Daily Design: Day 209

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Judging, Ascending and Context.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Damnation

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Damnation is essentially Papers, Please if instead of a border guard, you played as an ancient Egyptian god, which I’ll admit is a fairly large difference.

Players take the role of Anubis, whose role it is to judge the guilt of those sentenced. In this game, Anubis is judging what afterlife to send the dead to, based on their greatest crime in life. This isn’t exactly historically accurate, but we’ll just roll with that.

So, there’s essentially a “Heaven”, “Hell” or “Limbo” to send people to, though their names would likely be replaced with something new. Basically, though, it’s a “Good”, “Bad” and “Neutral” place to send them.

Players are presented with the accused one at a time. They’re shown the crime – for example, somebody may be presented, and their crime is murder. From here, the player has to make some important decisions.

Firstly, the player has five different options. They can ask the accused How, Where, When and Why they committed the crime. Or, they can weigh their guilt to get an accurate sense of just how guilty the accused feels, though bear in mind that this only their personal guilt.

The player has three “Judgements”, and asking a question will use one of these, where weighing guilt will use two. The player regenerates one judgement between sentences. In other words, player can ask a question and then weigh their guilt, but that means they can only ask a single question of the next accused. They can choose to sentence without asking questions, but this is obviously more likely to result in the accused going to the wrong afterlife.

Sending an accused to the right afterlife results in Karma, because I have my mythologies and beliefs all mixed up. A certain level of Karma is needed for Anubis to continue his existence, and sending too many accused to the wrong afterlife will result in him disappearing. So, uh, don’t do that, I guess.

This does present an inherent problem with a game about judging, and that’s that there’s not technically a “right” answer. I may think that somebody who murdered someone else doesn’t deserve to go to hell because they did it in self-defence, but another may disagree, and neither of us is technically wrong. As a result, the player may feel punished despite making what they see as the correct decision.

To offset this is tricky and would probably require more thought, but I think a good start is to produce small stories for each accused. The player can view them after each “Judgement session”, and see exactly what that person did and how they fare in their afterlife.

Asking the right questions is also important, because “Why” seems like it would be the most important in almost all cases. However, consider somebody whose crime was “Murder”, and if you asked “Where” the answer was “Battlefield”. If nothing else, that may make the player reconsider. Another one could be the crime of “Theft” by an old man, but asking “When” reveals that it was when they were a child – and remember that the player sees only the accused’s greatest crime. In this case, the “Why” may have been that he simply thought it was fun, but if the player doesn’t know he was a child at the time it’s a completely different story.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept. 

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