The real writing begins. What exactly am I going for? Here's a very quick breakdown of the overarching plot, the individual mysteries, the world's style, and the historical elements:
The game will feature many mysteries that tie into one another. I've yet to decide if the stories will be linear (you solve one, then you solve the next, etc) or parallel (you can solve all the mysteries whenever) but there will be a tie throughout all of them -- probably something about the main character's past that she's trying to discover. It's something I still need to think about, but I have some ideas already.
Individual Story Structure
The Golden Age Mystery structure is perfect for a game, with the suspects known at an early stage -- important for gameplay, so the mystery itself doesn't seem unfair. With this structure, all the clues, red-herrings, and lies are vital -- everybody has something to hide, but what is it? Murder? The player must break down each suspect to find the truth! Agatha Christie is my main inspiration here.
While I like the Golden Age's structure, its classic settings -- a country town, a secluded mansion, an enclosed train -- feel contrived by modern standards, and far too innocent to explore some themes I want. I need grit in my sandpaper. Jazz singers, mobsters, shady cops, and drug addicts. In that sense, the style will lean hard-boiled -- Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. But I don't want it as bleak as a classic noir film. Instead, think more neo-noir -- films like Chinatown and The Long Goodbye. A cutting humor in a corrupt backdrop.
The 1920s were both the pinnacle of glamour and the nadir of crime, contrasting the parties of Jay Gatsby with the shotguns of Al Capone. It was the first automobile age, featured the rise of women (though they'd hit many hard ceilings!), and kick-started consumerism. Jazz took hold (though black artists were still maligned), flappers became the first youthful rebells, and radio and film revolutionized media. Of course, the Volstead Act -- the American prohibition of alcohol -- played maybe the most well-known role of the decade. This was, quite literally, the first electrifying age. While main characters will be my own creations, their backdrops will be absolutely real. It gives me many themes to pull from; themes that I can tie to contemporary discussions -- about race, about drugs, about corruption, about industry, about almost everything. I'm eager to explore it!
I'll break down each element further as I get to it, but that's the basics of everything. Writing is maybe the hardest part of this entire undertaking. But I want to share as much of it as I can (without spoilers!). Wish me luck!