Release date:2011-01-24
Genre:First Person CSI
Available on:PSVita


Broken was the first project I worked on at Magenta Software, the game was set in Miami where, as a detective, the player would examine various crime scenes to investigate the works of a serial killer. The game took inspiration from the movies like Mystic River, Zodiac, and Se7en. TV shows such as CSI and Dexter, and video games like LA Noire.

The game was to be a launch title for the then yet to be PlayStation Vita console. Magenta had a second-party relationship with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, so we were lucky enough to get very early in development Vita hardware to work with, which was frequently upgraded as the console came closer to launch. The premise of the game was very ambitious and leveraged state-of-the-art facial motion capture techniques, and live motion-capture and audio work similar to a big budget production.

The Idea of the game was to showcase the features of the new PlayStation Vita hardware by utilizing some of the unique game-play scenarios the hardware could offer, such as the touch-screen, the back of console touch sensor, the cameras and the gyroscopes. In the initial game-play, the detective would be represented as a floating first-person camera, and navigate interior crime-scene environments by touching point of interest nodes in the 3d scene which would trigger dialogue, navigation, interactions, and cut-scenes. During development, this progressed through moving a 3d character model along "rails" between points, and further into the player having full autonomy of the character in a first-person perspective. When I started work on the project, the floating camera was in place, and I worked on implementing both the on rails character, and the eventual first-person mode.

Another unique element of the game was the use of the console itself as an in game "smart phone" owing to the devices similarities. When evidence was collected from the crime scene, it could be examined within the smart-phone. The phone could be used to make calls to other officers during the investigation, examine evidence with Mini-games such as DNA matching, and even take photos of the games environment using the gyroscopes to detect the orientation of the device. Throughout development, the design for the smart-phone changed with various outsourced art departments being involved in designing unique futuristic user interfaces. I was tasked with re-creating these interfaces from their out-sourced concept work within our game, using at first native code, and then later utilizing Scaleform within our game Engine. I had to adapt videos of interfaces into working code along with creating the assets in Flash.

I also worked on general game-play tasks for the game, throughout the game the player would encounter different mini-games based on the scene they found themselves in. For example, at one point the player found a woman who had fallen from a high-rise window onto the bonnet of a car. Initially suspecting a suicide, the detective was able to get closer to the body and scrape dust from under her finger-nails to find that she had plaster dust under them, indicating that she had tried to hold onto the balcony before the fall. Collecting the finger print dust consisted of a mini-game where the user would use a swab with their finger on the touch-screen to bag enough evidence to then be examined by the Lab via their smart-phone.

Regrettably for budgeting reasons Broken was eventually canceled by Sony, as early sales forecasts for the PS-Vita indicated that only larger budget games such as Uncharted, or much smaller budget games were expected to be successful on the console, leaving Broken in an unfortunate middle-ground.