Written by Maurice Verschuur
January 2, 2020 – It’s a 1980’s dystopia where a radical government won the election by a landslide. You’re just a cleaner at a TV Studio but now you’ve ended up at the helm of the National Nightly News, because your colleague has been caught up in something else. As a newbie it’s up to you to decide what the viewers see by controlling the shots, headlines, sound, advertisements and more. Do you follow the hard-line of the new government and censor items? Or take risk and fight back in this immersive, narrative-driven propaganda sim?
Developer NotGames has released a prologue (demo) version on Steam which is free to download. The game introduces you quick and simple to the story and mechanics. The controls are easy, but that doesn’t mean the mechanics of the game are. The control room is your domain and you have all sorts of buttons, switches and monitors at your disposal to do your job. Choose which shots the viewers see and most importantly, which one not.
Live action video’s
Although the control room is animated, the shows you are monitoring are not. So no CGI, no animated visuals, but the real deal played out by real actors. This gives you a sence of realism and is fun and interesting to watch. In the prologue for example, there is a news item where a reporter interviews a moviestar with a bit of an attitude, well played by the actor. In this scene i was introduced to switching between shots. So when the journalist talks i switch the camera to her and when the other person speaks i switch to him etc. But you also have to consider the emotions and reactions of both persons. When someone talks and the other reacts with a facial expression you quickly try to capture it. This means constantly anticipating what will happen. When will someone look suprised, angry or sad? The more you succeed in capturing these moments the more viewers will be happy and you will probably keep your job.
During another news item two leaders of the new goverment hold a press conference for there acceptance speech. But one of the two shows up drunk and with a beer in his hand. A perfect recipe for on air swearing and this is not acceptable by the rules of the TV Station. While you’re switching between shots you must stay alert to any fucks and shits and censor them by beeping them out before it reaches the viewers. These small tasks are easy to handle on there own. But the challenge starts when you need to combine them all together.
Choices and Consequences
One of the features in Not For Broadcast are choises you make will have consequences. In the prologue this was visible by the happiness of the viewers. You do a good job airing the right shots and commercials? Then the viewers will be happy. But the choices you make will eventually have greater consequences, altough this was not shown in the prologue. On the Steam-page the developer explains: “Make far-reaching choices in a rich dystopian world. Will you prop up an increasingly authoritarian state or risk it all to help a burgeoning resistance movement?”.
NotGames has been working for nearly two years developing Not For Broadcast and releases it in Early Access on January 30, 2020. It has 3 fully-functioning levels which they will continue to add to episodically throughout the process. Eventually the planning is to have about 10 levels when the full game launches. The developer states the game will stay in Early Access for a relative long time:
“Realistically, Not For Broadcast will be in Early Access for at least 18 months. Development is a cyclical process of writing, shooting and producing broadcast-quality footage while simultaneously making a game, which, as you can imagine takes time.”