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Looking at the Sandbox from the Outside

November 7, 2011

So, prior to class, I wanted to give my own personal thoughts on Facade and Wardrip-Fruin, but primarily Facade.

Admittedly, I am a gamer and prior to this class, I only knew Facade as a song from the Jekyll & Hyde musical I did when I was in high school (yeah, I did a bit of musical theater).  And after playing Facade several times and after reading Wardrip-Fruin, I’m disappointed in it.  After reading several blog posts from our classmates, that seems to be the relative consensus.  I’m more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” gamer and I don’t always read instructions before playing (I’m looking at you, Mass Effect).  So, when I started playing Facade, I was somewhat disoriented, mainly because I didn’t know entirely what to do (I did pick up quickly that I could move & interact with the environment).  Talking with Trip & Grace, though, I didn’t gather until later in my first play-through, where I got annoyed and said, “You guys are dicks.  I’m going home.  kthxbai”

On my second (and subsequent) play-throughs, I was incredibly disappointed by the lack of speech recognition by the game engine.  I typed in clear, correct & concise language, but for example, if I asked, “Are you happy?”, Trip or Grace would respond with, “Josh, are you trying to say I’m depressed?!” (Yes, I used the name Josh because Steve wasn’t one listed.  Assholes.)  There seemed to be an inherent flaw in the recognition portion of the “game,” which Wardrip-Fruin discussed in Chapter 8.  While Facade is certainly an interesting concept, it’s flawed in that it can’t understand accurately everything that’s typed at it.  It’s disconcerting when, as a player, I’m really trying to help these two NPCs, but the programming misinterprets what I say.

That being said, it certainly was fun doing play-throughs of Facade in what I’m going to call “Fun Mode.”  For one playthrough, I decided that I was going to play as Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond.  It actually was pretty funny since my character was flirting with Grace and making her incredibly uncomfortable while making Trip very angry.  If I remember right, Trip walked out on that playthrough.

Would I consider Facade a game?  In the strictest of terms, no.  If a game is defined as having a set story and path that the player follows with a clear goal in mind, then Facade doesn’t fit the bill.  It’s more of a simulation than anything.  And speaking of simulations, I love playing SimCity.  Granted, I cheat at it and give myself practically unlimited money, it’s still fun to play, as evidenced by my pictures of it in my expertise post.  But, I digress.  The idea of being able to interact with the characters in Facade is a really cool aspect, but it’s executed much better in games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect where the choices lead the player clearly towards a different direction.  So, that’s about all I have.  I’m still sorta burned out from my expertise assignment.  I may or may not get to comments.  Sorry if I don’t.  Until next week!


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One Comment
  1. I agree. As a game, Façade falls flat. I associate games with being fun, and Façade isn’t (at all) *fun*. I do appreciate the effect that the software (I think I’ll refuse to refer to it as a game from now on) is trying to produce, but I felt that it would’ve needed to be much more polished, perhaps to a point that was almost certainly impossible in 2006 and that is likely impossible in 2011, to work effectively.

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