Titanic: Adventure Out of Time Production Notes
TITANIC: Adventure Out of Time
On a star-filled night in 1912, you stand witness as a graceful giant slides reluctantly into oblivion. Massive decks and huge propellers rise at grotesque angles as deep metallic groans split the still night, momentarily drowning out the cries of the dying. Water churns, and still-glowing portholes vanish into icy blackness as you recall what led you here. The world will be changed forever, and you are the sole possessor of the knowledge of how things might have been.
STORY OVERVIEW: THE MISSION & THE ADVENTURE
Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, the new interactive suspense-drama from CyberFlix, is a tale of espionage, mystery, and deception set onboard the world’s most famous and opulent luxury liner. As a British secret agent, you have been sent on a trans-Atlantic voyage under orders to locate and recover a priceless manuscript. To do so, you must explore the immense ship and seek out key individuals who hold the secrets to the success or failure of your mission. You explore the Titanic in all of its elegance and grandeur, and you mingle with some of the era’s wealthiest and most powerful people. Meanwhile, your operative provides you the details about your objectives. Eventually, you are drawn into a web of intrigue with consequences far beyond the scope of your original mission. Then, in one of history’s supreme moments of irony, the majestic ship, deemed by all the world to be unsinkable and unexpectedly meets with disaster. From that moment on, you embark on a race against time that will decide the destiny of nations.
Titanic is an adventure story contained on two CD-ROM disks. The first portion (i.e., the first disk) is event-based and allows users to explore the ship at their own pace, meet and interact with more than 25 fellow passengers and crew members, and become involved in a cloak-and-dagger adventure with several optional subplots. The second disk begins after the ship’s collision with the iceberg. It continues the story begun in the first portion, but the action is now time-based and occurs in real time (a running clock is part of the game’s interface). Resolution of dilemmas and conflicts must take place within a time span of 2 1/2 hours and the actual amount of time it took the ship to sink.
Titanic is a title that essentially turns the tables on computer entertainment, a genre heretofore dominated by aliens, cyborgs, and futuristic shoot-em-ups. With this bold and distinctive title, CyberFlix opts to avoid multimedia conventions and move forward on the assumption that digital entertainment is just as applicable to the past as it is to some imaginary future. Titanic takes users on a computerized journey into the past and offers a new twist on an already compelling topic. Movies, books, songs, TV documentaries, and historical societies have all celebrated and delved into the various aspects of this greatest of all maritime disasters. Inspiring awe, speculation, and universal interest, the Titanic fascinates people in a way that crosses lines of gender, age, and nationality. CyberFlix’s new adventure does more than recount events. It deals with the people’s lives and details of personality and little-known facts. With a fresh sense of immediacy, Titanic places you right in the middle of a profoundly exciting moment of history.
*Compelling adventure set onboard the world’s most celebrated ship
*Easy to install and easy use; simple game interface
*Historically accurate reconstruction of the Titanic
*Beautifully detailed, rendered environments
*Ability to explore the ship in detail
*Fully navigable 3D game environment
*More than 25 interactive characters
*A race against the clock in real time
*Multiple puzzles and mysteries blend seamlessly with the plotline
*Vibrant, high-resolution graphics
*Fully integrated soundtrack and musical score
*Wide appeal among gamers and mainstream audiences alike.
YOU CAN REWRITE HISTORY
It is the ‘what ifs’ of history that are the basis for Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The latest adventure from the award-winning interactive-entertainment company places you aboard this vast floating palace on her maiden voyage, a voyage that ended in one of the momentous tragedies of modern times. You are both spectator and participant in a multi-tiered drama that unfolds as a series of interwoven events that determine not only your own survival, but the fate of millions. Placed at the scene of one of history’s most famous tragedies, your actions and your decisions made in the face of disaster will alter world events and shape the course of the 20th century.
The story opens in 1942. The place is Luftwaffe-battered London on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Exploring a mean and dingy flat, the player discovers that he or she is a down-at-the-heels former agent of the British Secret Service who was removed from duty following a failed mission onboard the Titanic. The shock of a German bomb blast propels the player into a flashback to the night of the disaster. Here, onboard the Titanic just hours before it strikes an iceberg, the game begins in earnest. The player tries to solve the mission, retrieving a purloined copy of a priceless volume of Persian poetry known as the Rubaiyat. Stolen by a German agent, the book will be exchanged for British naval documents hidden inside a nondescript painting. While searching for these clues the player encounters a long-lost friend, the beautiful and endangered Lady Georgia, as well as a wealthy steel baron named Andrew Conkling, who offers a mysterious freelance assignment.
By the time the Titanic strikes an iceberg the player is embroiled in a series of situations that will alter history. Depending on choices made during the game, a player’s fate will never be the same. Following the sinking the player is propelled forward to where he started and shown a glimpse of a world radically different from the one he had left. Was the trip real or imagined? Is this reality or only a daydream? It’s up to the player to discover in Titanic: Adventure Out of Time.
The digital 3D environment that serves as the backdrop for Titanic: Adventure Out of Time is a faithful reconstruction of the actual ship and the most meticulously accurate rendition that has ever been undertaken for an entertainment product.
At the time that the ship was completed, Titanic was the largest floating vessel ever built. Fourteen thousand workers spent three years constructing it, and when finished, from bow to stern it measured nearly 900 feet and a distance exceeding the height of the tallest skyscraper of the day. The ship displaced 66,000 tons and its engines could produce 46,000 horsepower. Its crew numbered 885, and it could accommodate more than 2,400 passengers on its nine decks. Among the provisions Titanic carried for its trans-Atlantic voyage were 40 tons of potatoes, 100,000 pounds of meat and poultry, and 57,600 pieces of dishware.
Building a digital environment of this magnitude with such painstaking detail and accuracy is something that has never before been undertaken in a multimedia title. While for technical and dramatic reasons the version of the ship is not 100 percent exact, the sets are the most accurate built to date for either film or digital media. CyberFlix’s team of 3D modellers has been working non-stop for nearly two years, digitally crafting the ship from actual blueprints, drawings, and period photographs. Every deck, cabin, corridor, and engine compartment onboard CyberFlix’s Titanic matches its actual counterpart in scale, detail, and decor. The user is able to explore the ship extensively at his or her own pace, becoming familiar with the remarkable vessel that has fascinated millions for almost a century. The entire layout is true to the ship’s original floor plans, and some of the most interesting areas on the ship and the Turkish Bath, the Grand Staircase, the Smoking Room, the Captain’s Bridge and have been faithfully re-created down to the original paint colour and minute fixtures.
Not only is each interior and exterior environment fully rendered and allowing the user to move freely through it in 3D space, but individual objects (a carved statue, a clock, or a teacup) are rendered as well, allowing them to be viewed from numerous angles within the environment.
”This kind of 3D artwork approaches the level used in the feature film industry,” says Michael Kennedy, 3D artist for Titanic. “Some single images in Titanic required in excess of 500 megabytes of RAM to render the 3D image. That’s 50 to 100 times the total memory of most home computers and just to create a single frame.”
What this means to the user is the ability to thoroughly explore the immense and fabulous vessel and be part of an adventure taking place in a setting that is itself visually exciting.
RE-CREATING THE PERIOD
1912 was a year of superlatives in an era unquestionably comfortable with them. Wealth, status, luxury, manner, and beauty and these were among the values held in high esteem by the ruling classes during this century’s infancy. In many ways, the Titanic captured the zeitgeist of the period and a monument to the kind of pre-war elegance that characterized the Edwardian period. A simple indicator of this was the ship’s passenger roster that included some of the world’s wealthiest and most famous people and among them: multimillionaire John Jacob Astor, American mining magnate Benjamin Guggenheim, and Macy’s department store founder Isidor Straus.
Capturing the ambiance of the period was one of the most important considerations in the production of Titanic. “Not only did we want to give you an authentic rendition of the ship to explore”, says producer Andrew Nelson, “we also wanted to give you a taste of a vanished time.”
Two years of historical research went into creating the story background and the visual look of Titanic. Though the cloak-and-dagger storyline is fictional, certain story elements are derived from actual historical events and people. A historical researcher has been part of the title’s production team since its inception, and research has been conducted on two continents as well as in cyberspace.
A bonus feature on Titanic is the Guided Tour option that will allow the user to explore the ship without distraction and without game play. More than 50 detailed interior and exterior environments are available for real-time exploration. Fascinating facts and information about the ship, its builders, crew, passengers, etc. as well as game hints are provided by digital tour guides. Additional characters and tour components will also be downloadable from CyberFlix’s website. These new elements can be incorporated into Titanic to expand the scope of the tour.
Like Dust: A Tale of the Wired West, its predecessor at CyberFlix, Titanic was created using DreamFactory, CyberFlix’s groundbreaking authoring technology that allows users to move freely about the 3D environment in real time without delays and without sacrificing graphic resolution. Titles created with DreamFactory are also characterized by uncompromising playing speed, fluid motion, an integrated soundtrack, highly interactive digital actors who retain memory of multiple interactions with the user, and rendered characters that move about independently in the environment in real time, a combination found nowhere else in computer entertainment.
Titanic employs the most recent version of DreamFactory, which itself has undergone several enhancements since the release of Dust. Among them: character animation that has a smoother and more lifelike quality than has yet been possible and an even more sophisticated and fluid manner with which the user will move through the three-dimensional terrain.
As an authoring technology, DreamFactory is genuinely unique in a number of key ways. First, it is the first set of multimedia authoring tools designed specifically for artists and writers, who may have little or no knowledge of programming, to easily create multimedia titles on CD-ROM. Second, the technology itself offers a number of advancements that allow titles created within DreamFactory to have a look, feel, and sense of realism that is not possible with any other authoring technologies.
The DreamFactory software is built on a framework that is composed of more than 1.4 million lines of programming code, a foundation of immense proportions by any programming standards. Because of its extraordinary information-handling capabilities and design efficiency, DreamFactory makes it possible to construct interactive-entertainment products that do not suffer the same kinds of constraints that are typical throughout the rest of the industry. Whereas most authoring processes can focus either on visual accuracy and detail or on speed of playability (necessitating compromise on one or the other), DreamFactory titles allow both simultaneously. The digital sets, characters, and objects are all depicted with high resolution and realism. The rendered environment itself is not a static view or a movie depicting an environment but is fully navigable and the player can essentially ‘go’ anywhere in the set and view the landscape from various perspectives. In addition, not only is the player able to move about freely within this rendered environment (offering a seamless first-person perspective), but so are the characters within the environment. The characters and images are not limited to a static depiction each time they are seen but instead may be encountered at various times and from various perspectives as the player navigates within the set. All of this occurs at real time and with geographic continuity within the rendered landscape. No other computer-entertainment technology offers these capabilities with this type of flexibility.
Likewise, sounds and sound effects are handled by DreamFactory in a manner that adds to the realism. Though the sounds in most titles are handled discretely and often can be played only one at a time (frequently game action comes to a halt while a soundtrack element plays), DreamFactory can accommodate music, dialogue voices, and sound effects independently and simultaneously and in a way that is tied directly and immediately to the actions of the player. In addition, as the player moves through the environment, sounds heard in the distance will increase in volume as the player gets closer to the sound’s source.
In summary, DreamFactory’s run-time engine and enhanced compression capabilities allow for finished entertainment products to have striking 3D visual detail, full navigability, and real-time continuity within the computer-generated environment, fully developed soundtracks, greater operating speed, fewer delays, and faster, more fluid motion sequences. The net effect is one that allows a merging of the interactivity of electronic gaming with the narrative adventure and character development of cinema.
Bill Appleton is CyberFlix president and creator of DreamFactory, the groundbreaking technology that fuels all of CyberFlix’s interactive titles. Appleton has worked in programming since 1984 and is known as one of the world’s premier developers of authoring tools. Prior to founding CyberFlix in 1993, he developed the revolutionary multimedia authoring software SuperCard as well as other pioneering authoring technologies CourseBuilder and WorldBuilder. Apache Strike, Appleton’s first game title (which he developed and programmed single-handedly) was released in 1988 and immediately became the number-one best-selling Mac game. The formation of CyberFlix in 1993 was a part of Appleton’s commitment to producing substantive, resonant multimedia titles and to helping define interactive entertainment as a successful merging of the technological capabilities of the computer with the best elements of traditional storytelling.
“The main challenge with Titanic,” says Appleton, “was to put you onboard that ship. Not just tell you about it or show it to you; we wanted to put you on it. As far as we’re able, we want you to feel what it’s like to walk those decks again and experience the mood of that time and to know the terror of a life-and-death struggle in the context of an epic tragedy. In Titanic, CyberFlix has created a fictional story incorporating these elements told within the confines of a real event that’s universally fascinating. Beauty, danger, loss, redemption, these are elements that make for compelling human drama. When you get right down to it, good storytelling is really about taking people somewhere and transporting the audience to a place that is beautiful or exciting or dangerous or fascinating or maybe all of those at once.”
Andrew Nelson is the producer and creative force behind Titanic. He also wrote and produced CyberFlix’s critically acclaimed interactive Western, Dust: A Tale of the Wired West, and wrote the interactive screenplay for the 1993 bestseller, Jump Raven. Nelson is one of CyberFlix’s founding members and is also the company’s creative director. He was formerly an editor and staff writer for Whittle Communications’ Special Report magazine. Before moving to Knoxville, Nelson lived in Los Angeles, New York, and London where he worked as a news correspondent. His articles have appeared in GQ, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic, and The Washington Post.
Nelson says he feels strongly that a journey into the past can be the basis for some of the most exciting interactive drama yet. “In a strange way,” he says, “Titanic is absolutely right for CD-ROM. The ship was as advanced in 1912 as the space shuttle is today. The Titanic was science fiction come to life, and, as with the Challenger, the tragedy still resonates.”
The Titanic Team:
*Bill Appleton–DreamFactory technology
*Andrew Nelson–producer & writer
*Todd Appleton–programming & scripting
*Eric Holt–music & sound effects
*Amy Rushton–associate producer & continuity
*Michael Kennedy–art direction; 3D design & animation
*Paul Haskins–3D design & animation
*Alex Tschetter–3D design & animation
*Bob Clouse–2D design & character animation
*Ani Chang–2D design & character animation
*Billy Davenport–2D design & character animation
*Bill Broyles–Historical & photo research
*Ian McLean–PC compatibility