We’ve all heard of games and films colliding before, but generally only as a metaphor to describe the end product.
We R Interactive is a company that takes the idea of amalgamating the mediums of silver and silicon screen a little deeper, by bringing together the skills and methods of film making, interactive storytelling and development in the production process itself.
Formed by seven veterans of storytelling, film production, branding and games design to capitalise on a new era of multi-disciplinary collaboration, We R Interactive promises that it is working on bringing together immersive filmed content and 3D interaction.
But what does that mean in terms of the games the player will enjoy? Company founder and former Eidos development director and Psygnosis studio manger David Rose is the man to answer that question.
“Our games will bring a greater sense of authenticity and immersion,” confirms Rose. “For the first time players will feel that they are in the game; not just playing but anticipating the outcome of their decisions and interactions, which will be visceral and emotive.
“Film captures characterisation and emotion like no other medium. We have strived for years to get close to this using graphics at increasing cost and without ever quite reaching realism. With improvements in bandwidth, dynamic editing and composition of both video and 3D elements we believe that users will benefit from immersive stories where 3D sequences have an integral role in helping tell an emerging narrative they influence.”
Born from the growing independent development sector and its habit of refocusing on intelligent game and software design We R Interactive was founded as a direct response to an apparent lack of risk adverse attitudes from the larger publishing houses.
“In harsh economic conditions it feels like there are real opportunities for small groups of intelligent motivated game developers to make and publish games independently,” suggests Rose, who is with his team striving to allow players an never before seen level of control, influence and engagement across multiple platforms.
Mad Dog McCrees and Englishmen
Arguably using filmed content is nothing new, and many will point an accusatory digit, highlighting the fact that the less than impressive live action arcade games and filmed Philips CDi titles prove there is little potential in such an approach.
However, those finger wavers would be missing a very important point. We R Interactive is doing a lot more that just pasting together footage under a loosely fitting veil of interaction.
It is harnessing a multitude of new technologies and platforms as foundations for narrative journeys that can be personal to each and every user, blurring the lines that traditionally separate the digital and real worlds. A point in the evolution of games that makes the ARG redundant, if you like.
Purporting to use its wildly diverse staff skill set and some mystery shrouded techniques to do wonderful new things, the firm is independently financed by a highly regarded group of external investors.
“These include luminaries from the worlds of advertising, media and finance,” explains Rose. “On the creative side Eric Fellner – CEO of Working Title – is an investor and working with us creatively. The majority of our staff from both the film and game industries are known to us, and therefore we’ve hit the ground running and managed to create a super creative atmosphere and culture very quickly.
Furthermore, We R Interactive’s unique approach means it can sidestep some of the traditional development problems all together.
“We avoid the uncanny valley problem by using filmed media instead of animated models,” states Rose. “Take a look at some of the animation work of Ken Perlin and you can see that the next generation of animators is likely to be using procedural animation where the model is continually active and engaged with its subject and environment. This will change the nature of the problem away from the inanimate but perfectly rendered mannequins and refocus it on what these agents are doing and saying.”
Happy to admit the road ahead is one likely to throw up an abundance of challenges, Rose is still confident he and his team will still be innovating, turning heads and creating games for social good and education purposes for years to come.
“We will strive to be leaders in interactive storytelling and further bringing film and interactive entertainment together. Our focus is original content and breaking new content to a global audience is our overall aim. The UK remains a source of phenomenal talent but has been hit hard in recent years; we aim to help readdress this,” he concludes.
For now, the concrete particulars of We R Interactive’s debut remain a near unknown, but one thing is certain; Rose and his colleagues are ones to watch.