- "Not all of us want to see this world for what it really is."
Hacker is a mobile AR Mafia/Assassin type game played across a college campus. It is currently in development by student team Hackerbird at the USC School of Cinematic Arts as one of the 2018 Advanced Game Projects.
Set in a digital world overlaying near-future Los Angeles, players start out as either an Agent or an undercover Hacker. Every match they can interact with augmented reality elements at specific GPS coordinates, communicate with other players in real time, purchase utilities and power-ups, and decipher various clues to help them kick the opposing party out of the game world.
Story Overview Edit
The year is 2119.
The world has become a ravaged Wilderness.
In Los Angeles, most citizens now work and live in the AERIE, a digital VR world mapped on top of the city's ruins. Owned by AER Corporation, this so-called paradise is managed by AER Agents tasked with keeping order and peace.
Their greatest challenge? PHANTOM, a renegade organization who have not yet given up on restoring the real world. Their tech-savvy Hackers have infiltrated the Agent ranks, using their skills to hack Agents and other citizens out of the AERIE world. (Once in the Wilderness, hacked Agents must choose to live the rest of their lives in the real world (i.e. leave game), or go to work supply-gathering to regain entrance to AERIE.)
Are you here to help keep a digitized peace? Or restore the way things were?
Players take on the role of Agents, AER employees tasked with maintaining the digital world of AERIE. Their activities can involve finding and patching bugs for various rewards, purchasing items, interacting with NPCs, and communicating with other players.
Disguised among the Agents' ranks are Hackers, operatives of the organization PHANTOM. A Hacker must keep their identity a secret as they attempt to hack other Agents out of the AERIE mainframe. They can do all regular Agent tasks for rewards and items, with an added ability to code viruses into bugs to drain Agent ion power.
If all Hackers are voted out of the game, the AER Corporation wins.
If all but one Agent are hacked out of the game, PHANTOM wins.
A typical game involves the following mechanics:
Player Avatars & InterfaceEdit
- Players can choose their chat icons and customize their avatars within AERIE right off the bat, and can unlock more aesthetic options as the game progresses.
- All in-game characters are automatically equipped with a HoloDev, a portable, holographic device used for communication and interfacing with the AERIE. The Hacker game app represents a HoloDev's interface, and physically traveling to locations around campus will correspond with generated AR elements in the game world.
- When in the AERIE, players can see the digital world's visuals both in augmented reality and on the in-app map. When a player gets hacked, they lose their AERIE avatar and return to their natural selves (a randomized character) in the Wilderness, and both sets of visuals change accordingly.
- All players are anchored by the level of ion power in their HoloDevs. If this power level gets to zero, citizens break connection with the AERIE and return to the Wilderness.
- When low on ion power, players have to travel within range of a charging station to replenish it.
- To hack another player, the hacker must be within range of them and cue the hacking sequence on their HoloDev. This will begin a minigame that will drain the victim's ion power if they do not respond in time or perform the minigame well enough to fend the hacker off.
- Bugs can be found in the AERIE world and appear on the map to all players. All Agents, including disguised Hackers, can travel to to these locations and get rewards for patching them via their HoloDev. Some of the rewards include:
- Credits, the AERIE currency.
- Data leaks, which could provide various clues such as:
- Player locations at various times (with chance of being timestamped + chance of naming specific player)
- Items purchased from vendors (with chance of being timestamped + chance of naming purchaser)
- Someone's current ion power level (with chance of naming specific player)
- Location of active deployables (with chance of naming deployer)
- Players might also overhear random gossip from passerby as they patch a bug, which can be surprisingly useful, and can give similar info to the above clues. It can also be utterly useless.
NPCS and VendorsEdit
- Aomi is a bubbly AERIE NPC and AER employee who welcomes new Agents. Aside from her tutorial-esque role, Aomi loves to indulge in gossip - some of which could be to a player's benefit.
- Trendy, friendly, and somewhat naive, Aomi marks a quintessential AERIE citizen.
- Yeoc is a Black Market NPC and vendor who sells Lil'Bots, deployables that undermine AERIE security programming and can reveal various information about other players around the map. Her trade is technically illegal, but Agents tend to turn a blind eye if it means helping them root out PHANTOM.
- Yeoc is indifferent towards her customer's motives, but she's as sharp as she is cautious. She seems to know immediately whether or not a player is a real Agent, and it takes a while to gain her trust.
The Phantom Trader Edit
- The Trader is a mysterious Wilderness NPC Agents meet upon being hacked out of AERIE. After sharing a bit about PHANTOM's goals, he will tell the Agent to make a choice - to contribute to the old world's Rebuilding, or be stuck in the Wilderness forever. If they choose to help, he will put them to work gathering parts to barter their way back to AERIE.
- As these fallen Agents quickly get to know, there's a good heart beneath that intimidating exterior, as well as a bit of a dad-like jokester; the Trader has a tendency to beleaguer his newfound 'employees.'
AER Machines Edit
- AER-sponsored vending machines sell a variety of power-ups
White ravens can be spotted on occasion, oddly, in both the AERIE and the real world. These genetically modified birds must have escaped some research facility at some point - nobody really knows. They're the only known organic creature with the ability to travel between both.
Inspired by the birds' ability to undermine the AERIE mainframe, PHANTOM has adopted them as their sigil.
The Phantom Trader found in the Wilderness keeps a trained one.
Art & DesignEdit