20050909

Jamie Kaning it

Well, I finished playing the BBC's "interactive fiction" game Jamie Kane, due in part to the brouhaha surrounding some fan-based wikifiddling. And the verdict is... it's all right, I suppose.

The game is based around an internet messageboard, of which you are a member. Smart, eh? Very postmodern. It's all supposed to be interactive. Only, the technology isn't quite up to it yet, so you can't actually post, just read the characters talking too each other. You get to chat to them via a flash pretend instant messenger (pity they couldn't get it to work through a regular IM client, that would really make for a nice confusion between fantasy and reality). It's supposed to be really good AI, but it doesn't quite work... I was asked where I lived and said "New Jersey, USA", and the character replied something about the channel islands. Trying too hard. There's not much of that anyway, mostly they ignore what you say and just get on with their scripted plot moving on.

And that's the basic problem with the game, if you want to call it a problem: for an "interactive" experience it's pretty damn linear. Completely so, in fact: nothing you do seems to make the slightest difference to the progression of things. The game is broken down into tasks, and you have to complete one each day, but the tasks are particularly challenging: just play some silly little flash game, or click on a few links. It's diverting, but there's no great sense of achievement, and there's too much help offered too quickly to force you through.

There's a whole lot of detail to begin with -- the messageboard characters have blogs, there's lots of Jamie Kane information, songs, trivia and so on -- but while this makes the game seem very rich to begin with, it hardly gets used, and so after feasting on the detail to begin with (reading up all the past few entries in the blogs, for example), this kind of gets lost. The blogs get updated as the game goes on, a nice touch, but not very much, and not always convincingly (far too much supposedly private information is posted in what are supposed to be public blogs).

There's also some fossil evidence of the game's evolution. One of the characters has a web page on cheapserve. It's here. Well, fool around with the URL, and you get to this, which gives some useful information -- but never appears in the game itself. Looks like some kind of vestigal thing from an early game (where you have to find JK's mother's maiden name: the answer is in the lyrics of one of his songs), which eventually got dropped. But, just goes to show you shouldn't use mother's maiden name as a security question, since it can be quite easy to find the answer.

[Edit: commenter points out that you get directed to this website somehow if you complain that you are unable to listen to the song. Which is dumb (of the game creators), since all the lyrics are on the JK website along with the songs]

The game has a few risque moments, which seems a bit much given its intended audience. Chief amongst these is probably the chat that directs you to the following link: NSFW! (not safe for work!). Perhaps they are being clever and checking your age from your profile before choosing to send you to graphic depictions of female nudity. But I somehow doubt it. All this paid for with licence payers' money! Good thing I don't pay my licence fee (because I don't live in the UK, duh). Also, for some reason there's an awful lot of the fictional characters linking to images to illustrate their point. Which I've never seen anyone do in real life, but never mind. Anyway, most of these are to non-BBC sites, which is a bit dodgy, since the site owner could easily swap the image for something extremely NSFW. But that's life, I suppose.

Anyway, it passes the time, and the plot is reasonably if a little contrived in places (and one of the plot twists is just silly). Play it if you like, but don't expect it to change your life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, fool around with the URL, and you get to this, which gives some useful information -- but never appears in the game itself."

yeap, it appears when you told them that you don't have speakers or audio to listen the song!

;o)

Bloggs said...

www.2jump2.com/x.php?a3 I Know what I Like, and I like it, Have a Laugh on me