An episodic adventure mystery game based on realistic police procedure in the gritty style of bestselling author Archer Mayor
Archer Mayor’s Lost Case Files is an episodic mystery video game where the player takes on the role of a rookie detective under the watchful eye of seasoned investigator Joe Gunther. The game offers a genuine look into the world of real police procedure in the gritty style of bestselling author Archer Mayor, who the New York Times called “the boss man on procedures.” Players will investigate crime scenes, track down suspects, and construct a case through search, inquiry and deductive reasoning. It’s a game where your choices matter and you have control over the investigation.
The Lost Case Files is a unique take on the detective game genre, enabling players to do real detective work instead of being guided through the steps. You cannot spend time investigating every possible lead, unlike many traditional adventure games, because players are challenged to use time correctly before the trail goes cold. Each action performed, whether it is questioning a witness or processing evidence, will deplete your primary resource: time. Players must solve the case quickly and efficiently to gain an understanding of what it takes to really solve a crime.
Using Archer’s wealth of experience in police procedure, the game will let players explore how real detective work is done in the field. Players will be the detective, collecting evidence and deciding whether or not to follow up on a lead. Investigating leads takes time, but also opens a new location with more possible clues and conversations to discover within the Joe Gunther universe.
Archer Mayor is a bestselling author from Newfane, Vermont. For the past 23 years, Archer has been crafting his Joe Gunther series; a collection of police procedural detective novels set in Vermont. The books are known for their gritty realism and true-to-life detective techniques. Archer has been able to bring this quality of realism to his writing because he lives the life of a medical examiner and a detective. He is known for his exceptional accuracy in realistic police procedure, and aims to bring the same accuracy into the digital world of mystery-based video games.
In Archer Mayor’s “Joe Gunther” series of crime novels, Joe Gunther is the quintessential Vermont detective, balancing reason and logic with integrity and justice. Archer’s style, character traits, and settings build a strong foundation for a unique mystery game that focuses on building a case with realistic methodology.
The Emergent Media Center (EMC) at Champlain College is a studio-based academic center whose mission is to educate and inspire next generation media creators and leaders. The EMC supports talented and creative students in producing interactive media, games, and mobile app projects for real-world clients. Through a collaborative, exploratory design cycle, the EMC transforms education, processes, and media while enlightening the Champlain College community, business partners, and the global community. The EMC strives to create a place of business and learning that gives students real-world experience, and allows clients to work with smart, talented, young professionals.
In 2011, students at the EMC met with Archer Mayor for a brainstorming session, to see how his novels and expertise could translate in the gaming world. Participants were all extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of the game, so a group of graduate students took the next steps to formalize a concept. In order to materialize this concept we need your help. A student-driven project still takes a fair amount of money to complete. This project will not take the form of standard coursework, but offers production experience with real clients for a real paycheck.
As with Archer Mayor’s series of Joe Gunther novels, The Lost Case Files video game will be uniquely set in the state of Vermont. The Green Mountain state has a distinctive quality that comes forth in Archer’s novels, a quality well suited for a narrative driven game. Vermont deserves representation in the realm of video games, and under the guidance of one of its own authors it will acquire this attention in virtual space. When partnered with Champlain College in Burlington, featuring a one-of-a-kind game development program, both parties can work to integrate traditional and digital media. This collaboration will create something tremendously innovative as well as characteristic of the great state of Vermont.
Episode one of The Lost Case Files opens on a humid Vermont summer morning. There has been a murder. As Joe Gunther’s protégé you must unravel this dastardly tale of back-stabbing, deceit, and revenge. Before putting the perpetrator in handcuffs you will follow a trail of clues from the murder scene, through the rolling hills of Vermont, and into the underbelly of small town New England. Time is of the essence; avoid the red herrings and zero in on the proper clues or justice may not be served. Your reputation is at stake. Don’t let Joe Gunther down.
Due to the expression of international support for the project, the team has decided to introduce five new reward tiers aimed at international backers. International shipping rates are included in the pledge amount and a little extra is included specifically for our friends outside the US.
The Lost Case Files game is designed to be an episodic series of narratives that can be developed continuously. This Kickstarter campaign is aimed to create the foundation of the game and the pilot episode of the series. There is opportunity for students to develop more stories for the game after the initial release, each case being a focused experience in the Joe Gunther universe. Stretch goals include further development of additional episodes of the game.
The game is still in the early development phase, as we cannot yet afford the staff and licenses for full-on-production. But this game is being designed unlike most mystery games, intent on putting the player inside a literary world based in authentic law enforcement practice. This is not your run-of-the-mill hidden picture game or an arbitrary puzzle-based mystery game, this will be a game true to the process of insightful investigation and building a case. Players have to look at all of the possible evidence, including dead ends and coincidental prospects, and choose the correct leads to follow. Intuition and logic will be crucial to catching the culprit in this race against the clock. This unique game will bring the classic genre of police procedurals into an interactive world that is distinctive to Archer Mayor’s practiced techniques. Join us in supporting young professionals and promoting a local Vermont author in this remarkable venture.
Collaboration is a central focus of both the EMC’s mission and Archer Mayor’s outlook on the creative process. As people work with each other, they also educate one another and build a far better product that is enhanced by a multitude of perspectives. The game development students at the EMC might know very little about the inner workings of a murder investigation, and Archer may know little about game design and programming, but together the strengths of both parties can combine to create a game that is well-designed and enjoyable, and at the same time bring a level of forensic accuracy and narrative excellence that a true mystery game deserves.
Producing and distributing a video game is a costly venture especially in an educational environment. The talented and creative team of students, who have been iterating the game’s design would appreciate the opportunity to develop their ideas into a playable form. Contrary to popular belief, not all authors are millionaires. Archer still works three jobs, as a writer, a death investigator for the Vermont State Medical Examiner’s office, and as a deputy for the Windham County Sheriff’s department. When Archer came to the EMC it was on a whim, to see what the possibilities were to create a video game based in his literary world. The students who got the chance to work with Archer on brainstorming were all enamored with the chance to work on a mystery game with a NY Times bestselling author, but the cost associated with game production are out of the price range for the Vermont author. We are working on a Kickstarter campaign because we would like to give Champlain game development students the chance to work with Archer, and bring his expertise to the world of video games.
Production costs to develop Archer Mayor’s The Lost Case Files game at the Emergent Media Center (EMC) at Champlain College will encompass the following areas:
- Student production staff
- Project management staff
- Faculty Advisors
- Licenses and Software Development Kits
- Indirect costs (physical space, software and hardware, heat (Vermont is cold), electricity, etc.)
Game development will occur over two semesters with a stretch goal to allow three semesters (one academic year), commencing January 2013 and ending December 31, 2013. The EMC engages in an iterative design cycle, which typically consists of a concept and research phase, pre-production phase, production phase, and a testing, bug-fix and refinement phase. Within these phases there is constant iteration and improvement upon the prior version of a product.
Student Production Staff: The primary goal of the Emergent Media Center is to provide a studio-based learning environment where undergraduate and graduate students can take the skills learned in their degree programs and apply them to real-world projects. Students are the focal point at the EMC – they are the visionaries for each and every project, taking an idea and turning it into a game, mobile app or other interactive experience through their skills in design thinking, interactive design, 2-D and 3-D art and animation, graphic design and a programming. Archer Mayor’s The Lost Case Files game will require a student team of 13 undergraduate students over the course of two semesters. Estimated Costs – $44,567
Studio & Project Management Staff: The Emergent Media Center is run by a small, yet herculean staff of six, that wears many hats to make this unique studio run. Production costs for any project at the EMC includes staff time to organize, develop, administer, market, guide, mentor and manage each project at the Studio. Studio & project management staff costs for Archer Mayor’s The Lost Case Files game will cover portions of salaries for these six staff members over the course of two semesters. Estimated Costs – $20,876
Faculty Advisors: The game development degree programs at Champlain College rank within the top ten best programs in the nation. Faculty who teach in these programs have industry and academic expertise in game design principles, art & animation, sound design, and game programming, to name just a few areas. The Emergent Media Center is a unique studio model, in that its association with Champlain College allows it to engage the expertise of the faculty, who serve as subject matter experts, advisors and mentors to the students. Archer Mayor’s The Lost Case Files game will have one faculty advisor for one semester of the project. Estimated Costs – $1,550
Licenses and Software Development Kits: Archer Mayor’s The Lost Case Files game will be produced using the Unity Game Engine. The cost to purchase two Unity Pro developer licenses (for a total of four users – two per license) is $3,000. In order to develop the game with the end goal of making it iOS compatible, two additional Unity iOS Pro developer licenses must be purchased for an additional $3,000. Estimated Costs – $6,000
Indirect Costs : Champlain College is a not-for-profit organization that calculates its ‘overhead’ costs, or costs that cover many activities across the overall institution, using one indirect cost rate. The College’s rate is one of the lowest indirect cost rates in the country. Examples of indirect costs are office supplies, rent, telephone and utilities, accounting and legal costs, etc. Estimated Costs – $27,007
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The EMC in Burlington, Vermont is staffed by Champlain College students, and as a result, there is a tremendous amount of fresh innovation coupled with a consistent amount of turnover due to semesters spent at the Montreal Campus for game design/art/programming students, and the inevitable graduations. Students are enthusiastic and committed to the projects at the EMC, but school always takes a priority. The main risk here is that multiple students will be doing the work of a single worker in a full-time development studio, and therefore it takes a bit longer to complete a project. Extending production by an extra semester in order to complete the project is costly due to the educational nature of the studio. The studio exists as both as a business and a teaching opportunity which makes our calendars a little more complicated than a standard for-profit studio. Regardless, students working for the EMC are eager to begin their careers in exciting creative fields and seize the opportunity to create something to be proud of and that strive to make the world a better place.
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Receive a copy of the game, a VBI Sticker, autographed Concept Art , crime scene tape, an autographed copy of Archer Mayor’s latest novel “Paradise City,” a Vermont postcard from Archer Mayor, and an exclusive map showing international backer locations and ranks.Estimated delivery:
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Receive a copy of the game, an Archer Mayor T-Shirt, an autographed book from Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series, and your name will be listed in The Lost Case Files video game credits.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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Receive copy of the game, a VBI Sticker, autographed Concept Art, an Archer Mayor T-Shirt, three autographed books from Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series, a Vermont postcard from Archer Mayor, an exclusive map showing international backer locations and ranks, and your name will be listed in The Lost Case Files video game credits.Estimated delivery:
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A day sleuthing around with Archer Mayor (exploring locations in New England for possible book settings-Travel expenses to and from Vermont not included) , receive a copy of the game, and your name will be listed in The Lost Case Files video game credits.Estimated delivery:
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A flight over an area in a small plane, scouting out a site for new book with Archer Mayor, receive a copy of the game, and your name will be listed in The Lost Case Files video game credits (Travel expenses to and from Vermont not included.)Estimated delivery:
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