Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian, Hope Diamond. This is ‘The Device’. I wanted a way for the player to get messages from the people that were helping them along their journey, but who may have been working a world away and this is what we designed for our contraption. This was designed to look like it was an antique of sorts…but still functional for what the player needed. There was a visual design and a thematic tone to this game that was very antique; our inspiration was really from our behind the scenes tours at the Smithsonian Castle. We wanted to capture that historical flavor that the Smithsonian has. The story really played up tracing the steps of history (real and legend) to find a modern and current mystery. This device, which you interacted with a lot during the game really exemplified that feeling. Jeff Haynie and I worked very hard designing it to do so. We imagined ourselves as Alexander Graham Bell inventing something back in the turn of the century, retro fitting some modern technology into it. Jeff’s art really sold it.
Message Screen, in screen placement. This is how it looked when it became undocked from the bottom right corner where it lived in the HUD. It had 4 major functions; Messages, GPS (Global TRACKING System), Fact Cards and Mission Goals.
One of the things we worked very hard with the Smithsonian on was managing the idea of fiction in a world that lives strictly by fact and history. Since our story had a lot of fiction implemented into it, taking advantage of some of the legends that the Hope Diamond has, we had to find a way to infuse facts and reality. Our players LOVE collectables that live throughout the game and this was the perfect things to capitalize on. We devised the ‘Fact Card’ idea that spread little cards around the world. When the player clicked on one they collected it and it went into their Device. It would then give you a readout revealing facts from the area in which you were playing. For example, if you were playing in the Smithsonian Castle and doing a Hidden Object scene based on James Smithson (benefactor of the Smithsonian), the fact card would give you facts about him. It was really cool and our goal was to have 100 or so of them for players to collect and enjoy. The folks at the Smithsonian were very happy with this solution. Something really cool about it was that since the game took you all over the world, the facts were more than just things that were found in museums or that you would find visiting the Smithsonian.
The GPS (global tracking system) – Since the game was a globetrotting adventure, it was important for us to create a way for players to move from area to area quickly and with minimal cost to our development (not a bunch of high price cut scenes). At the end of each chapter (there were 9 of them, some small, some large), you would get a message that gave you a set of coordinates to punch into the Device. As you punch them in using the number pad, the device would animate and you’d fly into it as it moved it’s focal point to the place you were going. It was an updated and different way to travel, intentionally trying NOT to use the red line/ red dot from Indiana Jones.
Messages: Each chapter had a handful of messages.
The TV screen would deliver the video message, the text message, audio message or graphic image. You can see by the callouts that we really had some lofty goals for this device and plenty to drive the programmers crazy!
It turned out to be a great little feature and was an effective way of accomplishing all of our design goals for the game to communicate with the player.
Design by Erik Haldi and Jeff Haynie. Artwork by Jeff Haynie