Night Trap ReVamped
Night Trap ReVamped
The iconic full-motion-video game, placing YOU in the leading role of a horror movie, is set to make its return in a new hi-def format!
The iconic full-motion-video game, placing YOU in the leading role of a horror movie, is set to make its return in a new hi-def format! Read more
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belongs in the current world of casual gaming than it did in the amped-up, twitch-factor era of the nineties, when it originally made its debut.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