Vanishing Act, the latest installment in the Detective Kate franchise, explores a new side of Kate Gray unseen in previous games. What people are a part of Kate’s personal life? Has she always been this clever? In the interview below, the designers behind the game discuss its creative process.
What has your journey through the gaming industry looked like?
Andrew and Robin, how has it been working on your first game at Haiku?
Andrew: Wonderful! Everyone on the Haiku team has been very welcoming and has helped support our vision for Vanishing Act. It’s been an honor to work on the latest Kate Gray story, and I hope our players will enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed working on it!
Robin: The newest part to me is working tightly with a team. Most of the gaming teams I’ve worked on met sporadically, and our responsibilities were pretty separate. Here, I was co-designing chapters side-by-side with teammates, which has been quite enriching! Often, we’d start a meeting with an idea of where the story would go, only for the narrative to transform as our ideas collided. While I’ve worked on dozens of projects, this whole experience has made the creative process seem new again. It was an honor working with such exceptional designers!
And Chris, how has it been overseeing a team at Haiku?
Challenging! Game design has been my main focus for the last few years, so I've definitely had to flex a different part of my brain while overseeing Andrew and Robin in a more manager-focused role. I do enjoy the added challenge, and they've been great! I feel like I still have a lot to improve upon, but that's sort of reinvigorated my spirit a little bit. I always think it's good to step out of your comfort zone. It helps you grow. And growth is where the good stuff is!
What was your favorite part to work on in Vanishing Act?
Chris: I think the final chapter was both my favorite part and the hardest part to work on. It presented a lot of design challenges because of the location. We struggled for a while to make all of the rooms fit together. It required all three of us (Andrew, Robin, and I) to work closely. When we got all of the pieces to fit and played the chapter, there was a big, satisfying sigh of relief that we finally got it working. We all learned a lot, for sure! Big props to our developers, too.
Andrew: I really enjoyed weaving the story into the gameplay. In Vanishing Act, we worked hard to develop puzzles and scenarios that are not only fun to engage with on their own, but also tell the player a bit more about Kate and her world. I hope that these puzzles will help players get immersed in the story.
Robin: Definitely Chapters Three and Four. Not to spoil anything, but we dove into part of Kate’s past in ways the series hasn’t done before. There was a tricky puzzle at the end of each chapter, and both came together so well because of our developers. We couldn’t have done it without them! Shout out to Henryk Kaufman and Karol Sobański. The settings themselves were also so inspiring and felt different from the first part of the game. Imaginaires (our art team for this game) absolutely nailed the environments and character expressions.
What are you most excited for players to experience in this game?
Chris: I think longtime Kate Gray fans are going to love some of the big reveals surrounding Kate's personal life. This game might be the first time we take a deep dive into Kate's past.
Another thing longtime players will immediately notice is the new celebration animation when solving a puzzle or completing a chapter. We've also got some new UI elements in the AEM library launching at the same time, along with our new VIP Content bundle that includes a pretty hefty bonus chapter. It's been a very busy year for everyone at Haiku, and I can't wait until people get to see all of the other titles we're currently working on.
Andrew: I can’t wait for our players to experience the story! Kate Gray is a fascinating character, but the details of her life outside of her detective work have been shockingly sparse up until this point. With Vanishing Act, we really wanted to explore Kate more as a character by delving deep into her past. I’m excited for our players to learn more about Kate and how she became the detective we know today.
Robin: As my teammates have mentioned, we’re all excited for the players to experience Kate’s past and learn more about her backstory. I’m also thrilled to say that Kate’s relationship with Murphy will progress, and in ways I don’t think the players will expect. For those who aren’t as concerned about the story, there are so many new puzzles and unique environments. There’s a lot to love about this game!
Vanishing Act is available for everyone on December 20, 2023. If you’d like to play now, you can purchase the VIP Bundle. With it comes early access, an exclusive bonus Young Detective Kate chapter, 30 stars, and enough keys to unlock the game in its entirety!