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Creating the World of Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

Alex Preston's Avatar + Posted by Alex Preston on Mar 14, 2014 // Head of Heart Machine

In Hyper Light Drifter you’ll travel a ruined land with a twisted past, delving deep to collect lost technologies and unveil secrets long buried. I’d like to share a few of the key components under development that make Hyper Light what it is: 1) combat that’s lightning quick, brutal and never unfair; 2) a strong narrative and character interactions expressed through visual design; 3) a rich and varied world to explore with an intense atmosphere.

Combat

At Heart Machine we’re all fans of fast, heavy­-hitting combat that requires skill and rewards a bit of finesse. To hell with bullet­sponges, witless drones and unfair scenarios. We spend a great deal of time tuning our systems, ­adding meaningful feedback in the controls, visuals, and audio design ­so they feel responsive and satisfying each time you lop an enemy in half, blow something up, or wipe out entire packs of ravenous creatures.

Each enemy reacts to strikes with visible knockback, flashes, and brutal sound effects. No weak or shoddy weapons (I’m looking at you, Klobb), no pea­shooter projectile sounds. The player should feel empowered in every encounter.

Creating intelligent and tactical scenarios with enemies is key, rather than stacking cannon fodder that waits gleefully in line to get their heads chopped off. Some enemies dodge projectiles, others deflect attacks, some (the poison wolves) attack you and vulnerable enemies as a pack. We even have enemies that command weaker types in order to gain an advantage. Each encounter should feel different, and remain challenging.

Narrative & Design

We are wary of endless blocks of text, poorly designed UI, and explicit hand­holding, which can often dilute a great experience. These leave a player frustrated, or worse, disinterested. Instead, we want players to uncover the rich mythology along with the Drifter in a more organic way, with a narrative that’s not explicit. We chose to recognize that players are smart.

We keep the systems management as straightforward as possible, with zero visible UI elements that don’t relate to the world itself. This helps to keep the player immersed and focused on the moments and constantly unfolding story in the world, rather than on numbers, bars and maps.

Dialogue and quests are presented in storyboard­like sequences, which convey a specific mood without the use of text or voice­overs. This also allows us to keep the game as visually lush as possible and break past language barriers.

Atmosphere

Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

To make the world of Hyper Light a believable and compelling space for the player, we’re focused on the excitement of discovery and conveying specific feelings while traversing each new area; you recognize that something is always slightly off, but you don’t know precisely why. A sense of anxiety will build as you travel further and deeper into this savage world.

To achieve this sensation we rely on the soundtrack, which is being scored by Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace), a master at atmospheric audio design. It will create an identifiable and eerie atmosphere for the landscapes, and develop a darker sound the deeper you explore, pushing the dangerous nature to the forefront.

The visuals will be the other major factor in forging the tone and intention of the spaces. Each environment uses a striking and specific palette to highlight landmarks, and they’re littered with touches like reactive wildlife and intricate architecture. The world is long past its era of great carnage, but remnants are everywhere: craters from battles fought, wreckage from hulking machines grown­over, bones from mammoth creatures, tubes of rotting experiments in ancient labs.

Conclusion

Hyper Light Drifter on PS4 and PS Vita

Our goal to make an experience that’s visually and atmospherically compelling, has a well­-crafted story and is a hell of a lot of fun to play remains a challenge each day, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We’ll be posting more screenshots, videos and other items on our devlog and in future PS.Blog posts, so stay tuned.

Please feel free to ask us (mostly) anything about the game, and we’ll do our best to answer without spoiling the experience.

//Add Your Own

113 Comments   18 Replies

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1

+ NX_Nytrux on March 14th, 2014 at 8:54 am said:

Gran Saiyaman? XD


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2

+ Justin Massongill on March 14th, 2014 at 8:54 am said:

This game needs to be a part of my life.


3

+ Alex_dlc on March 14th, 2014 at 8:54 am said:

This is my most anticipated game for PS4


4

+ thegreatthomasio on March 14th, 2014 at 8:54 am said:

Game looks awesome! Can’t wait to play it!


5

+ Random_Hero on March 14th, 2014 at 8:56 am said:

Hey guys! I backed this on kickstarter a while ago. Glad to see that you’re getting some front page action on the blog. Keep up the great work!


6

+ GrafUlrich88 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:01 am said:

Hey Alex,

Awesome game!!! Please, can you give us a idea when it will release? Also please show more footage and maybe you guys can play 15 to 30 minutes of gameplay (with audio commentary by you guys) and post it here in the blog.


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:29 pm said:

    We will announce a more solid time-frame in the second half of the year, Graf.


7

+ AguilarX on March 14th, 2014 at 9:02 am said:

awesome hearing from this game again!!! Glad I backed this game up on Kickstarter! My Vita is happy (T_T)


8

+ chrisgomez3030 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:03 am said:

if this gets a platinum trophy i will buy it.


9

+ Dethfuse on March 14th, 2014 at 9:05 am said:

OMG!!! This game looks amazing. I’m not usually into the pixely kind of games but the amount of time you put into the art makes it look incredible. You have a day one purchase from this guy! =D


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

    Awesome!


10

+ kingap1 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:06 am said:

this game looks freaking incredible!


11

+ AKA_Neku on March 14th, 2014 at 9:07 am said:

I hope a lot of the extra Kickstarter goodies will be available for sale.


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:29 pm said:

    Some of them will absolutely be!


12

+ NickZ2112 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:11 am said:

Wow! The art style you guys are going for totally has my attention. Sold on that for sure.

Gameplay seems to compare to a classic 2D Zelda with maybe a deeper combat system??? Seems cool.

With these types of games, pacing is HUGE!!! I’ve tried so many times to play similar games and they just don’t grab you enough from the start to stay engaged. If this can do that…. I could be really special.

Thanks for the post guys! Good luck moving forward, cant wait to see more!


13

+ JumpMan33 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:12 am said:

I also backed on Kickstarter :D
Love the 2D Top-Down/Zelda style view gameplay
I can’t wait to play this on my Vita/PS4!


14

+ TomatoDragon on March 14th, 2014 at 9:13 am said:

This is looking pretty epic. Will definitely be getting for my Vita.


15

+ Leopardo_snake on March 14th, 2014 at 9:17 am said:

simply beautiful.


16

+ HOTxxFUZZ on March 14th, 2014 at 9:19 am said:

This game looks too rad. Couldn’t be more excited!


17

+ Robbie_G_lrish on March 14th, 2014 at 9:23 am said:

So… this looks awesome. I may never find the time to actually play all of the amazing games that I want to on Vita, but this will be one that I do.


18

+ Wired_Gantz on March 14th, 2014 at 9:30 am said:

Beautiful game, definitely a day one purchase for me. Can you give us an estimate of when it will be released?

Keep up the good work! :)


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:30 pm said:

    Likely end of the year, first quarter 2015 on PS4/Vita


19

+ Mjolnirs on March 14th, 2014 at 9:37 am said:

@8 Stop basing your purchases on whether or not you can get some pointless virtual gold star sticker.


20

+ Gorvi on March 14th, 2014 at 9:37 am said:

That looks quite good, definitely one I’ll keep an eye on. Of course I have to throw in the obligatory question: do you have a general idea on the price/date?


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:31 pm said:

    Thanks! End of the year/early 2015 is what we are targeting, Gorvi. Price will be determined closer to release as well, but it’ll hit the sweet spot.


21

+ babyphatman on March 14th, 2014 at 9:37 am said:

Shut up and take my money!


22

+ Peerinward on March 14th, 2014 at 9:40 am said:

@19 It’s their prerogative to have platinum trophies as a major incentive to buy a game. You have no business in telling others how to consume their entertainment. Live and let live.


23

+ thebledkid22 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:40 am said:

I backed this game on Kickstarter and I’m so glad it’s getting some recognition on this blog. I know this game is going to be available on other systems but I’m curious if this title will take advantage of any PS4 features, especially with the Dualshock 4?


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:32 pm said:

    Not yet announced, but we will be playing with unique features.


24

+ Sorahl213 on March 14th, 2014 at 9:42 am said:

Wow this looks amazing. Hope this gets a 2014 release and a platinum trophy! This seems like it’s one of those games where it’s worth going for the plat, and having fun while doing it.


25

+ SugarSpocks on March 14th, 2014 at 10:06 am said:

So happy I supported this Kickstarter! This game continues to look gorgeous. I’m determined to get a plat on this game (if it has a platinum trophy).


26

+ BlaqMagiq24 on March 14th, 2014 at 10:07 am said:

I’m not very big on indies but I have played a few that I’ve enjoyed and this one may be added to that list. Sometimes the smallest projects can be the best ones with a great imagination.

BTW great music for that trailer.


27

+ wolfsrain on March 14th, 2014 at 10:12 am said:

Will there be a demo or beta for HLD on PS4/Vita?


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:32 pm said:

    Beta will be on PC for now, Wolf.


28

+ Bacardi_Heart on March 14th, 2014 at 10:16 am said:

can’t wait for this and rogue legacy!


29

+ Mjolnirs on March 14th, 2014 at 10:17 am said:

@22 What chrisgomez said is incredibly disrespectful to the developer. They just put aside all the effort being put into the game in favor of some irrelevant accomplishment system. It should not bear repeating one buys a game for the game itself, not for some lame “trophy”.


30

+ LucasFla1 on March 14th, 2014 at 10:25 am said:

PS4 indie games. :(


31

+ IzoGray on March 14th, 2014 at 10:30 am said:

LITERALLY my MOST ANTICIPATED title. I can’t wait. This game takes me back to Boktai on the GBA and some other beautiful pixel art.


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:33 pm said:

    Thanks, Izo!


32

+ Mjolnirs on March 14th, 2014 at 10:30 am said:

@30 What’s the problem?


33

+ IzoGray on March 14th, 2014 at 10:31 am said:

Also I heard you were making this game as big as you can. Please include a platinum :)


34

+ cronqvist on March 14th, 2014 at 10:35 am said:

PS4 INDIE GAMES FTW! :D

My anticipation for Light Drifter grows every time I see those beautiful animations.


35

+ LucasFla1 on March 14th, 2014 at 10:45 am said:

Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Media Molecule, Evolution Studios, Polyphony Digital , Sony Japan? Games AAA please.


36

+ CrispyCanuk on March 14th, 2014 at 10:58 am said:

So glad that I backed this!


37

+ stlthriot on March 14th, 2014 at 11:08 am said:

Absolutely can’t wait for this game! Love the style and music!
Been watching it since it debuted on Kickstarter and already have my copy reserved via funding! :D


38

+ onslaughtree on March 14th, 2014 at 11:15 am said:

I just love how the PS4/ Vita has become an Indie paradise.
So many great smaller titles with huge imaginations. Hyper Light Drifter looks AWESOME….. Priced right, and i’ll be all in.


39

+ EverythingOnFire on March 14th, 2014 at 11:17 am said:

Glad to see your dream coming to light, Alex! I’ll pick this up for my PS4 day-one. Also, dat music.


40

+ samversionone on March 14th, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

Whoa, this game looks amazing!


41

+ LURKING_WOLF on March 14th, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

more crap on ps4


42

+ BlueBl1zzard on March 14th, 2014 at 11:48 am said:

Just gotta say, this game looks very interesting. I’ll definitely be keeping a look out for this one.


43

+ BiGBoSSMk23 on March 14th, 2014 at 11:50 am said:

This game makes me so happy. >~<

You guys… ;-;. Day 1.


44

+ Gigidy17 on March 14th, 2014 at 11:52 am said:

I wouldn’t have never given a game like this a chance if it wasnt for me playing Y’s the oath in felgana. That game had me hooked and it really made me more open to trying different experiences outside of the big name titles. Anywho Im really looking forward to HyperLightDrifter cant wait to finally play this game on my Vita and PlayStation 4.


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    + Alex Preston on March 14th, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

    Great to hear, Gigidy.


45

+ YangAtmos on March 14th, 2014 at 12:04 pm said:

Wow, this game looks awesome!
Definitely going to buy this!


46

+ djsaiyan on March 14th, 2014 at 12:06 pm said:

Backed on Kickstarter!

Those Terminatory-lookin’ robot things in the header image on the main blog page are absolutely terrifying. Somehow the pixel art actually makes them look even scarier than they would be if they were photo-realistic. I LOVE IT.

Seriously hope that’s a boss fight.


47

+ RE_Player on March 14th, 2014 at 12:07 pm said:

This game look insanely good.


48

+ xX-TIG-Xx on March 14th, 2014 at 12:27 pm said:

I can’t wait! Game looks soo great and a day 1 buy for sure. I just hope it comes soon.


49

+ XeahuleXolic on March 14th, 2014 at 12:36 pm said:

This is a must have !!


50

+ smallestofseeds on March 14th, 2014 at 12:43 pm said:

Looks downright phenomenal. Day one buy for me. Thanks for making this!


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