Archive for the 'Interactive Movie' Category


Tender Loving Care: Tech stuff

Tender Loving Care is one of an all-but-dead breed, the Interactive Movie. A lot of people seem to have been convinced at one point that this was the future of digital media. The whole phenomenon was inextricably bound up with the introduction of the CD-ROM, with its impressively large storage capacity compared to floppy disks, making it suddenly practical to include heaps of choppy low-res video content in games. The irony is that, by the time DVD-ROM technology was in wide use and we could really do interactive movies properly, the fad was pretty much over. Producers had figured out that people didn’t want interactive movies, they wanted games.

That being the case, TLC is easily seen as trailing the wave: it was made in both CD-ROM and DVD-ROM versions. Even the DVD version doesn’t have DVD video, though. It features video data for the “Groovie” engine, the system used by The 7th Guest and very little else. 1To be precise, the complete set of Groovie games consists of T7G, The 11th Hour (the sequel to T7G), Clandestiny, Uncle Henry’s Playhouse (a collection of minigames from the three previously-listed titles), and this. I’ve already played T7G, T11H, and Clandestiny. Once I get through TLC, I can reasonably claim to have exhausted a data format. How’s that for completism? I suppose they had to use more or less the same format as the CD version, except of course at higher quality.

I purchased the DVD version when it was new, mainly because I had a DVD-ROM drive and very little to use it with. 2Game publishers were a lot slower than users to embrace the DVD, and for good reason: even if 90% of your potential audience has the newer technology, you don’t want to lose 10% of your sales if you can avoid it. I got a few hours into the story, but then my drive decided to stop recognizing the disk and crash the program. Since the system only saves your progress when you quit, and I hadn’t quit, I’d have had to start over from the beginning, and I didn’t feel like sitting through the same videos — or, worse, through different ones, because I doubt I’d be able to duplicate my choices from the first time, but didn’t want to confuse myself with two different stories just yet. So I set it aside and resolved to wait until I had forgotten it all and could approach it afresh. And here we are, ten years later.

And in those ten years, my window of compatibility seems to have closed. Whenever the game is supposed to play video content, it instead pops up an error box stating “Unable to adjust volume on this DVD platform”. Compatibility mode doesn’t help — indeed, it makes it crash immediately on execution most of the time. The game’s official site is still up, and mentions a “DVD-ROM update”, but the link it provides is broken. Web-searching hasn’t turned up any help yet — it has the handicap of being a rather obscure work with a title that’s a common phrase. So until I find a retrogaming site that knows about it, back on the stack it goes. Maybe if I wait a few more years ScummVM will support it.

   [ + ]

1. To be precise, the complete set of Groovie games consists of T7G, The 11th Hour (the sequel to T7G), Clandestiny, Uncle Henry’s Playhouse (a collection of minigames from the three previously-listed titles), and this. I’ve already played T7G, T11H, and Clandestiny. Once I get through TLC, I can reasonably claim to have exhausted a data format. How’s that for completism?
2. Game publishers were a lot slower than users to embrace the DVD, and for good reason: even if 90% of your potential audience has the newer technology, you don’t want to lose 10% of your sales if you can avoid it.

« Newer Posts