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What Game Designers Can Learn from the Murder Mystery Trend

August 29, 2014

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


ROBLOX is no stranger to any gaming genre — from RPGs, to platformers, to first-person shooters, our platform is inhabited by a bevy of popular gaming tropes. It’s somewhat surprising, then, that mystery games — which employ a style of gameplay that one can trace all the way back to everything from a Garry’s Mod game to the real world (hide and seek, anyone?) — have positively dominated our popular charts for almost all of 2014. But when you really look at what these games do from a game design perspective, it starts to make sense that they would thrive on ROBLOX.

Murder Mystery

Murder Mystery by Nikilis really kicked off this ROBLOX trend.

These mystery games are centered around the same central gameplay mechanic. Most players are innocent. One has a gun. One has a knife. The knife-wielder must wipe out the innocents before the gun-wielder discovers him or her and deals justice. There is endless anticipation. Will you be the next murderer or sheriff?

Why mystery games?

Mystery games have core gameplay that is simple and rewarding. No matter what character class you inhabit, there is always something to do, and it quickly becomes clear what that objective is. When you’re given a weapon, your heart races from the pressure of the task at hand. When you hold the knife, you pick and choose moments carefully to take out your targets without being spotted. And if you’re unarmed, you’re hiding — trying to solve the mystery and determine who you need to avoid — to save your own life. No matter your perspective, there is often visceral feedback that makes successes and failure satisfying.

The average ROBLOX player jumps from game to game. Because mystery games tend to have short, but sweet rounds, they’re perfect for a 10- or 20-minute visit. That’s enough time to squeeze in several rounds, maybe experience the drama of being a knife-wielding killer or the justice-infused righteousness of the sheriff, and improve your skills.

The bottom line is that mystery games really lend themselves to a platform like ROBLOX. This genre proves that you don’t have to build massive (in feature scope and architecture) games to garner millions of plays. There is genius to be found in the simplicity. Even if you don’t want to make a game the falls within this genre, the reasons for its success can be applied to almost any other type of game.


Loleris’ The Mad Murderer is the current king of the genre.


To trace the origin of the many mystery games that now populate ROBLOX, one only needs to go as far back as Murder Mystery by Nikkilis. This game rocketed in popularity before it was even officially released because it gave ROBLOX players an experience no other game offered. The gameplay is fast and frantic, as the mechanics create spontaneous and unpredictable rounds. You just never know what is going to happen. You might spawn as an innocent, notice the sheriff was killed, and end up with the gun, only to become the hero of the match.

Once people found this half-finished game, Nikilis was on the clock to start implementing features and ultimately start earning some ROBUX. Witnessing the success of Nikilis’ game, competing efforts surfaced, each with unique visual aesthetics and twists on the gameplay. Prolific builder and scripter CloneTrooper1019 made the next big splash with Murder, which has morphed into an entire universe populated with different sub-games within the genre. There’s your classic murder mode, but he’s adding zombie mods, deathmatch arenas and more. His menus are unparalled, with high quality buttons and animations to give players the ability to join specific servers.

Loleris’ The Mad Murderer, which launched back in April, became the new king of the genre in just a few short months, winning him a level of success that his previous games, while popular, never quite reached.

Those are the big three. There are certainly more, and the genre is still thriving. On ROBLOX, it’s anyone’s game.

CloneTrooper1019's killers can nuke the power and hide in the dark.

CloneTrooper1019‘s killers can nuke the power and hide in the dark.

Keep the mysteries coming

Ultimately, we’re really proud of the many unique genres that have surfaced since ROBLOX was created — whether we’re talking “obbies,” naval fights, disaster survival, or yes, even murder mysteries. And now, the developers who push the envelope are making cash to help support their endeavors via DevEx.

Whatever genre you end up exploring or defining, there’s a lesson to be found in the rise of the mystery genre. Be fueled by ROBLOX, and see where it takes you.