the time you get to that point, you’re not so much playing counsellor as watching the random stream unfold. First time around, that works great. After that…

Ironically, it would probably work better if it was shorter and less in-depth. That kind of movement and interaction with, say, an adventure game character (“Oh, your eyes tell me you’re lying, right there…”) would be brilliant. Throw it into something like a Sherlock Holmes game and you’ve got an amazing extra layer beyond the basic puzzling. Here however, with the whole tech-test feel, there’s much more temptation to simply try and break the chatbot rather than seeing what comes out of it, and you more or less get to the point where there’s nothing else to do after a couple of plays.

And I never got them to tell me off. Most of the time, they just ignored me when they were in full flow.

Your script played out really well and scans pretty fine to the eye. However, in the game it’s different because you’re expecting an emotional reaction from what you’ve said that’s pretty specific, you don’t always get the one you desire.

Romance in the second guess!

Isn’t it always?

KG

Heh, very true. What I was aiming to say is that it’s quite clunky. Your script used short answers which demonstated the intent of the replies and questions really well. I had trouble phrasing things and contacting my ‘speech’ to a suitable size. Even when I did, it seemed as though they had little relevance to the flow of conversation in the laters stages. I spent more time working out the conflicting factors that prevented me to communicating with the characters. I guess that’s half the fun though.

Overall, I’m impressed with the game and it created in my mind many ways in which it could create a more vibrant experience in today’s games. It could even be used, if suitably improved, to train marriage and relationship councillors.

I’m excited about what prospects this kind of concept holds for games. NPC interaction has always been rather constrained (*/+/-) in most games but the possibilites that await seem to be astounding. I want to argue with a shop keeper about the price of an orange.

Read into that what you will.