Aside from the enhanced graphics and character portraits, probably the most notable difference between The Deed II and its predecessors will be the way in which the passage of time is handled.
In the previous games of The Deed series, each scenario was divided into certain sections - e.g. exploration, dinner time, planting evidence. The next section would begin only once the player had completed certain actions, such as picking up two items from around the house.
The Deed II will be the first game in the series to have a realistic time system which comes complete with an on-screen clock. The player will have up to one hour in "game time" to explore the building, talk to the patrons and gather/plant evidence before finally committing the murder. Game time will advance faster than real time, as it won't take the average player a full hour to accomplish these things. The exact rate will be optimised during final playtesting.
Text and Conversations
Of course, in a largely text-based game you probably don't want the minutes to be ticking away while you're engaged in conversation with a character, making you feel like you need to speed through the text. But fear not! The normal flow of time will be automatically paused whenever a message window or conversation window is open.
In order to maintain realism, the idea I'm experimenting with is that when you're talking to a character, each meaningful topic of conversation will advance the clock by one minute. So you can read through the text itself at your own pace, knowing that it has no impact on how much time is passing.
Certain choices will also lead to cut-scenes that can advance the clock by a longer period, such as if our protagonist decides to spend some "quality time" with one of the ladies of La Fleur Rouge.
The intention of the new time system is to offer more freedom and opportunities to the player than before. For example, you can choose when you want to commit the murder, rather than being limited to a single opportunity.
What I don't want to do is turn the whole game into a "race the clock" style escapade, so you should still have plenty of time to formulate a plan and do the things you need to do. That said, if you choose to talk to every character about every available subject, you will soon find yourself running short of time - so you might need to be smarter and more selective about some of your choices than in the previous games. This will also increase replay value, as you won't explore every single conversation topic during a single playthrough.
There will also be a simple "wait" function in the game menu, so once you're familiar with the scenario then you won't need to spend too much time twiddling your thumbs and waiting for certain events to happen.
Finally, another advantage of the new time system is that it allows for some NPCs to move around the house according to their own personal schedules. More details on that in the next preview!