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%%  Full Motion Games and the Amiga                  By: Rowan Crawford %%
%%  An essay of analysis                  dljar1@giaeb.cc.monash.edu.au %%
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    Full Motion Video (FMV) seems to be the big catch phrase at
the moment, but a lot of people are skeptical about it's worth
in video games.

    Psygnosis certainly feel it's a viable gaming option, and
they (along with several other large companies) have put their
cash behind it. Mircocosm, and it's sequel, Scavenger 4, represent
their first attempts at FMV games, and although both were games
were mildly successful in combining FMV with an actual game,
they were still far from what people expect from interactive
entertainment.

[Scavenger 4 is rumored to have become "Novastorm". -Ed]

    Virgin had a big hit on their hands with 7th Guest, but that
had even less interactivity than the Pygnosis efforts. It was a
success because it looked good, and was something new. Nothing more.
    But it's not just Virgin who have taken advantage of FMV
and the gullible PC games buying public. In fact, these "vaguely"
interactive games are quite common on the PC (even the 3D0 has
had it's unfair share), and there looks to be even more on the
way. Which reminds me of a joke:

Q:  How many PC owners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A:  None, they just declare darkness as a new standard.

    So what can we, Amiga users, expect now that FMV is available
on the CD32? And what does it mean for the future of computer
gaming? Will everything eventually become more like a film than
a game, or are there other uses for FMV?

    I think it has huge potential myself. The thing to realise
is that it can't, and therefore won't, suddenly make games any
better, or any more original. What it can do is make exhisting
game styles more interesting, and also it can draw you into the
game itself.

    Then again, someone might actually create a new genre of
-interactive- game using on FMV. It's possible, if unlikey.

    Mircocosm was quite a large step from previous uses of FMV
(even if it wasn't strictly using FMV, the basic result is the
same). Psygnosis realised that FMV wasn't something that you
should base a game on, but instead is something that you can use
to make your game look and feel better.
    Although the shoot-em-up behind Microcosm wasn't the best game
ever, the basic principle was right. With Scavenger 4 (when will
there be a CD32 version!?), they kept the same idea, but worked on
improving the game part to the extent that the craft could now
interact with the background.
    It is design features like this which will allow FMV to be a
bonus to game design rather than a hindrance to gameplay. FMV in
this fashion could work with other game genres too, such as adventure
games and maybe even playform games (with some careful design).

    The other use for FMV is for animations. Not only intro/end
game animations, but for little animations throughout the game.
    Not necessarily just between levels either, access to the CD
is fast enough that it could happen mid-game. For example, you're
running along in a platform game, you put an object in the right
place, and suddenly the whole screen morphs into something different.
    So many possibilities, and yet still they continue to produce so
many interactivity-impaired games. It's just not right.

    I think what FMV is ideal for, is to help draw the player
into the game. A nice scene setting intro animation, occational
"joyride" levels, bonus set-pieces and a few small plot enhancing
animations will all contribute to the feel of the game.

    Something to think about anyway.