Night Trap – The Beginning

In 1986 Hasbro were developing their own VHS-based games console called Project NEMO (“Never Even Mentioned Outside”), later renamed Control-Vision. The console was to be billed as a cheaper alternative to rivals Nintendo and Sega. A groundbreaking demo game with parallel storylines was created in order to further push the development of the console.

Produced by Robert Fulop and directed by James Riley, a four minute Full Motion Video Game demo called Scene Of The Crime was made. Shot in a Hillsborough house over a single weekend, the demo shadowed the concept of the Tamara play, with parallel storylines and multiple rooms to view.  It was a groundbreaking idea in the realms of gaming. Hasbro seemed happy with the (rather adult orientated) demo and ordered the go-ahead for full titles;

This is great. Now go and make it for kids.

A video clip of the Hasbro executives watching the Project NEMO demo of Scene Of The Crime was a hidden Easter Egg on one of their future games releases. You can see it below;

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Three months later, in 1987, with a budget of $1’000’000 and a 250-page script, the first FMV Game was put into production. Shot over a three week period on a soundstage at GMT Studios, California, the game Night Trap (eBay link here) became a reality. The cast and crew shot their scenes, and one by one each scene was reset and shot again with a different outcome. The variation in outcomes would eventually allow the player to interact and choose storylines to follow.

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 As a member of the Sega Control Attack Team (SCAT), you have control over the CCTV system and a series of traps within a house. The house owners are hosting a second sleepover for their daughter. Mysteriously the girls from the first sleepover disappeared. Amd its your job to monitor the house, find out what happened, and protect the girls.

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Night Trap became world-renowned politically, albeit for the wrong reasons. Video game violence was brought to light in Congress as a legitimate debate. But Night Trap was tarnished as a violent and bloody game unfit for children. Although Night Trap was designed predominantly as a fun vampire game, and showed no sex, nudity or violence.

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Nevertheless, the debate over game violence caused serious damage to the games industry. And Night Trap is the reason there are now Ratings on all video games. The game was later censored and re-released.

 

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The clapperboards show that Night Trap was filmed in the summer of 1987, over a period of roughly 2 to 3 weeks.

Most interestingly, the controversial Bathroom scene (which isn’t controversial at all, given the hype it gained in US Congress which led to all future games on any console having an Age Rating certificate), seems to have been a night shoot, taking place in the early hours of 4am on Wednesday 29th July 1987. Considering they were shooting the bedroom scenes at mid day the day before and further bathroom scenes at mid day, they either split the shoot with different crews, or worked their butts off to get this in the can!

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The final edited product was also dubbed into Japanese, Spanish and French and released in those countries.  Later it was ported to the Panasonic 3DO and Sega Saturn games consoles, and re-released as a Directors Cut for the PC and Mac CD-ROM. The Directors Cut has no additional content, other than a different opening titles.

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Publishing Double Switch

Part 1 of this blog: Deconstructing Double Switch.

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 3 of this blog: Composing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games.

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Having had to play the game a few times myself to figure out some timings and work out the order of a few clips, it became obvious the game has a random element to it. Each time you play the Thugs and Intruders are different. However, it appears the rooms and entry times stay the same. This gives the player a chance to remember the structure of the game, although the video elements and trigger points differ and therefore could affect the perfect run. The final video below shows every thug and every intruder (repeated several times, as they are in the game too), with both trap and non-trap versions. I hope you like the final version. It took some blood, sweat and tears.

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The hope of creating such a video was to re-ignite interest in the game. I’d love to get involved with any re-release or porting, although I’m not in any way a programmer. But financially I’d love to support such a thing, should it become an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign.

As a quick example of how a DVD version of the game could work, I created this video. Hopefully it sparks some ideas.

The concept was great. The footage was great. The storyline and script were great. Finally, after a weeks worth of trials and tribulations, the fully rendered video is here. It shows every clip in the correct sequence in the game. It shows every occurrence of a Thug or Intruder, each with a trap and non-trap version. It didn’t come without a run of issues on my part. Missing clips, incorrect storyline order, unknown edit render errors.

Finally, I give you… Double Switch.

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Part 1 of this blog: Deconstructing Double Switch.

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 3 of this blog: Composing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games.

Composing Double Switch

Part 1 of this blog: Deconstructing Double Switch.

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 4 of this blog: Publishing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games

As a freelance Director I’m never sure when work is coming. Thankfully a bunch of shifts came up this last week or so, which is great. But it means I’ve had to put the Double Switch project on the back burner.

However, as of last night the edit is complete. I now have the full EDL showing all the action at the same time and showing the storyline as it evolves. From this video I’ll be able to create a spreadsheet showing which clips run at which times, with timecode.

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I should point out that for the purpose of avoiding audio clash from actors in different rooms talking at the same time, there’s a bit of creative adjustment to the placement of a few of the video clips. I’m also not entirely sure if the running clips are definitive in their placement. As mentioned previously, some of the video filenames are ordered 1, 2, 3, 4, but the order in which they play in the game may be 3, 1, 2, 4. Perhaps there’s some randomisation in the game which mixes it up a little each time its played. There were occasions when a bad guy has just been trapped in one room, yet they suddenly appear at the same time in another room. Again, I’ve slid those videos further apart to make the gap between them viable time for the occurrences to have been realtime.

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It should be noted that the amount of clips playing at the same time substantially ramps up the closer you get to the end of the game. The chances of keeping your number of ‘captured versus escaped’ low at this point was rather hard! As was keeping up with the actual storyline.

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One thing I’d like to do is make it a better experience with headphones and therefore tweak the audio, so that cameras on the left are in the left ear, and similarly right ear for the right hand side cameras. This’ll take a bit more work.

Since my teeny MacBook Pro might take half a day to render out the video, I’m not going to start the render till I’m happy with the audio. So stand by your beds for the final video.

For now, here’s a peek at the overall edit timeline. It’s rather busy and complicated!

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Part 1 of this blog: Deconstructing Double Switch.

Part 2 of this blog: Recreating Double Switch.

Part 4 of this blog: Publishing Double Switch.

Related post: Project NEMO And the Unfortunate Demise of FMV Games