Recreating Crimescenes Virtually In Photobomb

Was it you, Red?

You only have one shot in Photobomb, but you might not have had enough time to identify which suspect is guilty before firing it. Justice is swift and crowd-pleasing in the dystopian future.

Photobomb’s a free game created by Milkbag Games for both 7 Day FPS and the Procedural Generation Jam. As a Media Peace Officer, we roam around virtually reconstructing a bombing scene using government tracking data and photos scraped from social media, trying to identify the bomber. And then we execute someone. It’s a fine game. Look, I’ve made a video explaining it:

Or here are some written words repeating what I just said, for if you can’t watch video now.

The premise: everyone is supposed to be monitored everywhere, but a city square has been bombed by someone who wasn’t wearing their tracking ID. Six people there were unidentified at the time of the bombing, and we need to figure out which it was. We can wander around inside a reconstruction of the scene, replaying the last seconds before the bomb went off, watching a crowd mannequins move about and, eventually, seeing one drop the bomb.

We have no idea who that person is, but we can tag and track the unknowns by recreating photos which feature them. Everyone’s Instagramming everything nowadays, you know. Once we’ve recreated a shot, the suspects and bomb sites within them are forever painted bright colours as we rewatch events. Eventually we can find clear proof, but may not have time. With people baying for justice, we only have two minutes to identify the guilty. We might need to rely on deduction.

The photo-restaging is tricky to get the hang of, but jolly fun once you’ve figured it out. Watching the crowds buzz about is a lovely thing, as is watching bright suspects pass through them. Our one gunshot is pretty powerful and final, especially at times when we’re not certain. That’s a problem with many FPSs: shooting loses a lot of its power when we’re doing it constantly. And the mannequin shatters, not even seen as a person. Pretty harsh place, this city. It occurs to me now that I’ve never tried not firing or purposely missing at the end.

And! Being procedural means the suspects and square are different every time. Splendid.

9 Comments

  1. dsch says:

    This looks brilliant.

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    X_kot says:

    That’s a great vid, Alice – succinct and informative (I suppose it helps that the game is, too).

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Whoa, that’s cool. I really like how it paints only the parts of the 3D object visible from that angle.

    Vaguely reminds me of that one Star Trek episode where Geordi’s doing some reconstruction or other in the holodeck where the writer actually remembered that 2D camera can’t see behind things, so everything was guesswork and weirdly extruded solids. (Quite why it was a 2D camera in Star Trek, who knows. There was probably a handwavey reason.)

  4. zeekthegeek says:

    I really wish they time limit was a little looser – its just not really doable for me.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      An earlier build had a 3-minute limit, and I think 2 is probably the right choice.

      2 was fine for me once I realised to find scenes by lining up the corners, and by picking photos carefully you can often solve it in two snaps. I get a fair spread of rounds ending with proof, deduction, and guessing – but I have played it a lot.

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    Harlander says:

    Seems like there’s a few games that are in both ProcJam and 7DFPS.

  6. Kitsunin says:

    Man, this is fantastic. At first it’s really confusing, but once you figure out the particular blend of pictures rich in information (lots of benches or people) or rich in perspective (so you can get the information quickly), it merges well with the simple deduction to make a really intriguing game.

    This is one of those times where I would pay for a sequel which expands on the concept. Longer investigations with more complex locations and crimes sounds like a recipe for something worth spending many hours on.

  7. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    Looks like it really doesn’t want to have the two-minute time limit, even as it’s a rather biting commentary on how governments and police authorites are having difficulties dealing with the rapid spread of information and misinformation brought about by social media.

    Also I was staring at the video for thirty seconds waiting for Alice to start talking before I remembered I had plugged on the headphones yesterday.

  8. Bassem says:

    I thought that the speech in the video was computerised at first. Alice’s sing song and correct enunciation are very pleasant to listen to. Makes me wonder if she has a radio announcing background.

    Will try this game for sure, altough 2 minutes seems like a short time. Cool concept.