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August 14, 2005



I tried facade a few times but I didn't get it. The natural language parsing never worked for me. The design was such that half the time in the few seconds it took to type in my response they would have started to say something, when I pressed ENTER, whatever they were going to say was cut off. Then, whatever they did say had nothing whatsoever to do with what I said. And, I wasn't trying to mess with it, I was trying to play my part as a friend and I wasn't typing anything crazy. I should have saved my logs but in any case they didn't make any sense. It basically seemed like it randomly picked how the story was going to progress and whatever I typed made no difference.


In fact, I'd be curious, assume it actually was random how the story progressed and that nothing you said had any real barring on the outcome short of kissing the girl. How would you tell the difference between that and what they claim the game is doing?


Ahh. This is the key point I think. Maintaining some higher-level AI algorithm which controls the flow of the game (in facade's case, via the story, but I see it as similar to, say, an RTS strategic AI) seems to me to be completely pointless if you don't expose the mechanics of it, as part of the game.

Of course, imperfect information games (probably the wrong phrase, sorry, I hope you know what I mean) are interesting when you play against a human because you get to infer the hidden characteristcs from your internal model of your opponent (think poker). This sort of game where your opponent is an AI is different because the AI can cheat in games. So, you're inferring human characteristics where there is a completely artificial and shallow algorithm working away in the background. This can throw a wierd disconnected-type feeling at you (I feel this sometimes, anyhow).

My point, I suppose, is that the way to design a higher-level control AI algorithm to make it still seem like a *game*, would be to make it clearer in the game events exactly what prompted what actions. Façade tries to do this by summing up what the player character does at the end of a play, and this seems to be the most satisfying part of it to many.

However, I do agree that Adams' praise is a bit too much. He admits that he doesn't play many games, and I think that's the silliest thing you can do while claiming to be interested in interactive storytelling. Games have had interactive storytelling for years, in my opinion.


I am still downloading the facade game while I write this comment, I did see this "game" in its early stages about a year and half back at the DIGRA conference in Utrecht and was amused by the concept but it had very limited interaction available then. Jamie referred to Ernests' review of it I am quoting that "Rather, it's choosing a line of dialog that's most appropriate for the current situation. I did the same when I wrote the play-by-play commentary in Madden NFL Football, but in football the situation is considerably more straightforward than a deteriorating marriage" This is not always the case being from India a hugely popular game Cricket has been adopted for the PC and console over the last so many years and yet even the best game Brian Lara Cricket has not been able to come up with commentary that is suited to that specific situation which at times puts the player off, the words being spoken are not in sync with what is happening on the screen.


You have valid points on facade, but I mostly agree with your last paragraph... Reminds me of Walt Disney sitting in the forest staring for hours at what would seem to be nothing, when asked what he was doing he said in awe 'Don't you see it'... This is what I believe Ernest Adams was stating when he said Facade was the most important game... because now after playing that, I am abit more solidified in my excitment to see the games that we can develop over these next years... I now envision the half-life series as a step more interactive...


I didn't get all the hubbub about Facade either. It had two or three interesting new technologies in it, none of which actually seemed to work properly, as far as I could tell. I thought perhaps I was doing something wrong, until I saw it demoed recently at Siggraph by its creators - then I realized that it was doing exactly what it was programmed to do.

Maybe it's part of a secret experiment - it actually chooses a random outcome and attempts to see if you'll be convinced that you're having an effect since it has given you the ability to type words into it.

Now I'm probably the one being a dick. :)


Jamie, you are so predictable.

"No aliens or laser guns or secret agents here. I'm reminded of the comics of Adrian Tomine: no superheroes, just ordinary people. In other words - boring."

There are people who might say the exact opposite. You may well be married to one.

And honestly, are laser guns and secret agents really that exciting the 1000th bloody time around? Especially when they're grunted out with as little imagination as they typically are these days?

I'm probably as hardcore a gamer as they come, but I'm sick of it. I want something interesting and new. Facade's rather uneven execution notwithstanding, a troubled marriage is far more alien to most gamers than the dark side of Mars.

I'm also really tired of people taking a single problematic implementation of some new idea - interactive storytelling, etc - and using it to dismiss any and all future explorations of the idea at the drop of a hat. Oh well, back to making WW2 shooters.


You know, we were just having an internal discussion the other day about how the technology of Facade can be used in other situations.

For e.g., imagine you used it in a situation similar to what happens in the movie 'Phone Booth'. Just like the movie, the whole game would take place in one location, but there's a lot that can be done. Yes, it'll be tricky, but it sure as hell will be more interesting than talking to a married couple.

I don't think that Facade in its current implementation can handle that. But over the years, as this kind of technology gets more sophisticated, it will surely have more value - a chance to interact with a character using something other than your gun.

Brett Douville

I tried Facade one afternoon, and I had a lot of the problems Greggman mentions. I type pretty fast, and I still wasn't able to type nearly fast enough to say what I wanted, so there's definitely an interface problem there. Maybe they need to hook up with George Lucas and get some speech interface going or something.

And that wasn't the only interface that didn't work. The situation it describes and with which you interact has a lot of subtlety. So when I came in and hugged the guy and then kissed his wife, I was thinking "social peck on the cheek" not "slip my friend's wife the tongue". The former is very common in that situation, and yet, the latter was the only way the game appeared able to handle the input. I also wandered off at one point to the kitchen to get myself a drink and that pretty well stymied the conversation engine for a time.

So, yeah, as JP mentioned, uneven execution.

I wonder if the designers did any experiments with real people. One of the nice things about certain types of games is that you can prototype pretty easily; for example, strategy games can be tried out as board games with tables of action/reaction or what-have-you. I'd love to read/hear about whether they got a couple of actors and tried to play it with people who were playing it as a game -- get rid of the uncanny valley entirely, and record it all with webcams for analysis.

If you could (primitively) reproduce at least some of the interactions that you got that way, I'd say you might really have something.

Anyway, I still have it installed and will be putting more time in with it. While I think Adams puts his case forward with a little bit too much hyperbole, it seems like that's the best way to get attention these days. It certainly got me to download it the next time I had time to. I think it's interesting, and I think it will provoke discussion, and I'm curious about what sort of options it opens up for us as game developers.


I like what could come from a game like this (interaction wise) but personally, I was irritated by the conflict. I didn't want to solve their problems, I wanted to slap them for being whiney ***hats. Hair on the back of my neck stood up and when I tried to resolve their issues, it resulted in more fustration.

I guess it comes from listening to my family fight growing up. I tired of being in real life situations like that - I sure as heck don't want to go through it in a game. Not to mention, I won't. Since I tried the game and found that it triggered such strong emotions, it has been removed from my PC. I won't play it again because it hit a very sore spot with me.

So in my case, do you think it was successful?

(Btw, I would be curious to see if anyone else had a similar reaction to it. I find people who either don't care, don't get it, or love it. Very few exceptions.)


I'm glad I'm not the only one who wasn't blown away by Facade. It's more evolutionary than revolutionary, but that's not to say that it's not important.

Adams says in his review that he hasn't investigated the game fully; I don't think it stands up to a thorough investigation very well. The game is a very clever bit of fakery. That's what gaming's about of course, but on first impressions it appears to do things that it doesn't. For example, it gives the impression that the events in the story is generated dynamically when it isn't - your actions determine the emotional state of the actors (and influences their actions) and the story follows good old-fashioned branches according to their state at certain key points. The arguments the couple have are always pre-determined to some extent too. The words they use may be different, but there's conversation chains that can't be altered. You can't hand Grace an ornament while she's shouting and she'd suddenly decide to throw it at Trip, for example (unless that's specifically been programmed in to it).

Still, it's convincing at first appearance and that's better than anything else out there.


i think this game sucks. doesn't matter what you type in the game, grace and trip just say anything to my questions or comments and usually it doesn't even make sense. where did they go wrong with this game. i'm sure in reall life the outcome would be alot different. i'm glad this game was free as it's not worth 1 cent. Maybe with a major update the game will be worth playing.

Not impressed.


This is the best game ever in my opinion. The new upgrade made it better than ever, as they really do understand what you're saying. My favorite is typing in normal things throughout the thing, and then suddenly freaking them out with some profanity. Their eyes get real wide and they just laugh for like an hour, and cough nervously


This is the best game ever in my opinion. The new upgrade made it better than ever, as they really do understand what you're saying. My favorite is typing in normal things throughout the thing, and then suddenly freaking them out with some profanity. Their eyes get real wide and they just laugh for like an hour, and cough nervously


How can i make Grace get naked?

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Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game