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Small Time Criminals: Shadow Over Preston


Small Time Criminals: The Shadow Over Preston

An atmosphere of dread hangs over Preston.
Something is going on at Eureka Futures. Something big. Something Bad.
The staff are acting strangely, and the manager seems even more driven than usual.
And the neighbours have reported strange goings on in the middle of night…
Break back into the bank and find out what they’re up to in this new, detective story game. Find all the clues, piece together the story before the alarms come back on or the deal’s off.

A new way to play Small Time Criminals.

Shadow Over Preston will launch early October in the Small Time Criminals building. Players will be able to choose if they wish to play the original Small Time Criminals or Shadow Over Preston.

Real World Simulation

Small Time Criminals is the first “real world simulation” game we’ve built – but what does that mean? Our lead game designer Ben McKenzie investigates the term.

Petra Elliott in the Small Time Criminals Pozible video shoot.

Petra Elliott, dressed in PI gear, on location for the Small Time Criminals Pozible video shoot at SAE/Qantm.

Live games don’t have it easy when it comes to describing them. After all, aren’t all games live, in some sense? Plus it’s an incredibly broad category: “live games” can encompass everything from hopscotch to Citydash and puzzle rooms. So it’s helpful to try and find more specific categories. For example, hopscotch is a traditional “folk game” – one of many that have been passed down by word of mouth for generations, and rarely require anything except simple rules, a bit of space and common household objects or toys. “Street games” like Citydash add a playful layer over the urban landscape players are already familiar with, hidden in plain sight under the noses of unsuspecting city dwellers.

Small Time Criminals is what we’ve called a “real world simulation”: a game that seeks to put the players into a situation that, while artificial and constructed, is not an abstraction – you just respond to the game as though its fiction was real (with a few caveats for safety purposes). Escape rooms fall into this category: you really are in a room, solving puzzles to find keys, unlock doors and get out. And in Small Time Criminals, you really are in a bank, looking for valuables and working out how to get them without alerting security or setting off alarms.

One of the great strengths of real world simulation is its simplicity: while much time, thought and design must go into such a game’s construction, players don’t need to learn how to use a game controller, read and understand (or be taught) the content of a rulebook, or acclimatise to the 3D of virtual reality. You can’t press the wrong button, misinterpret a crucial rule, or accidentally cheat because your feet land outside a boundary. And while you certainly can get into the spirit of the thing, you also don’t need to take on a character; you play yourself, in an extraordinary (but realistic) situation. This gives the experience an intentionally low barrier to entry.

That said, robbing a bank is outside most people’s experience, so there are some things we can’t reasonably expect players to do; lock picking is an art, you can’t learn it inside an hour! For those parts of the experience, we’re working hard on some special designs that, while abstractions, will feel as real as possible. For the most part that’s where the technology will come in, and it’s proving to be one of the most exciting challenges of the design process.

Small Time Criminals will open in Preston in April, and is crowdfunding on Pozible until 4:39 PM on March 17, 2016. Find out more and pledge to support the project at

Small Time Criminals crowdfunding campaign is LIVE!

stc_pozibleThe rumours are true
Pop Up Playground are taking over a two story building to turn it into a brand new real work simulation game
It’s called Small Time Criminals – the master thief experience
but we need your help
We’ve launched a Pozible crowdfunding campaign HERE: to raise funds to buy materials and technology to to build the props, dress the set, install the trip wires and alarms to make Small Time Criminals the most challenging, detailed and in depth immersive experience possible.
Small Time Criminals is a completely simulated live environment for you to explore in which you break into safes, hack computers and avoid the guard to steal as much as you can before the alarm comes back on line.
We’ve secured the lease on the building with the help of Darebin Active Spaces program and we’ve assembled the finest team of writers, set, prop, costume, game and puzzle designers we’ve ever worked with for a single project.
So now its up to you.
The more support you can offer, the more rewarding the experience will be.
And speaking of rewarding, if you support us on Pozible, you get to choose from a range of terrific rewards.  Everything from early bird tickets to an hour long alternate reality experience for you and your friends.
More details and all the good stuff here: