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Facade3

Left to right: Grace and Trip

Façade is an artificial-intelligence-based interactive story created by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. It was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival and has been exhibited at several international art shows. In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die. The game has been the subject of parody online due to its low quality graphics, glitches and odd responses. 


Overview

Façade puts the player in the role of a close friend of Grace and Trip, a couple who recently invited the player to their home for cocktails. This pleasant gathering, however, is somewhat damaged by the clear domestic confrontation between Grace and Trip upon the player's entry. Making full use of the incorporated language processing software, Façade allows the player to type sentences to "speak" with the couple, either supporting them through their troubles, driving them farther apart, or being thrown out of the apartment.

Incorporating elements of both video gaming and drama, Façade takes advantage of voice acting and a 3-D environment, as well as natural language processing and other advanced artificial intelligence routines, to provide a robust interactive experience. The player can take an active role in the conversation, pushing the topic one way or another, as in an interactive stage-play. These stage-plays are stored as script text files which can be read after the player has finished.

Façade was released for PC in July 2005, as a free download from the InteractiveStory.net web site. As of 2006, the creators of Façade were developing a game called The Party.


Plot events

Most playthroughs end with either Trip and Grace managing an initial reconciliation and telling the player they need to be alone, or being so offended by the player that Trip forcibly removes him or her from the apartment. However, with active intervention, it is possible to inspire the two to rediscover their love for one another, or to push one to leave the other - sometimes admitting a past affair, one of many events decided at random when play begins.

Because much of it is designed to simulate 'on-the-fly' reactions to the player's or other characters' actions, and because the scenario features a random series of events (such as what conversational topics are brought up, what drinks Trip wants to serve, etc.) it possesses a certain amount of replay value.

The parser through which the player communicates to the actors is also notable for its ability to recognize and accept a large number of complex commands and respond to them adequately. Many questions can be fully parsed by the engine and the actors can respond in a variety of ways dependent on their mood, random fluctuations, and the player's past actions. For example, in one scenario, Grace may respond favorably to the statement 'I love your decorations.', while in another context she may believe you are being condescending to her. Although not every statement made by the player will be successfully parsed, often the engine will pull related information and integrate it using the built-in voice acting clips. As such, proper spelling and grammar is almost always required for optimal player experience.

Trivia

  • A single mention of the word "melon" has been known to cause an instant disqualification in the game, and the player will be immediately ejected from the apartment. The words "kill" and "pig" can also trigger this action.