Interviews‎ > ‎

Big Fish Games

Game Info
Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident

Wii | Big Fish Games / Nintendo | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now

11th September 2011; By Patrick

From puzzle games to their famous hidden object games, Big Fish Games has a very wide audience. Although their titles usually have universal appeal, I am personally not a fan of their past hidden object titles. The Malgrave Incident, however, made a few key changes that were very integral in my enjoyment of the game. Intrigued, I spoke to Shawn Seavers of Big Fish Games, as well as Masa Miyazaki and Azusa Tajima of Nintendo, asking for more information about the game's development and the partnership.

Wiiloveit: First off, would you like to talk about the Mystery Case Files®  series in general? This is the 10th title, correct?

Shawn: Yes, this is the 10th Mystery Case Files game across all platforms. The Mystery Case Files franchise is one of the most popular and top-selling franchises coming out of Big Fish Studios.

Now, as Senior Producer, what was your personal role in creating The Malgrave Incident?

Shawn: As the Senior Producer on this game, I worked closely with Nintendo and was involved in all aspects of the game –- scheduling, art, game design, production, approvals, changes, etc...

Aside from this being your first home console release in the series, what separates this title from the others?

Shawn: Mystery Case Files:  The Malgrave Incident is 3D, which the others were not. It has a new story, new characters, and new location. We were able to do some really cool things in the multiplayer mode with the Wii, and the hidden object scenes have a few key differences—animations are used to hide things, parallax, and co-op.

Some of the objects that players are tasked to locate are slightly obscure nowadays. Is there a target age range that you were aiming for in the creation of some of your puzzles?
Shawn: While creating this game, we envisioned a family sitting together solving the puzzles. We thought that the social element would allow everyone to help the younger readers in the house.

Masa & Azusa: When we first worked with Big Fish Games on the title Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir for Nintendo DS, we learned from them that it is important to hide objects in clever ways such that the players feel like they had always "seen" them, but still have a challenge when looking for them in the puzzle. We learned that this is what the hidden object puzzle is all about. As the publisher of this title, we put in a great effort alongside Big Fish Games to ensure that The Malgrave Incident could include this hallmark of the hidden object genre. Regarding a target age range, we always try to present a product that everyone can enjoy regardless of age and gender and The Malgrave Incident is not an exception.

What is the process that goes into creating a hidden object scene for you guys? Do you have an idea of what to hide before you start creating the scene, or do you just find a bunch of random objects and pick later which ones the player has to find?

Shawn: It starts with the specific location of any given hidden object scene. The hidden object scenes are almost always a part of the larger world so that dictates the overall mood and ambiance of the scene. The general shape of the scene is also determined this way.

Once "inside" the scene, the artist has almost complete freedom to construct the scene. There are typically only a few "requirements" that must be included in the hidden objects -– inventory items or other important items needed to beat the game. All the other hidden objects are up to the artist.

How difficult was it to incorporate the multi-leveled environments for hidden object finding on the Wii?

Shawn: We spent a good deal of time playing with different ways of incorporating the layers in the scenes. The most difficult part was finding the amount of scrolling that felt the best, i.e. how wide do we want to make the scene. If they were too wide, we had to narrow them down to what felt the best. From there, we could add or move other compositional elements for the best composition and game play.

Masa & Azusa: From our perspective, it was difficult to figure out the best point in the game to introduce the multi-layered mechanic to the player. Since this is one of the unique features of The Malgrave Incident and no other games have had an equivalent feature before, we were very careful not to make the players feel overwhelmed.

I personally appreciated the ability to play the entire story co-op. Is this something you're interested in doing in future releases if possible?

Shawn: The co-op feature makes perfect sense for the Wii, especially with 4 players. If it makes sense for any of our future projects, we will certainly do it.

When you decided to create
The Malgrave Incident for the Wii, did you first look at the possible control methods, or the console's wide adoption rate? And when did multiplayer become part of the game?

Shawn: We have worked with Nintendo in the past with Mystery Case Files for the Nintendo DS, so we had been considering making Mystery Case Files for the Wii since we first learned about the console. Its control scheme seemed like a natural fit for finding hidden objects. As for multiplayer, it was part of the The Malgrave Incident game design from the very beginning.

Masa & Azusa: We first looked at ways to deliver a multiplayer experience where our consumers can play together on a single TV screen. This is something that only a console can do, and we felt that it would be the best match with our development philosophy. It's about providing our consumers with a fun, unique, and surprising game experience.

In 2008 you released the title Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir on the Nintendo DS family of systems, which was also published by Nintendo. Did you enjoy working with them, and can you see working with them again in the foreseeable future?

Shawn: We were very honored to work with Nintendo on both games.  Nintendo is well-respected and known for quality and fun. They continue to create fun and unique gaming experiences on their platforms, so it's great to collaborate and share ideas with them.

As I recall, the original title of the game was
Mystery Case Files: Dust to Dust. Without giving story spoilers, what was the main reason behind the name change?

Shawn: It's a pretty boring answer actually. Ultimately, everyone involved in the game felt that as a name, The Malgrave Incident gave consumers a better connection to the specific content of the game, rather  than Dust to Dust.

Have you guys ever worried that a hidden object game is tough to sell to today's market? In The Malgrave Incident, when you're not doing the hidden object puzzles for instance, you're solving other puzzles or using adventure game elements. Is this something that you're going to continue to work on in the future?

Shawn: No, hidden object games have always done well for us and have universal and family appeal. As for the adventure aspect, as our customers have become more sophisticated so have our games. Our games will continue to evolve along with our customers.

What do you think of the reception to the title, both critically and commercially?

Shawn: Our target audience received the game very well. The casual side of the console market seems to really enjoy the game. For the core side, the reception was definitely mixed. Some of them enjoyed it, and some of them didn't. That's to be expected.

Now that you've created a title for both Nintendo DS and Wii, have you thought at all about 3DS or Wii U entries to the series?

Shawn: Yes, we think there are some unique opportunities on both the 3DS and the Wii U.

What was the single greatest challenge about bringing this title to market?

Shawn: For me, the greatest challenge had to be the 3D camera. As a franchise, our games are typically not in 3D. We had to learn a great deal about camera placement, movement, etc… It impacted everything!

Masa & Azusa: We tried very hard with Big Fish Games to incorporate several new and unique features in order to make The Malgrave Incident stand out in the hidden object genre. The single greatest challenge was to make these new features work well and to determine how to marry them with other established Mystery Case Files features well.

Finally, is there anything you'd like to say to our readers?

Shawn: We are really proud of how well our Mystery Case File game and gameplay fit with the Wii console. The multiplayer aspect of this game is particularly fun. You should grab some friends and check it out.

I'd like to think Shawn Seavers, Masa Miyazaki, and Azusa Tajima for taking the time to answer my questions. If this has made you interested in the game, read my review here!

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident
Review | Screenshot gallery 
Interview | Feature | Media | Preview

Shawn Seavers, Masa Miyazaki and Azusa Tajima were talking to Patrick
For more information on this title or the developers, click here.

Bookmark and Share