Adventure Gamers: FMV: Yea or nay?
Aaron Conners: YEA!
I recently wrote a column specifically about this topic, which goes into a lot of detail about why and how I think FMV can work.
FMV isn’t for everyone, and it’s not the best choice for every type of game, but I believe it’s essential for a new Tex Murphy game. My reasons: (1) There is no substitute for the human face and body when it comes to emotions and humor. (2) Detective stories have a large amount of interaction between characters, and most of the time, it’s interviewing and interrogating. Watching this with rendered characters would be agonizing. (3) FMV is a fundamental element of this series. It wouldn’t be a Tex Murphy game without it.
AG: The technology for making the "gamey" part of games may have progressed a lot, but aren't the demands of filming live action theatre just as challenging – and perhaps costly – as ever? $450,000 may sound like a lot now, but it surely won't once you start shooting.
Aaron Conners, Chris Jones
Chris Jones: This is not all the money we are using on it. We had some money set aside to do a modest Tex Murphy game, but then the Kickstarter phenomenon began. We thought Kickstarter would be a great way to supplement the Tex Murphy fund and take it from a modest game to a more full Tex Murphy adventure. Kickstarter was also a way to help us gauge the public's interest in a possible new Tex Murphy game. We've been very pleased with the support we have received so far.
AG: Given the success of the final (until now) three games, it's easy to forget the series didn't begin with Under a Killing Moon. What first inspired the move to FMV from the more traditional format of the first two games?
Chris: That's where we always wanted to go. We always wanted to incorporate a "movie feel" inside our adventure gaming line. We were finally able to do that when CDs for computers could store such large amounts of information. It was always our goal to create the "Interactive Movie" experience which featured multipathing that would allow players' choices to be more meaningful.
AG: Did you have any training in filmmaking, or did you just kind of wing it as you went along at the beginning?
Chris: Filmmaking was always a hobby of mine growing up. My friends and I loved making films in Jr. High, High School, and College. When Access Software was founded, these adventure games became our new outlet for storytelling.
AG: What originally compelled you to get in front of the camera to play Tex yourself?
Business isn't always booming for Tex
Chris: Too cheap to pay a leading actor was the original motivation. Really, Tex Murphy was just a stand in role for Mean Streets and Martian Memorandum. The most complicated part of the role was the "walk cycle" where the pixilated Tex character would cross the room. When we started Under a Killing Moon, I just continued portraying the role of Tex. Besides, Film Noir had always been my favorite movie genre so it was so fun to be involved in this way.
AG: Aaron, no such acting aspirations on your part?
Aaron: I’ve had a small cameo in every game, but it’s just for fun. I’m no Chris Jones, as we say on the set.
AG: Has the role actually given you a sense of "celebrity" over the years, Chris? Or do people not really recognize you without the trenchcoat, sneakers, and fedora?
Chris: Most often, people look at me, then tilt their head for a second and say "Were you ever in a video game?" Once, I saw this 14 year old kid staring at me, and I thought to myself "He must know of my work." Well, the kid came up to me and said "Are you the dumb ass who plays the detective in those games?" That's when I realized – yes, he does know my work.
AG: Kids these days! And speaking of age, unless you've secretly discovered the fountain of youth, you've aged quite a bit (along with the rest of us) since your last game. Will we find Tex has grown older as well?
Chris: Uh... yes, the characters will all be a little bit older since the last time we've seen them. It will fit nicely into the story arc Aaron has planned out.
Aaron: I’ve always joked that, somewhere, there’s a portrait of Chris getting old and hideous. He’s aged, of course, but looks fantastic for his age. As for how “Tex” has aged, that’s a big part of the new story. It would be naive (and weird) to try and pick things up where they left off. Fortunately, the time progression works very nicely with my story.
Chelsee Bando: not your everyday, average mutant
AG: What about the rest of the cast? Will Suzanne Barnes (as Chelsee) and other familiar faces be back?
Aaron: As for what role Chelsee might play in the new story... I am sworn to secrecy. I can confirm that many of the Chandler Avenue regulars will be back, including Louie, Rook and Clint, along with several other key characters from the old games – played by original actors, of course.
AG: Will the new game be a direct continuation of Overseer's finale, or will it quickly spin off into a fairly standalone adventure of its own?
Aaron: There will be several storylines unfolding simultaneously, one of which is the continuation of the Overseer story. With our narrative pathing, players’ actions will lead them to different paths. I wouldn’t be surprised if many players who are new to the Tex Murphy world end up on a different story path than fans who have waited years to learn what happened to Tex and Chelsee.
AG: Where do the radio episodes fit into the series chronology?
Chris: Basically, this is years after the cliffhanger in Overseer. There will obviously be a lot of storyline that has happened between the end of Overseer and our new Project Fedora. However, it will take place years after the Radio Theater timeline.Continued on the next page...