I was on lunch break at the TV station I had gotten hired for only two days earlier as a camera operator. I heard a big commotion going on in the control room so I popped my head in and saw a bit of chaos. The technical director/director couldn’t make it and we had to go live on air in a few minutes. Quietly I walked past everyone and sat down in the command chair, checked out how the controls were all setup then said to everyone arguing behind me that I could do the show. The room went silent as one of the management asked, “You think you can do it?” That was the day that I started my broadcast day as a camera operator and finished it as a technical director/director.
This is extremely unheard of. The only reason it happened was that I have a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and 12 years of broadcast news experience, most of it as a director and technical director (usually separate positions). Working in news I learned every position as well so that by the time I was lead director at the station I could do any job in production with confidence. I finished off my broadcast career at a couple local channels doing all the different positions though without all the tension of live news where things can go wrong and snowball fast, especially during events such as election coverage which generally goes almost all night. With all this in my rear mirror it makes sense that when the game Not For Broadcast crossed our desk I was the logical choice for it.
Not For Broadcast is an interesting mix between real live news production issues and unrealistic jobs for one person to do all of. In very small markets (meaning the geographical area of coverage that your station can be reached in) I have seen multiple positions being done by the same person. But, in most markets and there are almost always a couple people working. In this game you need to load tapes, monitor the language to hit the censor button, watch the tracking on the signal, punch the source in preview on time then either take different camera sources or go between tapes and camera and other jobs as they develop. In the average television stations these are mostly done by different individuals being led by the director’s voice so this isn’t necessarily a realistic portrayal of what goes on though just about all are done at a station. To make this a game a bit more of a case of spinning plates, the developers have put together a base newscast that they could add to as the game progresses. So it starts a little challenging without trying to frustrate you out of the game in the first newscast. I do recommend playing through all the tutorials at least once since at a point in the game it stops helping you with one aspect so it can move onto other ones so that it can be easy to forget how to do things and their timing in shows.
There’s a whole story going on in the background of the station and its crew about political unrest and government that affect not just your coworkers but your family as well. You are a janitor asked to direct, roll tapes, take sources, censor language, track feeds and many other things as the game progresses and you take orders from a disembodied voice over the phone. However, you are also asked by your brother-in-law to help him out which could impact results both with your family and the government. Nor For Broadcast is set in an alternate 1980’s London. The games story and design make it so that some of the action gets a little heavy. But the developers did a good job of making the game sure was still fun and funny by injecting levity into the stories, taped segments and character of the anchors, reporters and their guests. As a result it really almost feels like two stories are going on, the political strife that permeates the overall background story and the janitor who has just been asked to do a live broadcast without any experience and what it is like to be thrown in to sink and swim in front of a “live audience” being asked to do multiple positions at once. Many years ago I saw a station that was so small it had a very small staff running it but it was still three experienced professionals that busted butt to do a newscast which was not as good of quality as the game creates. Luckily this is just for fun, which is nice.
When it comes to the question of replay-ability that is a resounding YES since answering the background questions can make for multiple storyline results all by itself. Make sure you keep track of your choices so you can choose which ones to change the answer to and which to stick with during multiple play throughs. Your quality of play will increase as you play the game making for better newscasts. In such a situation both in game and in real life that is generally true so that you can have cleaner, tighter broadcasts and watch back and fix things that didn’t go so well previous times. Also the developers are talking about more broadcasts coming out in the near future so you might want to replay the tutorials before any new content.
Not For Broadcast takes the fun challenges from a news broadcast while eliminating the less fun real life parts. The game is a challenge and one that keeps pulling you back in to see what kind of aspect you need to add to its next run. You have a virtual broadcast job and at the same time have serious choose-your-own-adventure political upheaval going into your newscasts in a fun way and get to see how good of a score your newscast can receive.