Earlier this year Ian Pearson, futurist with British Telecom subsidiary BTexact, made a series of forecasts, and one of his predictions was that by 2006 Hollywood's highest-earning celebrity will be synthetic. That prediction has not exactly been realised, but following an announcement from Warthog and Multi Media Arts, one computer programme is well on its way to stardom.
The new show, which debuts on ITV on 25 July 2002, will star "The Machine," a female-looking 3D animated cyborg who is described as a cross between Anne Robinson and Lara Croft. The late-night quiz show, also called The Machine, will run for 26 episodes on ITV1.
Here is how the show will work: Contestants will sit in front of "The Machine" and be asked as many randomly selected, general knowledge, multiple-choice questions as they can answer within 150 seconds. The faster they respond to questions, the more questions they receive and the more points they score. And players will see their score as the round progresses, adding pressure as the clock ticks down.
Warthog's role in the new TV programme was essentially to develop the software and graphics for "The Machine," explained Andrew Gething, corporate development manager for Warthog. He said the company's experience as a game developer was especially useful, since much of the same technology that is employed in video games was used to create "The Machine."
"We both believe that there is quite a convergence between TV and video games," Gething said, going on to explain that the two firms had been looking at various ideas that would unite their skills. "The Machine" was the first idea to make it off the drawing board. He also said that the two companies had other ventures they were still exploring but declined to expand on what was in the works. Gething was also unwilling to comment on the possibility of developing "The Machine" as a video game or on who owned the rights to such a game.
Founded in 1997, Warthog is one of the UK's most recognised independent games software developers. The firm has helped developed more than 1,500 games titles across all major platforms and is now working with numerous licensees to develop video-game versions of such entities as Robot Wars, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and X-Men. In February 2001, the company went public on the Alternative Investment Market.
Mark Gorton and Mark Spencer, two executive producers with experience of programme-making at the BBC and Granada Television, founded Multi Media Arts in 1997. Its clients include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Granada Media Group, IPC, EMAP and RTE, for whom the company produced the "Blizzard of Odd."