Creation – Origins of The Act Game
In 2003, a highly-successful technology entrepreneur named Omar Khudari had a realization. He divined that an entirely new kind of entertainment could be created by combining Classic 2D hand-drawn animation with the principles of Interactive Gaming. His idea – an interactive comedy called The Act - would bring a new dimension of interactivity to games, in which players controlled not only a 2D character’s actions, but also their personality, intent, and emotional responses.
To design and build The Act, Omar recruited 25 professional 2D animators and software engineers, many of whom had backgrounds from renowned animation studios. The team set up a game development studio in Orlando, and across the next 4 years worked intensively: designing the characters, writing the script, drawing the animations, and building the game. Since the technology required to interactively animate hand-drawn 2D characters wasn’t available, the engineers also began developing a new kind of sequencing technology, specifically designed to allow users to interactively “play” 2D animation.
As the game development neared its conclusion, the team began testing the game in various location-based entertainment markets – video arcades – around the country. Although feedback from game players in field tests was tremendously positive, it became clear that - considering the cost of coin-op deployment - the current size of the arcade market was too small for the game to reach its full potential. The game never officially launched, and the company turned its attention to developing other kinds of interactive content.
Daniel Kraus and Alain Laferrière, co-founders of React Entertainment, had known Omar and the team during the creation of The Act. With the emergence of new consumer platforms beginning in 2009, the duo realized that the time was right to bring The Act – and Omar’s original vision – to life, delivering one of the most compelling games ever developed on a whole new generation of consumer devices. Working with Omar, the team launched a new company – React Entertainment – specifically focused on completing, porting, and launching The Act.
The idea of resuscitating The Act was a compelling one, but also represented a tremendous technical challenge. Although the game was visually complete, it had been designed for expensive, dedicated arcade hardware - not the small-screen, limited -memory devices on which the company knew it would succeed. The React team had to take the significant source code base, and thousands of digital images, and move them to new platforms – adapting the game engine and content while guaranteeing both performance and playability.
The React team has been working for almost two years, modifying the game and the underlying technology, recreating many of the game elements, and porting the game to new architectures. One of the great points of success in these efforts has been the retention of almost all the original work done on the game, and the addition of a variety of new media. The team recruited a variety of other experts – in production and animation – to work with them on the final game development.
As the game draws near to launch, the team is excited to see that the original vision of Omar and the original Act Animators is close to realization – and that The Act is finally ready for center-stage.