Cheater! Concept Doc

Tyler T. Su
Game Design Fundamentals
5 min readOct 20, 2020


Anastasiya, Jean-Raymond, Jung-Won, Shane, and Tyler got together to discuss and ideate our game, with the tentative name CHEATER.

Two key ideas:

1. Immersion through blurring physical/digital world and breaking that magic circle

  • Entire game anchors on a ‘found phone’
  • We use your literal phone. Once you enter the game app, you see/interact with an ‘emulator’ of a found phone, receiving phone calls/texts and being able to search ‘their’ device.

Our hypothesis is that we can make a really sick, immersive experience that feels newly exciting and fresh with this concept. Moreover, we think we can build this immersive experience with very low fidelity graphics/art, since we wouldn’t need to build an entire environment/world and we can rely on existing mental models to immerse the player.

2. A playful approach to the classic mystery genre

  • Your best friend has convinced you to steal her boyfriend’s phone while she keeps him distracted. She is convinced that he is cheating on her, but she needs you to find undeniable proof without him noticing in time.
  • As soon as you get ‘his phone’ your best friend calls you — “YOU GOT HIS PHONE! Find out if he’s cheating on me!!! I’ll distract him for an hour!”

Instead of the classic murder/crime mystery, we take a lighthearted and playful approach that injects new life into the genre. Our hypothesis is that this will create a novel experience that feels fun, fresh, and imaginative, and does not leave players feeling terrified or on edge. We hope this twist introduces the genre to a new audience of players who otherwise find little to no appeal in solving traditional crimes/murder mysteries.

Screenshot of our group brainstorm, where we used Xs to vote on exciting ideas

Who is this for?

This game will be targeted at people who enjoy mysteries and reality TV. We are looking to make the game fun through both a polished, interactive narrative and a challenging, immersive puzzle experience. Although the game will have detective and mystery-solving aspects, we are looking to deemphasize the serious tone of such activities and give the game a light hearted, casual, and fun feel.

We feel like this game will provide detective fun for players who enjoy uncovering the truth but who are looking for a less serious setting.

Our target player might watch shows themed around relationships, drama, and humor…

Our Moodboards

Key Design Challenges


  • Creating a series of engaging puzzles, clues, and hints that ultimately point to an entertaining and surprising truth.
  • Matching theme to gameplay — While we would like for the game to give players a detective experience, due to the light-hearted nature of the story, we may need to go about this in a different way from conventional “police detective” themed games. For instance, it might not fit the mood for our characters to use wiretaps or run surveillance in order to gather information.
  • Incorporate several modes of information gathering to keep the gameplay interesting.


  • A story that is both a compelling mystery but also funny. While these two are not necessarily conflicting, we need to strike the right balance
  • Alternate paths and multiple endings — based on player choices both in uncovering clues and dialogue, the player will experience alternate paths in the story and multiple endings.


  • Narrative — The primary mechanism for telling the story and pacing the game to be audio.
  • Immersive —This game must provide a detailed audio experience that helps the player slip into the world.
  • Dialogue —Believable dialogue for the characters in the game. This will likely involve us recording ourselves and doing some minimal audio engineering.
  • Sound queues — Some of the puzzles in the game will have hints based on audio queues. Designing and in some cases recording these queues will be a challenge.
Some game elements may be answering phone calls, going through messages, and searching old photos…

In summary…


Your best friend comes to you with a big problem: is her boyfriend cheating on her? You’ve stolen his phone and she can only distract him for one hour. Can you find proof in time?


Although this game involves some very serious detective work, it will focus on the fun and lighthearted aspects of the genre. The game should make players feel humor, shock, heart, and relatability.


  • Puzzles — This will be a puzzle game where the solves a series of puzzles in order to uncover the truth.
  • Audio-based hints and information gathering — In order to solve the puzzles, players will need to gather information and solve small pieces at a time. We would like for the hints to be provided by having players listen to various audio queues. Audio hints could be from interactive dialogue with npcs, listening to various recordings, listening to whats happening at various locations, or eavesdropping on conversations.

Stay tuned for how our game develops!



Tyler T. Su
Game Design Fundamentals

Design + Engineering @ Stanford | Incoming Product Designer @ Roblox