- This Bed We Made—Lowbirth Games’ debut title—was released on November 1, 2023.
- The narrative-focused mystery title is inspired by notable classics like L.A. Noir and Life is Strange.
- We interviewed the creative director and game designer of Lowbirth Games to discuss their debut title.
This Bed We Made is a fresh new mystery thriller set in the 1950s, focusing on a snoopy chambermaid who goes around different rooms in the hotel she works in and cleans things up longer than she’s supposed to, metaphorically speaking. The game’s incredibly well-made, employing the added expanse of Unreal Engine 5, and featuring consequence-based gameplay just as well.
eXputer recently took the opportunity to interview Lowbirth Games’ Olivier Lussier, the studio’s Creative Director, and Dougy Herard, the Game Designer. The Q&A session has unveiled a number of noteworthy insights into the title’s development, such as the origin of This Bed We Made, the project’s inspirations, and some of the major challenges that the developers had to tackle while making the game.
Keep on reading for the full interview.
Question: Can you first introduce yourself and tell us about your involvement in developing This Bed We Made?
Olivier: My name is Olivier Lussier. I’m This Bed We Made’s creative director, lead narrative designer, cinematics director and voice acting director. After studying cinema at Concordia University and directing a few short films, I co-founded Lowbirth Games in 2019 with my cousins Chloe and Raphaelle.
Dougy: My name is Dougy Hérard. I joined Lowbirth Games as a production coordinator, and my background in design made it so I started helping the lead programmer with a lot of elements linked to integration within no time. Since the beginning of 2023, I have only been doing work related to game design and QA.
Question: If I recall correctly, Chloe, Raphaelle, and your experience working in hotels has, in part, inspired this game. But where did the inspiration for the story itself come from?
Olivier: It’s hard to answer this question without jumping into spoilers, but I’ll do my best to tiptoe around! After deciding to set the game in a hotel, our second major decision was to set the game in the 1950s – we just love the mid-century aesthetic! As a studio, Lowbirth Games is dedicated to portraying marginalized characters that are rarely seen in video games. As you can imagine, marginalized people were even more marginalized in the 1950s, so the setting really influenced the story’s direction and themes. For instance, we wanted to explore the topic of mental health, and with the game taking place less than two decades after World War II, it just felt natural to tackle war-related PTSD.
Question: It is easy to tell that there has been a lot of research and hard work put into this project. However, I am curious to know, how long did the entire process of development take? And how far back did the initial idea of This Bed We Made come?
Olivier: We had the initial idea for This Bed We Made in June 2019, so the entire development process took about 4 and a half years. For the first year, we were only the 3 co-founders and had a budget of almost 0$. Eventually, we were fortunate enough to get funding, which allowed us to hire our first employees. Most of the team members have worked on the project for about 3 years.
Question: In another interview, Sai Afzal stated how the team went all out with the research and, in times of doubt, even talked with their older relatives to get a second opinion. Was there something bizarre or interesting that came to light thanks to those relatives?
Olivier: We usually asked older relatives very specific questions to make sure our story ideas were historically accurate. For instance, we once asked a team member’s grandmother about her bachelorette party – we wanted to make sure that our modern idea of a bachelorette party wasn’t too different from a 1950s bachelorette party! We also got some input from family members who weren’t alive in the 1950s but had some useful knowledge on aspects of the story. For example, a family member who’s passionate about World War II suggested that the gun found in room 505 be a Luger pistol (used by the Nazis) since allied soldiers often kept them as trophies!
Question: Being an indie developer, there must have been many ideas that you wanted to implement but couldn’t for various reasons. Can you elaborate on some of those ideas and how the team moved on from them?
Olivier: This Bed We Made started as a Gone Home-inspired walking simulator. It would have been a very short, very small game made by only three people. As we got more funding, we also took inspiration from Life Is Strange and L.A. Noire, adding NPCs and a dialogue system. We didn’t have to cut that much stuff from the project because the game’s ‘scope’ grew progressively as we got more and more funding. Obviously, we would’ve loved to have been able to include more locations to explore more characters to talk to, but throughout development, we always strived to make the most of what we had. Constraints can often be inspiring! There are, however, very inconsequential ‘nice-to-have’ things that we had planned but never got around to doing. For instance, we wanted Sophie to be able to play the piano that can be found in the lobby or to be able to listen to radio plays while cleaning. Those would have been fun little details, but I think the game works perfectly well without them!
Dougy: There are some chunks of the story that had to be cut out that were using some of our systems more in-depth, such as an additional visit to the basement with the acolyte moving through it with Sophie (similar to the opening with the officer); so overall there was a need for new bridges between certain story beats that allowed us to minimize that extra work beyond the game’s scope. Same thing with some of the character plotlines that had to be simplified for the release. With that being said, those cuts were done seamlessly in a way they don’t show up in the final product.
Question: This Bed We Made is the first game by Lowbirth Games. What has the journey been like for you and the team? Is there something you regret investing time in or something you wish you’d have realized sooner?
Olivier: This Bed We Made is not only Lowbirth Games’ first project – it’s also the first professional video game project for many of our team members, many of whom were hired straight out of university (or while still in university). It was also the first professional video game project for Chloe, Raphaelle and me. One of the biggest challenges when you’re starting out is that, sometimes, you simply don’t know what you don’t know. We’ve lost so much time struggling with bad, inefficient pipelines until we finally realized what it was we were doing wrong! Thankfully, we learned a lot from those mistakes, and our next game’s development should be a lot smoother as a result.
Dougy: The journey was, I think, very rich in experience and knowledge for everyone involved. As a team of mostly juniors, it was great to get to grow this way, along with people who relate to the newness of it all. Overall, I think the game does a great job of exploring all it set out to. From a systemic point-of-view, there are some aspects that would be great to revisit in the subsequent games to try to streamline and enhance as best as possible the work of the dev team while capitalizing on the nature of games to make experiences people want to return to.
Question: From what I’ve seen, people are enjoying this game a lot, and I feel like that has compelled me to try it as well. And as someone who hasn’t played many Noir fiction games, is there something that I should keep in mind before jumping into this title?
Olivier: This Bed We Made is a game that rewards you for snooping around and paying attention to little details. Our main character, Sophie, has a Chambermaid’s Guide on her cleaning cart that reminds her to ‘leave no stone unturned.’ I think this advice can also be very useful to players! Look at every document (front and back), use the clue selection mode that allows you to zoom in on little details, and discuss your theories with your acolyte, Beth or Andrew. Their input may prove illuminating!
Dougy: I’d say for someone interested in understanding all the overarching relationships at the Clarington to keep an eye open and leave no stones unturned. Only this way can they get the full picture.
Question: Is there a particular aspect of the game that you especially are quite proud of?
Olivier: This may sound weird, but I’m very proud that the game simply exists! Making games is incredibly hard, especially when you’re an indie studio. On top of that, we were very ambitious, aiming to make a cinematic game with voice-acting and realistic graphics in the vein of Life Is Strange, but with only a fraction of the budget. There were definitely moments during the game’s development when it seemed like we would never be able to finish it, so simply releasing the game makes me incredibly proud of our team. The fact that (according to most players) the game is actually quite good is only the cherry on top!
Dougy: The way the different endings can be mixed and matched is definitely a strong element of This Bed We Made, a narrative game that, despite its very specific plotline, still leaves space for the different ending threads to be influenced by the player’s actions.
Question: Now that the game has been released, what lies in the future of Lowbirth Games? Does the team already have something to work on, or will it take some time before we hear about a new project?
Olivier: We’ve actually started working on our next project a few months before the end of This Bed We Made’s development. Some departments finish their work before others, so we had to make sure those team members would still have something to do! It may take some time before we make an official announcement, but players who enjoyed This Bed We Made can rest assured that we are not done making narrative-focused mystery games!
Dougy: Lowbirth will definitely keep on working on narrative exploration games based on mystery and investigation, putting under the spotlight unsung heroes and marginalized groups.
Lowbirth Games has finally pushed its debut title out, finding it releasing to great reviews. Even though the title focuses on a setting that hasn’t been portrayed in gaming as much, those who have played Life is Strange, and L.A. Noir will still find it rather familiar. This Bed We Made had only a fraction of the budget with regard to the titles it draws inspiration from, making us wonder what other things we could have seen if it was large-scale.
Olivier Lussier, the creative director and co-founder of Lowbirth Games, has confirmed that the studio will continue to explore the narrative-focused mystery genre, and the next project’s development is underway. Whether it is a sequel or a new IP entirely will be confirmed in a future announcement.
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