Ever taken an international flight to a foreign country and felt nervous passing through the immigration checkpoint? Papers, Please
aims to turn that around and put you in the role of immigration inspector. Instead of working in a nice modern airport booth, you're assigned to the Ministry of Admission in the war-torn dystopian nation of Arstotzka.
The glorious and free country of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin. Your job is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and MoA's primitive computer dispatch system you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.
Ok, that's the setup. Some elements of this are pretty similar to my other game, "The Republia Times". I'm a sucker for dystopian settings.
Let's have a mockup:
Lookin a bit empty at this point. The enemy country is on the left and your country is on the right. The top of the screen is the actual border checkpoint and the bottom is inside your booth. Travelers will queue on the top left, pass through your inspection building, then on to enter Arstotzka on the top right. People will enter the inspection booth, you click on their documents and vet them by looking for discrepancies, then you either approve their entry visa or deny their crossing (with or without prejudice).
A little closer:
I haven't completely worked out the precise mechanics yet, but it's probably going to boil down to inspecting all the documents and trying to find any two pieces of information that don't match. For example, if a traveler's passport says they weigh 70kgs, but their current measured weight is 74kgs, you have reason to be suspicious. Highlighting these two pieces of information in the UI will open up further options. In this case, you now need to run a metal detector over the guy or even strip search him. Turns out he just gained some weight so he's clear to pass. Enjoy your time in Arstotzka.Motivation
The last few games I've worked on have been programming-first, art-second. This time I'm going to try to focus on the art. I'm envisioning lots of cool little pixel portraits and documents and not so many technical challenges. A big part of the game is the traveler portraits so I want to spend a fair amount of time creating those. I'm also considering a system to create face variations from my initial drawings. I guess that would be a technical task so we'll see.More About the Art
I don't have any formal art training so I'm just gonna copy what I see elsewhere. One thing I like about some of the better pixel-art games is the limited palette. Instead of choosing a global palette though, I'm going to try limiting individual objects or backgrounds to ~3 shades. That's not a hard rule and if it doesn't look good I'm flexible. You can already see a few places in the mockup like that.
For the initial version of the game I'm going to do everything in mid-res pixel art. Pixel art is just way easier, faster, and more enjoyable for me. When it comes to most commercial games however I think pixel art may not be a good choice. It works great for indies and people close to the scene, but my feeling is that most mainstream players prefer a smoother non-pixelated look. I've made some rough experiments with converting the small character portraits to full vector images and they don't look half bad. If I decide to turn this in to a commercial game it's possible I'll do that for all the art. I kinda did the same thing with Helsing's Fire and that turned out ok.Technical
I've got a really sweet custom C++ engine built on SDL just sitting here but I'm planning to use HaxeNME for this project. I've done 2 flash games before and really like the fact that they're so easy for others to play. HaxeNME looks interesting and is a slight hedge on this game getting good enough to sell as a native app. Actually I'm a full-time indie developer so I'm really hoping to sell the game when it's done. If it's any good. Next point..DevLog
I've made a bunch of games but never kept a devlog before. I'll do my best to keep this thread updated with screenshots and builds. I don't expect the entire game to take more than a few
months to develop.
I'll probably edit that sentence out in a few months
. Any feedback is appreciated.
There are updates throughout the thread, but I'll just put this here:>> Get the Latest Build <<
(Currently in beta so missing some stuff)
Want your name in the game?
I'm including real names for the immigrants. Add yours here:
Papers, Please on Steam Greenlight