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Scaling Back the Mysteries / Localizing Mysteries

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  • Scaling Back the Mysteries / Localizing Mysteries

    Update 4/8/2017: Some people replying to this post are uncertain on my points. I apologize and will make them more clear. My entire post has been edited and fixed up. Thank you.

    I noticed that lots of community members would like Nancy to travel the globe and go to exotic locations (Egypt, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, etc) and that's completely fine!
    1. I just want to put it out there that sometimes our high expectations of these locales, and then actually playing the mysteries end up making us disappointed.
    2. Just because Nancy solved a mystery in one location, doesn't mean she can't go back there again!

    Reasons Why We Might Be Disappointing:
    - Scope of the Locale. When I say Egypt, what do you think? Camels, Deserts, Palm Trees, Towns with dangerous bandits, Water consumption, pyramids, massive stone structures, etc. When HeR makes a game in an exotic location, they usually end up having to scale back how much players can experience/see/do because of cost constraints. This usually ends in disappointment because players are expecting more and we get less.
    - Lack of People/Ambiance. Having 4-5 suspects is part of the Nancy Drew formula. But having worlds be seemingly empty is kind of a stretch.

    Possible Solutions
    - Have Nancy go back to places where she's already solved a mystery. As one comment mentioned, just because Nancy solved a mystery in New York City doesn't mean she can't go back and solve a different mystery there.
    - Bring Nancy back to her home town, River Heights, and solve more mysteries there. Reuse old graphical assets. Saves time and money.
    - Try not to focus on "where Nancy is going" and instead on "what mystery Nancy is trying to solve".

    Hopefully this clears up some confusion.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by Det.JA; April 8, 2017, 09:36 AM.
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    Official Member of S.P.I.E.D.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Det.JA View Post
    I just find that a lot of the games that take place in these locations usually end in disappointment. Some reasons for this?
    - Scope is too small. Mysteries barely touch upon real landmarks. Not very many locations to explore.

    I thought Sea of Darkness was a great game. ... HeR took a place and scaled it down to a small location, without touching upon national landmarks, too many cultural references, and made the mystery and cultural references connect to each other rather than making cultural references just to be in the game.
    I must admit that I'm a little confused. First you say international games are disappointing when they don't include landmarks . . . and then you say SEA was a success because it doesn't include landmarks?

    I understand what you mean about more local, River Heights based mysteries, but I think the same environment would get stale after a while. The changes of scenery with each mystery are so refreshing! It's true that the books are usually based in River Heights, and considering only one mystery has been done in Nancy's hometown so far, I thinks it's definitely a place they might return to one day. Love the idea about hanging out with Bess/George/Ned and having them help Nancy in-person.

    I think "exotic location" mysteries are fine, as long as there's a good balance between local cases and international ones. HeR has managed this well, I think.

    As for the landmarks, I don't think it would have made sense for, let's say, Nancy to visit the Eiffel tower in Danger by Design if it wasn't related to the mystery.

    And I don't really have the knowledge to comment about the cliches/stereotypes. All I can say is that the international mysteries have been some of my favorites, and I definitely don't think Nancy should stop travelling abroad altogether! As long as there's a good balance . . .
    Last edited by Punchy; April 7, 2017, 09:52 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Det.JA View Post
      I noticed that a lot of community members would like Nancy to travel the globe and go to exotic locales. Which is completely fine. I just find that a lot of the games that take place in these locations usually end in disappointment.

      Some reasons for this?

      - Scope is too small. Mysteries barely touch upon real landmarks. Not very many locations to explore.
      - Small number of NPC's. I'm sure you'd expect more characters, even if they're just NPC's and not actual suspects.
      - Number of cliches up the roof! How many international mysteries involve underground sewers or catacombs? It's becoming a cliche at this point.

      I'm not going to say that every international mystery was a bad one. I thought Sea of Darkness was a great game. The mystery and ambiance of the environments were perfect! I think the reason for this, however, was that HeR took a place and scaled it down to a small location, without touching upon national landmarks, too many cultural references, and made the mystery and cultural references connect to each other rather than making cultural references just to be in the game.

      So what's the meaning of all this?
      HeR should localize the mysteries. Bring them home to River Heights -- Or really anywhere that a manageable mystery can take place, without being overwhelmed with scope. Stop giving us promises of exotic locations if you can't deliver on the grand scope of the mystery itself.

      OR

      If you go to an international place, scale back the locations and focus only on a few places. This can be detrimental to players however, expecting more because of the location itself.

      Solutions:

      - Start localizing mysteries. Put them in River Heights. Put them in places that actual HeR employees have had experience with being in. A lot of what made the original Nancy Drew games so great is that the mystery took place in a mundane environment, but the mystery itself made the environment feel dangerous, scary, and really built tension. Make Nancy hang out in River Heights with Bess and George. Give Nancy and her friends more backstories. Have Nancy and Ned solve local mysteries together. Carry on from Alibi in Ashes and use the same locations and art, just different stories, different weather conditions.

      - With localized mysteries, it gives HeR more opportunities to get creative with the limited scope they have. Theft at River Heights? Murder mystery? Museum treasure missing? Need local help from the police station?

      - Adapting more books as mysteries. I honestly haven't read too many of the Nancy Drew books. But if HeR localizes more mysteries in River Heights, (or honestly in places that's cheaper for the company to reuse art assets) and does a good job doing it, it might entice Nancy Drew players to go pick up copies of that specific book. I'm sure The Secret of Shadow Ranch and Secret of the Old Clock book sales went up when those games got released.

      Conclusion:

      What do you think about localizing mysteries? I'm happy to hear what fans have to say for this! Thanks for reading!
      A while back I posted suggesting New York as a location and someone commented that New York had been DONE in Stay Tuned For Danger, and that therefore there was nothing more to be gleaned from that location.

      The locations in the game consisted of a townhouse (where Nancy spent about 5 minutes) a NY cab which didn't even offer the terrifying wild ride that is true of a real NY cab ride (just picked her up and dumped her off at the REAL location, a TV studio where all the real action took place). Not an iota of it said New York, other than the cabbie's accent. It could have been ANY city, any TV station.

      But THAT'S IT! NY is DONE as a location. (Be real!)

      Never mind that many of my suggestions were geared to Upstate, leaf fall, apple season, Woodstock and so forth. Not to mention many of the things that make the City unique - horse drawn carts, Central park, food carts, the Museums, Rockefeller Center, Macy's.

      But I'm fine with keeping it as simple as River Heights.

      Now I'm not against UTILIZING interesting locations whether in the US or abroad. Nancy did plenty of country and globe hopping in the first 100 books or so. (I'm old, so those are the ones I grew up with and I haven't read the later ones.)

      I too (as well as a previous poster) am a bit confused when you first say that landmarks weren't touched on so it was disappointing and then are happy that SEA didn't focus on landmarks.

      You then touch on the small number of characters -- and I AGREE I'd like to see more characters -- but that has nothing to do with the locations. Instead that's been a staple of the game since it started. Few ND games feature more than 3-5 characters. Do I think there should be more? Heck yes, but that has little bearing on locatio.

      Adopting more books as mysteries: It's my understanding that HER's contract FORCES them to utilize actual books as part of the branding for their mysteries. That's actually a minus in my thoughts. If you can pick up the book and read the ending, then where's the mystery? HER has done a tightrope walk on that one. The moment I got Shadow Ranch (the game) I already knew just from watching the trailer that they'd be using one of the most important facts/plot points from that book and it pretty much destroyed the mystery for me before I even played it.

      So no. Surprise me please. Do something that is NOT in the books.

      Am I fine with River Heights as a location? Heck yes. (Though you do realize there IS NO River Heights, right? It's a made-up location.) Nancy did many mysteries there and they were perfectly fine.

      At the same time, I'm totally cool with Nancy checking out Tokyo or the Bahamas or New England. I really don't care WHERE she is as long as we can solve a mystery together. And if we can do so in an interesting place I've never been to, so much the better.

      Sure there might be some stereotyping happening. If for instance you set a game in my local semi-adult to adult hometown of Woodstock, heck yeah there's lots of folks who smell like Patchouli and wear tie-dye and use crystals, and wear broomstick skirts, yep there's a lot of us. (Except I prefer Tunisian Frankincense.) Yeah that's really what it's like. (And nevermind the concert happened about 20 miles away!)

      I'm curious as to what your real points are?

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      • #4
        I completely agree on most points presented.

        If HeR made a mystery in New York, they have every right to send Nancy back and solve a different mystery there. The location of the mystery shouldn't be the focus. It should be the actual mystery itself. We are paying for a mystery. Not necessarily a vacation. I know that it's fine if HeR wants to immerse players in the culture of a place, but the mystery should be on the forefront.

        I'm sure it would also be more cost effective to grab old art assets from previous games and make new cases out of them as well. Take Alibi in Ashes, for example. Why can't HeR grab those locations, make some new ones, and create a whole brand new mystery there?

        The same goes for pretty much any Nancy Drew mystery. Instead of having to re-invent the wheel each time, expand on the original. Focus on the core of the mystery, and not necessarily the location of the mystery.
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        • #5
          Interesting... I would say only one thing about ND and NY. In the yellow hardcover books, Nancy frequently stays at Aunt Eloise's apartment. Once, she and her little friends stay at Eloise's cabin. Sometimes, the clues are in NYC or the larger state. At other times, Nancy is there briefly between visits to other places. IMHO, New York and Eloise's apartment and cabin are viable, reusable locations.
          The world is divided into two nations:
          those with teddy bears, those without.
          Each thinks the other is odd.
          Jenny De Vries.

          (so... umm... how do we feel about ND and Mr. Woogle Wogle?)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Det.JA View Post
            . Instead of having to re-invent the wheel each time, expand on the original. Focus on the core of the mystery, and not necessarily the location of the mystery.
            I agree with this. I think one of the reasons the foreign-based mysteries are sometimes lacking in story is because the creative team has to really research and recreate locations with accuracy, whereas as North American mysteries they can just focus on creativity.

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            • #7
              I really don't mind when locations are ambiguous. The older games focused not on the country/city but of the locations we actually visited. Like in FIN it could have been a theater anywhere, SKC is just a high school, and WAC could be any East Coast boarding school CAR is another good example, it could be anywhere. I agree the mysteries should be the main focus. Sometimes I feel like HER puts things in games just because of the location. Like the sheep shearing in HAU and MED, etc. One game I feel does a good job with making a location a big part of the game (in the right way) would be DAN. Going to Pont Neuf, which is a real place, and then the catacombs, it was awesome. Anyway, my point is that yes, we need to focus more on the mysteries because the exotic location gimmick feels done and tired at this point.
              I became insane
              With long intervals
              of terrible
              Sanity
              - Edgar Allan Poe

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Solver View Post
                Interesting... I would say only one thing about ND and NY. In the yellow hardcover books, Nancy frequently stays at Aunt Eloise's apartment. Once, she and her little friends stay at Eloise's cabin. Sometimes, the clues are in NYC or the larger state. At other times, Nancy is there briefly between visits to other places. IMHO, New York and Eloise's apartment and cabin are viable, reusable locations.
                Thanks!

                Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Waverly Academy was also allegedly set in NY. Now not one iota of the game took place outside the academy, so who cares what state it was "set" in?

                LOL I totally forget if Eloise had a cabin in upstate NY or some other location. Please do give me the exact info what books? !

                Equally, I think River Heights would also be a fine location to return to. As would CO if they focused on a different aspect beyond Tesla and a lab. Perhaps a ski chalet mystery. OH! Wait done. But how about dino or Indian digs?

                While the location might be interesting, it's really WHO are the SUSPECTS and WHY did they do what they did? that matter.

                Don't get me wrong. I love it when the location/time has history that could be incorporated into the mystery. Whether that's artwork or a particular code or something read in the library it's all fun and useful. Still doesn't mean the location is finished.

                So back to River Heights. It's been a long time since I read them. I think a few of the first stories were in River Heights. I recall one of the early books had Nancy working an office job (or at least pretending to) in RH. And I'm sure other books used RH as well.

                Location be damned just give me a good mystery.

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