Designer/Developer: Lucas Pope
Date: May 20, 2014
Game Location: http://dukope.com/
Papers Please is listed as a “dystopian document thriller”. In the game players attempt to verify immigration documents based on rules set by the governing country Arstotska. Players must race against the clock in order to earn as much money as possible. One cardinal game mechanic in Papers Please is time management. As the game progresses players are forced to deal with an increasing amount of documents forcing the player to begin dealing with not only time but space. Spatial Management quickly becomes another issue for players as the table top they are able to work on has a limited amount of space. Additionally the player begins having to deal with increasingly complex information and Data Verification. Finally, at set points throughout the game the player is forced to make decisions regarding the subversion of Arstotska by allowing insurgents through the border. This is an important decision for the player because allowing the insurgents through the checkpoint increases the player’s income significantly, but not allowing them through could put the player at risk. This is an obvious form of triangularity.
During gameplay the player receives documents from NPCs and verifies them for accuracy. After checking the data players have the ability to allow or deny the NPC access into Arstotzka. If the player finds discrepancies in the documents they are able to check them with a system that either confirms or denies that the discrepancy is legitimate. If the discrepancy is legitimate the player is furnished with additional options to either detain/deny or confirm the NPC’s identity. Eventually players are able to detain and even scan the NPCs in order to verify increasingly complex information. Players must verify the height, weight, names, serial-numbers, issuing cities, seals, countries, appearance, and much more before they can allow an NPC through the checkpoint. Additionally players are forced to take care of their family between work days. This is simply a matter of making enough money during the work day to provide their family members with shelter, food, heating, and medication. Finally players are able to upgrade the checkpoint booth in which they work which provides keyboard shortcuts to the most commonly used actions like verification and stamping.
Notice the arrow that the cursor is hovering over on the right side of the screen. This arrow is the tab that allows the player to access the “Denied” and “Approved” stamps that are used on the entry visas like the one in the center of the screen. The Entry Permit to the right of the Entry Visa is an example of a supplemental document that the player must verify. On the left of the screen you can see the NPC in question. The Entry Visa has a picture on it that must match the NPC on the left, as well as the country of issue, the sex of the NPC, the issuing city, and the expiration date of the Visa. In the bottom right corner there is a small exclamation mark in a red diamond. This is the tab that allows players to enter verification mode. The bottom left corner of the screen contains (from left to right) the current in game date/time, current ID requirements, communication/recording device, Information book, and the NPC’s weight. Directly above those things is a desktop that the player can use to place documents they do not need access to. When documents are on this table they are not readable and are significantly reduced in size rendering them useless. The documents explode when they are dragged to the workstation, which is the large area in the bottom right side of the screen. The top of the screen shows the exterior of the checkpoint. The black characters are NPC’s waiting in line to enter the checkpoint booth (small brown building with the megaphones on top). The light blue characters are security guards working at the checkpoint.
• Look at obvious data first like photos before dates that require more investigation.
• Because screen space is limited certain pieces of data can be easily overlooked.
• The player must hand all documents back to the NPC before they will continue on; this can short the player time critical to getting a paycheck.
• Players are only paid for immigrants processed before 6PM game time. This can result in lost playtime if the player feels they do not have time to process an additional immigrant when the end of day is near.
• Because of the time dynamic players may feel rushed to process immigrants resulting in simple errors.