The world of Hyper Scape exists far beyond the battle-filled streets and rooftops of Neo Arcadia. In the year 2054, more than 10 billion people suffocate in massive cities across the globe, leading megacorporation Prisma Dimensions to create the virtual world known as the Hyper Scape. The creation of, issues with, and cover-ups behind this world are explored in the new “Hyper Scape” series by Dark Horse Comics. The first issue, “Hyper Scape #1 The First Principle Part 1,” tells the story of two Prisma Dimensions scientists who make a shocking discovery.
Starting today, you can pick up the first issue of the free digital comic series, developed by Ubisoft and Dark Horse Comics. The series will be made up of 12 10-page comics released monthly, and is available on the Hyper Scape website, Dark Horse Digital, Comixology, and other digital comics sites. To learn more about the comic, we spoke with Transmedia Content Director Marielle Quesney and Lead Writer Jesse Scoble, who are part of Hyper Scape’s narrative team at Ubisoft; as well as Dark Horse Comics writer Christofer Emgård (Mirror’s Edge: Exordium, The Whispering Dark) and illustrator Gabriel Guzman (StarCraft: Survivors, Predators).
Tell us a bit about the set up for Hyper Scape #1 The First Principle Part 1.
Marielle Quesney: Hyper Scape #1 The First Principle Part 1 sets up Mathieu Eiffel's work, the conflict between him and Doctor Tan, and the ensuing mystery that drives our story.
Jesse Scoble: We wanted to set up the world of 2054 in broad strokes, but also really dive into Prisma Dimensions - the company whose pioneering work creates our hyperconnected, 3D, virtual world - and get to know some of the faces behind the company, as it were.
Who are Ivy Tan and Mathieu Eiffel? What is their relationship?
MQ: They are colleagues. Mathieu Eiffel is a genius inventor, and Dr. Ivy Tan is a ruthless businesswoman who saw opportunity in the technology that Eiffel was working on. Together they build the Hyper Scape and the B-Link, a device that allows full body immersion into the Hyper Scape for the first time ever.
What exactly is The First Principle? What does it reference?
MQ: It refers to Eiffel's work and is a vague reference to Einstein's first principle: the principle of relativity.
JS: The First Principle comes from a quote from Gustave Eiffel: “The first principle of architectural beauty is that the essential lines of a construction be determined by a perfect appropriateness to its use.”
I wanted to find a quote that could be traced to our Mathieu Eiffel's ancestor. And it's a reference that can be seen as establishing the rules and groundwork for the game of Crown Rush and story that we are telling. It also harkens to a game-design quote that a friend taught me, that "form follows function." In other words, the core of the design - whether for a game or story - must be built primarily so that it fulfills its purpose. Beyond that, one can add richness and detail.
As writers of the story, what was the process of working with Dark Horse to translate it into a comic like?
MQ: Jesse and I, and sometimes others from the narrative team, start creating the story. I then write a detailed treatment. Once the treatment is validated, we then work closely with Dark Horse on the script adaptation with several iterations of the script. It is a long process, and the talented team at Dark Horse has been wonderful through all the steps, at adapting our story into a comic!
JS: We've had a fantastic narrative team on this project, and everyone has contributed amazingly to help give the world and characters a real richness. Seeing Dark Horse take those ideas and turn them into fully realized comic panels has been a treat.
How will this story affect the experience of players in the game?
MQ: The comic is a great tool for us to give more context into our characters' backstories, and why and what they fight for in the Hyper Scape. We have a very rich and diverse cast of Heroes, each with their own unique set of challenges that they must overcome in this near-future world. Sometimes these challenges are mirrored in the game experience and sometimes not. Ultimately, we aim to tell an engaging mystery that unfolds over time, and keeps our readers coming back for more.
What sort of players will be interested in the comic?
MQ: Anyone interested in a good action-adventure-sci-fi-mystery!
Where does the comic’s story take place in relation to the game itself? Is this story only available in the comic?
MQ: As the Hyper Scape is a virtual world, the comic follows our characters in and out of Neo Arcadia into the real world of 2054, so yes, this story is only available in the comic. The comic is currently our main storytelling platform, along with the weekly in-game Memory Shards and some yet-to-be-announced narrative-driven content in the pipeline!
How does the comic relate to the in-game Memories that players can find in the world?
MQ: The comic has more of a yearlong story arc, whereas the in-game Memories zero in on a character and their season arc. Sometimes the in-game Memories will set something up story- or character-wise that the comic will then pick up on and elaborate, or vice versa. They complement each other, but are both standalone assets that can be read and viewed independently of each other.
Was there any collaboration, creatively, between the two teams?
MQ: If you are referring to the team that created the comic story and the team that created the in-game Memories, we are on the same team: Narrative. There absolutely needs to be collaboration so we don't overlap, and we know what story is being told where. We have lengthy brainstorm sessions where we discuss the comic and in-game Memories story arcs, deciding which stories get told where and when. Not gonna lie, it's a challenge, but so far we are making it work!
Christofer, what was the experience of working with Ubisoft and telling their story like?
Christofer Emgård: I’ve had a lot of fun translating the storylines I’ve been given into the comics format, trying to find the most engaging way to render the scenes into panels and pages. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Hyper Scape cast of characters, and working with Marielle and Jesse in finding their voice and how they would express themselves in a manner that is consistent with what players will experience in the game.
Since I also work as a videogame writer, I have a lot of respect for that process, coupled with a full understanding of how tricky it can be to make it all match and fit. And as a player, I always enjoy seeing a world I find interesting expanded into other media, so it’s great to be part of that process.
Gabriel, as the penciller and inker, what sort of images and references were you shown for the game? How did you make those your own?
Gabriel Guzman: At the beginning of the project, I received work references. In addition to an extensive and excellent dossier on the game's universe, history, and a very detailed description of the characters, I received pre-production images and videos of the game, along with tentative character designs from the art department of Ubisoft.
I have greatly appreciated the very careful way in which the description and development of the story dossier and the scripts were carried out.