PSLS Presents – Relentless Software, Blue Toad Murder Files

Blue Toad Murder Files follows a series of dastardly deeds that occur in the quintessentially English village of Little Riddle through a series of episodic games. Last year, PlayStation LifeStyle interviewed Jade Tidy, the producer of the title, about the episodes. Now, PSLS has caught up with the award winning Buzz! creators Relentless Software to talk to Jade Tidy, Paul Woodbridge, the design director, as well as the fantastic voiceover artist Tom Dussek in their most candid interview yet, to see how the game has progressed, learn of its impending US release date, plans for a second series, as well as news on their secret project.

PlayStation LifeStyle: One question a lot of our American readers would love to know is: What’s going on with the US Store?

Jade Tidy: Helen [Jones in PR and Marketing] will kill me for saying this. I think we should announce next week when it’s coming out in America. It’s coming really soon. Really, really soon. We just needed to make sure, we’ve been working basically with SCEA to get the right support to get Blue Toad out there, and getting ourselves ready to get it out there as well, which is why there has been a bit of a delay, but it should be out very, very soon, and hopefully people should find out next week. I’d like to say, because I know our dates were agreed today, but it’ll be out there really soon, they’ll be able to get hold of it soon.

PSLS: And have you been satisfied with the critical reception that the first two episodes have got so far?

JT: Yes, I’ve been really happy, we’ve had a great response generally, of course, you know, there’s always a few here and there of people you don’t please. You can’t please everyone; I think it’s something Paul said, that you’d actually prefer to have a love-hate game rather than just an average one.

Paul Woodbridge: Yeah, if you think that much about the games that some people really like and others don’t, that don’t appeal to everyone, they are often the best.

JT: Yeah, I think we’ve done something creatively that we’re all really proud of, and really happy, and I certainly can’t wait to get the next ones out there and see what people think of them.

PSLS: And have the sales met your expectations?

JT: Yeah, we actually beat our forecast at the beginning, and this is like, we haven’t done this before, and it’s a bit of an experiment for us. We didn’t really know what to expect, getting through those first sales. It’s something we’re really happy with, and we hope that everybody else enjoys the rest of the series.

PW: It’s definitely really encouraging. We could have released and not sold any copies and that would have been bad [laughter]. We had this forecast that was largely figures plucked from our heads, and our hopes and dreams, and we’ve managed to beat them so far, so no complaints on that.

PSLS: There are six different episodes planned–how do you make sure that consumers remain interested and intrigued by each title?

PW: Cliffhangers [chuckling].

JT: Well, it works well on TV.

PW: We have our format, and that format is locked into this first season now. It’s like each episode generally follows the same sort of progression. But obviously, it’s got quite a strong story, and the characters progress and events unfold over the course of the series. So hopefully we’ll keep people watching it, just like with an episode of 24 or Lost.

JT: Yeah, there’s things that you’ll find out in the later episodes which will explain things in the earlier ones that maybe you weren’t aware of at that time. So there is certainly a pay-off for people who watch every single episode, that play every one.

PW: I think that it’s certainly true that in the latter half of the series we do start trying to close off all the threads we started, and sort of work towards finding out who the big bad guy is and catching that person.

JT: Yeah, that’s what we’ve been building up for, and we do answer it, we don’t leave that.

PSLS: But you’ll still leave it open for a second series?

PW: Oh yeah, there are definitely one or two big questions left at the end of the first one, not in a way which detracts from what you’re doing in the first one, but we definitely leave a couple of strands open.

JT: I think everyone’s been trying to get their own little bit in so they can all ensure that they get another job [laughter]. I saw our scriptwriter was trying to hide a few things from us, and was like “Uh, I’ll tell you them when we get around to the next one.” Yeah, it’s something we’re all really keen on doing, since it’s been so fun making the first one.

PSLS: The third episode is absolutely free, when and why did you decide to do this rather risky promotion?

JT: Quite recently–it wasn’t something we had planned before we brought out episodes one and two. It was something that we decided the beginning of this year, and sat down, because we’ve gone through all the feedback from reviews and from forums, and, as I said earlier, we’d got really good feedback on the game, which we were really happy with, but we did get people saying that it was quite a lot for the lack of replayability in the game. And it was something that we wanted to address, but we’ve made this game, we can’t change the structure of the game, its too late to do that, but as we are self published, we could change the cost of it, and I’m really pleased that we’ve been brave enough to actually do that, because we weren’t really met with resistance, but when we first started saying that we think we’re going to do this, there were a lot of people saying “What? Why on Earth would you want to do that?” You know, it’s a bit crazy, especially because the sales were so good, but yeah, I think for us, this was something we could do something about, and giving Episode Three away for free awards everybody who has already bought One and Two, and supported us from launch, which I think is an important thing to do.

PSLS: Will this offer extend to North America when it launches there?

JT: I think what we’ll probably do is release the triple pack straight away, because we haven’t launched anything over there. Effectively, what we are doing is giving you three episodes for £10 [in the UK], so I think we are doing something similar in America.

PSLS: Are there any plans to make the later titles free?

JT: [Grinning] Not at the moment. We have to make some money off this game, but we will be bringing out 3 episodes for £10, so you will be able to get 4-6 together for £10, which I think is a better deal for those who enjoyed it.

PW: Yeah, we saw a few people commenting that all six episodes would cost, I think someone worked it out as £38, which isn’t entirely truthful, because the first two episodes were released for £10 together. But, that is quite a bit of money for quite a short game, especially on a game where you can’t replay it too many times. So, by reducing the costs to £20 for all 6 episodes, it is quite a competitive price prospect.

JT: Yeah, I think it is really good.

PSLS: Would you ever consider releasing a disk based version of the series?

JT: I get asked this question loads. We don’t have, in our basement, anything to make up discs and package them and send them out, so it’s not something that we could do ourselves. So it’s not something we have planned at the moment.

PSLS: But with a publisher?

JT: Yeah, if we licensed it to someone else, but it’s not something we plan to do.

PSLS: Last time we talked, you mentioned how you would like to do a Home space, have you come further along with these plans?

JT: Yeah, we’ve been chatting actually to the Home Team about what things would be good to do, and looking at having something like an event in there, so it’s something that obviously we are really keen to do, but we are still working on these episodes at the moment. But I’m working with Helen, who’s our marketing manager at the moment, and with the Home team to see what’s the best thing we could do in there, because I’d like something that’s really fun and engaging. Like, there’s been talk of ‘murder in the dark’ or something like that–I’d really like to do that.

PSLS: Can you tell me anything about the Secret Project 2?

JT: The Secret Project? [laughs] No.

PSLS: Because last time you said that we would learn early in the New Year…

PW: What’s that? Really? She lied [laughing].

JT: I lied, yeah; I’m not actually working on the secret project, so I don’t actually know –

PW: – I know

JT: Shh, I know you do.

Tom Dussek enters: Which secret project?

PW: That’s true. Yeah, there is another one as well.

PSLS: [Turning to Tom] Will your voice be in it?

PW: Tom doesn’t know at this stage, either.

TD: They don’t tell me.

PW: Well, its quite a long way… We’re in such early stages–there are too many things that could happen between now and when we are going to want to announce it. Got to stop from saying too much though.

JT: Yeah.

PW: It is probably best to say, it’s a big project for us. It’s not just Blue Toad Season Two or anything, it’s a big project.

JT: It’s a new thing.

PW: It’s a new thing with quite a large scope…

JT: I think we should stop there [laughter]. I think, like I said before, there is actually a secret room, and it’s locked, and they’ve got all their windows frosted. When I say I don’t know anything about it, it’s actually true, I’m not allowed in that room. It’s a secret to most of us here as well…