This project's funding goal was not reached on September 9, 2014.
About this project
You can follow us: @nighttrap
Delighted to have Keithy Huntington's NT Revamped video appeal, Phil Cobley's graphic presentation of our reward tiers, and Eric Park's comparison video as part of this campaign page! And we've just added Phil Cobley's wonderful video that combines several of these elements and puts the four of us in the game ;-)
A group of teens has arrived at the isolated Martin home for a weekend of fun and partying. But at a house where the sinister hosts possess strange powers, a creepy neighbor has invented a deadly laser weapon, and blood-sucking creatures stalk the hallways, it’s no surprise that good cheer quickly turns to fear. Fortunately for the girls, the heroic agents of the Special Control Attack Team are on the job! As a crack S.C.A.T. operative with a security-camera-guided view of all the action, it’s your job to trigger the traps planted throughout the house and imprison the evil Augers before they can suck the blood of their innocent victims.
Night Trap offers a unique and innovative gaming experience: instead of being set in an animated world, it takes the form of a live-action interactive movie, with the player influencing the events which occur onscreen. In many ways, Night Trap more appropriately belongs in the current world of casual gaming than it did in the amped-up, twitch-factor era of the nineties, when it originally made its debut. The storyline of the film — a fun-filled tribute to the schlocky slasher movies of the ‘80s — provides just as much entertainment as the gameplay, and first-rate talent is on display both in front of and behind the camera. Dana Plato (Diff’rent Strokes) plays a key role as a S.C.A.T. agent, while future Oscar-nominee Don Burgess (Forrest Gump, Spider-Man) handles the cinematography.
The first-ever full-motion-video game and likely the most polemical title of its era -- it was named one of the ten most controversial video games of all time by Yahoo -- Night Trap helped trigger a Senate investigation into media violence a year after its release in 1992. But it overcame criticism to become a major hit with fans, selling almost one million copies. Twice as many units were bought after the hearings as before, and Digital Pictures CEO Tom Zito jokingly used to say he had paid Senator Joe Lieberman bags of cash to moonlight as the company's VP, Marketing.
The game was initially released for the Sega CD system, and later for 3DO, PC and Mac. But in the early- and mid-nineties, digital video was still in its infancy, and the image quality was frankly terrible: granular and full of artifacts. Now, more than two decades after it first appeared, Night Trap is set to make its return to the video game world! With the aid of the latest in digital technology, the game’s video has been transferred directly to an improved high-definition format, providing the opportunity to experience the action at a level of resolution never seen before. You can get some idea of the improvements here, although the H.264 codec required on Kickstarter does not support the quality of video we will deliver on disc:
An even better way to understand the difference is via this comparison video, made by backer Eric Park:
A Little Background
Night Trap was created in 1986 for a never-released interactive TV platform, code-named NEMO, which was developed for Hasbro at a cost of $27 million to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System. By the time development was completed, the NES had become so entrenched that Hasbro (wisely in our opinion: it was a bet-the-company move) decided not to risk the $250 million it would have cost to manufacture and market the system. The game was ultimately released in 1992 by Digital Pictures, a company that pioneered full-motion-video titles and was started by many of the same people who had designed and created both the NEMO system and Night Trap.
Jim Riley and Rob Fulop, the co-creators of Night Trap, went on to create Double Switch for Digital Pictures, which also developed and released a ground-breaking interactive martial-arts title, Supreme Warrior, shot at the legendary Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong; several shooters, including Ground Zero Texas, Corpse Killer and Maximum Surge; four interactive music videos; two kids' titles; and three first-person sports games: Prize Fighter; Slam City with Scottie Pippin and Quarterback Attack with Mike Ditka.
But none of these other titles ever generated the controversy that Night Trap did, almost certainly because of its infamous shower scene, which we considered a tongue-in-cheek homage to Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho. In 1994, Digital Pictures created a short documentary about the firestorm, Dangerous Games, which we present for your edification. We have not been able to locate the master, so what you are seeing here has been transferred as best as possible from a VHS tape (remember those?):
Digital Pictures also announced the arrival of PC and Mac versions of Night Trap with this ad campaign, taunting its Congressional critics:
- Kidding aside, Night Trap was never intended for children. At Digital Pictures, we were aiming to make live-action interactive products for many different age groups, not just kids. If Night Trap were a film, it would almost certainly have a PG13 rating largely because of the shower scene: it's too scary for children. The British Board of Film Classification, which rates both films and video games in the UK, determined that the product was appropriate for ages 14 and older, which seems right on the money to us. Please keep this in mind if you're buying a gift for someone too young to be making pledges here. This is not your little brother's Nintendo game.
We'd love to bring many of these Digital Pictures titles back into circulation. They finally ought to fit well in a market now dominated by casual gaming, because we always viewed them more as interactive TV than as intense, joystick- and testosterone-dependent twitch-factor titles. But first we wanted to test the waters with Night Trap, partly because it was our biggest selling product, and partly because it has a place in history as the first full-length interactive film ever produced, and a controversial one at that. If you buy this game, you're buying a piece of history that really can't be experienced any longer, unless you've got a working Sega CD or a 3DO system still sitting under your bed.
The ability of computers and gaming platforms to display richly vibrant and full-res video has finally caught up with the vision we had almost thirty years ago of what full-motion-video products ought to look like: interactive television which, despite all the promises, has never arrived. We chose Kickstarter to make sure we're not suffering from a double case of self-adulation and self-delusion, and to see if there's really an audience that either agrees with us, or believes that our minimum $20 price point makes it painless to find out what interactive films are all about. With your support, we can carry the project through to its conclusion and let fans and newcomers alike experience interactive live-action gaming, at a level of quality and resolution never before possible. We’re looking to raise funds in order to code and manufacture the new version of the game, and we’d appreciate any contributions which our fantastic community of fans can provide! Just as much as the fans who have been begging us to do this for years, we’d love to see the S.C.A.T. team back in action again, and we can work together to make it happen.
An important note: once these discs are gone, that's it for physical copies of Night Trap. If this campaign is successful, we plan to begin exploring the possibility of creating on-line and mobile versions of the game. We're hopeful, but far from certain, that current technology will be able to support these formats, and won't know conclusively until we finish the engineering work for the disc versions. If you want to own Night Trap in all its his-res glory, you probably shouldn't wait for an iOS or Android iteration, which may never appear. Night Trap contains almost two hours of footage, and being able to switch seamlessly among several tracks of streaming video is not a trivial task: access to sufficient amounts of dynamic memory, plenty of processing power and (for on-line versions) bandwidth limitations are just some of the challenges. Given our current focus on delivering versions of the game with stunning video, we would unlikely release mobile or on-line versions that couldn't deliver similar quality.
The $330,000 we are seeking is enough to cover the coding, manufacturing and fulfillment of the rewards we are offering. If we raise additional sums, our intention is to acquire the rights to as many other Digital Pictures' titles as possible and release them as well. We are also considering the creation of Night Trap II, although hopefully we will come up with a more clever title.
The future of gaming, or at least live-action interactive, is in your hands...
Risks and challenges
Game development is never an easy task: especially when it comes to a non-traditional format such as full-motion video, creators always face an arduous production process and skepticism from critics who question the viability of their concepts. In fact, almost three decades ago, our team had to deal with these issues as they shepherded Night Trap from conception to completion. Back then, we weathered the storm to get the game on the shelves and make it a best-seller, and we feel confident that we can do the same today.
In 1991, when we were originally developing Night Trap for Sega CD, digital video was in its infancy and the Digital Pictures’ tech team, headed up by Mark Klein, had to invent a proprietary codec to display full-motion video on the Sega platform. Mpeg did not yet exist, except as a definition-in-progress of what would ultimately be created. Now we live in a world filled with digital video which, for the first time, will allow us to present Night Trap in the way we had always envisioned it and in a way fans have been requesting for years. What’s more, all gaming and computer platforms now include native support for digital video, thus eliminating that variable as a risk factor.
The Night Trap team may in fact be the most experienced group of full-motion-video game artists ever assembled. Our four chief developers -- director/co-designer Jim Riley, co-designer Rob Fulop, technical director Mark Klein, and executive producer Tom Zito -- have overseen a combined total of 18 different FMV titles. Both Rob and Mark have enjoyed long careers in the games business, a field in which Rob continues to work. Rob created Demon Attack for the Atari 2600 and was a co-founder of the game company Imagic.
Crafting an HD version of the game is moderately challenging, although the biggest task – creating a digital HD transfer of the elements – has already been completed. We’ve also identified and reached agreement with the developer we will use to complete the game. We feel comfortable saying that we'll be able to finish the new version and have it in the hands of supporters within six months of the close of this campaign. We're planning to make Night Trap available on four different platforms (PC, Mac, PlayStation, and Xbox), and we anticipate no show-stopping problems in engineering the game to fit the requirements of the different systems. One of our most important objectives will be to make sure the game's video quality is as clear and pristine as we always envisioned it could be, and we've marked out four months of development time with that as our top priority.
In recent years we've been deluged with messages from fans who’ve said they want a new version of their favorite game, but with a degree of video quality that modern hardware can deliver. It’s our mission to deliver that product. We look forward to "re-Vamping" Night Trap just as much as you look forward to playing it!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Night Trap ReVamped will be available for PC, Mac, PS3, and Xbox 360. While we could have supported the latest consoles we wanted to make the product available to as many people as possible in an HD format. Since the previous generation of consoles support HD, we chose those systems. Keep in mind that, other than displaying video and a relatively simple user interface, Night Trap does not require extensive hardware support, so the additional capabilities of PS4 and Xbox One were not needed. Additionally, we are using the Unity development system, and support for the new platforms is not yet openly available -- i.e. both Sony and Microsoft are limiting developer access. We will endeavor to ultimately create on-line and mobile versions of Night Trap if this campaign exceeds its funding goal, but because the game contains almost two hours of video, we won't know whether these formats are feasible until after the disc versions have been completed.
The unsigned PC and Mac versions of Night Trap will be shrink-wrapped in a cardboard sleeve. Autographed versions will be shrink-wrapped in a numbered box. They will be autographed on the box itself; not on the shrink wrap. PS and Xbox versions of the game will be in the standard packaging.
Our current estimates are that we need a little over four months to complete development, and then an additional two months to manufacture and ship the product. Therefore, we expect to have the finished discs in your hands by April 2015 at the latest.
In addition to the significantly improved quality of the video footage, this version of Night Trap will feature the opening sequence as originally shot and edited by director Jim Riley, which was changed before it was released by Digital Pictures. Other than that, the video content is identical to the original versions. We have received some questions asking whether this will be the "censored" version of Night Trap. There never was one.
We plan to ship out all rewards in April 2015, concurrently with the release of the game.
As you’ve probably noticed, many of the tiers are split up into four different options, each featuring a copy of the game for one of our four platforms (PC, Mac, PlayStation, and Xbox). With this setup, we can have your preferred platform on record from the beginning, rather than having to put you through the trouble of completing a survey after the fact.
If you sign up to be a beta tester on the $150 tier, we’ll send you a beta disc of the game, as well as a link to the website where we’ll be collecting comments. During the testing process, you'll be able to log into the site and report any problems which you encounter. Beta testers will be credited in the game.
You'll receive a scan of the contents of the file folder Tom used to write his Op Ed piece for The Washington Post about the hearings, along with the text of that piece. The documents include: overviews of Sens. Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl from the Congressional yellow book; news releases penned by both senators announcing the Night Trap hearings; statements on video game violence from Bob Chase, former president of the National Education Association, Bob Keeshan, children’s advocate and Captain Kangaroo star, and the Board of Directors of the Parent-Teacher Association of Connecticut; and the proposal for the National Independent Council for Entertainment in Video Devices, a never-formed government agency which would have regulated the video game industry.
Scene of the Crime, which will be included in the limited-edition box set at the $500 tier, is a buried treasure from the Project NEMO vaults which has never before seen commercial release. It’s a short demo, designed to prove the concept of instantaneous switching among multiple streams of video, a fundamental piece of technology development which we needed to complete before embarking on Night Trap. This time, instead of an anti-auger agent, you're a detective whose job is to solve a burglary that happens at a house while a party is in progress.
The game resolution is 1080p. Keep in mind, though, that there is an interface around the video window in Night Trap. We expect that window to be the same size, or slightly larger, than it was in the original versions. We tried floating the interface over full-screen HD video and, largely because it wasn't shot with that in mind, it looked terrible.
We have applied to become WiiU developers and publishers. We do not yet know whether Nintendo will allow the game to be ported to their platform
We’re aware that the extra cost for shipping a copy of the game overseas is very large, and even more so for the limited-edition box set. However, in order to include the insurance and tracking data which would be necessary for our shipments, we’re held hostage by the practices of the US Postal Service. According to their international price calculator at http://ircalc.usps.com/, the cost of shipping a DVD-sized box to Europe is $24.75, with the price rising to $80.50 for a large flat-rate box. Therefore, at the moment, we’re charging no more than the amount we need to actually cover the shipping costs! We apologize to our fans for the high prices, and we’re working to provide a more effective solution to the problem. First-class air mail, which would be the cheapest option, costs $16 for the first pound plus $7 for each extra pound, but it doesn't provide insurance or a tracking number. Registered mail, which does give you those two things, costs an extra $13.65 on top of what you've paid. Both of these appear to be different from priority mail, which is the original option we were looking at. The whole thing seems to be a pretty Byzantine setup, which was probably why Fred Smith set up FedEx. Except his wholes are even higher. The reality of digital age commerce is that the carriers are the real winner.
One of the things we learned way back when is that scenes that are shot with interaction in mind just don't play well in a static environment. Jim edited together what he feels is enough footage to give a good sense of the game without giving away too much, While we understand that fans of the game might like to see more non-pixilated scenes they can compare with old versions, this campaign won't work unless we draw in first-time players who are intrigued by the idea of having a first live-action-interactive experience. It's the very reason we set the opening price tier so low: for the cost of a DVD or a trip to the movies (+ popcorn)), you can experience the world's first full-length interactive film.