Full Motion Video games, particularly for the Sega CD before anyone knew what to do with such an amazing storage quantity, were just movies that asked you to press a button occasionally. Some were like choose your own adventure books, but in video. Press the right button to keep watching the movie. Pretty boring.

Full motion video. Note the word game is absent.
The first of these devil spawn on a videogame console was It came from the desert on the turbografx 16 cd-rom2. It had many imitators on sega cd, also.
At least 1 good game came from fmv-scavenger 4. However, being great among fmv software is like being okay as a real game.
Full Motion Video, a term used to describe any piece of digitally-stored video footage (not necessarily full-screen) in which movement is not limited to only part of the frame. Originally used to differentiate between video sequences compressed using a codec such as Cinepak or MPEG, and partially-animated video scenes* (frequently used in games before the use of CD-ROM storage became widespread). Now used to refer to any piece of pre-shot or pre-rendered video footage in a game.

The majority of games do not use FMV very often (with the exception of introductory cinematics - sometimes, bizarrely, videos of in-game footage edited together) because it has several drawbacks that can be avoided by using other methods (such as text, voice-over, or in-engine cut-scenes):

  • It's extremely expensive (especially if you want decent 'name' actors, or Mark Hamill)
  • It chews up storage space
  • It is generally only watched once
  • It is (except in very special cases) non-interactive
  • It does not gel very well with the rest of the game (again, there are exceptions)
Some developers (notably Westwood) still use FMV quite heavily, partially because they have made a long-term investment in building up their film production facilities. Square and Blizzard are also very keen on FMV (probably because it looks cool even on low-end hardware).

In response to the previous writeups in this node: Some of the Sega-CD FMV-based games (made by a company called Digital Pictures) managed a fairly decent level of interaction, such as Double Switch. It Came From The Desert featured no FMV of any kind. FMV did suck when people tried to make games solely based on it, but it's quite harmless and inoffensive (well, skippable at least) in modern titles.

*i.e. traditional 'cut-scenes' made up of photographs or parts of video stills. Good examples can be seen in Betrayal at Krondor and Heart of China by Dynamix.

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