The Curfew’s Curfew Is Lifted

By Alec Meer on July 29th, 2010 at 5:42 pm.

The staring eyes of a girl who just read about the sex scene in Kieron's first draft. (Not really)
The Curfew, a free educational online game from Channel 4, launches today in Britain. The narrative-led investigative puzzle game is designed to teach political awareness, documenting as it does a near-future society dominated by an oppressive government, and asking the player to make decisions that reflect their own political opinions and meaningfully affect other characters in the world.

The Curfew is developed by LittleLoud and written by Kieron Gillen, a highly-respected international game critic, journalist and Marvel writer who AAAAARGH NO I CAN’T DO THIS AAAAAAAAARGH.

Kieron’s written a game, love ‘im. I know, our Kieron – he wrote words and everything, and they weren’t even about Iceman throwing an icicle at The Thing’s the solar plexus. Politics! Drama! Intrigue! Moral dilemmas! Clever Kieron! It’s out now. Go play it.

Kieron has put more details into the comments thread below.

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153 Comments »

  1. vanarbulax says:

    Overall all I quiet liked it, my thoughts/nitipicking/griping below: Also spoilers.

    Firstly anything re-exploring FMV or dystopias is great in my book.

    The graphic design is excellent, I love the look of the posters and such all over the place. The FMV also worked surprisingly well, apart from one or two sections (e.g. the arrest of the games dealer). I was also impressed with how slick and inventive it was at times. The acting was good enough and the writing flowed well (though I could see that pretty much my dialogue options lead to the same outcome, something I can’t really complain about based on a free game taking such a scope already). Overall all it was really well done.

    As it in beta I hope these few things will be tweaked:
    -Slingshot thing has got to go (sorry but it’s just awful)
    -A small gripe but after the dialogue with the man to wash his windows the reply is on the lines of “I might comeback sometime” along with a couple saying “you serious?”. I took this as me as the player is not going to wash the windows and has to find another way, yet in fact I do have to. Basically it was a conflict between my character’s stated aims and what I had to do. A simple “I guess so” will suffice to both be in character and instruct the player.
    -I believe after getting Call of Grand Theft Duty XIII: Hyperdeath Electrofight (Really?!) I said I would keep my crimes virtual but then it gave me the same dialogue options again as if I hadn’t picked it, I assume this is merely a bug.
    -Is it possible to cut the second loading screen somewhere else? I don’t if the way it’s programmed makes it difficult but it’s just at the worst possible location. Either load the game outright when connecting or load say the first part of the flash back and then load for the rest in between different flashbacks. People need to play some of your game before they are going to sit through another loading screen.

    Also complaining a bit about its message:

    While I thought the world was established well enough I did want to hit the kid (was that the intention?) as his only motivation seems to be acquiring mindless entertainment. I hope the next installments have a chance to explore this but I haven’t actually got a sense of why the Sheperd party is evil. Like the description of the poster, you’ve got some good graphic design but this episode did seem be a bit ideologically absent (I realise it’s a hard format to explore difficult politics). I like the premise of people sacrificing rights for safety because of one incident, but I feel like I’m meant to dislike the Sheperd party because their message and presentation are “unhip” (to use a terrible world to explain it). I’m probably going to sound old and curmudgeonly (I’m not old, but probably curmudgeonly) but I wish that the “enemies of the state” weren’t cool looking people you’d like to meet in a bar while the “system” seems to be run by people you look at and think “stuffy old suit.” Basically the Sheperd party should have motivation also (no matter how twisted their outcome) so I can dislike their motivation and means not just that they appear to be no fun conservatives. This also ties in to the fact that it touches briefly in the trailer on personal information being public in a surveillance state but then encourages you to share it through facebook or twitter… Also if the bomb threat was actually a plant by the Sheperd party I will be severely disappointed.

    Basically I thought it was great. If I write reams about what I didn’t like in something that means I thought it was good enough and had enough potential to stop and think about ;).

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I’ll agree the boy is pretty cheerily mindless. We wanted to start somewhere pretty light, and just do a “this is what even the most unpolitical person would have to deal with” story.

      KG

  2. Muzman says:

    Creepiest ‘Staring Eyes’ yet! Never peering though a mail slot again
    (will play the game at some point).

  3. john says:

    Ah, the glory of our gun laws, thanks to all the terrified cretins in this country, if we ever did have to fight an oppressive government we’d do it with slingshots!

  4. HawkesOfSavileRow says:

    Firstly, gratz on the game kieron. And splendid music, but I have to ask: whats with the AA and HA sponsors? This all seems rather dangerously sensational. Teaching kids to be wary of government is one thing, but too much of this creates an environment which we now live in. (seriously, who in their right minds wants to go into politics these days?) This a time when we should be encouraging gifted and driven (preferably pragmatic) young ‘uns to pursue a life in politics to weed out and replace the fishy, stagnant, ineffective limescale that inhabits parliament.

    • HawkesOfSavileRow says:

      I should point out that this is only a concern as this is touted as an ‘educational game’ Otherwise, i wouldn’t give a lambs bollocks in hell.

    • TeeJay says:

      *Noone* should be encouraged to pursue “a life in politics”. I’d like to see more people pursuing careers outside politics first and less party-network-robots. People who are passionate campaigners don’t need much enocouragement anyway, especially via ‘it’s a good/worthy thing to do’ media messages (as opposed to actual concrete help/training and actual concrete changes to the system allowing more access).

    • HawkesOfSavileRow says:

      No one is encouraged to pursue a life in politics. And that is exactly why our nations politics are in such a state. Running a country should not be a taboo job. Continuously preaching that such a career is to be despised means that those who enter governance will be of a sub-par quality (or insane) Its an extraordinarily short-sighted outlook that seems to define this century. Popularist governance (which has proliferated enormously in western country’s in recent years with the likes of blair and obama) is cancer on modern society. We have become used to knee-jerk reactions and endless popular promises. Why should government be your best friend? The vast majority of people are simply uninterested, politics has become a black/white, right/left homogenisation. Life is an infinite shade of grey. Anyone who claims they are diehard conservative or liberal is either deluded or extraordinarily narrow-minded .
      Its late and im rambling so ill shut up now.

  5. brog says:

    I detonated a nuclear weapon in Future Britain in my dream last night.
    Dammit Keiron, you’re subconsciously influencing me into hallucinated terrorism! (actually it was the opening salvo in a noble fight against our robot overlords, but I’m sure there are those who would label it terrorism.)

  6. aerozol says:

    Yes!
    I’m majoring in Interactivity at uni, and the current project I’m working on is ‘Develop a ‘serious’ game, that deals with/ teaches about a current issue or skill’.
    I’ve been working on it for a while, and it is really hard to put in ‘cool’ features without completely bogging down the usability and immersion. You guys nailed it, in a huge way thanks to the writing and acting, although the really really nice production doesn’t hurt at all.
    Tons of nice little touches, I’ve been taking notes and screenshots the whole time. Some of the characters seem a little cliche, and like someone said, the Shephard Party seems a bit generic ‘big bad guy’, while what we should perhaps be more careful of is the less obvious evils… But a big bad wolf is necessary for the good story, without getting way to complicated, so I don’t think it was a bad decision.
    So, basically, real fucking nice job!

  7. megalomania says:

    That was cool. The Boy isn’t getting the info, I’m not going to stop him from playing CoGTD13.

  8. Robin says:

    Stellar production values.

    Far, far, far too much loading. You’ll be losing at least 50% of players from the first loading interval, let alone the ridiculous second one. (Although I guess a lot of players will be being forced to play it in school, ironically.)

    Audio went out of sync towards the end and couldn’t see a subtitles option. Conversation system at least better than Oblivion’s. As with Bow Street Runner, the minigames are the weakest part, but at least they’re easy. LOL’d at the Sewer Shark-esque ‘chase’ scene.

    There’s also the nagging issue of having to roleplay a character I disagree with and awkwardly funneled conversations.

    Overall a pleasant way to spend 20 minutes. I learnt nothing!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      The team are hopeful at getting the loading working better. It’s not actually that bad for me – though the three on the first short ones on the first screen is a little strange.

      (Though they were 1 second for me)

      KG

  9. BaronWR says:

    Nicely produced and written, but I feel that a bit more interactivity would be nice… A few bugs were also evident: I didn’t get anything but xcvcv on a lot of the tags, and some of the subtitles didn’t match with the audio.

    Also, what’s on the soundtrack? Some of that was stuff I want to hear outside a game…

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m told by the ever-loving Simon Parkin that a load of bugfixes have gone up, including the fixed loading screen dialogue. They also thank you guys for all the bug tips.

    Regarding loading, while they are tweaking it, it’s worth mentioning that the whole game is 1.3 Gigs, which they suspect may be the biggest flash game ever.

    EDIT: Actually, it’s “only” 773MB. Woo.

    KG

  11. Alex says:

    Only *just* started this.

    First (interactive) scene: You are in a room with strangers. You should talk to someone.

    Talk to girl: “Er, Hii (subtext: piss off)”
    Talk to boy by computer: “Can you fix my computer for me?”

    So far, so very, very realistic. :-(

  12. David Hayward says:

    I really want to love this, both for its theme and its point-and-click-ness. The game and I have irreconcilable differences over the slingshot/camera sequence though.

  13. Huh says:

    I play it for 20 minutes or so, liked it, quit, wanted to continue later… didn’t save. Great. :/

  14. nil says:

    Is (as suggested by the icon) one of the interactive media laws broken by The Call of Grand Theft Duty XIII “No Interracial Threesomes?” Pretty sure Ubuntu got there first!

  15. Lambchops says:

    Gets stuck on a loading screen for me I’m afraid. There’s a circle thing going round and round but no red bar like on the previous loading screens so that leads me to reckon it’s doing naff all.

    Might try again in a few days when any bugs are ironed out.

  16. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Yeah, that first minigame is hugely annoying. After that, the first area was not really good at introducing me to the whole thing.. no idea what to do except pixel-hunt and click everything. That could’ve been improved a great deal.

  17. Devenger says:

    All sorts of bugs, from the XCVXV showing instead of any of the AirTag text, to being stuck in a conversation with zero conversation options available (and no apparent way to leave the conversation), to things sometimes being clickable and sometimes not…

    I like the look of the game, the writing seems solid, the premise is excellent… but it’s currently unplayably buggy. I’m going to wait it out and hope things are fixed for the full release. Otherwise, I’ll be very disappointed – such a shame to miss out on a game I really want to play (partially because I think it’s great that C4 have a budget for this sort of thing).

  18. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    As for the loss of save states – does the game save data on their servers or on our PCs? It might just be that, what caused me – and is causing others – to lose save states is probably an option like deleting history, cookies and whatnot when you close the browser.

    If it’s saved on the players’ end of things, that might be the problem. If not…

  19. Huh says:

    Well, what’s considered a chapter? I quit after playing three screens or so of the first character’s flashback.

    Got the current Flash version, Safari 5, OSX.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      As far as I can tell a chapter end with a round of questions after a scene. So, you go to the boy, ask questions, mini game, scene, back to the safe house, questions and THEN it saves when you go to the new scene.

  20. DMcCool says:

    That was rather fun. I appreciated the writing most of all, reminded me a little of the sort of dialogue back in Vampire Bloodlines (high praise this is) where characters might be suspecious of the PC and the dialogue options available steer clear of the Bioware good/bad/neutral nonsense. The UI was rather obstrussive, noisey and slow, which brought the pace of the game down a lot, but overal there were enough little touches and promise of more intrigue to keep me going.

    My favourite thing was how it was set in Brighton. Like me :D. Seriously though, anywhere else that games “dealer” would’ve been pantomine and out of place. Here he’d fit in as the manager of the local GAME store. Velvet included.

  21. Headless Monkey Boy says:

    Have to say i’m loving what i’ve seen so far. Loading times arn’t bothering me too much so long as i’m not conantly having to restart.

    I’ve not seen this mentioned (so it could just be me) but some of the bonus screens lock you in… as in the return button at the top left doesnt work means having to refresh and start up again from the begining.

    Also a full screen button might be nice if possible as is quite small at 1680*1050.
    Looking forwards to seeing the end product.

  22. Flimgoblin says:

    Give more + Mark Thomas = yay!

  23. sinister agent says:

    I don’t think my (lack of) video card can handle this, sadly, so it’ll have to wait until I move. I did spot Cory Doctorow on the Gubmint Crimm List, though. Nice attention to detail there, very promising.

    I did very badly at being dropped into the middle of the shooty game, though. Shooting the people with big green ticks over them rather than big red crosses made more immediate sense to my brain than the other way round. I don’t get the impression it actually matters though, so.

  24. Pie says:

    Love the part where Call of Grand Theft Duty is from China.
    China actually has a video game censorship like the one in game (e.g. Dragon Rising is banned).

  25. cowthief skank says:

    Really liked it, although the slingshot bit was so very annoying. But the feel of the thing was really interesting.

  26. Ilyich says:

    So far, so good! Really nice production values, clever writing and design, great music (didn’t notice Arcade Fire, but TV on the Radio and Crystal Castles were spot-on). The world feels surprisingly like Phonogram, which is good, and is well established even in the first ‘chapter’. Will be looking forward to the next one. Well done, thanks!

  27. GreenReaper says:

    Alas, even being a citizen isn’t enough if you live overseas!

  28. Is it broken ? says:

    Is the game OK right now ? I’m in the first scene of Aisha’s story, in the flat. There are some photos on the bookcase to get a bonus, and an air tag with some cryptic Roman numerals on. The computer is very old according to it’s info.
    And that’s it ? Ummm … ?

  29. Is it broken, no, just poorly arranged says:

    Oh, I see, you have to click on things in the right order, and things that didn’t do anything before do now. Gah – suitcases is an example – why can’t these be active all along ?

    Anyway, game just goes to a blank black screen when she walks out the door anyway. And stays there. Says ‘Done’ at the bottom. Sigh. Reload page, and have to do the whole room again.

    Done the room twice now. Getting bored.

  30. Kitten says:

    Done that level four times now. Still leaves me on a blank black screen. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one. :/

  31. Sinomatic says:

    Um……is it meant to be that you can only see one ending (and that if you want to see another one you’d have to play the *whole* thing again)?

    As soon as I saw the ending that I had chosen, I went to go back to load the last save….and it was empty

    *sad face*

  32. satehen says:

    I’m stuck in Aisha’s flat. I have found the bonus with the book. I’ve looked at the pictures and the computer. Nothing is happening! I can’t find a single answer on the web and no one I know has played it. Please someone save my sanity! What do I do in Aisha’s flat?

  33. Denise says:

    OK loved it but stuck on the slingshot. Can’t find a way to tell what I am doing wrong or get past it so I’m giving up. It’s totally boring, all luck and no skill, no feedback on how to improve, and no guarantee that I will ever get past it. So I guess I’m done.

  34. jess says:

    i am on the part after the fast food place. clicked on the door down the alley with no luck. help please?

  35. jess says:

    scrap that other post. i am not on aisha’s scene down the alley when she is trying to take the ids back. there is nothing to click!! please help

  36. liam says:

    I’m attempting to make coffee, how the hell do you pass this?

  37. Jess says:

    I am also attempting to make coffee.
    This must be the hardest attempt at coffee making ever.

  38. rubyredslippers says:

    Can’t get this game to load! It is doing my head in. Been trying for days now!

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