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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Random Thought: Detective MMO?

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday August 4 2010 at 6:08PM
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I’ve been watching a whole lot of Dexter on Netflix lately.  I know, I know… “Bill, not EVERYTHING needs to be turned into an MMO.”  I'm not saying everything should be, either.  I'm just sort of pondering in type, and seeing what you guys think.  Maybe this would be nigh impossible to pull off as an one, but how interesting of an experiment would it be to try and pull off a persistent game where some players are criminals and others are detectives?  The crimes could be murders, robberies, or anything I suppose.  And obviously there would need to be quite a lot of work to make the wrong-doing nearly as appealing as the tracking down of the wrong-doers.  But to me, it represents one possible way in which the MMO could evolve.

Perhaps it’s a little too creepy to imagine a virtual game world in which players stalk around murdering NPCs (or worse) but I can’t help but feel APB missed a rare opportunity to do something really special.  Their game of cops and robbers is a fun and frenetically paced shootout, but there’s a more subtle layer to the balance of law and order (dun-dun!) which is completely missed.  I know the practice of dusting for prints and all that CSI stuff might not interest some folks in terms of game mechanics, but I grew up playing Police Quest.

There are almost too many little details which would need to be crafted into the game.  DNA remnants, fingerprints, traceable weapons, and so on.  Not to mention the fact that it would only be a matter of time before some walkthrough popped up that showed criminal players exactly how to leave nothing behind to trace them.  But the idea of it lingers and it’s something I’ll be wishing for for ages, I expect.

Still, a guy can dream right?  Dream of a San Paro (APB) that not only includes rampant violent criminals and the police that hunt them down, but the more complex crime investigations of murderers, burglaries, and other less flashy criminal acts?

Better yet, who wants to give me about $40 million so I can see to its creation myself?  I promise I’ll not throw it away on booze, football helmets filled with cottage cheese, and naked pictures of Bea Arthur (R.I.P.).  Not that much of it anyway. 

spookydom writes:

I can lend you £5! But I need it back by Saturday. :)

Wed Aug 04 2010 6:42PM Report
Ktara writes:

I would play a mystery, gumshoe type mmo :) 

Wed Aug 04 2010 9:00PM Report
Shingetsu writes:

This actually sounds like a great idea. I'd love to play a detective MMO. It could be interesting with creative players trying to pull off the perfect crime. I hope something like this does come out some year.

Wed Aug 04 2010 10:49PM Report
dajoker305 writes:

OMG! Can i be like Scotty Valens from Cold Case?

Wed Aug 04 2010 11:32PM Report
brad813 writes:

Only problem with using a traditional MMO format with the genre is that tanks(SWAT), warriors(Officers), healers(I suppose EMTs, Coroners, or Forensics covers this) and archers(SWAT snipers) would be covered, but unless your doing a Harry Dresden MMO, where would the magic user/dps style class come into play?  I am not sure what the criminal equivalents would be though.  I do think the potential is certainly there to do something with it though.  I just think it needs to be carefully thought out first, just like any great cop show.

Thu Aug 05 2010 1:10AM Report
zehamberglar writes:

Actually... you're not the only one who thought of this.

The RPmods for Garry's Mod usually have something like this. There are Gangsters and Cops among other proffessions (but those are the main 2).

It's not nearly as involved as an MMO, but they've shown that it's a fun system to play.

Thu Aug 05 2010 2:05AM Report
ormeon writes:


Not EVERY MMO needs tanks, healers and dpsers, now do they? Some MMO's can also be based on a totally new system, something that doesn't fall into the order of tank/heal/dps.. As for some games they want to try out not relying on this mechanism and leave the 'levelling' out of it all together. IF you try to focus on the things besides the way the mechanism functions, you might as well find a way to stop using the tank/heal/dps mechanism.

(Although a level system in a detective MMO would be a good thing, so you can distinguish who has solved many murder crimes and who just started out and finished finding a cat hiding on the balcony.)

Thu Aug 05 2010 2:34AM Report
7fireeye7 writes:

I think that you might be on to something, and a game like this is bound to catch my attention and get me digging deep into my pockets for monthly subscriptions. As an idea, i think it would stand well out from the crowd and definately catch more of the mature audience's attention as well as my age rebels. :D (Thumbs Up)

Thu Aug 05 2010 2:43AM Report
just1opinion writes:

I TOTALLY would dig this. As a matter of fact, it's one of the things I listed in that thread about what your "dream MMO" would be. :)  I would really like to see some more "brains before brawn" possibilities brought into MMOs. Oh sure....offer cops and serial killers and stuff as classes, BUT...let's also offer CSIs and other "right side of the law" classes as WELL.


And yes...I think APB missed out. I'm not interested in another half-assed MMOFPS in it's most generic form. I'm thinking something with a lot more depth. Absolutely have guns as one choice of weapon, but why not also offer knives, poisions, and arson...I mean....why limit ourselves? lol :)


I have thought long and hard about the possibilities for this sort of MMO. The Agency seemed to have so much potential (maybe it still does...that remains to be seen), still didn't sound like QUITE what I was thinking.  Good to know someone else thought that sounded like it might be fun too! ;)

Thu Aug 05 2010 2:56AM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

Warning: Incoming cynic:

What would be the point. In this day/age of MMO making there would be giant neon exclamation points on every person that needs help and the quests would mark on your map the location of clues and the person that comitted the crime.

Games have to be accessible, cha cha cha! Can't make players feel like they're working, nope nope nope!

Thu Aug 05 2010 3:28AM Report
maplestone writes:

No nned to base a whole MMO around it - you can add a "clue-like" logic minigame to any existing MMO (start with set suspects, locations and weapons - different clues rule out different combinations until logically only one possibility exists - gather clues until you are ready to make an accusation with rewards/penalties based on whether you have sufficient evidence)

The main problem I see with making a PvP version of a detective minigame is the question of how to make the core mechanic interactive.  Aside from a running target at the end, what does the player villain add?  Once players have undressed the logic of your game, what exactly is the minigame you're presenting them?

Dinner game mysteries are run for role-playing, but it's hard to force people to role-play honestly once they have a vested interest in "winning".

Thu Aug 05 2010 5:40AM Report
Athcear writes:

Hrm... detective MMO... at very least, it is highly worth a try.  Experimenting with new directions for the genre is what's going to keep it strong.  Even if the first attempt isn't solid gold, it'll provide a blueprint for future games.

Thu Aug 05 2010 9:58AM Report
Bob_Blawblaw writes:

Assuming Khalathwyr's tongue is planted firmly in his cheak, I completely agree, the biggest barrier to 'marketing' this game would be accessability. Cool idea. If done well, I'd play it.  A game where the 'bad' players goal was to get away with murder, and the 'good' players goal was to find the murderers missteps... very intriguing.

Thu Aug 05 2010 10:21AM Report
semajin writes:


This game already exists, it is called Modus Operandi. If you can get over the fact that it's not graphical, the game has so many unique and interesting features it will suck you in. Real crime in a gritty, realistic southern city, with everything from gambling on the side, to tourist traps.

Thu Aug 05 2010 5:16PM Report
dragonfyre writes:

As long as the story and gameplay were solid, I'd give it a try.

Thu Aug 05 2010 5:58PM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

Yes and no, Bob. :D

The only way I could see myself playing a game like this (as I do like the idea) is if they went back to the old way of not marking "quest npcs", had quest npcs for a particular quest randomly spawn anywhere in a given area(like a city, for example, and had the clues randomize from a large pool of clues that would randomize per person.

Basically, dump the idea of accessbility. Make me have to actually work for it instead of reading quest text that gives a glaringly blunt answer and/or location.

Thu Aug 05 2010 11:12PM Report
Eviltutor writes:

How would cops and robbers in this mmo interact and oppose one another?

 Basically, if you are a villan, you, let's say, rob a post office : walk in, point a gun at a clerk, grab money and leave - 5 minutes playtime. A cop starts to play : he inquires, dusts for prints, checks camera footage - 1 hour . At this point what would a villan be doing? Following the cop and typing  "lol noob wrong clue"? Or sit down and wait and after 1 hour get a pop up "you crime has been solved" ?

A detective / Mystery MMo would definately be a thing to check but which studio has the brain power to pull it off?

Fri Aug 06 2010 1:56AM Report
erictlewis writes:

I think it would be hard to pull it off without getting into the bulter did it kind of thing.  You would have to have a lot of random stuff, giving out random quests so it would not be so repetitive.

I just dont see it, nor would I play it. If I want clue, I will go pull out that old board game,  thanks but no thanks.

Fri Aug 06 2010 4:44AM Report
brett7018 writes: A game about what I do everyday. Ya, I could do that :) Fri Aug 06 2010 7:57AM Report
Hollowgirl78 writes:

There is a mystery solving MUD called Modusoperandi which I played for many years. You could fingerprint, run lab tests etc. To find clues in order to solve the mysteries of the island of Morada. The problem is at some point, you have solved them all, and the only thing that kept it interesting was the GM run mysteries they would often provide. I can't imagine a major MMO providing enough live content to keep it alive.  

Fri Aug 06 2010 11:01AM Report
Shadowpod writes:

what about a more rts or tcg approach....maybe use something like the politics sytem in vanguard. maybe robbers can go on crime sprees playing from a tactical standpoint whereas like in apb closest or most available cops get the call and can choose to accept or reject the crimes playing against the same game and based off how well u do u eventually play against the criminal himself and whoever loses gets a harsh penalty like possibly losing the 2 rarest cards in your deck, or something, to the winner. that way both players are striving for something, the cards will be the economy in game, both players have something to lose it could even be f2- with a shop this way like magic but with a free roam world to explore and such.

Sun Aug 08 2010 7:15PM Report writes:
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