Façade comes closer than any digital literature work thus far to realizing a long-held dream, which is the creation of an interactive, animated fiction that can accept any type of language produced by the user and assimilate it into the outcome of the narrative. Even aside from limitations in graphical rendering (it's only with the most recent 3rd-generation consoles that facial expression has come close to that of 3D film animation) and language parsing (which requires huge, exhaustive databases of human language usage), Stern and Mateas end up confronting a number of interesting narratalogical issues such as the conveyance of sure "plot points" in an open-ended, completely fluid fictional structure. The depths of Façade become clear with repeated plays, as micro-narratives emerge from the various interactions that the often hapless protagonist—namely, you—has with his or her divorce-bound hosts.
Author description: Façade is an artificial intelligence-based art/research experiment in electronic narrative—an attempt to move beyond traditional branching or hyper-linked narrative to create a fully-realized, one-act interactive drama. Integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic practices and artificial intelligence technologies, the authors undertook a five year collaboration to engineer a novel architecture for supporting emotional, interactive character behavior and drama-managed plot. You, the player, using your own name and gender, play the character of a longtime friend of Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that quickly turns ugly, you become entangled in the high-conflict dissolution of Grace and Trip's marriage. No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced to be made. By the end of this intense one-act play you will have changed the course of Grace and Trip's lives, motivating you to re-play the drama to find out how your interaction could make things turn out differently the next time.
Instructions: You will need to install Façade on your computer. Click the BEGIN button to select files for MAC or PC. There is a brief instructions screen in the title menu, explaining that players simply type at any time to speak dialog, use the arrow keys to navigate, and use the mouse to pick up and use objects. As of this writing, Façade has not been updated to work with Mac OS X 10.5
Previous publication/additional credits: Façade was originally self-published on our project website, interactivestory.net, in July 2005. Voice acting: Chloe Johnston, Andy Bayiates / Music: Billy Gomberg, Matt Ganucheau, Jim Doran, Aaron Acosta, Leo Caruso / Additional programming: Mehmet Fidanboylu / Additional character animation and art: John Rines, Andy Webster / Additional voice: Mary McCann, Joel Bresler / Story consultant: John Lavin / Macintosh port: Ryan C. Gordon
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.