The Cold Hotspot: Part 4
Written by Beiddie Rafól
Other games bring up dialogues about how interactivity forms, informs, and even reforms the narrative experience. In Façade, Andrew Stern and Michael Mateas's short 'research project', the player is cast as the pivotal character in a volatile social opera spanning the course of a virtual evening. How the player interacts in real time with Trip and Grace, a young married couple, will determine the course of the story - that is, the cutting edge A.I. will constantly assess the player's behavior and actions and the characters, each with their own agenda, will decide their own behavior and decisions accordingly. As it is, Façade will never play exactly the same each time. But more interestingly, it looks to pave the way for future adventure games (and other kinds of games) to use artificial intelligence as a vital part of gameplay, beyond the typical 'find-the-key' puzzles.
The conceptual 'meta-adventures' (clockwise from top left): Missing: Since January (In Memoriam),
Façade, Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit), and 8 (a fairy tale for grownups).
But whereas Façade focuses on 'interpersonal' relationships with A.I. controlled characters to steer the story, Quantum Dream's upcoming Indigo Prophecy uses the actual pivotal narrative details themselves to establish a seemingly organic path of detours - this supernatural suspense thriller will challenge the player, in real time, 'on the fly', to make quick decisions that will affect how the story ebbs and flows to one of several conclusions. This idea of a malleable plot as the true, overarching puzzle - pretty much the only puzzle in the entire game - has never been explored to this extent before, at this level of ambition, in graphical adventure games. As such Indigo Prophecy looks to be more in lineage with text parser games like Zork and the If games.
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy
If you are not a fan you could easily miss the mostly decidedly quiet goings on within the adventure game world. And that primarily explains its shadowed existence under the great radar of media and mass culture. That fans swear by their genre yet wonder why it isn't receiving the coverage it deserves is so ironic: does it actually deserve that coverage, considering how little it has changed in the past ten years in concept, scope, and quality? I don't know, but perhaps the best thing to do is forget the fans for a bit and ask the media and non-fans themselves. There definitely are changes happening, but are we, the gamers, the only ones paying attention? We're so passionate about adventure games that we venture to claim that other people - friends, families, the guy on the street - would love them if only they discovered them, like they discovered Tomb Raider, The Sims, Mario, and Halo.