A competative heist game for 2-4 players where two teams of gangsters try to rob the same bank at the same time.
Class: Thesis 1 - 2016
Instructor: Frank Lantz
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3 Nights in Chicago is a competitive local multiplayer heist game with a unique noir style for 2-4 players. Players control teams of 1930s-era gangsters trying to rob the same bank at the same time. The player needs to strategically press switches, open vents, crack safes, and crack skulls to grab as much cash as they can and escape before the cops show up. In between heists, players can use the money they’ve collected to upgrade their crew at the black market, giving them an advantage in the next round. But the player who has the most money after a select number of rounds is the winner, so players will have to spend wisely.
We started off with a hugely overscoped idea of trying to make a local multiplayer game with legacy elements (permanence between games), a deep narrative story with philosophical meaning, and X-COM style character permadeath. After a semester of work, nobody knew what the game was about or could understand the mechanics. So in February, with only 4 months of work time left, we went for a complete overhaul of the theme. While throwing out ideas we realized the noir gangster theme would be a perfect fit, and everyone immediately was able to connect with the game in a meaningful way.
The biggest takeaway from the project was the realization that simultaneously innovating on the micro scale (game mechanics) and the macro scale (theme, narrative, game loop) was way too much for us to achieve in only 9 months. We struggled in the first semester because we didn’t have a clear idea how to achieve all of our goals. But once we settled on the new theme, it was amazing to see how mechanics started to emerge naturally.
After some concept art and a quick prototype, we were invigorated again. We scrapped everything we had and started over completely, building the project from the ground up with everything we learned in the first semester. That extra motivation, in addition to deciding to meet more often per week to make up for lost time, seriously increased our productivity. Interestingly, our roles started to be more specific as well, and everyone knew what they needed to do and how it contributed to the project.
The reception to the new 3 Nights in Chicago was amazing. People loved it, people understood what we were trying to do, and the game was more memorable and exciting than ever. That said, we didn’t hit our original goals. Does that make the project a failure? We don’t think so. The goals changed, the scope changed, but we still came out with something people enjoy playing, and we enjoy playing, while at the same time exploring interesting new mechanics.
3 Nights in Chicago is a very different game than what we initially envisioned. We are proud of it, proud of each other, and proud of what we learned during the development process. And we hope you enjoy playing it.