Designing an 'Evidence Collection' mechanic.
You folks asked for updates that reveal insights into the process, so I thought I'd share on of the design challenges I faced for this game, designing an "evidence collection" mechanic. This was actually more challenging than I thought.
In addition to regular point & click mechanics for inspecting and collecting items in the environment, I wanted to additionally include a separate interface specifically for collecting evidence. This wasn't meant to be anything revolutionary, I just wanted a clear separation of Evidence items and Inventory items. I devised a simple tool-set that consists of Taking Photos, Collecting fingerprints and Swabbing fluids.
Actually using these tools could have come in a couple of different flavors... one being more challenging but potentially more frustrating, and the other being more aesthetic than clever. I opted for the later.
The more challenging version would be to have all the tools available for every piece of evidence you are meant to collect. This would mean you have to GUESS which tool you are meant to use. The problem with this is two fold. One, the way the game has been designed, it isnt always clear which tool is the best choice. For example, you find a show with chew marks in a sandbox, are you meant to photograph it? Swab it? Dust for fingerprints? All of the above? (I eliminated the "All of the above" option early because I didn't want the player collecting two-thirds more useless information than necessary. This game is more about the experience than sifting through tons of unrelated information. )
I was also considering scoring you on your ability to choose the right tool to give context to the challenge, but again, the lack of clear indications of which too to use would make this an exercise in frustration. This is similar to the mechanic used on the CSI games that I worked on, but I was never fully satisfied with it.
Negative feedback is the second big problem with the "Challenge" version of evidence collection. With all options available for every piece of evidence you can collect, the potential to be choosing the WRONG option skyrockets. For me there is nothing more annoying in an adventure game than being told "Nope, try again." Especially when choosing a wrong option cant give me useful feedback toward solving a puzzle, or at least delivering entertaining results for a wrong choice. With this mechanic, none of that is really possible.
So I opted for a streamlined mechanic that simply Brings up the tool kit with the correct tool pre-highlighted. It's not challenging, but it does do the intended job of separating Evidence from Inventory while simultaneously supporting the theme and immersion of the narrative.
Hope you guys enjoyed this peek into my thought process!
Announcing the award winning cast!
Announcing the award winning cast of Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe!
We've gathered an amazing line up of actors and actresses to bring the characters of this crazy mystery to life! I think you'll agree that this is one outstanding cast and I have been extremely lucky to get to work with every one of them!
The major players:
Jason Ellis - The original voice actor from the previous Nick Bounty games returns to reprise his role as the lovable smart-ass detective!
Dave Fenoy - Perhaps best known as Lee Everett from Telltale's The Walking Dead, Dave brings a charming suaveness to Zach Foresythe, a psychic detective and one of Bounty's potential sidekicks.
Cissy Jones – Delilah from Firewatch, Katjaa from The Walking Dead, Fury from Darksiders III, this amazingly versatile actress brings the sass as Emily Blackwater, a tough as nails ex-cop who doesn't follow the rules and usually works alone. Another potential partner for Nick Bounty on this case.
Adam Harrington - The man who played Bigby Wolf himself brings that intense energy to Walter Walterman, a retired tough guy with a questionable past who potentially teams up with Nick to solve this murder case.
Melissa Hutchison - The voice behind the one and only Clementine from The Walking Dead, Melissa lends her impeccable talent to infuse poise and intrigue to Ally Gheyter, sister of murder victim who may know more than she lets on.
Gavin Hammon - Kenny in the Walking Dead, Donatello in TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan, Jonas in Oxenfree as Teddy Novack
Nicki Rapp - Lili Zanotto in Psychonauts, Morgan LeFlay in Tales of Monkey Island, Lilly in The Walking Dead as Liddy Bahms
Lani Minella - Long time voice of Nancy Drew, Ivy in Soul Calibur VI, Larry Koopa / Wendy O Koopa & several Mario games, as Officer Sara.
Marc Biagli - Brian Basco in Runaway 1 & 2, Captain Temek / K'Valk in Star Trek Online, Greg in Forever Space as officer Wilmer.
Ron "AAlgar" Watt - Sarcastic Voyage Podcast, Post Atomic Horror as Dr. MacDonald Stuffins.
Mark Boszko - The Optical Podcast, Sarcastic Voyage Podcast as Scumbag.
Jason Ryan Wallace - Endeavor, Sarcastic Voyage Podcast as Street Steve
Jonathan Myles - Neverwinter, Grand Guilds as Officer Earl
Meet the potential sidekicks!
As Nick Bounty sets out to solve a real live murder case, he'll realize that this mystery is too big to solve alone. This time, the smart-ass detective is getting a sidekick, but who that sidekick will be is up to YOU!
*Concept art by the amazing @jetbougan
A tough as nails ex cop who doesn't follow the rules and only works alone. She's ready to hit the streets and anyone on them to track down information on the murderer.
She rose through the ranks as a vice cop by disregarding the rules and taking justice into her own hands. But when she got careless and stepped on a rake injuring herself, her Captain took her off the force until she was fit to rejoin. Until then she’ll have to take on less than ideal side jobs, including being a sidekick for Private Eye Nick Bounty. Whatever pays the bills.
One of those unofficial police psychics who claims to get into the mind of the murderer. He wants to advance his career by becoming an official psychic detective, but is he ready?
Zach wants more than anything to be respected as a detective. He believes that the path to respect is to help people by being a psychic detective. But when put to the test, Zach will instead resort to using is “abilities” to flirt and pick up women. He’s likable, but easily distracted.
He’s old. A cranky old-school tough guy who doesn't take any crap, but might take a few naps here and there.
Although we never know for sure, this guy was probably some kind of hit man for Las Vegas mobsters in the 50's. He’s got nothing to prove, but has a personal need to ensure that the ways of the tough guy don’t disappear in an age of over-sensitivity.
Who is best for the job? You'll get to interview all three, but only ONE will join you on the case of the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe!
New Nick & WIllikins Audio Episode!
Get it here: Can't get enough of spoiled Nick and his exasperated butler Willikins? Then good news, everyone, a new episode of the Nick & Willikins audio adventures has dropped!
Tales from Nick Hall
Whilst clearing out the attics of Nick Hall, our delightful English hero and his ever-faithful manservant reminisce about adventures from across time and the multiverse.
Get it HERE: Tales from Nick Hall
Nick Bounty 3: April Update
The Nick Bounty 3 game is coming along great! We finally got it in a state where it was fully playable from start to finish, and decided that the ending needed a little punching up. So we added and extra beat and an extra scene that will give this story that extra kick it needed. And, it's all still falling withing the projected schedule!
We've reached the point in production where the team is now mostly just me working nights and weekends to bring all the assets into the game and wire it. Up until this point I've had the privilege of collaborating with some amazingly talented people to concept and create the atmospheric environments and interesting characters you'll interact with in the game. Now that the game is playable, Ron "AAlgar" Watt and Jason Ellis will be lending their creativity to punch up the dialog and interactive bits to ensure the game keeps you entertained the entire time! And soon we'll be reaching the point where music and voice acting will come into play as well. (This is one of the most exciting phases for me, when all the scenes and characters really come to life!)
So how are things looking? Take a look at some Work In Progress scenes and characters!
nick Bounty is fully funded!
You guys helped us reach our initial goal in the first two weeks, and then kept supporting the project to earn us an additional 6k!
We've raised enough to pay for our assets and production costs as well as giving us the ability to provide other ex-Telltale artists some contract work. And it's already starting to pay off! The concept art is looking amazing!
Now that the fundraising part is finished, I'm looking forward to jumping right back into production and start building the game again.
Thank again to everyone for your support. It's been a crazy and terrifying year and I truly appreciate you all coming together to help me though it and to help me make this project a reality! <3
Nick Bounty 3 officially in development!!
It's official! After... years... so many years, the smart ass detective is back on the case!
Pinhead games is officially bringing back Nick and his unique style of crime solving. We are still VERY early in development, but are stupid excited to be making this game!
This will be Pinhead Games first commercial product! And we are determined to make this the highest quality game we've ever made! We've set up a Kickstarter to raise money that will help us work with some of the very best people in the industry and raise the quality bar beyond what we've ever done before.
We've got a LOT of work ahead of us and it's gonna take some time, but we think it's gonna be worth it. Stay tuned and let us know what you think!
Download the mobile version of Nick & Willikins today!
Wish you could take young Nick of Nick Hall everywhere you go? Well too bad, because now you can! The Adventures of Nick & Willikins is now available for Android mobile devices. Along with the new release comes new features designed especially for the small screen.
AVAILABLE NOW for FREE on Steam!!!