Save system included. Hopefully it works.
The victim, for the lack of a better term, was missing a brain. In fact it had been purposefully removed with surgical precision. There were several important questions to be answered: How? For what reason? By whom?
Cyberpolice is a cyberpunk(near future science fiction) story about you as a police officer solving a strange murder case.
You’re new to the city of Neo-Terminus and have been assigned to partner up with a local elite cop.
Current estimated playtime is around 3-15 hours.
At present it’s over 100,000 words on average per playthrough, with plenty of variance in descriptions and options and such, as well as some exclusive branches of chained scenes.
While it’s lacking in certain elements(romances and such for now, certain sub-plots), it can be considered more or less complete up to the point where it ends. (It ends abruptly and is perhaps 1/2 of the whole story)
At this point I’d like to get feedback in whatever form is most comfortable for you to give. Later on I’ll ask for more specific feedback. For now I’d just like to know what you think about it, in your own words. Of course, if you want to give specific feedback, go for it, I’ll certainly welcome it.
How the Major Update will be done.
Regarding the Major Update
Super short version:
The Major Update will be the final version of the game-story. All problems, flaws, feedback, criticism, etc, will have been taken into account or ignored. Essentially everything will be in its final form, the release version, except for the stuff after the cut-off point.
The cut-off point is the finales.
The finales are the final segments I’ll write once everything else is done. It’s the climax of everything, the most exciting parts, theoretically. It not only includes all the endings of the games, but also the lead up to those endings, so they don’t come out of nowhere. All things will be concluded.
There will (probably) be two finales to the game. Mutually exclusive and very different from each other. Which finale you end up in will be determined by the choices you’ve made during the game, the clues you’ve gathered, etc. Both should be equally interesting and satisfying, even if one of them theoretically is the result of you “failing” the main investigation.
Once the thread title includes “MAJOR UPDATE RELEASED”, you’ll know to look at Cyberpolice again, should you have any problem with it in its current form.
No estimated time of completion.
If you think I should pay special attention to something, feel free to suggest it, but be as specific as possible.
Super Long version:
Major Update in detail
What is it?
What is the Major Update?
The Major Update, that I often talk about, is a complete rewrite/restructuring of Cyberpolice.
When I say complete rewrite, I don’t mean I’ll write every single word from scratch, but that I’ll go through all of the text multiple times and make sure it’s internally consistent, and if it isn’t, I’ll either change it so that it is, or delete some parts altogether, or add new things to make it work. Also, if I see something I think is poorly written, I’ll rewrite it so it’s better.
This also includes the need to edit and rewrite certain scenes that are currently very unappealing to many readers and have garnered some criticism. I want the entirety of Cyberpolice to be smooth to read, and to flow well. Thus, if there are specific parts you think are clunky, poorly written, etc, PLEASE MENTION IT TO ME. As the writer I’m blind to my own flaws, and often I simply can’t see what’s wrong even if it’s extremely obvious to a reader.
Understandably it’s a lot of work.
Therefore I need a plan, which is detailed below.
Work on the Major Update will begin soon, once the last scenes of the current segment are finalized(and some written from scratch).
It’s impossible to estimate how long it’ll take to make the Major Update, but probably quite long. I’d be pleasantly surprised if it was done this year.
As for how I’ll work on it, the idea is that for every “new scene” update I do, I’ll also include a rewritten segment of the current text(starting with the bloated clunky parts), so that things proceed smoothly on all fronts. It’d be very annoying to leave the rewrite-editing to last since it’s the most boring job.
What does it mean to the readers?
What will the Major Update mean to you as a reader?
At first little will change. I’ll still post updates as I write new content, but they’ll be out-of-sync with the current story, since they’re stuff that I’ve meant to write earlier but haven’t for various reasons. This includes one-off scenes here and there, as well as entire branches. (thus, you’ll be jumping around in time and your choices mostly won’t carry to the next scene, unless it’s in the same branch).
It will be a bit disorienting, but I’ll always define the moment where the scene is supposed to exist and who the relevant characters are in case you’ve forgotten, so that it’ll make more sense. Of course, getting feedback is the primary goal here, to make sure things are good enough to be added to the whole.
Later, once most of what I want to add have been written, I’ll “rewrite” the entire project, adding the scenes where they belong and making sure they fit there by changing the rest of the scenes accordingly. Some parts or scenes might end up being removed entirely, if they no longer make sense with what I want to achieve with Cyberpolice.
Final Structure of Cyberpolice
Final Structure of Cyberpolice:
Once the Major Update is done, below is how I envision things to be.
Structurally Cyberpolice will be divided into two distinct parts.
The main branch, which CANNOT be skipped, because otherwise the story/game will make no sense. (mostly the stuff that I’ve written up to this point, with a few changes)
The side branches, which CAN be skipped without having a detrimental effect on the game. Thus, side branches are the optional things you, as the reader-player, will choose to pursue as you will. Some will be mutually exclusive, like the “side plots” I’ve often discussed(3 sub-parts of the main story that are especially relevant in that they concern a certain part of the main mystery but dig deep into a specific part of it that’s otherwise left vague).
Other parts are entirely optional, and are either spawned by the player finding specific clues(and thus getting certain scenes that would otherwise not be there), or pursued by the player by their own choice during the “freeplay” segments(more on those below). This is mostly stuff I haven’t written yet.
They’re meant to answer questions that aren’t important to the main story, or they resolve non-main storylines, or bring added depth where things seem shallow at first(for instance, a character that is glossed over in the main story can be pursued in a side branch where they’ll be very relevant).
Sometimes they’ll give a very different perspective on the main branch events or characters, thus changing your point of view of what has happened and so on(something that would otherwise be resolved generically in the main story can be deep and personal in a side story, etc).
For the most part the side branches bring up their own questions to answer, sometimes they answer a question brought up in the main branch in a different way from usual, but sometimes they’ll answer what would otherwise be a mystery in the main branch.
However, side branches MAY include things that enhance the main story, such as answering mysteries, giving more depth to characters, or false clues and red herrings that are fun(note, they must have a point, they can never be just pointless, at minimum they’ll be a fun(in my subjective opinion) segment, or will revolve around a character that’s otherwise left mostly vague, giving them way more time to grow).
All in all this means that there will be a linear/railroaded segment(the main branch) that forms the skeleton of the story, without it there’s no context to anything and nothing will make sense. Unfortunately this can’t be removed due to the fact that I’m not omnipotent. (too much effort at this point to do it otherwise, would take years more and I want this done within a reasonable timeframe).
Still, the side branches should make it so that each playthrough feels unique and personal to the player, and they’ll feel satisfied once at the end, but also left wondering what more there might be if they replay.
Thus, if all goes as planned, there will be no dead-ends once the player chooses a certain sidebranch, and it will have an ending(maybe positive, maybe negative, but an ending nonetheless, not just a sudden cut-off-point). I despise it when in interactive fiction I pursue a sideplot, but it gets “cancelled” for whatever reason(low skill, wrong choices, etc) and never mentioned again. Each story-part needs to be dealt with properly.
The finales and endings will naturally be formed through the interaction between the main branch and the side branches. Occasionally your choices on either the main or sub branches will affect each other, or open up choices that would otherwise not be there.
Styles of content
Now, the form these branches will take will be varied, but there are a few specific styles that will probably stay true:
Investigation / Detective
Freeplay / Personal
What do these mean? Essentially they’re different ways to play through Cyberpolice. If you envision it more as an action oriented story, you should choose the according choices, and they should be catered to you. Likewise, if you feel a detective-investigation is more up your alley, then you should be able to find it as well. Or if you want to mix and match, that’s totally fine too. Same goes for the police procedural stuff.
In many points there will be a clear divide between the styles, thus you can go through the same scene in your preferred way. These are called “variants”, usually(although variants also mean going through the same scenario with a different character as your pair, etc).
Occasionally the divide will be created “organically” based on the choices you’ve made before(if a scene starts as a talk-scene, but you say the wrong things, it may turn into an action scene, or the other way around, etc).
Thus, even if the possibility of a peaceful solution exists, you might not reach it because it doesn’t make sense to me(as the writer) based on your choices. (Note, neither way is inferior or superior to each other, they’ll often have similar or identical outcomes, but occasionally very different ones. They’re more of a “spice” to the game than an absolutely different playthrough. This is especially true for the police procedural stuff). (Currently there are many such examples in the game, but admittedly just as often I’ve only implemented one specific style instead of multiple ones, and I’ll need to make the other styles during the Major Update)
However, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes these are enforced on you, as the story demands. That means that even if you prefer a more investigation oriented story, there may be moments where you’ll need to do “cop stuff” since it’ll serve the greater whole. If all goes well, these forced moments will be rare, as I’d love to give alternatives whenever possible. Still, for certain story beats it just doesn’t make sense if you can always force a specific style where it doesn’t fit(and indeed, some things are mandatory for stuff to make sense). Feedback on this is of great importance, once the Major Update starts to take form.
Regardless of which approach is chosen, it should more or less be of equal length/satisfaction to the player. So if there ever is a part where it seems that one approach is way more interesting or cooler, that means that I’ve either failed, or that there are delayed consequences that revitalize the choice later on. Thus, dialogue, action, and police stuff should be on equal footing(obviously the personal bias of the reader is what it is, so different people will prefer different styles, but I’m speaking in an “objective” fashion).
Also, there probably won’t be an even distribution of the styles, it’ll be more on the basis of whether it makes sense or is feasible to make or not.
Finally, there’s the freeplay/personal stuff.
Essentially these scenes are chosen by the player at certain intervals, more or less once per in-game day, when the official stuff is over.
Currently there aren’t any scenes like this that I remember(just a few fascimiles of them).
The process goes something like this: After the player returns to their hotel from work, they’re given a choices on what to do next.
Perhaps they want to hang around with a particular character(could be one of the main trio, or a less-seen side character perhaps, or one of the non-NTPD characters or even suspects). For suspects you might want to have a private chat with them, whether to further pursue the investigation privately, or to get some corruption goodies from them by promising to help them or blackmailing them or such(not yet decided for sure, so no promises, just examples what it could be). Or you could just chat with them.
Maybe you want to go after some clues that the NTPD has decided aren’t important enough to warrant real investigation, or that they weren’t convinced were even related to the case and time is better spent elsewhere, but your character thinks it’s important and will investigate privately.
There could be an event or two you could go to, but don’t have to(concert, illegal street race, etc).
Some roleplaying content, which doesn’t affect anything, but is great fun for the player since they can play their chosen type of character(go to the bar to get drunk, work vigorously on boring paperwork, visit the slums for borderline illegal activities, etc)
Essentially anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else goes here, chronologically speaking.
They’ll share a few key features:
The player decides when and if to activate these scenes.
They’re available at regular intervals, so you get to choose a scene even if you didn’t on the previous interval.
Usually only the player character will attend alone, unless it’s related to a specific character. (if it is, you may end teaming up with unexpected characters for these scenes)
The scenes will form chains, meaning you’ll need to pursue the same chain of scenes again and again to progress in it, or it won’t reach the end it should(so it’s up to you to pursue or it might end up fizzling out). Meaning, you go from scene 1 to scene 2 to scene 3 in a linear fashion, if you choose to meet character XYZ 3 times on separate occasions. Thus, you can’t “miss” scenes by having bad timing, unless extraordinary circumstances are afoot(as detailed below))
Some scenes are unlocked through specific clues, dialogue options, character relationships, passage of time, etc. At the beginning you’ll have a few basic options, but over time there’ll probably be quite a few to choose from, so you must pursue what you want or they’ll never reach their end. (the pacing should be relatively lax so you have a fair deal of time to go through a few of these, but you can’t go through all, or even half, on a given playthrough).
They are static, you can always choose them unless something ground-breaking(such as character death or incarceration) has happened. Thus, these scenes aren’t tied to in-world time, which can lead to some weird things(character was emotionally devastated, but when you meet them in a bonus scene they’re happy. Not sure whether I should “kill” the scene in that case or just let it happen. Editing it to take such things into account is way too much work due to the nature of these scenes. In some cases character deaths or incarceration or such will spawn different scenes like funerals or visiting someone in a cell)
Character relationships, rivalries, romances
Character relationships, rivalries, romances:
Currently lots of characters have a “like meter” which roughly estimates how much they like the character. It’s rarely used at present. Once the Major Update is done, they’ll be far more relevant and will offer nice spice and variance to many scenes.
Some of this is related to the freeplay stuff mentioned above. For the main trio(Stillwater, Carrington, Mouse), your relationship is mostly formed through regular gameplay, but even they have optional scenes to choose.
For many characters, who have limited screen time in the main branch, you’ll have to choose scenes during freeplay to further any type of relationship with them(whether positive or negative. Maybe you want to personally hound a specific suspect off-duty and make their life miserable).
The current plan is as follows(which may change during the Major Update, I suppose. This is the area of the plan that is the most likely to change):
4 major relationships(Stillwater, Mouse, Carrington, Mari Badr).
Some minor relationships(unspecified characters).
Note, the relationships include friendships, rivalries, and romances. For now I’m not sure whether all three are feasible, and if so, how influential they are to things(do they have a major effect on story scenes,etc).
Also not totally sure whether the romances are just flavor for the friendships and rivalries, or a separate third variant. (also, theoretically there’s also the “neutral” relationship, but that’s more or less the default one. Whether it will spawn “neutral” bonus scenes is as of yet unknown)
As for the difference between major and minor relationships, the major ones are expected to have a lot more care put to them, and will potentially impact the story and events in many ways.
The minor ones are more likely to be their own set of small scenes, and maybe a reference here or there, but won’t change the story all that much. Of course, it’ll depend massively on who I choose for the minor relationships.
For the minor relationships, you WILL have to choose their freeplay-bonus scenes for the relationship to form(whether positive or negative).
For the major relationships there’s no such need, they’re automatic and will spawn bonus scenes and responses when appropriate.
This is because I’m an adherent of the “if it’s relevant, make it relevant” school of thought, where the player is in charge of what they feel is important to their story, and I aim to cater to their preference by making the things they want be relevant, while hiding the things they don’t care about. Of course, this is just boastful bragging at present, we’ll see how I manage to implement it in the end.
The main design philosophy of Cyberpolice:
“I make the story, you make the character and choose how they proceed through the story.”
Therefore, you should never run across a situation where I’m forcing your character’s hand(unless it’s absolutely essential to the story, such as participating in the main investigation or side branches, since otherwise the game-story experience will be worthless as your character shouldn’t even be the “main character” in the first place. ). Well, on occasion I must assume your character behaves like a trained police officer or a mostly well-adjusted human being, to prevent massive choice bloat.
So I guess it applies to the big stuff mostly. Still, your character will never do “big” actions without your permission like shooting or arresting someone or letting them escape, etc(unless the situation otherwise forces it, or your previous choices have implied you’d do that).
Anyway, I’m here to facilitate an interesting experience, not as such to tell a heart-wrenching story of my own making. If both happen to apply at the same time, even better.
I’m also here not to judge. If it ever seems I have some sort of bias in the choices, like some seem “correct” and others “wrong”, where I’m punishing and rewarding people with content if they choose properly, then that’s bad and I want to know ASAP. Sometimes certain choices cut off significant portions of a dialogue, but it’s always because I feel it makes sense. Saying one line or another will lead to the characters to respond in certain ways, which either grows or shortens the conversations, etc. And some characters have things they like or hate and will react accordingly. But it should NEVER be a case where I(as the author) dislike or like something and that results in more interesting content.
In conclusion(read Major Update stuff above to understand context):
(for some reason the poll doesn’t work if I hide it, so it has to be here in the open)
Hopefully I didn’t forget about anything important, I gave it a lot of thought but that doesn’t mean I didn’t overlook something. If I missed some important aspect, it’s not because I ignore it willfully, so please remind me of anything that concerns you. (I know for a fact I forgot a few things I wanted to write about, since I didn’t make notes of them when I should’ve, and they escaped my mind. Sadness)
What I want now is feedback, hence the poll(anonymous, as I believe all polls are on this forum?).
If you think all of this is great and makes sense, vote accordingly. If you think it looks mostly fine and any problems are minor at best, vote accordingly. If you think it’s a stupid, arrogant, or flawed plan, vote accordingly.
Verbal feedback is good too, whether public or private.
DOES THE PLAN FOR THE MAJOR UPDATE SOUND GOOD:
- Sounds great, go for it.
- Seems okay, some minor problems at worst.
- The plan isn’t good and focuses on the wrong things or is just plain foolish.