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[MINOR SPOILERS] Finished, my thoughts

A topic by Blinddoctor created 1 year ago Views: 306 Replies: 2
Viewing posts 1 to 2
(+1)

I really enjoy games which don't spoon-feed story details to you. 'Gone Home' is a nice example of this because it allows you to explore a giant house at your own pace, piecing together clues as you find them. While Perfect Citizen isn't nearly so deep, it followed the same disconnected flow by allowing the player to form the story in their head.

The Good

  • The simple, retro interface kept the game from ever feeling overwhelming. If this was set up on a modern OS then it'd lose appeal.
  • Perhaps intentional, one of the cases had no clear evidence of any wrongdoing. After a while of aimlessly re-reviewing files and transcripts, I realized this is a great example of what real life investigation must be like. Or maybe I just missed something. :)
  • I really enjoyed finding positive traits of the wrongdoers, whether it be believable reasons on why they committed the crime, or genuine effort to reform from their past. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."


Suggestions for improvement

  • The 'connect character portraits' bit lost its appeal fairly quickly for me and seems irrelevant to the rest of the player's work. The slightly-varied recycled text contributed to this feeling.
  • The ending I received, a crash-to-desktop after an alert, was confusing. I understand the team is expanding on this in future updates however. I completely missed the clue about the latest investigative target being "closer to home" than previous targets.
  • Perhaps the result of a smaller design team, but I'd suggest waiting on a few more cases of morally-difficult decisions before getting into the "My company may be bad" storyline.


Observations & Ideas

  • It'd be neat to learn later into the story's progression that many forensic tools exist via command-line, allowing more depth of investigation AND replay-ability as old cases may contain new information.
  • The spelling/grammar mistakes were a nice touch, even if not intentional.
  • While it didn't detract from the experience, I suggest including more "fluff" (emails, journals, etc) to make the targets seem even more believable and to require more careful investigation during each case.
Developer(+1)

Hey blinddoctor, glad you enjoyed our game! I wanted to take the time to respond to you considering you took the time to critique our game. I'm not going to cover "The Good" because you pretty much nailed what we were trying to invoke , but I wanted to at least go over my thoughts (as one of the designers) in regards to your suggestions and observations/ideas.

  • The 'connect character portraits' bit lost its appeal fairly quickly for me and seems irrelevant to the rest of the player's work. The slightly-varied recycled text contributed to this feeling.
    • The purpose of the "Pipeline Extraction" as we like to call it is to set up context for the following level. The content in this segment is procedurally generated. The tool we use for the text is extremely powerful, but has quite a learning curve. Future versions of the "generative grammars" these levels use will avoid a lot of the repetition. Interestingly, the procedural generation itself is a lot deeper behind the scenes than what is exposed during the levels. We have plans to build upon the mechanics of these levels to make the puzzles more interesting and varied.
  • The ending I received, a crash-to-desktop after an alert, was confusing. I understand the team is expanding on this in future updates however. I completely missed the clue about the latest investigative target being "closer to home" than previous targets.
    • During development when we came up with this ending, we quickly realized that people have this assumption, albeit appropriate, that any program quitting unexpectedly means that it crashed. We've tossed around a few ideas on how we can make this clearer, but as it stands right now, the ending is unfortunately in a state where the player has this really cool "whoa" moment if they understand what just happened, or terrible "uhhh, what just happened?" moment if they don't. Definitely something we're going to be iterating on.
  • Perhaps the result of a smaller design team, but I'd suggest waiting on a few more cases of morally-difficult decisions before getting into the "My company may be bad" storyline.
    • PPC in its current form was initially completed as a student project for the UCSC Game Design program as the capstone of our senior year. There's a lot of flexibility in the program, but we chose to build our own engine in addition to making the game. As a part of the class requirements we had to release the game by the end of the year, so our focus was on putting together a version that was a cohesive, complete experience. We definitely agree that the ending is somewhat abrupt, but that will be rectified as well add more levels in the future.
  • It'd be neat to learn later into the story's progression that many forensic tools exist via command-line, allowing more depth of investigation AND replay-ability as old cases may contain new information.
    • This was also something we had originally planned on doing during development. Scope issues for the aforementioned reasons and the realization that not everyone knows how to use a command line (we didn't want people who didn't know how to use one to miss out on content), kept us from implementing it. This is something we may consider doing in the future though.
  • While it didn't detract from the experience, I suggest including more "fluff" (emails, journals, etc) to make the targets seem even more believable and to require more careful investigation during each case.
    • It's funny you mention this because this is probably one of the most difficult challenges in designing levels in our game. When we first started playtesting our levels, we had lots of fluff like you said. Pictures, documents, books, ect. We had initially assumed that realism was the most important part of creating a level, and that we wanted to really make a desktop seem like it could belong to a real person. While this sounds great in theory, in practice it was confusing for the player. Players often became lost, disoriented or even bored at our game if they realized they had a massive amount of files to comb through, many of which were simply fluff. We quickly realized that we needed to sacrifice some realism to in order to make our game feel and play better. Finding the right balance of realism and gameplay is still something we will iterating in future levels.
  • The spelling/grammar mistakes were a nice touch, even if not intentional.
    • Some were definitely on purpose, others not so much. I mean, ... its all by design ;)

Again, thank you very much for taking the time to critique our game, it really means the world to us!

-Andy from Bad Cop Studios

    (+1)

    Andy,

    Thanks for taking the time to write a response. I don't have anything to add, but wanted to express my gratitude for the transparency. I don't normally get a chance to hear the Why's behind designer decisions, especially in a direct response to my feedback. It's really interesting to have a behind-the-scenes view.

    Anywho, excellent work on the game! :)