In their article: “From Dead-end to Cutting Edge: Using FMV Design Patterns to Jumpstart a Video Revival” (2020), Carl Therrien, Cindy Poremba, and Jean-Charles Ray look at the full-motion video (FMV) games by looking at design patterns associated with them in an attempt to identify, as of yet, undefined FMV design patterns. FMV games were popular during the early nineties, but they were defeated early by the games using 3D animation. Yet, the reintroduction of games applying video material like Her Story reflects the hopes to expand modern game’s nature.
Therrien et al. argue that one challenge of moving information about design methods to the planning of games is the fact that game making emphasizes playtests and various versions as a solution for issues. FMV game’s specific challenges introduced are technical limits and conventions. For instance, some design methods were not for videos but instead for specific game types.
Numerous FMV plans found by the analysis can be placed on the allegorical end of the Historical-Analytical Comparative System (HACS), a system used for analysis by which any game element can be made visible. Still, the player was also able to control the game by the mouse, and modern games have also used quick-time events to apply more synchronic configurations of mapping. One solution to moving design methods into the game planning proposed by Therrien et al. is a guide for putting video material in games based on previous studies.
The results of the analysis are shown through five different classes: Navigation, Apprehension, Social Interaction, Resource Management, and Environmental Activation. The first of two Navigation patterns, punctual mapping refers to the situation whereby player’s order, character operates on their own, and the Synchronic mapping refers to: “-Constant control of a character animated on screen…”. While a large amount of the games analyzed have Navigation elements, videos are not used for showing them on many occasions.
The authors state that the Apprehension in the context of HACS means the examination of the game area, for instance, through the “look at” command. In the analyzed games, this was often in the form of simply text known as “screen-augmented interface”. Character encapsulates findings for the player in many cases. The user interface can also turn to tecno-mimetic, a combination of actual and virtual, that produces “-Symbiotic action mapping through the inherent limitations of the computer interface…”. It can particularly happen in police and detective games through the closeness between the game visuals and user computer as these games often have, for instance, computers.
The Social Interaction (Having a chat with other characters) was most common in the analyzed games, although the discussion through full motion video was often in the form of dialog choices instead of live footage, which could cause, for instance, indicative discussion. Some discussions can be audiovisual, but they are mostly in the form of text, which is similar to Apprehension.
Resource Management “diegetic integration” happened when the mouse was brought to computer games. While Resource management was used in the analyzed games, it was not portrayed straight with full motion video.
Environmental Activation turns clear when requirements for moving forward are completed, and some of the analyzed games used FMV to show this. The authors summarized the pattern of puzzles in the adventure games as “-Selecting a verb, an item, and a target in the environment”, which often combines Resource Management and Activation. These are, however, more animated sections than full-motion video.
Therrien et al. cipher games through the HACS, which has five groups and 28 main concepts within them. HACS’s goal is to discover what proportions of the agency like navigation, the games contain, and how these are applied into the game. It visualizes the game interfaces into three levels: “manipulation interface”, “mapping of actual player manipulations with virtual actions” and “gameworld feedback”. It tracks player control on the user interface in five ways. These range from most realistic such as doing realistic signals to most figurative such as simply watching the character move after pressing the command.
Modern games also use newer technologies like volumetric video, which still shares constraints with FMV. These include the length aspect of the video and the nature of the video containing a large amount of data. Due to these constraints, the volumetric video has not succeeded in traditional game planning. Still, the curiosity towards video material clarifies that solutions for the video implementation should be more accessible, as Therrien et al. argue.
Header image: “The camera moves throughout the guesthouse while considering the next action.” MAT. https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-4/shapeshifting-detective/screenshots/gameShotId,980024/
Therrien, C., Poremba, C., & Ray, J.-C. (2020). From Dead-end to Cutting Edge: Using FMV Design Patterns to Jumpstart a Video Revival. Game Studies, 20(4), Retrieved from http://gamestudies.org/2004/articles/therrienporembaray
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