The idea for this game came into my head while I was watching a play though of Danganronpa, a near future dystopian game set in a high school that only accepts the best and brightest. In the story, an evil mastermind traps the incoming class inside the school and assures them if one manages to commit a murder without the rest of the students finding out, that student gets to leave the school. The game plays out as a series of murder mysteries that contains clues that lead you closer and closer to finding out who the mastermind is and how can you and the rest of the students can escape.
image source: superjump magazine
The strong suit of this game was its story line and characters. The game came out in November 2010, and 11 years later the series is still running strong. There have been TV and print adaptations, and fans routinely dress up as their favorite characters. There is a lot to learn from this game on how to build a world and characters.
The part that I felt non-plussed about was the gameplay. The mysteries tended to be fairly straight forward to solve; just click through a few multiple choice questions, and if you were paying attention, it wouldn’t be too difficult. Furthermore, the outcome of each trial was decided on how well you completed a variety of mini-games. These elements took me out of the fantasy.
For my game, I wanted to make a game that could have an engaging story, interesting characters, and puzzles focused around solving the mystery. A fun and consistent fantasy. I took a look at the stories that I have been reading, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie’s bibliography, and I tried to distill some traits. The three that I settled on were:
Exploration - observing and manipulating the environment
Social - getting to know the characters that are involved
Privilege - being able to be trusted by and have a certain amount of power over the people around you
These traits were molded into the characteristics of intelligence, charisma and class. When you start the game you will pick a dominant, neutral and recessive characteristic which will shape the way you see the story as well as change the puzzles you will have to solve in order to solve the murder!