>> Monday, February 26, 2007
Whoever told you CD-i didn't have any original titles? Cd-i hosted a lot of conversions from other systems but a good eye will catch quite a few beauties on CD-i that people forgot about. Like Max Magic, an interactive magic kit for CD-i, starring Maxx, one of the greatest CD-i characters in my view with the highest personality. A look inside the studio who created Maxx: Animation & Effects.
With Maxx you can perform magic tricks on television. It may sound weird, but it works out pretty well. The main scene shows the room of Maxx where you can find several tricks. Click the highlighted object and Maxx will explain what the trick is about. Here Maxx will actually perform the trick FOR you, interacting with you by touching the television, remembering numbers and more.
Maxx is personal. He is the most deep character CD-i has ever known. First, he knows my name. He even speaks my name, using a list of names common in the USA. Every name is recorded with Maxx his voice, which gives it a nice touch. Even more interesting, Maxx always has something different to say. It's worth just to start the disc to have a chat with Maxx. This is the first title that actually uses the internal clock of the CD-i. You'll notice as Maxx wants to sleep at night. If you start the disc at night, you'll find Maxx sleeping. Ofcourse he wakes up, mumbling: "You know it's passed my bedtime, Bas!"
After trying out some stuff it is remarkable how funny Maxx really is. His tricks are all full of jokes and the character animation is so very suitable. It seems he likes to cooperate the most in the morning, saying me hello with: "Glad to see you, Bas, let's do some MAGIC!". These sentences I will always remember as the best bits of Max Magic. If you haven't played the game for a couple of weeks, Maxx goes like: "It's been a long time, Bas, I hope I didn't forget any tricks!" During the tricks, sometimes Maxx seem to forget what he has to do, and tricks sometimes even go wrong. That happens a lot when you are going to perform a trick WITH him. That's right, you can prepare a trick with him, and start a show to perform the trick to the public. The trick is both presented by Maxx and you, and if you play the game well it's really like you two are interacting.
The game was produced by PF Magic. We know PF Magic from the prototype release of Jack Sprite: The Crimson Ghost. Maxx is a robot actually, designed by Animation & Effects. "Maxx" performs magic tricks with the player in this P.F. Magic game. "Animation & Effects" designed and created all character animation assets and the environments for the character. The goal was to create over 3000 branching points of animation so that the character's performance could happen on the fly. To achieve the required precision, they designed and built an animatronic magician robot that they shot using motion control.
I told it before, I love Maxx. It's another gem on CD-i almost nobody knows about. Unfortunately this is partly due to the fact Max Magic was only released in the USA. Nowadays, PF Magic is part of Ubisoft and they are responsible for the Dogz and Catz games (=Nintendogs rip-offs). Andrew from PF Magic: "Before Petz I worked on an Philips CD-I title (talk about a long lost format!) called Max Magic (1994), my first industry project. Max Magic had even more explicit fusion than Petz. You, the player, bring your family and friends into the living room to gather around the television, and then stand next to the television itself, side-by-side with your performance partner, the on-screen character Max Magic, a mechanical magician who kind of looks like “Zoltan” from the movie Big. You use a mixture of rehearsed performance and real props (e.g., a deck regular playing cards) to perform up to 14 magic tricks for the audience, replete with music and witty banter. Max calls you by your real name (a feature we’re also implementing in Facade). You send the occasional cue and signal to Max via a remote control joystick, the standard interface for the CD-I player. The experience includes a rehearsal mode, in which with no one in the room but you and Max (a magician never reveals their secrets!) you rehearse the tricks together. There was no printed instruction manual or computer-esque menus; all rehearsals and performance were done “naturally”. By the way, both Max Magic and Petz were originally conceived by the creative director of the company, PF.Magic, I worked for — Rob Fulop. This “fusion” design principle I initially learned from Rob, and got further developed and reinforced for me working with fellow designer Adam Frank and others at PF.Magic."