If you’ve logged into ROBLOX anytime in the past couple days, you’ve noticed Murder Mystery. It’s been sitting at the top of the Popular games list, at times hitting roughly 5,000 concurrent players. Based on a popular Garry’s Mod game, the premise is simple: you spawn in a world populated by civilians, a single sheriff, and a killer. What’s the catch? You don’t know who the killer is. It could be anyone.
We got the chance to have a chat with the developer, Nikilis, about this breakaway ROBLOX hit that quickly became the biggest game on ROBLOX — before he was finished making it.
Here’s how the game works: if you’re the killer, it’s your job to stealthily take out every player in the map while avoiding detection. If you’re the sheriff, it’s your job to find and eliminate the killer. Making things more interesting, every person in the game looks approximately the same and leaves colored footprints, which can be used as clues. There’s a social aspect that’s refreshing — chatting is of paramount importance, as players are constantly predicting who the killer is, and sometimes more importantly, where he is on the map.
Murder Mystery isn’t Nikilis’ first brush with fame — his Trucking Tycoon is a popular title that has been played over a million times. But both the exposure and sheer number of place visits Murder Mystery has received (about 150,000 visits in two days) was certainly unexpected, particularly because the game is only partially completed.
“I have a lot of people in fan groups, but I didn’t expect this to happen. I was testing the gameplay mechanics with a few friends, but they actually weren’t that interested,” he recalls. “So I sat in a server by myself, and posted the link on some my group walls. I finally got one server full and decided to go to bed. When I woke up, there were thousands of people playing the game.”
As mentioned earlier, Nikilis found inspiration for Murder Mystery while playing a Garry’s Mod game, which acts as the baseplate for the mechanics. That baseplate is currently the core of the game, but there are still loads of features and changes on the way. The game’s surge in popularity is unlikely to diminish soon.
Even as just a baseplate, Murder Mystery is an extremely enjoyable experience. It’s coded in a way that makes the game feel almost unnaturally smooth, and the way gameplay collides with psychological elements makes it unlike most ROBLOX experiences.
“I’m glad it got so popular after I had at least finished the core gameplay mechanics,” says Nikilis. “It’s got all the basic gameplay elements I needed. Now I have to try and make the game more unique and stray from the game that inspired me a bit.”
He goes on to list a bevy of features he’s planning on implementing: an official shop where you can buy perks and change the way your knife looks as the murderer. More game modes, including a mode where everyone is a murderer (thus making a literal representation of the word deathmatch), as well as a mode that includes more than one murderer. He’s also planning on giving users the ability to alter their appearance and faces. Oh, and he’ll be adding more maps to supplement the three existing ones. I told him that one of the truly great parts of Murder Mystery is how the chat system is used as a core mechanic.
“I planned on chat being a core feature, because everyone is given a random name. People keep telling me to change the chat system or remove it, but I think it’s best the way it is. Dead players can’t talk, which forces the murderers to work quickly. The people who are murdered can’t give anything away.”
When asked about the actual development of the title, Nikilis made a shoutout to user GigsD4X, who created a ROBLOX tool set that was vital in developing the title. It’s basically an all-in-one tool that combines many core elements of building, like resizing, moving, and changing object color.
“I’m not so great at building,” says Nikilis. “But these tools made it so much easier.”
Already a DevEx veteran, Nikilis has converted over a million ROBUX into real-life cash, which he’s saving for future endeavors. He’s also working to determine what sort of Game Passes he can implement that maintain the game’s balance — a difficult task to accomplish, as he doesn’t want to alter the core gameplay mechanics.
In closing, I asked him what makes the ROBLOX version of Murder Mystery even better than the original. This was his response:
“My favorite fundamental change is that everyone can see everyone’s footsteps, rather than just the murderer. This means the murderer has to be even more careful. There’s a lot to come — the game sort of exploded when I wasn’t finished yet, so I’ll be adding more features really soon.”
We look forward to it.
[Editor’s note: I don’t think I’ve ever written the word “murderers” so many times.]