MurderMystery2020 Post Mortem

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Hey y’all, today I am going to reflect on MurderMystery2020. If you like behind-the-scenes game development stuff, check it out!

What is a post mortem?

A post mortem in video game development is a reflection of how the project went. Currently, the game is coming on Halloween 2020 so mark your calendars. With every solo project, I strive to do something different, learn something new. For MurderMystery2020, I tried to make a better version of Murder Mystery: Cold Case.

A little background behind MurderMystery2020

Last year, I made Murder Mystery: Cold Case and y’all loved it. Seriously, my numbers tripled in size (thank you for that!). So I knew I’d make a sequel for this year. I was able to get a lot of feedback to make it better.

The gameplay is the same as last year where you solve a series of puzzles to get the password to the next blog post. You have to go down the rabbit hole to reach the end. Just so you know the post mortem doesn’t contain any spoilers.

Just like last year, I had a playlist of “spook tunes” to listen to while playing MurderMystery2020. Since all of the songs are copyright I took them out of my game but you can find the playlist here. They aren’t really the soundtrack for the game so much as they are songs I listened to while I was making MurderMystery2020.

The process:

Whenever I make a game, it starts with a lot of brainstorming and research. I decided to start way earlier this year so I would be able to play test it properly (something I didn’t do well last year).

I uploaded both of these to my Instagram story to kind of let you know I had started working on it. The left is me outlining the story of what actually happened along the bottom (in orange) and the green and yellow are what you play through to actually get to the end. It all fits into about 9 posts.

Around this point, I picked out the kinds of puzzles I wanted to do this year and I matched them to what post they would work best with. I crafted the toolkit (yes, you get a toolkit this year) and I began to work on the posts. Some of them I knew would take me longer so I saved them for last.

The last two puzzles…

You may remember this picture coming up. I had two posts left and I’m so proud of how they turned out. The one I ended up doing first is for “Back at the program” and took me forever vs “Warrant” didn’t take me that long. I wish I had done “Warrant” first but I was nervous. I had done things like this before but I wanted it to look good and I think it turned out fine. (Guess I’ll find out when the game releases and people play it more).

Spoiler Territory (sharing my design docs) of MurderMystery2020

Playtest playtest playtest

Once the game was “done” I had to playtest it. As the creator, it’s hard to playtest something like this yourself since you made the puzzles. I knew how to solve them, my own line of logic.

Process for playtest:

I have a rule if you are going to playtest for me: you can ask me questions every 10 ish minutes so I don’t give you the answer and if you can figure it out, I want to give you the ability to do so. If you are truly exasperated, I’ll help though.

This tends to work well. Sometimes I’ll ask for their line of thought to see if I can nudge them in the right direction instead of a hint. Then I take notes on whatever gave them trouble and let them continue on. At the end of the game, I ask for constructive feedback and a few other questions. This isn’t official playtest rules to my knowledge, it’s just how I do it.

First Playtest:

So I enlisted my sister. She was coming to spend the weekend with me anyway so it worked out great. It was really entertaining for me. I learned that any curses in my general direction meant she was having fun. One of the puzzles, in particular, was very broken and I blame myself for that. In this version, I was relying on a 3rd party website to not change and it changed (go figure). All were relatively quick fixes though and I was able to fix it in a day.

Second Playtest:

A few friends were visiting the day after my sister played it and I convinced them to play it. In total, there were 5 players and it was chaotic (good for all of us to know in case you want to play with multiple people). My sister helped me mediate, one player fell asleep, and a few players were trolls. It made for a very interesting experience. They gave me a lot of really good feedback and I was able to fix/implement some of the features they recommended relatively quickly.

At this point and the time of writing this, I feel like maybe one more playtest and it would be ready. I didn’t want too much feedback or people who knew the ending out in the world. By the time this post comes out, the third playtest will be done, I swear.

Final thoughts:

Honestly, I can’t wait for y’all to experience this game. I enjoy making them and building my universe. This game is a sequel so there are a couple of reoccurring characters from the first game. It’s been fun trying to give y’all a Sherlock experience with Mariam Turner as my Lestrade and The Owl as my Moriarty.

Thank you for reading my post mortem, I appreciate it. Comment below what your favorite/least favorite part of Murder Mystery: Cold Case was, if you like what I do consider subscribing to my mailing list for more bright, inviting, entertaining, genuine content, and if you want to read my insights for Murder Mystery: Cold Case click here. This is only the beginning, peeps!

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