The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by MintChocChip » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:32 pm

Okay so I'm going to structure this slightly then it isn't a huge chunk of text, but nicely formatted sections of text.


1. The Flow of The Game
I'm going to start with the flow of the game, namely its four phases. At first I thought the idea of splitting each 24 hour day into 4 periods was a good one, and I still think splitting it is the right choice, however I'm not sure if the way it was done was the best it could have been. Each phase did have a purpose from a behind the scenes point of view, however from a game play point of view they were either a phase where we use an action, or a phase where we don't. This is fine on the whole, but when you either don't have an action, or have an action with a phase requirement, such as only usable in the Early Evening, it causes the issue of having a cycle of phases that are meaningless to that player. Maybe if each phase had more direction with things we could do, such as searching the house, properly organising people to communicate with each other, things like that, then they might have worked better. I also think that the time each phase lasted was on the whole a bit too long for what purpose they served, especially as the Night phase restricted posting in the thread. I think to combat this you could either restrict actions to not happen in the night, or have people pre submit their night actions in an earlier phase so that you can figure out all the routes and sleeping patterns and update the night within a matter of minutes.
This leads into the way player communication was handled. Whilst the thread was riddled with eton mess posts, other than making picking out the relevant information a bit more difficult, it wasn't too much of an issue. The meeting of characters system was a good idea in my view, it let you keep track of the game, and also accurately represented how a conversation would go down were this a real situation. However, I think we should have been able to initiate these conversations in any phase of the game other than night, and be able to also initiate them ourselves, providing we also included you in the PM. I think this would have allowed for greater communication, as it felt quite restricted having to go through you all the time.


2. The Information Provided
I thought on the whole that the information we were given wasn't quite enough to effectively solve the mystery, but obviously people will withhold things that lead to them satisfying their win condition. However, I feel that the area of sleeping patterns could have been improved on. Firstly, I think that everyone should have received a PM detailing how they slept, regardless of how they slept. There was quite a bit of confusion early on when people didn't receive a PM, and even later, I wasn't sure if I'd slept fine or you just missed sending a PM. I also think it's important to detail the sound you heard in the night when you did hear one. What direction did it come from? Were the footsteps in front of my door, or down the hall next to my room, or in the room next to my room? Was someone using the stairs? Did a door open or close? These are all things that you can distinguish between when you hear them in real life, and this should carry into the game in my view. You could also add an element of close family members being able to identify each other by their footsteps. I can tell which of my family members come up the stairs at home due to the way they come up them, however, this isn't a necessary change. An issue was also that there was a central corridor, with few rooms coming off of it, situated outside the cook's room, and next to the butler's and Colin's rooms. This meant that no matter what we heard, we couldn't really determine who was moving around, as nearly everyone had to pass through this corridor to get somewhere else. I also think that to expand on the night movement idea, which is a solid one might I add, would be to have the culprits have scheduled meet ups frequently, maybe 2 out of 3 nights. It would make sense in a story point of view, as they'd be trying to cover their tracks and deflect attention from themselves, and would mean figuring out the night movements would be a way to solve the game.
Secondly, I think the way that the safe was handled could have been better. The first phases where it was just me and Rik working on it was fine, but as soon as we got one more key, I took to it by myself. After 5 guesses you told me that the safe had room for 20 digits. Now this is the point where I think you messed up. Given how the information in the safe seemed to be the main way of figuring out this mystery, I think it is important to make it as clear as possible how to get into it. If we are supplied with the information that the safe accepts 20 digits, and we have 4 five digit codes, it is safe to assume that it is some ordering of these to open the safe. When all combinations of the four had been tried, it was safe to assume that the one Uncle 2/Uncle 1 (more on this later) had given was wrong, but with no leads on what it could be, I had to drop working on the safe. Now if you had a safe that allowed for a 20 digit combination, surely you would use a 20 digit combination as it is more secure. As the safe didn't directly point to the three culprits alone, I feel that being mislead on this topic was a mistake, and we should have been told that the safe allowed for 15 digits.
I was contacted at one point by NN, and he gave me all the information he compiled. Whilst this was kind of useful, it didn't actually lead us to anything. I think there should have been opportunities to obtain more concrete links, maybe some clues left around, oversights by the killers leaving things out of place, etc. which would have also given the majority of players something to discuss in the thread, as we could have worked as a group to solve these.


3. The Family Fiasco
I'm still not clear on which uncle is which. People's role PMs directly contradict each other on the relations of the two uncles. "You are Uncle 1. You are Mr H’s brother" and "Upon hiring Butler, your brother in law, Uncle 1, warned you about his abusive past". This follows further with "Around a month ago, you received a letter from Butler, stating that Mr H was planning on revealing his past." being in Uncle 1's role PM, despite Mr. H's suggesting that Uncle 1 brought up the Butlers past. Next, "The most likely male is your brother, Uncle 1. Trying to expose him, you told him about the affair, and trusted him with a fake key code to your safe.", however, Uncle 2 is given the code, not Uncle 1. This is partly why I arrested Uncle 2, as he was the one who had been given the false code. I assume the code is the reason that despite "god-killing" him, the character stayed alive under Hass's control. I think this is also why you mistakenly gave the PM to Hass, as he was Aunt 1 (also listed as Mr. H's sister), as Uncle 1 was supposed to have the code and you were trying to keep the marriage together under 1 person. So I think you got the two Uncle's muddled in your game plan, and as such, they had information meant for the other, and caused quite an issue in how the game panned out.
I think these confusions with the uncles are what caused the incestuous family tree, however, if we go off of Mr. H's role PM, we can determine that Aunt 1 is the sister, and Uncle 1 the brother in law. Uncle 2 is fine in this case, and listed as Mr. H's brother, and the PM of Aunt 2 backs this up as she has never met Mr. or Mrs. H.
Overall though, I think the game was a good base to build on for future games of this type. I'd probably scale it down to around 12 players max, and make the house in which it takes place smaller with a layout that can confirm who was moving based on noises heard. A couple of oversights here and there led to some confusion, but on the whole it was smooth. I think a lot of people gave up when they realised there wasn't a whole lot for them to do, which led to most of the eton mess posts. If we could discover things like NN was doing that were just nice bits of information, or solvable clues, it would give us more of an aim, as finding out everyone's potential motives just comes down to picking who you believe had the strongest motive. I think some more flavour on who everyone was and why we were in the house would be good too. I was of the thinking that we were in a large stately home and we all lived there all the time, but as it turns out, Uncle 1 had called for us all to meet up for some sort of catch up I assume? But it wasn't crucial information, just could have been an extra touch.

I might look into designing my own murder mystery style game in the coming weeks, as it's a format that I think could work well online, and I always think puzzle games are good. We'll see.
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by Spilskinanka » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:58 pm

here's me
euan707 wrote:You are Grandfather 1.

You are Mrs H’s Father and, as such, you are very close to her. She has confided in you that she has been having an affair with Cook 2, but has pleaded with you not to tell anyone. Understanding this, you haven’t told anyone, not even Grandmother 1.

One night before Mr H’s murder, you walked in on Aunt 1 talking about how much she hated her husband, Uncle 1. Clearly drunk, you chose not to tell him about this.

On the night of Mr H’s murder, you were in your room with Grandmother 1. You were visited by Cook 1. You slept Badly, and heard footsteps outside during the Late Evening.

As a sickeningly kind Grandparent, you spoil all four children. As such, you can use sweets and such to Bribe any child into revealing part of their night action from the previous night. This may only be used on 1 child every 2 nights. This is an Early Evening action and thus your action should be sent in during this period. Simply send me a PM with “Night X: Bribe Y” in the title.

You win the game if the culprit(s) to your son in law’s murder are caught and Cook 2 is still alive.
old enough to have gay relationships but still young enough to get bribed by sweets apparently
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by komodo joe » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:05 pm

release the chef chat imo
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by euan707 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:11 pm

I'm typing up feedback but here http://mrandmrsmarple.chatango.com/
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by AlterntiveAntagonist » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:45 pm

i wanted to give cook chat to butler because they're the same thing but euan didnt let

another flaw in this game
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by euan707 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:56 pm

Yas really large blocks of text I'm good at this.

Before I go through your points MCC, I'm just gonna make a few of my own points which I've come up with while running the game.
Number of Players - Far too many. I mean, the fact that I actually started the game 2 players short, and then 2 were inactive didn't really help, but I feel the large number of players affected a lot of things. Firstly, some important information was lost on players who weren't majorly involved. I'm not saying this was their fault, I understand having no actions and no extra info to add to the current discussion leads to being un-interested, which is fair. Also, because there were so many people playing and so few evening/night actions, a pretty small percentage of people were targeted, which meant that the flow of information was a lot smaller. If/when I do a sequel, the number of players will be much smaller, and I might just do invitational sign ups seeing as a game full of people who are willing to play would be much more interesting than half/half.

Phases - I originally planned to do phases in real-time, with one in game day per real day. This quickly fell apart as I realized that school and stuff just wouldn't allow it. I developed it into phases which were slightly longer, but still with a set time for each phase. Then, as the game started, I realised that it would lead to awkward times, so I just set times based on my own judgement, a decision which I feel worked reasonably well.
As for the phases themselves, after experimenting a little bit, I found that Day and Tea phases work much better if they're slightly longer. I did predict this, and also tried to accommodate for peak times (Like 7-9 pm) and tried to make sure everyone could be around at least one point during each phase. The Night phase I feel is the opposite, as not all players need to be present, however I still needed to accommodate for those with actions, hence why it wasn't just a 3 or 4 hour phase. The evening phase is a little bit more complex. On the surface, not much is going on and, if you're not doing anything, that's true. However, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, with conversations and such. I feel this could be improved with more active and involved players as, unlike character specific actions, anyone can go for a gander/conversation. At some points, I have considered completely cutting the evening phase, and merging it's properties into the Night phase, but that's something for me to work out.

The Safe - Urgh. What a nightmare. The idea of the safe was to keep the information flow from drying up too much. Not much happen last night? Try the safe. Tidal wave of information. Unfortunately, since the safe was never opened during the game, I never got to see the exact effect it would have on gameplay, but this isn't too much of a problem, as the safe idea is definitely this game's gimmick, and almost certainly wouldn't appear in any sequels.

Provided information - Ok, for me, this is this game's biggest downfall. Upon starting the game, I was pretty sure that everything I'd needed to include was there. And, at the time, I was right. Had the game run exactly as I'd planned, I'd only missed one thing. However, as the game progressed, it became more and more open to exploration, and I was forced to include things I'd hadn't planned for. For example, the lists found in various characters' rooms (like the cook's poison's list and Mr H's safe key list) were completely improvised, and thus weren't mentioned in their role PM. So, either this would need to be mentioned in the character's role PM, or the amount people can explore needs to be cut down. This links me nicely into my next point.

Exploration - Cannot happen. I did intend for it to be possible, which is why I allowed it. However, as soon as Nun wanted to investigate the lounge, I realised I hadn't prepared at all for it, which is why I had to improvise (which I think I did pretty reasonably). The solution to this is clear, there can be no exploration by characters. End of. Might seem a little extreme, but this idea made the Maid and Butler's search action completely irrelevant. So in any sequel, exploration would be severely limited, or just cut completely.

Places I know I gooseberry fool up (during the game, not in planning) - Day 0, while it wasn't a total disaster, the amount of confusion caused by the limited role PMs to both the players and me just wasn't acceptable. Helpfully, it was just a test and, while it probably wasn't necessary, broke me into the full game quite well. And it'll never need to happen again.
- Diddy got the role of Mr H, then the role of Cook 2. While this was a pretty huge gooseberry fool up, I'm reminded that it could have been worse, as the original plan was for Diddy to become the Inspector's assistant so yeah, dodged a bullet there. Solution? Simply don't give the victim a role PM and don't have anyone play them. Possibly also down to Day 0 and such, so yeah.
- Uncle 2 was kind of in limbo. Basically, I killed him and passed his role PM on to Hass. The only reason I didn't just release his PM is because it contained the fake safe code, which I wanted to stay in circulation, however just posting it in the thread would have had the same affect. Solution? When god-killing someone, do it properly.
- I gooseberry fool up the safe code, but I'll mention that in a sec.
- I think I forgot to send someone a PM at one point, and they PM'ed me the phase after to ask me, but really that was all that went wrong PM wise, which I think is quite impressive.
MCC's points
I'm just gonna go through this and mention anything that I haven't already said.
I think we should have been able to initiate these conversations in any phase of the game other than night, and be able to also initiate them ourselves, providing we also included you in the PM.
This is something I will look at. My main aim for this game, and any sequel, is to make it as life-like as possible, so conversations during the day and tea would have to reflect this. That said, I think it would be doable, and something to consider for a sequel. And the main reason I wanted everything to go through me was because of the sheer amount of organisation. For example, let's say you visit Nun. Under the current system, I can say "MCC wants to visit Nun. Here's the path he would take, will he see anyone/anything out of the ordinary. While this could work backwards, I think it'd be a little more difficult for me to co-ordinate, and it would also involve me interrupting the conversation.
I thought on the whole that the information we were given wasn't quite enough to effectively solve the mystery
The information given in role PMs was enough to suspect Butler beyond reasonable doubt, but it would have required input from both Grandfather 2 and the cooks, which didn't happen.
I think that everyone should have received a PM detailing how they slept, regardless of how they slept.
The sheer number of players this game would have made this a very lengthy task for me, and would have made it really easy for me to make a mistake. However, I do agree with your reasoning, and with fewer players it could be possible.
I also think it's important to detail the sound you heard in the night
Again, difficult with the number of players. I think, if this was to be implemented, I'd need to change my sleeping pattern formula to give less results per night, to make it slightly easier to co-ordinate. As for recognizing family members, that could definitely have worked this game, but would need to be implemented on a case-to case basis. Also, the main corridor on floor 2 was just a bad design on my behalf, rather than a gameplay issue, which means it can easily be changed.

The whole night thing is a good idea, it just needs to be tightened up a bit.
would be to have the culprits have scheduled meet ups frequently
This is a good idea, will take it on board. The reason it didn't cross my mind this game is because, to start with, the only culprits were Butler and Uncle 1, who communicated by letter. Then Cook 2 committed murder and left us with a really annoying ghost. This could work if all the culprits were in it together, but again that depends on the plot.
After 5 guesses you told me that the safe had room for 20 digits. Now this is the point where I think you messed up.
Honestly like a phase after I told you that I realised my mistake. I do accept that I should have made it 15, I only realised after the fact. Unfortunate but, as the safe is a one-off, it hopefully shouldn't happen again.
maybe some clues left around, oversights by the killers leaving things out of place,
Yeah like I said I made that up on the spot. Next game either there'll be clues left around or there'll be much less wandering.

Too much to quote, but the whole family fiasco thing I think might have been my story-writing going a little bit too far. Too concentrated on the bigger picture, I think I just glossed over a bit on the smaller details. Probably with a smaller story will come a smaller cast which will be simpler to write, but I'll definitely check the relations before the game next time.
Ok, I'm almost done here, just a few more titbits to put out there.

Over the course of the game, I've typed out 16503 words, about 60% of which was the role PMs. 174 PMs were sent out (and I only forgot 1). Thanks to those who participated, in particular to Nun, Spil, Rik and MCC who were active most nights. My original aim for this game was to provide a more realistic take on mafia, which I think I've succeeded in doing. It's been about 6 months since I started planning, and I specifically kept it to the Easter Holidays so I could give it maximum attention. It's gone pretty well, imo, but there's always room for improvement. For example, there were no black characters. I'm rambling. Someone stop me. The knives are under Colin's bed.

Thanks for playing all, I do hope you enjoyed it, and I'll see you in my next project (which I'm forcing myself not to start until the end of the month. Don't worry, there will be blacks).
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by Nintendo Ninja » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:17 pm

Just posting to say that on the whole, gj hosting Euan. I know a lot of people complained but it's obvious you put a lot of effort into this game and frankly this is the the first proper forum game on SONM that's of the unique style of games we haven't had for a long while, so kudos.

I should probably say for people who don't know that I never actually had a role, just decided to go and explore on my own to search for any titbits of info and personally I thought this was a very good inclusion that helps to make the game stand apart from mafia and really give players who don't have an action something to do to replace the power of villagers to lynch. Maybe if you made the info a little harder to find or included some sort of puzzles in order to get to the juiciest info in future you'd be able to balance the searching a little better. Also deciding from the start that it would be possible to give the culprits chance to cover their tracks but it's really up to you if you want to ditch it in favour of giving everyone an action in a smaller game.

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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by Spilskinanka » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:29 pm

Yeah, I applaud the effort. Needs a few tweaks but I'm sure more experienced and more eloquent players can detail them better than me.
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by Fabong » Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:43 pm

definitely should have included a PM even for the players who slept well as from our end there is no telling the difference between a good sleep and you just forgetting to send the PM i feel that was a major flaw and it wasn't made clear that this was the case at the beginning of the game either, certainly not the only case where i didn't really know the protocol and despite all jokes i did read the rules only to find confusion remained
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Re: The Safe House - Spoiler: the butler did it

Post by Rik » Sun Apr 17, 2016 12:25 pm

Agree with what's been said, great idea and good job hosting euan but if there's a sequel it could definitely do with a few tweaks.
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