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The challenge was to create a serial narrative that combines web techonology in a uniqe way. Developed for NYU's Yorb project, the The Heart <BR> Hotel was the first online VRML game. In addition to garnering awards and attention, it was an additive story. Viewers became fanatics, eagerly awaiting each new episode and turning the forums into an active community.
The mayor of New Yorb City was founded murdered in a seedy one star hotel. A person of dubious honor with notorious connections to organized crime, the mayor has left behind a huge mystery. Why was he murdered? By whom? What do the various misfits and fellow guests have to do with the crime? And the fact that it happended on Halloween...is their significance in that?
The viewer is invited to play sleuth, using 3D technology to hunt for clues. Each week, a different room in the hotel is available. Players uncover clues (images and audio clips) pertaining to motive and opportunity. While the hotel manager is available for questioning, viewers are required to reconstruct the events of that fateful evening. A forum allows for the detectives to post theories and questions. Each week, as more of the setting is revealed, the tale becomes more complex and sordid climaxing in a live television broadcast.
The Heart <BR> Hotel web site is built around a navigable map of the building. Each room is constructed in VRML and contains objects that link to detailed graphic files and audio clips. Each item could be a potential clue or a red herring. Because the VRML files are three dimensional, the user has complete control, and the experience is truly immersive. RealAudio provides background music and excerpts from the police interrogation of the hotel manager.
Because the site was first and foremost as a game, the design had to accomodate the functionality required to play. In addition to providing the total game navigation, the site presents the VRML rooms, the clues (both images and audio) and areas such as the forum in a completely integrated interface.
The overall aesthetic had to match the tone of the application; crazy and fun. The look is hyper-realistic, with photographic images becoming a foundation for the style. Super saturated colors, bizarre imagery and a twisted sense of humor all combine to make The Heart <BR> Hotel the first choice for discriminating mystery fans.
©2018 Matthew Fetchko
The Heart <BR> Hotel splash page. Audio files provided context.
The main screen with navigation area and hotel interface.
Exploring the Blue Room in VRML with the clue details.
This is the opening animation for the television broadcast, featuring renonwned television detectives.