The Gameological Questionnaire

Matt Brunner

Matt Brunner, cinematic director, Murdered: Soul Suspect

The Square Enix developer thinks alien societies could learn about the afterlife from his game.

By Anthony John Agnello • June 12, 2013

Last week, we asked Gameological readers to submit questions that we could pose to developers on the E3 2013 show floor. We picked five of our favorites; those questions constitute The Gameological Questionnaire.

The most interesting game at Square Enix’s booming, terrifyingly magenta E3 booth has nothing to do with Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, or ye olde PC classics Thief and Deus Ex. It’s a wholly original title, the supernatural detective story Murdered: Soul Suspect. You play a badass detective who gets riddled with bullets in Salem, Mass., and then has to solve his own murder. It’s like film noir combined with a particularly good episode of Castle. The Gameological Society caught up with the game’s cinematic director, Matt Bruner, to talk about the afterlife and drinks. Brunner, for those who may not remember, was one of the key minds behind the super sweet Crimson Skies and the underrated Dark Void.

Gameological: If Murdered: Soul Suspect had a super-deluxe version that cost $1,000, what would be in the box?

Brunner: There’s no plan for that one right now. [Laughs.] I would say we’ve thrown quite a bit out just because we wanted to make sure the scope of the game fit the time we had, and it all worked well together. One of the things you can do in the game is possess humans. The scope of being able to do things with humans is gigantic, and we’d really like to develop that further. So the $1,000 box, you’d do a lot more with them than what you can right now. There are all kinds of other living creatures that we’d like to possess as well. You’ll see some of that later as the year goes by.

Gameological: Sony and Microsoft have new consoles coming soon. What can you do on the new machines, in terms of game design, that you couldn’t do before?

Brunner: From our perspective, it all comes down to putting more characters in, more interactions, more ambient light around. Because that’s what this game thrives on. So, if we were on next-gen, we’d really be boosting that up.

The Gameological Society: If an alien species discovered Murdered: Soul Suspect as the only remnant of human civilization, what would they learn about us?

Matt Brunner: They missed a lot, a lot of good games. [Laughs.]

Gameological: What does it tell them specifically? What would they get out of the cultural experience and milieu of Murdered?

Brunner: Probably one of the most distinctive things about this is how humans perceive the afterlife and what the afterlife means to them. Our game deals with the concept of unfinished business and what you need to do to move on to whatever is beyond the afterlife. There are almost layers to this. It tells you there’s a living world, there’s a limbo in between, and then it tells you there’s something even beyond that. We start hinting at that with a few of our characters.

Gameological: What wine pairs with Murdered: Soul Suspect?

Brunner: Well I don’t drink, so you’re probably asking a really bad person. It’s probably a combination of tequila and burgundy.

Gameological: What’s the weirdest idea that came up during production that didn’t make it in?

Brunner: Possessing a rat was one that we played around with for a while. There was too big of a difference in scale between where all of our other characters were, and where this was. We ended up with cameras that were an absolute nightmare, and you could get into all sorts of areas in the environment that you weren’t supposed to get into. We had to back off.

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19 Responses to “Matt Brunner, cinematic director, Murdered: Soul Suspect

  1. SPOILER ALERT

    It turns out you were a cat all along.

  2. Jackbert says:

    “There are almost layers to this.”

    I’m sure that was accidental, but it still had me cracking up. What a damning assessment of your own game.

    • That and “They missed a lot, a lot of good games” were probably too self-deprecating.

    • NakedSnake says:

      He was sure delightfully caught off guard by these questions. Can’t wait to go to a restaurant and ask for a glass of their finest, cheapest Tequillawine.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          All due latitude given to a man who doesn’t drink, but describing the game as having a tequila and burgundy pairing is more likely than anything else to steer me away from the game.
           “We fancy ourselves to be the toothpaste and orange juice of video games.”

        • NakedSnake says:

          I get the feeling that the responses to the Wine question are only going to get weirder.

        • Merve says:

          As a teetotaler myself, I had no idea that tequila was considered low-quality alcohol, and I had never even heard of burgundy. Also, I’m not really sure what wine tastes like.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @Merve2:disqus   Tequila is not necessarily a low-quality alcohol, it’s just that its popularity among the Spring-Breaker VD set places emphasis on the low-quality varieties.   Burgundy is ostensibly a wine specific to that named region of France. Though I’m most familiar with the commodity Gallo jug of Hearty Burgundy, which was copious, cheap and consumed immoderately in my early, early twenties.  Often paired to great consequence with someone else’s cheap tequila.
             But in general, wine tastes awesome.  It tastes like history and culture and musty basement grape juice. 

        • Marozeph says:

          Wait, isn’t Tequila & Wine the drink Tommy Wiseau immortalised in The Room? Because getting your game associated with that is…ummm…i don’t even know anymore.

        • The_Helmaroc_King says:

          @Merve2:disqus Pretty sure tequila has a “knock you on your ass” reputation, i.e. strong and unpleasant. I think tequila shots usually come with a dash of salt on your hand and a lime wedge; lick the salt, drink the shot, and bite the wedge.

        • Enkidum says:

          @Merve2:disqus It’s not just that crappy tequila is drunk en masse by the spring breaker dudebros, its that even good tequila would be weird as hell to pair with wine, especially red wine. Wine is not normally something one uses to chase hard liquor. 

          Ugh… I’m getting nasty cottonmouth just thinking about it. And I can’t even imagine the hangover.

          (Of course it probably says quite a bit about me that I’m assuming that our hypothetical burquila drinker is drinking enough to get a hangover. But really, I can’t imagine wanting to mix the two without already being half in the bag, so…)

        • duwease says:

          There is very fancy, smooth-tasting tequila, guys!  I don’t know why they don’t market it like they do the fancy variety of other spirits.  I guess market research shows the average person still conjures up visions of drunken frat vacations to the dark side of Tijuana.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Have you guys never had a margarita-sangria swirl before? The liquors involved there are tequila and red wine, and they are dangerously delicious!

          Only cheap tequila has a bad reputation. A good tequila will arguably go down smoother than any other hard kiquor out there.

        • Enkidum says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus Actually, you have a point. I guess if they’re in some sort of cocktail, it would be fine enough. I was thinking of both neat, which, ugh…

        • neodocT says:

          @Marozeph:disqus As a The Room aficionado, I can tell you that Tommy Wiseau thinks human beings drink disgusting concoctions of whiskey and vodka (no ice, though, because that would ruin the flavor).

          I can’t say I’ve ever drank burquila, but I have drunk tequila and wine in the same night before. It wasn’t great, but the hangover wasn’t that bad at least.

          Also, there really are good brands of tequila. A buddy of mine went to Mexico a few months ago and bought several bottles of the good stuff. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite get that shots should be reserved for the cheap brands.

  3. Kilzor says:

    “like a particularly good episode of Castle”…  So I guess getting damned with faint praise is what causes him to turn into a vengeful ghost?

  4. CNightwing says:

    More like a good episode of Scooby Doo – it turns out you were just the fairground owner all along!

  5. Ted Kindig says:

    Yes! I’m glad you held his feet to the fire on my alien question. WHAT WOULD THEY LEARN, MATT?