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H&G: Friedman Interests Sony In Afterworld MMO

H&G: Friedman Interests Sony In Afterworld MMO

June 27, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Brandon Boyer

June 27, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Brandon Boyer
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More: Console/PC

In his Hollywood & Game talk 'YouTube, Flash, and the Hive Mind: A Case Study of Afterworld', writer and creator Brent Friedman explained how his viral web video creation has attracted Sony's attention for a possible forthcoming MMO.

Friedman's Afterworld is, at its core, a 2.5D animated series distributed via 2 minute episodes, with a dedicated participatory community who have come on board to create story threads within his initial universe.

Through its website, though, Friedman explains, his team has begun integrating more game-like interactions: "At the website, you can have a Myst-like experience, and dig deeper into the layers of the site, and interact with the world itself, and the characters."

"There will be a casual game, as well," he continued, "that lets you play the episodes as a scavenger hunt. There's also an opportunity for fans to send in digital photos to be included as backplates to the episodes. The show was built around the primary thing that you see in games, which is building a universe."

Said Friedman of the company, "We have a very small writing staff. Three writers besides myself, plus one writer doing all the journal entries, and a lot of the ancillary storyline. Then we have a team of 20 animators, editors, matte painters. We have an animation studio in Santa Monica."

"All of our animation style owes a lot to anime," continued of the video creation process. "We use hi-def 2D backgrounds, and sent a director across the country to take 20,000 hi-def stills. We augment that with public domain images from the internet, then we drop 3D animations in it."

Once the works are created and published, the users take over to participate in the metagame: "Once you look at the episode, we've asked you to find five objects in the game that were important in the episode. But it's timed, and there's also a leaderboard to show who got the best times, so you get bragging rights."

"We're creating what's become a very lucrative property for what's a micro-fraction of what a traditional TV show is built for," explained Friedman, "And we're creating it with the doors open. We're going to be able to use a lot of the feedback we get, and tweak it and use it. Each [language] territory gets its own specific website, and the content is all semi-tailored to each."

The cult success of the show caught the attention of Sony Pictures Television International, who picked up the rights to the Afterworld IP in February, and is considering taking it into more traditional gaming territory.

"Sony is coordinating a mobile game with this," Friedman revealed, "and is looking into more traditional game options, perhaps also an MMOG."

"One thing we're looking at right now, and we've talked to Sony extensively about this," he continued, "is taking the universe we're creating, the map we're building, and the social network to build that into an MMO. There are going to be all sorts of cultures and tribes that are built out in the first season, and we'll have all sorts of different societies."

"If it's popular," he explained, "we're interested in turning it into a light MMO, where it's more like Second Life - less like fighting, more about discovery. And the idea is that each country has its own different map, which could add to this as well."

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