In a time where DVD is becoming the medium for interactivity, companies are beginning to find out that they are able to do things that would just not be possible on any other type of media. One of those things is an interactive DVD/videogame called VIRTUAL PREY, developed by a small company called Digital Decadence.
According to Adam Prusan, one of the creators of VIRTUAL PREY, "VIRTUAL PREY is a live-action, multipath game of fate that you can play on any DVD player! It features Raven; a beautiful young girl being hunted by an unrelenting serial killer."
"As a fan of horror films, and with some background in computer programming in college, I felt that a live-action, interactive horror game was not only possible, but might be a lot of fun," explains Prusan. "And it had never been done before. In the fall of 1999, Mitch Lerman came aboard, and brought with him some amazing ideas, and together we began developing the project."
The game stars Bonnie-Jill Laflin, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and now current actress, as the beautiful Raven. What was it like working with her? "Bonnie-Jill is a total pro, always prompt and professional," says Prusan. To prepare her for her role as Raven, she needed to take some "martial arts sessions with a guy from "THE MATRIX" and an ex Navy Seal. BJ is an athlete and extremely flexible so it was very easy for her to learn the Kung Fu moves."
VIRTUAL PREY has an innovative way of playing. "At various points during her flight for life, you will see three arrows appear on the screen," Prusan explains. "Each arrow represents a possible fate for Raven. To activate a fate, click on an arrow using your DVD remote or mouse. If you choose the correct arrow, Raven will encounter her pursuer, neutralize him and advance to the next level of survival. If you choose an incorrect arrow, she will suffer a gruesome death! If you do not make a choice within 4 seconds, Raven automatically loses a life. If she loses her life 3 times, you lose the game and must begin again."
There are always problems developers run into when developing any type of interactive product, and VIRTUAL PREY was no exception. "The most difficult challenge was making sure the game would not become repetitious upon multiple plays," says Prusan. "We resolved the dilemma by coming up with what we call the "Random Chance Design". For instance, say Raven dies 3 times and you lose the game and must begin again. The first scene you're going to see is not the same scene that opened the game. In fact, there are many alternate openings and surprises you'll find on multiple plays. But the goal always remains the same; to deliver Raven from evil."
But, is the game classified as a videogame, or just as an interactive DVD? "I think of VIRTUAL PREY as an interactive horror film with videogame elements," says Prusan. "It's kind of a hybrid product."
When making a game like this, there has to be a target audience that the developers are aiming for. What kind of gamers would this type of game appeal to? "Demented people," Mitch Lerman jokes. "Fans of BUFFY and POSTAL are who we made this for. We designed the game to the specs of what we find cool. If other people dig what we've done, then of course, that would please us a great deal. I can tell you that if you're a horror fan or a DVD enthusiast you're likely to really enjoy this. It's very cinematic."
VIRTUAL PREY has been called a very violent game, so there must be a lot of people protesting about the game's release. "The complaints have come from but a single person," says Lerman. "The person perceives herself a crusader and posts negative comments on our bulletin board. For some reason, she chose us to make an example of. Admittedly, the violence in the game is over the top. There is a black humor to it all. She gets so abused through the game that it becomes ridiculous."
But, as seen time and time before, marketing video games with gratuitous violence is going to be tough. "Whether you're selling "Girls Gone Wild" or a CD Of farts, you try to get your product out there anyway you can," says Lerman. "We've been lucky enough to capture the imagination of the minute percentage of the people who know about what we're doing."
VIRTUAL PREY will be released this Christmas.Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.