What I do know is that regardless of how interesting something might be, I really hate to read (and especially if I have to stare at it and reread it a lot) on screen, especially in a game. I think it also shows lack of imagination in the design of gameplay.
Are you actually saying that you hate reading? You hate journal entries, descriptions, short in-game books, that sort of thing?
However, the alternative is having those items automatically pop up in your notebook/inventory, thus letting you know that it's important before you know why it's important. This also makes choosing all the possibilities (brute forcing the solution) much easier. You've already got your collection of important clues, you just have to guess which one applies to your current situation, or try all of them until you get it.
And this is why I stand by manually gathering what you as a player consider to be important clues to be the most human, the most realistic, method of play. As the investigator you're not supplied with a perfect list of everything unless you have other people doing your work FOR you (and is that any fun?) and you are also not supplied with perfect understanding
of what has happened, so perhaps you will collect something as a clue which seems valuable but is a red herring, forcing you to revisit the crime scene and dig deeper or visit the evidence locker at the station and re-examine the evidence from a new angle. This is real
It seems to me like some of you would prefer to be handheld like so many modern gamers so there's no chance of slip-ups, mistakes, backtracking or delays, like you'd rather play 'Andail's Detective Story: The Movie Videogame' instead of 'Andail's Detective Story: The Adventure Game' where everything is streamlined to the point that everything flows at breakneak cinematic pace with nothing left to chance.
Frankly, I find games like that to be a waste of my resources and this is precisely why I revisit older adventure games rather than buy many new ones
. I cannot stand being hand-held and coddled through a game I paid for. Don't misunderstand, I also despise deliberately convoluted and obtrusive gameplay elements but, if faced with a choice between the two, I will always side with a more challenging game that relies on my
wits to solve it than a game that does everything but wipe your bottom.
To summarize: clue gathering should be a manual
process for an investigative game. It should
take some time and energy from the player, but reward them for that time and energy with insights, backstory, further clues, and so on. A notebook, in-game computer, or other means of storing clues for correlation should be included, as well as a kit (where applicable) for studying hard evidence, whether it's using your computer to analyze voice patterns, thumbprints, or pull up criminal records and case files or the means to process certain evidence with reasonable realism and accuracy (like a portable lab kit the hero keeps in a suitcase in their car). These more portable devices limit the delays and nagging sensation of constantly backtracking to the player's home/place of work for thorough lab testing while still requiring it on occasion for items that cannot be reasonably studied (like actually processing bloodwork/hair/skin samples for dna). These major 'visits' to the home/police station/whatever could be conducted as an 'end of day' event where the current data is gathered and sent in to be processed. Meanwhile, this frees up the player to use their personal toolkit during the course of the day to do most of the light lifting while the evidence begins to provide the player with clues to work with. One could always include an option for the player's boss/partner/confidant/(or the player themselves) to offer some cryptic but helpful clues once they begin processing the evidence and clues if they've somehow stumbled onto the wrong track or missed something entirely at a crime scene. Worst case scenario, a difficulty level could determine whether or not other investigators catch clues you
miss and pass them on to you as the game progresses. This to me would be a sensible and strong approach to an investigative type game that rewards insight and study while limiting a lot of senseless backtracking.