GLASGOW-based company Blazing Griffin received the Best Game award at the Scottish Baftas for their original story featuring famous detective Hercule Poirot. 

Blazing Griffin is a multimedia company which works on films, games and post-production. 

They received the award for their murder-mystery title, Hercule Poirot: The First Cases. 

Co-head of games at the studio Neil McPhillips said it was a “surreal moment” when their names were called out. 

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He told The National: “In the run up to the awards, we definitely just set out to not plan to win. 

“We didn’t assume or think about it too much so I think that set us up for being incredibly surprised when it did happen. 

“It was a surreal moment in that huge room and to have everyone acknowledge us.”

Justin Alae-Carew, who also serves as co-head of games, says the game has taken them “on quite a journey”. 

Work began on it five years ago before elements of the gameplay were incorporated into another title – Murder Mystery Machine - prior to Poirot's release. 

“We had always wanted to do a detective game that looked at a more thinking-style of gameplay”, Alae-Carew said. 

The studio is one of the few companies who have been able to use the iconic character in their work and were allowed to create an original story to go along with the new game. 

The National: The game allows players to take control of famous detective Hercule PoirotThe game allows players to take control of famous detective Hercule Poirot (Image: Blazing Griffin)

“We took existing canon and spun it into a detective story from Poirot’s youth. The first conversations we had were about what book we wanted to adapt but we didn’t see any point in that because if you’re a fan then you already know who the murderer is”, McPhillips explained. 

He continued: “Nothing would upset fans quicker than changing the story.”

As such, the game focuses on Poirot in his youth, before he has garnered a reputation as the legendary detective everybody knows him as. 

Alae-Carew explained: “There were a lot of debates because when you open the door on a character like this, it can get pushed wide open but we thought he should only be slightly different because it’s ultimately the same character but younger. 

“We spoke a lot about how far to go with some of his eccentricities. What we ultimately focused in on was how in all of the books, he turns up and everyone is stunned at ‘The Hercule Poirot'.

“This game is set when nobody knows who he is. There’s an interesting aspect from a role-playing perspective because you don’t have his gravitas to lean on so it was quite fun thinking about the nature of those puzzles. 

“You aren’t just asked to figure out what happened, there’s an element of convincing people in the narrative.”

In the game, Poirot is invited to a reception by an influential family for their daughter’s engagement but the event is soon marred when a guest is murdered and a snowstorm descends on the town.

The core gameplay is about connecting all the evidence you find in order to make a deduction. 

The National: The game focuses on Poirot in his younger yearsThe game focuses on Poirot in his younger years (Image: Blazing Griffin)

McPhillips admits the market for crime games is “evergreen” particularly given the surge in interest in true-crime dramas over the past decade or so. 

“It’s a genre that has a very passionate audience outside what you might conventionally associate with gamers,” he explained. 

He added: “Gamers are still associated with that 16-35, male trope. The true crime and general crime market is much wider and more varied in terms of gender and age split so it’s an interesting market to be involved in.”

On the Scottish gaming industry more widely, Alae-Carew thinks it's in a good place but that it's important to consider how it's perceived. 

He said: “I think it’s in a very healthy state but its perceived differently by people inside and outside the industry. 

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“People think about Rockstar and there is a lot of rich heritage there. I think what’s interesting now is there are larger companies who maybe don’t get wider recognition because they’ve not made the next Grand Theft Auto. 

“In fact they may not have made a game themselves, they may have worked on a game for somebody else or contributed to something bigger. 

Unity, for example, is a company which works on game engines and has offices all over the globe including in Dundee and Edinburgh. 

“There’s an ecosystem that I would say is growing and being more supportive of each other over this last few years and that’s from similar sized companies working for larger clients outside of Scotland and across the world.”