Matt's Podcast #5: The Time Police (Design Project)

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Matt Barton's picture

Hi, folks. I'm back this week with another podcast, this time discussing my game pitch for "The Time Police," a project I've been brainstorming and planning for some time. It still has a long ways to go, but I'm excited enough about the idea to want to make a podcast about it. If you have thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.

Download the podcast here.

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Matt Barton
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Why Dancing?

Okay, nobody has asked me this, but anyway...!

The reason I think this is a good mix is that while violence and killing are certainly very core to the human condition, dance is just as old. I don't think dancing is just a fun little recreation for folks; I think it is just as important for the rise of civilization as war. I don't pretend to know why, but I think the two go together very well, yet we've seldom seen that blend in games, with a few notable exceptions such as Pirates!, Forbidden Forest, and of course Phantasie.

The dancing in Pirates! (the new one, at any rate) was fun, but probably too hard. I think we've got lots of better examples now of how to do dancing games to make for a lot more intuitive and satisfying gameplay element.

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LachlanL (not verified)
Sounds huge!

TBH, my initial impression from listening to this idea is: "wow, that would require a lot of work". I'm talking about development resources here, not that it would require a lot of work to play. One comment that I seem to read from developers (on postmortems, etc) is that while nonlinear plot development can be great and exciting for the player, it requires a *much* larger investment in design and bug-testing from the developer. Given that the basic premise of this game seems to be about branching the plot-line as much as possible (through trying out alternative time-lines) then I think this issue would be compounded. I guess one question I would be asking to find out how much of an issue is: okay, if I want there to be 6 - 7 hrs of gameplay for a standard playthrough, how many hours of total gameplay will I need to develop in order to deliver all of the alternatives that I'd like to see?

That said, it does sound like a fun idea and something that would definitely have lots of replay value. Thanks for sharing your idea and I wish you the best of luck in seeing it become a reality!

Soulgotha
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Joined: 09/06/2010
Awesome Idea

I absolutely love this idea. I definitely think you'll need some pros to pull it off, but it's nothing more complicated than some of the other games out at the moment so it is definitely something that can come to fruition. The dance is definitely an intriguing part of the game. Were you going to focus the dancing strictly on Disco? I had an idea while listening to this that since you're time traveling it would be cool to have a dance that coincides with the culture of the period you're in. If in the Italian renaissance you could do ballett, if in the 1980's you could breakdance, and beatbox for some extra points. Ballroom Dancing, The Waltz, Funeral Dance. You could really use the dance aspect to add real history to the period the game is currently on.

Matt Barton
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Good questions, guys. Man, my

Good questions, guys. Man, my brain is about to blow up!

LachlanL wrote:

I guess one question I would be asking to find out how much of an issue is: okay, if I want there to be 6 - 7 hrs of gameplay for a standard playthrough, how many hours of total gameplay will I need to develop in order to deliver all of the alternatives that I'd like to see?

The way I'm conceptualizing this is that there are not that many branches to this tree. Not everything you do in the past has an effect; only the decisions you make at the end of missions (i.e., kill the target, let it go, or find some other way). No matter which you choose, it doesn't change what missions you are able to go on next, just the aesthetics. I could set it up so that each mission takes you deeper into the past, which would eliminate the need to change the whole world each time--except for the refuge you go to between missions, of course, which I could keep limited in scope.

That way, the only thing that'd really be affected by the branches is your refuge, and that could be kept manageable by showing different posters, ads, and maybe music in the disco.

Soulgotha wrote:

I guess one question I would be asking to find out how much of an issue is: okay, if I want there to be 6 - 7 hrs of gameplay for a standard playthrough, how many hours of total gameplay will I need to develop in order to deliver all of the alternatives that I'd like to see?

Those are great ideas. I don't think disco has to be the only option; maybe any kind of danceable music would work. I think I'd just want the characters to like disco. Of course, this could be part of the gameplay, though--so if you make the world darker, the music changes, and next thing you know you're dancing to NIN or some such.

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ironmaidenrule
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Great Concept

Another fantastic podcast and what a great concept for a game.

One thing that really strikes me, is the thought of being in a FPS view with a handgun pointed at a baby and wondering if I could actually pull the trigger, that is a lot more in depth and disturbing then that airport scene in COD:MW2......a baby on the screen, you with the trigger.....could you pull it......that is something I have never experienced in a game before and it really sticks in my mind.

Igor Hardy
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Joined: 01/15/2009
Observations

To be honest the first thing that comes into my mind is that the idea is too big to realize as an indie title.

My suggestion would be to turn the concept into a 2D tactical combat (and slightly role-playing) game to make it more feasible.

I really like your ideas for getting rid of stats and dialog options. I'd like to have more games like this with skill choices that are very specific and immediately defining for the character instead of constant redistribution of the points. Greater, more interesting impact on the gameplay that way.

Matt Barton
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Thanks, guys, I've been

Thanks, guys, I've been revising the pitch quite a bit today.

To make it more manageable, I've decided to scrap the idea of two missions per chapter and just have one chapter now with three possible outcomes (expedient, existential, or neutral). That should cut down on a lot of the assets and hopefully make it slightly more manageable.

I've also described the dancing segments in greater detail. I mean, doesn't this sound like fun to you???

Quote:

The dancer is shown on screen in third-person view. A glowing, curving line extends from his feet to various points around the floor; this is the “path.” The player uses the left thumbstick to follow the path, trying to keep the character’s feet within a special mark that moves just ahead of the end of the path.
Along this path and at varying speeds, symbols flow familiar to 360 users, corresponding to the buttons on the right of the controller (yellow Y, etc.). The player must follow the path and hit the correct buttons at the right time to get the best results.
Occasionally a symbol will appear on the left or right of the dancer, indicating either the left or the right trigger (or bumper). When one of these appears, the player can hit the right or left bumper or trigger on the controller to take advantage of a “moment of opportunity” that involves something in the environment. These moments always occur in tandem with something near the dancer, such as a beautiful woman swinging by on the left, or a waitress walking by with a platter of martinis on the right. Hitting the corresponding trigger or bumper at the right moment will trigger a special animation, such as swiping a martini off the platter, swigging it down, and replacing it all without the waitress noticing. If done correctly, these events generate great applause from the audience.

In any case, the dancing scenes are not meant to be silly or comical. They should be presented in a serious fashion, taking inspiration from films like Saturday Night Fever and Dirty Dancing. Players who dance well will be rewarded with much smarter dialogs and side quests.

Igor Hardy wrote:

To be honest the first thing that comes into my mind is that the idea is too big to realize as an indie title.

I feel the same way. Perhaps a large indie team could take this on as a challenge, but I see it more as something for a major developer. My dream scenario here is to get the pitch looking so good that I can send it to some of my contacts in the industry and see if they can get a publisher to bite. Unrealistic, I imagine, but it's still been fun working on this.

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vatrevligt
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After listening to you

After listening to you podcast and reading your pitch I felt I have to write something. What makes this more interesting is that you have pulled of things in the past that shows your skills. Books and the 'Matt chat' show are two things that show you know how to finish a project. Anyway, its getting late and here is my thoughts:

When I started reading it, I was expecting a point n click adventure game. Al Lowe design docs came to mind, maybe you read them? The more I read, the more I saw problems making it. I am in no way a skilled developer or even average, but I see problems making so many good games inside one game. These problems might scare away the people who are willing to invest money and time in your project. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it feels like your trying to make too many games. A ddr, a rpg, a fps, a turnbased and a realtime rts. I can't remember your opinion on point n click adventure games more then on 'the dig'. Maybe that is the direction you should take. It's not so expensive to do a 2d point n click and maybe it can start the franchise off. There is AGS and Wintermute for starters and finding an artist shouldn't be impossible. Why not give Dave Gillbert a call(http://www.wadjeteyegames.com/) and ask for some advice, or an interview.

With your connections in the industry it could land on the right desk and have the potential to become a AAA game, but its not a well known franchise (yet...) so maybe a kickstarter project would be better, with smaller goals but with aim for the same quality.

This turned out to be a negative post, but I meant for it to be positive. Sorry. Best of luck.

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Matt Barton
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Game Updates
vatrevligt wrote:

When I started reading it, I was expecting a point n click adventure game. Al Lowe design docs came to mind, maybe you read them? The more I read, the more I saw problems making it. I am in no way a skilled developer or even average, but I see problems making so many good games inside one game. These problems might scare away the people who are willing to invest money and time in your project. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it feels like your trying to make too many games. A ddr, a rpg, a fps, a turnbased and a realtime rts. I can't remember your opinion on point n click adventure games more then on 'the dig'. Maybe that is the direction you should take. It's not so expensive to do a 2d point n click and maybe it can start the franchise off. There is AGS and Wintermute for starters and finding an artist shouldn't be impossible. Why not give Dave Gillbert a call(http://www.wadjeteyegames.com/) and ask for some advice, or an interview.

With your connections in the industry it could land on the right desk and have the potential to become a AAA game, but its not a well known franchise (yet...) so maybe a kickstarter project would be better, with smaller goals but with aim for the same quality.

This turned out to be a negative post, but I meant for it to be positive. Sorry. Best of luck.

Hi, Vatrevligt. As I mentioned earlier, I don't see this as an indie project. It is very ambitious!

I don't see it as more ambitious than something Deus Ex Human Revolutions. I don't see any reason why the whole thing couldn't be done with UNITY assuming the team was experienced. I imagine the DDR component is actually quite doable, except for the special animations (the moments of opportunity).

I'm having a hard time describing this stuff in words, so I will make some sketches and upload them first chance I get.

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Anonymous (not verified)
Matt that’s a great idea .in

Matt that’s a great idea .in my opinion the police case is suitable for your pod cast which is similar to your project name the time police. I think your pod cast is going a far. My best wishes with you. But one think can anyone tell me what is a releasing date of matt’s pod cast.

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