Illustrations: Street scene with Hal, one of the Night Hwaks in front of Joe's Diner.
  • Installation
    Night Hawks is a real time 3D installation designed to immerse several players in a virtual world which recalls the streets of New York City from the forties. The visuals are inspired by the paintings of Eward Hopper and by movie sets from that time.

    The 3D world from Night Hawks id similar to our everyday life, it takes ud into a 3D painting, inside a diner where the last clients share stories with Joe, the bar tender; outside the street and New York skyscrappers in the background. Each element of the scene has a life of its own and from times to times these elements move and interact together.

Illustrations: Ken Adam's movie sets were references for the Diner. Model of the Diner

  • Audience
    Night Hawks was created for an audience of teenagers and adults interested in interactive story telling without violence. Each player picks up a character and follows its story. The players experience can be radically changed according to the virtual character that he or she chooses to be. The scene can run by itself without the players inputs and follows actions which are programmed by the artificial intelligence of the virtual world.

    This virtual world is designed for four players connected by cellular phones to Night Hawks. A new player connecting to the game picks up any character available in the scene.

    "Night Hawks" share a lot of similarities with games like "Creatures" which uses interactive 3D actors. For example you can touch or walk by an interactive actor and trigger a conversation. But the realism of the scene and the interface using several cellualr phones and the stories being told make this installation truly unique. "Half-Life" could be realted to "Night Hawks" because it is another real time 3D world. "Half-Life" is base on violence which is not the case of "Night Hawks" which can be seen by anybody inside a public space like the market place in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

    The world of "Night Hawks" is endless and changes all the time. Virtual actors meet at Joe's diner to tell stories which take us to other worlds where we meet the same actors with different costumes and in other settings and . The secondary worlds are displayed in black and white to help differenciate them from the main story. The virtual actors return to the main story after spending a few minutes inside the secundary world. They place objects in front of them on the counter of the bar which mark their passage in the secondary world that they just left. The players get addicted to this constant back and forth between the Diner and other universes and they find new changes all the time. "Night Hawks" creates its own myth around the stories told by the virtual actors.

Illustration: The virtual actors meet at the Diner whre they share their stories and take us to visit other virtual worlds. From left to right Hal tells detective stories, Lilith dreams about the ocean, Joe recalls his bicycle trips.

  • Technology
    The installations requires a PC Pentium 3 with 128 MB RAM and an 3D Nvidia G Force 3 64 MB. "Night Hawks" is created with Virtools 2.0. A simplified version of the installation runs on the internet. This online version helps players to get familiar with the user interface before they use the public installation. The installations is customized to the display requirements of a daylight giant screen similar to Sony's Jumbotron. Each player dials a phone line to connect to the scene via an answering machine. The voicemail greets the player and briefly explains how to use the phone's keypad to play the game, other options are recorded messages used for basic trouleshooting. The duration of the connection to the scene is controled by the answering machine and its duration can vary according to the number of people willing to play the game. The player's call is digitized and connected to the center of the behavioral engine controling the virtual actors. This technology is optmized for four simultaneous players.

Illustration: Shematic of the installation controled by cellular phones.

  • Players
    La scene d'introduction est le Philly's diner vu de l'exterieur comme dans Night Hawks, le tableau d' Edward Hopper. Les animations des acteurs virtuels en 3D sont tres sophistiquees et permettent un grand degree de realisme dans le controle des acteurs et des cameras. Les acteurs communiquent par textes qui apparaissent en surimpression. Cette presence du texte sera adaptee au systeme d'ecran choisi pour l'installation en plein air. La version en ligne sur l'internet utilise un insert transparent qui presente les caracteristiques et l'histoire de chaque acteur. Cette version en ligne servira de mode d'emploi pour les joueurs desireux de se familiariser avec la direction d' acteurs virtuels avant d'utiliser l'installation publique.

Illustration: This sequence of virtual camera shows how Hal and his virtual camera can be controlled by a cellular phone.

  • Start up
    Players dial from their cellular phone a phone number corresponding to one of the virtual actors. The virtual space is designed to emphasize interactions between actors and to prevent them from getting lost. Viewers can watch on the screen at all times the actions of the virtual actors. Players try to create meetings between virtual actors. Each meeting between virtual actors triggers dialogues and allows to ask questions using a text displayed live on the screen. The installation is viewed in real-time by several virtual cameras. The players can control the camera manualy or let the artificial intelligence based-coktail camera take over. A top view of the installation, located in the bottom corner of the screen, will help players to control characters shown as color dots, while they are out of the camera's field of view.