This Bed We Made is a game about curiosity. From the various hints in the demo, it is also about the dangers of indulging in your wish to take a peek into the lives around you. As you guide Sophie in her job as a hotel maid, you explore the lives of the guests, uncover secrets, and find yourself at the center of a mystery.
It is a game that upends all the expectations you might have of a standard noir detective mystery. Instead of a stereotypical macho detective, you play as a shy housekeeper who receives help from her colleagues at the Front Desk. We found ourselves rather curious about this unique dynamic and sought out Olivier Lussier, the Creative Director at Lowbirth Games, to find out more about this game and what we can expect as we explore Sophie’s tale.
How would you describe This Bed We Made?
Olivier: This Bed We Made is a narrative game in which you play a Hotel Maid. As you do your job cleaning rooms, you stumble across a mystery. You try to solve that mystery by snooping through the guests’ belongings, like their suitcases and safes. At the core of the game is the fascination with other people’s lives. Of voyeurism. It drives all the gameplay in the story.
What inspired the 50s setting?
Olivier: Well, I studied cinema before being in video games. A big inspiration, at least in the beginning, was the movies of Alfred Hitchcock. A big one being Rear Window, where the theme of voyeurism is also very present. We were also inspired by the aesthetics of many other Film Noirs of the 40s and 50s.
So we took a lot of our inspiration for This Bed We Made from outside of the games industry.
“But within video games, L.A. Noire was a big inspiration as well.”
It takes place earlier, in the 40s I think, while our narrative takes place in the 50s. But it inspired us with the story and the gameplay because it’s also a mystery game.
How did the decision to go with a 50s setting impact your creative direction? What were the challenges?
Olivier: I think doing games based on the past is challenging. We had to find a fine line between trying to depict that era as accurately as we can, so that players always feel like it’s the 1950s. But we also have to keep in mind that it’s a game. Do we choose to be very accurate, or do we go with something that maybe is a bit more modern? Sacrifice historical accuracy to make a game that’s entertaining and fun to play? It is a fun challenge.
But I think we can assume that most players have not lived through the 1950s, or if they did, may not remember it so much. So we took shortcuts, some creative liberties.
In a traditional Noir, you follow a private investigator or detective. In this game, we are presumably following the victim, right? Why did you pick this variation?
Olivier: Something we find very interesting is to have atypical protagonists who have unusual jobs. There are plenty of games and films about private detectives or cops. We thought it would be different and new to solve a mystery from the perspective of a maid.
As a maid, Sophie doesn’t have the same authority as a policeman would. She’s limited in what she can do and has no specialized tools or experienced backup. That creates a situation where we can have interesting gameplay and mechanics. You have to find your clues and piece things together just using your brain. And advice from a companion.
One of the core aspects of This Bed We Made is that there’s a fellow staff member from the hotel that you can call for advice and information. The player chooses between two front desk employees, and they will help you with the investigation. They, like Sophie, aren’t detectives.
Sophie has no guns or authority. It allows her to question the authority figures we see later in the game. We wanted a female protagonist that wasn’t like the many badass characters out there. We wanted someone who was relevant and approachable. A ‘human’ protagonist. There is a lack of them in video games, I think.
What according to you is the coolest part of the game?
Olivier: We have been developing the game for 4 years now. In the first few years, no one outside the team saw the game. We had clear ideas of what was cool, but players surprised us. For instance, to only help with immersion (to feel like a maid), we added mini-games like ‘cleaning the room’. But when we conducted play tests and got the game out to players at the events like Gamescom and MEGAMIGS, we realized that the cleaning aspect was something players really enjoyed. So that was quite interesting.
This Bed We Made is a single-player game. When designing and playtesting, we imagined people playing alone at a computer. But at events, people would come together on the couch and try to figure out the mystery together. I think that’s something we kind of hoped would happen. It was incredibly cool to see that This Bed We Made could be a social experience.
Sophie is a really fun character to experience. How did you go about creating her personality, and how does she drive the narrative within This Bed We Made?
Olivier: When we started working on this game, we were only 3 developers. Now, we have a team of about 15 people. As the team grew, the game and the character evolved.
In the beginning, this game was more of a walking simulator. You would walk around, look at objects, and figure out the story through the objects, but that was about it. The character didn’t talk or have a personality, she was just an avatar for the player.
As the team grew, we got other inspirations (from games like Life is Strange) and could do more. It led us to developing Sophie’s personality and adding in other characters for her to interact with.
Once we picked the unique occupation (maid), we wanted to add more dimension to make her an unusual main protagonist. We believed that creating a shy character would be interesting. Being a maid suits Sophie’s nature. She is invisible and likes being alone to do her job. Since she doesn’t interact with people normally, she’s a bit awkward when she does. But when she’s alone, you discover another side of her personality. Obviously, she is very curious and enjoys snooping through people’s stuff.
Sophie has a playful side to her that you will discover while playing This Bed We Made. Like many shy people, the more you get to know her, the more she opens up. As she forms relationships with her colleagues and gets further into the mystery, you can discover new, interesting sides of her personality.
Isn’t there a romantic angle to this story too?
Olivier: Yes. So, as I mentioned before, there are two characters that you can choose between (the front desk colleagues) to be your partner in the investigation. As you engage with them and they give you clues and information, you can unlock options to build the relationship. It’s your choice to romance them or to remain friends as they help you learn about Sophie.
How crucial are the colleagues to progressing the story? Can you complete your investigations without them?
No, they are integral to the story. Both characters have different types of knowledge and experience that they can help you with. You can solve the mystery with either one of them, but depending on who you choose, they will kind of bring a different angle to the investigation. One is a bit more street-smart with hands-on experience. The other one has more theoretical knowledge. Each will change the player experience.
How do the player’s choices impact the story’s progress outside of these relationships?
Olivier: Choice is very important. We are a small studio, so it won’t be large branching as you see in Until Dawn, or big decisions like saving a character. The choices in This Bed We Made, and their consequences aren’t going to be obvious or predictable. Because this is how it works in real life. It’s about the little actions you can take. This was a key design direction for us.
For instance, you can throw everything in a guest’s room away. After all, you are a maid. This includes trash but also potentially important objects and clues. It can change how you solve the mystery, what information you get, or even how other characters react.
Since This Bed We Made is going to be a cinematic, character-driven narrative that is intended to be immersive, how long do you think the game will be?
Olivier: This Bed We Made is a short game. It’s only as long as it needs to be, to tell the story we wanted to tell.
So, it really depends on the type of player you are. Players who want to take their time and explore or read everything will have a longer playthrough, whereas players who are only interested in the main game will finish faster. On average, we expect a runtime of around five hours.
When will This Bed We Made release?
Olivier: I can’t be precise, but it will be out in the last few months of 2023. We’re in the final stretch of polishing the game and preparing to port it to consoles. As soon as we’re confident about the release, we will announce it. We would rather not have to push the release date. But soon! Soon for sure!
Alright, keeping us in suspense…
Olivier: I mean, it is the core of the game, you know? It’s a mystery-suspense game, so we’re doing it all the way. laughs
Can you tell us about the next project you’re working on?
Olivier: Ah! Not really! It’s so early! But for now, we definitely want to continue making mystery games, because we’re developing expertise in it, if you will. From gameplay to storytelling. We want to explore narrative games without traditional action gameplay and push the investigative gameplay even further in our next games.
This Bed We Made demo is now available on Steam. The game will release later this year.