About Choose and Clues
Choose and Clues injects you into a story and lets you control the flow, as you learn characteristics of people, motives, and weapons. Match these to provided clues, and through the process of elimination solve the mystery. There's a catch, though: you're not quite human.
You are a Miniature Intelligent Bot, small enough to travel about unseen on the shoulders of the humans, and smart enough to understand what they are talking about, usually. By observing them and their environment you learn characteristics, which can be matched to known clues.
If you are not making enough progress with the current suspect, jump to another, and see the story from that character's perspective. Keep track of what you learn in the Notebook, and when you have solved Who, How, and Why, go to the comm portal and report your findings. In the meantime, enjoy the story.
About the Programmer
William R. Vitanyi lives in northwestern Pennsylvania with his family and many pets. He is an Edinboro University of Pennsylvania alumnus, with a Bachelor's degree in Russian Language and additional certifications in computer programming and operations.
For Android programming Bill uses B4A, or Basic for Android. This is a rapid application design (RAD) software suite that facilitates application design for Android devices.
In addition to Android apps, he has written several books, numerous articles at Hubpages.com (see under Hubs on this page) and founded the Build-A-Book project.
Bill has appeared in several independent films, and served as script supervisor in Schism, an independent film by Lyon's Den Productions about one man's descent into Alzheimer's. Bill won awards for his writing at the St. David's Christian Writers Conference, and in 2008 he won an IPPY award (humor) for The Official Guide to Office Wellness.
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Using Choose and Clues
The first step is to install the Android app.
From your mobile device go to the Google Play store, and under Apps search for Choose and Clues, or use this link to go directly there: Play Store
The app requires only minimal permissions, and takes a short time to install. When you run the app you will see the intro screen. Swipe vertically to read the entire screen, and horizontally from right to left to continue. The app will then move on to character selection.
The app will then move on to character selection. Choose which of seven characters to begin the story with. The story will then begin. Keep swiping horizontally to turn the page, and when a jump screen appears, proceed as desired. When you think you can eliminate a suspect, go to the Notebook and check off the appropriate who, how or why. When only one of each remains, you have solved the mystery.
Report it via the Comm Portal. The Help menu is available from the main menu.
For the most part you will be reading a story from the perspective of one of the characters. As a Miniature Intelligent Bot you ride unseen with one of seven suspects. Along the way you will learn characteristics of suspects, weapons, and motives.
At various points you will encounter opportunities to jump to other characters.
When a chance to jump to another character arrives, you must decide: Jump or Stay.
Do you think you have learned enough from this character? Then Jump. Perhaps you just have a hunch that to Stay is to learn more. It's up to you.
You are given all the clues needed to solve the mystery: who, how and why. You can reference these from the Main menu at any time. Your job is to read the story and match characteristics to clues.
To solve the mystery you must eliminate suspects. For example, if the clue says the suspect has brown hair, but the story reveals that the Custodian has black hair, then the Custodian is not the correct solution this time.
Initially all Who, How, and Why selections are checked. As you eliminate any, uncheck them here. When only one item remains in each category, you have solved the mystery. Report your findings in the Communications Portal.
Note that a new solution is generated any time you Restart the game. If you Retry the game the same solution is kept, and you begin anew at the start of the day. The Notebook maintains its state if you Retry.
When you think you have solved the mystery, report your findings in the Communications Portal. Without any effort you can always guess at each and have a 1 in 7 chance at getting it right.
You can also Show the solution here, which can be helpful while you are learning the game.
Although the solution changes each time you Restart the game, the characteristics of each character, weapon, and motive always stay the same. Thus, the more you play the game, the more you learn about the suspects, means, and motives. This will make solving future crimes more intuitive for you.
How to Solve a Murder
Is there any such thing as the perfect crime? Maybe, but once a modern team of investigators is on the scene, chances are they will solve the murder mystery.
Assess the Scene
Each murder is unique, and the environment is treated as such. Once the area is secured, and any required warrants are obtained, an overall impression of the crime scene is derived by a walkthrough. Notes are taken, and sketches or video utilized to help document the scene. This is part of a systematic approach to solving the crime, which helps to determine how best to proceed in solving this murder.
At each stage of the investigation, everything is documented, using notes, sketches, photos, or video. Nearby video surveillance that may have caught evidence inadvertantly may provide useful information as wells . Cameras are everywhere these days.
Depending on the nature of the murder, specialists may be called in to help assess. If explosives were used, or some specialized weapon, experts in those areas may be needed. Speed can be of the essence both to ensure that evidence is collected while still fresh, and to prevent weather or other influences from affecting the evidence.
If the evidence collected at the scene is perfect, and solves the crime, it is useless if not allowable in court. Ultimately the goal is a successful prosecution, so all steps to preserve the chain of possesion of the evidence, as well as to preserve its efficacy, must be followed.
The use of labelled evidence bags, blood sample containers, DNA swabs, and even more specialized recpticles for the unexpected piece of forensic evidence, ensure that at trial the efforts will not be in vain.
Everything will be attacked by the defense, so documentation and preservation are key components of the evidentary process.
All evidence goes to the lab for analysis, and the results are documented and added to the case file to help not only in solving the crime, but proviing it in court.
Analyzing the collected evidence is a combination of lab results, expert reports, and specialized testing, but also involves context. How the evidence fits in with the established timeline, for example, may be the difference between proof and coincidence.
The hard science of lab work and forensics must follow all the rules of documentation and professional standards, and in the end is only as good as the personnel doing the work. Even that will be attacked during the trial, so the standard is high. The net result is objective information based on observable data, which must be combined with logic, and sometimes a bit of luck, and almost always a lot of hard work, to solve the murder.
When all is said and done, the goal is to identify the perpetrator of the murder. Part of this includes the process of elimination, when evidence indicates that certain suspects could not have committed the crime.
An interesting aspect of modern forensics is the use of DNA, both to identify suspects and victims, but also for other purposes. Cold cases, that may have gone unsolved for many years, are sometimes now cleared due to new DNA evidence. Further, in some cases wrongly incarcerated people are sometines cleared, even after years in prison, when DNA evidence implicates a suspect in that case.
The future will almost certainly yield even more powerful techniques for identifying the perpetrators of the ultimate crime.
It is one thing to assess, collect, and document evidence. It is quite another to survive cross examination by a hostile defense lawyer while on the stand during the trial. Depending on the role of the investigator, such as CSI, Detective, Police Officer, or Expert Witness, the actions taken and results derived during the investigation will be probed for the slightest weakness by the defense. A professionally conducted investigation will help reduce the chance of evidence being disallowed, but it is equally important for the investigator to not get flustered when being questioned about their role.
Remaining calm and professional under the duress of an antagonistic, and probably clever, questioing, is a skill of its own. Sometimes only experience can hone this skill, but preparation is also important. Mock trials and interviews are tools used to help prepare investigators for this onslaught, but command of the facts is the best preparation.
Murders are solved by applying a system. This system consists of a predicatble series of logical steps and documentation that is employed from the moment a homocide is reported. Assessing the scene, collecting evidence, analyzing the evidence, and following through to prosecution are all part of the repetitive cycle.
Highly trained professionals bring to bear unique skill sets, both in the field, and in the lab. To become a true professional requires training in the area of specialty, as well as experience over many years.
Most murders are the result of passion, and have an element of spontaneity. Under these circumstances, the evidence that is typically left at a crime scene is generally substantial, however, according to FBI UCR data, nearly one in three murders goes unsolved (uncleared) in the united States.
It would seem there is still room for improvement.
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