Sam Barlow on crafting stories players tell themselvesThe acclaimed developer discusses his work on Telling Lies and Her Story, and how he hopes to advance interactive fictionJames BatchelorEditor-in-ChiefFriday 30th August 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleAnnapurna InteractiveFollowing the success of Her Story, Sam Barlow was inundated with offers from TV and film companies.These firms saw the promise of interactive fiction and wanted to apply their own murder mystery or crime procedural IP to Barlow’s proprietary tech. But the developer didn’t want to simply clone his award-winning hit — that would be missing the point.When he looked at other similar projects across both games and TV, even as recently as Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch at the end of last year, most seem to ape the traditional choose-your-own-adventure structure. What Barlow was attempting to prove with Her Story is that the real potential for interactive fiction is not in steering stories but in discovering them for yourself.It’s a concept he builds on with last week’s Telling Lies, a game in which players search through videos recorded from private conversations between four characters. These clips explore the impact of a shared event on each person but players can dig deeper, latching on to certain hints and threads in their words, to discover deeper connections between them.”The cool thing with [my games] is the bigger, more exciting moments are entirely in your head,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “You’re not being told they are exciting, you’re not necessarily being told what the thing you’ve figured out is. You’re just putting two and two together, going ‘Hang on a minute’ and searching against something to confirm your suspicions. “I think that’s one of the things that made Her Story feel novelistic. The progression was something that was in your mind.”Telling Lies adds another layer of complexity in that you only see characters when they’re on camera. If it doesn’t make sense that someone would be on Skype at any given moment, that can’t be included. It’s a stark contrast to how most stories are told.”The cool thing with [my games] is the bigger, more exciting moments are entirely in your head. You’re not told they are exciting” “The player is only seeing these characters’ lives when they are talking to each other online, you’re outlining a story around the negative space,” says Barlow. “You’re not necessarily seeing these big plot points, you’re just seeing the effect of them.”Anyone who has played Her Story will remember the big revelation, but might not remember exactly how they arrived at it, so subtly are the seeds sown. It feels like a prime example of how video games can tell stories in a way no other medium can, but Barlow suggests it speaks to the way we consume and interpret them in all other media.”We’re so literate in storytelling — not just as a culture, but also as human beings — that if you give people these pieces, they will naturally turn it into something that looks like a story themselves,” he says. “So you can ask a lot of the audience by giving them bits and pieces, leaving these big gaps and they will naturally fill them.”Watching a suspense movie is very much about the director putting bits of information in your mind so you build up an idea and you’re predicting what happens next — and then it might not happen. There’s this back and forth between the audience and the person telling the story. The beauty of something that’s interactive is that you can have a bit more feedback there.”It makes both Her Story and Telling Lies this strange blend of a unique and shared experience; shared, in that everyone reaches the same (or similar) conclusions, but they all do so in a way unique to them. In tests for Telling Lies, 20 people would all make different connections at different times, but they all started from the same point.The story of Sam Barlow’s games need to be planned out carefully to ensure no single scene leaves players at a dead endBarlow offers the example of TV shows, which now exist beyond their usual airtime slot. Each new episode will prompt Reddit discussions, have people live-tweeting their reactions, and see fans reading recaps the next day to check they didn’t miss anything. The developer believe Westworld, for example, is clearly written knowing these discussions are happening, and this is something he certainly had in mind for Telling Lies.”This is very much a story for you to tear to pieces, we want you to scrutinise everything,” he says. “We have this beautiful mechanic where you can scrub around a video in a very analogue hands-on way. We’re asking you to watch and rewatch. We’re asking you to notice particular lines or facial expressions, to scrutinise what’s happening in the background. “This is very much a story for you to tear to pieces. We’re asking you to notice particular lines or facial expressions, to scrutinise everything” “I definitely felt like this is an angle that’s not being explored. The choose-your-own-adventure thing is the obvious route, but this kind of stuff feels as valid and potentially richer a seam for us to mine.”And there’s plenty to scrutinise. Telling Lies is on a far grander scale than Her Story. Its budget, Barlow says, is 30 times bigger, it has 10 hours of live action footage compared to his previous game’s two, and the core cast has expanded from one to four. The developer had originally envisaged this as a game that, like Her Story, could be played in a single sitting or a couple of evenings, but once the filming was complete, he realised he had created something far bigger.Even the final script was akin to that of a movie, but while those are usually trimmed for extraneous stuff, Telling Lies was much harder to edit. Things that would be cut to tighten a film’s screenplay would actually open more areas of enquiry, so leaving them in maximise player’s agency to explore the story.It was equally important to ensure that no single scene gave a definitive resolution, or that no single question could essentially finish the game when answered, rendering all other routes of enquiry dead. For Barlow, this means layering the story with more subtext and connections than the initial premise implies.”In Her Story, people came in mostly because of the hook of having to solve a murder,” he says. “Reasonably quickly people could piece together the nuts and bolts of who killed who and why, but that led to more questions, more interesting questions. “In Telling Lies, you have four characters that have full stories, that are all connected by what you might call the A plot, but once you piece that together, the questions that come up are far more interesting, and you might just want to hang out with these characters more and see more of their lives.”Telling Lies expands on Her Story’s mechanics by giving more direct control over videos, enabling players to better scrutinise everything they seeThe developer has in the past joked that this is an open-world game, even comparing it to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it’s easy to see what it means. With Nintendo’s epic, players always know where to head for the next big story event but they do so at their own pace, Barlow explains. Along the way there are subtle hints — as opposed to the clutter of markers and glowing ‘go this way’ lines found in other open-world titles — at new potential discoveries, paths that might lead to secrets. Again, players have the agency to decide what to prioritise.”Similarly, in Telling Lies, there is so much content and we’ve put effort into making sure it’s all interesting, rich, colourful and varied, that you can just go off into tangents on particular things and it will be satisfying, and then you can come back to your main thread you were chasing down.”Of course, all stories must end. But with Barlow’s works, that end isn’t as definitive as those in other titles. It’s about “giving people permission to walk away,” he says. It’s entirely possible to trigger the credits having only dug into one or two characters’ stories in Telling Lies, but the knowledge that there’s more to discover leaves it up to players whether they are truly finished.”Every test we’ve run, people who have got to the credits come away saying, ‘That was cool, I got a sense of what the story was, I felt like I got to a point, but I’m aware there are whole swathes of stuff I haven’t seen,'” says Barlow.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “That’s exciting to me, the idea that you can finish something and feel satisfied but know you can come back to it and dig up fresh stuff or take a different tack and focus on a different character.”He continues: “There are bigger questions [in Her Story] that are not explicitly resolved, so people can come away with different takes. When we have people test Telling Lies, we let them play for three or four hours, then we ask them to tell us the story themselves, and then talk with each other about it, and there are some questions that are around intent and honesty — given the game’s title — that people would debate and argue about.”Much like a Reddit forum after the latest episode of Westworld.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesAnnapurna Interactive launches internal development studioThe Outer Wilds publisher is looking for a game director for its first in-house projectBy Marie Dealessandri 6 months agoNathan Vella joins AnnapurnaFormer Capy Games president signs on with indie publisher of Outer Wilds and Sayonara Wild HeartsBy Brendan Sinclair A year agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
The return to service of a generation unit at the Duvha and Medupi power stations has been delayed, Eskom stated, adding that generation units at Tutuka, Majuba, Komati, Kendal, and two units at Hendrina have been shut down. State-owned power utility Eskom has advised coal miner, Exxaro, of its withdrawal of the force majeure notification with immediate effect. Finance and Policy Image source: Waldo Swiegers. Bloomberg RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Low carbon, solar future could increase jobs in the future – SAPVIA On Sunday evening, Eskom announced that the power system will be severely constrained this coming week due to the unavailability of eight generation units, due to breakdowns or delays in the maintenance programme. Upon receipt of the force majeure notice, and after consultation with its legal advisers, Exxaro said that the event does not constitute force majeure as stipulated in the coal supply agreements, as the power stations are still capable of supplying power. Sign up for the ESI Africa newsletter This follows Eskom’s issue to Exxaro Coal in April 2020 of a force majeure on the agreements for the supply of coal from Exxaro Coal to the Medupi and Matimba power stations – applicable for the period starting at 16 April 2020 until one month after national lockdown has been completely lifted. While Eskom teams are working hard to return as many of these generation units to service as possible, any further deterioration in the generation performance may tip the country into loadshedding, Eskom concluded. Generation UNDP China, CCIEE launch report to facilitate low-carbon development Read more about:EskomCoalLoadshedding While some of the units will be returned to service, the system is expected to remain severely constrained for the rest of the week. Coal miner also said that it would vigorously defend its position in this matter and take the necessary action. BRICS Exxaro reaffirms its view that this event did not constitute a force majeure, as the power stations have been capable of supplying power and Exxaro continues to reserve its rights in this regard. The power utility further noted that the aged generation infrastructure is unreliable and volatile. “As Eskom has been taking coal in accordance with the terms of the supply agreements, the impact of the force majeure event has been largely neutralised,” Exxaro said in a statement. Eskom power system remains constrained TAGScoalEskomLoadshedding Previous articleIt takes a global community to create energy access for allNext articleSmart solar-powered water desalination system connected in Kenya Babalwa BunganeBabalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa – Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast. AFD and Eskom commit to a competitive electricity sector
In this current scenario everyone has a question that, is there any drug to treat COVID-19? If the answer is no then their next question is when a drug is entering into the market to treat COVID-19?Fortunately, researchers are doing very well. I am briefly summarising the recent developments of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19. Favilavir is the drug which has been recently approved in China to treat COVID-19 disease. There are other drugs like Remdesivir which is currently in clinical trial and performing well. There is a vaccine which is recently developed in USA for COVID-19 named as mRNA 1273. It is in clinical trial now. And one more thing, very recently Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), India has approved Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 affected patients (although they mentioned in which condition it will be used). Several reports said approximately 90 drugs and vaccines are in clinical trial now. And the number is increasing day by day! So there is nothing to lose hope. Now the question comes,what is clinical trial and why marketing of a new drug is too much time consuming?To find the answers we have to focus on how drug discovery and its development takes place. Truly speaking it is a very tough and time consuming process. It has several steps like synthesis/isolation, then it should be developed into a formulation, then preclinical trial, then clinical trial and after successfully completing all these steps the manufacturer gets marketing approval of that drug.In drug discovery one of the most important factor is identification of target. Then depending on the chemical structure of the target thousands of molecular structures are synthesised. Among them only few are promising. These are known as lead compounds. These compounds should have good pharmacokinetic profiles. It means the drug should be well absorbed into the blood, should be well distributed throughout the body etc. Among these lead compounds only the best candidate go to the next step i.e. preclinical stage. Preclinical stage is the stage where the drug is evaluated in animals and clinical trial is the stage where the same is tested in human. Clinical trial is the most important part of drug discovery process and it has several phases like phase one, two, three and four (four starts after getting marketing approval). Generally new drug discovery and getting its marketing approval can take several years (approximately 7 to 17 years)!After successful clinical trials the manufacturer applies with all the relevant data to the regulatory agencies. These regulatory agencies are the watchdog agencies for drugs(may regulate food, cosmetics and medical devices also) in specific countries. List of some watchdog agencies are FDA (Food and Drug Administration, USA), Health Canada (Canada), TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia) and CDSCO (Central Drug Standard Control Organization, India). These agencies give marketing approval of a new drug in their respective countries. These agencies often reject the approval process if they find some disputes. And not only that, after getting marketing approval some products recalled from the market due to some adverse effects also. As example, Vioxx (Rofecoxib) was recalled from the market in 2004 due to creating some serious cardiac complications.So you can easily understand how much difficult the drug discovery and its marketing process is! Many of the approved drugs and drugs in clinical trial were originally developed for some other disease and not for COVID-19. That is why they eliminated the drug discovery phase and directly entered to the preclinical phase, clinical phase. That has boosted the whole process and leads to the registration of huge number of clinical trials. The system is if someone has an idea that an existing drug can cure totally a new disease then he or she have to prove it clinically through clinical trials. And if the existing drug shows effectiveness in clinical trial then the drug should be regarded as new drug from the regulatory viewpoints.As an example Favipiravir is the drug, originally used for influenza and now at clinical trial in Japan. Hydroxychloroquine is approved antimalarial drug and now it is in clinical trial to show its effectiveness for COVID-19. There are many more examples.Only clinical trial can take approximately 3-10 years! Though in this emergency situation everyone is trying to shorten the trial as much as possible. But for proper evaluation clinical trial should not be too reduced because if the safety and effectiveness of the drug is not properly evaluated then it could create a problem in near future. This is the reason why drugs to treat COVID-19 are not easily entering into the market.At last one question may come to your mind, why drug approval process is so long and so stringent? The answer is to protect human from harmful chemicals like drugs! Yes, drugs have several toxic effects in our body if they are wrongly taken or due to some other reasons like adverse drug reactions.Actually from 1962 onward the process of new drug approval has become more stringent because of the incident of thalidomide disaster.Then the question comes what is thalidomide disaster? Thalidomide disaster is one of the worst disaster in medical history. It had imprinted a great impact on regulatory aspects of new drugs. Basically thalidomide was a drug used for the treatment of nausea and acts as a sedative in pregnant women. It came into the market late 1950s. At that time regulation throughout the world was not so stringent that’s why it entered into the market easily. And created a medical disaster. Approximately 10000 children were born with arms and legs defects. This serious condition leads to the ban of thalidomide in 1961. So you can easily understand why this stringent regulations are needed. And it’s for our safety. There will be no meaning to take ineffective drugs (which is generally from chemical origin) for a disease. And this drug can harm you also! So it is very necessary to first evaluate them properly. And watchdog regulatory agencies are doing this well throughout the world. It is the time to fight not flight. So hold your patience and stay at your home. Behave like a responsible citizen. Hope very recently some good news will come.
WABC-TV(JERSEY CITY, N.J.) — A man was arrested early Sunday and charged with murder in the strangulation killing of a 45-year-old nanny, whose body was discovered a week ago floating in the lake of a New Jersey park where she went jogging, authorities said.Jorge Rios, 33, of Jersey City, was taken into custody by members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force as a suspect in the killing of Carolina Cano, who was found dead in Lincoln Park in Jersey City, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced on Twitter.No further information was released on what led investigators to arrest Rios, who was being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny.Rios was charged with murder, kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, Suarez said in a statement following the arrest.The body of Cano, a native of Peru who was living in Jersey City, was found about 7:30 a.m. on March 24 after she had gone out on her daily morning jog before church, police said.Police suspect that during her run in Lincoln Park, she was attacked, killed and her body was disposed of in the lake.Four days after Cano’s body was recovered, the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Hudson County ruled her death a homicide, prosecutors said, though they initially declined to release more information on the manner of death.On Sunday, Suarez said the medical examiner’s officer “determined the cause of death to be homicidal violence, including strangulation and water submersion, and the manner of death to be homicide.”A law enforcement source told the Jersey Journal newspaper that the medical examiner found signs of strangulation on the victim’s neck.Cano, who lived a few blocks from Lincoln Park, went for a jog every morning before going to her job as a nanny or to church, her roommate told ABC New York station WABC-TV.One of Cano’s neighbor, Frankie Ramos, said members of the woman’s church congregation became worried about her when she didn’t show up at Sunday services, and started searching for her.“They realize something was wrong when she didn’t show up to the church,” Ramos told WABC-TV. “She never missed a day. Everybody was looking for her, you know. Desperately.”Ramos said his wife was calling hospitals in the area when word came that a body was found in Lincoln Park.Authorities say surveillance camera footage recovered by investigators showed Cano entering the park alone between 5:45 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. The video shows her jogging in the park and walking into a dark area of an open field. She disappears from view into the shadows and never re-emerges on any surveillance cameras.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
vmargineanu/iStock(DENVER) — At least eight people have been injured in a shooting at a Colorado school, according to authorities.Two suspects are in custody, Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson Kluth told reporters during a press conference. Emergency dispatchers received reports that shots were fired at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch just before 2 p.m., according to a tweet by the sheriff’s office.The suspects are believed to be juveniles, but it is unclear whether they are students at the school, Kluth said. A struggle may have ensued between the suspects and someone at the school, she added.Multiple people who were injured were students, Kluth said. The extent of their injuries is unclear.The school does not have a school resource officer, but a school resource officer in the area was one of the first authorities on the scene, Kluth said. It is still an active shooter situation.The charter school teaches kindergarten through 12th grade and has more than 1,800 students, Kluth said. More than 500 of those students are elementary age, ABC Denver affiliate KMGH reported.The shooting started in the middle school, Kluth said.The school was under lockdown as SWAT teams went from classroom to classroom to clear them, Kluth said. Nearby schools were placed on lockout, according to KMGH.Parents were instructed to pick up their children nearby at the Northridge Recreation Center. Images showed dozens of children in a single file line with their hands on their heads.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Ferry Corsten is pretty much trance music royalty at this point – he’s been topping charts for over a decade while filling up huge venues and festivals all across the world. He’s one of the most accomplished and respected DJs around, and it seems like every time he swings by Pacha, he puts on a great set. This time was no different, as a packed crowd was treated to over four hours of trance heaven. Ferry mixed it up throughout the night, playing newer tracks and classics, though never changing the tempo and the crowds reaction. From the moment he stepped into the booth, he had the crowd at his fingertips , fans pushing up as far as they could just to dance a little bit closer to the superstar.As the clock pushed slightly past 1:00 am, the crowd began to get anxious, chanting ‘Ferry, Ferry’ until the man himself came out to thunderous applause. The energy never slowed down from the set’s first notes, with fast and heavy beats pumping behind extremely catchy synths. Ferry’s synths are the kind of catchy that when they get stuck in your head, you don’t even mind. Songs like ‘Punk’ have stuck in the heads of trance fans since it’s release, yet they can’t resist chanting the song’s hook back at Ferry when he plays it. On the same level, Ferry to be enjoying dropping the same hook over and over again, and he looks like he’s having as much fun as ever. There really aren’t many other dance music artists who have had the longevity that Ferry has had at such a high level.Some set highlights include Ferry’s recent Snow Patrol remix, ‘New York’, which garnered a great response from the crowd, ‘Live Forever’, which is off of Ferry’s latest album, WKND, and the Markus Schulz collaboration ‘Loops and Things’. Corsten Schulz are a fantastic duo, they recently through an epic seven hour set in Washington DC, and releasing both the aforementioned ‘Loops and Things’ and ‘Stella’ to rave reviews. If these tracks and that show are a sign of the future, we can only hope that these two start spending some more time together. But I digress, there were really too many highlights over four hours to mention, but it was that standard high level of dance music you would expect from Ferry. Always changing, always consistent, and always energetic.It seemed like the crowd would have stayed for another four hours, but Ferry eventually took off and the crowd diluted. It seems like Ferry is at a level where he’s going to come out and impress you every time. Even if you remember how great he really is , he’s still bound to do something new that will live you smiling. Also, Pacha is truly a great venue for trance music, so it’s great to see such great talent getting booked here. The crowds seem to react positively, it feels less rowdy, everyone just feels the music and dances until it stops. Hopefully more of the genre’s store will grace it’s booth – it seems Ferry enjoys it as he keeps coming back. So with the combination of talent and environment, there was really no where to go wrong.
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On Thursday, the dramatic feud between Dave Grohl and 10-year-old YouTube sensation Nandi Bushell came to a close when the Foo Fighters frontman conceded defeat on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Then on Sunday, Bushell issued her response to Grohl’s admission which, rather than gloating in the face of victory, looked ahead to the former adversaries’ upcoming collaboration.The saga between the British girl and the world-famous musician stretches back to August 17th, when Bushell posted a video on her YouTube page of her drumming to the Foo Fighters hit “Everlong” and challenged Grohl to a drum-off. Grohl responded in kind by performing the song, as well as issuing a new challenge for Bushell to play “Dead End Friends” by Them Crooked Vultures.In September, Bushell responded with a beat-for-beat recreation of Grohl’s performance, after which the 51-year-old musician declared her the victor of round one. In honor of Bushell’s victory, Grohl even wrote a theme song for the “superhero” in addition to admitting defeat on national television.Related: Watch Dave Grohl’s 8-Year-Old Daughter Rock The Drums In Iceland With Foo FightersNow, with their competition behind them, Bushell and Grohl are ready to join forces and collaborate on a song. But first, however, it was time for Bushell to claim victory, which she did in a charmingly well-produced video posted to her Twitter on Sunday. The video features her invoking the gods of rock in poetic verse, as well as quoting the Tenacious D song “Tribute” in anticipation of her and Grohl writing “The greatest song in the world.”Bushell says in the video,Mr Grohl, thou declare defeat at my feet/the rocks gods of old watch you retreat/your legend of history will echo in time/but still you resign to a child of three foot nine/sticks/rock gods be with me/I call on thee/strum Hendrix, slap Lemmy, and sing with me Freddie/the legendary Grohl wants to jam with me/and we shall create the greatest rhapsody!Watch Nandi Bushell claim victory over Dave Grohl, and look out for a forthcoming collaboration between the former combatants.
FANS has announced an archival stream of the PhilRAD performance at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY from December 29th, 2014. The concert will stream for free on Wednesday, February 17th via FANS channels as well as the Live For Live Music Facebook page. To RSVP to the stream, head here.Related: Live For Live Streams: What’s Playing On Our Facebook Page [Updates]In 2014, PhilRAD—Joe Russo’s Almost Dead with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh subbing in for Dave Dreiwitz—came into being with a three-night run at the Cap. The run kicked off on December 29th, 2014 with a night full of Dead classics including “Dark Star”, “The Wheel”, “Terrapin Station”, and their take on the fan-favorite “Estimated Prophet” > “Eyes of the World” pairing.FANS’ free archival stream of the 12/29/14 PhilRAD performance is powered by ROBE Backstage. Established in 2020, ROBE Backstage is a support system for lighting professionals facing financial challenges associated with serious injury, illness, or loss of employment due to unforeseen or mandated production shutdowns. Show your support by making a donation to ROBE Backstage.In other RAD news, Joe Russo recently appeared on Eric Krasno‘s Plus One podcast to talk about the unlikely origins of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, playing with Furthur, and more. Stream the full Joe Russo episode of Eric Krasno Plus One here.