Talking about Mystery

I did a post recently where I talked about how I had always wanted to make a movie.  There is another part of me that has always wanted to make video games.  But, whereas I I know the elements that go into film and how to put them together, I don’t know the first thing about coding or how to make the elements of a game.  So I’m closer to being a filmmaker than a gamemaker.  And I’m not close at all to being a filmmaker, so yeah.  Still, the idea for a game has been in my head for a while, and I thought that I would share it with all of you.  Because that’s as close as I’ll ever get to the game being made.

When I initially played L.A. Noire, I was in love with the mystery element and the open world.  It had such character and style.  Then there was the shooting stuff.  That’s where my interest wavered.  I wasn’t a fan of the shooting stuff.  I’m still not a fan of the shooting stuff.  It was dull and felt phoned-in.  Plus, it took away from all the potential of the investigation stuff.  That was awesome!  But just think about how much more it could have been without the pointless shooting?  That’s what I wanted my potential game to be.  A game with a big place that had a lot of personality, with a story that centered on investigation and a mystery.

My other inspiration came from Grand Theft Auto V.  Not the shooting and all that.  No, the thing that I liked was the element where a story is told from three perspectives.  That seemed brilliant!  After all, just think of the narrative possibilities if a game were to have a mystery story that is told from different perspectives, each with their own prejudices and flaws.  The potential was not lost on me.  Those two elements – mystery and different perspectives, along with a big environment, are what has given me so much inspiration.

First thing about my game – it would be based on a fictional city that was modeled after Seattle.  It’s my favorite city.  Were it not so damn expensive to live there, I would be interested in doing so.  Not to mention, I don’t have the money right now to move there.  Still, if the job market was bigger, and the cost of living wasn’t so fucking high, I would be all over moving down there.  Especially with their minimum wage being as high as it is.  Maybe I could go back to being a bakery clerk again and have it pay a living wage.  That was my favorite job, after all. But yeah, a city by the ocean, where it rains a lot.  Would give the environmental elements of the environment a chance to breathe.  Can you imagine it?  Like the sun peaking through rain clouds?  Would be trippy as fuck to watch the reflections.  Not to mention, you could use the weather for environmental story-telling.

The next thing about this game – it would focus on three to four people.  There would be a journalist, a detective, a parent looking for their kid, and a skater who is hooked on smack.  The most linear character’s arc would be the skater.  But no worries.  Her drug trips would give some chances for cool level design.  But through these characters, we would be able to investigate a murder mystery.  See, someone is killing people.  The murders seem random, but as the mystery would unfold, we would learn that there is a connection between these murders and their victims.  A darker mystery would begin to show itself, as the players realize that their actions are part of something larger.  As their paths start to cross, it would culminate in a crazy final act, where the player is going back and forth between perspectives.  Doesn’t that sound cool.

I would also have aspects that would annoy the player deliberately.  To increase immersion.  For example, if you cause too much property or vehicle damage, you get arrested.  Have that happen with too many characters, and you would fail the game.  Which is another thing – there would be a fail state.  A way to finish the game where you solve nothing and the whole thing is a giant bust.  Lots of different endings to this game would be required.  Also – hit a civilian with your car, arrest.  Naturally, if I am going to make getting around being a game where you have to be very careful, the vehicle controls would have to be excellent.  Which is another thing – you have a very limited amount of options for potential vehicles.  None of that stealing cars stuff.  Sorry.  So, for the parent, I think it would be hilarious if they had a minivan.  Just to piss players off.  But all of this has a purpose – to teach you to take things slowly.  And don’t worry.  If you run a red, so long as you don’t hit someone or any pedestians, the cops won’t pull you over.  I can imagine the YouTube videos where you see how crazy good some players got at driving carefully and quickly.

But the real draw would be the characters and the mystery.  Each character would have their own narratives, and they would all have some flaws that the player would want to learn about.  The journalist, for example, has abandonment issues that conflict with their rather promiscuous sexual habits.  The detective has a deteriorating marriage and a child who hates him.  The parent would be a rather mousey person, trying to hold it together to find their child.  Think Mrs. Brisby from Secret of NIMH.  And the skater has a drug addiction that is slowly destroying her life.  How you play out each character’s story affects how the mystery plays out.  Yeah, this is not a game for the uninitiated.  Which would probably make it not sell well.  Shit.  Oh well, what can you do?

The mystery element would be everything.  Finding evidence, talking to people.  Re-talking to people when you learn new things.  That would be the big draw, for me.  Too few games have a good mystery that suck you in.  I want a game where there is a vast chasm of evidence to gather and learn about.  And only by seeing all the different perspectives are you able to truly grasp the whole picture.

Let me know what you all think of that.  Given that I already sound like a pretentious hipster because I like Life is Strange, you probably think that this sounds retarded.  That’s fair.  But hopefully you all are able to find something that would gravitate you towards this, if you were to see it.  Doubtful, but a man can dream…

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.”  -Mark Twain

Peace out,

Maverick

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