Promised Perjury was a game I made for the 4 day long, Make-A-Thing game jam this month. We had three words that we needed to create something around: blip, kind and thwart. Instantly the idea of Papers, Please came to mind. The word blip then made me think of radar or some kind of detection method. My initial idea was to create a game where you had to screen aliens coming down to Earth. Check their stats, make sure they're not enemies or associated with any and make sure that what they're carrying is legal. I liked the idea but instead having it as Kingdoms coming to you, to assist you in battle, sounded better. So I began working on Promised Perjury.
I knew how I wanted it to start. A King or Queen pops up on screen, they say a few sentences of dialogue about wanting to help you in battle; then you need to decide if you accept or deny. On the left hand side, there will be stats about that Kingdom. Name, ruler, population, are they at war, etc. The player would need to look at the message and the stats to make sure what the leader is saying, is the truth. When that was being done though, it didn't seem hard. In Papers, Please there are various books and documents that the player needs to refer to and for this, I wanted to do something similar.
So I added in resource distribution. Each Kingdom will have a certain distribution of the 6 resources. Wood, stone, iron, wheat, livestock and gold. Their message could say something like: "We will supply you with weapons and armour!"
The player would then look over and see whether or not their percentage of iron is greater than other resources.
The first thing I encountered when making the game, was the process of creating the different Kingdoms. My first thought was creating a Kingdom class with all the data, then in the inspector, fill in all the Kingdoms. This of course is a bad idea, as something like that would be both confusing and easy to mess up. So my next idea was to use CSV's.
Laying it out in Google Sheets is great. You can easily visualise your levels (in this game there are 2, with each level having 10 Kingdoms). You can also colour certain cells, in this case doing so to Kingdoms whether or not they are telling the truth or not, as well as if a Kingdom is landlocked, which plays a role with some of them.
From there on, it was pretty much straight forward. Early in the project I worked on the pixel art and UI. Setting this stuff up early helped me in both encouragement to finish the game, and in giving me a platform to work from.
Designing the Game
In a game like this, where progression is based on an accept and deny button, you need to make sure that the player can't just blindly run their way through. Both in actual game mechanics and design. For mechanics, the player has the ability to make 3 mistakes before it is game over. For design, I had to make it so that patterns were kept to a minimum. The structure of the first level for if the Kingdoms were telling the truth or not was: Y, N, Y, N, N, Y, N, Y, Y, N.
I knew that the first Kingdom had to be telling the truth. This is the first thing the player comes into contact with and kicking them down straight away is not the way to go. Although the second Kingdom is not telling the truth. We need to introduce the fact that not all of them are good guys. Setting that Kingdom's iron percentage really low and saying that they will supply the weapons is hopefully an easy enough Kingdom to catch out. From there, no patterns were formed, and each Kingdom that lied, had a unique way that they lied. Some were subtle, some were more obvious than others. In level 2, Kingdom allies were introduced. Each Kingdom that came to you had a number of different allies. It was up to you to make sure that those allies weren't your enemies and also that the Kingdom wasn't at war with your allies.