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Virtual Murder Mystery FAQ

 

Can the host play? What is the best virtual platform to use? Do you provide a host for us? Who is the victim?
 How many times can you play? Will the murderer know they are guilty from the start? Where is the link for the free guest pre-game site and free invitation? How many players can I have in the game?
How long is a virtual mystery party? How do I get the players their information? How long do I have to download my game files? I have a large group and want to host multiple games at once.

Can I use this for fundraising, or can an event planner use these games for their clients?

Is there video content? Does anything need to be printed? Do the players need more than one device?
How does a virtual game differ from the traditional format? Who is the victim? Is the game scripted or clue based? Can event planners host virtual games for their clients?
Can I convert an in-person game to virtual? Are your murder mystery games scripted or clue based? Can you play the virtual format at home? Or maybe a combo of in-person and virtual? Do you provide technical service for the video chat?
Are the expansion pack players suspects or non-suspects? Explain what the spectator roles are in the game Can I do a run-through to ensure I understand everything before hosting?  When will there be new virtual games?


QUESTION: Should the host play a role in the game? If so, which character?
Yes! A virtual game is super easy to host, as you are given detailed host instructions, a detailed timeline, and a checklist to have with you during the game. It's nearly non-fail. Nearly because if you didn't read the instructions, you could mess up:)

The virtual games have the major spoilers in a separate file, so the host doesn't have to know anything that ruins the mystery beforehand. You also don't need to read every character packet.  We highly encourage our hosts to play - you're doing all the work, you should have fun! 


QUESTION: What is the best virtual platform to use?

We are the game manufacturer and don't have involvement in your choice of video chat platform. However, we can tell you from our host feedback that the most popular platform is Zoom, followed by Google Hangout. However, our hosts have used Discord, Facebook, Skype, Facetime, among others. 

Click here for an article we found that lists the best apps for 2020 for a video chat.  We are not affiliated with the author of this article, but have found it helpful. 

QUESTION: Do you provide a host for us? 

Our games are super easy to host as long as you read the instructions, which are brief yet detailed. When you add a host, you are adding a lot of costs that aren't necessarily. Typically, when you add a host, you're charged per person, which can run in excess of 400 USD as opposed to our single-use license fee of ~ 45 USD (depending upon the game, this can slightly waver). 

QUESTION: Who is the victim?

To date, the victim is not a casted player in the virtually formatted games. Since the victim in an in-person game becomes the victim during the second round and has to communicate via other ways - it's just a bit difficult to pull this off virtually, so at this time, we haven't released a virtual game with a victim-player. But this could change in the future.

QUESTION: How many times can you play?

It's like buying theater tickets to a murder mystery. Once you've seen it and you know whodunit - it's not much fun the second time around. For that reason, our game licenses are single use. You'd pay ~ 6-10 USD for each guest to attend a movie with you. Therefore, you're probably spending less with your mystery game than you would taking ten people to a movie for the same length of time of entertainment. And a mystery game is far more fun! 

QUESTION: Will the murderer know they are guilty from the start?

No, they will not. As with our traditional, in-person murder mystery party games - we keep our murderer in the dark. You don't want one person having the power to ruin the game. Also, we want everyone to have equal gameplay! Therefore, if you believe your character is guilty - you accuse yourself at the end!

QUESTION: Where is the link for the free guest pre-game site and free invitation?

There is a bank of links on each product page with a title 'helpful links.' Scroll down, past the game trailer video to find the links. The links to the pre-game site and the free invitation will be there - available to you prior to purchase. Also, you should review the host character list that is available there, as well. 

QUESTION: How many players can I have in the game?

The max number of suspect players you should have is up to ten. We found with our extensive beta testing that groups that played back-to-back games of varying sizes preferred the smaller number of suspects to deal with on a video chat. However, we also tested groups with spectator players and the feedback was that it doesn't matter how many total are playing - it only matters how many are suspects. 

Click here for a blog article on how to host a large virtual murder mystery party. 

QUESTION: How long is a virtual mystery party?

It will range from 1.5 to 2.5 hours on average. Here's an example timeline (below). You can see where you can shave off time. Also, you can play the bonus games that come with the kit to extend your party and add some extra fun.  

 7:00 PM 

Everyone logs into the video chat and says hello, introduces their character, etc. You'll need a cushion of time to ensure nobody has technical difficulties. 

 7:10 PM

Go over the player instructions or play the player instruction video (for virtual murder games). 

 7:20 PM

Play the game trailer or introduction video found on the pre-game site. if your guests didn’t utilize the pre-game site (which is highly suggested).

 7:25 PM

Play the video #1 (most games have a video).  Or, read the transcript.

 7:30 PM

Players will take turns reading their script of the dialogue for this round, taking turns until everyone has presented. 

 7:45 PM

Discuss bulleted points in an open forum. 

 7:55 PM

Work on challenge #1.  This is a group activity.

 8:05 PM

Round two begins with video #2 (most games have a video).  Or, read the transcript.

 8:10 PM

Players take turns again presenting the round two dialogue.

 8:20 PM

Discuss the evidence in the case. Each character will have 3-4 pieces of evidence to share in an open forum.

 8:30 PM

The second group challenge is conquered. 

8:40 PM

Some games might have a third, quick challenge.

 8:45 PM

Forensic examination report is discussed (most games have a forensic report).

8:50 PM 

Open forum for players to ask questions of each other, using their bios to answer.

 9:00 PM

Players guess whodunit. They may accuse themselves if they believe their character is the killer or culprit in non-murder games.

 9:10 PM

Host plays solution video (most games have a video, and some will have an answer key to read to the group). 

 QUESTION: How do I get the players their information?

You'll download all of the PDF files from your account. You will email a PDF file of the character packet assigned to each player. In this file is a link to the pre-game site. If you participate in the pre-game tasks, you'll also send a player contact list that contains your players' contact information so the players can contact each other before the party with fun messages. This helps to build the excitement for your party and will reduce the number of no-shows on the big day. 

QUESTION: How long do I have to download my game files?

You have up to a year after purchase to download the files and host the party. If you need more time, you should contact us within 30 days of your license expiring so we can grant you an extension. 

QUESTION: I have a large group and want to host multiple games at once.

This gets full of red tape, our apologies. If we allowed every host to simply give the main game file to as many hosts as they wish, exponentially, we'd be out of business.  We work too hard for that. 

The Terms allow for one Buyer/User to act as the visible host of the game. This person is the one registered with us on the order. This cannot be transferred to another host/end user. If you can pull off a single event as one host (the files were not transferred to another host or team leader) with simultaneous events - that's acceptable. An example of this would be you have one host (the one registered as the User) who has everyone on a Zoom chat. They explain how to play to the group as a whole. Ten different groups were given the same character packets in advance (i.e. you have 10 character A, 10 character B, etc.). Therefore, every player already has their character packets in advance. Then, you break out into 10 separate rooms and the game proceeds.  However, the groups will need to come back to the main room to watch the videos, as only the host is privy to the private links. 

This might seem like a hassle, but you could pull it off.  Other than that, you'd need to purchase 10 game licenses (the price of the game) - one for each breakout room. This way, you can designate a host for each game being played, and there's no need to pop back in the main room until the games are over - if at all - it's your event. 

At the end of the day - whoever has access to the main game file and private links to the videos must be licensed. The host on record (i.e. the Buyer/User per the Terms) must be visibly present during the event. 

QUESTION: Can I use this for fundraising? Can event planners host these for clients?

Yes, but you will need a commercial license.  See above. You have a single-use license and must be present for hosting. If you need to host it for profit &/or in a public forum &/or as a benefit (directly or indirectly) to your business or organization &/or as part of a paid event - you need a license.  If you have a 501 (c) organization and wish to host as a fundraiser, you'll still need to purchase the standard license and we will waive the commercial license fee for up to 3 separate events per year.  However, we do not waive the license fees for 501(c) organizations between September and January. 

Click here for more information about virtual game commercial licenses. 

QUESTION: Is the game scripted or clue based?

The game is largely scripted, given the venue. As it can be awkward to speak in front of a group as opposed to mingling about in private conversations with the private games, we do give you a bit of a scripted section for each round to get it started. Then, you'll have bulleted points to add to the open group forum.  But once you get to a challenge, nothing is scripted. 

QUESTION: What is the difference between a virtual and in-person (traditional) formatted game? 

The author wrote a blog about this - click here. 

QUESTION: Can I convert an in-person game to virtual?

HOSTING A TRADITIONAL FORMAT FOR A VIDEO CHAT

This can be done. Is it optimal? No. For this reason, I encourage you to select a virtual theme until we can get back face-to-face. But if you had your heart set on a game that wasn't released as a virtual format and really wanted to play, here are my suggestions.

DIY downloadable: 

This is going to be a challenge for you, as it will take some work in advance of your virtual party.  You'll need to print and prepare the game as the host instructions tell you to do. Unfortunately, since these games are meant to be played in one location, games with victims will pose a bigger challenge (see below). To prepare for a virtual, you will need to prepare the clue cards in color-coded envelopes and mail to your players in advance with strict instructions not to view the materials until you give them instructions.  They can participate in the pre-game as usual, sending each other messages before the party and viewing the pre-game site at Your Mystery Party.  When you are ready to start the game on your video chat, you'll read the player instructions to them or with murder games, I've released a virtual player instruction video for you to play. The difference between hosting on video chat and the traditional way, is on video chat, you won't be able to have as many private conversations unless you know how to use the private chat on your software or simply jump to text messaging, social media messaging, etc.  Think about how you want to accomplish the clues being discussed in advance of your event and come up with the best way for your group of friends and their technical savvy'ness (made up word, but it fits best). 

Dealing with the victim in a game with one or more victims does pose a bit of a challenge. Normally, we don't have our host know who the victim will be in advance, as it's not necessary to know. If you are converting the game to virtual, you won't be able to pull it off as you do in the face-to-face format.  Here are some options: 

1. View who the victim is and choose that character role. It's the limelight role and the most fun to play. You're not taken out of the game (click here for more details on that).  You can have it planned out when and how to reveal, and this is the easiest way I can imagine this plays out. 

2. View who the victim will be (it's on the round two cards of the required players). Either give them a head's up in advance of the party and work out how to do the reveal in round two (i.e. send them an optional victim's kit and the victim sign and they can excuse themselves to go to the 'restroom' while they are turning into the victim and then pop back on the screen as the victim. It would be hilarious, but the price you are paying here is that both you and the victim know their fate. This is not a big deal because they're not taken out of the game, and it's a fun role.  But they will know they aren't the murderer before they should know - that's the only drawback. 

3. Allow chaos to ensue and don't intervene. Let it play out organically and just be armed with the victim sign. Your victim's round two card will instruct them to go to the nearest restroom to become the victim. They'll  know you didn't come over and slip victim's items at their house, so they'll eventually say something. When they do - post the victim sign and say 'that's how we're handling it.' and just explain the game was meant to be played face-to-face (if you haven't already explained that.)

Party Ready Pack:

This is going to be an easier option because we would prepare the materials for you. However, you'd then need to sort out the clue cards per character and deliver/mail them to each player in advance of the game with strict instructions not to view them. While reading the host instruction booklet, you'll have to mentally edit what will apply and what won't apply. For example, you won't need to create a backdrop for photos at your home for the guests' arrival - but you'll need to encourage your players to create a backdrop for their video chat - or figure out how to use a virtual one.  You'd still need to deal with how you will treat the victim (by #'s 1, 2, or 3  above), but you wouldn't run the chance of spoiling anything of great importance (the round three cards, victim's sign, forensic report, and answer key) if you had the party pack. 

Last, if you are hosting a tween or kid's party - there is likely to be a scavenger hunt portion of the game. You can add a challenge for them to complete before giving them the scavenger hunt item instead of them being all together and going on a hunt for it. 

QUESTION: Can you play the virtual format at home? Or maybe a combo of in-person and virtual? 

Yes. We found out during our beta testing by happy accident that the format works beautifully for small, in-person groups. The reason why we don't have many games for six people or under is that the mingling format just isn't ideal until you have about eight players. The virtual game is just a different format than the in-person - you just need to be able to see and hear each other to play. Virtual games are more open, group games which is ideal for six or less players. It can be played with only 4.  Below four players, we suggest you do a Catch a Killer case file game and skip the roleplaying until you can get more onboard with playing a mystery game. 

You can play with a combo of in-person and virtual, as well. If you have more than one player in a location, they can either have their own device or share one by popping in when it's their turn to speak.  If each player has their own device at the same location, they will probably have to spread out at the location to avoid feedback. 

QUESTION: Do you provide technical service for the video chat?

We do not. We provide the game, and you find where to play it. However, a simple online search will give you plenty of options for help with whatever platform you are using.  Here is the tech support for Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us and Google Hangout: https://support.google.com/hangouts/?hl=en#topic=6386410 

QUESTION: Are the expansion pack players suspects or non-suspects?

Murder in 1985 and Murder of Miles Randolph both have suspect players within the expansion pack. These were the first created and tested. We had hundreds of beta testing groups playing our virtual games, back-to-back, and the consensus was that the added players 'work,' but are not optimal. All said 10 or less is best for suspects in a virtual game. 

Therefore, we have created expansion packs for most games - but they are non-suspect character roles. These are great for shy/reserved players, younger players, or players who might be last-minute. Don't try to pass them off or sell it as they'll be a suspect - as they'll know very soon after the game begins that they weren't a suspect in the mystery.  We don't want them to be considered suspects, as that's the reason to make them as non-suspect roles and increase the success rate of your game. Again, having the 10 or less suspects in your game is optimal for this format. We understand that you, as the host, would love for all of your players to feel equal in the game - but we can assure you that in most groups - not everyone wants the lime light and they will be 100% okay with being a non-suspect (aka: no pressure) player.  If you have a full group of equally-extroverted, outgoing players - we still suggest making only 10 of them the suspects in the game and simply explaining that it works best this way. 

We don't want you to host a hectic and confusing game that is not successful, as we care about you and all of your players having a stellar time. Most of our customers are return hosts, and we want to keep it that way.  We strive to have you and your friends talking about your next game as soon as your mystery party ends.  That won't happen if it's chaotic - so please - keep your suspects at 10 or less. Add the non-suspect expansion packs if you have just a few extra that you want to assign characters to - or - if you have well over the number of players for the expansion pack - skip it, save your money, and use the spectator file to add as many extra players as you can manage on the video chat. 

In some games, the expansion pack players might have added bonuses, like hints or extra clues to the mystery just to make them feel special/needed. As we've been developing the ideal format, we've played with this. 

QUESTION: Explain what the spectator roles are in the game

The spectators will receive non-character (and therefore, non-suspect) packets. The packets have the same pagination, so as you are hosting, when you say turn to page 7 - they'll be turning to the same page in their packets.  For pre-game, they will be directed to the pre-game site, but will not have pre-game tasks. They won't have dialogue to add nor clues to add - but in some games, they might have additional information or tasks (this varies). 

They do have the same character list to view, accessory materials, such as diagrams (when applicable), challenge materials, and forensic reports (when applicable).  The packets keep them engaged with the game with the only true difference being they don't play a character.

QUESTION: Can I do a run-through to ensure I understand everything before hosting? 

With virtual games, the host can play along without knowing spoilers. This is always going to be more fun if you go this route. You send the character packets to your players via email, save one for yourself, read the host instructions and ensure you have the check-list items in place. For the party, follow the checklist during the game. If you just really want to ensure you have everything down and want to know everything in advance - feel free to read through it all beforehand. Just remember - we warned you that you could play along!  

Now, if you are wanting to run through it with a personal group before hosting it for another group, such as for a restaurant event, etc. - no, you don't have a license for that. These are single-use, private event licenses meant for one host (the Buyer per the Terms), and they cannot be transferred to a second host, nor hosted for an event that benefits a business, &/or earns a profit &/or charges an entry fee,  &/or hosts the game as a benefit for a paid membership - aka: for a country club event - the members pay for your country club, so if you are hosting as a benefit for your members - you'll need a commercial license.

Therefore, if you are running through to perfect the hosting protocol, you're likely going to be in one of the categories that need a commercial license - as friendly, private events usually don't require you to be flawless - at the end of the day, it's a game and your friends/family should understand there might be a few speed bumps when hosting one for the first time.  

QUESTION: When will there be new virtual games?

At least two per month. At the current time, the author is still creating the adult/teen catalog. Later this spring, we will be releasing kid's games (ages 7-10). The pandemic was unexpected, and our company shifted from the large, in-person events as a focus to a virtual game catalog being the primary mission. All of our virtual games have been created and tested since March, 2020. 

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