When rhythm and story collide: The story of Lost in Harmony
Hello my name is Yoan and I’m the Creative Director behind Lost in Harmony and the studio called Digixart. We are new in the indie sphere and we want to bring a mix of seniority and very fresh and young wind into mobile gaming.
I've been working at Ubisoft for about 15 years. I started working on Beyond Good & Evil and many other great titles between Montpellier and Singapore. My latest game was Valiant Hearts. It was a giant success and we received many awards. So to continue making games in that spirit, with a meaningful layer, I decided to found my own studio called Digixart to work on Lost in Harmony.
Lost in Harmony is a very unique concept and is probably the first rhythm-based narrative game. Apple described it as “Unique and beautiful, Lost in Harmony is a hypnotizing experience,”.
MWU: Can you tell us about the origins of the game? Did you have any specific sources of inspiration?
I started working on Lost in Harmony after Valiant Hearts. As a gamer and musician I like to play rhythm games. Titles like Elite Beat Legends, Cytus, or Deemo from Rayark are some of my favorites. One of my goals was to mix those kinds of gameplay with story telling. I wanted players to have strong feelings about characters, be able to discover a story, and still have this rhythmic and choreographic experience.
Touch devices can bring a lot of possibilities in term of gestures. I wanted to try something different from the “one tap” gameplay that is consuming the mobile world nowadays. This is how Lost in Harmony was born. A simple idea.
MWU: Can you explain the core gameplay mechanics for the game? Did the gameplay evolve over time or did it primarily stay the same from the beginning? If it changed, can you tell us a bit about that and what led to those decisions?
There are 3 main mechanics to the game. They are fairly simple but combinable:
Stars to tap in the sky, there are different types depending on the way you have to tap or hold them.
Back obstacles, you have to move laterally, like if you were playing violin to avoid them.
Front obstacles, you can either avoid them laterally or jump over by swiping or pressing hard with the awesome 3D Touch feature from Apple.
At first the prototype we tested in France and China was only front obstacles and stars. It felt too frustrating in terms of a lack of anticipation so we added the jump and back obstacles after that prototype. We always kept the runner facing view because I wanted to create maximum empathy with characters. Looking at their back would not have been very helpful. And also the gameplay is entirely based on music; everything that happens is triggered by music. Ultimately I wanted to create an experience that is similar to the movie Fantasia.
MWU: What role does the relationship between Kaito and Aya play in the game? How has it influenced gameplay mechanics and the experience of playing the game?
Our first intention was to tell the story only through music. Then we discovered that the storyline was not completely understandable, it was too fuzzy. So we imagined the SMS conversations between the musical levels, with ellipses of time to show more clearly that time passes and that Aya’s disease is evolving. The work on the soundtrack and the landscapes were the most important aspects of the game. We spent a lot of time tweaking and retweaking both music and graphics to try to evoke very emotional experiences for players. These are the kind of moments I’m seeking when developing a game, when suddenly all those tiny things come together to create a wave of emotion. Once that happens you know you have something interesting you can share to the audience.
Make sure to check out Lost in Harmony's Made With Unity Profile. Lost in Harmony is currently available on Android and iOS.