This dev-diary is not the usual dev-diary. First, it talks about a mobile game, yep I know it is not common to see such coverage on Gamersyde. While being a Gamersyde insider, the opportunity was too good for me not to show you what I'm doing with my clique. As i'm writing this post, I have to admit that I'm a bit emotional, indeed the very reason why I could start working in the video game industry is that I've been hanging out on Gamersyde for many years. I've been working at Ubisoft for three years now but what I want to show you today is something of my own: it's called Heart @Hack.
During my years at Ubisoft, I had the chance to meet great people that then became great friends. We all met when we were working on Assassin's Creed 4 : Black Flag and became friends immediately as we shared the same taste for video games. As we went our separate ways in our career, we started missing each other so we decided to reunite to make a game on our own time.
We're inaugurating a series of dev-diaries in which we will take you in our inner thoughts, our challenges, hopes and fears. To start, I would like to introduce the universe of Heart @Hack.
Heart @Hack is a narrative puzzle game for iOS and Android. Set in New-Paris, Louisiana, Heart @Hack plunges the player into the year 2034. Darius’ relationship stagnates in sweet torpor. Even though his feelings for Kimiko are still there, the fire of love is slowly replaced by a thick layer of permafrost. To escape boredom, Darius regularly flirts with strangers on social networks. He has become really close to one of these girls : Alaska9. When Darius receives a suspicious e-mail about an application allowing him to hack into his girlfriend's Pocket Minitel, he downloads it to fill his life with action. What he finds in Kimiko’s files puzzles him, something he did not quite expect. Has she met someone else? Little by little, what just started as a game is turning into a burning obsession.
We wanted to explore some wild territories even though we have a limited scope. The idea of talking about a break-up seemed incredibly interesting: it's universal, everybody has gone through one at one point or another, but it is also a great tool to innovate on the narrative side.
To tell our story, we decided to use an alternative future. We found it funny to imagine a dimension where France would not be the usual coward but rather a superpower imposing its technology on everybody (here represented by the Minitel. With this theme and this setting in mind, we've come up with this :
New Paris. Once known as "New Orleans", "New Paris" has become New France's capital after the signature of "The Treaty of Peaceful Sharing of the North American Territories" by the English, Spanish and French settlers in 1763. New Paris is fed by various cultural influences: French, English, Cajun and Native American. High-end Technology is everywhere but it fits nicely with the colonial architecture of the city. It's a colorful and futuristic place offering a unique blend of sci-fi noir, timeless romances and Brass bands.
Pocket Minitel. Miniaturized version of a crown jewel of the French industry : the Minitel. Both high-end tech and old-fashioned, the Pocket Minitel has become the undisputed leader. To meet the requirements of the great nation of literature (France), this device allows only written communication. Runs on "Minitel OS"
Heart @Hack is a narrative-driven game, therefore characters are key. We spent a lot of time shaping bold, dense and mysterious protagonists. You'll find below a character brief to find out more about their personalities. In a future dev-diary , we will detail the creative process behind them.
Darius is a jaded 30-something slacker. He is content with his relationship with his longtime girlfriend Kimiko as well as with his entry-level position at the local "McDeaux". Darius is smart, and yet he missed a bright future. His 1/4 of Houma blood often kicks in to remind him of his appetite for adventure and open fields. His greatest weakness is his asthma condition.
A wild beauty, a byzantine relic bathing in an immaculate moonlight, a Palomino setting fire to the hearts of men in her trail (What’s more noble and free than a horse’s heart ?). Kimiko is Darius’ girlfriend. They met in High School. Nobody ever understood why she had found such a dull individual attractive. Kimiko used to sing in a renown Piano Bar until she mysteriously lost her voice. She's now embracing the career of bounty hunter.
Alaska9 is a cute professional volley-ball player. She’s having a correspondence with Darius. Nobody knows the true circumstances of their encounter. She seems to have all the attributes of the "girl next door" but she remains shrouded in mystery.
Darius' best friend. Rasheed is an artist with an attitude and a charming thug. He's also a real lady-killer and a seasoned musician who makes a living from street performances. He's very protective with Darius.
Heart @Hack is a mix between a visual novel and a puzzle-game. The visual novel aspect of the game requires you to be active in Darius' adventures. Discuss with Kimiko, Alaska9 and many more protagonists and unravel the mysteries of New Paris. You'll need your Pocket Minitel to receive and send messages. We wanted to question the use of smartphones in our everyday lives and how it influences our communication with our peers.
The puzzle aspect can't be neglected. Once in possession of your hacking app, hack you way through your lover's heart by getting the output data of her Pocket Minitel inbox. Our intention was to mix the narrative and puzzle parts as much as possible.
Let's check together the 1st chapter of the game to explain what Heart @Hack brings to the table.
If you have read all through this wall of text, thank you! You're automatically eligible to win a steam key for Q.U.B.E on PC! Contact me via PM to participate to the lucky draw. 5 keys are available!
We will be offering artworks, soundtracks and other gifts at each dev-diary!
We also have a Kickstarter with more details, if you want to support us, we would be super grateful: Kickstarter Heart @Hack
And if you still have room for last one thing, download for free the previous game of our level designer Alex (mission designer on the division): Spherical Adventures.
If you have any questions or comment, don't hesitate to use the comment section.