Thought Police – Final Thoughts

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April 28th, 2014 7:02 pm

Thought Police is done! And is available to play right now!

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Arguably ahead of schedule, although I goofed at the very last moment and managed to remove the art from the title screen. It’s been fixed quite quickly though.

I gotta admit, I was seriously not rooting for Beneath the Surface as a theme (funnily enough, I was most looking forward to getting Four Elements and doing a game about hip-hop). But when me and Aryn started brainstorming, we ended up naturally drifting towards digging up deep-seated emotions and uncovering corruption in organisations.

Thought Police ended up being both of those things pretty effectively. Details below the cut.

I’m the kind of person who always has consistent underlying themes in my work. Queerness, fashion, retrofuture. Stories about digging up feelings and subversive mysteries are great for my preferred themes.

Designing the emotion system feels, in retrospect, like it wasn’t that hard. Probably because the coding behind it was horribly basic and inefficient. Still, I put in a lot of effort to make the HUD for the emotions have some skeumorphism, complete with a lot of hunting for appropriate sound effects. I’d love to see what someone could do with it if they had some actual coding knowledge.

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I am only, at best, a skilled writer. My coding skills are relatively untapped, and I am terrified of trying to employ my drawing ability into something I’d show to others.

So when it came to doing backgrounds, I cheated a hell of a lot. Lot’s of tracing, lots of photoshop tricks, a lot of being ‘intentionally off kilter but not really’. Some of it worked really well:

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Some of it, especially my initial attempts, look like garbage:

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Some are so cheap it’s actually kind of amusing to me now:

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I guess the major lesson I’d give to others is that the punk approach works really well for visual novels, and interactive fiction in general: Anything you don’t know how to do, do anyway with reckless abandon and confidence. Make your inexperience the aesthetic, and go wild with it.

For Aryn, this jam was the first time he had needed to produce a large amount of artwork in a short period of time. For better or for worse he’s a bit of a perfectionist, and the hours he was putting in to each unique pose means that he ended up pulling an all-nighter to finish up the art, despite my protests.

He was absolutely incredible, turning my fashion suggestions into coherent pieces. Every character has an elaborate pattern or gradient in some way – I love it.

To give a rundown of the cast (Spoilers will follow):

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Alexis Brambilla (Bram-BEE-ya) – Detective Inspector, unsmiling, gender ambiguous.

Having protagonists who aren’t the standard for game narratives is very important to me. It gives other people a chance to have a protagonist closer to their own demographic, and they’re more fun to write. Alexis’ design is based partly on Naoto from Persona 4, but over time, a sizeable amount of Phoenix Wright has crept in – probably because of the game’s emotion-reading mechanic. Now they no longer work for the police, they’d probably make a great Private Eye.

 

 

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Anthony Gentry – Police Chief, silver fox, surprisingly evil.

Gentry’s design gave Aryn the most trouble. All those straight lines didn’t play nice with his inking technique, and drawing ancient runes on his tie and waistcoat got fiddly. Yep, ancient runes. That and the red eyes probably tips him off as evil (and the game as supernatural) pretty quickly. He was to actually grow horns in one cut of the script. Probably for the best that never manifested.

 

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Jacek (YA-sek) Klimy – Gang minion, pyrokinetic, bundle of inferiority complexes

Jacek made for an interesting foil to Alexis. Even though he’s clearly an emotional person (angry to sad at the drop of a hat!) He’s also trying hard to keep his feeling suppressed – so it’s a surprise to him when Alexis can read him like a book! His relationship with Kayode will hopefully cause some thought. What we know about it is entirely from Jacek’s perspective, so how Kayode actually acts is unknown. Some may think this means their relationship may not be a romantic one, but too bad – they’ve definitely made out at least once.

 

 

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Julienne Larbalestier – Vengeful, stylish, murderously soft grunge.

It’s maybe a shade cliché to have a French femme fatale, but she quickly became Aryn’s favourite character. Even if she was only on screen for fewer than 10 lines of dialogue. You totally wish you could pull off her look – we all do. Her powers of apportation were bestowed relatively late in the game’s design. Initially she just shanked a motherfucker. Mental resolve comes in all shapes and sizes.

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Kayode Mitchell – Seer, dandy, filled with blood.

You thought this was going to be a character description, but it is I, DIO!

Hah, but for real, Kayode is built like an Olympian. A goddamn fabulous Olympian. Inspired in equal parts by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Sapeurs, and a crippling sense of inferiority, Kayode is as much of a figure of awe for Jacek as he is a source of feelings of insignificance. Then again, the bigger they come, the lager the pool of blood they leave when lanced by a katana.

 


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