Now, we have some breaking news to report. NPR has learned that Colonel Mustard did not commit murder with a lead pipe in the library. Jack Mustard did it with a dumbbell at the spa. Seems the much-beloved murder mystery game Clue is getting a makeover. Gone is the lead pipe. Colonel Mustard has left the military. He's now a former football star. And the Clue mansion - well, let's just say it's had some renovations. Clue has been on toy shelves for nearly 60 years. And Rob Daviau helped design the new version for Parker Brothers. Rob, thanks for being with us.
Mr. ROB DAVIAU (Game Designer, Clue): Thank you for having me.
BLOCK: And let's go through a few more of these changes. I have the new version here. And I'm looking at the weapons. The lead pipe, as we said, is gone. What else is new?
Mr. DAVIAU: Lead pipe is gone. The new game of Clue takes place here and now.
Mr. DAVIAU: And not many 21st century mansions have lead pipes lying around. The candlestick is very iconic to Clue - that stayed in. We've added a trophy, a baseball bat.
BLOCK: This - I have to say, this baseball bat is about the same size as the candlestick. It's the wimpiest baseball bat I think I've ever seen.
Mr. DAVIAU: It oddly took a very long time to get the proportions of the baseball bat right, like the handle versus the knob versus the thickness. My engineer was ready to kill me 'cause I kept sending him back to trim a millimeter off the barrel.
BLOCK: And we mentioned that the characters have changed as well. So Miss Scarlet now has a first name - it's Cassandra. And there's a videogame designer, a self-made videogame designer, Victor Plum.
Mr. DAVIAU: Yeah, Plum always has been - and continues in this version - to be the smartest man in the room. When the game first was invented in England in 1940s during the war, actually, the idea was who would be the smartest man in the room? And at this high-end cocktail party, what would he be doing? And in that role, he was cast as a professor. But when we were looking at it and saying, okay, kid born in 1998, what would they want to see from the smartest person in the room? Plum became recast as a videogame designer, a dotcom billionaire.
BLOCK: You know, board games are changed constantly, updated all the time. What do you think the challenge is now when you're designing games and trying to make them appealing to young people? What are you up against?
Mr. DAVIAU: A board game is basically a story that you're telling around the table together. In this case, it's a murder mystery. So what's the pacing? How nervous should you be? How much time do people have? Because we all know that people have less time now than they did before.
We've added an element of suspense. There's a second deck of cards that allow other players to possibly be eliminated from the game. Because you're walking around a mansion, asking a lot of very loaded questions, and one of you is a murderer. We thought, that should make you a little tense. So we worked a way to get into the game where if you take too long, the murderer starts to panic and starts eliminating other players from the game. So you get this real sort of sense of nerves that possibly you're knocked out of the game, and it does make it feel much more like a murder mystery.
BLOCK: Mm. You know, call me old-fashioned, but you know, I think a lot of us, when we play board games, especially if we remember them from our childhood, we want them to be just the way we remember them. I mean, I don't need a newfangled Monopoly, you say. I like Reading Railroad. I like Park Place. Do you think you're going up against that, that there are people who have a really tight bond with the games that they remember because they were kids when they played them the first time?
Mr. DAVIAU: Yeah. We were very, very conscious of that when we were designing this. We wanted something that the mom or dad, who's bringing it home for the family, said, this is what I remember and this is what I want to play with my kids. And at the same time, we wanted something that the kids would feel like it belonged to them and this is something that's very appealing to them. So we tried to blend those two worlds. It plays like Clue, it feels like Clue, but it just feels like Clue that might've been created in the 21st century.
BLOCK: Well, Rob Daviau, thanks so much.
Mr. DAVIAU: Thank you.
BLOCK: Rob Daviau helped design the newest version of the murder mystery game Clue.
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