Aug 05

Weekly Update #155: Attention To Detail

In last week’s blog post, I talked a little about the recent research I’ve been doing for GENBA no Kizuna and the issue of trying to find the balance between “fun” and “realism” in a game. Because often times, sticking to realism can make a game (or a story in general) boring, while straying too far away from it could make it seem utterly ridiculous, causing the players to roll their eyes.

This is especially the case in mystery stories where the readers/players are prompted to think for themselves and figure out the truth before the detective does. Because of this, they tend to question a lot of things. Way more than they’d do with any other kind of story, be it romance or fantasy.

From a murder mystery, you expect a certain level of logic and attention to detail. If the victim is shot from close range, for example, then the detectives better find gunshot residue on the victim, and maybe even on the clothes of the culprit (which could even be that very decisive piece of evidence to corner them). Simply neglecting to include this information or maybe even omitting it on purpose would be seen as unfair: “How was I supposed to figure out that the victim was shot from close range!?”

There are many other details that need to be kept in mind when it comes to a murder mystery. If we stick to the example of a murder by gunshot, the exact type of weapon is important. What’s its range? Ammunition type? How about ballistic markings left on the bullet in case multiple guns (or people carrying a gun) are involved? Where and how was the weapon acquired? Is it even legal to carry a gun or would it have to be acquired through illegal means? This kind of stuff drastically differs from country to country. Even the way police investigators carry out their work is very, very different in the US compared to Japan or Germany, for example.

It’s something that should be kept in mind, because even if you accurately portray how everything works in your country of origin, people might still accuse you of making stuff up, just because it works differently in their country, or they simply have a faulty picture created by TV shows and other media.

Of course, there is always the possibility to create your own set of rules for your fiction world, which could be a mixture of laws from a bunch of different countries.

Since GENBA is set in Japan, I’m sticking as closely as possible to Japanese laws and procedures. However, I am taking a few liberties in order to make the investigation more interesting and faster paced (because, again, if I’d stick too closely to reality here, it’d become a pretty boring game).

The murder itself as well as the evidence and hints connected to it are a different story, though. Precisely because I want it to be fair and for everything to logically fall into place, I have once again spent a lot of time doing research in order to get the specifics right. Not only is it very fascinating to me, I think it’ll also be fun for the player to actually move around the crime scene and discover all these little details that will hopefully get them on the right track (and occasionally mislead them) while they search for the truth.

It’s a very complex and intricate process. Just yesterday, I went back to the first investigation phase in order to add some more info and details which are very important to what has happened. Providing clues certainly is one of the hardest aspects of writing a story like this. You really have to think carefully about where to present which kind of clue and even about how you present it (a good clue is neither so obscure that the reader doesn’t even perceive it as a clue, nor does it make the solution blatantly obvious).

Somehow, everything worked out quite well with SHINRAI, but I often get nervous about GENBA, wondering if I can pull this off so well again, without badly messing up somewhere…

With so many important details to keep in mind, it’s easy to overlook something, after all. Although I do have to admit that, ever since last night, I’ve once again become a bit more confident. I’ve finally managed to solve one of the bigger remaining problems in regards to the actual murder. One that had me really worried and frustrated for some time now, to be honest.

But now that’s another overcome obstacle! And I’m very eager to continue writing now that it’s behind me. Which is what I wanna get back to right now, so… as always, please enjoy the rest of your weekend and, until next Saturday, take care! :3