[SA Game Jam 2017] HR: Human Resource


HR: Human Resource is a 3D fact finding / explore the office / point and click / hidden object game that plays off in the bureaucratic hellscape that is Parasol Corp. You, a lowly member of the HR department, are tasked with investigating the disappearance of Employee #14182610. Collect enough evidence to compile a report that will satisfy Upper Management.

For more Parasol Corp. adventures, play our entry into the 2016 SA Game Jam (AI: Anomalous Identity).

Ben McInnes @blacksheepZA
Adone Kitching @mmillions_
Nina Lewis @awolflikeyou
William Christian

72 hour entry
Categories: Hobbyist, diversity.

Here is the final build of HR: Human Resouce https://groupeffort.itch.io/hr-human-resource

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  • edited
    Hey jam friends,

    We're still going strong on our game, HR. So far we are really proud of how the game is coming along and we can't wait to share it with you all! Here are a few of our 2D and 3D assets so you can get an idea of the style that we're going for [we're on 10/45 2D and 27/45 3d, William is modeling like a mad man]. We'll have more to share tomorrow.

    Some of the office 3D models (Colour and textures will come tomorrow):

    We will share more as soon as we can! :D

    Edit: Removed the images as they were faaaar too big
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  • Hey all!

    A quick update: We have decided that going for a 72hr entry would be best for the game. It just needs a little more TLC before we can post it :)

    Here is another quick sneak peak:


    And here is a WIP of our game scene; we still have to place things correctly, add the new UI and fix up the colours a bit but you get the gist I hope :)


    So excited to share a build tomorrow and get some feedback! Much excite! Also, I look forward to getting some time to play the games tomorrow!

    Well done everyone!
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  • This is looking really promising! I'm also excited that it's some kind of hidden-object narrative game (by the description). There aren't enough of that sort of indie game!
    Thanked by 1mmillions_
  • Our entry is almost ready! We're just uploading the build! <3
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    Hey all,

    It took far longer than we expected to upload a build of the game but it is finally here and we are oh so very proud of it! I am really stoked with what Group Effort has done! I want to say a big thank you to Free Lives for hosting/sponsoring the event! It was what got us into game dev last year and I feel like we have grown tremendously since that first Jam! I look forward to the day that we can enter in the "Professional" category instead of "Hobbyist" :)

    Itch Link: https://groupeffort.itch.io/hr-human-resource

    Here is a screenshot of the Title Screen:

    And here an in game screen shot:

    Your task:

    We hope you enjoy it!

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  • FInally got around to making a Mac build and uploading it to the itch.io page. I haven't been able to test it because I don't have a Mac. Please let me know if there are any issues with it!

    Any feedback or thoughts would be greatly appreciated :)
  • Really cool idea and fun game!

    Writing was good and humorous, loved discovering all the comments. Liked the idea of compiling a report. The robo-spider-plant was pretty cool haha.

    Text became out of focus/pixelated every now and then (returned to normal by just clicking again though).

    Nice entry!
  • Thanks for playing @SleepingSafari :)

    As for the text, I honestly don't know what was going on there. We ran out of time before we could have a proper look into fixing it. I am really inexperienced with UI stuff but we will definitely look into trying to fix it though!
  • edited
    I love the writing in this! And the art really supports the story/gameplay brilliantly.

    Played through it twice to get different results, and I felt pretty satisfied with how the game responded to my differing strategies.

    If this were a longer game, I'd think it'd be nice to have the first incident be quite simple, with just 4 or 5 things to inspect. And the player could get a sense of what management expects of them before the player is faced with more complicated tasks.

    I presume the time constraints forced some things to be cut, but I discovered on the sticky note that a key was hidden in the third drawer. It didn't seem like there was a third drawer, and I presume it was cut, but that kind of puzzle would be rad. Also things like folding back the corner of that carpet to discover the blood stain (rather than it just being out in the open). I guess I'm saying I think there's a lot of potential for rewarding interactions.

    I also really want that second mission, as I'm now allowed to bring in an additional personal item to my workplace (which in the context of the world seems like a genuinely excellent reward).

    The pot-plant bot surprised me at first, and I thought it was part of the mystery. Until I realized it was your spying device, built into every office by management presumably.
    Thanked by 1blacksheepZA
  • Hey @EvanGreenwood,

    Thanks so much for playing, and for the super valuable feedback. We're really excited about HR, and we're thinking of making it into a longer game (maybe episodic) that allows you to explore Parasol Corp. a bit more gradually.

    I would love to chat to you / MGSA about the game's payoff. I think if we develop it further, each task could lead into a more complex, higher-clearance-level-required one. But I would also like to know how to create better payoffs for these short experience type games.

    You're spot on about the constraints. We had a few puzzles in mind, but didn't have time to implement them. That will definitely form part of the game play in the longer / more fleshed out version. When the puzzles are implemented, PotBot will also make a bit more sense ;)

    I don't know if that paragraph is actually a spoiler, but let's err on the side of caution!
  • edited
    In terms of payoff, the obvious example of a game that had a series of tasks in a dystopian context is Paper's Please. Between levels, depending on how you perform, you receive money which affects how your family fairs, and some of the actions you perform have narrative consequences beyond just whether you get fined or rewarded for the task (like letting through a terrorist who has a valid passport when you know you'll be fined if you hold them back).

    In this case, in the context of Parasol Corp, receiving promotions and having Parasol trust you more seems like the obvious immediate effects of performing well at the game. Having some visual progress, like your desk representing how many personal items you are allowed to take to work, would be nice.

    Just spitballing here, but I like the mechanic of: You have to have seen an piece of evidence to fill in some information in a form. It works well in a hidden object game, and the variety of things you can fill in has some moral consequence.

    There's a couple of spitball ideas of how else you can use this. In the current game the case you're given involves a person who has disappeared. You could also have situations, maybe later in the game, where you are spying on a employee that still works with you, and what you accuse them of affects them. Like you don't have to get them fired, but you definitely can get them fired, but you do have to choose options that conform to the kind of accusations that Parasol Corp requires.

    I guess I'm suggesting that there be some moral choices, and perhaps these play out with a little simulation of who is still on your team versus how many black marks from Parasol Corp you have received. And maybe this can matter to you because certain team members are quite productive and are really helping your team progress towards some goal (like automatic fried chicken?), and team members cost money from a budget (so you might want to accuse unproductive team members of treachery even when they are innocent).

    I think what Paper's Please does is excellent, and the same sort of system works here. In that the game is rewarding you for doing abhorrent things.

    But for a system like Paper's Please to really motivate the player, the game also needs to show you consequences, like the family simulation in Paper's Please. The direct effects in Human Resource seem to be "Earn favour with Parasol Corp" versus "Earn Black Marks". And I think you could add some direct effects of people being fired, or demoted, or even dying. But for that to matter you need some greater goal (like completing research into boneless chicken) that these direct effects contribute towards indirectly (as in these direct effects are inputs into a simple simulation. For example: Each employee costs money and each employee makes progress, and some of the employees are sabotaging ect).

    Another spitball idea that might be fun is to have a meta-report to compile... like in between levels you get contacted by an agency investigating Parasol Corp, and they need evidence of wrong doing to prosecute Parasol Corp, and as you play levels you find evidence you are able to fill out that report.

    You could also have some meta-reports overlapping each other, like at a certain point in the game you have a report you are gathering evidence towards for the CIA, but then you receive another task from the KGB who want some counter-intelligence gathered. I guess I'm saying that some reports you are collecting evidence for could extend over multiple levels, and that could get players engaged in longer term goals than just completing the level in front of them.

    There's also obviously narrative payoffs that could keep players interested, like "What is it that Parasol Group does?" and a rabbit hole of covered up information with ever increasing stakes (is the finger lick'n chicken a biological weapon?). But I completely trust that your team can deliver on that front in a longer form game. Your writing is really excellent.
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    Just to be clear, when I'm talking about having longer term goals this is the explanation of why I'm saying that: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/128849/Opinion_Compulsion_Loops_In_The_Short_Medium_and_Longterm.php

    The idea being that in Human Resource players will click on a task and they're going to be engaged with solving it, but then once that's done they return to a state of "Do I do another task or do I stop playing?". Players are likely to be okay with doing this a couple times, but eventually you want players to have other overlapping goals, so that while they are finishing a level they are also progressing towards another goal, or multiple other goals.

    Of course, completing an over-arcing narrative is one of the goals that the player will be looking forward to after finishing a level. I think that's the bare minimum you need to do if you were to extend the game.

    So it would help to have other goals that extend across levels, like the suggestion I made about having a simulation of your team's progress, or the suggestion of having meta-reports to fill out that are collecting across multiple levels.

    And this isn't really about just keeping players playing. This is about keeping players motivated, because people enjoy being motivated. Like people report that they "enjoy" playing slot machines, but really what they're feeling is very motivated. And conversely, even if a game is really fun and innovative, but isn't motivating, then players will feel bored and won't enjoy themselves.

    Sorry if I'm overexplaining! Just to be clear, I think for the length of the game that you currently have the payoff is mostly hampered by a lack of resolution about the narrative of Parasol Corp, I'm left wanting to know more about Parasol Corp and perhaps even affect their demise somehow. All this advice I'm trying to give has to do with making the experience a few levels longer.
  • Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to give such rad feedback @EvanGreenwood and thanks for the compliments!
    We really appreciate it! I think you have given us some good leads on what to think about and we will definitely consider it carefully!

    As Adoné said you are correct about the constraints and cuts. The extra interactions and animations would have added another layer of enjoyment (especially for PotBot). However, I am still really proud of how much we squeezed in. Another feature that I really wish I had time to implement for this jam version was a gallery that showed you all of the items that you had clicked on so that you could see your progress and it would hint at what you may have missed.

    Don't worry about overexplaining things, it is really helpful for us! Also thanks for the link! I will definitely give it a look over and think about how it would relate in the context of this game. As luck would have it, Mark Brown from Game Makers Toolkit released a video that is really relevant for our game, What Makes a Good Detective Game?. It touches on a lot of ideas and mechanics that could be useful for a game like this. When you have a moment you should definitely check it out.
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    That "What Makes A Good Detective Game" video is pretty great. And I'd imagine a lot of the advice there can improve Human Resources, though if you follow that advice it'll probably mean making a few more systems particularly to avoid the multiple choice answer prompting problem.

    What I love about Human Resources with regards to detective games, and what I think is unique, is that you're not actually trying to solve the case, in fact you're trying to prove there isn't a solution even while in your mind piecing together what the crime actually was. For fans of detective games this would be very appealing if done right.

    If I were to be critical, I'm atually not 100% certain that PotBot is a net benefit to the game. I think PotBot is a nice gag, but it comes at the cost of making the situation feel more fantastical/whacky. I'm not sure that's a trade worth making, because you lose a bit of the appeal for those that want a well grounded detective story, and the rest of the story feels like a black humour Black Mirror. Though of course I don't know exactly how PotBot is going to function and benefit the game further down the line, and I might be underestimating the value of a bit of whackiness in a game like this.
    Thanked by 1blacksheepZA
  • I liked playing this :)

    What I liked:
    - The world building through interaction and dialogue
    - The game looked really good
    - The plant robot thing
    - Exploring and clicking on everything

    What I was a bit meh about:
    - Very verbose dialogue. In some places felt valid (like the report); it did feel like it could have been distilled though, but I understand that it is difficult to distill for a jam though.
    - A more present goal/over-arching. @EvanGreenwood alluded to this before in better detail.

    What I didn't like:
    - Nothing actually, I thought it was a really solid game jam.

    Well done to the team!
    Thanked by 1blacksheepZA
  • @Thelangfordian
    Thanks so much for playing the game and the compliments. We are glad you enjoyed the game :D
    As for the things you feel meh about, I can see what you mean about the game being quite wordy. I do think that some of it could be cut down in favour of visual hints/jokes/puns. That is something I would love to explore going forward but these things do take a fair amount of time to do well. Unfortunately, the time constraint of the jam got in the way of such things. And to your second point, further iterations will definitely work in extra levels that lead to overarching goals and story arcs. :D
    Thanked by 1Thelangfordian
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