Skip to Content

The Death of a Travelling Salesman

22 replies [Last post]
questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011

I recently got this flash of a game idea that I call "The Death of a Travelling Salesman".

Basically groups (multiple) of 5-6 people are engaged in a City-wide search for the TRUTH! Each city we (the authors of the game) "bring" the game to a city, the game unfolds IN REAL LIFE!

To just touch on the idea - players would be trying to find where and how a "Travelling Salesman" died during the course of his work activities which were to travel around and sell things to people.

The concept would need to be INITIALLY funded by "IndieGoGo" and there would be a certain amount of groups (let's say 100 people) who would get to "play" the game. And invitations are selected from the pool of funders... Obviously the more "funders" (and money raised), the better of an overall experience.

I would say the experience could cost from $10,000 - $20,000 to break even in the venture. Obviously as the "game" gains in popularity and the more experienced the "authors" become, the more interesting the game becomes.

It's kind of like those "House Party Games" where each player is a character and you need to figure out who is the killer before it is too late. But on a CITY-Scale with multiple groups experiencing the game first hand...

This would be an "Experience"-driven opportunity to PLAY the game. Sort of a "Chance of a lifetime"...! Only a few people would ever get the opportunity to actually "play" the game.

Among the groups there is ONE (1) killer! And each party of players doesn't necessarily interact with each other unless the are told to... Things could happen like "an investigator" goes to a house and finds a shoe box under the front porch... Inside is a handgun ("Could this be the murder weapon???") and while he does this, two OTHER "investigators" take pictures of the person who searches for the "shoe box" during an all night stakeout (at the location with the gun).

So out of 100 people, 1 person would be the killer. And the other would be "investigators".

Doesn't this sound "trippy" or what?!?!

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
How it "could" work...

The whole "game" would be about "receiving" BROWN ENVELOPES from various people around the city. It would be like "secret agents" where you would go to a hotel lobby and "ask to speak with the person in room 842". Of course depending on how you figure out the right room... results in one (1) of TWO (2) envelopes your party receives.

It could have all kinds of secrecy ... everything revolving around "brown envelopes" with more clues, story and insight into the murder...

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/07/2011
Research This

I live in Baltimore, MD, USA. You open up a box to find a gun in there, possibly a murder weapon, you have problems.

...Seriously though, you may want to research some of the mystery package services out there, and see how those businesses are doing as a model. I haven't the foggiest idea if this would be self-sustaining or just a high-maintenance money pit, let alone profitable.

https://www.mysteriouspackage.com/

https://mysteryexperiences.cratejoy.com/

https://www.mailordermystery.com/

https://www.huntakiller.com/

There were also computer- and phone-based versions of these kinds of games back in the early 2000's. I don't know if they're still around any more. While researching, I uncovered this discussion thread that seems similar to what you're describing:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2138867

For the record, I'm not very interested in LARPing, but hey there's a market for this, right?

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
No it would only be a "prop"...

But the idea is that the two "other" investigators on the scene in their overnight stakeout ... Take pictures of you revealing and holding the weapon...

So they (the "other" investigators) don't know who is going to show up and what is going to be revealed... In this case a gun "prop" (fake) which could adds to the mystery as groups start to investigate EACH OTHER...

I'll check out those links... Thanks for them. I looked at "Mysterious Package" and they say membership applications are open to anyone, selection is reserved for a limited few. So sort of in the same spirit...

I will read up more about those other links... Thanks ... never knew any of this existed (in some form or shape). Will take another look at them soon.

Thanks!

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Everything would need to happen

After 6:00 PM and/or weekends. I think the teams should be 6 "investigators" so that there could be three (3) teams of two people "investigating" the leads in the murder case. With multiple angles it could lead to cool socialization like meeting together around 8:00 PM after each team reports back and can meet for dinner together ... and go over the *new* leads or clues... additional content.

I think to make the game "balanced", each brown envelope would come with a smaller "confidential" one related specifically to your "character". And you are not forced to share any of the confidential information.

This means each person part of the game - could be the suspect. Because each player is keeping secrets from his teammates, etc.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Late night stakeout

Should be on a Saturday Night where it gives freedom for the "characters" to not worry about affecting their jobs and still getting the full benefit of being a part of the "game".

And that stakeout could be a way of "framing" another "character" for the murder while allowing the true murder (fictitious) to get away with the crime...

polyobsessive
polyobsessive's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/11/2015
Killer

This sounds like it would be immensely complicated to design and run, and might be very vulnerable to players dropping out, as well as legal and safety issues. Still, I'm sure there are people out there who would love it if you could do it right.

Did you know that there are big, city-wide games out there that are based on the old game, "Killer", where players have "contracts" on each other and have to hunt each other down with water pistols or other fake weapons? Sounds like your idea is different, but there is probably a big overlap in the issues faced to run such a game, so you could probably learn a lot from them.

JohnBrieger
JohnBrieger's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/04/2016
Research ARGs

Typically, games in this genre use a central website (or several) to coordinate the action and act as a funnel for new p[layers entering the experience. Often, they'll have sites, forums, physical artifacts, planned events w/ hired actors, phone #'s text services.

running a large scale ARG is a tremendously complicated affair, and most of the successful ones break the action up into bite size chunks that help develop a community around the game, so that players feel like they are a part of something awesome and epic. A typical ARG runs for between 1 week and 2 months.

My personal favorite ARG, and one I was an active participant in the online community for, was Perplex City, run by Mind Candy. Look up some of the crazy events they ran as part of the two years they ran it and you'll maybe get inspired. It's atypical due to the way they funded the game (puzzle cards) and the sheer length and scale of their events.

My biggest piece of advice is to not limit the fun to the people who are running around on the ground in the chosen city / location. Lots of the fun in perplex city was solving printed puzzles from obscure forums you found by texting a number you got from solving a puzzle on a card. The chains of puzzle solving and layering and community progress were awesome.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
My "ideas" are...

Basically the "crew" would be one (1) to a couple days ahead of the "investigators". I'm thinking that TWO (2) "brown envelopes" would be given to each location. And there would be a SIMPLE "rule":

If an investigator asks for "Mrs. Branch" they get envelope "B", otherwise they get envelope "A".

Basically the difference would be in the ability of the "investigators" to search clues and determine the various people part of the entire plot.

If an investigator goes to a hotel and ask the Front Desk to speak to the person in "Room 842" and they show their "investigator badge" they get envelope "B", otherwise they get envelope "A".

UNLOCKING the details to a location makes it that "B" always has more "DETAILS" and more pertinent information to sieve through. "A" is more general and provides less information and clues to the identity of the perpetrator of the crime.

And people would get PAID to hand out "Brown Envelopes".

jfeast
Offline
Joined: 05/18/2017
Awesome

It's always the legal/liability issues that hod back ideas like this. I think it sounds cool. Could be fun with a few friends on a Saturday night. Back in the 1970's or 80's some Scotch or Whiskey company ran these ads showing a single image of the place where a case of their product had been hidden. Readers were encouraged to figure out where it was and go find it based on the photo and a few clues hidden in the text of the ad.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Money pit

jfeast wrote:
It's always the legal/liability issues that hold back ideas like this.

It's primarily a "money" issue too. If you have to pay people to hand out envelopes, and you have to pay writers and a photographer, I'm not sure how I would get all of the pieces to fit "together".

jfeast wrote:
I think it sounds cool. Could be fun with a few friends on a Saturday night.

That's the thing... It's not for "friends". Instead you to join a group of 5 other strangers. And work as a team, knowing fully well that out of the entire group, there is ONE (1) perpetrator!

So even if you and all your friend sign up - you will most likely (if chosen) be part of a team with unknown people. And that's the THING: people feel they can trust their "friends". But what about a group of 6 strangers put together... Can you work together?? Can you trust your team... knowing full well that "one" person cannot be trusted (and should not be trusted)...

The more I think about the "idea". The more I see challenges in bringing the "concept" together... But I really like the "idea". Just not certain how feasible it could be.

And right now I'm streamlining my ideas to "smaller" ventures. I can't afford to just "invest" in this SIZE of a project (at the present time)...

Mosker
Mosker's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/30/2014
Allusion potential

Read the thread title, thought "Could someone really turn the play into a game?"

Of course (?) not, but if you haven't seen a production, or read the Miller play recently you may want to do so once you've got a foundation of the technical aspects. A slight touch of the literary themes (yes, I know the word is loaded--I plan to address that thread soon) regarding self-perception, perception by others, age, legacy, and accomplishment could add quite a bit to the experience. Think about last cases, limited opportunity, how you define, promote winners and losers...think about the mechanics of relationships between players--how one's success might affect the other.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Simple procedure - but hard on content

Mosker wrote:
Read the thread title, thought "Could someone really turn the play into a game?"

I think that it's a pretty DEEP game we're talking about. Even if the mechanics are simple: using Brown Kraft Envelopes. So the delivery and interaction with people is very limited...

But it would kind of be a WEEKS worth of "build up". So something along the lines of:

  • On Saturday two (2) "investigators" were on an all-night stakeout and took pictures of "someone" who found a something at the location they were staking out.
  • With proof of a picture, they are handed another "Brown Envelope". The very next day (Sunday).
  • Sunday night - Wednesday night, based on all the information the "investigators" decide what "ACTION" they are going to take NEXT (which will naturally occur on the next Saturday Night).
  • Thursday to Friday, the "ACTION" is "confirmed" and setup begins to make up whatever is required for the investigation at hand.
  • Since there are several teams involved (not just one). This is a full-time matter... And also requires Field-Analysts who go to the actual locations and make deals with the owners and hand out "Brown Envelopes".
  • Saturday Night comes along and the team does their thing.
  • And so forth, and so on...

So the mechanics of the game are relatively SIMPLE. And Sunday Night to Wednesday Night... People are analyzing data, notes, observations and reporting to their team leader WHAT they want to DO and where they want to GO on the NEXT "Saturday Night".

Boiling it down to this kind of CORE ... could be amazingly simple. But you of course need good writers, the kind that can hide information and clues, etc.

Like I said it's a virtual "Money Pit". If you had 100 people and you charged them $100 for the experience, that's $10k. If you have to pay people ... it suddenly make the project go from Hero to Zero rather rapidely. But if it was a IndieGoGo campaign where you're INVESTING into the concept and only a select few will play the game... Well that could be different.

I also feel like this could be "sort of" like a Movie Production. Obviously some movies are made with a small budgets... The other idea is "Chaperoning" (Do you have "crew" follow people - to avoid trouble)??? It breaks up the MYSTERY and whole VIBE of the "Game". It would be like Baby-sitting just to make sure things go smoothly.

The truth of the matter -- you'll want this to actually FEEL REAL on that Saturday Night... When you're OUT THERE, SOMEWHERE waiting for something to happen, someone to show up, meet with a person, etc.

Anyways just my ramblings... I think the METHOD can be applied to the mechanics -- but I think CONTENT is the real problem.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Shipyards example

Picture the Field Analysts strike a deal with one of the managers running the local Shipyard. Their goal is to ALLOW two (2) "investigators" ON-SITE.

Firstly the shipyards are rather BIG and secondly they are like a MAZE...

The "investigators" have to find SOMEBODY (an actual Person)... And when they do two (2) things can happen:

  • If they flash their "investigator badges", the docks worker RUNS away... And the "investigators" need to RUN AFTER HIM! If they do ... they'll arrive to a dead end with a "Brown Kraft Envelope 'B'".
  • Otherwise the docks worker hands them Envelope 'A'.

But just this type of small "adventure" would be awesome for one Saturday Night!!! The goal is that you want to get a 'B'... But still worthwhile getting an 'A'!

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/07/2011
Great Caesar's Ghost

questccg wrote:
So even if you and all your friend sign up - you will most likely (if chosen) be part of a team with unknown people. And that's the THING: people feel they can trust their "friends". But what about a group of 6 strangers put together... Can you work together?? Can you trust your team... knowing full well that "one" person cannot be trusted (and should not be trusted)...
This is a very strange idea of "what is fun."

Personally I would never touch this with a 10-foot pole. It's like a terrible blind date mixed with someone's murder. A more foolproof recipe for disaster (and a BIG one), I've never seen.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
A man goes to a bar...

let-off studios wrote:
This is a very strange idea of "what is fun."

Well the good thing is that it doesn't "require" actors. Only people who direct the "investigators" to locations and give "Brown Envelopes" as the "pay off". Think of it, if there are two (2) of you -- and the site has been vetted by the Field Analyst... There should be no issue about security.

And if you're a couple people, depending on the "setting" it could be three (3) or four (4) people searching the location.

I really like the "shipyards" example, because it's sure to get the blood running when you need to run after the docks worker. Everything is pre-arranged a couple days in advance. So it's relatively SAFE.

Why I would mix teams is because although I understand "Friends" wanting to play together... The better group concept is five (5) Players of the "game". You've all signed up and been chosen to be a PART of the "game" why would you want it to be only your "friends"??? I think it just removes an element - of tension.

Again depending on the "setting" more "investigators" need to be deployed. Like the "shipyard" example: maybe 3 or 4 people would make it FEEL "safer"... Even thought you are still travelling and searching a REAL "shipyard"!!!

But again you could probably be in more danger going to some random bar with people whom you don't know. People go out to MEET "strangers" each and every day. Why they even take them from the bar to their homes... How dangerous is that?! I don't think that is "fun either" (not in my book)... I can think of real-world situations like that, that are FAR more dangerous (IMHO)!

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/07/2011
Safety is Subjective and Objective

questccg wrote:
But again you could probably be in more danger going to some random bar with people whom you don't know. People go out to MEET "strangers" each and every day. Why they even take them from the bar to their homes... How dangerous is that?! I don't think that is "fun either" (not in my book)... I can think of real-world situations like that, that are FAR more dangerous (IMHO)!
It's pretty clear I'm not your target audience for this. And it seems my attempts at steering you away from such an endeavor - even as a prolonged thought experiment - are going nowhere.

So, good luck with your project. I will shut up about this now. I just hope you shuffle it back into the hole it oozed out of before you even consider dropping any money into it, and/or risking peoples' lives. Because I care. :)

jfeast
Offline
Joined: 05/18/2017
I see

Sure enough, for most of us money is an issue when developing games. I think I see what you are going for regarding playing with strangers.

Is it a scenario where you and your friends would likely be on teams all working against each other? That way everyone could get together afterward for drinks-or whatever- and talk about their experiences?

It certainly is an intriguing idea one way or the other. I was just wondering.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
I think the idea has some "merit"

jfeast wrote:
Sure enough, for most of us money is an issue when developing games.

Yeah making something financially "viable" is an important part of Game Design. I know we don't talk about it, like it's Taboo because we're all doing it because we love it... But at the same time as designers, we would like for sufficient recognition to make the process and time "worthwhile"...

jfeast wrote:
I think I see what you are going for regarding playing with strangers.

The game would be for people who want to "live" the experience. And so everyone there would "play their part". One thing to the "Brown Envelopes" there is always a SMALLER "envelope" inside marked "Confidential". And the person who receives the "Brown Envelope" gets to check on the confidential content on their "own time"...

That's what I mean by playing with "strangers"... You don't know what information will be shared and since it's "confidential" that "investigator" makes the CALL!

jfeast wrote:
Is it a scenario where you and your friends would likely be on teams all working against each other? That way everyone could get together afterward for drinks-or whatever- and talk about their experiences?

Everyone is looking to figure out WHO killed the Salesman and what were the circumstances of his death. Could be manslaughter or an accident, depends how everyone manages to piece together information...

I think a good format is 5 player teams. How many teams, not sure. Maybe like 10 (so 50 players) at $200.00 a pop for a 3 month experience. About drinks, yeah I was thinking people (5 person groups) can find BARS around the city to drop by have some drinks and talk about the game, clues, plans, where to investigate, things that have been deciphered ...

So yeah maybe like a Tuesday night might be "BAR Night" where people go out and meet the rest of the team and discuss together what they have found... If the Group Leader has to submit a "Field Investigation" on Wednesday Night... It would be worth it meeting the team to discuss. Plus you can Skype other nights (Sunday and Monday)...

There is definitely a SOCIAL aspect to the game. And group-oriented planning and "investigation".

jfeast wrote:
It certainly is an intriguing idea one way or the other. I was just wondering.

Yeah I think it's cool "idea" too. But right now that's all it is: an "idea". There are some structure and a draft process to follow... Like what a WEEK looks like (I've kind of explained that).

Ten (10) teams of 5 people each seems more manageable that twenty. But there is still a lot of work to be put it ... For now it'll remain just an "idea" and I'll see if I get more ideas for it too.

That's the thing about game design, ideas come from all kinds of places. It's worthwhile sharing them and talking about them. Like I'm surprised that @Let-Off Studios was so OPPOSED to the idea. But making it a REAL experience is what it is all about.

Making the plot twist and change as the players play the game ... is also very important.

Anyways I'm still open to discussing the idea further. But I'm taped out at the moment, as I work on ANOTHER "Game Design" (Prototype) further.

So if you have comments/questions/feedback/ideas please feel free to post.

Cheers!

Mosker
Mosker's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/30/2014
Quick question (and follow-ups) for those following this thread:

questccg wrote:

So if you have comments/questions/feedback/ideas please feel free to post.

Cheers!

(Why I'm asking follows)

What is your familiarity with the Arthur Miller play, Death of a Salesman? Seen it? Read it? Does the name Willie Loman mean anything to you?

(After posting, reading questccg's reply, I thought more about this, and my comments on theme and the broad backgrounds of our audiences and consumers. I think of reading Lovecraft for the first time, finding his smaller scale, more personal stories far more effective.

As for the Miller play? Never saw it. Didn't read it until long after leaving college--with a degree in literature. Only remember the basics, and that I found it so depressing I had no interest in revisiting it.

The Crucible? Read that in high school, and I've seen games drawing from that play as well as the broader source material.)

Coffee is for Closers anyone? (And yes, I know...)

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
It's Taboo

Mosker wrote:
Coffee is for Closers anyone? (And yes, I know...)

You better believe it is... But I wish we could actually make some money off our designs (I know it's Taboo to talk about it...) And we like seeing designs that actually KickStart.

Seems like everyone who is "somebody" in this business gave up "design" and went straight into "publishing". (And yes, I know what that means too...)

It's like when you start in this business, you're so positive and hopeful that any one of your designs could make it. Then when it does - you get stuck with the harsh reality that even if you do successfully KickStart, it's still like pennies in a pond.

"A"-"B"-"C" ... + "D": Action, Buy, Configure and ... Discard. (And ya I know: "Always Be Closing Designers"! Wink)

(Please feel free to continue this Taboo - off-topic talk!)

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
And just FYI

I thought that the "crime" would be the death or disappearance of the Traveling Salesman... When I thought about the imagery - I was immediately influenced by the Exorcist. Or what I remember about what I saw - it's a long time ago... And I pictured a person in a black suit walking around at midnight trying to get to where he's trying to go...

All that imagery is what brought the "idea" of "Death of a Travelling Salesman"... Not Arthur Miller nor his play.

If you're of a younger generation - maybe something ala "Dexter"... But that's just to current. But maybe a smidgen of "Dexter" too.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
"A"-"B"-"C" ... + "D"

questccg wrote:
"A"-"B"-"C" ... + "D": Action, Buy, Configure and ... Discard. (And ya I know: "Always Be Closing Designers"! Wink)

And BTW, this must be the secret mantra of every "publisher" out there!

Even the "good" ones. Or this should be something all *NEW* designers should be made aware of.

(And I don't really feel like that... I'm very thankful of Joe Pilkus' efforts and the Outer Limit Games Team of Mike & Stan Strickland. We need more Jamey Stegmaier success stories... Or at least reasonable knock-offs! LOL One man to inspire a generation or two, just doesn't cut it in my mind)

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut