The market launch of This Bed We Made took place recently and we had the opportunity to interview with the game's developers.
In this “This Bed We Made” interview, you will be able to discover some interesting details and background on the game's development process, the development team, and some details on the game itself, without revealing too much about the plot.
This Bed We Made Interview
In this interview, we spoke with Raphaelle and Oliver Lussier from the team at Lowbirth Games (LG).
ESTNN: First of all, thank you for your willingness to answer our questions. How did the idea of developing a game like This Bed We Made come about? What are your biggest inspirations and points of reference?
LG: When we started the project, we were a three-person team (Lowbirth Games’ three co-founders) and we had no budget, so our goal was to make a very small game inspired by Gone Home. We were thinking of settings that would be interesting to explore and a hotel sprung to mind, as two of us worked in hotels as a student job. The idea of having access to all of these strangers’ personal belongings was just fascinating to us. And it seems like other people found it fascinating too, because we managed to get funding for the game!
With a bigger budget, we added games like L.A. Noire and Life Is Strange to our inspirations, expanding the scope of the game with a dialogue system and NPCs you can interact with. Outside of video games, Agatha Christie novels were a big inspiration for the twists and turns of the mystery, and we were also inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers for the music, the camera work, and the overall mood.
ESTNN: This Bed We Made is a game based a lot on narrative and the choices made by the player. How did you manage to balance all the various outcomes that can arise from it?
LG: Making a game with a branching narrative can be very tricky, especially on an indie budget! Fully voice-acted cutscenes are incredibly expensive, so it was not always possible for us to create alternative cutscenes based on the player’s actions. However, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention! One trick we used was to convey the consequences to some of the player’s actions via conversations that can be overheard through closed doors. Those do not require animation, so we were able to record many different versions! Players may need to play the game a few times to hear every different outcome.
Another tricky aspect of branching narratives is that some endings will inevitably be “worse” than others, and yet you don’t want players to end the game with a bad taste in their mouth. So one thing we did is to make sure there is no completely “bad” ending – nor is there a completely “good” one. We also tried to make sure that if players did get a “bad” ending, it was clear why, so they would hopefully want to do a second playthrough in order to change things and get a different outcome!
ESTNN: In this regard, we know that in This Bed We Made we can choose between Beth and Andrew to help us in our investigations. Is one of the two choices considered canon?
LG: No! Everything you do (or don’t do) in the game is canon. (Re)playing the game with a different acolyte can really change the experience, as they both have different perspectives and connections to the main mystery.
ESTNN: Without going into too much detail so as not to give spoilers, the game deals with very delicate issues (betrayals, homophobia, abuse, etc.), especially given the era in which it is set. Why did you choose to focus on these issues?
LG: The time period of the 1950s really influenced the topics we chose to tackle. Representation is very important for us and is part of our studio’s mission, so we knew from the start that we would have a diverse cast. When we decided to set the game in the 1950s, certain topics, like homophobia and sexism, became “inevitable.” Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made on these issues in the past 70 years, but exploring the past can be a great way to look at the present – to gain an appreciation for freedoms we may now take for granted, or to realize we still have a way to go in some areas!
ESTNN: First impressions and reviews of the game have been more than positive. How did you accept everything? Did you plan to do anything special in case the game's launch went well?
LG: We’ve always tried to be a bit pessimistic about the game’s success so as to not be disappointed (we’ve been told time and time again that it’s hard to launch a first indie game), so we were very pleasantly surprised by all of the positive reviews. After 4 ½ years of development, it’s so great to see reviewers and players alike enjoying the game!
ESTNN: One of the aspects that most struck us about the game, as we described in our review, is how you managed to pay homage in a very faithful way to the atmosphere of the 1950s. What can you tell us about it?
LG: We tried to find a balance between being historically accurate and staying away from clichés, so that people would feel immersed but wouldn’t feel like they’ve seen it all before. We did a lot of research before and during development to make sure we got the details right, and whenever we could, we tried to go with the less obvious choice. We also used lighting, camera angles, and editing to emulate the mood of the movies of the time, especially film noir.
ESTNN: Before we get to some more general questions, what were the hardest and easiest aspects of the entire game development process?
LG: This Bed We Made is a pretty ambitious project considering our small budget and the fact that it’s our studio’s first game. It was incredibly hard (but ultimately incredibly rewarding) to achieve our vision in spite of all those limitations. It all worked out in the end, but there were definitely moments when we thought we wouldn’t be able to make it! What made it all easier was our amazing team. We were lucky enough to be able to surround ourselves with people who are so much fun to work with – people who are kind, creative and passionate!
ESTNN: Lowbirth Games is a development studio where women and queer people play a very important role. What were the difficulties, if any, in managing to emerge?
LG: The difficult part about being a women-led and queer-led studio is that the video game industry is still very much dominated by straight men. In events, we sometimes struggle to find our place, to fit in. Thankfully, the industry is slowly but surely changing – people are starting to realize that there is a place and a demand for different types of gaming experiences, made by different types of people. If anything, being unlike most studios helps us stand out, which is pretty important when so many indie games fail to reach players because of a lack of awareness!
ESTNN: With the launch of This Bed We Made on the market, what are your future plans now? Are you thinking of working on something completely different or expanding the story of This Bed We Made?
LG: We can’t go into too much detail at the moment, but what we can say is that our next game will definitely expand on many aspects from This Bed We Made. We love making mystery games and we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do, both in terms of story and gameplay!