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The Lunar Gazette (Matt Enright)

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These are turbulent times on the Moon, and the colonists look to The Lunar Gazette to report on the daily happenings. As the Editor-in-Chief, you set the tone of the pivotal paper, deciding what news graces the front page and what gets forgotten. Cover the hard issues of immigration from Earth and the rise of organized crime, while reminding people of the good times with speakeasy reviews and space-ball scores. Investigating recklessly booming businesses might anger the advertisers, but your duty is to the trusting readers. Choose your headlines carefully, as they influence the next day's events. Show why your team of writers and photographers deserve the distinguished status as the Moon's leading voice.

Vote for this to be one of the prototypes we make over on Humble.com

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Hi Matt, this looks really interesting. What is the gameplay like - is it similar to Dear Leader? Or has it got a more adventure game feel? Do we get to explore the civilization on the moon? 

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Each day, you'll collect information about what's going on around the Moon by dispatching reporters, doing interviews, and conducting in-depth investigations. That would consist of some adventure game / RPG dialog systems. Then you'll curate, format, and print the next morning's newspaper. As the NPCs read the news, it will impact the story branches and their opinion of you (and each other). Various sub-plots will come to light, and your choices will have an impact on the Moon's course of events.

Everything will be a bit simplified in the prototype, as we try to best represent the core of the game during the limited time. Also, the final game would have a heavier emphasis on the simulation of events and NPCs and long-term arcs, while the prototype will have a bit more scripted branches that resolve more quickly.

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How would you become aware of the paper's impact? Would you get like a morning report of news to sift through? And would there be rival newspapers (Mars News, The New Earth Post)?

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@Smiles Thanks for your support!

@Silvio: Some of the response to your actions would be quick - a negative interview or incendiary article would pretty clearly pit you against one of the game's characters or factions, and might win you the favor of their enemies. A favorable portrayal of speakeasies might not sit well with the police, but could get you a popular interview with bootleggers, for example. Other choices would play into the long game, as you sway public opinion.

Competing newspapers and possibly the rise of radio would be an extra challenge for the full-fledged game, but goes beyond the scope of the prototype. The two-week focus would be on what you can accomplish as the Moon's only source of news. That said, you'd not be the only form of communication, as NPCs interact and consider rumors from the grapevine - more so if they don't see you as trustworthy.

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So, does the newspaper start right as the first few people set up the first lunar outpost? You mention radio coming later, and it makes me wonder what kinds of limitation the moon society is under... Excited to see the game!

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This is much less management... and more so adventure game it sounds like.  As there isn't a wrong or fail per se but more the stories you choose, the decisions you make, that's the story you get.  A choose your adventure, but with many more layers and interactive elements which you can control to seriously choose that adventure and se where it goes.

Is this an accurate assessment?  And if so... very cool.  Also if so, could there be NO management elements?   I think I'd enjoy Beat Cop and This Is The Police if I felt like there was a way I could fail instead of "do you what you do and this is what you get" which sounds so more satisfying.

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@maxbz You'd see the colony start around the size of a town and grow into a small city, possibly with other settlements nearby. There would definitely be a sense that despite living on the Moon, it would still be difficult to bring technology from Earth and everyone is trying to make due with what's available. I'd like to explore how that setting could influence a society. For example, the Moon's slow rotation could mean people experience cheerful roaring 1920's with 13 days of sun, and difficult 1930s depression during the long period of darkness. Not hard science fiction, but mixing the inherent silliness with some thoughtful scenarios.

@Reid_Harris_Cooper I wouldn't want the management elements to distract from the focus on getting to understand the characters and your paper's place in the society as a whole. The business of running the paper is more useful as a mechanism for structuring the gameplay loop (preparing the paper daily) and giving context for your available actions (a reason to go around interviewing everyone). You'd have to take some extreme risks for the paper to fail, but gaining strong influence would be a difficult challenge, especially around the more divisive characters.

Eventually, you'd hire more employees and be able to delegate the bits you have less interest in. Some players might love writing headlines and taking pictures, while others could prefer to investigate rumors and following up on the crime beat.

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Here's a couple games that could be interesting to look at:

  1. The Westport Independent
  2. The Republia Times

Both of those games have a more cynical outlook than you seem to be envisioning and focus a lot on the mechanics of manipulating information instead of gathering that information, but I think they show how powerful the ability to select headlines can be in a game.

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18 hours ago, Reid_Harris_Cooper said:

Beat Cop and This Is The Police

Thanks for pointing these two games out. They look like great reference (even if it's to avoid getting mired in the management as you pointed out) and they weren't on my radar.

18 minutes ago, majugi said:

Here's a couple games that could be interesting to look at:

  1. The Westport Independent
  2. The Republia Times

Both of those games have a more cynical outlook than you seem to be envisioning and focus a lot on the mechanics of manipulating information instead of gathering that information, but I think they show how powerful the ability to select headlines can be in a game.

I'll definitely have to check these out. It's surprising that they didn't come up in my searches, but there's just so many games out there these days. You are correct that The Lunar Gazette would be less grim, by focusing on interacting with characters and leading a team of journalists in a democratic Moon colony. That's another way it's distinct from the despotic worlds of Paper's Please and Dear Leader.

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From what you've described an how you envision Lunar Gazette, neither Westport Independent or The Republia Times (the offical follow up to Papers, Please) is the type of game you're going for.

Yet just like the two games I mentioned as well they are grea.  I am not far enough into Beat Cop yet to know if possibly the choices I make only matter to my experience and not an actually succeed/fail.

Gazette definitly sounds much more about experience, both in prototype and then if further full game.  I don't think there's ever been an actual NEWSROOM game before.

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I like this idea a lot, and I thought your pitch was great! :) I'm getting the sense that you want this game to be more "simulationy" than what I'm about to suggest, but I'm curious if you're envisioning anything along these lines (I'll put the big gameplay categories in bold): 

Each "game" lasts a certain amount of time, like a year or something. Each day/week, you're spending your RESOURCES as you point out in your post:

On 4/4/2017 at 2:32 PM, Matt Enright said:

Each day, you'll collect information about what's going on around the Moon by dispatching reporters, doing interviews, and conducting in-depth investigations.

Resources may be somewhat fixed for the prototype, but may also be variable based on how much MONEY you make from advertising, which is based on SUBSCRIBER numbers (which is in turn based on whether you are putting out juicy stories, people pleasers, etc.) and also possibly how friendly you are to the big business advertisers. 

For the prototype, there will be one set of core FACTS that are going on behind the scenes (maybe in a full game this would be somewhat procedurally generated at the start). Which facts you focus on as a player will affect which way the game goes; as people have said, this is the choose your own adventure part. What I'm envisioning is that there are a few big things going on in the Moon: There are Watergate-type shenanigans at the Mayor's office, there are systemic problems with the way certain colonists are being treated, there is a conspiracy of several big corporations to cut out competition from some of the new upstarts that would make development happen faster/better/stronger/more equitable. 

Let's use "All the President's Men" or "Spotlight" as our theme now. At the beginning of the game, there will be certain very broad clues for these big "signal" stories, in addition to just normal "noise" moon stuff. There may be some reporters who are championing going in certain directions (think Dustin Hoffman saying "there's something HERE!). You, as Ben Bradlee, will have to pick and choose to some degree what direction the paper is going ("let's stand by the boys"). If you devote all your resources to what looks like it might be a Watergate thing, or use your resources / time the release of stories unwisely, you may turn out to miss the real story, alienate your subscriber/advertiser base and the government, and bleed resources. Or if you have faith and time things strategically, you may blow the biggest story this side of the solar system. Alternatively, you can just try and run a nice family paper, going in lots of directions but not too deep, build up a nice business, and follow the colony's general progress, which is also fun. 

Does that sound like the basic direction the gameplay is going, or am I describing a different type of game? 

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Yeah, that's a pretty close interpretation of the concept. Revenue primarily determines how large a team you can hire, and by extension how many stories you can follow and report on. Each team member has their own motivations, morale, and skills. Also, the stories are grounded by facts, but you only have time to acquire a subset of them, piecing together the rest of the story.

"Spotlight" is a great reference for information gathering and interviewing, as well as the thrill of following the trail of a story, risking upsetting powerful people, and contradicting public opinion to bring the truth out into the open.

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4 hours ago, Matt Enright said:

"Spotlight" is a great reference for information gathering and interviewing, as well as the thrill of following the trail of a story, risking upsetting powerful people, and contradicting public opinion to bring the truth out into the open.

It's probably impossible to get everything you want into a prototype, but it would be very cool if you have the tension of when to publish: you've got part of a story of corruption, but you've spent so many resources on it without releasing anything that your paper is going broke so you could make some quick cash by publishing what you have now; on the other hand, if you can ride it out long term it would be better to wait until you have the full story because once you start publishing something against the powerful they will work to remove your advertisers and silence people you might otherwise have interviewed. 

I see lots of possibilities for this to be a huge possibility space that could support lots of play styles... maximizing revenue, influence, justice, all based on player choice. 

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BREAKING LUNAR NEWS:

"On Earth today, an obviously rigged election came to an end and denied the citizens of Luna their first independent(!) newspaper! The benevolent Dear Leader mumbled some incomprehensive results in a televised speech to the Earthlings. We will try to keep you updated via our secret Lunar channels..."

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