The story begins in April of 2019 and it begins with… a tweet. That’s right. We got in touch with @Doyensec through Twitter.
Back in April I got inspired to open ourselves up to the idea of working with an external partner. Luca, who was following me for several months on Twitter, sent me a Direct Message saying that he was based in Warsaw and that he was interested in meeting me to investigate potential avenues of cooperation.
This was surprising, but I immediately agreed. After a nice lunch, we both felt a great connection. Our businesses were totally different but we shared common experiences in building our companies from the ground up.
After several more emails and tweets we decided to do something together. We wanted to create something that both companies could benefit from.
Cobble Games wanted to deliver a fun game which wouldn’t just be another generic title and would allow us to showcase the skills of our small team. We decided to make a game featuring Doyensec and their “adventures” in the cybersecurity world.
Hacking idle battler?!
We came up with the concept of making a hacking game with casual gameplay mechanics. The premise may sound outrageous – making a game about hackers with perhaps the dumbest mobile game mechanic there is – the idle battler.
Let us tell you why we made that decision.
After both parties made up their minds on making something together, we spent almost one month brainstorming, pitching, and testing various ideas and mechanics.
We initially set the boundaries. We decided to have a fixed budget. Not too big, not too small. Just enough of a game to fit within approximately 6 months of full development.
Then, we had to pick our target audience and the platform. We decided to publish the game on Apple iOS first and then later on other platforms.
We initially wanted to make a puzzle game as we thought that hacking was mainly deep problem solving, out of the box thinking, and persistence.
Our first take was to make a game based on logical gateways which you can find on electronic boards.
However, Doyensec’s clients are from a diverse set of industries and backgrounds and not everyone may appreciate a technical puzzle game. Moreover, John and Luca both had different gaming backgrounds. John could fit into the role of a hardcore PC gamer and his first priority was to make the game fun to play but Luca is more of a casual gamer spending about 10 minutes in each gaming session and wanted the game to meet the marketing targets of the company. Satisfying both gaming habits and targets felt like quite the challenge. From our side we also didn’t want to create a run of the mill adware game where the game itself would not be as important as the marketing aspect.
We had to find a balance and a compromise.
We pitched several ideas one by one. Out of many:
- Shoot’em up where we clear an infected system while flying through it as a spaceship
- Hacker tower defense where we protect our system from external intrusions
- Hacker Card game similar to HearthStone
- Escape room
- Puzzle game called microhex
There were a lot of different ideas on a table. However at some point we had to make up our mind. We settled for a game consisting of two modules:
A tamagotchi-like hideout meta gameplay and an idle battler core gameplay. To better represent the world around Doyensec, we decided to include a non invasive product placement from our sponsor. For instance, some of the non-player characters are clearly inspired by Doyensec founders.
Adding to that we decided to implement a non invasive educational level where all the skill names and some of the game events are based on real life names and encounters. For instance, you could decide to attend a popular security conference or take part in a virtual Capture-The-Flag event. This is a nice way to introduce a casual gamer into the mysterious world of hackers. We hope that those nice little references to real world things will be appealing to the players.
In the next posts we plan to tell you a little bit more about the H1Jack story and our inspiration behind it. We will cover stories from the hacking culture, and also provide more insights in how we are developing the game.
Author: Krzysztof Orzedowski, Cobble Games