Wednesday, August 23, 2006

New Web based Game Subpoena Power Lampoons Corruption in Congress

insist on truth and save the republic with Subpoena Power a Flash animation civic action game by NoEvil Productions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beta & Bugs

What the heck is public beta?

Public beta means that it's not the official or final version, and that we ask for user help. In this case, we ask for players to play the SubPow game and tell us what they think -- especially if they find any bugs.

With many people playing, the game is tested from many user points of view along with the various operating systems etc. This gives us, or rather the tech team who knows such things, all the information to fix the problem.

When you find something that you believe shouldn't happen -- something technical with the game itself, not a complaint about a Toadie making you use your last towel! -- we want you to report it.

How to report a bug:

Since the tech team is going to need lots of information in order to fix the problem, we ask that you email us at judge@subpow.com describing the last things you did prior to seeing the bug, and what the bug was.

In an ideal world, you know all the above information. But as Subpoena Power proves, we aren't living in an ideal world, so we know you may not know all of this. (This is especially true if you just came to read this after you found a bug or glitch!) Please provide all the information you can, and we'll see what we can do to find or recreate it from there.

Thank you for helping us Save the Game, and so Save the Republic!

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Non-Gamer Tries Beta

First off, you should know that I am not your typical gamer. In fact, I’m not a gamer, unless boardgames count. I don’t own gaming consoles, I’ve never had a joystick for my PC, and frankly, I tend to mock those who have such passions. "Step away from the TV," I command children and adults everywhere. Yes, I'm one of those moms.

So, when asked to beta test the new game, I was less than confortable. I mean, I’m no gamer, and had very little idea even what Beta Tester meant. But I played the game. Now I am hopelessly addicted.

What won me over was the game's theme: "Be patriotic. Save the republic. Insist on truth." I like that. These are things worth fighting for! I'm thrilled that instead of using violence as a form of entertainment, you work to bring real justice via the system. Instead of running around, trying to shoot before being shot, living the life of some renegade vigilante, you run around trying to gather evidence & serve subpoenas. But don't you real gamers worry, there is plenty of action. And plenty of danger -- you have to keep your character intact while the bad guys sling mud at you. (Oh, the nerve!)

The game begins with a conversation between you, an Assistant Special Prosecutor, and the Judge:

You: Corruption is rife, your Honor. The Scoundrels must be exposed.
Judge: Take these Subpoenas, uncover the truth. I’ll issue more orders, when you bring more proof.

And with that, you are off...

"The You enter the halls of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. ready to serve the subpoenas and uncover the truth. Your objective is to save the republic by finding the trustworthy congressmen and vanquishing the corrupt ones. The Senators and members of Congress, be they good or bad, all look the same. The only way to discover their character and deeds is to deliver the subpoenas; when you do, they'll A) either break down and confess (and then be taken away by the police as a Perfidious Scoundrel), or B) profess their loyalty in the form of an Honest Tribute. The Honest Tributes become the score by which you win the game.

You can improve your odds of getting Honest Tributes by making use of the "Trust-o-meter". This bar shows the percentage of Good to Bad politicians, and your actions move the bar. Catch the Lobbyist with the suitcase of money, and the meter goes up 10% to the good; miss the money and the Sycophants get it, and the meter goes 25% to the bad. It helps track your progress as far as what impact you are making in the halls. But as I said, there are those ready to stop you!

As you deliver your subpoenas, you'll run into Sycophants and Toadies. Both are obviously bad, and you'll see them coming, but they each have their ways...

Sycophants can't hurt you directly -- but not only do they collect moneybags and shred evidence (moving that "Trust-o-meter" to more red or bad), they can and do block your movements, making you an easy target for the Toadies. Oh, the dreaded Toadies.

The Toadies are dangerous. They seek you out and sling mud to sully your reputation. When they get enough mud to stick you, the cop will escort you to the restroom where you can wash up. It's a time-out for you -- and I can't tell you how infuriating it is to be fighting for justice and have the bad guys sully your reputation! But more than the cost to your pride, Toadies can mean the end of the game. For when you run out of towels, the game is done and you retire with a very poor press headline, (it's so sad!). The only way to get more towels in the restroom is to do a good job: for every 12 scoundrels you find, you'll get one extra towel stocked in the washroom.


"Subpoena

When you run out of subpoenas, you must get more from the judge. However, just as in real life, you need to convince the judge with evidence. For every 1,000 evidence points, you'll earn one new subpoena -- but you must reach the judge to get them. (And he's not around nearly enough, making you defenseless against Sycophants and Toadies!)

You do gather evidence when delivering subpoenas, but you may also find physical evidence (documents and briefcases with money) in rooms, trashbaskets, bookcases etc. in the halls. So it's best to keep checking them, accumulating points, so that you have enough points to nail that judge everytime he passes through the halls!

To re-cap the game, you need to do the following:

Deliver subpoenas to both catch Perfidious Scoundrels and score Honest Tributes
Gather evidence so you don't run out of subpoenas
Avoid Sycophants and Toadies

Remember, keep the Perfidious Scoundrels count high to keep the towels stocked and the game going, and the Honest Tributes score is the way to win the game. You need both.

Have you figured out that there is a lot going on all the time in this game?

And no, I have not won yet. Not even close. Perhaps this is why it's addicting. But I'd like to think it's bigger than just that...

I feel rather like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz up against such things. "Scoundrels, Sycophants and Toadies, Oh, My!" It's all so much bigger than I am... I can't wait to get home to Auntie Em and find out it's all just a dream -- but it's not.


The game literature says it best:

Some like to say this is just a game, and maybe they're right. Some say the real world is just the big game and maybe they're wrong.

Imagine with us a government "Of the People, by the people and for the people" where merit reigns, and greed is disgraced. Where the rule of law applies fairly to all men.

Once you have mastered the little game you may want to move on to the big one. That's up to you. It's a free country. And I do encourage it!

As I said, I am hopelessly addicted. I'll meet you in the forum. There we can gloat over each other's scores, cry over the Toadies, and perhaps make plans for the bigger game.

The layout adventure.

The layouts for this game were some of the most ambitious I have ever done. I had to find ways to speed up and use tricks to finish them on time.

The one that took the longest was the long pan used in the game. I hid various fun things in it, and invented random pictures of folks. A funny moment was when I was speaking with a friend from California and said I couldn't decide on a good person from American history to use as a bust, but had eventually decided on Winston Churchill. He was tactful in explaining why Mr. Churchill was not a very good person to use. (Whoops, wrong country.) I changed the head a bit after that to a different likeness.

The layout that almost killed me was staring up the steps at the capital building. I was trying to get it done overnight and wanted to go to my friend's the next day with no work. So I worked until the sun was coming up, and found some tricks in photoshop to do the stairs.

The certificates were another fun one. The patterns along the outsides were made using a tiling trick in Flash initially, so I could draw in one space and have an idea of what it looked like tiled overall. After that it was painted in pieaces by hand.

I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of tricks from this.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Naughty Congresswoman

It was a lot of fun--and somehow not a stretch--to record voices for this game. I particularly got a bang out of voicing the blonde, super-Martha Stewart-coiffed Congresswoman. Especially as I'm neither blonde, super, Martha Stewart or a Congresswoman. But I can pretend! Her "boohoo--I'm sorry," as written by Tom Reeve, is heard many a time as we realize she is more often than not a perfidious scoundrel-ette. (The cool thing about doing video game voices is that you have the opportunity to hear your voice(s) multiple times, if you are interested in that sort of thing. I often am.)

"Subpow" was just so great to work on as a voice actor because it offered me the often-sought but seldom achieved opportunity to wallow in melodrama. Imagining the extreme distress of a lawmaker being bopped by a subpoena when she was just trying to slink unmolested through the halls of federal service, well...twas fun. E.g., other lines needing to be voiced included the more "One Life to Life" soap opera-esque "It's only a game, boo hoo" and the rather weaselly "Everybody does it, boohoo". The trick, of course, is to vary the boohooing. Thanks to Tom's subtly precise direction, this was a piece o'cake.

Bravo, Tom & Kat--and more boohooing for me, please?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Original Inspiration.

Once when I was working on the prop crew for a lawyer movie, I found myself in the big city on the steps of a large government building with several “blue backs” like the ones in the game. They can be subpoenas, indictments, or other court orders, but they look about the same, and are stapled to the blue cover sheet and tri-folded in a particular way that is unmistakable once you’ve seen one.
The one I was holding was a prop, of course, but made with the real litigation jacket stationery and quite convincing. In the blank spots we wrote dates and docket numbers and used each other’s names where felons were called for, or scribbled things like “ Heywood Jablowmee V. Ivan Tophartt”, a private joke since the camera can’t really read it.
We had a bunch of these at one location but some were needed at another set being prepared down the block, so a co-worker was to meet me on the steps and receive them as a quick hand-off. I had been inside that building, so I made it to the rendezvous first. I stood near the revolving door at the top of the steps and watched for him among the stream of people coming into the building in the morning rush. There were secretaries and bureaucrats, lawyers and clerks, Politicians, deputy commissioners, lawmen, jurors and God only knows who else coming up the steps. The low winter sun was in my eyes, so I squinted through the clouds of cold breath and bustling silhouettes to pick out the crew brother I expected to appear in a moment.
I decided that when he showed I would not just hand him the prop, I would “serve” the subpoena on him, as would a process server. It would be a moment of ad hoc micro-theatre al fresco, a little joke between us that might find an audience in some gullible pedestrian. I stood tall with my blue-back at the ready and looked deep through the people funneling towards the revolving door.
Just then a prosperous looking man in a nice coat, who was coming up the steps towards me stopped dead in his tracks, spun on his heels and scurried back down the steps and out of sight.
It is impossible to know for sure, but he seemed to spot the subpoena, and recoil from the sight of it. I suppose he may have suddenly remembered that he meant to buy a newspaper, but it seemed like he was alarmed. He was suddenly running away from the door that he had, just an instant before, been deliberately striding towards. It was as if he thought that he had seen me before I spotted him, that I was an actual process server, and that it might be prudent to use the back door.
Whatever it was it made me wonder how many guilty consciences you could find that way.
In retrospect, that morning was the inspiration for the game.

Something about stuff that you dont see (programming the game)

Finally, that day came, a lot of hard work and thousands lines of pure code that makes no sense to ordinary people, but turn online design, animation and sound into the game like it is SUBPOW.

My name is Ermin Nogo and I am from Bosnia and Herzegowina. It is my pleasure to work on this game as a computer programmer when I have a team like this one is.

When I started to code the game, I thought it will be good game and that I will play it........but I was wrong, SUBPOW is great game for me although I know every trick and obstacle.

I want to know what other people think of this game and did my effort pay off.

Why is the game good?

Game has many features that some people will not reckognize on first sight, funny, realistic, interesting and even relaxing situations like it is Crazy Game.
When I play the game I have feeling like I am a movie director, I have the law in my hands. Most interesting fact is that the whole game was made in reality and only like that reveales its scenario. Special sound effects make the game humoristic and even more interesting.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Animator's thoughts

well I'm pleased the day has finally arrived for public release. I'll be interested to hear what people out there think of this.

It's hard (maybe impossible) for me to play this game as I would any other since I was invloved in creating the look of the characters and the way they move. Therefore I can't help but have a slightly biased eye as I play along. Just as I'm slapping a flying serve I'll think to myself "hmmm - I'm quite pleased with that arm action" - or "hehe - that's a nice flapping of the tie!"

So it is - I can't have the experience of seeing this fresh - so that's why I really wonder what people make of it :)

My personal favourite moment?


Well - I love the way the Toadies die - that sudden flash of anxiety in the eye - then the crumple into mud - yes, I'm pleased with that. almost worth wasting a subpoena or two I'd say :D

subpoenapower.com BETA launched

I am proud to announce that the much promised, if not threatened, launch of the BETA version of "Subpoena Power, the game" launched late last night, August 13th. For the next few days only a few of us will be taking the tour, polishing the brass.

This is a BETA release folks, so please report any bugs to judge@subpow.com.

Thanks to all who have labored over this baby. This is only the beginning.