Night Trap for Mobile: An Interview with the Developer
We recently discovered a mysterious video on YouTube showing, what appears to be, a fully-functional NIGHT TRAP port playing on an Android phone. We reached out to the developer, Tyler Hogle, to get the scoop on how this FMV classic made it to the small(est) screen.
UPDATE: Rob Fulop, Night Trap's co-designer has commented on this story:
"I'm of two minds. The author/creator within me is keenly aware that the nature of interactive entertainment is often dependent on a particular hardware platform, which of course becomes obsolete rather quickly. Thus many games will remain lost and forgotten - such is not true with music, films, or books. But while you can rewatch your favorite film or read your favorite book all throughout your life, you may never again be able to play the seminal games of your youth if it was not converted to current game platforms. So in that regard, I'm in favor of seeing Night Trap preserved and playable - flawed that it is, people should be able to play it.
That said, the businessman in me can't condone anybody copying and distributing something that they don't have the legal right to distribute - if people do that sort of thing - then fewer and fewer creative people will be able to afford to make anything.
The legal owners of Night Trap exclusively control the right to make copies of the Game assets, such is what the term 'copyright' means. The developer of this demo needs to negotiate a license from the Night Trap copyright holder to make this real."
- Rob Fulop
Night Trap is unquestionably one of the most popular FMV games and, unlike most FMV games, there is a sizeable diehard fanbase that never seems to wane. Ever since the advent of DVD, fans have been clamoring for a Night Trap port that would clear up some of the trappings of the CD-Rom era; poor picture/sound quality and, to the uninitiated, seemingly ambiguous controls and gameplay.
A Kickstarter campaign was launched in 2014 by the game's original creators, and sought to finally bring a modernized version of the game to consoles and computers. Alas, the campaign failed amongst claims that the backer rewards were vague or even impossible to deliver upon. All hope seemed to be lost.
Although the failure of the campaign was devastating, the renewed interest in the game seemed to spark a debate about how to properly bring this game to the masses. Debate led to action, and we started seeing multiple fan projects (a video converter, interface designs, a browser port experiment) that built upon the promises of the Kickstarter campaign.
The newest such fan project is a mobile version that seems to take advantage of modern touchscreen technology to make the game even more user-friendly and viable than ever. We spoke with the developer, Tyler Hogle, about his modernized update of this classic game and how it came to be:
FMV World: What are we seeing in the video?
TYLER HOGLE: The video is just a small section of Disc 1 of the entire game. The video I made was originally 15 minutes long but I shortened it to 5 because I didn't think anyone would actually watch the entire thing. I thought the section that was posted would be enough to show everything from the original game recreated. Multiple videos, changing rooms, trapping intruders, random code changes; it's all there.
What percentage of the game is complete and do you plan on finishing it?
I recreated all of Disc 1 for now. If I had to put a number on it though I would say 48% complete instead of 50% only because there's a couple of small glitches here and there. I also don't know the EXACT possible/captured requirements in order for Simms to cut you off and end your game. I basically guessed on that one so it works for now, but at least that still happens at the correct time it's supposed to.
How was this prototype made?
There's a program online called SCAT that allows you to extract video from games released by Digital Pictures. I extracted all of the video from the 32X version (it had the better frame rate out of all of the versions) and basically rebuilt it from scratch within a game engine that you can get for free online.
What made you decide to embark on this project?
To me it just made sense. I think everyone can agree that the technology wasn't ready for something like this in the 90's but now it is (VR has proven this with its recent comeback.) FMV games have a very bad rep and I think most of it comes from just the way they looked. Sega CD could only do FMV at 12 frames per second and only display 68 colors at once. Nobody wants to watch a movie like that, but 24+ frames per second, millions of colors and no loading time? That's a different story.
During this whole process I discovered that these games are actually perfect for mobile and are more enjoyable believe it or not. Once I came to that realization I just kept going. We live in an era where remakes/remasters come out just as often as completely new games so why not do an FMV game? If any games deserve a remake/remastered version then it's definitely those types of games.
What are your plans from here? Will you pitch this to the creators at Night Trap LLC?
Plans? Play it of course!
As for pitching it to the creators, I thought that would be pretty cool at first but one of them actually discovered the video in a short amount of time. I guess we'll see what happens next.
Do you plan on porting any other FMV games to mobile?
I actually did a few already just for my own enjoyment but I never finished them or showed them online. Just quick demos basically. It was mostly just experimenting and figuring out how to duplicate certain characteristics with FMV games that aren't normally found in games today. Making games (or even programming in general) is a constant and never-ending learning process. It's more fun to learn things by trying to recreate stuff.
Do you think people will ever get a chance to play this as an official or unofficial release?
I hope so. In a perfect world it would be released officially but that's up to the owners of Night Trap. I won't release it any other way ●