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Engine: Unity

Tools: MS Visual Studio, Inky, Arcweave

Language: C#

Role: Game Designer

Team size: 1

Development Time: ~3 months

Synopsis:

"Allan and Ace: Detective Duo" is a co-operative crime solving visual novel in which players control either the rookie detective, Allan Veritas, or the trainee police dog, Ace. Working together, they must find clues and solve various cases set in the county of Surrey in England.

Project Components:

  • Design Focus:

    • Game Design

    • Multi-perspective Narrative Design

    • Co-operative Crime Solving

  • In-Game Objective:

    • Solve the various criminal cases as a co-op duo by finding clues as both a human detective and a canine companion.

  • Project Objective:

    • Explore creating a new sub-genre of games within the visual novel genre.

Design Breakdown:

To continue developing my game design skills, I challenged myself with creating a new type of game, something which has almost never been done before: a co-operative visual novel. Inspiration came from walking my dog when I saw a missing dog poster and thought "what if it was a crime solving game...but with animals as well as humans?".

This then became the premise for the game: it would be 2 players who would either control a detective or a police dog for the duration of the case. In order to progress through the case, they would have to use their skills and work together to help each other discover clues and piece together what happened. Typically, the detective would interact with humans while the police dog would interact with animals, although this would not always be the case.

The narrative therefore required 2 sets of stories which would be interwoven: one for the detective's perspective and one for the dog's. To help encourage co-operative play, both characters possess specific skills which are appropriate to their characters but are limited in certain ways. These limitations are offset by their partner's skills to solidify the co-operative designs. These elements are all considered within the narrative and are tied to real-world examples for how detectives and police dogs would accomplish cases together.

Characters and locations were then designed to fit with this narrative, with locations being set in somewhat unusual places. There are a total of 5 cases and 5 main locations, each one focusing on a different type of crime. As the players go through the cases, they become progressively more complex and tackle more serious crimes instead of only addressing murders (as is the case with most TV shows, films and game that focus on crime).

To help make the game stand out against competitors, the art style played a huge role by ensuring that it did not fall into the oversaturated markets of anime- or cartoon-styled visual novels. Instead, real world images are edited to have a slightly cartoonish appearance whilst retaining their real-world appearances.

The project involved creating 2 interactive scripts (one for each playable character) which were then taken into Arcweave for the first prototype. The second prototype took the scripts into Inky to create the required data to be read inside Unity, which could then perform more advanced gameplay elements.

A full breakdown of the design process can be viewed from the blogs for this project.