Design Diary: The Martian Investigations: Deep Fears (Case 2)

After Case 1 of The Martian Investigations was met with a lot of positive responses, I've been spending the past couple of months, very slowly working on Case 2. I decided that I want to start pushing the boundaries of what these deduction style games usually offer. If you've played Case 1, or other deduction games such as Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, then you'll understand that deduction games generally do have a limited experience inherent in them. If you haven't played a deduction game before, then check out this post for a more detailed description. Anyway, a couple of issues with the medium:
  • They cover a snapshot in time. Because the game maker has no control over the order in which scenes/locations are visited, the case cannot really evolve the plot over a single case, until the very end when the case is wrapped up.
  • They are susceptible to wild plays by crazy players - players can simply take the map, pick a spot at random and visit it. This could potentially crack the case wide open if they hit on a vital clue early in the game.
In case 2, I've tried to work on these two issues in two ways:
  • I've greatly expanded the map. Case 2 now uses 3 maps in total - the main Banks Settlement map, a map of the Noman Security HQ and a map of the Banks Mohole. Whilst doing this, I've tried to make things a little harder for the wild player (because there are so many locations now), whilst also making the maps more interesting to use - now there are locations that are not in the directory, but look interesting enough on the map for players to pick out and visit.
  • I've included locations that are on neither the map, nor in the directory. They can only be found by talking to characters in other locations. This means that I can really reward certain lines of inquiry, and I can be sure that some locations will not be visited until a later point. Thus, I can have a plot that evolves during the case.
I'm already working on Case 3, which will stretch the mechanics of this genre even further, by using a timer mechanic which evolves the case as time goes on. The biggest hurdle will be how to offer different scenes in the same location as time goes on, but I don't want to elaborate too much on that in this Design Diary. Expect to hear something by next month, hopefully.

You can find Case 2 of The Martian Investigations here.
You can also get a twin pack, with Cases 1 and 2, here.


  1. I think the sort of game you describe could be done as a web experience or even as a mobile application (easier to charge for). Some of the newer web-based interactive fiction tool kits might help. We're not talking "Deadline" here, more like clicking on map locations and having flags you can set and query to modify the text you produce.

    1. check out it uses this style of game in a web app.

      i've played these two cases though and they are certainly worth the play through

    2. check out it uses this style of game in a web app.

      i've played these two cases though and they are certainly worth the play through