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    Oct 12th, 2006 at 23:32:53     -    Façade (PC)

    Well. The more I play this game, the less I like it. I feel like the second time I played it and was able to reach a conclusion must have been a fluke. It has been the only time that I was able to reach a conclusion other than being thrown out of the apartment.

    I tried commenting on the pictures on the walls before Trip was able to bring that up, but my comments were completely ignored. Five minutes later he asks me to come take a look at the picture. How frustrating. I get the sense of being in someone's apartment where I we don't actually speak the same language. As if I'm saying something in Klingon, and they're over there giving me crazy looks.

    Also, the fact that the game revolves around the idea of an argument. Listening to an argument over and over is not really my idea of a good time. I also don't feel like trying to sort out a situation with characters who nearly always seem to misunderstand what I'm trying to say.

    A question that popped into my head today when I was playing was, "If an old friend left me such a weird message on my answering machine... would I actually go to hang out with him?" My answer? No way! What a weird, weird message.

    Even though I feel as if the lure of this game is wearing thin, I'm not letting that overshadow the fact that, at first go round, this game really impressed me. Before I had an understanding of the limits of the game, I really felt like I was guiding the conversation. I felt like I was getting somewhere with the characters and I was saying the right things. I was navigating a successful course. After playing it a few times, I have the notion that the first half of the game is somewhat open. Then, regardless of how things are going, an argument begins and it doesn't really feel open at all. I'm stuck and the only way I can get out is to find that small pathway to a successful conclusion, or I can get kicked out of the apartment. Honestly, after playing this game so many times, it is almost a relief to get kicked out sometimes.

    When I step back to take a look at this game as a whole, I'm still very impressed. This is the first game that I have played where I felt as if the game was responding to what I was saying and doing within the game. Even if my words were misunderstood, I would still get facial expressions and a response from what I typed. If I didn't type anything, the characters would stand there and feel uncomfortable almost saying, "Come on! Interact with me."

    I don't really see myself playing much more of this game. However, for me, this game is a glimpse of a new sort of gaming experience and I would be eager to try out similar games in the future.

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    Oct 12th, 2006 at 11:11:19     -    Façade (PC)

    This second time of playing Façade has not seemed as productive as the first time playing it. I went through the scenario three times. I got kicked out of the apartment every time. The first two times I focused on a specific character to be nice to... agreeing with them and paying them compliments. My actions were perceived as flirting, and I guess that's good enough reason to kick someone out.

    The third time playing left me completely confused. Both Grace and Tripp seemed to be very happy when suddenly Grace says, "Listen to us, we're arguing in front of our friend." when they weren't actually arguing at all. Then I ask, "Why are you angry, Grace?" which receives angry glares and results in me getting kicked out of the apartment. Whoa, whoa, what's going on here?

    More and more, I am getting the feeling that the game really isn't understanding what I'm trying to say to the characters. When they ask me to comment on the wedding picture, I say that it's nice and, when asked again, I say that it represents their love. This produces a reaction of shock from both characters and then Trip laughs uncomfortably. My intention was not to flirt with either of them.

    I'm still not really sure what governs some of the things that happen in the game. The last time I played, the phone rang and Trip was walking around the room with the magic eight ball. That has never happened in the other four times I have played.

    So far, the plot seems to be (sometimes not in this order):

    Character enters apartment
    Grace compliments character
    Some comments on decorating
    Comments on Italy picture
    Drinks
    Argument
    Resolution/Getting kicked out

    As far as drinks are concerned, so far Trip has served me with a cosmopolitan, scotch, chardonnay, and merlot.

    With this plot laid out, I would be interested in seeing if I am able to bring their attention to some of these subjects before they bring it up. Also, it seems like when I allow them to talk without intteruption, the argument escalates and I don't get kicked out of the apartment. I think this is a somewhat better ending to the game and almost downplays the player interaction within the game. Sure the characters prompt you frequently, but these are usually yes or no questions and if the player is quiet, then the story will proceed. This is not to say that interesting outcomes cannot be produced with lots of interaction, it's just that, as of right now, the path to a conclusion seems like one that is not easily recognized and somewhat tedious.

    Hmm.

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    Oct 12th, 2006 at 10:52:13     -    Façade (PC)

    (From October 11, 2006 9:30pm)

    My first encounter with Façade was quite humorous. I began the game without any idea of what to expect. I did not read any sort of information about the game before playing because I wanted to get a genuine idea of how the game presents itself to the player without any preformed concept of it in my mind.

    The credits involve two people staring at me and some creepy music in the background. My first impression is that these two people are going to try to somehow kill me.

    The story begins with a ringing phone. There is a dialogue of a recorded message that Trip has left for me. He wants me to come visit him and his wife Grace. The message Trip leaves sounds hesitant and creepy. This is also accompanied by the strange music from the credits.

    Now I get the option to choose my name. I scroll through and find that my name isn't on the list, so I choose Gonzalo. After choosing my name, I find my player-self in front of a closed door. There seems to be some arguing taking place on the other side of it but I can't hear what they're saying. Someone opens the door and welcomes me and I assume that this is Tripp who left the message for me. He gives me strange looks and then sort of walks into his apartment. It takes me a while to figure out that I'm supposed to be moving myself into their apartment.

    Once I do, I meet Grace. Both Trip and Grace are giving me strange looks. I'm not really sure what's going on with them, so I venture around the apartment to see what sort of things I can interact with. I figure out that I can use my mouse to interact with different things and so I carry around a wine bottle. Also, I find that I can kiss both of the characters, which seems to make them very uncomfortable.

    Both of them are asking me questions and I am not sure how to answer them, so I just ignore them and move things around in their apartment. Soon enough, Tripp kicks me out of the apartment.

    How rude!

    So now, I have become a bit confused with the game and am curious as to what should be going on. I know that I can interact with some things in the apartment, move around, and interact with the characters a bit.

    I go to the website to read about the game a bit and find out that it is an interactive drama where Trip and Grace get into an argument and the player has to help bring about a resolution of some sort. Also, at this point, I find out that I can actually talk with the characters. Hmm! This seems much more interesting than just throwing stuff around their apartment and kissing with them.

    I restart the game with the goal in mind to bring about a resolution to this conflict that they will experience. I enter the apartment and compliment both hosts and then compliment the city view. Both characters seem to be pleased with me. Grace becomes upset about how everyone likes her decoration of the apartment but her. This seems pretty irrational to me, but I comfort her and change the subject by telling her that she has a nice shirt. At this point, Trip gets mad that I am flirting with Grace.

    Phew! I was just telling her that she had a nice shirt!

    I try to change the subject by suggesting that we all have drinks. This seems like a fairly common thing to suggest, especially since Tripp is suggesting that it is a special occasion. Apparently they are together because of me? Either way, Grace becomes upset about the idea of drinks, but Tripp seems excited and wants to make one of his special drinks for me. To avoid any favoritism, I try to do something that could make both of the characters happy: I say that I want a drink but that I want chardonnay, which was suggested by Grace.

    Unfortunately, I don't get a drink at all because Tripp is upset that I don't want one of his drinks and Grace tells Tripp that his drinks are crappy. Oh boy.

    Suddenly, things are blown out of proportion. Grace and Trip get into a heated argument. They talk about how Grace just married Tripp because he dominated her and how Trip had an affair while in Barcelona. Basically, I just stand there and listen to the argument and remain silent. It seems that they both calm down. Then, Trip says that he has to tell me something. Apparently I have helped them both and he thanks me for coming over.

    That's my cue! Adios, and out the door I go.


    Although this is a strange first experience with this game, I am very impressed with it. The graphics seem somewhat lacking to what I'm currently used to, but the reactions of the characters to player actions seems very complex. I was the most surprised by the facial expressions which seem right target with what the character must be thinking. I am interested in seeing how many different resolutions I can find within this game. What if I had flirted and kissed with Tripp? What if I had told Grace that her apartment was disgusting? What if I had accepted the cocktail that Tripp offered me? Why is there a phone that I can interact with?

    The dialogue seemed to flow very smoothly, and the characters understood everything I said. I think next time I will try to test the limits of the dialogue recognition. What if I say things that are completely out of context? What if I say that I'm dying of a flesh-eating bacteria? Or what if I just type gibberish?

    Also, reflecting on it a bit right now, I find that I was very quickly immersed within the game when I understood more of what I could do within the space. I am assuming that part of the immersion can be attributed to the fact that the player character enjoys a first-person view of the action. This allowed me to be upset when Trip threw me out of his apartment on my first time playing the game (even though, as a guest, I was being a moron). I was also annoyed when Trip thought that I was flirting with Grace when I complimented her shirt. Next time, I think I will tell him that they both have very ugly shirts.

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