Not For Broadcast

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Not For Broadcast
Not For Broadcast Key Art.png
Developer(s)NotGames[1]
Publisher(s)tinyBuild
Director(s)
  • Alex Paterson
  • Jason Orbaum
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
Release25 January 2022
Genre(s)Government simulation
Mode(s)Single-player

Not For Broadcast is a full motion propaganda simulator developed by British video game studio NotGames and published by tinyBuild. The game released with its first episode in early access on 30 January 2020.[2][3][4] The full game, including the third and final episode, was released worldwide on 25 January 2022.[5]

The game takes place in an unnamed European country (resembling the United Kingdom) in the mid-1980s,[a][b] where a new far-left progressive political party named Advance has won a surprise landslide election victory and begins to handle the country in an authoritarian dystopian fashion. The player takes the role of Alex Winston, a studio director in a national television station, having to produce a live broadcast, play adverts, censor swear words, and avoid interference in an effort to keep the viewership high.[6]

On early access release, Not For Broadcast received positive reviews, with praise going to its gameplay and mechanics while being criticised for confusing political storytelling.

Gameplay[edit]

Broadcast days[edit]

The player plays the role of studio director Alex Winston in the production control room of the National Nightly News.

The player uses the vision mixer to select which camera feed to broadcast. After a two-second broadcast delay, the feed selected is broadcast. The player is required to censor any profanity or objectionable language by bleeping out the word as it is broadcast. At later levels, the player can also add sound effects such as applause and canned laughter to the broadcast. The player also uses a waveform monitor to control any interference. An audience meter gives feedback on the player's performance: good editing will help raise viewership, while poor editing, failing to censor or allowing interference to interrupt the broadcast will lower viewership. If the audience meter falls to zero, the player fails the level.

During each broadcast, the player selects three advertisements to play during breaks. The adverts selected influence the game outcome by promoting Advance or its rival Disrupt, increasing the player's earnings by promoting companies in which the player holds shares, or unlocking variations in the storyline.

At the end of each broadcast day, the player is graded on their broadcast. The player is given the option to watch their broadcast as well as the unused footage.

Non-broadcast days[edit]

The protagonist has a life and family outside the broadcast room. This is represented through an "Incident system", a series of text-based choices where the player, based on a brief story about their private life, makes decisions. These decisions are influenced by what the player chose to do in the Broadcast room. Sometimes, choices made in the incident system can also influence what happens in the broadcast room. Choosing certain options matter to the family, and they affect the dynamic and relationships the player character has with their family. A major theme in the game is shaping the world within the broadcast room, followed by living in the world you've shaped, and living with the consequences of those choices.

Plot[edit]

The game is set in an alternate version of the United Kingdom during the 1980s. The player character is Alex Winston, who works at the nation's largest television broadcaster, Channel One, specifically for the National Nightly News. Formerly a janitor, Alex is made broadcast engineer when their predecessor, Dave, flees the country and Alex is forced to edit the election night broadcast in his place.

The story begins with the far-left progressive political party Advance winning an unexpected landslide victory. Advance implements a number of radical reforms, such as wealth redistribution, right to die policies and nationalisation of several large corporations. As time goes on, Advance becomes increasingly authoritarian in their governance, including limiting the freedom of the press and requesting censorship of anti-government statements. Additionally, the World Council, a United Nations-analogue, places harsh sanctions on the country, causing economic troubles. The resistance group Disrupt forms to counteract Advance's agenda.[7]

Growing fed up with the increase in soft news stories, co-anchor Jeremy Donaldson snaps live on-air and holds the studio hostage at gunpoint. Depending on the player's response, Jeremy ends up committing suicide, is shot dead by police, or is arrested. Advance retaliates against the World Council by detonating nuclear explosives in four cities on the continent, threatening to detonate more devices if the countries do not unconditionally surrender. A year and a half later, Disrupt spokesperson Alan James asks Alex to manipulate the broadcast to start an uprising against the Advance government, however Advance are aware of the uprising and send in the military to defeat Disrupt; depending if Alex successfully manipulates the broadcast or not, Alan either successfully retreats or is killed.

There are four different final broadcasts depending on whether Jeremy and Alan are alive or deceased, leading to fourteen different epilogues depending on the player's political stance (pro-Advance, pro-Disrupt, or neutral) and their choice to play or not play a tape exposing Advance or Disrupt.

Cast[edit]

  • Paul Baverstock as Jeremy Donaldson, the male co-anchor of the National Nightly News
  • Andrea Valls as Megan Wolfe, the female co-anchor of the National Nightly News
  • Sarah Gibbons as Jenny, the floor manager.
  • Jade Johnson as Robyn Shorte, a reporter.
  • George Vere as Patrick Bannon, a reporter. Vere also plays Patrick's father, television personality Graham Bannon, in the telethon episode.
  • Emma Mulkern as Not Patrick/Francis, a reporter who substitutes for Patrick Bannon.
  • Claire Racklyeft as Julia Salisbury, a lawyer turned Advance co-leader and Prime Minister.
  • Roger Alborough as Peter Clement, a potty-mouthed television personality turned Advance co-leader and Prime Minister.
  • Jonathan Hawkins as Alan James, a conspiracy theorist turned Disrupt spokesman.
  • Dan Ellis as Geoff Algebra
  • Adam Willis as Tommy Harris
  • Helen Potter as Phillipa Rayden

Source:[8]

Development[edit]

The first episode of Not For Broadcast was released in early access on 30 January 2020, with the developers stating their intention to keep it in early access for approximately eighteen months while updating four free new chapters.[9] Days before filming began for a second episode, the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom led to lockdowns which ceased all production. Instead of pausing production, the developers chose to create a bonus chapter titled Not For Broadcast: Lockdown, which contains a new storyline, with the cast being stuck at home "as they shelter from a rampaging horde of animatronic children's toys."[10][11] The chapter was released alongside a new challenge mode, featuring 4 different challenge variations.[12] Due to the lockdown delaying production on the game, the original plan to have 4 episodes was revised, and the story was rewritten to be told in three episodes instead. Finally, a year after the original release, on 28 January 2021 a second episode was released, which showcased impacts of certain decisions in previous chapters and was released together with an hour-long documentary titled "Not for Broadcast: Lights, Camera, Lockdown," about how the development team behind the game reveals how they managed to produce two video-filled updates of the game amidst a global pandemic.[13][14] After releasing Episode 2, the production was halted once again by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, which further delayed the release of Episode 3 until 25 January 2022.

Reception[edit]

Not For Broadcast received generally positive reviews from critics both in early access and upon its full release. The game was complimented for its innovative concept and gameplay, including the satirical over-the-top content video segments and the production control room mechanics.[17][18][20][21] Criticism went to its "on-the-nose political commentary," with Cass Marshall writing for Polygon "[the game is] laying it on pretty thick."[22][23] On Steam, the game has "overwhelmingly positive" user reviews.[9]

According to Guinness World Records, the game has a record of the "Most Full Motion Video footage in a videogame", clocking in at 42 hours, 57 minutes, and 52 seconds.[24] This, in turn, was also covered positively by multiple media outlets.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Depending on the player's choices, it is possible for one character to die; later, his tombstone is shown, displaying the dates 1944-1985.
  2. ^ In the first level, a calendar shows it's 8 November 1984. This is Day 1.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Satirical propaganda sim Not For Broadcast gets Episode 2 release date" (Press release). Games Press. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  2. ^ Morton, Lauren (13 January 2020). "Not For Broadcast is a hectic dystopian TV simulator". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  3. ^ Clayton, Natalie (1 February 2020). "Dystopian telly-wrangler Not For Broadcast is now live in early access". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  4. ^ Marshall, Cass (10 March 2020). "You'll be able to tank careers for higher ratings in Not for Broadcast's updates". Polygon. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Not For Broadcast - Launch Trailer". IGN. 25 January 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  6. ^ Watts, Rachel (6 January 2020). "Manipulate the politics of a country in FMV game Not For Broadcast". PC Gamer. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ NotGames. "Not For Broadcast". TinyBuild, 2020.
  8. ^ "Not For Broadcast Credits". notgames.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b LeClair, Kyle (4 February 2020). "My Time as a Dystopian News Editor in Not For Broadcast". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Keep the news on air from home in Not For Broadcast: Lockdown, out now" (Press release). Games Press. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  11. ^ Marshall, Cass (25 June 2020). "Not For Broadcast updates with the free Lockdown chapter". Polygon. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Broadley, Logan (28 January 2021). "Not For Broadcast gets a massive new update with Episode 2". PC Invasion. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Davis, Wes (29 January 2021). "Perpetuate Dystopia or Don't, in Not For Broadcast - Episode 2". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Acclaimed Newsroom Sim Not For Broadcast Launches Biting New Chapter!". PC Game. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Not for Broadcast for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Not For Broadcast". Edge (magazine). No. 369. February 2022. p. 121.
  17. ^ a b LeClair, Kyle (9 February 2022). "Review: Not for Broadcast". Hardcore Gamer. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  18. ^ a b Evenden, Ian (21 February 2022). "Not for Broadcast review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  19. ^ Lindner, Natalie (25 January 2022). "Not For Broadcast Review: A Satirical Simulator Must-Have". Screen Rant. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  20. ^ "Not for Broadcast: un concept étonnant à peaufiner et perfectionner" [Not for Broadcast: an amazing concept to refine and perfect]. Jeuxvideo.com (in French). 26 February 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Priestman, Chris (30 January 2020). "Not For Broadcast mixes '80s newsroom satire with Papers, Please". PC Gamer. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Marshall, Cass (29 January 2020). "This high-pressure propaganda sim can't stop getting silly". Polygon. Retrieved 14 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Hogarty, Steam (4 February 2020). "Premature Evaluation: Not For Broadcast". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  24. ^ "Most Full Motion Video footage in a videogame". Guinness World Records. 12 January 2022. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  25. ^ [1] BleedingCool: Not for Broadcast claims new Guinness World Record

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]