• Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Xbox Exclusives Spotlight: The Big Con


Jun 27, 2021

The Big Con stood out in both our Xbox Indie Showcase recap and our guide to the Xbox Exclusives for 2021 thanks to the combination of its eye-catching art style, its promise of a whirlwind of colourful chaos, and the irresistible allure it has of bringing you along on a “crime-filled cross-country road trip.” Since The Big Con is set to launch this summer, we thought it would be a good time to reach out to game director Dave Proctor for more info. Read on to find out everything we know about The Big Con. What is The Big Con?The Big Con is an adventure game from Mighty Yell. Set in the 90s, it revolves around teen con artist Ali, who’s on a mission to save her mum’s video store. When does The Big Con launch?We don’t yet have a specific release date, but The Big Con is set to launch for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S this summer.What’s it about?The Big Con sees main character Ali ditching band camp in order to pickpocket her way to revenge on the loan sharks threatening her mum’s video store. “The story itself, while a comedy at heart, is also a really touching adventure about the bond between a Mom and her daughter and their small family business,” explains Proctor. Comedy is a major element in The Big Con, and Proctor says a teen protagonist was useful in dispelling any bleaker aspects. “A game about crime can easily get dark, so we wanted to keep a sense of humour and levity throughout, and have the serious parts focused on Ali and her mom (even though that relationship has its own set of inside jokes). The real-world experience of mom-and-pop video stores under threat of closure can become kinda bleak without a wisecracking 90s teen to lighten the mood,” Proctor adds. “Ali being a teenager helped to define the non-violent, almost innocent and subjectively ethical cons & small crimes in the game. Things that teenagers are often prone to… or at least I was in my teen years. It is at this point I must remind you that if you’re a cop, you have to tell me it’s the law.“ How does The Big Con play?”The Big Con is really about exploration and humour,” says Proctor. “For a long time, the guiding principle for the story was, ‘If it makes us laugh, it goes in the game.'” Dialogue choices and grifting seem to be a major part, and Proctor adds that another big feature “is that you get to pick how you take on a given level or challenge. There’s usually always more than one person to con, and it’s really up to you to make those calls.” You can also eavesdrop, solve puzzles, sneak into “restricted” areas, and “pick up clues to learn how to approach each mark.” Pickpocketing in general sounds as though it will be a good way to scrub up some cash. “It’s a quick way to make a buck, and some more difficult pickpockets pay out way bigger… but it comes with a catch,” explains Proctor. “Get caught, and you won’t be able to approach that character again… that is unless you wear some of the super weird disguises we’ve made for Ali. Wearing disguises will just put a smile on your face. Is it realistic that someone would abandon all suspicions of you if you re-approach them wearing a giant rubber horse mask? No. Is it funny? Yes. Yes it is.”What’s the world of The Big Con like?The Big Con features a bright, retro art style which Proctor says was “largely defined” by Mighty Yell’s art director Saffron. The colourful, cartoony aesthetic goes hand-in-hand with the game’s setting, which Proctor describes as a “feel-good love letter to the 90s,” citing its aesthetic inspiration from shows like Doug and Rocko’s Modern Life, as well as the Ghost World comics. “We knew that a lot of con artist and crime stories are set in the 60s or the 80s, and just on face value we wanted to do something different,” Proctor says. “There’s a nice technological sandbox to play in if you’re set in the 90s — there are no cellphones, no internet, I think if a teenager was to approach you and pull a predictable scam you’d be less equipped to question it. So many great stories from the 90s hinge on the specific time in which they occur, and the lack of today’s technology. The Big Con tries to capture some of that feeling.” Proctor adds that the 90s “were a pretty radical decade, not to mention a huge personal influence because of my age. The grunge / punk era, small town life, popularity of the mall and transparent snacks and skateboarding… the 90s were something really special and completely deserving of a comedic nostalgic tribute.” Nostalgia for the 90s seems to be a major theme, and we wondered whether that resulted in an idealized view of the world of The Big Con rather than a more realistic depiction. “The Big Con is ultimately a feel good love letter to the 90s, but what makes it a somewhat idyllic ‘slice-of-smalltown-life’ also carries some of the more gritty realities of the 90s, including pressures of running a small family business & the looming threat posed by franchise takeover of small town economies,” says Proctor. “We also didn’t want to beat you over the head with it every second, and instead opted for a general feel of nostalgia… we just wanted you to feel like you were there, and see a story that could have happened then, and only then.” You’d also do well to keep an eye out in your time with The Big Con, as Proctor says there’s “a lot of things you can miss in this game. “Small conversations, hidden mini-games, interactions that make this feel like the 90s TV show you never had. I’m excited for people to share what happened to them, what they found, and what made them laugh.” Any news on The Big Con achievements?We don’t yet have an achievement list for The Big Con, but we did get some hints about it. “I have been a big fan of achievements since Crackdown, so it was important to me that they feel unique to the game,” says Proctor. “While the game has choices that influence conversation and some outcomes, I am not a fan of locking you out of Gamerscore just because you picked one thing over another. No achievements are blocked behind a branch,” Proctor confirms, “but also the game has a story it wants to tell. In the same vein, I don’t believe in locking good content behind a branch either. Missable stuff? Sure. Lost achievement because of it? No way.”Proctor adds that they didn’t want the achievements design to be too “prescriptive,” adding, “I like achievements that are in themselves a little bit of a puzzle, and I hope that also in that it makes you laugh while you’re playing.” The devs have a tip for those determined to 100% The Big Con, saying, “I would encourage true achievement hunters to explore. To wring the marrow from the bones of the game. Maybe make some mistakes too… because in The Big Con, failure is just another opportunity to laugh.” They also kept replayabilitiy in mind: “I’d love if you replayed the game, and found stuff you missed. But we also designed it so that if you do want to get to the next level the amount of exploration and extra conning is up to you. I want you to play through Ali’s story and have fun, try new dialogue options, but I also didn’t make it so it’s slow to move through the game a second time.” Since we’ll be choosing between dialogue options and deciding whether to help or con people, we wondered whether Proctor had achievements tied to an all-con or all-helpful playthrough. “I’m not a big fan of broad morality spectra in games, in part for the same reasons mentioned above (no achievements behind a deep branch, fellow Paragons), but also because I don’t think it’s how the world works. Ali is a thief… but she’s doing it to save her family business. There’s already some moral complications there and I think that that is good. The game is about that conversation, the choices you make and why you make them. I want players to choose the cons that feel right… I’m not going to punish you or force you to replay the game if you don’t play it all one way,” Proctor adds. “Play how you want, explore, and enjoy yourselves. We put a lot of ourselves in this and we really hope you enjoy it.”

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