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Façade

Evolution in gaming industry has been at enormous pace. The Computer Graphics technology is struggling to meet the demands posed by the game designers. The spearhead of the evolution has been branching out of late. Today, there are different arenas of games which aim at a different purpose. The most popular genre of games is the FPS [First Person Shooter] type, where the player is a character equipped with a weapon to shoot at the enemy. The primary goal would be kill all the enemies. Another genre of games is the RPG [Role Playing Games]. This is similar to FPS and you play a role in the entire plot. You are given an objective. In the quest to achieve it, you need cross some stages. After each such stage you are given more powers to handle the new scenario. There are many more types which are based on these formats. One common thing about these types of games is that they have a storyline. The narrator narrates the story tells the objective to be achieved and even guides you in doing so.  In both of these, there are only two possible outcomes. Either you win by going the way you are guided or you lose, unable to clear a stage.

Now let us have look about these from a game developer’s perspective. In FPS type, he distributes some enemy characters all around the field. He only needs to track the position of the player and stimulate the enemies in the vicinity of the player to attack him as he approaches. One thing to note is that the player is guided to move in a path. He has no freedom to choose any other path. So, his actions are predictable. The RPG type is a bit more evolved type. Here the player is given a room for freedom in the way he meets an objective. A fictitious game of this type would have a storyline like this:  The player lives in a small town. Some enemy has to be killed. But the enemy is quite powerful. So the player has to equip himself with all the abilities to stand against him. So, he has to earn money and buy some weapons. Until he procures them, he cannot beat the enemy. So, that is the bottleneck. However he has freedom in delaying the process or in choosing the weapon. But he cannot change the storyline. Once again there are some sub-processes which are independent and do not effect the outcome of the game (unless you lose!!). Further, these sub-processes are given choices which are also predictable. So, still there’s no real interaction of the user in the game.

Then comes a completely newly themed game Façade. It doesn’t have a great 3D UI to boast of. However, unlike all the above types it is almost completely based on AI. The storyline is quite simple. The entire plot runs in a single room with only plain walls and hardly a few objects. The player enters the house of a couple. Both of them are childhood friends of the player. There is a small discontent among the two.  Then the play starts with the real time like conversation happening between the couple and also with the player. You are allowed to interact and interrupt at anytime by typing in your dialogue. The characters respond to whatever you say and also closely keep track of your behavior. Their further course of action and response is based on your interaction. The beauty of it is that you can control the story from then on. You can either make a compromise between the two or make them fight fiercer. The player has a complete freedom to choose how he behaves. The design of this type of game is where the developers have to scratch their head. It is because; the actions of the player are completely unpredictable. Although we can categorize them, it still turns out to be large in number. Further, the player can change his behavior at any time which adds to the problems. Although it lacks a great UI, it still is a giant step in the design of such emotion-oriented games.

On one side we have best of the game UIs designed to give the real world as well as supernatural user experience while on the other games like Façade try to bring the emotion into the game. Experts opine that the future of gaming lies in the emotion oriented games which can trigger you emotionally and give a whole new meaning to the word ‘game’. In fact the unreliability of speech processing under different circumstances has prevented it from being used in the current version of Façade. The day is not far when we can actually feel the game and consciously try to distinguish it from reality.

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