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A full motion video (FMV) is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files (rather than sprites, vectors, or 3D models) to display action in the game. While many games feature FMVs as a way to present information during cutscenes, games that are primarily presented through FMVs are referred to as full-motion video games or interactive movies.
A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.
Sprite is a computer graphics term for a two-dimensional bitmap that is integrated into a larger scene, most often in a 2D video game. They were developed at Texas Instruments by Daniel Hillis. Originally termed "Pixies," the name was changed due to it already being under copyright.
Vector graphics are computer graphics images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axis of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may have various properties including values for stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill. Vector graphics are commonly found today in the SVG, EPS, PDF or AI graphic file formats and are intrinsically different from the more common raster graphics file formats such as JPEG, PNG, APNG, GIF, and MPEG4.
The early 1980s saw almost exclusive use of the LaserDisc for FMV games. Many arcade games used the technology but it was ultimately considered a fad and fell out of use. In the early 1990s FMV games had a resurgence of interest, the proliferation of optical discs gave rise to a slew of original FMV-based computer games such as Night Trap (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Voyeur (1993), Phantasmagoria (1995), and Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT (1995). The introduction of CD-based consoles like 3DO, CD-i, and Sega CD brought the concept of interactive FMV gameplay. Companies such as Digital Pictures and American Laser Games were formed to produce full-motion video games.
LaserDisc is a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium, initially licensed, sold and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in the United States in 1978.
In computing and optical disc recording technologies, an optical disc (OD) is a flat, usually circular disc which encodes binary data (bits) in the form of pits and lands on a special material on one of its flat surfaces. The encoding material sits atop a thicker substrate which makes up the bulk of the disc and forms a dust defocusing layer. The encoding pattern follows a continuous, spiral path covering the entire disc surface and extending from the innermost track to the outermost track. The data is stored on the disc with a laser or stamping machine, and can be accessed when the data path is illuminated with a laser diode in an optical disc drive which spins the disc at speeds of about 200 to 4,000 RPM or more, depending on the drive type, disc format, and the distance of the read head from the center of the disc. Most optical discs exhibit a characteristic iridescence as a result of the diffraction grating formed by its grooves. This side of the disc contains the actual data and is typically coated with a transparent material, usually lacquer. The reverse side of an optical disc usually has a printed label, sometimes made of paper but often printed or stamped onto the disc itself. Unlike the 31⁄2-inch floppy disk, most optical discs do not have an integrated protective casing and are therefore susceptible to data transfer problems due to scratches, fingerprints, and other environmental problems.
Night Trap is an interactive movie video game developed by Digital Pictures and originally released by Sega for the Sega CD in 1992. The game is presented primarily through the use of full motion video (FMV). In Night Trap, the player takes the role of a special agent tasked to watch over teenage girls visiting a house which, unbeknownst to them, is full of danger. The player watches live surveillance footage of the house and triggers traps to capture anyone seen endangering the girls. The player can freely switch their view between different cameras to keep watch over the girls and eavesdrop on conversations to follow the story and listen for clues.
As the video game industry was emerging from its niche status into the mainstream —by 1994 it was two-and-a-half times larger that Hollywood by revenue— Hollywood began to make inroads into the growing market. In 1994, Sony's Johnny Mnemonic became the first video game title produced by a film studio. Soon thereafter, video game heavyweight Electronic Arts featured well-known Hollywood talent such as Mark Hamill, Tom Wilson and John Spencer in their critically acclaimed titles Wing Commander III and IV , setting the stage for a more expansive tie-up between the movie and video game industries. With the continual improvement of in-game CGI, FMV as a major gameplay component had eventually disappeared because of the limited gameplay options it allowed.
Sony Imagesoft was a video game publisher that operated from 1989 to 1995 and was located in California. It was established in January 1989 in Los Angeles, California, as a subsidiary of the Japan-based CBS/Sony Group (CSG) and initially named CSG Imagesoft Inc. Focus at the beginning was on marketing games exclusively for Nintendo consoles.
Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie is a point-and-click adventure science fiction video game directed by Douglas Gayeton for Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and released by Sony Imagesoft on May 26, 1995. Based on the 1981 short story of the same name by William Gibson, the game has the player takes the role of the title character.
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is an American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California. It is the second-largest gaming company in the Americas and Europe by revenue and market capitalization after Activision Blizzard and ahead of Take-Two Interactive and Ubisoft as of March 2018.
The first wave of FMV games originated in arcades in 1983 with the release of Astron Belt from Sega and Dragon's Lair from Cinematronics. Both games used Laserdiscs to store the video used in the game, which allowed for very high quality visuals compared to contemporary arcade games of the era. A number of arcade games using FMV with Laserdiscs were released over the next three years and the technology was touted as the future of video games. Some games released in this era reused video footage from other sources while others had it purpose made. Cliff Hanger, Bega's Battle , and Firefox reused footage while titles like Space Ace , Time Gal , Thayer's Quest , Super Don Quixote and Cobra Command were entirely original.
An amusement arcade is a venue where people play arcade games such as video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, merchandisers, or coin-operated billiards or air hockey tables. In some countries, some types of arcades are also legally permitted to provide gambling machines such as slot machines or pachinko machines. Games are usually housed in cabinets. The term used for ancestors of these venues in the beginning of the 20th century was penny arcades.
Astron Belt (アストロンベルト) is an early laserdisc video game in the form of a third-person, space combat rail shooter, released in arcades in 1983 by Sega in Japan and licensed to Bally Midway for release in the United States. Developed in 1982, it is commonly cited as the first laserdisc game.
Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd. since 2015. Both companies are subsidiaries of Sega Holdings Co., Ltd., which is in turn a part of Sega Sammy Holdings. From 1983 until 2001, Sega also developed and sold video game consoles.
The limited nature of FMV, high price to play (50 cents in an era where 25 cents was standard), high cost of the hardware and problems with reliability quickly took its toll on the buzz surrounding these games and their popularity diminished.By 1985, the allure of FMV and the Laserdisc had worn off, and the technology had disappeared from arcades by the end of 1987. RDI Video Systems (Thayer's Quest) had branched out into making a home console called the Halcyon, but it failed and they went bankrupt. Cinematronics's fortunes fared little better and they were bought out by Tradewest in 1987. Companies such as Atari canceled more prototype Laserdisc games than they released. Others, like Universal, stopped development on games after only one release despite announcing several titles.
Tradewest was an American video game company based in Corsicana, Texas that produced numerous games in the 1980s and early 1990s. The company was the publisher of the Battletoads and Double Dragon series in North America and the PAL region.
Atari is a brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972, currently by Atari Interactive, a subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA. The original Atari, Inc., founded in Sunnyvale, California in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
Universal Entertainment Corporation, formerly known as Aruze Corporation, is a Japanese manufacturer of pachinko, slot machines, arcade games and other gaming products, and a publisher of video games. Aruze possesses licenses to both manufacture and distribute casino machines in the American states of Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey. The company's corporate headquarters are in Tokyo. Aruze is also the licence holder of the video game franchise Shadow Hearts. Up until February 18, 2012, the company owned approximately 21% of Wynn Resorts. On November 1, 2009 Aruze Corporation changed its name to Universal Entertainment Corporation due to financial crisis of 2007–2008.
After only a few years, the technology had improved and Laserdisc players were more reliable. In addition, costs had come down and the average price to play a game had gone up. These factors caused a resurgence of the popularity of Laserdiscs games in the arcade. American Laser Games released a light gun shooting game called Mad Dog McCree in 1990 and it was an instant hitand then in 1991 with Who Shot Johnny Rock? , a game that might be the first ever live action interactive movie. American Laser alone would go on to lease almost a dozen Laserdisc games over the next few years and many other companies again rushed to release titles using the technology. Dragon's Lair II, a title which had been shelved years earlier, was released by Leland to strong sales. Time Traveler further pushed the technology by using special projection technology to give the appearance of 3D visuals.
American Laser Games was a company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico that created numerous light gun laserdisc video games featuring live action full motion video. The company was founded in the late 1980s by Robert Grebe, who had originally created a system to train police officers under the company name ICAT and later adapted the technology for arcade games. Its first hit game was Mad Dog McCree, a light gun shooter set in the American Old West. By mid-1995 they were recognized as the leading company in the medium of laserdisc-based arcade games. Almost all arcade games released by the company were light gun shooters and a number of them also had an Old West theme.
A light gun is a pointing device for computers and a control device for arcade and video games, typically shaped to resemble a pistol. In aviation and shipping, it can also be a directional signal lamp.
Mad Dog McCree is the first live-action laserdisc video game released by American Laser Games. It originally appeared as an arcade game in 1990.
Again, the fad passed quickly. The limited nature of the Laserdisc hampered interactivity and limited replayability, a key weakness in arcade games. American Laser, the chief producer of Laserdisc games during this era, had stopped making arcade games in 1994 and most other companies switched over to newer technologies around the same time. With the rise of 3D graphics and the introduction of hard drives and CD-ROMs to arcades, the large, expensive and small-capacity Laserdisc could not compete and disappeared. While CDs would see some use in the mid and late 1990s, it was hard drives, GD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs that caused the largest jump in FMV use in the arcade. Their very large capacities and mature, reliable technology allowed for much cheaper hardware than traditional hardware systems, and FMV cut-scenes became commonplace. FMV as a major gameplay component had disappeared by this time because of the limited gameplay options it allowed.
In 1984, a home console system called the Halcyon was released by RDI Video Systems that used Laserdiscs for its games and was to feature ports of several popular Laserdisc arcade games of the day. It used FMV exclusively, but the company folded after releasing only two titles for the system. The LaserActive from Pioneer would try the technology again in 1994, but it too failed.
By the early 1990s when PCs and consoles moved to creating games on a CD, they became technically capable of utilizing more than a few minutes' worth of movies in a game. This gave rise to a slew of original FMV-based computer games such as Night Trap (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Voyeur (1993), Phantasmagoria (1995), and Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT (1995). Other titles were simply scaled down ports of Laserdisc arcade games, some of them a decade old by this time. Regardless of their sources, these FMV games frequently used B-movie and TV actors and promised to create the experience of playing an interactive movie or animation. However, production values were quite low with amateurish sets, lighting, costumes, and special effects. Animated titles either cobbled together footage from old anime or used cheaper overseas animation producers to create their footage. In addition, the video quality in these early games was low, and the gameplay frequently did not live up to the hype becoming well-known failures in video gaming. At this time, consoles like 3DO, CD-i, and Sega CD borrowed this concept for several low-quality interactive games. Companies such as Digital Pictures and American Laser Games were formed to produce full-motion video games.
Also, the "multimedia" phenomenon that was exploding in popularity at the time increased the popularity of FMV because consumers were excited by this new emerging interactive technology. The personal computer was rapidly evolving during the early-to-mid 1990s from a simple text-based productivity device into a home entertainment machine. Gaming itself was also emerging from its niche market into the mainstream with the release of easier-to-use and more powerful operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows 95, that leveraged continually evolving processing capabilities.
Video game consoles too saw incredible gains in presentation quality and contributed to the mass market's growth in awareness of gaming. It was during the 1990s that the video/computer game industry first beat Hollywood in earnings.Sony made its debut in the console market with the release of the 32-bit PlayStation. The PlayStation was probably the first console to popularize FMVs (as opposed to earlier usage of FMV which was seen as a passing fad). A part of the machine's hardware was a dedicated M-JPEG processing unit which enabled far superior quality relative to other platforms of the time. The FMVs in Final Fantasy VIII , for example, were marketed as movie-quality at the time.
FMVs in games today typically consist of high-quality pre-rendered video sequences (CGI). These sequences are created in similar ways as computer generated effects in movies. Use of FMV as a selling point or focus has diminished in modern times. This is primarily due to graphical advancements in modern video game systems making it possible for in-game cinematics to have just as impressive visual quality. Digitized video footage of real actors in games generally ended for mainstream games in the early 2000s with a few exceptions such as Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War released in 2006, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight released in 2010, Tesla Effect released in 2014, Her Story released in 2015, the 2015 reboot of Need for Speed, and Obduction released in 2016.
The early 1980s saw the almost exclusive use of the Laserdisc for FMV games. Many arcade games used the technology but it was ultimately considered a fad and fell out of use. At least one arcade game, NFL Football from Bally/Midway, used CEDs to play its video. Some 1970s era Nintendo games used film and projectors. formats had the advantage of offering full frame video and sound without the quality problems of compressed video that would plague later formats like CDs.
With the re-popularization of FMV games in the early 1990s following the advent of CD-ROM, higher-end developers usually created their own custom FMV formats to suit their needs. Early FMV titles used game-specific proprietary video renderers optimized for the content of the video (e.g., live-action vs. animated), because CPUs of the day were incapable of playing back real-time MPEG-1 until the fastest 486 and Pentium CPUs arrived. Consoles, on the other hand, either used a third-party codec (e.g., Cinepak for Sega CD games) or used their own proprietary format (e.g. the Philips CD-i). Video quality steadily increased as CPUs became more powerful to support higher quality video compression and decompression. The 7th Guest , one of the first megahit multiple-CD-ROM games, was one of the first games to feature transparent quality 640x320 FMV at 15 frames per second in a custom format designed by programmer Graeme Devine.
Other examples of this would be Sierra's VMD (Video and Music Data) format, used in games like Gabriel Knight 2 and Phantasmagoria , or Westwood Studios' VQA format, used in most Westwood games made from the mid-1990s up until 2000s Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Firestorm . These video formats initially offered very limited video quality, due to the limitations of the machines the games needed to run on. Ghosting and distortion of high-motion scenes, heavy pixelization, and limited color palettes were prominent visual problems. However, each game pushed the technological envelope and was typically seen as impressive even with quality issues.
Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie , was the first FMV title made by a Hollywood studio. Sony Imagesoft spent over $3 million on the title.Instead of piecing together the title with filmed assets from their movie (directed by Robert Longo) of the same name, Sony hired Propaganda Code director Douglas Gayeton to write and film an entirely new storyline for the property. The CD-ROM's interactivity was made possible with the Cine-Active engine, based on the QuickTime 2.0 codec.
Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger was one of the most significant FMV titles made in 1994, featuring big-name Hollywood actors. The video quality in the game suffered significantly from the aforementioned problems and was almost visually indecipherable in parts; however, this did not stop the title from earning significant praise for its innovative gameplay/FMV combination. Its sequel, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom , used a similar custom movie codec in its CD-ROM release, but a later limited-volume DVD-ROM release saw MPEG-2 DVD-quality movies that far exceeded the original CD release in quality. A hardware decoder card was required at the time to play back the DVD-quality video on a PC. Wing Commander IV was also the first game to have used actual film (rather than video tape) to record the FMV scenes which attributed to the ability to create a DVD-quality transfer.
An exception to the rule was The 11th Hour , the sequel to The 7th Guest . 11th Hour featured 640×480 FMV at 30 frames-per-second on 4 CDs. The development team had worked for three years on developing a format that could handle the video, as the director of the live-action sequences had not shot the FMV sequences in a way that could be easily compressed. However, this proved to be the game's downfall, as most computers of the day could not play the full-resolution video. Users were usually forced to select an option which played the videos at a quarter-size resolution in black-and-white.
As FMV established itself in the market as a growing game technology, a small company called RAD Game Tools appeared on the market with their 256-color FMV format Smacker. Developers took to the format, and the format ended up being used in over 3,000, largely PC based games.
With the launch of consoles with built-in optical storage (the Sega Saturn and Sony's PlayStation) console manufacturers began more actively taking it upon themselves to provide higher quality FMV capabilities to developers. Sony included optimizations in their hardware for their MDEC (motion decompression) technology, and Sega chose the software route. Sega worked both internally on optimizing technology such as Cinepak, and externally by licensing video decompression technology from the New York-based Duck Corporation. While Duck's offering won praise for its quality (showcased in games like Enemy Zero , major Launch titles in the US and the Saturn adaptations of console hits from the Sega AM2 arcade group) the opaque licensing and royalty structure impeded widespread adoption outside of Japanese and larger US developers.
Duck's TrueMotion technology was extended to the PC and Macintosh as well, showcased in the high profile Star Trek: Borg and Star Trek: Klingon , The X-Files Game , Final Fantasy VII , and the highly anticipated sequel to Phantasmagoria , Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh and other titles. It was reported that versions for PlayStation and GameCube were developed, but the last console version released was for Sega's short-lived Dreamcast.
As the popularity of games loaded with live-action and FMV faded out in the late 1990s, and with Smacker becoming outdated in the world of 16-bit color games, RAD introduced a new true-color format, Bink video. Developers quickly took to the format because of its high compression ratios and videogame-tailored features. The format is still one of the most popular FMV formats used in games today. 4,000 games have used Bink, and the number is still growing.
In the late '90s, Duck largely shelved its support for the console market (likely fueled by the direct support for DVD support in newer generation consoles) and focused its formats instead on internet delivered video. Duck went public as On2 Technologies and later generations of its technology was licensed by Adobe, Skype and was eventually bought (along with the company) by Google as the foundation for WebM. An early open source version of that work also appears as the renamed Theora codec of the Xiph Project.
Windows Media Video, DivX, Flash Video, Theora and WebM are also now major players in the market. DivX is used in several Nintendo GameCube titles, including Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike .
The Compact Disc-Interactive is a digital optical disc data storage format that was mostly developed and marketed by Dutch company Philips. It was created as an extension of CDDA and CD-ROM and specified in the Green Book, co-developed by Philips and Sony, to combine audio, text and graphics. The two companies initially expected to impact the education/training, point of sale, and home entertainment industries, but CD-i eventually became best known for its video games.
The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD plays CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, often called the 3DO, is a home video game console developed by The 3DO Company. Conceived by entrepreneur and Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO was not a console manufactured by the company itself, but a series of specifications, originally designed by Dave Needle and R. J. Mical of New Technologies Group, that could be licensed by third parties. Panasonic produced the first models in 1993, and further renditions of the hardware were released in 1994 by GoldStar and in 1995 by Sanyo.
The fifth-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 4, 1993 to March 23, 2006. For home consoles, the best-selling console was the PlayStation (PS), followed by the Nintendo 64 (N64), and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSOne, which was launched on July 7, 2000.
The LaserActive is a converged device and fourth-generation home video game console capable of playing Laserdiscs, Compact Discs, console games, and LD-G karaoke discs. It was released by Pioneer Corporation in 1993. In addition to LaserActive games, separately sold add-on modules accept Mega Drive/Genesis and PC Engine/TurboGrafx 16 ROM cartridges and CD-ROMs.
The Control-Vision is an unreleased video game console developed by Tom Zito. It is notable for using VHS tapes rather than ROM cartridges, prompting the creation of game content which survived on into much more advanced CD-ROM platforms.
An interactive film, also known as an interactive movie or movie game, is a video game that presents its gameplay in a cinematic, scripted manner, often through the use of full-motion video of either animated or live-action footage.
Digital Pictures was an American video game developer founded in 1991 by Lode Coen, Mark Klein, Ken Melville, Anne Flaut-Reed, Kevin Welsh and Tom Zito.
Time Traveler or Hologram Time Traveler is a laserdisc interactive movie arcade game. It was designed by Dragon's Lair creator Rick Dyer, and released in 1991 by Sega. Its plot is that an American old west cowboy named Marshal Gram travels to various timelines to rescue Princess Kyi-La and defeat the evil time lord Vulcor.
Who Shot Johnny Rock? is the title of a live-action full motion video laserdisc video game produced by American Laser Games and released in the arcade in 1991, as well as for MS-DOS, Sega CD, 3DO and CD-i in or around 1994. As part of a series of similar-styled games released by the company, Who Shot Johnny Rock? introduces a different setting than most of the others, while maintaining almost identical gameplay. The game was re-released by Digital Leisure around 2003 with updated video and sound, in addition to several bonus options.
Time Gal is an interactive movie video game developed and published by Taito and Malone Films, and originally released in Japan for the arcades in 1985. It is an action game which uses full motion video (FMV) to display the on-screen action. The player must correctly choose the on-screen character's actions to progress the story. The pre-recorded animation for the game was produced by Toei Animation.
Road Blaster (ロードブラスター) is a 1985 interactive movie video game produced by Data East for the arcades.
Ninja Hayate (忍者ハヤテ) is a 1984 laserdisc video game first developed and released by Taito and Malone Films for arcades in Japan and the United States. The game was later ported to the Sega CD video game console as Revenge of the Ninja in 1994.
A variety of computer graphic techniques have been used to display video game content throughout the history of video games. The predominance of individual techniques have evolved over time, primarily due to hardware advances and restrictions such as the processing power of central or graphics processing units.
LV-ROM is an optical disc format developed by Philips Electronics to integrate analog video and computer software for interactive multimedia. The LV-ROM is a specialized variation of the CAV Laserdisc. LV-ROM is an initialism for "LaserVision Read-Only Memory".
A cutscene or event scene is a sequence in a video game that is not interactive, breaking up the gameplay. Such scenes could be used to show conversations between characters, set the mood, reward the player, introduce new gameplay elements, show the effects of a player's actions, create emotional connections, improve pacing or foreshadow future events.
Hollywood's aim, of course, is to tap into the $7 billion that Americans pour into arcade games each year — and the $6 billion they spend on home versions for Nintendo and Sega game machines. Combined, it's a market nearly 2 ½ times the size of the $5 billion movie box office.