Tag Archives: Happy Birthday RJ

Looking back at 2022

2022 felt like the pandemic was finally behind us. While COVID-19 is still around, it’s not the terror it once was, and the world (or at least, our part of it) is on the road to recovery.

From our perspective, that means people are gathering in groups – and where there are gatherings, there are murder mystery parties!

The recovery that started in 2021 continued in 2022, and it looks as if 2023 could be one of our best years ever.
We’ve been doing these reviews since 2013 – you can read them all here.

Best-selling games

Our best-selling games for 2022 were Way out West, Murder on the Istanbul Express, and A Speakeasy Murder.

Way out West

That’s a change from previous years, where A Will to Murder and Casino Fatale have usually been in the top three (they’re now in the top 5). Murder on the Istanbul Express was published in 2021, and we’re pleased it has been selling so well.

New and updated murder mystery games

We published one new game in 2022, Vanished in Vegas by Jennifer Vals.

We also updated Curse of the Pharaoh and Happy Birthday RJ to our current format.

An unusual side project

We were contacted by a Houston-based organisation looking for a steampunk-themed game for over 100 people. This was a one-off commission, and they were looking for a different style of game than our usual heavily-plotted murder mysteries. So we wrote a game involving rival families, secret societies, pirates and map exploration.

Last year’s goals

We set ourselves a few goals in 2020:

Improve our website – expand the game themes and bring a little animation to the book covers: While we added a little animation to the book covers (a slight zoom when you hover over them), we didn’t do as much with themes as we were hoping. We made some improvements, but only some. Maybe in 2023.

We also made numerous small changes to the website – such as adding icons so visitors can easily see which games have combat or poisoning.

Resolve the payment process glitches: These continued throughout 2022, unfortunately. Something about the Paypal payment process results in some emails ending up in spam filters. However, we made another change just before Christmas, which seems to have made a big improvement.

Continue to work on new games: We hadn’t expected to publish Vanished in Vegas and were delighted it came out ahead of programme.

Run games online: Steve ran Reunion with Death online in 2022 – he also ran Murder on the Istanbul Express offline at a games convention.

Reunion with Death – online

Change the focus of our two online games and promote them as games the host can play: We have now done this and now promote Reunion with Death and Death in Venice as games you can host and play.

So overall a successful year. We didn’t quite do everything we wanted to, but we did most of it and sometimes did more.

Plans for next year

Improve our website: Always a work in progress. We have no specific plans for this year, but it would be remarkable if we didn’t improve the website in lots of small ways.

Updated games: We’re currently updating Davy Jones’ Locker to the latest format, and then Way out West will be on the list.

New games: With a bit of luck and a fair wind, A Purrfect Murder (dark goings-on at a cat show) will be our next game.

Shine light on our French and German language partners: We have two partners who have translated many of our games in French and German: FranceMurder and Krimispiele-Seite. When appropriate, we will mention them more in our posts.

Wrapping up

2022 represented a welcome recovery after the pandemic. It was a good year for us; hopefully, we can build on it for 2023.

Updating Happy Birthday R.J.

We’ve recently updated Happy Birthdhttps://www.freeformgames.com/shop/product/happy-birthday-rj/ay R.J. to our latest format.

Happy Birthday R.J. was originally published in 2003. It was our fifth game and was written by Lisa Butler (who later wrote Snow Business and Casino Fatale). Next year it celebrates its 20th birthday!

Taking place on SouthSpoon Ranch in 1980s Texas, Happy Birthday R.J. is full of glamorous oil people. It uses lots of tropes (and similar names) from the Dynasty and Dallas tv shows and is for 11 to 15 guests, plus one host.

The game is a little different from many of our murder mysteries—there are two murders, and we don’t know who the murderer is for one of them. The host will decide the identity of the second murderer during the party, and it could be any of the other guests!

The changes we’ve made include:

  • Each character now has an eight-page character booklet (previously they were on two pages).
  • Rewritten the instructions to be clearer and in line with our current format.
  • Given images to all the items (although this game doesn’t have many).
  • Added a solution—which was tricky given we don’t know who the murderer is.
  • Increased the value of the money to better reflect the wealth of the attendees.
  • Given it a light edit and tidied up some of the language.

So if you’ve purchased Happy Birthday R.J., you can download it again using the same login details as before.
Let us know what you think!

Our games by year…

Following on from our birthday post last month, I thought it would be interesting to show when we published each game. I’ve excluded translations to keep things simple…

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2018

2019

  • Christmas Lies (the festive version of Hollywood Lies) by Steve Hatherley

2020

2021

2022

2023

One of the things that amazes me is how my memory has changed everything. I think of A Speakeasy Murder as one of our newer games, but it’s now over seven years old! And was it really in 2009 when we published The Karma Club?