It took a while for the technology to catch up to the concept, but 13 years after Trilobyte Games released an interactive movie it has found the right screen — tablets.
The one-time video game maker came back from the dead — years ago — producing its game for mobile devices.
After regaining its footing with its "7th Guest" series, the Medford company reached back in time to couple co-founder Rob Landeros' "Tender Loving Care" flick with touch-screen computing platforms.
The result combines movie production with computer game-like interactivity. Viewers/players make choices that affect the direction of the movie and the outcome of the story, helping a psychiatrist, played by two-time Oscar nominee John Hurt, unravel the mysteries and deceptions. Participants also become patients of the psychiatrist and can receive their own psychological analysis at the end of the film.
Trilobyte has given the part-movie, part-game concept a new nomenclature: Transmedia.
"This is the type of film only someone with firm background in gaming, married with a background in film could have possibly come up with," said Trilobyte spokesman Charlie McHenry. "We've gone from multimedia to new media and now transmedia, because it joins story-telling capabilities of film with gaming by querying the viewer, taking the answers to various questions and generating plot twists based on viewer input."
The iTunes App Store released "Tender Loving Care," starring John Hurt, on Monday. It's priced at $13.99 for Apple's iOS.
"We spent several months fine-tuning for tablet mobile devices," McHenry said. "It's like this movie was made for these devices."
The transmedia effort blurred the lines between film and games, Landeros said.
"When first introduced on DVD, (Tender Loving Care) received excellent reviews and considerable, critical acclaim," he said. "But the title, often described as being ahead of its time, could not be fully appreciated prior to the advent of the iPad and other touch tablets."
"Tender Loving Care" collected an award for most creative use of technology at the European Summit in Dublin Ireland and pats on the back when it debuted from reviewers ranging from The Oregonian to the Times of London.
McHenry said Trilobyte thinks it can capitalize on a technological crack in the door. "Nobody has done this yet," he said. "We're hoping, of course, this new category of entertainment software will go over well and we will follow with a lot more titles."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.