My game design philosophy


These are some of my goals when I write these murder mystery party games.

I have a particular vision for each game, nice artwork, quality materials, and an engaging story that is a pleasure to read and share.

Players can act their parts extravagantly, wear lavish costumes, and there can be elaborate decorations and props, or they can just read their parts sitting at a table and let the story, the art, and character interactions, draw them into the mystery, like the world of “The Lilly Mystery“.

There are always eight characters, so you need eight people to play the games. There is an auxiliary character though, who is not the murderer, for when there are more than eight players. They get the full game experience, just like the main character players.

Humor is required, and people laugh a lot playing “The beatnik who wasn’t beat, but was shot“, or “Done in out of Prescott Junction“. The fun is in the comedy of human foibles, the crazy things we animals will do around each other.

I purposely manipulate human nature, while at the same time accepting it.

I purposely manipulate human nature, while at the same time accepting it. For instance, in these games you are allowed to lie, in fact, it is expected. To have a game with murder and intrigue, where you are required to tell the truth, just goes against human nature.

An instance where I manipulate human nature is, again, in the lies. I develop the narrative in such a way that the players not only read their lie, they end up owning their lie. They will cling stubbornly to their stories to the point of hindering solving the mystery.

The players’ perceptions of their character are subtly manipulated. The simplest example being a character trait that I slyly guide a player into acting out without realizing they are doing it. They end up being the last one to know they have this crazy character trait, like what happens in “The Lilly Mystery” in a funny way.

The stories are humorous for sure, but also human, something the players can relate to. I avoid trivial or comically stylized story lines. In each game the players are involved in layers of intrigue and deception involving the other characters. Half the fun is untangling and resolving the sub plots, like in “Nefru’s last night on the Nile“.

In fact, not to give too much away, but each game has what I call the confessional moment. It’s when the characters finally realize that they must confess their transgressions in order to progress to the solution of who actually committed the murder. It’s fun to watch from a spectators’ point of view.

At the end of the game when everyone has made their guess and the murderer has revealed who they are, their narrative is read out loud. Inevitably, all the players listen to this with rapt attention. They are dying (no pun intended) to know how and why the murder happened. And that is my goal, a story and a world that draws you in completely, like what happens in “This prom’s killer“.

William Bellomy