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How come there are no good detective games?

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  • How come there are no good detective games?

    I think it's a good question. Computers and graphics are sophisticated enough today that one-case detective games (ex. CSI, Law & Order) are useless. How hard is it to semi-randomly compile a list of related topics, relationships, and clues? There are a good number of easily-identifiable factors:

    - Type
    - Crime (robbery, murder)
    -- Weapon
    -- Single / Serial
    - Motivations (money, passion, etc.)
    - Characters
    -- Game-world relationship to victim(s)
    - Clues
    -- Based on weapon
    --- Markings, etc.
    -- Environment (hair, fibers)
    -- Documents
    - Difficulty (dumb criminal or Moritary)

    The in-game world could be a section of a city, with houses, floor plans, offices, furniture, etc. generated from set parameters.

    I might try making something like this, even if it is only text-based. But using a genetics system like the sims would make this an interesting retail title.
    Last edited by MattH; March 20, 2004, 22:07.
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  • #2
    Great idea, MattH. I myself have been toying around with the idea of coming up with an algorythm to generate a random, but solvable, crime and then have the player solve it. I was thinking in a bit smaller scale, though. My idea was that the player would find himself in a city, like you say, but only the houses of interest would be accessible - with floor plans, and all. But then that would kind of limit the amount of choices the player can make, thus simplifying the solution for the crime.

    Now, you are saying you would use a genetic algorythm kind of thing to generate a full crime? I am not sure really that a genetic algorythm would apply here... I mean, you have a crime after one generation of the algorythm, but then how would you determine the fitness of the genotypes to bring to the next generation? I imaging it would be hard to analyze the "difficulty" of the crime programmatically... And then, what would be the other criteria?
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    • #3
      Originally posted by vovan
      Great idea, MattH. I myself have been toying around with the idea of coming up with an algorythm to generate a random, but solvable, crime and then have the player solve it.
      Hmmm-- So I'm not totally crazy then.

      I was thinking in a bit smaller scale, though. My idea was that the player would find himself in a city, like you say, but only the houses of interest would be accessible - with floor plans, and all. But then that would kind of limit the amount of choices the player can make, thus simplifying the solution for the crime.
      I was thinking in the same limiting way. Most people wouldn't let you in without a search warrant, which you would have to have X amount of 'Strong evidence', or Y amount of 'Inconclusive evidence' etc. If there was another house you wanted to go into (and the owner let you), the game could randomly generate it on the spot and it would serve as a waste of time, losing you time or letting the evidence grow old (or some time-limiting factor that would make it possible to loose).

      Now, you are saying you would use a genetic algorythm kind of thing to generate a full crime? I am not sure really that a genetic algorythm would apply here... I mean, you have a crime after one generation of the algorythm, but then how would you determine the fitness of the genotypes to bring to the next generation? I imaging it would be hard to analyze the "difficulty" of the crime programmatically... And then, what would be the other criteria?
      Well, you could pick a difficulty (or the game would ramp up). Then the game would decide on a type of crime- easier involving basic robbery, small crimes, all the way up to hit men and bank robbery. Based on the crime, the game would generate most of the remaining factors:
      -A location (seedy section of town, docks, country club).
      -The characters involved (ex. Business man killed: partners, someone with a grudge.
      - Random names, personality (up front, liar, shy)
      -The motive
      -The M.O. (strangulation, smash and grab) and further details (
      -A weapon that fits with the 'nature' of the crime.
      -Evidence that fits with the nature of the crime. For example, DNA under fingernails for a fight.

      This is not in order since I haven't thought it out fully. As you can see, the probability tree would be huge but logical. It would, however, need enough changes that you can't solve the case by knowing the algorithm ("Aha- if the guy was drowned, that means it's Mr. Plum with the candlestick in the bedroom)
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      • #4
        Oh, and evidence would be logical too. 'Papers' would go on or in 'Desk' 'Cabinet' 'Safe', or in care of 'Lawyer', 'Banker', or 'Wife'. Bullet traces could be analyzed CSI-Laser style.

        The really hard part will be generating lifelike conversations.
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        • #5
          Not sure if you would be interested but out of games that exist you might want to look at the excellent Discworld Noir , which has a unique 'clue' system. Also there is the solid Sherlock Holmes series.

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          • #6
            Discworld... Any relation to the terry pratchett discworld?
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            • #7
              Yeah but it's nothing like the cartoony Discworld adventure games. It's the story of a hard-boiled Bogardesque PI. Try it.

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              • #8
                I'll have to 'look' (cough) for it right now. I browsed for the discworld game a long time ago to see if it would invalidate my thought for a discworld Morrowind mod, but all I found were those terrible cartoons. I though it would just be a sequel.
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                • #9
                  How come there are no good detective games?
                  because they suck?

                  seriously... being a detective might be fun to watch on TV, like Law and Order , but it would be boring and monotanous for a game.
                  To us, it is the BEAST.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sava
                    seriously... being a detective might be fun to watch on TV, like Law and Order , but it would be boring and monotanous for a game.
                    Well, no necessarily... Take the board game Matt was citing for example... I think it's called Clue? It's a good board game. Therefore, one could make a good computer game based on the concept. I guess the incentive to solve the crime should not only be for the sake of solving the crime, though, but let's say, to beat another detective to it. You could even build in some role-playing elements into it.

                    Say you could choose certain skills for your detective:

                    1. Speech - can pull the facts out of the suspects and witnesses well.
                    2. Attentiveness to details - can spot clues that evade a less careful observer.
                    3. etc.

                    As you solve more crimes, your skills go up. As well, one could build in things like the career ladder: you start out as a constable, and work up the ladder to become the chief of police.
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                    • #11
                      I was thinking of the game as more a challenge to the player, not the in-game character. Skills etc. are limiters or assists for games that go too fast (in this case) or are impossible (RPGs).
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MattH
                        I was thinking of the game as more a challenge to the player, not the in-game character.
                        So more of a puzzle kind of thing?
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                        • #13
                          i thought there were some games based on csi or law and order. what are those exactly?
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                          • #14
                            Beats me. I kind of liked Dick Tracey on the NES.
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                            • #15
                              Well, there's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Law & Order". I haven't played either myself, but from what I gather, the replayability isn't that great. I think it would really be an interesting challenege to come up with a system for dynamically generating crimes to solve...
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