Plan a Killer Party with Thrillr

Addison DeLancey, Former Digital Strategist

Article Category: #News & Culture

Posted on

Over our three-day (plus a few extra hours) Pointless Week, we created, the missing piece to your murder mystery party puzzle.

If you’re familiar with Viget, you may be familiar with Pointless Corp. Neither pointless nor an actual corporation, this 48-hour hackathon is our chance to hit pause on client projects and have some fun bringing new ideas to life.

This year, we had three separate projects – a Bigfoot museum installation, a new game called Honey Hustle, and Thrillr, a web application to help better plan and facilitate a murder mystery party. 

I love a good mystery, so joining this team was an easy choice. In total, our team included David Eisinger, Eli FatsiHaley JohnsonIsmael LopezLexie Garcia, Meira Shuman, Nathan Schmidt, and Noah Over.

Below is a look at how we divided up our sprint to bring Thrillr to life. The goal of this app is to replace the behind-the-scenes work of a murder mystery party host. If created correctly, Thrillr would not only make the planning process a breeze but it would enhance party goers' experience by providing invitations, party details, character details, and clues via email and text.

Day 1

Not everyone on our team had planned or attended a murder mystery party so we spent the project kickoff getting on the same page around the challenges of the game before jumping into the process of planning and managing a game. 

Typically, your host is responsible for:

  • Planning:

    • Selecting a theme

    • Creating the story, including characters and the clues to tell the story

    • Printing the resources, including character descriptions and story clues

    • Distributing resources, ensuring no one gets the wrong clues or storyline

  • During the game:

    • Play the role of a narrator to focus on flow or answer any questions without disrupting the game

    • Cue the group when it’s time to move onto the next round and reveal a new set of clues

All in all, hosting a murder mystery game is a ton of work, and everyone on this Pointless team agreed we wanted to make hosting an easier experience.

With a shared understanding of the game, and jumped into possible solutions to ease the hosts' burdens. Our UX and Design team started with low-fidelity wireframes while the devs got a basic application running with user accounts and the ability to create a low-fidelity “party.”

Day 2

The creative juices were flowing early this morning, so we decided it was time to rebrand. We loved our working title (#pointless-murders), but our online-murder-mystery-party-maker need to look compelling to potential users. It needed a name and a place to live on the web.

Meira directed us through an ideation exercise where we used word and theme association and idea mapping to narrow down our name choices. Horrors d'oeuvre was a crowd favorite, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Fowl Play (with a bird-like mascot of course) and were both top choices, but ultimately we landed on

With our name established, it was time to move on to the heart of the game: the story. 

Character and clue definitions are a huge part of a murder mystery party, so we spent time researching storylines we liked and leaned on our more experienced murder party planners to craft our narrative. We recognized that having multiple storylines and the ability to edit characters would be ideal, but made the decision to focus on only one storyline for our MVP launch. 

After all, what's a murder mystery
without thorough execution?

We focused efforts on wrapping up UX definition and low-fidelity wireframes. The site's look and feel needed to start taking shape. We wanted to recognize a moody and mystery tone without going “haunted house" and landed with a roaring 20’s style that captured the air of elegance and suspense.

Next, it was time to bring our web app to life. On the front end, the team created a basic setup of Tailwind, added in global styles, and set up our basic colors. The backend team focused on building out our mission-critical features; Eli created the party management and email invite functionality as well as imported the story; Noah focused on the capabilities to support customization of characters and clues, SMS texting, and the necessary party host play-through screens; David supported the team regarding all things devops, from hosting to domain setup, emails, and beyond.

Day 3

With most of the core functionality roughly built out, our goal for the final day of Pointless "Weekend" was to bring all the disparate pieces of Thrillr together. We started by conducting server testing. Our team knew that for this to work as we wanted and for a host to have the opportunity to enjoy their party, there needed to be a way for the host to progress the party discreetly. To do this, we made sure to create:

  • A mobile-friendly site design

  • SMS texts that would provide the clues at the start of each round to participants, eliminating the need to cut/organize any character details and clues

    Finally, the backend devs joined the frontend effort as the designs were coming hot off the Figma press. Nathan gave the devs a little tour of the Tailwind setup and we all split off to build out different portions of the app. By the end of the day, we had a fully functioning application, with about 75% of the application styled out. Spirits were high as we all slung as much Tailwind as we could racing the Friday clock. By the day’s close, we were proud of what we built and generally in agreement that it would be fun to tie up the random loose ends … after all, what's a murder mystery without thorough execution?

    What's Next? 

    There are still a few pages in need of a fine polish, but for any murder mystery party planners out there who are unafraid of some squished form fields, is open for business!

    We'd die to hear what you think. Send us your feedback!

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