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500,000+ downloads since July 5, 2005

(c) 2005-2008 Procedural Arts



a one-act interactive drama

download Façade for free
or mail-order a 2-CD installer

get the "Behind the Façade" guide
and other fun Façade goodies




group blog

  description and screenshots


help and troubleshooting

feedback and forums

vision and motivation


presentations and papers

using the technology

Michael Mateas, Andrew Stern

Grand Jury Prize Winner,
2006 Slamdance Indie Games Festival!

Exhibited at these group art shows


links, etc.


  AI-based, real-time rendered 3D virtual characters
Grace and Trip in Façade

"This is the future of video games."
- The New York Times Arts Section, June 7, 2005

Feature-length profile in The Atlantic Monthly,
November 2006

"Façade takes character to a new depth...
trying to push the boundaries of both gaming and AI,"
- Newsweek, Oct. 17,2005, and Oct. 3, 2005 int'l edition

"A genre-defining leap forward in artificial intelligence,"
- The Boston Phoenix, July 2005

"a bold move forward in portraying the emotional lives
of digital characters,"
- Edge Magazine (UK), Internet Game of the Month, October 2005

"Façade is without a doubt, the best actual working
interactive storyworld yet created."
- Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, 2004

"Play Andrew Stern and Michael Mateas' Façade, and at some point,
you realize, with all the certainty in the world, that someday
videogames will have the power to move you emotionally."
- Games For Windows magazine, May 2007

"Façade is one of the most important games ever created, possibly the most important game of the last ten years."
- Ernest Adams, Gamasutra, July 2005

"Visionaries in the independent gaming world."
- Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (, May 2006


is an artificial intelligence-based art/research experiment in electronic narrative – an attempt to move beyond traditional branching or hyper-linked narrative to create a fully-realized, one-act interactive drama. Integrating an interdisciplinary set of artistic practices and artificial intelligence technologies, we have completed a five year collaboration to engineer a novel architecture for supporting emotional, interactive character behavior and drama-managed plot. Within this architecture we have built a dramatically interesting, real-time 3D virtual world inhabited by computer-controlled characters, in which the player experiences a story from a first-person perspective. Façade was publicly released as a freeware download / cd-rom in July 2005.

You, the player, using your own name and gender, play the character of a longtime friend of Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that quickly turns ugly, you become entangled in the high-conflict dissolution of Grace and Trip’s marriage. No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced to be made. By the end of this intense one-act play you will have changed the course of Grace and Trip’s lives – motivating you to re-play the drama to find out how your interaction could make things turn out differently the next time.
Façade trailer and screenshots


This work is unlike hypertext narrative or interactive fiction to date in that the computer characters actively perform the story without waiting for you to click on a link or enter a command. Interaction is seamless as you converse in natural language and move and gesture freely within the first-person 3D world of Grace and Trip’s apartment. AI controls Grace and Trip’s personality and behavior, including emotive facial expressions, spoken voice and full-body animation. Furthermore, the AI intelligently chooses the next story “beat” based on your moment-by-moment interaction, what story beats have happened so far, and the need to satisfy an overall dramatic arc. An innovative text parser allows the system to avoid the “I don’t understand” response all too common in text-adventure interactive fiction.

The process of building Façade has involved three major research efforts: designing ways to deconstruct a dramatic narrative into a hierarchy of story and behavior pieces; engineering an AI system to reconstruct a real-time dramatic performance from those pieces that integrates the player's moment-by-moment interactions; and understanding how to write an engaging, compelling story within this new organizational framework. Along the way we have learned hard lessons about what works and what doesn't in the design and engineering of interactive stories, and developed a deeper understanding of what it will require to create even more generative story systems in the future.



Exhibited in the Game/Play group show at the HTTP gallery, London, 2006-7


Exhibited in the Gameworld show at Laboral, Gijon, Spain, 2007


Exhibited in the "Grand Text Auto" show at the Beall Center for Art and Technology, Irvine, CA, Fall 2007




Finalist in the
2004 Independent Games Festival


Published in The Iowa Review Web, July 2006


Exhibited at the 2004 Inter Society
for the Electronic Arts (ISEA) festival

press for Façade

"Sex, Lies, and Video Games", feature-length profile in The Atlantic Monthly, November 2006

"Redefining the Power of the Gamer", The New York Times Arts Section, June 7, 2005

"A Female Sensibility", Newsweek, October 17, 2005, and October 3, 2005 international edition

"When looks are no longer enough", The Economist, June 2006

Review blurb in Wired Magazine, November 2006
Sometimes There Is a Free Lunch", News, January 2006
Coming Soon: Online Sex Games", News, October 2005

TV interview on CBS 5 TV, San Francisco, November 2006

"Want drama? Enter virtual soap opera", AP story from June 2007
Featured online at USA Today, Business Week, MSNBC, International Business Times, International Herald Tribune, Forbes, Washington Post, Fox News

Internet Game of the Month, Edge Magazine (UK), October 2005

"Type What You Feel", Games for Windows, May 2007

"Behind the Mask", GamesTM, August 2007

"You Must Play Façade, Now!", The Designer's Notebook, Gamasutra, July 2005

"Who’s afraid of Façade? Virginia Woolf meets Grand Theft Auto", Boston Phoenix, July 2005
Reprinted in The Orlando Weekly, "Gamer guests get schooled in the marital arts"

"Emotional Rescue", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (, May 2006

Reviews and commentary from around the blogosphere, July 2005 and on

"Impara ad amare sul web" (learn about love on the web), Glamour magazine (Italy), February 2006

"Who's Afraid of Interactive Drama?", Attack of the Show and Cinematech, G4 videogame TV, July 2005

"Going beyond the gaming ghetto",, October 2005

"Game Over",, December 2005

Game/Play writeup, HTTP Gallery, London, July 2006

"Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" Freeware Game of the Month, PC Zone Magazine (UK), October 2005

Idle Thumbs review, July 2005

"«Façade» joue sur les sentiments",, November 2005 (translated)

"Quel videogame è controcorrente no violenza, si gioca coi sentimenti",, January 2006 (translated)

"New blood for the next generation...", Guardian Unlimited games blog, October 2005

"Façade: Metti una sera a casa di amici",, September 2005 (translated)

"The World of Indie Games",, August 2007

"50 Greatest Game Design Innovations", Next Generation, November 2007

"50 Really Good Indie Games", The Independent Games Source, August 2007

"Top Ten Games You've Never Heard Of", Game Informer, April 2006

"All the World's a Stage",, January 2006

"An Exit", The Escapist, January 2006

Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games (SPAG) review, July 2005

Game Tunnel Most Innovative Independent Game of 2005 award, December 2005 (also awards for Adventure and Sound)
Game Tunnel joint review, July 2005

H Magazine review (Spain), September 2005

"Gratis computerspil buldrer frem på nettet" (Denmark),, June 2006

Mac Observer review, August 2006

"The Play's the Thing", Computer Graphics World, July 2005

"The Cold Hotspot" Part 4, Adventure Developers, July 2005

Dichtung Digital essays: "Narrative and the Split Condition of Digital Textuality" by Marie-Laure Ryan and "Playable Media and Textual Instruments" by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, May 2005

"A Conversation with Chris Crawford", The Escapist, September 27, 2005

Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, New Riders, Nov 2004

"Talk to Me", The Salt Shaker (Salt Lake City), Nov 2005

"'I kill you.'", Idle Thumbs, August 2004

"Redefining Games: How Academia is Reshaping Games of the Future", Gamespot, August 2004

"Silicon Kane", Calgary FFWD, April 2004

GDC review, Intelligent Agent, Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring 2004

Feature article Preview, Adventure Gamers, Apr 2004

"Bringing emotions to video games",, Jan 2004

Twisty Little Passages, Nick Montfort, MIT Press, Dec 2003

"Agitating for Dramatic Change", Gamasutra, Oct 2003

(also see publications on this page, 2000 - present)

recent and upcoming presentations

AAAI Intelligent Narrative Technologies symposium, panel discussion, Arlington, VA, November 2007

Grand Text Auto art/tech symposium, Irvine, CA, October 2007

Game Developers Conference talk, San Francisco, March 2007

Intelligent Virtual Agents invited talk, Los Angeles, August 2006

Slamdance Independent Games Festival, Grand Jury Prize - the "Sparky" - Park City, UT, January 2006

Digital Arts and Culture talk, Copenhagen, December 2005

FuturePlay talk, Michigan State, October 2005

SIGGRAPH panel, Los Angeles, August 2005

AIIDE talk and demo, Los Angeles, June 2005

Digital Games Research Conference talk, Vancouver, BC, June 2005

Game Developers Conference panel & talk, San Francisco, March 2005

ISEA exhibition, Baltic Sea, August 2004

Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE) talk, Darmstadt, Germany, June 2004

Independent Games Festival finalist, San Jose, March 2004

selected publications
please see the authors' personal web pages for a complete list
A good overview paper:
Façade: An Experiment in Building a Fully-Realized Interactive Drama
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Game Developers Conference, Game Design track, March 2003
Procedural Authorship: A Case-Study Of the Interactive Drama Façade
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Digital Arts and Culture (DAC), Copenhagen, November 2005
Interaction and Narrative
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology, edited by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, MIT Press, December 2005
Structuring Content in the Façade Interactive Drama Architecture
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE),
Los Angeles, June 2005
Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Digital Games Research Conference (DiGRA), Vancouver, June 2005
Natural Language Understanding in Façade: Surface-text Processing
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Best Paper Award, Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE), Darmstadt, Germany, June 2004
Beyond State Machines: Managing Complex, Intermixing Behavior Hierarchies (powerpoint, video)
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Game Developers Conference, Programming track, March 2004
Contributions to First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, re-published at Electronic Book Review
Eds. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, MIT Press, 2004.
Essay by Michael: "A Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and Games", Cyberdrama thread
Short essay by Andrew: "Response to Bernstein and Greco", Hypertext Narrative thread (response to this paper)
A Behavior Language: Joint Action and Behavioral Idioms
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Book chapter in Life-like Characters. Tools, Affective Functions and Applications, eds. H. Prendinger and M. Ishizuka, Springer, 2004
An earlier version, "A Behavior Language for Story-based Believable Agents", appeared in Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Entertainment, AAAI symposium, March 2002
An alternate version published in an IEEE Intelligent Systems issue on AI and Interactive Entertainment, July 2002
Architecture, Authorial Idioms and Early Observations of the Interactive Drama Façade
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Technical Report, December 2002
A shorter version appears as "Integrating Plot, Character and Natural Language Processing in the Interactive Drama Façade" in Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE), Darmstadt, Germany, March 2003
Creating Emotional Relationships with Virtual Characters
Andrew Stern
Chapter in Emotions in Humans and Artifacts, eds. R. Trappl, P. Petta, and S.Payr; MIT Press, April 2003
originated from a symposium at OFAI in Vienna, August 1999
Narrative Intelligence
eds. Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers, John Benjamins Publishing, 2003 originated from the Narrative Intelligence AAAI symposium, Nov 1999
Virtual Babyz: Believable Agents with Narrative Intelligence", Andrew Stern, 1999
"The recombinant history apparatus presents Terminal Time", Steffi Domike, Michael Mateas and Paul Vanouse
Panelists for Interactive Stories: Real Systems, Three Solutions
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
SIGGRAPH, July 2002
Towards Building a Fully-Realized Interactive Drama
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Digital Arts and Culture conference, April 2001
Towards Integrating Plot and Character for Interactive Drama
Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
Socially Intelligent Agents: The Human in the Loop, AAAI symposium, Nov 2000
A shorter version appears in Creating Relationships with Computers and Robots, eds. Dautenhahn et al, Kluwer, 2002
Expressive AI, and A Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and Games
Michael Mateas
SIGGRAPH Art and Culture Papers, 2000 and 2001
Deeper conversations with interactive art, or why artists must program
Andrew Stern
Convergence, Volume 7, Number 1, Spring 2001
Presented at "No Art Jargon" panel, SIGGRAPH 2000
Terminal Time: Generation of Ideologically-Biased Historical Documentaries
Michael Mateas
AAAI, July 2000
AI Beyond Computer Games
Andrew Stern
AI and Computer Games AAAI symposium, Mar 1999
Not Your Grandmother’s Game: AI-Based Art and Entertainment
Michael Mateas
AI and Computer Games AAAI symposium, Mar 1999
Interactive Fiction: The Story Is Just Beginning
Andrew Stern
IEEE Intelligent Systems, Nov 1998
An Oz-Centric Review of Interactive Drama and Believable Agents
Michael Mateas
Carnegie Mellon CS Tech Report, 1997
credits for Façade

design, engineering, writing, animation, production - Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern
voice acting - Chloe Johnston, Andy Bayiates
music - Billy Gomberg, Matt Ganucheau, Jim Doran, Aaron Acosta, Leo Caruso
additional engineering - Mehmet Fidanboylu
additional animation and art - John Rines, Andy Webster
additional voice acting - Mary McCann, Joel Bruner
story consultant - John Lavin
Mac port - Ryan C. Gordon

complete credits page

selected past projects

Babyz, 1999
Petz: Dogz, Catz, Oddballz, 1995-1998
Andrew Stern, Adam Frank, Ben Resner, Rob Fulop, and many more (PF.Magic)

Terminal Time, 1999
Michael Mateas, Paul Vanouse, Steffi Domike

freelance commercial projects

BenPet desktop virtual character, December 2000, for BBC America


BIG list of links to other interactive story and virtual character projects, and more

NYTimes review, YouTube video, Petz fan pages, more links, fanlist

NYTimes review, YouTube video, Babyz fan pages, more links, and more, Babyz toyz

Images of projects, downloads




Babyz (1999)
YouTube video


Dogz and Catz (1995-98)
YouTube video


Terminal Time (1999)


Notes on the power and meaning of stories, from Robert McKee's 1997 book Story
Computers as Theatre, Brenda Laurel, 1991
Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, Janet Murray, 1997
First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, eds. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, 2004
Cybertext, Espen Aarseth, 1997
Twisty Little Passages, Nick Montfort, 2003
Story, Robert McKee, 1997
Theses and reports on virtual characters and interactive story, Bates, Loyall, et al of the CMU Oz Project, 1991 - 1998
Narrative Intelligence, eds. Michael Mateas and Phoebe Sengers, 2003
Narrative as Virtual Reality, Marie-Laure Ryan, 2001
Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, The Art of Interactive Design (previously Understanding Interactivity), Computer Game Design essays, Chris Crawford, 1982 - 2004
Writing Space, Jay David Bolter, 1991
Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud, 1993 and 2000
Creating Personalities for Synthetic Actors: Towards Autonomous Personality Agents, Robert Trappl, Paola Petta (editors), 1997
The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson, 1997
"Literary Devices", Richard Powers, 2002