Where Is My Heart? Comes To PSN November 16

Hi – I’m a game designer at Die Gute Fabrik, a small Indie Studio based in Denmark. We are just about to release our debut on PlayStation Network minis (PS3 and PSP). It’s called “Where is my Heart?”, and it’s about a family of monsters lost in the woods. In the game you have help them find a way back to their home – a mysterious tree with a heart in its branches. The whole story is set in an 8-bit style environment made up of woods, mushroom caves, crystal rock pools, fern fringed creeks and waterfalls.

Nils, our artist, is going to talk more about the concept art and environment design of the game below. As for the game mechanics: the basics play just like a usual platform game, but the world is visually sliced into rectangular fragments (or panels) which are placed on the screen at unexpected locations. With this game mechanic – the messed up way of representation – I attempted to evoke the sensation of being lost. On top of that, the visual slicing also allowed us to add further mechanics to the game. These mechanics make use and build upon the visual confusion caused by the panels. One of these game-play elements is the ‘panel rotation’.

The Rainbow Spirit -one of the monsters- can use this mechanic to its advantage. When the player presses the L and R shoulder buttons of the game controller the Spirit can make the panels spin around the screen center. This allows the Spirit to hop from frame to frame, outside of the physical game world. It’s a bit hard to describe. Looking at the trailer above will fix this – it’s easier to grasp when seen in action. Playing around with the Spirit Rotation was a very satisfying experience to our testers. We spent a lot of effort into making it feel just right. It’ll make the puzzle muscles in your brain as sore as legs after a marathon.

The game is loosely based on an experience I had with my parents three summers ago. We were hiking in the woods near our home. And guess what – we lost our bearings, got really frustrated, and started bickering with each other. That’s the short version of it. The long version entails family issues and the dark sides of personalities. If you’re interested in reading more about the game’s source of inspiration, please go here.

By the way we also had our first review by eurogamer and they gave us 8 out of 10.

I’ll pass on to Nils now, our artist.”

Nils Deneken: Hi, I’m the graphic artist here at Die Gute Fabrik. In 2009, after the first Where is my Heart? prototype was displayed at the Independent Games Festival, Bernhard asked me if I wanted to do the artwork for the game. Already the prototype that Bernhard had submitted to the IGF 2009 had a very distinct art style. Obviously it’s a game that uses pixel graphics and thus refers to games from the creator’s childhood, but it has some aesthetic twists that sets itself apart from the games of yore (and just as much from the games of today).

One visual twist is the representation of the game levels as comic panels. It is one of the basic mechanics of the game which has both a strong influence on the level designs and the visuals of the game. The other distinctive visual element is the bold choice of colors, which is quite unusual for games in general.

While other games tend to use fairly realistic colors to represent their environments, Bernhard chose a strange palette of pastel colors. The grass wasn’t a saturated green, like it is in most game graphics, but a very light green, which seemed to glow almost neon-like in front of the browns and grays of the rocks. The sky was light purple instead of sky-blue and sprinkled with yellow stars that would fade in and out. Then there were the three little monster characters and a big tree with a face, whose emotions were ranging from grumpy to sad. The old tree, the Heartboxes, which the player has to unlock to progress, and Antler Ancestor, which the Brown Monster turns into, seem all to be taken straight from the traditional German fairy tales. The heart boxes remind us of the gingerbread house from Grimm’s “Hänsel und Gretel”, while the Antler is clearly derived from a Bavarian mythical creature called the Wolpertinger. Their representation, however, is more inspired by Japanese anime, games and pictogram culture. The whole strangely coloured mix of Japanese cuteness with German fairytales distinguished it as something very contemporary.

I was excited. It was liberating not having to do world and character concepts from scratch, but to work with the constraints that came with Bernhard’s prototype level concepts, to refine them and build new worlds with that feel and colour palette that he had introduced.

The locations the levels are taking place in are all tied to the overall topic of getting lost in the woods. The environments, even though fantastic with flying platforms and such, are rooted in a moderate climate. They are believable settings for the fiction we created around the three monsters. Besides the forest, I added different kinds of caves to the environments, since they would bring variation to the levels without breaking the overall theme of the game.

Some environment designs required night settings. We decided to have the scenery change into night time, when the Brown Monster transformed into the Antler Ancestor. We aimed for the most satisfying feedback that comes with his transformation, where he would literally step into “the Land of Fireflies”.

When the grey monster transformed, he would open a window into a dark parallel world, the “Land of the Bat”, where he could use different platforms and secret passages, which meant that some levels needed a land-of-the-bat version as well.

The three family characters Bernhard created in his IGF prototype were interesting and had a lot of personality already, but I took the liberty of changing some of them a little to make them more distinguishable from each other and more coherent with the game style at the same time.

For more information about the Artwork of Where is my Heart and other projects, feel free to visit http://gutefabrik.com/.

19 Comments
0 Author replies

Looks nice! i’ll check it out for sure this week :-)
Congratulations for the 8 bit style, i love it!

Or if you have PS+, you could be playing this game already :D
Great game, graphics and music.

I just found the controls for Rainbow-spirit a bit tricky to get used to (perform the X+shoulder at the same time). Maybe it is not meant to be easy though ;)

This game has it all :) tested.

4

again sympathies to any who Still haven’t recieved their code for payday, i would really like to know if they just never got sent, or scee claim they tried to send them to a wrong e-mail address, as if the former then it is really
(no words can say it)
on topic, i am glad that people who enjoy minis have so many to choose from, it seems like they make around three a week, or is this just me?, i have plus and used to try out some of them, i even bought 1or2 when they 1st come out, but there just not for me, allthough i have seen/played worse ps1 games off the store than some minis, so i am probably (new?) old? fashioned, ie if there is a machine/console or game that looks more believable, 3d or controls that kinda convince you that you are actually playing and controlling a ‘life like’ or at least more believable, character i just cannot find time to then go and place myself in a minis game. Or (sadly) most ps1 games, thats just my outlook on the whole mini/ps1 offerings and Not just...

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again sympathies to any who Still haven’t recieved their code for payday, i would really like to know if they just never got sent, or scee claim they tried to send them to a wrong e-mail address, as if the former then it is really
(no words can say it)
on topic, i am glad that people who enjoy minis have so many to choose from, it seems like they make around three a week, or is this just me?, i have plus and used to try out some of them, i even bought 1or2 when they 1st come out, but there just not for me, allthough i have seen/played worse ps1 games off the store than some minis, so i am probably (new?) old? fashioned, ie if there is a machine/console or game that looks more believable, 3d or controls that kinda convince you that you are actually playing and controlling a ‘life like’ or at least more believable, character i just cannot find time to then go and place myself in a minis game. Or (sadly) most ps1 games, thats just my outlook on the whole mini/ps1 offerings and Not just this title, obviously its only my opinion, and others Will differ.

Just to double check, you are contacting your local Customer Services desk on:

Portugal: 70723 2310

E-mail addresses might be useful here:

http://bit.ly/sfV2dG

On Topic now, I have had an eye on this game for a while so it’s good to see it finally get released. I’ve seen a lot of positive feedback from it :)

6

I Think they’re making it on purpose so that you can only activate it on 2 consoles instead of 5…thats the only explanation possible..?

Played the game thanks to Plus and really enjoyed it! Great work, the art design and unique panel design really make it stand out from other minis

thabks

Been playing this already thanks to PS+

The 3-character stacking idea was cool, so I had high hopes after the first couple of levels. Then it started doing that ‘fragmented screen’ thing and I lost interest completely. It’s just an irritating gimmick that adds nothing to the game.

10

This game was truly great,the levels kept getting harder and got more challenging .If I had known the game before receiving it for free I would’ve probably bought it.

One minor complaint though,is that you can’t replay a certain level if you want to,You have to replay the whole game.

Nice game and art style and free plus gift at that!

Certainly the best of the mini games I’ve seen so far,
congrats Die Gute Fabrik !

TheKillerSnowman 14 November, 2011 @ 18:37
13

haha this game are for kids 3 – 6 year olds. so i dont wanna buy this game. i´ll wait for Aliens : Colonial Marines

Hehe.. love the stacked panels and the distorted perspectives. Definitively going to pick this up.

..
Hm.. “les mer” linken om inspirasjonen for spillet virker ikke, forresten :)

15

Congratulations, I was delighted, it is original and ingenious

I’m enjoying this wonderful game since PS+ :)) & I recommend it to ones who like puzzles and logic games, because besides colorful world the game is mind-blowing :D

‘Where’s My Payday Voucher?’ is a question I’m more interested in the answer to lol

On topic: The idea of this game sounds neat, but I have a hard time gettin into the minis games, gotten loads of them for free thru PS+ but every single one I’ve tried so far have just been copy/paste clones of games I played ages ago with new graphics. Might give this one a spin tho as the cut up panels stuff is something I haven’t tried before, but doubt it will grab me for more than 1 go. My girlfriend might like it tho, she’s more into the minis than I am

Talking of minis and clones of old games…

Whereas some of the minis I tried are clones of old C64 & Atari/Amiga games, if someone made a clone of the old C64 classics Chip’s Challenge & Bombuzal I’d probably pay money to play those, even tho I still have these old dinosaurs lying around & have a go at them every other year or so, these are amongst the oldest games I still enjoy playing along with Smash TV, but that one has been cloned to death (itself being a clone but better than any of it’s predecessors in my opinion)

Nice!

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