I’m a big fan of certain TV shows – even my wardrobe reflects this. I’m currently writing this wearing a t-shirt with NCIS stamped across it, the sweater I was wearing earlier read “he’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?” which is a quote from the same show. I love NCIS, and CSI and quite a few more TV programs. I’m highlighting these two in particular as they have been made into computer games. Now, obviously as this is a gaming blog I quite like playing games. Therefore combining two of my favourite things together is always going to be a winner unless the games are awful which unfortunately they are.
What they are?
The games are basically point, click, drag, click, click and click some more. There is no exploration of the world the fans love so much, there’s no immersive gameplay, in fact in most cases the voices of the characters aren’t even the actors that play them. I’ve bought and played every single on as I’m a fan and so therefore I’m actually perpetuating the con. I know the games are bad, I don’t really enjoy them, but they are the only game I have to do with my favourite TV shows. That used to be enough but increasingly I’m getting annoyed that these game companies can’t do better.
What I’d like to see
I’m not a games designer and I suppose not much of a gamer. I play World of Warcraft and in all honesty that’s about it. I’ve dabbled in Diablo 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic. I really enjoyed the second but it’s too similar to warcraft and warcraft has it beat. Therefore, when I’m fed up with warcraft I don’t want to play swtor either, and when I’m not fed up I want to play warcraft. Anyway, that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say I suppose is I’m coming at it from the perspective of a non gamer who enjoys a few games.
What I’d like to see is an immersive world where the player can go anywhere in it, like the real world and like warcraft. They wouldn’t access areas through clicking on them as the games currently have and they’d be able to move around freely in the way that warcraft has. I’m not entirely sure what it’s called but where the character is in the middle of the screen like first person but not zoomed in that far. The character could get around quickly between areas by asking their colleague to drive (like a flightpath) or can drive themselves (akin to mounts). Obviously most of the places/buildings passed, would be inaccessible and there just for scenery. However, more could open up as cases progressed as they would be in different places around town.
What’s difficult about these games is how do you imitate the actions of evidence collection without it just being a point and click job. It’s easy with warcraft as that’s built on combat. However, this is dependant on the player getting certain items, and doing certain things with them, in order to progress through the story. This makes freeplay decidedly difficult in addition to already having difficulties with imitating the core focus of the gameplay.
In terms of something like evidence collection the current games do it reasonably ok. I know that there are options on some of them to turn off the assist markers. I don’t think these assist markers should be there. There should also be a mix of items about. After all if a body is found in a dumpster not everything in the dumpster will be evidence, however some of it will be, and it’s up to the player to distinguish the difference. They can have a kit, like spells, and they have to choose the correct one to use. Choose incorrectly and what they’re collecting may get destroyed. Likewise if the player releases the scene, and they’ve missed something, then whatever they subsequently found would be inadmissible in court.
This likely seems quite harsh which is why the player would be guided along at first. Like a probie they’d start out with clear instructions on what to gather and how. Once they have a few cases under their belt and completed the training levels they can move on in their career. If the player does make a mistake then they can continue with a black mark on their record (preventing them from completing the ultimate goal of the game, say getting promoted to supervisor or something). However, unlike real life they could (like in Diablo 3) go back and replay certain cases and correct their mistakes.
In the games at the moment there are mini games where the evidence is analysed. Some elements of this like comparing and searching for fingerprint matches would still be done. These are done by people on the show too. However, the mini game of doing the work of the mass spec or something would have to go. Others like hacking codes (as long that’s done sympathetically) could be added.
If done like this a robust platform would essentially have been created. Like with The Sims new content patches (cases) or expansion packs could come out semi regularly keeping both the players (and the company with increased revenue) happy. Elements of other games like car chases (racing), shootouts (fps) and planning an assault (rts) could also be included. They can practice their skills in other mini games (the range for shooting, advanced driving school etc.) and it all ties into the TV program. Fans of the show would love it and I believe this would also appeal to a broader spectrum of gamers. Right now any gamers view TV tie-in games to be bad games that only a true fan could stomach. That doesn’t have to be the case as swtor proved. I’m not much of a Star Wars fan but that game was fun.
I’d love a game like what I’ve described but I don’t see it ever being made. A quality game like this would take talent and money. An indie publisher could do it, as they can produce some quality stuff, but they would be able to afford the IP. The networks that own the shows would never commission a quality game. They make the ones that they do as cheaply as possible and fans buy them because they are fans. I feel a little cheated that they don’t think more of us than that. With a little vision they could create something extraordinary. However, for as long as we support them by buying their inferior products they won’t. If we stopped supporting them then they’d decide that that wasn’t a profitable area and we wouldn’t even have the little we do. I wish so much that we could have a proper game, but it won’t happen, and it doesn’t do to dwell on dreams.