Picture this: You're running through a maze, unsure of where the exit is. There's a madman with a machete chasing you. Your heart starts racing... and the more you freak, the more the rooms around you seem to twist and turn.
This is the sort of terrifying experience Hyde hopes to create. Hyde is an upcoming real-world maze that players will have to navigate physically. The premise is you're undergoing an experimental trial of a new drug, which is supposed to let you control your environment via your body. The trial goes wrong, of course, and players will have to fight back against a testing ground that is self-aware. The maze knows where you are, it knows how scared you are — players will wear a small sensor that can track things like your heart rate, your breathing, your posture. The puzzles will change accordingly: it's possible, for example, that a door will not unlock until you physically calm yourself. And as you make your way forward, the maze itself will get more difficult — all while someone is chasing you around, trying to 'kill' you.
It's all done via something called 'Bio-Sensors':
These connect via Bluetooth to a mobile telephone. The phone runs our app that sends individual player data to the Hyde server. The server processes this information, then activates actuators (locks, lights, motors) in the maze. Hyde tracks players, individually and in groups, so will make challenges harder or easier, depending where players have been and how well they are doing.
Right now, Hyde is trying to raise $US78,047 on Kickstarter to make this vision a reality in London (and possibly New York, if stretch goals are met). Which — sure, is probably enough to raise eyebrows, considering just how unbelievable and high concept this sounds. Luckily, the creators, a company called Slingshot, do have a proven record making games of this nature. Earlier this year, for example, we covered Slingshot's renowned live action zombie chase game, where players are are put in a real-life version of DayZ. The game closes down entire sections of an actual city for effect, and it's already been enjoyed by over 50,000 people.
The developers are being pretty honest about the challenges that come with building something this new and ambitious too:
In Hyde we are connecting people's bodies to the world around them in a highly novel way. We've played with this ourselves, and it's awesome, but only with a handful of linked challenges within a single room. We have not constructed a continuous sequence out of a number of rooms. How this will work and how it will form a satisfying game experience is something we can only answer by building a full scale prototype and testing it with lots of players. This is where the Kickstarter community can really help out. Our Lab Rat perk gives you the opportunity to come down and test the work in progress, both in Cardiff and/or London, and to play and feedback the finished maze in London.
This is a Jekyll and Hyde game. It's a classic story that was a controversial bestseller in its day. How can we represent some of the ideas and themes of the story in the game? How can we honour its transgressive power? Working with our academic partner Anthony Mandal, world expert on Jekyll and Hyde, we'll be leading a discussion with our backers on how the story could be rendered in a game environment. This is more than props and bits of exposition - this isn't a period piece and it's certainly not steampunk - but the challenge of rendering a linear sequence of plot reveals into a game where players could experience the action of the story as events that happen to them as participants.