Riddle Me This

By John Walker on May 8th, 2008 at 5:16 pm.

Any attempt at a professional veneer is thrown aside. I’m utterly bemused by this, but think it might be a combination of magical importance and made up uselessness.

The people behind Episodic say:

Instead of relying on screen capturing or recording your game, our patents pending platform recreates your game play into a short-form, cinematic clip with a coherent story.

It appears to be professing to be able to generate movie-style clips of your in-game behaviour, based on “gameplay data” and assets pulled from outerspace. For instance, er, Nethack (What?! – Ed) looks like this:

But how can it generate a story? Great minds suggest it’s got to be some sort of easy-machinima animation package. Either that or it’s powered by Dark Forces.

Your thoughts?

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25 Comments »

  1. brog says:

    um.

    in this game, a hero kills a monster. so we show a canned video of a hero killing a monster?

  2. Simes says:

    When they do a Dwarf Fortress one, I’ll be impressed.

  3. rocketeer says:

    Yeah, I’m sure THAT was from a Nethack game.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Reply to Simes
    Personally I’d probably be violently sick. Have you played as a wrestler? The other day my character died after losing his left hand, right eye and kidneys. After I died the wolf spat out my left kidney and lumps of me from an undisclosed region and then died of a punctured lung. Lets see Pixar make that endearing. In Fortress mode a woman had a misscarriage and was so depressed she almost starved to death over a year. Luckily a huge amount of wine perked her up and she got married and became pregnant. Sadly she had a misscarriage after trying to fight off a child snatcher. Quite understandably she went berserk and killed her husband before being torn to shreds by dogs.

    I do have a soft spot for Dwarf Fortress tragic stories.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Oh and her body was left to rot for almost a year.

  6. Joel Esler says:

    Seems like a solution in search of a problem.

  7. Alteisentier says:

    I sense bullshit, so much bullshit that Sony would be proud of these fine fellows.

    If anything it will probably be a throw back to those old movie making games you used to get ten or so years ago, like The Simpsons Cartoon Studio.

  8. Chris R says:

    What the deus… lets see this work with another game please. Diablo 2 would make for some good movies I would think.

  9. SlappyBag says:

    *slaps forehead*

  10. cyrenic says:

    Are they running into copyright issues if they’re just pulling models from whatever game you’re playing?

    Anyway, I’m skeptical until I see them actually pull models from a popular game and then animate them on the fly, using placeholder stuff like that for the trailer just looked crappy :P.

  11. Mike says:

    This would be interesting. Let’s get one thing clear – above all the cynicism, if there actually were a program that wrapped gameplay into a structured video, it would be great. It would also change the way we do things like saving replays for multiplayer games etc.

    But seeing as it would take some sophisticated AI to work out what the player was doing, and would be far too complicated for the player to direct a bunch of gameplay instructions, I call bullshit on this one. We can dream, though.

  12. Bob Arctor says:

    I hope it is powered by Dark Forces. It was a classic of its time.

  13. DaggleC says:

    Hmm, they’re called Epsodic, not Episodic? What does Epsodic mean?

  14. Will Tomas says:

    Bob, I was going to make the exact same joke.

  15. The Wizard of Yendor says:

    So since when does Nethack have precipices towering over pits of lava, Parthenon-esque ruined buildings, or amulets of ESP without anything to hang around your neck?

    (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt on the giant-ass glowing weapons and assuming that Rogan read so many scrolls of enchant weapon that they started glowing blue and never stopped.)

  16. Bobsy says:

    Bob, Will… so was I.

    But Jedi Knight was so much better. Some of the best fps level design outside of Thief.

  17. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Ooof. I think they’re both INCREDIBLE games, sorely underrated. Jedi Knight is up there with the best FPSs ever made, I reckon.

  18. Ed says:

    Well, my guess might be that they capture the directx draw routines and store them and allow the resulting scenes to be edited, but that sounds like a pretty clever achievement if they do.

    Microsoft has a tool, ‘PIX’ that will capture frames as they’re drawn, but it can take a second or more to capture a single frame. Apart from that issue, it’s hard to see how they could allow the resulting data to be edited as anything except a complex mesh – distinctions between entities is not obvious at a directx level.

    The other option is that they’re producing a custom hook for every game they support, but that’s massively time consuming.

    Of course, there’s copyright issues involved too. The textures at the very least are copyright, if not the model meshes…

  19. Dagda says:

    Waittaminute! Not to go Berserk or anything, but I know that greatsword. . .

  20. Ben Abraham says:

    Someone went to a lot of effort to make that video. Why would anyone do such a thing?!

  21. H says:

    Oh noes, a creature of fire killed by fire. And a pebble.

    Oh wait it’s not dead. Bugger.

  22. Valentin Galea says:

    Looks as awful as 3D Porn…

  23. Lu-Tze says:

    So basically, it chooses from a model of a big sword, a scimitar, or an axe and then uses the same (bad) animation regardless to hit the monster. I’m so totally sold.

    I’m guessing that the “variety” such as it might be will come from choosing from it’s library of background scenes something vaguely similar to what you are currently doing, and a monster somewhat relevant to what you slay. It’s an interesting idea, but the problem is that it misses the main point of trying to capture stuff from a game… ie. that an interesting user story occurs. What we find cool in games is usually a unique game experience, something we haven’t seen or done before, and isn’t easily replicated. It’s emergent from a series of coinciding events that appeals to the portion of our brain that spots a good narrative. I seriously doubt the ability of this software to pick up on the way that story unfolded in the players head, and then be able to recreate it automagically and vividly.

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