Interactive Films – Ideas

I have to admit I’m a bit lost here. I have complained about interactions and dissected user interfaces in two separate posts, and even have some basic ideas about what I want to do. Yet despite all of that I just can’t get myself to just sit down, and write a first draft script and do some early storyboards. So I guess I’ll just do what I usually do: start writing a blog post and see where I end up. If you’re seeing this that means I have actually finished that, and published it onto my blog!I feel like my largest issue is that whenever I start thinking about writing or filming this interactive short, my anxiety starts creeping back. I immediately start thinking about things that could go wrong, how I will have to talk about my work in progress, or just the final product being something stupid, and then me having to present that. This isn’t really an issue for me with the other modules because I’m confident in my design abilities (to what extent am I correct about that is up for debate) and creating sounds or visuals. But with this one I have to do some kind of screenwriting, and I haven’t really done much of that before.

See, the problem isn’t in the technical details, like “can I code that?”, “will I be able to make it visually interesting?” or “how much time will the filming take?”. Coding the video’s logic might take one or two weeks, but I have a clear grasp of how the basics of coding work, and if I’m stuck I can easily check StackOverflow and look for a solution. And the other two questions are also not a concern for me, as I have some experience with filming, and most of my media class short films have been shot in one or two days (and then cut and edited in the following week, with me staying up until 4AM on the last day before the deadline. Yeah, me and my friends weren’t exactly the most organized bunch). Just for reference, here is last year’s example:

But as you can see, I worked on that with my group of friends. Now I don’t have that kind of support, and I’m way too nervous to ask pretty much anyone’s help, so most likely I’m going to be doing this solo. Which means that whatever I film can only feature one “character” at once, and should preferably have no more than three of them (my acting skills are not the best, to say the least).

But rambling aside, the best course of action right now is probably to just go ahead and jot down any ideas I have. So let’s do that right now.

Things I thought of when thinking about this film thing I usually don’t think about

First of all, my core idea is to have two or three separate short interactive films, that affect each other in unexpected ways. The player will see them in sequence, and the three continuously loop around until a win-state is achieved in all of them. The point is that among the sensible choices the player makes, there should be a bunch of interactions in each short film that don’t really make a lot of sense, or feel pointless, but ACTUALLY their purpose is to influence the other two stories. Let’s say in one of them the character gets the choice to pick up either a wooden or a plastic spatula for making scrambled eggs. This makes little sense, but then in one of the other shorts, another character gets to the same location only finds the one that wasn’t picked up during the previous scene.

Here’s some of the ideas I have for the two or three storylines:

  1. Someone is trapped in a room and has to get out somehow
    • Or he’s locked in with a ticking bomb and has to defuse it
  2. A guy watching security cam footage of the trapped man. He then has to try helping without being able to directly talk to him
  3. A stop-motion battle with the little toy soldiers I got for secret santa last year. Could be affected by random things occurring in the other stories
  4. A ghost flying through houses, doing stuff? This would be first-persion, sort of like the famous scene from the end of Evil Dead I guess
  5. The engaging tale of Thomas Carlton (random name generators are great!), the office intern whose job is sorting through spam emails. And depending on how well he does his job, the sent or deleted mail can affect the other stories.
  6. A meta story about me making an interactive movie
    • This could just be a bunch of random interactions that in turn influence my thinking

Out of these six-seven weird things, I think I’ll go with the first, the second, and the fifth ones. Mostly because these can be filmed without having too much complexity. One of them takes place in a single room, while the other two are mostly just a guy sitting in front of a screen doing stuff. The challenge will be making these interesting, but I think with some creative camera-work it can be done.

Well, at least I have a basic premise. That’s more than a few hours ago, so I guess I’m making some progress. I’m going to start the writing/storyboarding tomorrow, and intend to finish it in the next two weeks so I can get on with the filming.

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