The Perfect Jury is a visual novel in which you take facts from sources and use them to build narratives. Sources, from print media and scientific journals to social media and leaked documents, are divided into pieces of information, called facts, which can be highlighted, ignored, and reorganized according to your personal beliefs. In The Perfect Jury, narratives don't just convey opinions, they convey truth - as well as lies.
- You control the narrative. In The Perfect Jury, narrative-building isn't a simple matter of taking sides, it's about identifying the points that matter, bringing nuance and understanding to chaotic, divisive situations.
- You control the conversation. Games which stress the importance of player choice often reduce meaningful decisions down to simple and infrequent multiple-choice questions, while other actions are ultimately more or less irrelevant. By letting you speak at any time by default, The Perfect Jury lets you decide what decisions are or are not important.
- Defend your views. This is a game which doesn't value opinions for their own sake. Good opinions reflect a general understanding of a given subject matter. You, along with the other characters, will challenge each other to demonstrate the quality of your opinions.
- Deep sources. To develop your opinions, you'll work through a variety of multi-faceted source materials, which can analyzed to complete your understanding of the subject, or picked apart to spin a narrative.
- Real characters. Entertainment media which focuses on politics has a tendency to invent characters to personify viewpoints and ideologies. The Perfect Jury isn't just about politics, it's about the people who have those politics.
- Intermissions. To flesh out the game's characters, I wanted to add episodes outside the game's jury sessions where you would talk to the other characters in a casual setting and find out what makes them tick. Jurors you befriend or antagonize outside the jury will remember what you said inside the jury.
- Story. The demo is the first in a series of "episodes" that will make up the final release of the game. Far from being standalone stories, each fits into a larger narrative encompassing the professor's plans, the jury program, and the jurors' lives.
- Deeper questions. The demo so far raises questions of how we establish truth in political discourse and how we clash and resolve conflicting viewpoints. While these will remain core themes of the game, I'd like to go further and explore the philosophy of democracy, and what it really means for something to be true.
- Richer conversations. While I programmed the game's dialogue system to be non-linear, the game still doesn't have enough content to show this feature off. More immediately, I'd like to increase potential for controlling the conversation by letting players ask certain questions at multiple points which right now can only be asked at very certain times, which can be easily missed.
- More possibilities. Earlier builds of The Perfect Jury were more complex, and I decided to cut some features to avoid a bloated, front-loaded tutorial. I'd like to add these features back in, as well as new ones, which include censoring out potential facts, a "shared" narrative which reflects the consensus of the jury, and a research ability to access additional sources before jury sessions.
My name is Grant Kuning. In 2015, I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for my first game, Sethian, and I released it the following year. In order to keep this project as a manageable size, I'm going to be the only person working full time on this game. However, Ingrid Skare will be designing art assets for the game, and my composer from Sethian, Blissbox, will be doing a few tracks for The Perfect Jury as well.
Originally, I intended to develop four more episodes - five total in the final game - with intermissions in between. However, I decided the project was too ambitious, and scaled it back to something I thought I would be able to do with an amount I could realistically raise on Kickstarter.
If funding for this project goes beyond the goal, I'd like to restore some of my original plans for the game. At double the funding goal, I will complete the entire game I originally envisioned. If funding goes even further beyond that, I can certainly use that to improve and polish the final product, but I don't intend to tack on additional episodes to the story I want to tell.
Risks and challenges
First and foremost, I'm a writer, but game development also includes programming, art and sound design, managerial tasks, and on and on and on. Writing is where I feel most in my element, while the other aspects of game development are where pitfalls tend to crop up for me. For that reason, one of my highest priorities before launching this campaign was to get the game in such a state that I could add new content simply by writing new dialogue and sources without having to write additional code. And while the game clearly lacks polish, from a programming perspective, it is already mostly feature complete, so that adding new content is just a matter of writing in plain English. The other big part of new content is art, which will be handled by Ingrid Skare, who has handled art for the project so far.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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