MicroMacro: Crime City remains on the road to success: The cooperative detective game series is being expanded by at least two offshoots, as revealed by author Johannes Sich. An app is also planned - and maybe more. 

Hundreds of thousands of copies are of MicroMacro: Crime City and its successor MicroMacro: Crime City 2 - Full House sold; the hidden object game has won prizes around the world and has been translated into over 30 languages. MicroMacro is far from over, as game designer Johannes Sich has now revealed. There are plans.

MicroMacro should come as an app

The innovative hidden object board game is well received by fans and critics. In addition to being named “Game of the Year 2021”, the Hard Boiled Games studio and the Edition Spielwiese and Pegasus Spiele publishing houses won numerous other prizes. In any case, you want to ride the wave of success a little longer. It quickly became clear that MicroMacro would become a whole series of games. The cooperative detective game was already a sales success before it was awarded the “red pawn”.

Even if the basically simple game with the oversized black and white poster makes the impression that it could have been developed almost overnight, there is a lot of work behind it. Game designer Johannes Sich revealed this in an interview.

MicroMacro is a team project, “Jojo” clarifies at first. “I developed it together with my two colleagues Daniel Goll and Tobias Jochinke”. The three are hard boiled games. This bed game could only have come about because game design, illustration and product design were developed in close cooperation.

It was not clear from the start that players were now dealing with a gigantic hidden object on the table. The connection with the search images known from B video games or the TV newspaper came about by chance: “Actually, the idea of ​​a hidden object was not at the beginning,” says Johannes Sich. “We wanted to make a game in which you had to find very tiny pieces of information in a large picture and then use them to solve puzzles. We thought that crime was a fitting topic for a puzzle mechanic. " It then turned out that a large picture with many details in the crime genre can best be realized by looking at a city from above. "Then we developed the mechanics that the information to be found is actually scenes from a chronological story, and that the puzzle is the uncovering of a crime story," explains the author of the creation of MicroMacro: Crime City. Only when the prototypes were ready and tested and the city was filling up with more and more details did the creators realize that the concept they had designed looked like a hidden object.

Technical aspects as a challenge

A little black ink on a white background. Ready. It wasn't that easy to produce MicroMacro: Crime City: “There were numerous challenges, for example the purely technical aspects,” reveals Johannes Sich. The creative minds were faced with numerous questions: How finely can the lines be printed using the offset process? Which paper do you have to use? Which printing company can even produce something like this? How big do the figures have to be so that you can still recognize them? How big must or may the card be then? “All of that had to be checked and tested,” explains Jojo Sich.

MicroMacro novelties

Creating the cooperative search game with its many details was a challenge - also of a technical nature. Photo: Volkmann

The same applied to the criminal cases: These also had to be tested. “MicroMacro is about stories that players have to understand intuitively using tiny images,” says the author. "It happens very quickly that the puzzles are not exciting enough or misunderstandings arise, then the players do not have fun". So the makers tested and optimized again and again, tested again and so on. The game plan is huge and contains thousands of details and objects - this is a difficulty from a designer's point of view: “Sometimes an entire city district has to be rebuilt when a problem is revealed in a test match,” explains Sich. “In order to ensure that you can constantly make corrections and produce new prototypes, this complex image must be dynamically editable at any time. It was perhaps the greatest challenge to develop appropriate workflow solutions and file structures. "

Crime again: why?

If you deal with the short but successful board game author's vita of Johannes Sich, the subject of “crime” literally catches your eye. After the highly acclaimed La Cosa Nostra card game and its expansion, crime is once again the focus of the game at MicroMcro: Crime City. One could assume that the author has a passion for the subject, but actually it's completely different. “I'm not a big crime fanatic at all, I'm also interested in many other genres,” says Johannes Sich. With MicroMacro, the topic inevitably arose from the mechanics. "Well, and a game in which you are really a detective yourself and actually have to uncover a sequence of events, I've always wanted to do that",

Johannes Sich won the “Game of the Year 2021” award within a few attempts. As an author, the Cologne-born, meanwhile Velbert and Düsseldorf resident and nowadays Berliner by choice, seems to be doing something just right. But there is no magic behind his ideas. His previous two games are “very different”. La Cosa Nostra is extremely interactive and competitive, the main thing is to act as ruthlessly as possible against other players.

“MicroMacro is almost the opposite,” said himself. "It's completely cooperative, nobody can win, you play together and solve mystery puzzles together, it's very simple and easily accessible."

But: “If there is something in common, then maybe the immersion,” explains the author. "In both games it was important to me that the players really experience the topic and can empathize with it." At La Cosa Nostra, the interactive and aggressive game mechanics created the feeling of really being a powerful mafia boss. At MicroMacro, the cooperative game mechanics - looking for clues and evidence together in a team - and the focus on case-oriented puzzles ensured the experience of really “doing real detective work”.

The jury of the “Game of the Year” association won over the concept, as did other critics and award institutions. The joy at Hard Boiled Games was great, albeit surreal: “It felt completely unreal,” says himself. “Part of me can't really believe it even now”.

After the nomination, they were already aware that “we could definitely get the award”, but that we could only really believe in it. “And we didn't have much time to think about it, because we were already in the work marathon for the second part of MicroMacro”. It was published in the summer of last year, is known to be called MicroMacro: Crime City 2 - Full House and “expands” the game as a stand-alone version by a further 16 cases that play on a new map section.

MicroMacro: There is more to come

The end is far from after the second offshoot, the story of the deeds and their motives in the “City of Crimes” is far from over. Johannes Sich and his team are currently working “at full speed” on the third part of MicroMacro: Crime City. After that it will go on.

“Crime City is a series”, says Johannes Sich, “there should be a total of four parts”. “And then maybe completely different things, let's see”. They are also working on a MicroMacro app. The makers apparently have a lot to do: Johannes Sich works full-time on the series. “Designing the game is extremely time-consuming and we are constantly working on delivering new content on a regular basis,” said himself. "Which is really great fun."

The reason for the good sales of MicroMacro: Crime City is not just being named Game of the Year 2021, but the general boom in the board game industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. Why there is more games is obvious to game designer Johannes Sich: “Well, you just sit around a lot more at home”. After the Christmas season, many families are likely to sit around brooding over the cases in the “Crime City” - the combination of awards, global phenomenon, Christmas and pandemic should have significantly increased the sales of MicroMacro: Crime City.

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