Aug 18

Weekly Update #209: How To Plan A Crime

Over the course of this past week, I’ve continued working on the crime scene version of the Main Hall in GENBA no Kizuna‘s primary location: the Kaseki Residence. I’ve posted a “pre-crime” version of it some time ago, which you can check out here.

That was kind of the easy part. Creating a variant of this background after the crime has occurred, however, is quite a bit more difficult, since it requires special attention to detail. So let’s talk about that for a bit today!

First of all, there are still some details missing even on the pre-crime version. If you take a look at it, you will probably notice that not all the picture frames on the second floor actually have a proper picture in them, for example. So that is one thing I’ve rectified by drawing some more dinosaur skulls. But the really important aspect is, of course, the actual crime itself and its repercussions.

Which objects got covered in blood? Which objects were broken or moved? What other elements have changed as a direct result of what happened during the fatal incident?

This background will later become an essential part in the investigation. Players can examine it and search for clues and evidence they will need to unravel all the mysteries and not only uncover the identity of the culprit, but also back up their theories with undeniable proof. Consequently, I need to have a good grasp on what has happened here and how the main hall has changed from its original state. Otherwise, I won’t know where to put all the puzzle pieces that can be collected as evidence.

Of course, there is always the option of fixing things later. If I miss an important piece of evidence or realize that the portrayal of another is factually incorrect or even unintentionally misleading, I can just edit the background later. The important thing is that everything is accurate in the final release of the game.

Nevertheless, I like to get things right from the get-go rather than think: “I can always fix this later“. And that’s the main reason why this is so time-consuming. It’s not just about drawing a background. The writing and story heavily get involved here as well, to the point where they go basically hand in hand with the visuals. I need to know the actions of the culprit and their results on the environment to draw the background, but also need to draw the background to better visualize the environment the culprit acted in.

Because of that, one thing I’ve been doing while working on this background, is to jot down a detailed list of events leading up to the moment of murder. Or, in other words, an overview of everything that happened before the police arrived at the scene, which is more or less also the moment the player gets to start the game.

If you have played our demo, you might remember that Keiichi arrives at the scene around 12:00 AM. But how did the day at the Kaseki Residence actually start? What did the suspects and the victim do? Their movements, their actions… all of this I decided to note down in a comprehensive time table. So let’s have a look at that, shall we?

And that’s how the day for Ryuunosuke and his friends begins. I’ve been using time stamps to get a better idea of the passage of time between events and actions, since this will eventually become very important. How much time has passed between the victim’s death and the discovery of the body? How much more time continued to pass until the police arrived? All of this plays into the autopsy report later on. How far rigor mortis has spread is going to be an important clue to the players as to when the crime occurred. But even in general, the order of events prior to the crime, and how much time lies between them, is going to be of great significance in reconstructing the murder. Only by knowing ‘who‘ did ‘what‘ and ‘when‘ will you be able to uncover the truth.

As you can see here, I’m going into even more detail later on by switching the format a little. I begin using time stamps as the headline and list everything that happens during that specific time down below. This becomes especially helpful during the crucial moments of the morning when many things happen at once and all characters are doing things at the same time in different places.

Sometimes, I’m even adding entire lines of dialogue. Players might never be able to read them, but they help me in immersing myself in the situation and getting a better understanding of the characters and their actions.

Some might think I’m going a little overboard and that this is a bit too much for something that’s not even going to be presented to such detail in the finished game. However, I find this sort of time table to be tremendously helpful. As mentioned before, it gives me a better grasp on the passage of time which, in turn, enables me to portray everything more realistically.

More importantly, however, it’s of great help in regards to the crime itself. In order not to make any mistakes, or mix up the order of events and such, it’s very helpful to have them written down like this. It only requires a quick look at a specific time stamp to double-check what I’m writing in the script is actually accurate.

It’s also a nice “evidence check list”, since I have highlighted all the important things that will later turn into something relevant to the case, or even become an actual piece of evidence (and it quickly lets me know what to keep in mind for the BGs):

I would have liked to use better examples, but I had to be very selective here due to spoilers. And speaking of which, I guess this is as much as I can and want to show, anyway. Still, I hope you now have a better idea of how exactly I’m planning a murder. I’m literally doing it step by step, trying to take all eventualities into account. Because sometimes, even a tiny detail can have a great impact. And I wouldn’t want to miss that.

I will continue working on this some more and it will probably take a bit more time until I can fully finish that background, but again: I’d rather have it done properly now than needing to do multiple fix ups later. I mean, sometimes, I guess you can’t help it and, no matter how hard you look, you’ll miss a detail after all. But let’s keep those at a minimum, eh? w

Anyway, that’s about it in regards to that topic. In other news, Raiko’s birthday has now passed and SHINRAI‘s anniversary is just around the corner! Patrons can even check out this year’s anniversary art already and download a higher resolution version!

With that said, please enjoy the rest of your weekend and, until next time, take care! :3

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