ANSWER THE QUESTION! By The Numbers

By John Walker on August 6th, 2010 at 11:24 am.

If only they'd thought to use facial motion capture in the early 90s.

“I’m not going to take any more of your nonsense! Tell me where the girl is, or so help me I’ll file a strongly worded report about you.” I’d make an amazing interrogator. No criminal could resist my unique combination of good cop/bad cop into one person: average cop. But enough about my secret police work, this is a post about By The Numbers. It’s a one room adventure game, in which you interrogate a kidnapper, looking for the location of his ninth victim.

Well, it’s sort of a game. In reality your only role is to click through choiceless conversations, and then make a one-in-three choice at the end. However, this is worth checking out for a number of other reasons.

Firstly, it’s made using AGS, but in an incredibly smart way. Using the retro tech, they’ve created 3D models of human faces. And a step smarter, they’ve then used motion capturing to present some remarkably accurate facial expressions and head movements, despite the relatively primitive graphics.

It’s also fully voiced, in part by the one-man team behind the game, Aki Ahonen, who also wrote, designed and scored the game, as part of the One Room One Week competition at the end of July. And those conversations do have a sweary leaning. You don’t often see conversation options like this:

The tech is fantastic, and it would be really fun to see it used for something embracing a bit more of a game. With dialogue trees for the investigation, letting you make choices that affect the direction of the interrogation, and your possible success or failure, would make for a really fascinating one-room game. This one is perhaps slightly more of a tech demo for the concept.

Thanks to IndieGames who spotted this.

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28 Comments »

  1. stahlwerk says:

    You’re an adequately fastened cannon, Walker! But I’ll be damned if you do or don’t get results. I would take you off the case, but you’re doing okay, so whatever.

  2. Shadrach says:

    “She’ll be in multiple pieces… or DEAD”. Well, apart from the occasional dialogue strangeness I’m really really impressed that this is the same engine that ran the zombie cow games, the animation in the faces is really well done.

  3. ET says:

    Does it say something if the first thing that came to my mind was, “wait, they’ve made a fan sequel to Out of This World”?

  4. Nyst says:

    Is it possible to slap him around a little? Create some intimidating silence? Possibly flip a coin?

    Also, I’m reminded of some old flash games where you had to do something similar; like talking a suicidal man out of jumping, but I cannot remember the names.

  5. Xercies says:

    I’m afraid john I’m going to have to take your badge and your gun.

    But this probably won’t stop you and in fact will actually benefit you greatly meaning that you will get the case quicker then you would have if you didn’t have a badge and you can do all that nasty interogation stuff without the rules of the police getting in the way.

  6. Baboonanza says:

    3D? It’ll never catch on…

  7. Sam says:

    I just tried the tree different endings (Press F2 to skip to the end of the game).

    Its not possible to win this game?

    Spoiler:
    All the endings I get ends with an explosion.

    Did I miss something?

    • sfury says:

      Same here.

      Also the whole thing i s very remiscent of Se7en.

    • vatara says:

      My first try I picked wrong. The second time I pressed ESC through all the dialog and got the “You Win” ending…maybe it has something to do with the order of your dialog choices?
      Seconding the Se7en influence, that was the first thing that came to mind.

    • quijote3000 says:

      You missed something, I guess. I got it right the first time. “You saved the girl”. I think the key is making him talk.

    • fallingmagpie says:

      I totally saved the girl first time, and am an excellent cop.

      I’m going to follow up this victory by winning the Starcraft competition too. Screw you, suckas!

  8. brkl says:

    It must be really weird for you guys to listen to our wonky accent :D
    The tech really impresses me. I had no idea you could do something like that with AGS. The designer is one clever dude.

  9. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    “You don’t often see conversation options like this:”

    Actually, that’s how Bioware plans their conversations in Excel spreadsheets, except they later get a wordy makeover.

  10. Virtureal says:

    I think that there are supposed to be clues in the way his face is animated at different questions telling you where the girl really is, but just as you I won by accident too :P

  11. Bowlby says:

    Vere do you keep the nuclear wessels?

    Cool little game. The facial animation is surprisingly impressive.

  12. Taillefer says:

    Isn’t it vectors, not 3D?
    It’s no less impressive, though.

  13. Kefren says:

    It would help if it didn’t run at a resolution my monitor won’t support (1280 x 960) with no obvious option to change it.

  14. Sulphur says:

    Looks more like a fan sequel to Fade to Black, tbh.

  15. antizyme says:

    is there a mirror site? the server is over the bandwith limit for download :(

  16. BobbleHat says:

    Watch the ‘making of’ video, it’s an interesting look at how games like this are developed. And the bits with the motion-capture are pretty funny.

  17. DrRickDaglessMD says:

    Run Winsetup in the game directory and change the graphics filter to None, which should make the game run at 640×480. This can help with performance I found, too.

    Hope that helps.

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