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Hacklist: A Noir tale in a Sci-Fi/Art Deco setting [WIP]

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Hello everyone! :D

Today I wanted to share with you the VN I've been working on with some friends. After that, i wanted to share the peculiar history behind the development, as we've had many questions that can only be answered by asking you directly. It is important to us that you give us your feedback, whether you like the project or not (especially if you don't!):

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“Rejoice, brothers and sisters, for The Answer has been proclaimed. Blessed be those who know how to listen.”

                                                                                         -Nova City foundation chronicles

In a world torn apart by crisis, war and hunger, our old leaders faced a dilemma: either find an answer to the conflict or leave humanity to its imminent destruction. They chose the answer. But this answer was not found, it was built.
 

Nova City, humanity´s new hope

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Nova City is a vibrant symbol of hope and progress. It stands over the ruins of the war-torn world we left behind. Bursting with life and commerce, it seems unthinkable that the city itself is also a massive computer built to house “The Answer”: a system created to govern in the most rational and optimized way, excluding humanity from the exercise of political power. The Answer has brought prosperity to Nova City, and its citizens have lived devoid of major conflicts for over two centuries.
 

Inside an apartment of this city, you wake up to find a tarot card that someone must have slipped under your door. The message is clear: The Fortune Teller has chosen you as the next victim. Afraid to leave your apartment, you rush to your computer to make a call that will change the lives of many people (or even end them) as the delicate balance of power in the city begins to shift.

Embark on this noir tale of mystery and intrigue that will pit humanity’s reason against our own inevitable emotional nature.

 

 

Game & Features

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From the start, you have locked yourself in your apartment to hide from the serial killer called "The Fortune Teller". In such a predicament, you’ll be interacting with Nova City and its people through your computer’s screen. From your computer, you’ll be able to make calls, tap into people’s phones and gain access to confidential information. You’ll also be able to hack into security systems in order to, for example, tail someone through traffic light’s camera feeds.

During the course of the story, you’ll be able to create alliances with Nova City’s most important factions, gaining powerful friends (and enemies) in the process.

Hacklist is currently being developed for PC/Mac.

 

Features:

Emotion Compass: Allows you to see how people feel, and how their emotional state changes as you touch certain topics. This will allow you to call bluffs, understand people better, push them to act in certain ways or set the mood for intimate conversations.

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Profiler: You'll have access to police reports for everyone you speak to. The profiler updates itself as new events unfold, and will give you some insights and hints about your contact's personality, letting you know how people may react differently to the same emotions.


Hacklist also presents some new mechanics to the usual VN structure in the form of Apps you can use at any time during your experience:

Skall: A videochat app where most dialogues/scenes will happen.

Watermelon News: A social network where you'll be able to read people's posts and Nova City News.

Remote.hack: Access networks, hack into security cameras, tap phones, and get into other people's computers to reveal their darkest secrets.

 

The story behind the story...
(and how your opinion will decide the changes we'll make)

So! We're a team of 6 living and working in Caracas, Venezuela. This is a project born a couple of years ago in a itch.io game jam, back when it looked like this:

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(and yep... that's me!)

 

After the jam, the project leads wanted to continue the project. I couldn't at that time because of my job, so they formed Caustic Games to do it. That's how the second version of Hacklist was born. It was a much more polished product, and it had a new cyberpunk/vaporwave style. This version was approved on Square Enix Collective, where you can still play the demo.

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(That's Kentai on the center. They grow up so fast! *sniff*)

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(A screenshot of our pseudo-antagonist Clive Jackson. Remember the name, we'll come back to him in a bit!)

 

The campaign was successful, and we received a lot of feedback that helped us detect some flaws we had. Around this time, 2 of the main artists left the project, and the remaining artist and myself (i had just joined the team) couldn't accurately replicate the previous artist's style, so we were forced to abandon a style we liked in favor of making a new one that we could handle better.
 

Eventually, we rewrote the whole story, keeping the same characters and archetypes mostly intact. But this story was to be set in a futuristic utopia, rather than the bleak future from the previous cyberpunk setting. After some time, we decided that a futuristic Art Deco setting was perfect for the mood of future, progress and empowerment we wanted Nova City to irradiate.

...And then we hit a pretty hard roadblock: none of the characters we were designing were aesthetically cohesive with either the tone and setting, or the environment itself. So we started to make some tests on styles for the characters...

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...then we made some more...

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...and MORE...

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We finally set out to define the style and technique we would have for the in-game art, and it went down to these three versions of Clive Jackson (the guy i told you to remember from the previous version!):

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Aaaand that's where we stand now! we decided internally to go with the third option, as we felt the technique blended better with the background and the character was designed to resemble an Art Deco statue, from the volumetrization to the edgy style from illustrations of the 1920's, 30's and 40's.

The thing is, we kind of went open minded about changing the anime style to something that better reflected the world where the story is taking place, but none of us has seen more than a handful of non-anime visual novels, and have no idea if this art style is actually appealing or if it is, on the contrary, something that would disuade readers. 
 

Here's where you come into play! We need your feedback and opinion about the project, as asking you guys directly is the only possible way for us to know we're on the right track. We would love it if you took the time to watch the concepts, mockups and screens and tell us, honestly, which images do you find more appealing, and if the current state of art style is something you might want to see in a VN. Do you think non-anime style in VNs is something detrimental? or do you think it-s a welcome change of routine? Please let us know what you think!

Thank you for reading through the end! Anything you can comment on the project is a HUGE help for us! :) 


-Jorge Veloso AKA "Vel", Artist at Caustic Games

Our Team     Hacklist on Facebook    VNDB entry still in progress...

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Wou, está muy bueno... Estéticamente lo veo muy bien, me gusta que esté en un estilo no/anime valga todos lo alagos al anime. 

Ahora me intriga algunas cosas de los sistemas de interacción, como se hackea? tienes stats? subes de nivel o puedes desarrollar las habilidades de tu personaje? como subes de nivel?

Si se tienen en cuenta estos elementos, veo que el juego pueda parece más a un RPG tipo The Witcher, Mass Effect... Por ahora veo que a parte mas desarrolalda y donde se está haciendo enfoque es por el sistema de emociones. Podría ser mas complejo? por ejemplo marcar en la "coordenadas emocionales" cosas como pistas que indiquen intereses ocultos de con quienes interactuas, y que fueses sensibles de verlos dependiendo de tu habilidades y conocimiento del caso. Otra, quizás existan personajes que no muestren emociones, serán robots? habrá que hackearlos? Hay un juego muy bonito que trata estos temas es un click&point: Techobabylon. Este juego tiene un puzzle interesante donde tienes que "roomear" varias IA en un mismo cerebro para investigar un caso. Otra, quizas algun personaje esta dominado a distancia por un aparato. Creo que con cosas así se podría dar juego a algo menos clásico de solo desbloquear imágenes, expandir mas las exploración y quizas valerse de un sistema de atributos y habilidades (no creo que le haga tanta falta).

Saludos, 

 

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