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The Ship: Murder Party is a first-person shooter computer game using Valve Software's Source engine developed by Outerlight.The game was released on July 11, 2006, on Steam with retail distribution in Europe and Australia in September, and April 10, 2007, for North America. A playable concept for The Ship was released as a modification for the game Half-Life in 2004. A Spiritual Successor to this game, named Bloody Good Time, is also available now.
The game is set on a 1920s recreational cruise ship. Each player is assigned a quarry, and the object is to murder him or her with nobody watching, while at the same time watching out for, and defending yourself against, your own hunter.
A mysterious man named Mr. X has handed out free tickets for his luxury cruise. Little did the passengers know, they were falling into his devious trap. All the passengers are required to track down and murder another passenger. If a passenger chooses not to do so, Mr. X will kill both the passengers and his or her family.
Each player is given a nickname by which they are identified. This is done to make it more difficult to tell players apart from NPCs, who have similar names and look the same as normal players. Each player is assigned a quarry, whom he or she must murder. The last known location of a player's quarry is always revealed to the player. However, the appearance of the quarry is only revealed if the player converses with the quarry.
There are several different weapons with which to eliminate one's quarry. Different amounts of money are rewarded for a kill depending on how difficult it is to use the weapon and how many times it has been used. If a player murders an NPC or anyone other than his or her quarry or hunter, a cash amount - dependent on the server settings - will be deducted from his or her bank account. Players with less than a certain figure, set by the server, in their bank account will be kicked from the cruise. Various weapons can be found scattered all around the ship, such as flare guns, fire axes, firearms, knives, swords, crowbars (which state "to be used by a free man", a nod to Half-Life's main character Gordon Freeman), even secret traps provided just for killing your quarry, like falling lifeboats, saunas, freezers, even a deck that turns into a 60 degree angle by command, among others. If a player is seen holding a weapon or committing a crime, he or she will be fined and incarcerated for a short amount of time.
Everyone has eight needs similar to The Sims. Such needs are eating, drinking, sleeping, socialising, maintaining proper hygiene and using the bathroom. Some of the needs would cause impairment, such as lack of sleep would cause the player to fall asleep on the spot. Other needs could become fatal, such as thirst and hunger. If the player does not fulfill these needs, he or she will die, resulting in a loss of $1000. Needs are sated by going to restaurants, taking showers, talking with other players, etc. This forces players into situations where they are vulnerable to attack, and also attempts to prevent players from camping.
You go to jail by pulling out a weapon in front of a guard or camera. Another way is that you are spotted by eyewitnesses. There is an eye in your hud that tells you whether you are being spotted or not; if you are watched by security the eye in your HUD turns red; if not, the eye is green. The meter for trespassing counts down and you'll be fined if the count down is complete. You can bribe a guard to pull out a weapon for a limited time.
The Ship provides examples of these tropes:
- An Axe to Grind: The Fireaxe.
- Bottomless Bladder: Averted; the call of nature is one of the needs that have to be satisfied as you're wandering the ship
- Chessmaster: Mr. X
- Contract on the Hitman
- Dangerously Close Shave: The straight razor is one of the most powerful melee weapons in the game.
- Deadly Game
- Diesel Punk: Played with. While the game is set on a series of cruise ships from the 1920s and 30s, it in fact takes place in the present day. References to 2006 (the game's year of release on Steam) can be found in certain areas.
- Drop the Hammer: An ordinary carpenter's hammer, natch.
- Expy: The psychiatrist looks and sounds a lot like Sigmund Freud.
Psychiatrist: Tell me about...your mother.
- Flare Gun: A surprisingly effective and easy to find weapon.
- Frying Pan of Doom: One of the weapons available in the galley.
- Golf Clubbing
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Outside of backstory, Mr. X's most prominent role in the game is... as a HUD element. Upon killing your quarry, their portrait will be replaced by one of Mr. X grinning from ear to ear; if you are yourself killed, you'll get an image of Mr. X pouting.
- Hospital Hottie: The nurse NPC, arguably.
- Improbable Weapon User: Any player playing the game. The weapons that can be used to off fellow passengers range from the mundane (pistols, knives, axes) to the absolute strange (scalpels, umbrellas, knitting needles).
- Karma Houdini: Mr. X
- Locked in a Freezer: It's possible to lure your target into a walk-in freezer, lock the door behind them and turn up the cold to maximum.
- Malevolent Architecture: Your Mileage May Vary, depending on whether you're using it or it's being used against you. You won't notice it if you aren't looking for it, but Mr. X seems to have a passion for both secret passages and traps. For example, one ship hosts a one-way mirror hidden behind a vending machine, allowing you to shoot into an adjoining room without being seen. It looks like a painting from the other side.
- Parasol of Pain: You can, if you so desire, off your target with an umbrella.
- Poisoned Weapons: The most devious weapon you can use is a hypodermic needle filled with poison. Stab your target once and they will become violently sick, starting a countdown until they keel over. Just be sure they're not so close to the medical bay that they can be cured first.
- Sauna of Death: Much like the freezer example above, you can roast anyone who wanders into the sauna by turning up the heat to lethal levels.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: The game scores everyone based on their bank account balance. This includes both Hunters (the main players) and Passengers (Effectively spectators). Passengers do have needs and will end up using their money (which starts at $250 + $2500) at some point, and they can only get more money from wallets or coin purses dropped by those killed by their hunter or quarry. If a Passenger is more aware than the hunters, it is actually possible for him/her to beat most of the hunters in bank balance, even if they never die (which will typically require buying food and drink).
- Shout-Out: The crowbar's description reads "Used by a Free Man."
- Stocking Filler: On the nurse NPC that shows up in the lobbies of most maps' sickbays. Those maps, however cleverly put her behind a chest-high counter that can't be get around or get marked for trespassing if you do head behind it, so to get a view, one either has to quickly jump in front of the counter, or use the noclip cheat code.