The Time Police (Working Towards a Pitch)

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Matt Barton's picture

I've been working on this thing I'm calling a game pitch for a few weeks now and thought it was time to put it out there to see what people think of the general concept. In a nutshell, this is Deus Ex with Time Travel, Tactical Combat, and Disco Dancing. I've also made big changes to the way character creation, leveling, and dialog are handled.

It's not complete, but I think there's enough here for you to get the basic idea and see whether it sounds like something you'd be interested in playing. It's not totally original or super ambitious or anything, but for what it's worth I've tried to imagine the sort of game I'd most like to play and this is it.

Let me know what you like about it first, and then we can get down to what needs re-thinking.

Oh, I know for sure this is way, way beyond anything I'm personally capable of developing myself. The "dream scenario" is that we could get this to a real developer who can turn the dream into reality (without, let's hope, altering it beyond recognition).

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Chip Hageman
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Wow... now I've got Cheap

Wow... now I've got Cheap Tricks "Dream Police" playing "inside of my head"...

Just downloaded it.. giving it a read.

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Eigen Lenk (not verified)
I like the premise of the

I like the premise of the game and I think time travel is an interesting subject and it could make an interesting game. That said, I think at this point it's a little convoluted. First, I'm no game-design guru so don't take my opinion for the absolute truth but I do like game development and I'm working on a title of my own. I have also pondered the idea of having players choices affect the rest of the game myself but have always come to the conclusion that it gets too massive (both development time and asset wise) rather quickly, even if you get a decent funding and development team behind this. That's probably why there are so many linear games. Open-endness, in a sense that you can do whatever you want, is doable but is different from 'whatever you do affects whatever you can do later'.

This could be simplified and designed into something more manageable, I think. What if, instead of you actually controlling your characters in fps / tactical view, the game takes place as a simulation of sorts. The agencies controlling the time-streams have supercomputers to simulate the events from any point of time in the past or future, given a set of parameters and other input details. You place your characters where you want, plan their routes, actions, etc. Trying out different actions could give you different information, but that could be purely textual without having to draw whole new maps or something. That first nursery mission for example, you could send your agent to talk to one of the nurses nearby as the very first thing and the simulation would tell you that she, in old age, would deeply regret having been so close to the baby, now knowing what he grew up to be, and not do anything. Of course, how could she know that at this point. If you tell the nurse about the baby she would not believe you, but again, in old would deeply regret not having listened.

Obviously if you go into action with your plan to kill the baby, the game terminates as you said. Or some other mission, talking or giving something to another character after or before some action could give you different response from the simulation.

The risk of just sending agents out in the field would be too great in case they mess something up completely. So the player has to put together the best possible scenario in the simulation and only then will actual agents be sent out and actually do all that. The simulation could look something like the game Frozen Synapse (http://www.indiegames.com/2010/05/15/frozensynapse2.jpg)

The result obviously can't be fully rendered for the player because that defeats the whole purpose of simplification. I'm not sure how you'd represent the result to the player or if you even should, at all.

Then yes, the result of each mission could affect the following ones without requiring massively more content development.

This is just the idea I had, please don't take this as a criticism. Your have an excellent seed for a game, just a little too much to bite off.

Hammer
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Joined: 03/23/2008
Very interesting idea

I was skeptical at first, but it seems like it could be a good game. My only hesitation is the gameplay. It sounds like the gameplay is mostly tactical combat, which I'm not sure fits in well with the goals of the game, or did I miss something? It sounds like go back in time to protect JFK, but then a battle begins with 6 level 24 secret service agents and you have to defeat them. I would think this type of game would be more stealth-focused.

Matt Barton
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I didn't realize I had

I didn't realize I had duplicated a thread, so I'll try to respond to all comments here.

Re: Bagelobo, you seem more interested in ripping the game apart than actually helping, but I'll respond all the same. I hadn't heard of Timecop before (surprising, I know, since it's apparently Van Damme's highest grossing film). There is definitely some overlap there, possibly to the point of running into copyright problems. As I said, it's not a very original idea for a story. I bet there have been dozens if not hundreds of short stories and novels done on it, to say nothing of episodes of TV shows.

In any case, no game about time travel can be realistic for the reasons you point out. A certain amount of artistic license is necessary. Perhaps travel to the future is impossible for some reason, or maybe there's a fabric that gets warped the further back you go or the more often you go to a certain period. It's all fantasy anyway.

clok1966 wrote:

SO what Time Travel games have you played?

The only one from that list I've played is Chrono Trigger, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm aware of several others, including one called TimeSplitters. Again, I in no way claim that this story is remotely original. I've read it myself in countless stories and seen it in shows.

The only real innovation I'm bringing to it (that I know of) is working the time control into the gameplay, speeding up and slowing it down, and the dancing theme. I actually like Don's idea quite a bit about having the outcome of missions affect the type of music and dances that get played, and also makes it more consistent rather than just sticking to disco.

Eigen Lenk wrote:

This could be simplified and designed into something more manageable, I think. What if, instead of you actually controlling your characters in fps / tactical view, the game takes place as a simulation of sorts. The agencies controlling the time-streams have supercomputers to simulate the events from any point of time in the past or future, given a set of parameters and other input details.

That's closer to my original vision, which was that instead of actually traveling back and forward in time, the characters were going to different dimensions. Everything was the same in these other dimensions, but they were essentially disposable in the sense that when you returned to your own dimension, nothing would carry over. Still, you could learn a lot that way, such as the answer to historical mysteries, or how to make future techs, etc.

One hurdle this clears up nicely is the issue of affecting time. So if you were just going to an identical dimension, you could shoot it up however you wanted and not have to worry.

This is a pretty serious design decision, though, since the stakes are also a lot lower. It'd probably encourage a more Syndicate like feel, where you were going in guns blazing, persuadertrons sweeping up huge groups of bystanders, etc. Could be lots of fun, though a lot different than what's on the table at the moment.

I basically two very different kind of games you could make here. One is a stealthy game, where you are trying not to alter history by killing people or even being spotted. The other is an action game, where you're basically going in Syndicate style and blasting whoever stands in your way. Of course there would be some overlap, though I'm almost thinking now that the latter sounds more appealing. That would mean eliminating all the missions about changing history, of course...Ugh. head is hurting...

Anyway, thanks, all, lots of good ideas. I don't doubt at all that the game will need to be scaled back or scrapped as these flaws are found.

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Hammer
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Joined: 03/23/2008
Time Travel games you should play
Matt Barton wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

SO what Time Travel games have you played?

The only one from that list I've played is Chrono Trigger, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm aware of several others, including one called TimeSplitters. Again, I in no way claim that this story is remotely original. I've read it myself in countless stories and seen it in shows.

What list?

Games I would suggest if you haven't played them include Infocom's Sorcerer, Legend's Time Zone, Lucasarts' Day of the Tentacle, Presto Studios' Journeyman Project series, and Konami's Shadow of Destiny, all of which are really worth playing.

clok1966
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V D
Hammer wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

SO what Time Travel games have you played?

The only one from that list I've played is Chrono Trigger, which I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm aware of several others, including one called TimeSplitters. Again, I in no way claim that this story is remotely original. I've read it myself in countless stories and seen it in shows.

What list?

Games I would suggest if you haven't played them include Infocom's Sorcerer, Legend's Time Zone, Lucasarts' Day of the Tentacle, Presto Studios' Journeyman Project series, and Konami's Shadow of Destiny, all of which are really worth playing.

I posted a list of some the more time travel Heavy games, i would guess when combining threads it was lost.. or its in the other thread and he replied here. I only listed a couple with TIME TRAVEL as the MAIN part of the game. IM sure there are hundreds of them.

Personally I think its one of the best game settings, it pretty much leaves you with unlimited content so the actual game will tell the tale.

TIME COP!!!!! MATT!!!!! its acutally not a bad movie as far as VD movies go.. in fact its close to A movie quality in some ways.. Im sure the budget kept it in B movie territory. And there where video games made from it :) Hre is a littel know video game fact for ya (cracked.com) Mortal Kombat was orginally going to be based of VD.. Bloodsport.. but VD wanted to much money.. so yes Johnny Cage is VD (that sonds wrong).

Matt Barton
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I guess I'm wondering whether

I guess I'm wondering whether "The Time Police" and the premise is different enough from this movie Timecop to be safe. I'd hate to run into some kind of copyright infringement nonsense.

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Hammer
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Joined: 03/23/2008
You should check out those games
Matt Barton wrote:

I guess I'm wondering whether "The Time Police" and the premise is different enough from this movie Timecop to be safe. I'd hate to run into some kind of copyright infringement nonsense.

You should check out those games I listed. Some of them (Timequest, Journeyman Project series) have very similar premises. Not the disco stuff though. :)

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Yeah, it seems that to stand

Yeah, it seems that to stand out from the pack I'll definitely need to make the dancing bit essential to the gameplay. Otherwise it'll just be dismissed as yet another of those time travel games.

I was wondering if there might be some precedent for making the fighting aspect a rhythm-based thing as well.

Also, can anyone give me a straight-up, no-nonsense evaluation of the Kinect's abilities to monitor bodily movement? Is it accurate enough to let someone "pinch" a character on screen and move him around, for instance?

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Examples
Matt Barton wrote:

Also, can anyone give me a straight-up, no-nonsense evaluation of the Kinect's abilities to monitor bodily movement? Is it accurate enough to let someone "pinch" a character on screen and move him around, for instance?

Look at The Gunstringer for an example of what I think you're referring to. Otherwise, the answer is yes, Kinect's accuracy has been improved with software to the point where it can track (map to) both the whole body and even individual fingers.

Matt Barton wrote:

I was wondering if there might be some precedent for making the fighting aspect a rhythm-based thing as well.

I have considered this in one of my own designs, sort of a phased-combat approach. It's essentially like a game of Simon says, but for fighting. For instance, your enemy does action A, so you need to respond with action B or C. I'm not aware of any implementations in any games, though.

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