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uk.media.tv.sf.x-files FAQ v3.82 (7/7)

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Archive-name: tv/x-files/uk-faq/part7
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 30 September 1996
Version: 3.82
URL: http://www.netvision.co.uk/x-files/home.html

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
 	Part 7 of The UK TXF FAQ

The X-Files CD-ROM Game

 Blurb:
They call them the X-philes. In three seasons on the Fox Network, the
science fiction series "The X-Files" has grown into the most popular
show of its kind since "Star Trek," with fans as rabidly devoted to the
show as Trekkies are to theirs. Every week, they keep close track of FBI
agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson),
as the pair seeks out evidence of the sort of mysterious events most of
us only read about in the "National Enquirer" or the "Weekly World
News"--paranormal activities, alien abduction, strange mutant creatures
living in the sewers, spontaneous combustion, that sort of thing.

 By the end of next year, the X-philes will have another way to track
their heroes' adventures, and maybe even add to them. Over the next
year, Seattle-based multimedia producer HyperBole Studios, in
collaboration with "X-Files" creator Chris Carter and his production
company, Ten-Thirteen, will be working to create an entirely new,
interactive episode of "The X-Files" for Fox Interactive, featuring the
show's regular cast, to be released on CD-ROM sometime next year.
HyperBole's CEO and creative director, Greg Roach, will have his work
cut out for him when in comes to pleasing the show's fans. Like all
cults, the X-philes have developed their own very strong ideas about the
show, and often create and distribute, via the Internet, their own ideas
for scenarios and plot lines. (One bizarre plot mixes characters from
"The X-Files" with those from the long-running British sci-fi series
"Dr. Who"). Members of one offshoot of the X-philes, known as
Relationshippers, are even determined to get Mulder and Scully together
romantically.

 What's more, many of the X-philes, like a lot of sci-fi fans in
general, are tech heads. There are more than 215 privately operated Web
pages devoted to "The X-Files" and its cast, eight different Usenet
newsgroups, plus forums on America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy, and who
knows what else. And the number of these electronic outlets for "X-File"
fan obsession is growing every day. The X-philes are a knowing,
sophisticated bunch, and they expect a lot. Which means that anybody who
steps into their universe trying to sell them something had better be
careful. Something like the "Star Trek" CD-ROMs, which are either
animated or feature only minor characters, like Klingons, won't do.
Roach, who has produced two earlier CD-ROM science-fiction movies,
"Quantum Gate" and "Quantum Gate II: The Vortex," as well as a
multimedia novel (a mixture of text, graphics, music, and video), "The
Madness of Roland," since founding HyperBole five years ago, is
determined to create a different and daring kind of product. One that
doesn't involve, as HyperBole president Halle Eavelyn puts it, "little
Scully and Mulder characters running around sideways on the screen 3
inches tall with their little guns out and you have to shoot them first
or something." In order to do that, Roach will be employing the latest
version of a software engine specifically devised for creating
interactive, dramatic works: VirtualCinema.

 VirtualCinema, which Roach designed and first employed on "Quantum
Gate," is designed to make watching a story on a PC as much like going
to the movies as possible. There are none of the usual distracions that
appear on a computer screen. There's no frame surrounding the video
image, no icons or toolbars. Occasionally you'll be prompted for a
response to a question, and icons can be brought up by placing the mouse
pointer on a certain part of the screen, but for the most part all the
viewer sees is a movie-screen-shaped image.

 There's a good deal more to VirtualCinema than that, however. In
certain ways, it's the same as other interactive products in that it
changes the plot according to the viewer's response. What sets it apart
is the subtlety with which it does so. VirtualCinema responds to the
viewer's actions not only directly, like a fork in a road (if you do
them, you get away from the monster; if you do that, it kills you), but
indirectly as well, like a slow, barely noticably bend. "We want to
create a movie," Roach says, "that learns from you and reacts to you."

 To do this, VirtualCinema grades your responses to different situations
on a number of scales and adapts itself accordingly. "We track a series
of what we call 'ubervariables,'" is the way Roach puts it. Depending on
the decisions you make throughout the story, characters will react to
you differently. Subtle changes in the environment may occur, the
background music will shift in emotional tone, and, of course, the story
itself may end in a totally unexpected manner. There are definite
advantages in applying VirtualCinema to a universe as morally ambiguous,
paranoid, and conspiracy-driven as that of "The X-Files" (high-level
government cover-ups of inexplicable events, like alien abduction, are a
large part of the show). As an example, Roach says that the "X-Files"
CD-ROM will track the viewer's "paranoia level." When you watch the
program, you actually become a part of the action, in the role of a
third FBI agent working with Mulder and Scully. Along the way you
interact with the other characters, pick up clues, and make decisions.
If your decisions, or even just the way you interact with the other
characters and your environment, reflect a belief that someone, or
something, is out to get you--and, in "The X-Files," they probably
are--then the program will react to that. The music may become tenser
and more eerie, objects in a room may appear more suspicious. You may
hear footsteps behind you, or find a mysterious letter on your desk, or
perhaps receive a visit from that most sinister of all "X-Files"
characters, Cancer Man.

 For Roach and the rest of the crew at HyperBole, the "X-Files" CD-ROM
represents a chance to develop the VirtualCinema technology in an
atmosphere free from the financial worries that plague so many
multimedia companies. The CD-ROM industry, despite a few million-sellers
such as "Myst" and "Doom," has never achieved the market so many were
predicting a few years ago. Weighted down with unreal expectations, many
multimedia companies, such as Redmond-based Medio, have collapsed, while
others, such as Splash Inc., have been absorbed by their investors.
Since the release of its sequel "Quantum Gate II: The Vortex," in the
fall of 1994, HyperBole has had to shelve any major projects while
making ends meet by preparing smaller pieces on contract for Web sites
such as the London-based "New Scientist" magazine.

 But with Fox Interactive footing the bill, HyperBole is free to further
develop the art of digital storytelling without any money worries. And
Roach believes that the enforced sabbatical the company has taken over
the last 18 months will only make "The X-Files" better. "I'm more
excited about this than anything we've ever done," he says. "Over this
last year-and-a-half hiatus, we have been able to evolve our technology,
evolve our conceptual understanding...outside the crucible of creating a
product. Now, standing at the threshold with all this cool stuff lined
up, I'm thrilled. I feel like we're in the best possible position to
capitalize on what this opportunity represents.

 At this moment, though, things are just getting started. A final script
has yet to be written, and physical production, which will be squeezed
into Duchovny and Anderson's busy regular series shooting schedule,
isn't due to begin until November or December. The final product will be
delivered to Fox sometime late spring or early summer next year.

 Right now, the "X-Files" CD-ROM is little more than several dozen
pieces of paper taped to the walls of the central areas of HyperBole's
suite of offices. In an arrangement roughly following the proposed
storyline, each piece of paper represents different interactive
possibilities, grouped according to what traditional filmmakers might
call scenes, but that are referred to at HyperBole as nodes.

 Every sheet of paper contains several elements as well, listed under
headings such as "Triggers," "Growth Food," and "Candy." Triggers are
just what they sound like, events that trigger certain actions in the
storyline. Growth Food represents those actions a viewer has to take in
order to progress through the episode. (This is one of the gaming
elements that are included in the CD-ROM, a necessity in a market almost
entirely dependent on game players. Roach dreams of the day when the
market will allow him to create a CD-ROM that you don't have to "play"
in the game sense.) Candy is the extra, fun stuff that doesn't matter to
the plot, but makes the whole experience more interesting.

 There is no dialogue yet, and the only detail that you can make out
from these mysterious pieces of paper is that the story will take place
in the Northwest. Other than that, the story of the "X-Files" CD-ROM,
like the result of so many of Mulder and Scully's investigations, is
being kept strictly under wraps.

 But if everything works, those pieces of paper taped to the wall should
eventually become an experience eerie and sophisticated enough to
appease even the most exacting X-phile. And, who knows, with the
multiple ending that the form allows, there might even be something to
keep the Relationshippers happy.

 From TJ Currey's Web Page http://www.halcyon.com/mulder/cdrom.html

Fan Clubs

 There are, again, rumours of an official TXF Fan Club to be launched
*soon*, entitled "The X-Files Organisation". Fox have now licenced Titan
to run the official fan club.

 Elsewhere...

 UNOFFICIAL CHANNELS - UNOFFICIAL UK FAN CLUB FOR THE X-FILES

 A brilliant year old X-Files club, for UK-based X-Philes. Club offers
the cheapest membership rates for an X-Files club *ever*, and on joining
you recieve more than in the other fan clubs. Membership gets you a free
personalised FBI Card, and a year's subscription to the Unofficial
Channels 16-page, bi-monthly newsletter. The newsletter is full of all
the latest news, interviews, information on the show (episode guides,
profiles, etc.), fan-fiction and much more. Our latest interview
subjects have been Steven Williams (who plays X) and Stefan Petrucha
(writer of X-Files comics 1-16 and other specials). We plan to have many
more X-clusive interviews.

 For a membership form (which contains more info on the club) send an
SAE to;

 Mike French
Unofficial Channels
127 Carlton Road
Gidea Park
Romford
Essex
RM2 5AU

 or visit the WWW page, Department-X at (sometimes is inaccessable due
to updating):
[http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Unofficial_channels/]
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Unofficial_channels/

 Mike can be e-mailed at 100620.3546@CompuServe.COM

Newsletters

 The X-Philes Newsletter(UK) is an A4 newsletter, published 6 times a
year (approximately every 2 months).

 Each issue contains; information about all the latest episodes, what
the actors and production crew are up to. There are reviews of episodes
and merchandise. Articles related to the X-Files and the paranormal are
printed from submissions made by members. Each issue also contains
fiction and artwork submitted by members. Details of other X-Files
related clubs and events are also published.

 Subscription rates are as follows:

 *     UK/Eire         7.00 GBP
 *     Europe          10.00 GBP
 *     Everywhere else 15.00 GBP (Airmail)

 A sample edition is available by sending a large SAE (UK) or 3 IRC's to
the address below:

        Mike Mullen
        X-Philes Newsletter(UK)
        19 Manor Avenue
        Headingley
        Leeds
        LS6 1BY
        United Kingdom.

 You can also email Mike for more information.

 Issue 11 of the X-Philes Newsletter(UK) has just been mailed to all
subscribers this week. Features in the current issue include:

 *  Chris Carter interview
 *  'Talitha Cumi' Review
 *  Topps Comic 13/14 Review
 *  Topps Trading Cards Review
 *  'Ruins' Book Review
 *  poetry by Jacqui Pillings
 *  Short story "A Sea of Troubles" by Francesca Sainsbury
 *  Plus all the latest episode, acor and merchandise news and views.

Credit where credit is due

Thanks go to

      	"Martin Williams" for the section on Posting Guidelines
      	"S'teN" for getting the newsgroup off the ground, for 	the
original FAQ, and for arranging the FAQ to be available 	via auto
e-mail!
 	Lee Staniforth	for the ManchesXter '97 Convention details
      	Pat Gonzales and everyone that contributed to the Character      
	Background section
      	David Nattriss for various updates
	Mike Mullen for The UK X-Philes Newsletter details.
	Mike French for his Unofficial Channels fan club details.
	Rich Crozier for the details about TXF on IRC.

     	Compiled, edited and rejuvenated (hopefully ;-) by Paul Tang.
      	Original FAQ by S'teN

 Submissions and/or corrections to : txf@asfafa.demon.co.uk


 If you want to get *your* name in there, just send me a
submission/correction and you'll automatically get listed!  *wow* ;)

 Legalese

 If there is anything in here that breaks copyright, please inform me.

 Anything that has a registered trademark is a registered trademark of
their respective companies.  [er, yeah... :]

 This guide may be freely distributed, provided it is kept in its
entirety and original form. Please only distribute in its entirety.

 Permission to reproduce, print, or publish portions of this guide must
be obtained from the author.

 Thanks to all contributors, lurkers, and all those in the
uk.media.tv.sf.x-files newsgroup.

The Truth Is Out There.


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