What Are FMV Games and How Do They Work?

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What Are FMV Games and How Do They Work?

FMV games were popular in the 1990s, mainly to the introduction of CD technology. The genre has made a revival in recent years, with several remakes and even new games reaching shop shelves.

Some people may be perplexed by the term FMV game. So, in this post, you’ll learn what an FMV game is, what the abbreviation stands for, and how these games function.

What Does FMV Mean?

The first item to discuss is exactly what FMV stands for. While it may signify something else in other contexts, FMV has always stood for full-motion video in gaming. Over more conventional sprite or 3D produced animations, this abbreviation often refers to pre-recorded video files used in a video game.

The full-motion component of the term refers to the previous use of digitized sprites in video games used for animation reasons. Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, for example, is a game in which all of the characters are represented by photographs of real-life actors. These photos are animated in the style of stop motion animation, with static frames being played in quick succession to imitate movement.

When CD-ROM technology entered the home gaming market, the FMV game was established, and so the genre we have today was formed. However, FMV games have been around since the 1980s, with LaserDisc-based arcade games like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.

So, What Is an FMV Game?

Now that we know what the abbreviation stands for, let’s look at what constitutes an FMV game. There is significant disagreement over this, since developers have built a wide range of games using FMV aspects throughout the years. We’ve included the three most frequent forms of FMV games below, along with a short description of what makes them a candidate for the label FMV game.

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Interactive Movies

This was the first kind of FMV game, appearing in arcades in the 1980s. These are pre-recorded movies that you may watch while playing the game. As they progress, you must push the appropriate button input to play the next segment of the movie. If you do not, a separate segment of the video plays, displaying a death animation or game over screen. Dragon’s Lair in arcades and Time Gal on Sega CD are two notable examples of this style of FMV game.

Games With FMV Cut-Scenes

This is the most contentious sort of FMV game. These are often games with regular animation styles during gameplay but FMV cut-scenes in between stages. Many people do not consider these to be FMV games in most circumstances, albeit it is difficult to tell the difference. Many PS1-era video games, for example, have FMV cutscenes with 3D animated models, although nearly no one would refer to these titles as FMV games.

Games like Bram Stoker’s Dracula for Sega CD blur the borders even further. This game has live-action FMV cutscenes, but the gameplay also includes digital sprites of the actors from the movies. Many think that this combination makes the game an FMV game, although others contend that it does not.

‘Proper’ FMV Games

A ‘proper’ FMV game incorporates FMV into the main gameplay. An FMV game differs from an interactive movie in that it does not just play particular video segments in response to your actions. A great example of this is the game Night Trap, which uses FMV films as security cameras that you must observe. As adversaries appear on the screen, you input a code and push a button to capture them while a certain clip is played.

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Because of the gamification, we view titles like Night Trap to be games rather than interactive movies. For example, the game keeps track of your score the whole time, you must solve riddles, and so on. Although the game technically plays video segments in response to your clicks, this is not a single movie that advances dependent on your actions. Instead, this is an universe in which the user has control over what occurs, making this an FMV game.

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How FMV Games Work

Now comes the most difficult topic to answer: How do FMV games work? The answer to this question is strongly influenced by the game. Most FMV games use live-action, pre-recorded movies filmed in the same manner as a film or TV program. Furthermore, like with Night Trap and Wing Commander III, these projects may sometimes contain a whole cast and crew.

If the FMV game was made in the 1980s or 1990s, the film was compressed to fit onto a home storage media, such as a CD-ROM, without taking up too much space. As a result, many FMV games include low-quality video squeezed into a tiny portion of the screen. In most situations, high-quality production video still exists or did at one time, but it simply would not fit into a 1995 game.

What occurred with the film at this stage is determined on the game type. These clips are joined together in an interactive movie using minimal programming to play under specified conditions. In more complex games, such as Ripper, a whole point-and-click adventure game is designed around the film, which is then overlaid into the game’s digital environment.

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In most situations, a non-interactive movie FMV game would have taken just as much game creation as any other game, and in much the same manner.

So That’s What an FMV Game Is

You should now understand what an FMV game is and how it works better than anybody else. With your newfound understanding, you’ll have nothing to worry the next time this term is spoken.

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