Narrative Spaces – Studio Murder Mystery
For our Narrative Spaces project we chose to create a murder mystery that takes place within a music studio. The player takes on the role of a detective investigating a cold case wherein the lead singer from an 80’s rock band was found dead within the recording studio. In the story we have six characters; Gabriel Newel the bassist, Jim Petty the drummer, Teddy Lorne the guitarist, Micky Strats the singer, Max Powers the manager, and Herman Dale the studio tech.
Each character had their own motive for committing the crime. Gabriel’s motive was that he’s jealous of the lead singer and disputes his position within the band. Teddy’s was that the victim cheated with his girlfriend. Jim’s motive was that the victim was in debt with him for a large sum. Max’s motive was that he’s enabling the victim’s drug habit and profiteering from him. Lastly, Herman’s motive is inconclusive.
Within the scene we placed objects that acted as clues such as a pill bottle, a bag of flour that acted as cocaine and bloody fingerprints on the piano. For clues such as the autopsy report and the police report we decided to hide them around the studio as we wanted the player to explore the area as a detective would.
For the audio portion of the project we decided to create switches that turns on the audio, these switches are placed on the clues that the person playing has to find. The position of the clues are based on where the scene takes place such as scene two taking place in the room recording booth. The clues itself are based on what happened in the scene such as the ripped contract being the first scene wherein the manager discusses the contract with the band. The microphone is the second scene wherein the band is practicing and a dispute happens with the singer and bassist. The skull which is the third scene represents the skull of the singer who died and what happened before and during his murder/death. The person playing is also equipped with a glove that has conductive fabric sewn to it that closes the switch when placed upon the clue which plays the appropriate audio file given to said clue.
Process and Documentation
To create the audio for the scenes we went and assigned ourselves a character and recorded ourselves in the recording booth. We first read through the script trying to figure out how were going to voice each character according to their personality. When recording we did each character’s lines simultaneously for that scene and cut it into multiple audio files when finished. For the sound effects we had to improvise some sounds such as kicking a chair, slamming the door, shaking a pill bottle and moving sugar around on a wooden slab.
For the editing process we edited our audio in Adobe Premiere. We decided that two of us create our own rendition of the audio and see which one fits the best. One of our audio effects we put in had a slight delay added to it to create the idea of a flashback happening. The other audio clip had more sound effects added to it but did not have a delay to the audio. We decided that the audio without delay was much better so we went with that. During the intruder scene we added a delay, echo, amplify, reverb, and pitch correction to mask the killer’s voice.
Initial Arduino setup testing.
Studio recording session.
Audio Recording Script.
Editing of the scenes through Adobe Audition.
Prop evidence used for the Murder Mystery.
Final Setup for the clues and evidence.
Arduino setup under the desk.
For our switches we used tinfoil as it was relatively reliable in its use as an on/off switch and it was a material in which we had a lot of experience and expertise in regards to previous projects. The tinfoil was arranged in such a way that there was a gap in between the two strips and the circuit would be completed once the user placed the palm of the glove lined with conductive fabric over the two strips. The glove worked perfectly from a technical and thematic perspective as it was able to complete the circuit and it fit the idea of a detective putting on special gloves so that they don’t compromise any evidence in an investigation.
The Arduino circuit consisted of six tinfoil strips that were connected to a 5V power source, a ground connection that was filtered through 10k resistors, wires that connected them to digital inputs, and alligator clips that connected the jumper wires to the tinfoil. We chose to work with digital inputs as we were essentially working with on/off switches and thus had little use for anything analog.
The Maxuino Patch consisted of three switches that would play a sound file once the user placed their hand upon one of three clues. The code was arranged in such a way that the sound files are preloaded and played once the switch sends a ‘1’. The sound file is able to continuously play until the end of the file even if the user releases their hand from the clue and the switch is turned off. Earlier challenges with the Maxuino patch included a sort of ‘double trigger’ wherein the sound file would get played twice as the switch recognized both a ‘1’ and ‘0’ as a valid input; this was later fixed by preloading the files and placing a ‘sel 1’ to filter out any potential repeats.
Context and Inspiration
Our project was developed through a basic concept of interactive objects that contributed to an overall sound based narrative. The idea of using a skull for one of the objects allowed us to narrow down our project down to an interactive murder mystery. Our project consisted of both paper and non interactive evidence to provide a grounding for the murder mystery, as well as three pieces of evidence that can be interacted with a conductive glove to close a circuit to play an audio file related to the murder mystery.
For research proposes we looked at how murder mystery games were set up and what was required for an adequate experience. It was from the blog on playingwithmurder.com (https://www.playingwithmurder.com/blog/host-murder-mystery-party) that we realized for our game we would need a very specific theme and for recording purposes we would require a very detailed script with the types of sounds required to record. As a group we decided to use the recording studio as a set for the murder mystery and agreed to a theme based around an 80’s rock band aesthetic. As a group we came up with a plot and the backstory for the characters that were involved as well as who would be the culprit in the end.
For the recording of the scripted scenes we researched other similar audio based mystery games and came across “Wonderland” (https://boingboing.net/2015/11/10/an-audio-murder-mystery-game-w.html) which was a mystery and puzzle game solely based on audio and exploring your surrounding environment. This allowed us decide our three audio scenes would involve using the recording studio as a set that the players can explore as the murder took place in the same environment. This was to be evident in the recordings themselves as all possible sounds should be possible within the provided environment.
We also researched to see if other projects have attempted to create a murder mystery type game using interactive elements based around Arduino and found (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIMDS0uSF3k) which uses the choose your adventure element where a story is told to the player and they make decisions provided in the story by picking colored cards that are read by a color sensor to continue the story. Our project shares a similarity in that the Arduino is used as a trigger element to provide a portion of the story to the participant but unlike their linear story ours is presented the player in fragments that they have to assemble.
We used Aaron Oldenburg’s research paper “Sonic Mechanics: Audio as gameplay” (http://gamestudies.org/1301/articles/oldenburg_sonic_mechanics) as a guide to further explore how an audio based game can have aspects of interactivity. This involves how we build spatial awareness using sound alone and recording nuances in movement and how they can be interpreted as sound within a closed environment.
Audio Files – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t43x5S35WKM&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0iMzEX7jpeF73BAV4uZ-ukwh0GeGMvIJNQOeL151Lnnle9yx__b_xB5o4
Github Link – https://github.com/DilzwieldKing/MurderMystery?fbclid=IwAR07Z-F7up6Bk-08TwcR8sWrdCU7eusibQn6EAb-aZDk2AWpESugJ1ZoajQ