Future Cop (Game Concept)

March 19, 2010

Cop of the Future (PC release first, possibly XBOX360 & PS3 later)

In Fallout 3, the player is presented with a world in which there is a wide amount of choice about what to do and how to do it. The following document describes a game world that has elements of this, as well as utilising the arm mounted computer idea presented along with a near future world that demonstrates how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Take a look at any science fiction entertainment that is generally highly regarded (Even if by a relatively small ‘cult’ audience) and a common theme emerges – That the fiction isn’t about the technology, but rather how the technology effects the people it comes into contact with and vice versa.

The game explores a futuristic world where technological developments are somewhere between current day, and futuristic settings such as those presented in Blade Runner and the world the way is was prior to the human-versus-machine war in The Matrix. Technologies have been invented that can extend peoples average life spans (Via a DNA/Protein/Cellular regeneration process which has its limits, but not enough to prevent governments the world over from enacting policies intended to limit overpopulation such as a 2 children per family rule), Cars are trusted to drive themselves, energy weapons are a viable technology (Though somewhat expensive) and synthetics not only allow healing and limb replacement but also the creation of androids that appear human in every way, except that AI research still hasn’t reached a sufficient level that it could sufficiently pass the Turing test. The androids seem life-like and can appear to move and act like real humans, but they could not be said to have a soul or the will/desire to be any more than slaves.

Law enforcement has also received its own developments and in response to new threats never before seen in the world has improved its capability to respond to the various situations the world presents for police officers and detectives.

All enforcement officers now wear a helmet or shoulder mounted data-recording system (Depending on whether the officer is on soft/hard operations) with built in communication system that allow an officer to be constantly in contact with headquarters (Unless the signal somehow gets interrupted), this also allows an officer to contact other operatives, send or receive information from head quarters such as the identity and background (Plus any criminal record) of a person or request details of the owner of a car by its registry, etc. Officers with the appropriate authority and training might also expanded functionality tools that perform tasks such as systems intrusion, door bypassing, medicinal application, lie detection (Which can be defeated depending on the skill of the liar) or chemical/evidence analysis and so on.

The game should continue to run in real time even when the player is accessing the wrist mounted computer, when this happens the top part of the key entry element will be visible in the first person perspective with the screen of the computer taking up the lower half of the screen, so that the player can still see what’s going on ahead of him/her. The actual arm mounted element of the computer can either be a version which has a holographic projection of the keyboard, or have a cover that is flipped open so that the keyboard appears beneath the arm computer screen in the first person view.

The computer is also a data storage tool, which logs conversations, active/closed case files (investigations) and an inventory log which knows what clothing you’re wearing and details of pocket space and so on.

The player character has just left the training academy (Where the tutorial is set) and moved to his/her first posting, moving into a house (Initially unfurnished) not far from the station that the character works from, along with these two main locations that the character can visit there is also a nearby pub that is popular with the local officers as well as the usual places such as housing and shopping. The headquarters, home and pub serve as central locations that the character will likely visit regularly, though there are other pubs and drinking establishments the player might visit.

The player is partnered with a more experienced officer and the two officers share a police car (Hover technology hasn’t been implemented yet, as it has in Blade Runner) and work together on various tasks that occur during gameplay. The player character can pick up ‘Tricks of the Trade’ from the partner and other characters such as ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’, which is an interrogation technique that might be used to get information from difficult suspects, this is in addition to standard skills that the player can learn, that provide access to special equipment such as the medical application tool.

As police officers, the duo of player and partner might be involved in a selection of different incidents that are responded to during patrols. The actual incident can either be one of a selection of incidents that are invoked at random or might be special story based cases that turn into investigations that are worked on when not actively patrolling. Therefore the player is doing one of four things – Off duty (At home, shopping, down the pub, going out to restaurants or other entertainment, having a relationship?), patrolling which can then involve an incident which is a randomised potentially repeating situation, though the incident may turn into an investigation if a story based incident is chosen by the game facilitator. Example police incidents might include car chases, homicide incidents (A story based serial killer investigation?), missing persons cases, drug crime incidents, theft, arson, slavery/prostitution (Thorny issue to be touching), domestic disputes, suspicious deaths, drunk & disorderly, illegal imports and riots or some form of civil unrest.

Additional story based investigations might tackle personal/work relationships or cases relating to the technological setting the game is based in, for instance an investigation where a disgruntled programmer agrees to help a criminal modify the code of an android so that it can be used to steal from people, breaches of regulations on family sizes, corruption investigations (Later in the game), illegal reprogramming of vehicles, an assassination attempt and other stories that can be told based on the futuristic setting of the game. In order to create a credible experience emphasis must be placed on getting the voice acting and dialogue correct so that it doesn’t result in a cognitive dissonance where the visuals and gameplay might make sense but the way certain characters talk sound wrong for the world, this includes recruiting experienced writers who are part of the development team from early concepting right through to the final polishing touches, and experienced voice acting expert should be available during voice recording to ensure that the words spoken fit with the situations being depicted in the game.

The itinerant second hand weapons dealer problem will also be approached within the game, items that are carried by the player are done so in pockets (Wallet for example) and when on duty the uniforms have a storage belt (Which is mostly for storing ammunition, special tools and so on) that can also be used to carry items. Off duty the player character might be wearing a gun belt across the chest which has room for a pistol. Rifle sized weapons are either held in the player characters hands (Holding right mouse button would put the player character into aim mode, under certain situations this can cause any civilians in the area to panic and run) or are slung over the shoulder if the rifle has a shoulder strap. Most of the time the player character will only need the handgun, the police cars tend to have a rifle or three in the trunk for emergency situations. Items bought when the player character is shopping are either carried in baskets/shopping bags or are delivered straight to the destination (House, headquarters or some special location), equipping the handgun might cause a bag or two to be dropped where appropriate. The player can not generally take and keep any items that are linked to a crime scene, these have to be handed in at the headquarters or the player character might get into trouble for doing so.

Another problem that needs to be addressed is how to handle dialogue in real time without potentially gameplay disruptive dialogue menus. To correct for this problem, the Z, X and Y keys can be used to respond to context sensitive situations. For example the player and partner are standing at one end of an alley whilst a gunman is taking pot shots when the officers try to peak around the corner. Your partner gestures to you and says “do you want to distract them whilst I go around (Z) or do you want all the fun?” (X), the player then presses a key based on a personal preference. If the player doesn’t respond (All conversation sequences need to account for non responses), the partner makes the decision for the player – This could either be randomised or be somehow based on how the partner feels about the player based on past behaviour. The player forms friendships with other characters, particularly colleagues and potentially intimate companions, but there is no penalty for the player ignoring these elements if he/she would rather stay away from those kinds of interactions (Unlike the endless nagging that can occur in Grand Theft Auto IV).

As the game is set in a futuristic city, the player can move around in different ways, ranging from walking to talking the metro, a taxi or driving around in a police car when on duty. The player might also buy a car but this is one of the more expensive outlays the player can make (A car can be bought on a payment plan, that simply reduces monthly pay made to the player as part of the pay check with which food and so on is bought.

Visually, the game should consist of a mixture of current day buildings with futuristic technology inside as well as considerably more modern buildings with all the latest fixtures and fittings. All clothing and uniforms should be designed by an experienced clothes designer/artist to ensure that the depiction of life in the city has a believability to it that might otherwise by very distracting to the player. The city should be non-descript in the sense that it isn’t immediately recognisable as being based on any particular city so as to prevent potential issues with the media reaction to the game (Due to presenting difficult subject matter such as police corruption).

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