After Dark / Foul Play Games
As part of our 'Showcase Series', we are highlighting games companies large and small with a few quick questions to discover more about their conception, evolution, inspirations and aspirations. From the largest multi-national companies to indie games makers and even individual new-comers, we're happy to shine a light on a variety of views of the gaming industry and experiences for those at all points on the gaming ladder!
Today a company, and games, grown from adapting to the pandemic's effect on their ability to delivering live events, tell us about how and why they created a game which is now in this year IGGY awards!... After Dark!
Tell us briefly the background of your company?
Foul Play Games was born out of necessity during the pandemic! We own a very successful production company part of which incorporates After Dark Murder Mystery Events. When the pandemic hit and all live events were shut down we knew that we’d have to adapt and come up with a way to survive through the lockdown. We toyed with the idea of virtual events at first, but we wanted to create something that had longevity.
Online events would have been great in the short term, but there would always have been the question of whether they would have continued after live events were allowed again and that would have been a lot of creative energy and time spent on a product that wouldn’t grow and continue into the future.
That’s when we hit upon the idea of Foul Play The Murder Mystery Card Game. We’re big fans of board and card games, so we looked into creating our own that had a murder mystery theme so we could appeal to the fans of our live events.
It took us 9 months to get the game designed and launched and and the response was phenomenal, we published in partnership with After Dark and sold over 1000 units in our first month and so we thought we might be onto something! That’s when we decided to launch the second edition Foul Play : Once Upon A Crime.
The first game was launched blind! We had no experience at all in the game industry, but now we were getting savvier! We had linked up with some other great industry experts and players online and started to get to grips with how everything worked (especially Kickstarter) so we ran a KS for the second game and hit target within 48 hours.
So, that’s when we relaised we had a knack for this kind of thing and decided to make the tabletop game side of the business official and its own separate entity within our portfolio and Foul Play Games was born (named after the original game) and here we are now 16 months on from the first kernel of an idea with two games under our belts and loads more exciting things planned for the future!
What inspires you to make games and do you have any rules when making games?
We come from a live events background, so we approach all our games like live events. In essence tabletop games are very similar to live interactive theatre. The main thing you’re aiming to do is entertain your audience whether it be a stage show or a tabletop game, you want the player to immerse themselves in the game and become invested in it, much like you want an audience member to get lost in your live show. We put a lot of that theory into creating the games we put together from visual elements to fun factor. We’re also in a very unique position whereby we can tie or games into live events.
Foul Play The Card Game was created because we couldn’t do live shows, but now that we can we’ve created a live show that is based on the card game. It has all come full circle and creates great cross promotion opportunities as well as some amazing opportunities for promotional product pics!
A really important part of the process for us is the look of a game and we have spent ages and ages sourcing the right illustrators to work on the games were producing in order to get the feel and the style of the game right. If the mechanics of the game are fun and light then we want to make sure that the art is too. It’s amazing how having the art tie in with rules, mechanics etc can make the product feel more like a whole package and much more satisfying and enjoyable for players to take part in.
We’re really lucky to have found some amazing artists to work with so far and we’re very excited about the games we have coming up! I suppose the other rule that I say we follow is that ‘if we don’t know – ask!’ we’re still complete novices in the world of game design and publishing but there is a massively welcoming and warm community out there who are more than willing to offer help and assistance whenever you need it. We’ve learnt so much over the past 12 months from just asking!
What do you have coming up and out in the future?
We’ve got so many things in the works! If there’s one thing that we’re good at, it’s going all in! Once we realised that we wanted to carry on making games we immediately started brain storming ideas.
We’ve got a third version of Foul Play already at design phase – that one’s titled ‘Night Train to Murder’ (we do a lot of live murder mystery events on trains so it seemed an obvious theme choice!) We’ve also got a tie in game to Foul Play Manor House Murder that’s in the play test stage. Where Manor House Murder focused on the servants of D’Arque Manor, the new game will put the spotlight on the residents of the house and will be all about committing murder rather than solving it!
We’ve also got a game about dragons in the works! We do a live event where the audience can Meet the Dragons and we love dragons almost as much as we love crime so it seemed only right that we should come up with a dragon game (that still focuses on crime – someone is trying to steal a dragon egg!)
Finally we’ve got one more very special game that we’re putting the finishing touches too that was created by our 7yo son. During lockdown he helped us play test Foul Play and then one day he announced he had made his own game! We played it with him and it was really, really good! So we decided to publish that one too. That one involves hunting for treasure in Ancient Egypt, so as you can see we’ve got a diverse array of games that will be launching over the next few years and who knows what else will come to mind in the future. We’ll just have to wait and see!