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Visit to DTP, day 3: The Moment of Silence preview
Gorath, 2004-08-04

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The second game German publisher DTP showed us was The Moment of Silence, an espionage thriller playing in the near future. Read on to find out how developer House of Tales wants to create an adventure ahead of the genre´s technology curve without neglecting its point & click roots.

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New York, 2044. The world is united under one government. You´re playing Peter Wright, a communications designer. One day Peter watches his neighbour, a journalist, being arrested by a SWAT team. As Peter starts investigations things become mysterious. His neighbour was taken away from his family without an arrest warrant and the police deny all knowlege of the incident. The journalist remains vanished without a trace. Soon Peter finds out the government uses gigantic surveillance machinery, a successor to the current Echelon system, to monitor all electronic communication. The government enforces control and suppression in subtle ways, invisible for the masses. Silent, determined, deadly.


The Moment of Silence concentrates on classic point & click adventure controls and gameplay, without action or stealth sequences. All the action happens in the video sequences.
You lead Peter in 3rd person perspective through prerendered locations. Most puzzles are inventory-based or conversation-based.
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A few machine puzzles and at least one Myst-inspired location -the oil platform shown on one of the screenshots- have been added, but only if they fit logically into the rest of the game. One thing House of Tales promises to avoid like the plague is sound puzzles, due to complaints after the release of Mystery of the Druids.
A useful tool at your disposal is the messenger, the great-grandson of today´s cell phones. It can be utilized to videophone people, to store voice messages or as a notepad, plus it also works as an ID and credit card. The messenger is a key gameplay element. You need it, for example, to contact your neighbour´s wife in the very beginning. She is understandably a bit reluctant to open the door after the SWAT team stormed her flat.
According to the publisher a hardcore gamer can expect to spend circa 30 hours on The Moment of Silence. The game will have an alternative ending, reached through a branch at a late point in the storyline.

Technical features

While the gameplay seems to be pure point & click adventure without experiments the technical side definitely is more progressive.
As mentioned before Peter Wright walks as a 3D character through prerendered 2D backgrounds. Sounds unspectacular, but that´s not the whole story. House of Tales developed a technology which allows the animation of screen areas in different depth levels at the same time, with loops of the desired length. Another spectacular feature is dynamic camera movements while the main character is in motion, for example a quick zoom in or out depending on the walking direction. The devs promise every location should have one of them.
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To conclude the visual gimmicks, the game also uses weather effects, mirror effects and particle effects, of course calculated in real time.
The locations the publisher showed us made a very good impression. Slightly futuristic but still believable, they created a picture of a future reached through evolution, not revolution. I can only criticize two things. First, the character graphics and animations looked somewhat out of place, and second, not all locations have the same high visual level. DTP told us this is still work in progress, though.
House of Tales outsourced the FMV sequences to The Lightworks, a studio which worked on several Star Wars games for LucasArts / Factor 5. From what I´ve seen so far this was for sure a good idea. The intro with the SWAT team reminded me of a similar scene in Luc Besson´s The Professional. If all 30 minutes of the motion captured FMVs are that spectacular I´ll be more than happy.
An 80 minutes sound track will be composed by Dynamedion, who also made the superb SpellForce music. I´ve only heard a minute so far, not enough to say more than it sounded like industrial and was quite pleasing to the ear.
The voice recordings were still in the pipeline at the time of the visit. Theoretically it sounds excellent: A studio founded by the people responsible for the German voices in most of the classic LucasArts will be in charge. 8.000 dialog lines will become about 8 hours of voice acting. Everything will be lip-synchronous, even the videophone conversations through the messenger. We´ll see if they can deliver all that and what will remain after the translation.

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DTP plans to release The Moment of Silence on October 1st in the German market, on DVD only. UK publisher Digital Jesters also talks about an October release. Developer House of Tales hinted in a video interview with NBC Giga that a conversion "to a console close to the PC" is not unlikely. In English: They´re already working on an XBox port. ;)


There can be no doubt that The Moment of Silence is adventure of the year material. The story is pretty good, the atmosphere great, most technical features are very good. Unfortunately we can´t really give detailed impressions on the one thing which will decide how good the game will be: the puzzles. House of Tales wants to create a no-nonsense point & click adventure. If they get the puzzles right, The Moment of Silence will be a huge hit.

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