August 9, 2005

A Few Façade Post-Release Comments

by Andrew Stern · , 3:12 pm

It’s been five weeks since we released Façade, and we are hard at work at recuperating. :-) Those last few months of development work were brutal, and we’re still feeling fried, like when you cross the finish line after running a marathon and you’re bent over trying to catch your breath (not that either of us have actually run a real marathon to know what that truly feels like). That it’s summer right now is good timing, it makes our recharging more sun-filled. It’s nice to get our lives back after so long.

Here’s a “thank you” again to those who helped out during the project, from beta testers and demo assistants, to blog commenters and well-wishers offering moral support, to those proselytizing interactive drama to the non-believers, and for everyone patient enough to keep their vaporware-radar and hype-o-meters at bay during the past few years.

Thank you to those who have already donated a few bucks or euros to the project. If you enjoyed Façade (or hated it) and haven’t tossed an electronic tip our way, it’s never too late! We’re continuing to add juicy secrets to the invaluable “Behind the Façade” guide /cook’s tour — this all can be yours for a mere $5 donation. “A must-have for the interactive drama enthusiast.”

The release has been pretty smooth — we’ve just passed the 100,000 downloads mark! That’s the total of our own BitTorrent traffic, Download.com’s mirror, Gamespot’s mirror and a few others. Considering that the installer is 800MB, that’s 80TB of data moved over the Internet at virtually no cost to us, thanks to BitTorrent and external ad-supported mirrors — a nice proof-of-concept for the future of digital distribution, I think. A few gaming magazines are including it on their current or next month’s demo disc, including UK mags PC Gamer and PC Zone, and The Games Machine (Italy). About 75 people have ordered it on CD-Rom.

Till now, you’d been reading about Façade for a long time, hearing us jabber on about it on GTxA. I’m sure it fell short of your expectations in many ways — but perhaps equalled or even exceeded them in others. As you can now see, Façade has its share of limitations and problems, although it does some unprecedented things. The nature of the feedback so far (press, blogs, forum, GTxA comments) has been all over the place. Most of the thoughtful critique has been a balance of positive and negative criticism, leaning towards the positive. Some has been harsh, particularly from some gamers (although it maintains a rating of 8+ out of 10 on Gamespot), while some feedback has been wildly enthusiastic, to the point of hyperbole. It’s all been interesting!

Examples of the variety of commentary: harsh (1 2 3 4 5), balanced (1 2 3 4 5), enthusiastic (1 2 3), inspired (1 2 3), frustrated (1 2).

In future posts we’d like to comment and react to some of the feedback it’s been getting. We’ll write up a production post-mortem at some point, hopefully to be presented at or published in a game development outlet. We’ll eventually start talking about future directions, as they gel.

One thing seems certain, that we’re of course pleased about, is that Façade has gotten people talking — players and developers both. Time will tell what influence this research/art experiment/prototype in interactive character and story will have on commercial game development, but at a minimum, we hope folks now have a new touchstone they can point to, to say, for example, “sort of like Façade.” “But better.” :-)

Several individuals and groups have already requested the authoring system and technology, to make their own interactive characters or dramas, their own Façade mods, or to apply the techniques to their own projects, commercial, academic or independent. We very much want that to happen; our technology page has information about our current plans for making parts of the overall system available to other developers, researchers and individuals. There will be more information coming as soon as we further figure out our plans, and do the required work to make it possible. We already have our first Façade technology user, an interactive narrative prototype project at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies. So, please contact us if you’re interested, we’d love to talk to you and hear about what you’re interested in doing.

More about the release… Some players have had some technical problems, but it hasn’t been too bad, better than we expected really. We’ve only received about 200 or so emails and forum posts with questions (less than 1% of downloaders) — some irate, but mostly polite. There’ll be a patch to fix some of the problems, including allowing installation to drives other than c:, and being smarter about checking the CPU requirements (e.g., better supporting Pentium-M). There are a few users who can’t seem to run Façade at all, even though their computers seem compatible. Once we’ve recuperated a bit and can stand the thought of cracking open the code base again, we’ll get right on it.

Several Macintosh-savvy folks have volunteered to help us with a Mac port. Much of the code base runs on top of Java, and the animation engine uses OpenGL, so 95% of the code will port easily. That said, hopefully Façade for the Mac will be ready by the end of 2005 (but don’t hold us to that).

One adept Façade player came up with a good scheme to better compress all of the sound files before downloading, and then uncompress them during installation. (They need to be fully uncompressed when Façade runs, for maximum speed performance.) This could significantly reduce the download size, without a noticable reduction in sound quality. We’ll try it.

A few players have requested a version that shows text balloons instead of playing audio; some are non-English speakers who can better understand written than spoken English, and some who want it for closed-captioning purposes. Great idea, that’s easy, we’ll include that option in the next release.

Anyhow… now that you’ve finally gotten a chance to play Façade (well, hopefully — Mac and Linux users, do you have a friend with a fast Windows machine?) we’re interested to hear critiques you may have, big or small. If you have any, including questions, comments, thoughts for the future, etc. you’ve been meaning to say or ask, don’t hesitate to unload them or link to them here.

22 Responses to “A Few Façade Post-Release Comments”


  1. Adam Russell Says:

    Most discussion about Facade so far seems to have focused on either the NLP or the ABL-driven beat performance, with almost no mention of the beat sequencer / drama manager. Does anyone even notice that this is going on? Was it worth the effort to implement? How do you and Michael feel generally about this part of the system? It sometimes seems that a lot of commentators, even professional ones, are unaware of this aspect of the work, let alone its significance in partially delivering on the underexplored ‘second pillar’ of CMU’s now-defunct Oz Project.

  2. andrew Says:

    It’s really nice to be able to have informed discussions about Façade, now that everybody can finally play it (if you have a fast Windows machine).

    It’s safe to say we didn’t get the chance to use the drama manager / beat sequencer to its full potential, because by year 4 or so when we decided to stop authoring new content and focus on finishing (see footnote 1), we had only authored 27 beats. And as the “Behind the Façade” document describes, only a subset of those can be sequenced in non-linear ways. As a result, there’s not nearly as many combinations of high-level plot as we hoped for when we designed the drama manager, even though the system is theoretically capable of more. Some of the harsher reviews pick up on this limitation, and fairly so. (Note that most beats internally have a good deal of variety of behavior, as well as the ability to mix in a large pool of global mix-ins, which comprise a full third of the overall dialog content in Façade.)

    The reason we ended up with fewer beats than we hoped for was because we wanted to ensure that the beats themselves were internally rich and varied, offering a good amount of local agency (where the player can cause immediate, varied, meaningful effects); this took labor, and came at the expense of reducing global agency (the player can cause longer-term, meaningful and varied effects) (see footnote 2). We had to cut content to the bone, and then we cut into the bone; it was painful.

    As we describe in “Behind the Façade”, ideally the player is given the ability to experience a high degree of local agency at each moment, and a high degree of global agency over the entire experience. Façade doesn’t quite reach that ideal; Façade offers varying amounts of local agency at different points in the drama, and a modest amount of global agency. By comparison, we believe the best videogames tend to offer lots of local agency, but little or no global agency over a well-formed experience (mostly linear plots, or fragmented, poorly-structured “plots”). A Choose Your Own Adventure book offers modest global agency, but little or no local agency. Façade offers significant amounts of both local and global agency, which contributes to our claim that it is the first fully-realized interactive drama yet built.

    Another reason that players, even game developers, might not be picking up on the existence of the drama manager is because beats somewhat seamlessly transition between each other. The seams are more apparent when you pay closer attention, but they may not be too obvious if you’re not looking for them. Combined with the fact that global joint dialog behaviors can mix in at any time, the whole experience leans towards a more continuous and fluid and organic flow, rather than a high-level plot-chunk sequence flow a la Choose Your Own Adventure.

    So, to answer your question, yes we certainly believe it was worth the effort to implement the drama manager, but it will require more R&D (future projects) to use it to push more fully on global agency. Arguably, global agency is the hardest problem of them all; we’re happy to have even begun to try to tackle it.

    The real solution to this is to be more generative about creating content, so that hundreds or even thousands of beats can be created in a reasonable time frame. Or, likewise, the system is generating beats themselves on the fly, to some extent. The need for generativity and procedurality — that’s probably the biggest overall lesson learned on the project. But it was necessary to first create an architecture / framework / set of idioms / knowledge representations that work decently well, that such content generation could be targeted to.

    Some footnotes:

    1 The project actually took a total of about 6 person-years, an average of 3 years per person, spread out over 5 actual years. This was because we each were employed from time to time, to support ourselves. It’s a bit misleading to say the project took 5 years for two people, because there were periods where we each worked only part-time on it.

    2 I believe Chris Crawford’s Erasmatron is pushing for global agency, but probably at the expense of local agency — based on descriptions of it I’ve read and heard from Chris, instead of interacting in a continuous, more moment-by-moment fashion as in Façade, it’s more like you direct the plot at a higher, abstract level.

  3. susan Says:

    Just got introduced to this by Steve Ersinghaus at the Great Lettuce Head (http://steveersinghaus.com ) but I am a complete amateur at these things so my discoveries as posted on my weblog (1 2 3 4) are from a non-technical viewpoint. But as a writer, and student of New Media, I am intrigued by the possibilities Facade offers and more by exploring the medium than by the story right now. It looks like a fine and fun piece of work, and much more interesting than text-only interactivity.

  4. Malcolm Ryan Says:

    I think perhaps Facade was over-ambitious. It’s a little hard to evaluate the system when there are two or three experimental elements (an unusual story, the parser, the beat/drama system) combined together and aggravating one another.

    Personally, I found the NLP to be very frustrating. I could ‘feel’ the hidden speech acts but could never really work out how to produce them reliably. So many things I said were misinterpreted. I would have felt more comfortable with a simple language which allowed me to specify the speech act directly. The dramatic situation depicted in Facade is a delicate one which requires carefully nuanced interaction. The parser makes it feel like doing brain surgery with boxing gloves on.

    Does anyone have a transcript of a session of Facade that really made sense? I’ve seen lots of “mess with the parser” scripts but none that actually show the player interacting with the couple in a meaningful way and having this interaction guide the story to a satisfying conclusion.

  5. andrew Says:

    Malcolm wrote:
    > I think perhaps Facade was over-ambitious.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the metaphor I like to use is: when you shoot for the stars, you might hit the moon; with Façade, we think we got into orbit.

    The ambition was totally intended; we enjoyed being overly ambitious. We paid for it in labor and stress, but that kind of research mode is great fun. (See, I’m already forgetting about the blood sweat and tears, funny how the mind works.) At times we had to operate in a mode of denial — if we thought too hard about the unknowns, how much work we still had left to finish, and how much we’d have to cut to get there, we probably would never have undertaken the project in the first place.

     
    > Personally, I found the NLP to be very frustrating. I could ‘feel’ the hidden speech acts but could never really work out how to produce them reliably. So many things I said were misinterpreted.

    We think with more work on the NLP itself, and more work on the character behaviors (< 1 year), a significant amount of the frustration you’re experiencing can be alleviated. There are several obvious improvements and things we now realize in hindsight, that if we had more time, could be done. We’re not turned off to conversational NLP in future interactive projects based solely on the frustration level some players have with Façade.

     
    > I would have felt more comfortable with a simple language which allowed me to specify the speech act directly. The dramatic situation depicted in Facade is a delicate one which requires carefully nuanced interaction. The parser makes it feel like doing brain surgery with boxing gloves on.

    This wouldn’t be a terribly hard change to make — that could be a Façade mod. (Not a mod in the sense that a player could easily create, but a mod that Michael and I could make, in a week or two of work.) We might do that experiment, and release it, see how it feels to play that way.

     
    > Does anyone have a transcript of a session of Façade that really made sense?

    Some players have sent us Façade stageplays by email; here’s one that was sent on July 7, that is unaltered, and is pretty close to ideal for what Façade is capable of.

  6. Jeremy Says:

    Andrew wrote:
    >Some players have sent us Façade stageplays by email; here’s one that was sent on July 7, that is unaltered, and is pretty close to ideal for what Façade is capable of.

    I’m sorry, but even the best script you can post even has long incoherent bits where all Trip and Grace do is laugh nerviously.

    ————————
    GRACE
    I want to throw it all out, get rid of everything, and throw paint all over the walls…

    TRIP
    (annoyed sigh)

    BRAD
    Let’s get off the subject.

    TRIP
    uh… ha heh heh…

    GRACE
    uh…!

    TRIP
    god, I don’t, um…

    BRAD
    So, I see you like sculptures.

    TRIP
    well…

    GRACE
    uuh…!

    TRIP
    ha ha…

    (BRAD picks up a trinket 6.)

    GRACE
    ha ha…

    TRIP
    ha ha ha!

    GRACE
    ha ha ha ha!!

    BRAD
    This is a nice one.

    TRIP
    Ha ha ha, heh, Brad,

    GRACE
    heh heh heh…

    TRIP
    heh heh, you had me going there for a sec…

    TRIP
    heh, ha ha…

    BRAD
    What is this?

    TRIP
    You’re not afraid to say anything, are you?

    TRIP
    push our little buttons…

    (BRAD puts down a trinket 6.)

    TRIP
    heh heh, you’re crazy, you know that?

    TRIP
    heh, ha ha…

    TRIP
    (big sigh)

    TRIP
    Anyway… what were we talking about, heh?

    GRACE
    Uhh, you are impossible…!

    GRACE
    I’m never happy…
    ————————

    They only really seem to be coherent when they are bickering with each oter, not while interacting with you. I suppose if you consider watching two spiteful yuppies torn between arrogance and self-loathing fun gameplay, Façade would be the game for you. It just isn’t my idea of a good time.

  7. andrew Says:

    Jeremy, you bring up some important design issues that I’d like to address, hopefully later tonight or tomorrow in a new comment here. I have what I believe are reasonable answers to the point(s) you’re making, and I’m glad to address them.

  8. Joel Martinez Says:

    Jeremy, you say it’s not your idea of a good time. You know, one of the first things I picked up on when I first played the game was how uncomfortable I felt during the ordeal. At first I was like you, thinking that the whole thing was a total downer. But then I realized, the game made me *feel* uncomfortable. It evoked emotion!

    As many reviews have pointed out, there are technical issues. One of my favorites was a time that Trip asked me some yes/no question about marraige. You could tell that he was aiming for a yes answer from you, I say “No”.

    His eyes widen in amazement, “What!?”

    the game crashes

    It was pretty a pretty funny moment. But the point is that although there are technical issues, the underlying principles of the project were, in my mind, successful.

  9. Joel Martinez Says:

    some further thoughts. It seems that generating content, not the idea of the content itself (ie. what phrases to record), but the actual generation of assets was a great hindrance to the progress of the project. Did you at any point consider using a text to speech engine for trip and grace? heck, at that point even for player input.

    There’s no way it would sound as good as actual recorded text, but then you could create more actual content for the game.

  10. michael Says:

    The reason we didn’t go with text-to-speech is that no TTS system currently gives good control over prosody to create emotionally expressive speech. And, even if we’d gone with TTS, we’d have still had to write all the dialog – that was the real bottleneck, not recording the speech. To be more generative in a Facade-like story, we’d need natural language generation; then TTS becomes useful.

  11. Dan Says:

    FACADE STAGEPLAY
    Sat Aug 20 16 01 13 2005

    GRACE
    Trip, when are you going to get rid of this?

    etc…

    (Read Dan’s long stageplay that he posted, put in a separate file to save real estate in this comment thread. -Ed.)

  12. Carey Says:

    As a simple gamer, I have to say this platform has alot of potential, and probably wows the technical crowd, but I found it very confusing, and could never get past drinks in my version. They would just stick and stop talking. So, obviously, there are quite a few bugs to be worked out. But all things considered, this is fantastic and with work, could really be something great! I see a future for this type of game, with alot of hard work and time. Congrats!

    Just be more specific with us “dumb” gamers, lol… I found it very difficult to “play” and stopped playing after awhile. But like I said, LOTS of potential! :)

  13. Walter Says:

    Yeah this game sucks – I said absolutely nothing and they just argue about random crap. Yuppies.

    FACADE STAGEPLAY
    Tue Jan 31 23 58 09 2006

    TRIP
    Where are the new wine glasses?

    GRACE
    What for?

    TRIP
    That should be obvious!

    (Walter knocks on the front door.)

    GRACE
    Oh God, Trip, don’t turn this into — (interrupted)

    TRIP
    Oh, he’s here!

    GRACE
    What?! You said he’s coming an hour from now!

    TRIP
    No, he’s right on time!

    GRACE
    Trip…!

    (Trip opens the front door.)

    TRIP
    Walter!!

    TRIP
    Ah I’m so happy you could make it! We haven’t seen you in so long, how’s it going, man?

    GRACE
    No, no, here we are!

    (Walter sits on the couch.)

    GRACE
    Walter,

    GRACE
    Hi! How are you? God it’s been a while!

    TRIP
    Yeah, yeah, how are you doing?

    GRACE
    I just asked him that…

    TRIP
    Well, I can ask him too!

    GRACE
    (frustrated sigh)

    GRACE
    Well, come on in, make yourself at home!

    TRIP
    Whoops, I need to go close the door.

    GRACE
    Well, so, make yourself at home…

    (Trip closes the front door.)

    GRACE
    So, Walter, I’m hoping you can help me — (interrupted)

    PHONE
    ** RING **

    TRIP
    Oh, I’ll get it –

    GRACE
    No, no, we have a guest, we can let the answering machine pick it up.

    PHONE
    ** RING **

    TRIP
    Grace, no, I want –

    PHONE
    ** RING **

    GRACE
    Trip, please dear, don’t be rude.

    GRACE
    Why, are you expecting a phone call?

    PHONE
    ** RING **

    TRIP
    No, are you?

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    ** click **

    GRACE
    No…

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    You’ve reached the fabulous new home of Grace and Trip. Leave us a message!

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    ** beep **

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    Grace, this is your father, I thought I’d call to see how my lovely daughter is doing.

    TRIP
    Oh, it’s your parents! I’ll get it –

    GRACE
    Trip, Trip, please, I don’t want to talk to them right now…

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    I want you and Trip to come up to the house this weekend, your mother and I are throwing a

    party for a senior VP at the firm, and you should be there.

    TRIP
    I want to say hello –

    GRACE
    No no, Trip, we’re entertaining a friend in our new apartment…

    GRACE
    the last thing I want to do is talk to my parents.

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    Oh, and be sure to arrive early, I want to talk to you about this business about why you

    won’t be attending your mother’s Christmas Eve gala.

    TRIP
    Well, Grace’s parents… They’re something else, really classy people –

    ANSWERING MACHINE
    (clear throat) So, that’s all. Uh, goodbye.

    GRACE
    Uhh, no, they’re impossible, they expect me to drive up to the house in Connecticut to attend

    all their stupid socialite charity benefits and parties, it’s so tiresome.

    TRIP
    (frustrated sigh)

    TRIP
    Heh heh, Walter, seeing you brings back good memories, you know?

    GRACE
    Yes, it does. H-mmm (happy smile sound)

    TRIP
    Hey, I just realized something.

    GRACE
    What…

    TRIP
    We have to celebrate! Tonight’s a special night!

    GRACE
    It is?

    TRIP
    Walter, remember, it was almost exactly ten years ago, tonight, that you introduced us.

    TRIP
    Senior year of college!

    GRACE
    Oh… geez…

    TRIP
    Remember that?

    TRIP
    Um, well, without you, we wouldn’t even have this celebration.

    GRACE
    (big sigh)

    GRACE
    Oh God, Walter, this isn’t much fun for you, is it?

    TRIP
    What?

    GRACE
    Trip, have you noticed, we’re fighting in front of our friend.

    TRIP
    Grace, come on, that kind of statement is not helpful…

    GRACE
    Trip, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing in front of our friend –

    TRIP
    We’re NOT disagreeing.

    TRIP
    We’re — we’re — we’re not disagreeing.

    TRIP
    (frustrated sigh) Sheejus.

    TRIP
    Huh, I think I forgot how well you two get along…

    GRACE
    You know, ever since we got married, I can’t help it, I’m forever buying new furniture and

    redecorating,

    GRACE
    I — I really enjoy it –

    TRIP
    Yeah, it’s in your blood, you grew up with this stuff.

    GRACE
    Walter, now be honest with me, agree that this room just does not work!

    TRIP
    Grace, come on, what are you talking about?

    GRACE
    All day at work I design ads for apartments with extravagant views like this,

    GRACE
    and then I think, I want to design it into my apartment –

    TRIP
    Yeah, I love this view, it makes me feel like a million bucks!

    GRACE
    but… I’m wrong, I simply want a view of trees and green!

    TRIP
    Oh come on! Jesus why can’t you just be happy with this? This is fine!

    GRACE
    (frustrated sigh)

    TRIP
    Grace, everything’s fine, no one is complaining about your decorating!

    GRACE
    No, he is just being courteous… this room is not –

    TRIP
    Uhh, Grace, come on, people like it, you’re the only one –

    GRACE
    You know, Trip, if you hadn’t convinced me to go into advertising, I could have painted that

    painting on the wall instead — (interrupted)

    TRIP
    Walter, you’ve not said a single word for a while now… Are you alright?

    TRIP
    What’s the deal, are you okay?

    TRIP
    Say something.

    TRIP
    No one has a problem with your decorating but you.

    GRACE
    Yeah. Anyway…

    TRIP
    So… drinks…

    GRACE
    Trip thinks he’s at his classiest when he’s on the serving end of a swizzle stick.

    TRIP
    Why don’t I make us one of my new drink inventions,

    TRIP
    I call it Grace’s Inner Soul.

    TRIP
    It’s a mixture of chardonnay, bitters and lots of ice.

    GRACE
    It’s a secret — Trip doesn’t even like the taste of alcohol.

    TRIP
    What?! So, uhh,

    TRIP
    Walter, how — how does that sound?

    TRIP
    You — you don’t want my invention?

    GRACE
    Walter, Trip’s getting a little carried away… maybe you just want some juice, or a

    mineral water?

    TRIP
    (exhale very tense)

    TRIP
    Yeah, no, I’m going to make this drink for us!

    TRIP
    Our friend is here, we’re going to enjoy ourselves, that’s all there is to it!

    GRACE
    (frustrated sigh)

    TRIP
    Grace, everybody loves my drinks, you know that, don’t you? Everybody!

    GRACE
    Well, of course Trip, after all, you got enough practice when you were a real bartender.

    TRIP
    What?

    GRACE
    In college, you were a bartender.

    TRIP
    How do you know about that?

    GRACE
    Oh I know you were trying to keep it a big secret, but… one time my friends and I went

    slumming off-campus to some crappy bar in the sticks, and we saw you there.

    TRIP
    Oh, that’s great.

    TRIP
    Uhh, you’re driving me insane!

    TRIP
    Goddamn slumming it off campus…

    TRIP
    You hide things from me! You’re so distant! You…

    TRIP
    You do, you hide things from me!

    GRACE
    (impatient sigh) Walter, I…

    GRACE
    (frustrated sigh)

    GRACE
    My goddamn parents…

    GRACE
    I wish you would just be yourself! Ever since I’ve known you, you resist just being

    yourself!

    TRIP
    Oh, come on…!

    TRIP
    Okay, you know what, Walter,

    TRIP
    I’m going to ask you something.

    GRACE
    Trip –

    TRIP
    Grace, let me ask our guest a question.

    TRIP
    Walter, yes or no…

    TRIP
    Isn’t the goal in life, and in marriage, to improve your life, to have more than you did

    before?

    GRACE
    What?

    TRIP
    I mean, shouldn’t you get married so you can have a better, richer life than before?

    TRIP
    Yes or no.

    TRIP
    Look, you don’t need answer, I don’t need to hear anymore!

    TRIP
    Grace, you won’t let me be who I want to be! Who — who I am! This is who I am now!

    Goddammit!

    GRACE
    Oh, that’s great Trip!

    GRACE
    Uhh! Yeah, good, go away!

    GRACE
    I don’t want to look at you!

    GRACE
    Goddammit!

    GRACE
    uhh!

    GRACE
    Walter, I — I’m sorry… this is a disaster…

    GRACE
    uhh…

    GRACE
    Look, you probably just want to leave…

    GRACE
    Oh, God…

    TRIP
    What? I can’t hear a goddamn word you’re saying!

    GRACE
    Fine with me!

    GRACE
    Walter, (annoyed sigh) Trip is just so…

    TRIP
    Oh, we’re talking about me again, are we?

    GRACE
    What?

    TRIP
    Walter, look around this apartment. It’s got everything anyone would ever want. But, Grace,

    oh no, she’s never satisfied.

    GRACE
    Trip, … ugh … I’m so sick of this.

    TRIP
    Well, heh, I — I mean, we — heh — we — we’ve got everything…

    GRACE
    Trip, you just don’t… uhh.

    TRIP
    Look, let’s talk about us both, not just one of us.

    GRACE
    I think Trip’s afraid of visiting his parents. He does everything he can to avoid seeing

    them.

    TRIP
    Afraid of my parents?! My parents are idiots.

    GRACE
    No, it’s true…

    TRIP
    Let’s keep the focus on us, not just one person.

    TRIP
    It’s so annoying… Grace, why is it that anytime I want to do something nice for you, you

    resist it?

    GRACE
    Trip…

    TRIP
    Like I always have to convince you?

    GRACE
    Walter, you know, we… uhh…

    TRIP
    Grace, we don’t — we don’t have to do this… things are okay, we can just –

    GRACE
    Walter, I can’t stand the pretending anymore… I can’t take it!

    TRIP
    No, Grace, we can… I mean, come on, don’t make it out to be so bad…

    GRACE
    Uhh…

    TRIP
    Okay, okay, let’s talk about Grace.

    TRIP
    Grace, I don’t think you really do want us to quit our jobs, lead a simpler lifestyle.

    GRACE
    What? Trip, you know what I –

    TRIP
    Oh come on! You grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can’t live any other way.

    GRACE
    Look, why don’t we talk about us, our relationship.

    TRIP
    You know what makes me so angry?

    GRACE
    What?

    TRIP
    How you’ve so conveniently forgotten how much you used to actually hate painting!

    GRACE
    Walter, I — I — uhh…!

    GRACE
    Let’s keep talking about us, our relationship.

    GRACE
    Trip, it’s your fault — ten years ago, freshly married and just out of college,

    GRACE
    you convinced me to go into advertising, instead of art!

    TRIP
    What?

    GRACE
    If it weren’t for you, I could be a real artist by now.

    TRIP
    Uhh… Walter, uhh…

    TRIP
    That’s bullshit.

    GRACE
    Uhh…

    GRACE
    Let’s talk some more about us, our relationship.

    TRIP
    Walter, you think this is all my fault, don’t you?

    GRACE
    You tricked me, Trip! Right after we got married, you tricked me into giving up my dream of

    being an artist!

    TRIP
    What? Oh, Jesus Christ…

    TRIP
    Walter, is that true, all of this is my fault?

    GRACE
    We should — we should talk about Trip.

    GRACE
    See, you lied to me, before we got married, when you said you liked art, that you respected

    me as an artist.

    TRIP
    I — Walter, Uhh…

    TRIP
    Okay, that’s it, no more of this bullshit!!

    TRIP
    Walter, I know what you’re hinting at, okay?!

    TRIP
    about me…

    TRIP
    Do you two want the truth? Huh?

    TRIP
    Walter, are you ready to hear it?

    TRIP
    Grace, huh?

    GRACE
    Yes…!

    TRIP
    Walter, well?

    TRIP
    See, Walter, I’ve been paying attention to what you’ve been saying tonight.

    TRIP
    You’ve been trying to push me.

    TRIP
    It makes me wonder if you’re really my friend or not.

    GRACE
    Trip!

    TRIP
    Walter, come on — yes or no…

    TRIP
    Do you really think that…

    (WALTER gets up from the couch.)

    (WALTER points to the elevator button.)

  14. Patrick Dugan Says:

    Well Walter, its not really fair to say the Facade sucks as a game, because its falls outside the category of what we’d typically call games. We tend to see the quality of a game based on the challenge it presents to us, the constraints of Facade’s challenge however, is not designed to force an explicit goal. Facade allows the player to bring their own goals with them, in your case that goal seemed to be to play it Zen and do nothing. Congratulations, you won.

  15. andrew Says:

    Walter, Patrick, I think you both have valid points. While it’s true that Facade is designed to allow players the freedom to act in many different ways, and hopefully get rewarded and not punished for it (e.g., avoiding the responses like “you can’t do that” or “i don’t understand”), at the same time, we strive for there to be consistently believable behavior. In Walter’s stageplay, in which Walter says absolutely nothing, there is actually a moment where Trip notices this and says, “What’s the deal, are you okay? Say something.” (In fact there is AI in there to have Grace and Trip potentially get so frustrated at a silent player that they’ll throw Walter out. That didn’t get triggered in this runthrough, for some reason — a tuning bug.) While we’d rather err on the side of allowing this “Zen” player behavior than not, ideally Grace and Trip would interpret Walter’s silence as an active move in their social games, and react more interestingly to it than we see here.

  16. JoJo Says:

    i can see how this could be applied to the sciences. for example at (a spam site that was deleted), the owner of that website could have Facade interact with guests, explaining pictures, or alerting the visitor to other pages of similar interest. i think this is a great idea. hope for your massive success.

  17. CanCan Says:

    Hi all…
    I can’t see any conversation after this dialog.
    I said and ask everything but Grace and Trip only looking to me.

    GRACE
    I just asked him that…
    TRIP
    Well, I can ask him too!
    GRACE
    (frustrated sigh)

  18. andrew Says:

    That’s a sign that you need a computer with a faster CPU; unfortunately Facade starts but then stops working if the CPU is too slow.

  19. Man Bytes Blog: A Frenzy of Lexicological Optimism » The Story is the Thing, Pt. 2 Says:

    [...] s been argued that the interactivity of games is what keeps them from being stories. As I pointed out on Grand Text Auto, Alice In Wonderland was first told to Alice L [...]

  20. KOSOVA Says:

    Walter, come on — yes or no…?

  21. The Dance of Life : Cross-Media/Transmedia Entertainment Says:

    [...] telling game: Facade: Mark Marino’s Cancer Character; Marc Heiden’s; some more here, and here.The reasons are various, some [...]

  22. andrew Says:

    It’s been over 2 years since Facade was released, and it’s cool to see that new people are picking it up and having fun with it. Here’s the first of 5+ pages of new discussion and stageplay postings on the somethingawful.com forums.

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