Murderous Muses And Learning A New Toolset
When you think of current-day FMV studios, the first one that comes to mind is D’Avekkie studios. Creators of Poe and Munroe, Doctor Dekker, and the upcoming Murderous Muses. Tim Cowels actually sat down with me during my FMV article a while ago, but as fate would have it, That interview got lost. But Tim being the stand-up guy he is understood, and when I asked if he would be willing to talk about Murderous Muses, he gladly came on, and we sat down for around two hours just talking video games.
Justin: I want to thank you for sitting down with me after our ill-fated FMV conversation that I lost. But today, I wanted to talk to you about Murderous Muses. Could you tell us, like, the elevator pitch for the story?
Tim Well, you’re supposed to be playing as a Nightwatch. In an art gallery, And someone’s been murdered. Mordecai Grey is this famous artist who’s been killed by one of his muses, hence the name Murderous Muses. The paintings of the Muses or the suspects appear. And then you can gather those up and start hanging them in place in the gallery. So you question them by hanging paintings. And through all that, you are supposed to be able to unravel this kind of replayable murder mystery because every time it resets. Any of the six muses can be the killer. It’s meant to be replayed. So you can have a good experience with one time through. Because we know a lot of people don’t have the time, they just want to hammer through it and go, but also, it’s one of those things where if you’ve played multiple times, you will unlock hundreds more responses, you’ll get more about the gallery, and we’ve got collectible things this time.
Justin: So, where did the idea for Murderous Muses come from?
Tim: I’m in this holiday home, and we’re swimming in the pool. And I remember we were talking about Dr. Decker. Some people had trouble with the keywords. We know the keyword typing system wasn’t ideal. Lots of people playing on the console as well. So, fortunately, then the kind of drop-down boxes came in, but we liked the way the story came across that you type keywords and get a response. But we didn’t want to make it hard for people to get those responses. But we also didn’t want to make it as easy as hitting a drop-down box with all the responses, so Linda came up with it. What about an art gallery? Where the plaques, the keywords, and then you hang a painting on a plaque? And it plays a response related to the keyword. It’s been hanging there for at least three or four years.
Justin: So are there any lessons or feedback you learned during dark nights with Poe and Monroe or Dr. Decker that you brought forward and improved upon for murders muses?
Tim: I mean, if on the production side of things, we learn a lot of stuff. And Linda actually keeps documents called what we learned from FMV. I guess that we know, from the production side of things, for Murderous Muses, that giving actors overly long responses when they’ve got a lot of responses to learn is quite hard. Yeah. This time during filming, we also used a couple of other wizard tools. They’re slightly more expensive than we use for other productions. One was 32-bit audio. Now, what does this mean? So when we’ve got David John Bowser, and he’s like, “I remember,” Really loudly, then we’ve clipped, and you lose the sound right at the top. Not with us. Then there are These things called tentacle sync. And they are little Bluetooth timecode generators. You stick one in the camera, stick on in your audio input, and it syncs the audio for you. Oh my god, it is amazing.
Justin: So, you mentioned last time that you had an insane amount of applicants for the remote roles and had another casting call recently? Was it the same kind of level of response to that one as well?
We have an email list for casting that you can sign up for this one. Because they’re not signed up to the actual casting networks, we have two voice-over rolls. Our email list has about 650 people on it. We put it out we had 95 Auditions back for the two roles.
Justin: So what has it been like casting remote roles for an FMV game?
Tim: In Muderous Muses, your manager Sasha who is played by Olivia born, filmed all of hers remotely during the pandemic. We sent her an iPhone then she did all the takes for us to look at. So that was, that was quite cool. And we have a new character to announce who we haven’t announced yet. Clemens is coming back. He played Poe in Poe and Munroe. He’s coming in as this Unsolved Mysteries Presents thing. So we’ve got a weird little TV in the gallery. And essentially, you play it every night, and it tells you what you’re looking for from the murderer. So, for instance, you might hit play on the TV, and it says, you know, The murderer must have made the phone call from the theatre district telephone box. So he will say stuff like that. So we’ve made it this time where you won’t see everything in one go.
Justin: Interesting. It adds a lot of replayability, I’m sure!
Tim: Yes, it is massively replayable.
Justin: Well, that’s good. I am one of those who play it once. I’ll put it down for a while but give it six months. So I start to forget some elements of it. And then I’ll jump back in every once in a while, and knowing it could be different would make me revisit it more.
Tim: I think for me, it is good for about three playthroughs. And you’d pretty much you potentially get, you know, new content for almost all of it. I think there are about 20 videos that you could get for a character per act. You only get six charges, six eyes of Mordecai, the paintings have got these eyes in there six eyes per painting, whenever you stick it on the wall and hit play on them disappears. So it’s like a resource management thing. So you’ve got this gallery that has, I mean, this sounds like really boring, boring algebra, but it’s to make it more fun to play. So you’ve got, say, 20 keywords, and then the gallery is only going to pick maybe 14 that you could reveal. So you don’t see the full list on any playthrough anyway, and then you’re painting of a suspect. Say you want to go all in on Lilith. Then you get six charges, and it gets to choose six of those words, so six out of 20 per act. By the end of the game, you’ve seen 18 of her almost 100 responses.
Justin: So, have you started to formulate what’s coming next after Murderous Muses?
Tim: We potentially could start work on Dr. Decker’s two. We’ve already got the overarching story for that, and we’re very happy that we have a reason that we can revisit and call that Dr. Decker two. We have talked about some returning cast members who would be happy to come back for Dr. Decker, too, so that could potentially happen.
I want to thank Tim again for taking the time and chatting with me about FMV and Murderous Muses. You can check out the game on Steam, and be sure to follow Tim and D’Avekki on Twitter.
For more interviews, reviews, and features, stay locked to DreadXP and go play Mortuary Assistant. No other game this year has scared me as bad as it has, and it is out on Itch.io now too!