Don’t Come Out 2nite: The Curfew

By Kieron Gillen on June 17th, 2010 at 3:00 pm.

In the grim future of the 21st century, there will be only police surveillance.

Videos of Littleloud’s contribution to Channel 4’s British Indies initiative has surfaced online. The Curfew is a graphic adventure set in the near future with a satirical Civil Liberties theme, built on the technology which powered the previous BAFTA-winning Bow Street Runner. There’s a minor conflict of interest on this one, which I should probably make clear before progressing: I wrote it.

So – er – yes. Explanation of the game and the videos follow…

The Curfew is… well, let’s just drop you in the intro. It’s not much of an introduction if it doesn’t introduce the game. Followers of my comic work may recognise a motif…

And from that – minus the tagline at the end, which is only for the advert – you’re straight into the game. The basic structure is you, in the house, with these four individuals, trying to work out who to actually give this precious information to. The game takes a Canterbury Tales-esque structure, with each of the four telling you their story of how they ended up in the safe-house overnight. As in, you play through their story, as if they were narrating it to you. Between each of the three acts, you switch back to the safehouse and get a chance to quiz them on the details, which alters how they feel about you. When someone’s story is finished, you go onto the next person and repeat the process. An hour or so later, you’ve played through the game and it’s decision time. And there’s eight unique endings depending on how you do along the way, hopefully with a “What happened to everyone else” screen afterwards.

If you want to get the feel for how it would play, you’d probably be best looking at Bow Street Runner. The Curfew expands upon Littleloud’s understanding of what they can do with the engine, with lots more world-building and fanciness. But the basic model of entryist graphic-adventure with a world comprising of green-screened real actors juxtaposed against pre-rendered backgrounds. And there’s some pretty recognisable actors in it, but I won’t go into that. One particularly makes me smile.

The other video is something that Littleloud developed during the Pitch progress, which explains the back-story to the game. There’s some fine details which have been tweaked for the game proper, but this is totally the vibe.

(The shorthand I normally use is “What If The Daily Mail Controlled The Country?”)

I love this voice-actor. She’s also the voice of the computer systems in the game.

They’ll be more videos emerging soon, I suspect – there’s stuff introducing each of the characters. Oh – and I’d imagine more stuff on the site too. There’s not long to wait, as it’ll be released before the end of July. Like Bow Street Runner, it’ll be free to play online.

(And I also suspect I’ll end up writing something about the experience. I’ve always known how games writing works, but I think with this I can write with authority, y’know?)

Everyone who’s seen it seems excited by it. I’m always hypercritical about my work, but I’m excited too. Will be interested to see what everyone makes of it in a month’s time.

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95 Comments »

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  1. Leyths says:

    That looks fantastic Kieron, I can’t wait to play it!

  2. M says:

    Between this and Privates, C4 are looking to have done quite a nifty little suite of projects. It’s been a while since I saw real people in a computer game, looking forward to hearing more.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      For a game which is about acting – as in, telling if someone is telling the truth or not – the use of actors strikes me as key. For certain genres, I think it could make a lot of sense.

      KG

    • M says:

      I actually really liked the integration in the intro. I didn’t mean it in a “God, that’s so nineties.” way, heh. I think the tech’s ready for it, it can lay these people into the environment in a far more convincing way now. There’s really no reason not to do it.

      Yeah, looking forward to more of this. July is soon – I take it you’re done with it, more or less? Just post-production?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Yeah, all written. Filming was earlier this year. It’s just implementing it all now.

      EDIT: And no, I know what you meant. It’s something that they can do better now. I also think it’s interesting – and you can look at Bow Street Runner to see it – what you can do with a Flash game if you can even throw a very modest budget at it.

      KG

  3. The_B says:

    Rock Paper Shotgun has had to create a new category for the awesomeness of this game because four Optimus Thumbs up was not enough. The Curfew scores an OPTIMUS FIST HOLDING THOR’S HAMMER STRIKE!

    (Review by Kieron Gillen)

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Good thing he likes his own game, or I would really wonder.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Phantoon: I take it you’ve never handed in an essay you were dissatisfied with? Disliking your own work is a very common occurrence, especially when deadlines are involved. In fact, I’d be more worried about someone who doesn’t dislike their own work at least part of the time, because that means they have no capacity for self-examination.

    • yogSo says:

      Well, he could forbid us to speak about the game until… oh, I don’t know, August 4th, as to ensure that we have fully experienced it or something…. :P

  4. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Nice video. Grabbed me in from the start. Not too dystopian, but very plausible.

    I didnt read the writing above the video, i was pleasently suprised to see who it was written buy. And at how good the acting was, as i wasnt expected a Channel 4 production or anything.

    Just one question. If you figure out whos who, will it be the same next time around, or will your actions change that?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I think talking about that sort of thing would probably spoil the fun. It’s a mystery, after all.

      But it’s safe to say there’s a more to the game than just working out who the bad apple is.

      KG

  5. Tauers says:

    Nice aesthetics. I hope I see some good real acting in videogames. I haven’t read anything from you Kieron (shame). What do you think it’s your best work?

    Also, I would like to know the band/song in that intro. Sounds nice.

  6. Andrew says:

    +1 for the Kenickie reference. Phonomancers, represent!

  7. LewieP says:

    This is what the Doctor Who game should have looked like.

  8. jsdn says:

    Random music?

  9. Wulf says:

    I’m very excited about this, it’s a shame I hadn’t heard about it before this post.

    You know what I’m like, a good story is really important to me, and I likes me an adventure game. This one sounds like a real noggin-baffler, and a tale well weaved. So my anticipation for this is pretty high. The trailers did a really good job of selling it, too, both of them.

  10. Rich says:

    Take that, Roger Ebert!

  11. stahlwerk says:

    There seems to be something inherently “campy” (for lack of a better word) about green screened acting, which you either ignore and fail (Star Wars) or embrace and succeed (Sky Captain, Sin City, 300). This clip looked to come out on the successful side. Maybe it’s a comic writer thing? ;-)

    Will it be available to non-UKainites?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Stahlwerk: All credit to Littleloud, who are marvelous.

      And yes, available to anyone. It’s just a flashgame page.

      KG

  12. Daniel Rivas says:

    I was half-expecting the B&B sign to say No Gays No Blacks, etc etc. That would have been a nice, chilling, touch.

    Looks good!

    • Beanbee says:

      I think heavy racial undertones would work strongly in the setting. Homophobia would only stand to show ‘look how evil and repressive we are’-

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I dunno. When the premise is “What If The Daily Mail Controlled The Country?”, I think homophobia would be apt. Plus, “The Shepherd Party” has some nice smug holier-than-thou christian undertones to it.

      (Not that I’m saying christians are smug and holier-than-thou, but that a group calling themselves The Shepherd Party totally would be)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Without saying too much, there’s stuff in the setting which allows people who they consider undesirable to be prejudiced against without making it be entirely out on the open. As a hypothetical one: you don’t need to reduce gay rights when you give better rights to people who have kids.

      KG

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      I think that would be too heavy handed. As someone else in the thread pointed out, real fascists probably wouldn’t be so obvious as to say “we choose security over freedom” so they probably wouldn’t be really up front about anti-minority policies or positions.

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      Gah no edit, I wrote my reply while Kieron was posting, I think.

      So yeah. And stuff.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      A certain marriage tax-break springs to mind.

      Fair play, I’m properly excited for this one. Also, I should maybe read Singles Club? The first book was good.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Daniel: Thanks. And if you liked Vol 1, you should like Vol 2. Almost everyone seems to think it’s better, including me.

      KG

    • TeeJay says:

      Re. “No Gays, No Blacks”: I think this would undermine the message about civil liberties and restrictions on immigration – there are already very good examples*** of both from parties and people who are not racist or homophobic. Dragging in racism or homophobia might lead people to the erroneous belief that as long as the government isn’t out-and-out fascist and racist then there isn’t really a major problem.

      ***
      The asylum seekers who survive on £10 a week
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/16/asylum-seekers-survive-on-streets

      70% rise in number of black and Asian people stopped and searched
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/jun/17/stop-and-search-police

  13. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    Now that it’s an Interactive Movie, with all the dodgy virtual sets and slightly forced acting that brings, along with the slightly forced acting of teenage actors, coupled with the hoary old plot devices of Fascism In The UK a la V For Vendetta, Judge Dredd et al, the dreaded stink of Edutainment, and Kieron Gillen’s BLOODY AWFUL TASTE IN MUSIC made me worried. Plus I’m old and this is aimed at kidz.

    I think that that I was really a bit impressed and interested in the game at the end of those videos despite all of those crotchety-old-man red flags says an enourmous deal about the quality of what’s been made – it even survived the nasty horrible cynical man filter. Yay!

  14. Morti says:

    Well, I want to play it now. I love your writing after all, KG

  15. Mojo says:

    Looking great!

  16. Greg Wild says:

    Looks lovely.

  17. Tom says:

    Would be interested to hear what people would have said about this if KG didn’t mention he wrote it (or at least saved this information for another post)

    Not meaning to sound cynical or anything its just when one of the UK gaming scenes most well known and respected writers announces he’s writing a game and then shows it, many opinions that could initially have been on the fence are more likely to fall into the positive camp. Either way I am intrigued to play this and I don’t blame Kieron for wanting to blow his own trumpet a little about what is sure to be a significant entry into his body of work.

    As an aside, TV On The Radio are awesome.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Tom: Yeah. This is, shall we say, home turf.

      KG

    • Corporate Dog says:

      Being a USian, I was unfamiliar with KG’s work until I stumbled on RPS. And even then, I didn’t realize he had any sort of cache beyond the site.

      The ‘a-ha’ moment came when he made a vague comment about ‘S.W.O.R.D’, to which I boneheadedly replied, “Yeah. I’m reading that too. And I’m really digging it.”

      A few days later, looking at the credits page of the most recent issue, I felt really dumb.

      In any case, I’ll admit that I probably wouldn’t have checked out The Curfew, if I hadn’t been made aware of its pedigree. Now my interest is piqued.

    • RogB says:

      an interesting point, withholding that information to see a more accurate set of feedback.
      But, the instant someone posted a ‘KG made it, OMG BIASS!!!!’, it’d be followed by pages of spite.
      So even if the intentions were good, it’d be a shitstorm. (going from the recent XCOM/APB/Valve threads)

  18. Jackalope says:

    “I was half-expecting the B&B sign to say No Gays No Blacks, etc etc. That would have been a nice, chilling, touch.”

    You know they can kinda do that already don’t you? B&Bs are private and not considered the same as hotels which have to abide by equal rights laws etc.

  19. id says:

    I like that voice actor, too. She mixes chirpy, friendly helpfulness with a clear, pure undertone of icy contempt, just the way I always imagined the voice of the dystopian future will sound. Sort of a cross between a pretty-but-vacant TV news reporter doing a puff-piece and Judi Dench laying the verbal smackdown on you, y’know?

  20. Xercies says:

    Really interested in this now, it looks pretty damn good and the story is getting me i always love Dystopian Futures fiction and this one looks like it will deliver. And the acting isn’t to bad either, like a throw back to the FMV adventures of old.

  21. Stupoider says:

    Aaah, that voice actor sounds great! Reminds me of the voice from the tape that was played during mental maths tests in primary school, or the voice warning people that doors are closing on the London underground. This has piqued my interest!

  22. A-Scale says:

    Most interesting. Good to see that our fair KG is interested in the increasingly tyrannical nature of Britain. Do try to be sure that you don’t hit the issue too much on the nose though, I don’t think a fascistic party would be quite so honest as to say “we chose security over freedom”, but rather something like “only with our security can you have freedom” or “security is freedom”.

  23. wyrmsine says:

    Adore the Shepherd Party Infofilm. Looking forward to this.

  24. Nilocy says:

    If the Daily Mail ran the country we’d never and always get cancer at the same time… a bit like schrodinger’s cat i guess.

    But this does look very good! :D

  25. Alaric says:

    I want!

  26. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Norther Ireland got annexed? Its not part of great britan? Its not represented…

    • Cian says:

      Well, Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain, but perhaps we got fed up of the rest of the United Kingdom’s paranoia and stuck with our local Assembly’s sensible and peaceable brand of politicking.

      Ahahahaha.

  27. ShaunCG says:

    Daily Mail Island: The Game!

  28. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Holy highpants, this looks amazing.

  29. Johnnemann says:

    Wow. This looks pretty amazing. But I’m mostly blown away by how overtly political it is – I don’t really know how Channel 4’s funding works, but I’m pretty sure a public broadcaster in the US couldn’t get away with this, and any private broadcaster would be too worried about the controversy to fund it. So bravo the UK for being able to support something like this.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Impresses and surprises me too. I’m just watching the (unreleased) Party Political Broadcast parody at the moment, and there’s something aimed at pretty much every political party in there. We’re going to be shot by all sides.

      KG

    • DrazharLn says:

      Nah, they’ll all be happy about you showing the other guy in a bad light.

    • TeeJay says:

      “…worried about the controversy…”

      Channel 4 spends a lot of it’s time working out exactly how far they can push controversy / taste:

      eg

      “Wank Week” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wank_Week, Big Brother, Hollyoaks, a televised autopsy, Derren Brown playing Russian Roulette “live”, programmes about people showing off their grotty/bizarre diseases or getting naked, Eurotrash, Queer as Folk, Skins, the uncut version of Lars von Trier film The Idiots, The Greenhouse Conspiracy / Against Nature / The Great Global Warming Swindle, a “Christmas Day Speech” by Presdient Ahmadinejad, Brass Eye by Chris Morris, The Mark Thomas Comedy Product … everyone will have their own list, depending on taste etc.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      It’s more that this is from C4 *education*. Though with Privates as a label-mate, you can see there’s a willingness to bring the C4 ethos into it.

      KG

  30. Serenegoose says:

    That looked really, really interesting. The style, soundtrack choice, was absolutely, completely, spot on.

  31. Groove says:

    Very interested in this now, the concept is right up my ally.

    Happy to see more results of C4’s gaming projects aswell, especially if they turn out as good as this looks. It does make me wish I lived in London though, it’s where all the cool indie deveoping happens. Sad face.

  32. Helm says:

    I loved Bow Street Runner and I am quite excited about this!

  33. DrGonzo says:

    Good luck Keiron. Didn’t enjoy Bow Street Runner personally, but I can’t wait for this now I know you wrote it!

  34. Octaeder says:

    “We are here for your entertainment, take us before 9.”

    Nightlife, not Come Out 2nite, I realise, but it’s what popped into my head… Um, I should probably go back and read the post now.

  35. juv3nal says:

    As long as it doesn’t have the impossible-to-do-on-a-notebook-trackpad trace-the-line minigame Bowstreet Runner had, consider me intrigued.

  36. Brendy_C says:

    Looks rather slick, I say. Loving the choice of music there with Wolf Like Me. You undoubtedly had something to do with that, Kieron. You big music HUSSY.

  37. Jimbo says:

    I hope the Shepherd Party didn’t have anything to do with the nuke. Please tell me they didn’t.

  38. TheSombreroKid says:

    the terrorist are the good guys right? lolz!

  39. Ian says:

    I did rather like Bow Street Runner.

  40. Michael says:

    Liked the pitch vid – Aperture Science meets the Home Office – but put off by trailer featuring teenagers and the phrase “Channel 4″.

    So, can I get this in a text adventure? Or maybe something B.A.T-esque? All the gameplay and narrative goodness but in a form that doesn’t appeal to yoofs.

  41. Web Cole says:

    Oooh, colour me interested :)

  42. CTA says:

    So… I’m confused, is this a game or a TV series? Either way, it seems cool and I will play/watch it.

  43. jeremypeel says:

    Channel 4’s involvement makes me strangely proud about all this, as though in some small way I’m responsible for it. Ridiculous really.

    Also it feels great to have something for us to look forward to without immediate, massive backlash. Whether such backlash is justified or not, quite often I enjoy not expecting good news to mean terrible results.

    I’m gonna give Bow Street Runner a try as soon as I have time. Keep us informed Gillen!

  44. perfectheat says:

    This looks really good Kieron. Can’t wait to play it. The advert, political party and meeting in the alleyway made me think of a game project I worked on with the BBC some years ago. I basically did almost all of the adverts, and had nothing to do with the script of the game, and you can find the game at BBC .

  45. TeeJay says:

    “Here’s the info … it’s a 16g Nitrous Oxide cannister of the type that fits into cream whippers and is used around the Brighton Club for filling balloons to use for inhaling laughing gas … I mean it looks just like one, but it’s not, it’s actually the top secret info!” ;)

  46. Ben Abraham says:

    Someone’s been watching the BBC’s “The Power of Nightmare’s” doco series then? Looking good!

  47. Sulkdodds says:

    Dead interesting, this. Can I ask was the ‘shepherd party’ chosen to allow potentially libellous content to be divorced from the actual parties? While I can just about imagine civil rights in Britain declining so far, I can’t see them doing so under the aegis of a new party that came from nowhere with EXCITING FASCISM as its key platform.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Less libel, more allowing you to focus on the general point without targeting it at one group. I mean, who to do it with if you did it in the UK? Tories would be the usual suspect, but Labour were the ones who spent much of the 00s reaching towards it. The Tory/Liberal combine is actually rolling them back initially. But how would they react to a major threat?

      By highlighting behaviour rather than parties we side-step that. You can leave the game thinking “Well, THIS THING THEY DO IN THE GAME is like WHAT THIS PARTY IS SUGGESTING” rather than thinking “BLOODY TORIES/LABOUR/LIBERAL/WHATEVER!”.

      KG

    • Sulkdodds says:

      I suppose if t’were in the real UK I’d probably make it a coalition government of all the parties, but then of course it would partly be against ‘the party system’ or ‘the political classes’ or what have you. Where science fictional plausibility clashes with artistic purpose it’s always a difficult bargain – sacrificing the former seems fair enough.

      It’s kind of surprising how rarely a Tales-like structure is used…I mean it’s perfect. You get the opportunity to do multiple stories, from different angles and perspectives, but each one is situated (as all stories are) in a specific material context, and each comes (as all stories do) from the mouths of people with histories, biases, and ulterior motives.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Sulkdodds: Generally speaking: Yes, agreed.

      That said: you don’t think there’s mass cynicism against all the current political parties? I don’t think a new party sweeping to power is likely… but I don’t think a nuke in London is likely either. And the economic part is just as important as the nuke. The parties are already discredited before it even all kicks off. If there ever was going to be a new party forming, that’s the situation it would, as history shows us.

      (And, “New Party” could mean anything – much like the coalition of various splintering groups from major parties you describe.)

      KG

  48. vanarbulax says:

    Yay looks very good, mighty interesting at least. Victory for the dystopians, far better than the apocolyptians. Hopefully this will help revive dystopian games and live action games, I have fond memories of Tex Murphy… though that was when I was young enough to find a hovering blob to scary to continue playing

  49. Christian O. says:

    Looks lovely, and as someone who started reading RPS on account of your comics, I’m pretty confident in your ability to write fictions.

    Was that Stephanie Leonidas? I have a bit of a celebrity crush on her and my heart is beating a little faster, so I’m assuming it was. She was good in Mirrormask.

    (The cynic in me thinks you took a page from 1984 and (spoilers for a sixty year old book) all of them are government agents.)

  50. Scandalon says:

    RPS sells out! Extra, extra!

    (No, I don’t quite know how this would be construed as selling out, either, but I’m sure someone will. ;)