Casebook 2/ S.C. Interview/FMV: The Current State

I think that a while back, i mentioned the episodic FMV format Casebook on here, coming from the New Zealandian indie developer Areo. While i thought the first episode was ok, without getting too enthusiastic about it (beside a really cool maincharacter and a great FMV production) i´ve got to say that the newest Episode "The Watcher" is an improvement in every way. The plot is a lot more exciting, there´s more FMV material, and because of the better storyline, i think that the motivation for playing through the new episode is a lot higher.

The Gameplay is a lot more Casual than Adventure, so opinions might vary on this, but it didn´t really bother me, as i felt wonderfully entertained by the 3 (or maybe 4?) hour package as a whole. It´s simply amazing to see this small indie developer pulling his vision of FMV through these days with such a professional result and it leaves room for hope. The first 2 episodes are available via download from the official website for 15 dollars, here´s a link: http://areo.areograph.com/
The website also offers trailers for both episodes, personally i´d definetely recommend to start with the 2.nd episode though (as episode1 was a stand alone episode anyway, and like i said, the 2.nd one is an enormous improvement. Despite that, there will be a standalone demo very soon, that will be settled inbetween episode 2 and episode 3:Snake in the Grass (scheduled for a release in may)

I´ve recently done an in depth interview with Sam Clarkson, who is not only the director of the FMV-sequences but also the Creative Director of Areo, going into detail considering the Casebook Series, the old (but from my perspective worthless) stereotype that FMV is not financiable, Sams philosphy behind FMV and his ideas of the future. Oh and of course Tex Murphy and Three Cards to Midnight were mentioned as well in this interview.

I´ve got great respect for Sam, and he´s one of the few who are doing FMV these days and he surely knows what he´s talking about, so i can only recommend you the interview. :)
Here´s the link: http://www.adventurecorner.de/pages.php?id=316
That looks kind of neat... Makes me think of the CSI games that are out, but they don't use Real Video like this does... 10 bucks an episode isn't a bad price either...
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The funny thing is, i don´t even like tv shows like CSI, but really enjoyed episode 2.

The price for the current episode is actually 15 Dollars, but i think this still is a very good and fair price model. The nice thing is, that once a new episode comes out ,the last one gets reduced down to 10 Dollars.

If some one is interested, i´d definetely recommend to rather pay 5 Dollars more for the current episode, as i think the chances are a lot higher, you get hooked up by episode 2 and become willing to bring Areo more money and more fame. :mrgreen:

But seriously, regarding what a small team this is, i think it´s really worth supporting their efficient effort and philosophy (unless of course people hate Casual Game elements)
This looks very interesting. The production quality seems top notch, the acting looks decent. Just one question though (which may seem silly): any telling of the system requirements? is it MAC friendly?
I don´t really know if it´s MAC friendly, i´ll just ask and tell you once i know that. :wink:

But these are the general system requirements:

• Windows® XP SP2 or Vista

• Modern 1.5GHz CPU

• 1GB RAM

• 1GB hard drive space

• Graphics card that supports DirectX® 9.0c and Shader Model 2.0

• Sound playback system
@ Joel

The current status is that Casebook is limited to Windows systems at the moment (although the Areo team runs it on their Macs using dual boot). They´re working hard on a port to both MAC and Linux though. There´s no timeframe but it seems to happen in the near future. :)
Von,
excellent news - thanks very much for getting back to me :)

I might then hold out for the MAC version just for now as i'm going through the anthology of classic games that i've downloaded from gog.com. I think an interactive movie would make a very worthy laptop game too :)

Thanks again!
Of course, Joel. I´ll let you know once i hear something about the MAC release. :D

By the way: I think, i said that this was in the making, but anyways, Areo have published a free standalone mini-episode of Casebook now. You can download it right here (248 MB): http://areo.areograph.com/node/28

That´s a pretty nice and cool thing by Areo, considering what a small team they are and shooting a free mini-episode is surely quite some extra trouble in their busy timeschedule.

I didn´t have time to check out more than a couple of minutes and i guess you shouldn´t expect a dark and exciting plot like in Episode 2 "The Watcher" or future full episodes, but it´s a good thing for getting to know the really cool maincharacter James Burton and to get an impression of the impressing FMV production.
My question is: How on earth did they do those 3D environments using real footage? I mean, it's like they are walking through a 3D environment only it's made up for video footage? WTF? amazing...

-Cub. =o)
Yes, it is amazing, especially regarding that this is a small indie developer who brought this engine on the way. And after spending quite some money for the development of the technology, they´re able to do FMV in a very efficient and cheap way now and produce single episodes in a very fast and fluent way (with one of the main reasons being, that they don´t have to create an artificial computer world like pretty much every other game). The cool thing is, that they´re working on the Areo engine 2.0 right now, that won´t have some of the old restrictions, for example in the new engine environments won´t be static. :D

If you´re interested : Sam Clarkson (director of the FMV sequences and Creative Director of Areo) talked about the technological side in the interview i did with him (and a lot of other things like the philosophy behind this whole approach, FMV in past, present and future, financiabilty of FMV etc. http://www.adventurecorner.de/pages.php?id=316
I wonder if there is any chance of getting these guys involved in the Tex Game when it gets started... Their apparent skill combined with CJ and AC's already known talent, we'd be looking at one helluva Tex Adventure...
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The problem might be ,that the areo engine uses real environments and the futuristic world of Tex Murphy wouldn´t work with that, but still the technical progress that Areo is making with their technology might be very interesting if CJ and AC should ever think of doing something completely different than Tex with FMV (episodic). Right now -just like Sam says in the interview- the engine still has its restrictions , but with Areo 2.0. they´ll probably reach a new level that offers completely new possibilitys of what this technology can do.

Just have a look at how fast Areo are able to do a new episode, with a pretty low budget (the whole shooting cost for episode 1 was 25.000 Dollars).
The one thing i know is, that it´ll be very interesting to watch the future of Areo as they might become very important for others going into this direction. They know what they´re doing- Sam worked for Animal Planet /National Geographic and the professionality of the FMV sequences reflects that, so there are really some interesting things fitting into each other, regarding the work of Areo.
They build Futuristic sets all the time, because sometimes they don't like using computer generated stuff for all movies... So it would be possible to build the sets for Tex... The only thing that would need to be altered through graphics would be things like the Sky since it's no longer a blue sky in 2042...

Think about it, as much as all of us were pulling into the Tex world even though almost the only thing that was real were the people, imagine if just about everything were real, how much do you think we would be pulled into Tex's world then???

I'm sure it would require a lot of work, just like a New Tex game will require a lot of work as well... But I think it just might be worth the effort in the long run...
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I think the problem with building these futuristic sets is simply the money, as this surely wouldn´t be cheap, especially if you compare it to "real" movies and the budget they have, when they do something like that.
So the most affordable way i see in FMV is definetely the "100 % real modern world setting", real sets and backgrounds, no computer generated world at all etc.

And i don´t really see Tex using these financiable advantages due to the setting, but who knows, there might be other ways, when i think about the free FMV noir game Fate by Numbers for example, which had a kind of similar setting like Tex Murphy, using blue screen technology and a computer generated world, with pretty much no budget.
Yeah that's been the whole problem these last 10 years, it all boils down to Money... I'll play a new Tex with no doubt, but hopefully they don't have to jump off the original path too much...
The Paved Straight Road, Won't Always Get You Farther Than The Winding Dirt Road...


Can You Run Your Game??? Click Here And Find Out...

*Note, Not All Games Have Been Tested & Therefore May Not Be Listed...