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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsArt of Crime - Psychic Detective Game
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Guert
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« on: October 12, 2011, 08:42:13 AM »

The game is now completed, and is now named "In Torment: The Case of the Drawing Girl"
TIGS feedback thread.


Art of Crime Devlog

Genre: Adventure/Detective/Fantasy
Platform: Windows (XP+)
Tools: Photoshop, Blitz
Target Release : Summer 2013
Trailer:


Author: Guert
Website: WorldofGuert.com/Aoc



Art of Crime is an adventure/detective game where you investigate on the case of the "drawing girl". She's a young woman who witnessed a horrible act but won't speak anymore. All you have are drawings she made of what she witnessed. You can observe those drawings to find clues but most of all you can enter her nightmarish artworks and live what she saw.

You can use your notepad to write down notes on who is the drawing girl as well as who are the potential victim and suspect of the event. You can also interrogate the girl who is being treated at the hospital.

The game's lenght and atmosphere was inspired by dark short-stories and short-animated films. Concepts, art and other features are original.
 

Screenshots:






Current Build Features:

  • Single button concept to ease the experience
  • Standard/Widescreen option
  • Save system to stop/continue the game
  • Interrogation mode where you speak with the girl
  • Torn note mode where you collect and piece a note back together
  • 4 dark drawings featuring nightmarish artworks hiding clues
  • Hidden special objects in the base room
  • Puzzles based on scratching drawings
  • "Pop-up book"-like interaction with certain dark drawings
  • 5 different storylines with procedurally created story details



More details in the devlog entries following this post.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 04:11:43 PM by Guert » Logged

Guert
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 08:50:50 AM »

Devlog Entry 1


Hey people! I decided to stat a devlog to help me finish my game Art of Crime. I started developing it back in 2009 but stopped after my job got too heavy. This year, I took the resolution to finish the projects I started and this is one of them. If you have any comments related to the format and content of this devlog, please, be my guest and suggest how I can improve it. The same goes for the game!

For this first entry, I'll talk a bit about what’d like to do with this game. I like to call it "Clue doing a bad trip". Y'know, the classic board game? Well imagine that with weird drawings and supernatural powers. Like the first post mentioned, you play the role of a detective that can enter the drawings of a girl who suffered a mental break down. In this world, you can read the mind of the girl and see what she witnessed. Once you have gathered enough leads, you can file-in your report and see how well you did.   

The game is playable but not quite there yet. I have a few ideas regarding what to do but it's too early to show anything right now. Soon I will post new stuff.

That’s it for now!
I'll come back later to post more entries and talk about the game, how it's going forward and how each game modes work.

Take care!
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 12:32:10 PM »

Sounds interesting and I like the visual style.
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2011, 01:07:55 PM »

Devlog entry 2


IGF 2010
The original prototype was made back in 2009 and was sent to the 2010 IGF. It got a honourable mention in the Nuovo category. I put the game on hiatus to work fulltime. I started to work again on it last July. The game was almost remade from scratch since I had gained a lot of experience working on other projects, including my last game Rebirth.
 
The storyline

In this game, I want to create an adventure game where you don't necessarily know what's going to happen every time you play. I do enjoy a good story and I don't mind going through it over and over, but I felt that sometimes it could be fun to have alternate ways of telling the same back story. This is what I tried with Art of Crime (by the way, I'm not 100% sure of this title. Could change if I think of something).

When I first started working on the story generator, which I call the “Murder Generator”, I though that the best way to make the story interesting was by making it as realistic as possible. The first version of the generator worked as follow:

  • A character was created and given basic personality traits following the OCEAN theory. The traits were given random scores ranging from 0 to 10
  • Once the basic personality was given, the system would generate one year of the character's life. During the year, key events would happen and modify the personality. These events were based on the psychological development of a common human being with freudian thoery mixed in. Of course, we're not talking about a simulation but rather a general feeling of what could happen to someone at a certain age.
  • Doing this gave the characters past traumas and experiences that could be later used in the game to explain their behaviour. For instance, a character who had negative events related to its sexual development might be used in a case of sexual assault.
  • I'd do the same process with 2 other characters thus creating a trio of a victim, a suspect and a witness.
  • Finally, the characters were compared to decide who was most likely to fill the roles.
  • On top of this, each character had its gender, full name, ethnicity, hobbies, occupation, education level, sexual orientation, level of use of alcohol and/or drugs, physical condition, and one flaw based on the 7 deadly sins.

I also made some research on the most common crimes perpetrated each year in North America. I also have a friend who worked in a prison for a few years and helped me get more data and perspective on the type of criminals we have in our society.

The murder generator worked well. When the process was over, I had all sorts of characters with potentially good backgrounds. However, it was goddamn complicated for the results: realistic stories are boring. They have to be spiced up to become really entertaining. Another issue with this generator is that I had not idea how I could make assets that would hold a strong atmosphere like the prototype did. I wanted a story where you could feel attached to the characters, where you want to know more about them. With the first version of the murder generator, that wasn't the case. They were statistics. There was no emotion.

Storyline V2

So I took the murder generator and I decided to guide the character creation process. Instead of saying "ok, let's see who fits the role of the suspect" I decided to go for a "let's make us a criminal" attitude. This way, I focused the character creation around a goal instead of hoping it would fit. Doing so worked much better and made me realize that, if I want to have a witness that reacts with a mental breakdown, I needed it to be female. It may sound sexist at first but, in our society, a man that cowers when witnessing an attack is seen as a wuss. It's much more complicated than that in reality, but in the video game world, a man is a fighter and would not break down psychologically because another guy gets stabbed. By making the witness a girl, it automatically became much more believable. Simplyfying the system also made it easier to establish relationships between characters. For example, by knowing who will be the suspect before making the story, I could select a potential reationship and use it to build around the story. A friend killing another friend doesn't have the same emotional impact than a father raping her daughter. Another thing was that I focused the murder generator around 5 major events (sexual assault, passional crimes, assault, drug abuse and money dispute) involving their potential motives. This helped me build more coherent stories.       

I also added something I call the "Night Shyamalan function" which analyzed the story generated and then added a twist to the story. It was something in the lines of "the suspect is your best friend and you've helped him" or "there is no crime, you are in a comma" or "you are the criminal AND the witness". However, that prove to be more hilarious or insulting than anything else and the function was removed.   

The storyline v2.1

As I'm writing this, I am working on a "Night Shyamalan function Junior". The game has an interesting story which works because of its size and theme, but I feel like it could have more punch to it so maybe some kind of punch but less over-the-top could do it. Of course, whenever I add an element to the story, it has to fit with numerous contexts and motives so I don’t know yet how it'll turn out.

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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2011, 04:49:57 PM »

Quote
I also added something I call the "Night Shyamalan function" which analyzed the story generated and then added a twist to the story. It was something in the lines of "the suspect is your best friend and you've helped him" or "there is no crime, you are in a comma" or "you are the criminal AND the witness". However, that prove to be more hilarious or insulting than anything else and the function was removed.

I laughed.

But yeah, I think the player would want to feel like his (or her) intelligence was being rewarded, rather than mocked.  Maybe when you're ready to accuse someone, it should go into an endgame where you need to stop the killer from getting away...  If you pick the wrong person, that gives the killer a headstart, making you have to solve more obstacles to catch up.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2011, 05:12:52 PM »

I think you should add in a "Full Night Shyamalan" mode with the original Night Shyamalan function (possibly as an unlockable) in the final product.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 06:30:25 AM »

Yeah, I liked what the function did but I gotta be careful with humour. I love jokes but sometimes they can feel misplaced and ruin the experience. Once, I made a serious game about witnessing a murder (it's kind of the grand-daddy of this game) and the ending featured a newspaper. There was a story on the front page that talked about how monkeys got loose in a public place. I figured it would loosen the atmosphere a bit. Players didn't react well to the joke at all. Tongue They felt it was completely out of place. I learned that sometimes what I find funny is not what others will enjoy.

Thanks for the comments! Smiley I'll post more entries later!
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 09:30:12 AM »


Devlog entry 3


When it comes to visuals, I wanted the game to have a very distinctive look. To do so, I'm using 2 different art styles: one sketchy and the other more realistic. I took this direction to create a notable difference between the two worlds in the game: the drawing world and reality.

The reality world is where the action unfolds. It's where you move in the girl's room, manipulate the drawings and search around for tangible clues. It’s also where the interrogation mode unfolds. In the drawing world, it's the opposite. The drawing world is the mad girl's emotional state before and during the events. Whatever you find and see in this world is related to how she feels about certain people and events. Nothing is entirely rational. To portrait this in an interesting way, I used a realistic approach for the real world, trying to make things look as realistic as possible. For the drawing world, I used an sketchy hand-drawn approach so that the art represents how the girl feels about a topic.

When I started working on the game back in 2009, a friend of mine who works in psychiatry gave me a book on child drawings. Since young children are more "connected" to their emotions than adults, their drawings are usually a good window into their real thoughts. As we grow older we learn how to control these feelings and thoughts and hide/show them during certain situations. Also, as adults, we think about the artistic value of the drawings we make and try to use what our conscience is telling us (that line is misplaced, a dog’s nose doesn’t look like that, etc) rather than our subconscious (how we feel about the topic we are trying to portray). For kids, drawings are just drawings and they tend to use their emotions to inspire themselves The use of color, the shapes, the way the pencils/markers/crayons hit the paper, how fast the traits are made and the subject depicted all indicate the emotional state of the artist. So when I started creating the art for the drawing world, it inspired me to make some guidelines to make sure the art presented the girl's state of mind accordingly:

  • Style A: When the girl feels comfortable about a topic, her artwork is colourful and contains no outlines. The colors are free and the shapes are simple. The lack of outline also makes the art more vivid and light.
  • Style B: When the girl is neutral on a topic, the picture is in black and white with a lot of details. Much like a doodle you'd draw to pass time, the art features a lot of small sketchy details and very little color.
  • Style C: When the girl draws something on a topic she feels important but doesn't feel 100% comfortable with it, she draws outline and adds color. Elements she doesn’t like are highly contrasted with the colors used in the rest of the artwork. The art also oscillates between sketchy and details, creepy or neutral.
  • Style D: When the girl feels terrible about something, the art features contrasted colors, "stabbed" lines instead of smooth curves and very little details aside from key elements regarding the topic. For instance, the details could be the eyes of the killer, the blood on the corpse or the weapon of the crime.

This way, each topic tackled during the investigation, such as who's the girl, the victim, the suspect and what was the event, would all have their own different styles and you can associate certain drawings together due to their content and visual style.

Here are some examples of the styles mentioned:

A)


This picture represents the girl's living room. It's a happy place for her. Colourful, happy and no outlines.
 
B)

In the story, the girl talks about how nuns always help. She's not a believer per see but she imagined the convent to be some kind of holy magical place. She spent some time on the drawing but didn't use much color since she didn't really care that much either.

C)

The street is gloomy yet detailed: the girl is afraid of walking alone by night but that's not what made her mad. A theme that is used throughout the game is voyeurism. In this case, the houses in the street all seem to look at you. It's also mentioned in certain stories that the girl loves to know what others are doing and enjoys reality shows.


Another example of the third style is the victim's home. It's a happy place for the girl that became the location of a horrible event. Her feelings are mixed toward it.

D)

This art is one of the possible clues you could find during a storyline. In this particular case, it depicts eyes precisely but the rest is sketchy. Other clues could be more violent while other creepier, depending of the event that occured.

Eventually, another art style will be included in the game. I'm aiming for a "psychic" mode where you enter something else than drawings. I'd like for instance to add the ability to enter inside the clues you find in the room. I'm not 100% sure of what kind of visuals would be best but I'll post it when I'll have some mockups. 

On a side n0te, if you have any comments on this devlog or ideas on how to enhance it, go ahead! Smiley Thanks!
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2011, 10:05:44 AM »

Sounds interesting and I like the visual style.
That.

Gonna keep an eye on this devlog!
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2011, 03:17:03 AM »

Thanks guys! I'll keep posting Smiley  Gentleman
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« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2011, 03:31:10 PM »

That's some nice abstract art work there. Looks like it will be a good game

Do you need a music composer? I am a musician credited in a couple of small indie games. My rates are affordable and indie friendly if you need someone to portray some eerie and mysterious moods.
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2011, 08:56:53 AM »

Hey there! Thanks for your comment!

As of now, I have all my audio needs fufilled but if I'll keep your name in mind if I need some extra music. Smiley Thanks!
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2011, 12:12:37 PM »

Thanks Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2011, 06:52:00 PM »

Devlog 4


Before I start this new entry, I’d like to mention that I’m taking a few days off Art of crime to finish other projects. I finished an IGF build and I need to take a step back to gather up comments from players and list what needs to be done. Once I’ve covered all the important aspects of the game that are already made, I’ll post more regular devlog entries.

Now on to the new entry! Smiley

When I'm making this game, I try to keep it mind why I wanted to make it in the first place. I'm a huge fan of detective stories. I don't know why but I can’t help trying to solve the crime before the characters do. I also enjoy adventure games where I can look around, investigate and solve all sorts of puzzles. However, what I don't like is when stories omit to tell you details to make sure you can't figure it out before the punch line or events that must be triggered before allowing the player to perform a task he already has access to., like mixing two objects together but you can’t until an npc tells you “mix those two”. Those are just simple examples. In this game, I want to give the player as much freedom as possible so he/she can conduct the investigation the way he/she wants.  You’re the detective, you investigate your way. Here’s one of the ways I’m using to achieve that.

When it came to creating puzzles for the game, I divided the information needed into 3 categories: straight-forward, deduction and secret. Straight-forward information is something that'll be easy to find through the investigation and will be told clearly to the player, such as a character clearly stating the victim’s name. Deduction information is, as the name implies, a piece of information that can be achieved by deducting it from 2 or more clues.  The last type, the secrets, is information you can only get by solving certain puzzles or following a trail of clues. They are scarce in the game but they are important to make the case move forward. To balance difficulty, the rarity of the types follows these rules:

Straight-forward
  • Make 50% of the information needed to finish the case.
  • One piece of information can be found at least 3 times Ex: The name of the victim can be found in 4 different locations all in different contexts,

Deduction
  • Make 40% of the information needed
  • One piece of information needs between 2 and 4 clues to become “clear” to the player.
  • The more clues, the more likely the player will easily deduce the information.

Hidden
  • Make 10% of the information needed.
  • They require trails of at least 4 clues/actions to be found. The more actions, the more difficult and crucial the piece of information is.

At first glance, it may seem a bit too redundant to have 50% of the clues repeated at least 3 times during the entire game but doing so helps the player get acquainted with the characters. Also, since I’m using an open story, the player has to deal with a lot of different information at the same time. No matter what element the player decides to investigate first, he’ll find the basic pieces and get at least 50% of the answers right. Also, repeating the basic clues numerous times helps the player feel like he’s/she’s moving forward, knowing that the information is correct. Especially in a game of investigation, leaving your player too much in doubt can cause frustration. By saying “you’re right on that topic” many times, the player can focus on the things he’s/she’s not 100% sure yet.  Deduction pieces’ difficulty ranges from easy to hard since they make up for 40% of the game, I made an independent difficulty curve for these. Some are quite easy to deduce, others take a bit more time before confirming the information. In all cases, these deduction clues don’t follow a linear path. Once you find a trail of clues, you can follow it or come back to it later. Also, many of these trails can include simple puzzles. Hidden pieces are the hardest to find and, as mentioned, the most crucial pieces of information. Since they make only 10% of the game, an average player can skip those and finish the game and get the whole picture. The only difference is that the player gets a less satisfying ending and less background story. 

Once you’ve collected all the information, you can confirm them by interviewing the drawing girl. You sit down and ask her questions about the whole event. How does that work? I’ll explain this in the next devlog. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2011, 07:24:36 PM »

Yes yes Yes yes

make this game

finish this game

make me play this game

i love your art

i will solve the mysterycrime
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2011, 07:58:57 AM »

King: I'll try to show you the game next time we see each other.

I haven't posted a new entry yet because I've been sick. I'll be back on my feet real soon. Smiley
I'll also try to make a gameplay movie to show wher ethe game is going.

Later!
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« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2011, 08:26:01 AM »

Devlog 5

I mentioned in the last devlog that you can interview the drawing girl. The concept is that, after she drew all the pictures, she was sent to the hospital. As a detective it is part of your duty to talk to her and confirm the information you got from your investigation. However, dealing with a woman who suffered from a mental breakdown is not easy. Here’s how the game allows you to interact with her.



The goal of the interview is to confirm the information you have gathered during your investigation. It’s best to know what you are talking about before starting the interview so you don’t ask questions containing wrong or missing information. When the interrogation starts, the girl is in a bad mood and closed to all discussion.

From there, you can select the tone you want to use followed by a topic. Depending on the tone and topic you choose, the girl will react differently and, as her opinion of you changes, her facial expression will change accordingly.  The girl’s face is divided in 4 main parts: the eyebrows, the eyes, the nose and the mouth. Each brow and eye are divided in two parts. Whenever there’s a change in her emotions, it changes the way one of these elements are positioned. For instance, if she’s mad, she will be frowning, staring at you, and clenching and showing her teeth. If you tell her something that pleases her, she might loosen up her mouth but still frown. If you say something else that she likes, she might stop looking at you and look sad rather than angry. Dividing the face in different parts, I can make many facial expressions.


By using the right questions, you can make her feel better about herself...


...or much worst...


... or just plain hate you.

The girl has two main traits that dictates how her face changes. The first one is her comfort and the second is her trust in you. When asking questions, the tones and topics you use will affect either one or both of these traits and push her to respond accordingly. The four tones available to use are: Friendly, Reassuring, Neutral and Aggressive.

  • Friendly : This tone is used to make the character feel better about her. The questions direct her opinion toward how she feels, complimenting her skills and talking about stuff she enjoys, such as her hobbies and favourite food.
  • Reassuring: This tone is used to tell the girl how much you will help her and how everything is going to be fine if she helps. Contrary to the friendly tone, the reassuring tone is about your relationship with the girl much more than how she feels.
  • Neutral: You guessed it! This tone is all about neutrality. It’s the best tone to get the cold hard facts out of her mouth. All the questions are straight the point.
  • Aggressive: Sometimes, just asking questions and trying to be the good guy ain’t gonna be enough to make her talk. The girl is in shock and lost contact with reality. The aggressive tone covers questions and comments that will shake up, such as saying that her lack of cooperation makes her an accomplice or implying that she is the culprit. The questions and comments are not necessarily always personal attacks though. For example, an aggressive comment might be that you’ll find the suspect and give him what he deserves or that she needs to snap out of it or the victim will not rest in peace.

You have to be careful not to fall in excess of one particular tone. Being very aggressive may lead her to close and get angry. Being too friendly and reassuring might make her feel like you are trying to manipulate her. Only a neutral tone makes you feel like you don’t feel any emotions.

The topics you choose also affect how she will react. Certain topics makes her feel good about herself, others make her remember what happened. There are four topics, each containing a set of questions covering sub-topics: The drawing girl, the suspect, the victim and the event.

  • Drawing Girl (her) : Talking about the girl involves asking questions about herself and what she did before the events. It also takes in consideration her hobbies, job and favourite food.  When talking about her, the drawing girl will feel better since she is thinking of the good times she had.
  • Victim: Talking about the victim is a double-edged sword. Certain questions makes the girl feel better, others make her feel worst. The selected tone in this topic is quite important. For example, taking a friendly tone when talking about the activities she shared with the victim will make her feel much better. When talking about how the victim died, it’s best to take an aggressive approach to talk about how the crime has to be punished.
  • Suspect: The suspect is a touchy topic since the girl hates the character. Aggressive and neutral tones are best if you want to get facts out of the girl and not too much hate. For instance, being aggressive concerning the suspect makes the girl talk but she is more likely to tell you that she hates the suspect guts than information you need.
  • Event: The event covers all that has to do with what the girl was doing before the event, how she came to witness it, how it unfolded and what she did afterward. To get as much information from the girl as possible when talking about the event, it’s best to use all tones since it is the most sensible topic.

Whenever you ask a question, the question is removed from the list. You can leave at anytime and come back as many time as you want if you need to double-check something in the drawings.  Once you have all the information you need, you’re done with the interview.

Of course, this mode is possible if we assume that the girl is alive. Wink



Thanks for reading! Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2011, 08:45:16 AM »

After a few playtest, I'm gonna add some questions that "respawn" everytime you go see the girl. For example, greetings can be used every time you go see her. this way, discussions can feel more natural.
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« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2011, 08:01:10 AM »

Made a game preview today.

Here it is! Smiley

Quick question: I'm having second thoughts about the title of the game. It feels like it doesn't fit the game anymore. Anyone has suggestions?
« Last Edit: October 27, 2011, 10:03:26 AM by Guert » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2011, 01:20:26 PM »

The preview is lovely!  Just one thing, I think 'Art of Crime' is a great name, but not so much the font you use for the title.  The current font makes me think 'ghetto'.

Perhaps you could try writing 'Art of Crime' in cursive, or a girl's handwriting.  Not a quick illegible scrawl, but something where she's trying to make it look nice, as if she were writing out the title onto a placard to be put next to the drawing.
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