GUMSHOE, and the Internet
Jerry Pournelle, a few decades ago, mentioned that by the year 2000, it would be possible to find out just about anything one wanted to know, with the rise of electronic media and information. He was pretty much on target with that, although I don't think you can say he predicted the form that would take--the Internet.
This point came to light to me in a Play by Email game turn in my newest game, Return of the Titans. The game is set in the modern day, April 2011. Thus, the player characters have all of the advantages
One of the player characters, having received a mysterious invitation, immediately went to Google to try and figure out more about it. It's trivial today to google something and get some information. The further you go back in time, the more difficult such research would have been.
And then I started thinking about Gumshoe. Gumshoe is a system created by Pelgrane Press and is used in a number of their games:
Using a "point spend" system, the GUMSHOE rules revolutionize investigative scenarios, by ensuring that players are never deprived of the clues they need to move the story forward.
What does one have to do with the other? Think about it. In a modern game, unless you really run a railroad, player characters are in a modern age with the Internet. General information gathering is now a *given*, just like it is in the GUMSHOE system. It might take time and effort (read: Point spend) to find esoteric and really obscure stuff, but the technology of the Internet is a powerful lever for clues.
If you remember the heyday of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", after a while, people would phone a friend only to have them quickly google a potential answer. I understand that the latest rules of the game actually incorporate an internet search engine into the game.
Thus, my point is, for an investigative game set in the modern day, there is something to be said for using a point buy system a la Gumshoe than having players stumble around because of a failed roll.