Posted: March 13th, 2006
Last Updated: March 13th, 2006
This page serves as a short summary of what Façade is, and how it has changed since version 1.0 and all the information to go along with it. I don't assume I know everything about this game, but I will give you my insight.
Façade is an art and research project that works as an example or prototype for a future commercial project. The development of this game has taken 5 years and has been written entirely from scratch by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. Andrew Stern has many years of experience in the AI engineer field, as well as game designing. There is even a Wikipedia article on him here. The developers and designers of Façade go under the studio name Procedural Arts for themselves, and they even have a group blog called Grand Text Auto. Some of the other people (that I hinted at) in Procedural Arts include Chloe Johnston and Andy Bayiates who are the voices of Grace and Trip.
Programming wise the main system within Façade is managed by ABL (A Behavior Language) which is a special programming language specifically for creating personality rich and expressionistic characters. A custom rule language is used to create robust natural language understanding rules. The custom graphic engine itself is created using C++ with OpenGL rendering. More information can be found on their Technology page.
Façade is not shy when it comes to awards. Currently the main page hosts 5 larger web awards including Grand Jury Prize Winner of the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival, Most Innovative Game Award at the 2005 Independent Games Conference, Most Innovative Game of 2005, Game Tunnel, Finalist in the 2004 Independent Games Festival, and Exhibited at the 2004 Inter Society for the Electronic Arts conference. There is probably hundreds of more awards and publications out there for this game.
Older versions (1.0x) contained an executable that was around 800 megabytes to install the game. The new 1.1 version, that was released on February 16th, 2006 is now a mere 167 megabytes. Keep in mind this executable still contains everything the 800 megabyte one did, but it is hugely compressed in a form which takes awhile to decompress when installing. This new compression is credited to Speex.org which specializes in speech compression. It still takes around 1 gigabyte up on your hard drive.
Another couple things that the 1.1 version solved was the restriction that the game had to be installed into the c: drive, and the CPU restriction was also removed, but you are cautioned that it will run poorly if you are running on anything lower than a 1.6GHz. Supposedly a Mac port is soon to be available.
For more information you are encouraged to get the "Behind the Façade" guide which is available here for a $5 donation via Paypal. This document supposedly contains 30 pages of all the different variations in the game.