GameDec PAX West 2019 Impression
GameDec strives to be a narrative focused on gameplay, where actions have true weight to them.
In a dystopian future where computers do everything needed, what’s a human to do? Fall into one of the many worlds of hardcore virtual reality seen in movies like The Maxtrix, living in these games for days and weeks at a time, of course. Which gives rise to new and interesting lines of work, such as being a private eye inside these virtual worlds — thus is born the role of Game Detective, or GameDec for short. A cyberpunk RPG with a heavy narrative focus, GameDec shoots for a dystopian world not unlike the one seen in Ready, Player One, based off the narrative works of a Polish author known for dystopian novels.
Each case, or chapter, happens within a unique digital world. For the demo, the GameDec must enter Harvest Time, a hardcore farming MMORPG focused on grinding. Inside this game, player characters are getting sick and sometimes outright disappearing — something that clearly shouldn’t be happening inside of a virtual reality. Upon arriving at the bar hosting VR chairs for the game, the detective must find a way into the VIP lounge. He’s got choices — perhaps something out of the player-selected background will help him, such as growing up in a specific place or a hobby refined before becoming a GameDec? Alternatively, perhaps the detective’s charisma will sway the bartender? If no other options present themselves, there’s always a basic dialogue option or two to finesse the situation. Or players can completely skip the finesse and force their way into the VIP lounge with a good old-fashioned hacking.
Each MMO is uniquely self-contained. The case inside Harvest Time can only be solved by being inside Harvest Time, asking the right questions and gleaning the proper information. A mystery may have many different kinds of clues that lead towards a final resolution — for example, the initial case presented had eight clues and up to three conclusions. Which clues the player accrues depends on a lot of aspects — timing being a big one. After all, people are getting sick and dying in this game, and a clue may be held by someone who passes away after a certain amount of time. That being said, the devs plan to have multiple ways to acquire clues, so there’s not going to be a right or wrong way to accrue information, just different ways. The devs also warned us that even though eight clues were shown, some players through their action (or inaction) may find they can only gather six. Gathering less information means fewer conclusions present themselves, but there will always be at least one way forward.
Each case is expected to take approximately an hour to finish, perhaps two if players peek into every corner or get lost in the grinding of each game — Harvest Time had actual fully-working fields where the detective could plant, tend, and harvest crops for in-game cash, an unexpected level of polish in a title still under development…though they were a little coy as to how the in-game currencies would be used within the investigative narration. Heading to Steam first in 2020, the team hopes to offer the game in as many places as possible. What that entails will be detailed closer to the PC release next year.
Ultimately, GameDec strives to be a narrative focused on gameplay, where actions have true weight to them. To aid with immersion, the detective character will have some form of customization, likely including appearance, gender, and pronouns, but since the game is still in development what exactly will make it to the final product is still to be determined.