[GUEST POST] A Criminal on the Loose by Fairuj Nawar (TJC)
Disclaimer: Guest posts represent the diversity of opinion within the world of gamification, and the views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author.
A Criminal on the Loose is a unique and thrilling adventure game. In this game, the player can choose between solving a crime like Sherlock, or committing the crime and getting away with it like a smooth criminal. Or both – the choice is yours.
Crime and mystery related things intrigue me, such as serial killer documentaries, detective novels, etc. hence I thought I would enjoy making a game on this topic. Initially, I was clear about deciding that my game will be on this topic, but I wanted to make it a little more interesting than just a detective game. I drew inspiration from the template game “Whodunnit!” by one of the previous mentees of Gametize from our school.
My game is quite similar to that game, with an added element of the role. My game is centred around crime as well, but the player gets to choose to play as the crime-solver, the criminal, or both. This idea seemed interesting because there are various popular video games where the game is centred around committing crimes and violence, such as GTA, Assassin’s Creed etc.
On the other hand, there are detective games, like Criminal Case, which hugely inspired me as well, that involve the player working against the crime. Since these games are appealing to players, I included both elements in my game, while still focusing on the main topic which is a crime.
Through this game, I aimed for the players to have a fun virtual experience of solving a crime through realistic means, such as interrogating suspects and finding clues. I also wanted them to have fun switching between the roles of the ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ by letting them play the criminal as well.
While I do not wish to encourage my players to carry out criminal acts, they would enjoy having a virtual experience of planning a crime, carrying it out stealthily and having the objective to get away with it. This makes the game more interesting in my opinion, as it lets the player explore the two opposite spectrums of the same topic.
The game consists of two separate chapters. Each chapter has its own story and characters, and in each, the player’s roles are the complete opposite of eachother. The two chapters are not in chronological order, as they are completely different, hence the player can choose which one they want to try out first.
The first chapter is called “Be the detective”, where the player’s role is to play as a detective and solve the crime. The storyline revolves around the character of the victim who was murdered in her apartment. The player, the ‘detective’ in this case, has to complete the challenges which involve analyzing the victim’s autopsy report, finding clues and interrogating suspects, and the victim’s family members. The storyline unfolds as one clue leads to the next. The player has to succeed in certain challenges to be able to get to the next step of the game, which was implemented through the point system. Eventually, the player has to find the killer and their motive.
The second chapter, “Be the criminal”, lets the player play as the criminal. This also consists of a storyline and characters. The target in this case is Brandon Carrell, a CEO of a million dollar company. The player works as a hitman, and is hired by an unknown person. They send a mail to the player’s character, instructing to assassinate the target and retrieve a particular item from his apartment.
In this chapter, the player’s objective is to carry out the operation without getting caught. If successful, the man who hired the player rewards them with a huge ransom and the player gets away with it. This case includes challenges too, except they are from a criminal’s perspective. The player has to figure out ways to get the job done without drawing the police’s attention. Similar to the other chapter, one task leads to the next and the storyline unfolds chronologically.
A mix of animated and real-life photos was used to illustrate the game, with the majority of them being realistic pictures. I picked photos from various royalty-free image websites that will best suit the storyline, or a particular character or scene.
For example, I used a picture of a statue that looks like a deceased girl, to fit the character of ‘Christa Lee’, who was the murder victim. Another photo I used was an animated 2D image of a well-dressed man to represent the character of ‘Brandon Carrell’, who is a wealthy businessman. Using animated images alongside realistic ones added more dynamic to the game, and sometimes they are able to illustrate a point or a topic better than a real-life image can.
Features of the game
The game mainly consists of quizzes, predictions, and fixed answers. For the parts of the stories in the game that involved “crime scenes”, or the characters showing their emotions, flashcards were used to describe them. For the searching for clues, multiple attempt quizzes were used to let the player figure out the correct option, and be able to try again if they did not succeed on the first try.
Achievements / Rewards
Achievements are earned for each set of challenges the player completes. For example, if the investigation of the first crime scene consists of three challenges, the player earns a badge upon completing all three. While some achievements are like milestones earned from big challenges a player has to complete, others are optional that are dependent on the player’s choices.
There is also an ultimate achievement that the player earns after completing all of the challenges in one topic or all the topics in the game. These achievements are the more significant ones. Making use of little achievements along the way motivates the player to continue the game, and makes the experience enjoyable. The ultimate achievements that the player receives upon reaching the main goals give them a sense of satisfaction and victory.
The first challenge was coming up with a solid idea and plot for my game. While I did have a rough idea of what it is going to be about, I had some trouble figuring out how it would exactly play out. Some time was needed for trial and error to figure out the correct methods, such as the storylines and types of challenges, that would make my game appealing to players and keep them hooked, and to come up with the right idea and a storyline that would make sense and unfold properly.
Another challenge was regarding the limitations of the platform. Initially, my game idea was to give the player a choice to either play as a criminal or a crime solver and let the storyline unfold accordingly. I got this idea from various video games that allow this feature, which unfortunately required more complex tools and programming that are not available on the Gametize platform as of right now.
I eventually managed to still implement my original idea in the game by making use of the tools I already have access to. I decided to use the “topic” feature, which is used to include various topics in one game. Instead of being an either-or choice, this feature rather enabled the player to be able to play as both characters and experience both of the stories unfolding.
I really enjoyed making the game as a beginner. Despite the challenges and limitations faced, I was still able to work through them. The main goal of this game was to give the player an exciting and fun experience while using critical thinking and logic to find the answers.