Hidden Folks is an interactive wimmelbilderbuch video game in which players are tasked with locating hidden characters, objects, and animals in a series of environments. Everything in Hidden Folks is draw by hand, scanned in, placed, layered manually, animated, and scripted. All sounds in the game are mouth-made sounds, made (or rather ‘yelled out’) by the developers. There are no time limits, no points, just miniature areas with a bunch of folks and objects to be found.

A prototype of the game was created by Adriaan de Jongh after he saw detailed illustrations at Sylvain Tegroeg’s graduate art show, and the two began collaborating in 2014 after Adriaan showed Sylvain the prototype using the illustrations from Sylvain’s website. The idea of creating a hidden object game came naturally from Sylvain’s detailed art. The game was built using the Unity game engine, but Adriaan also built custom tools to specifically handle the process of digitising the hand-drawn art and the amount of illustrations and objects in the game.
After completely new versions of the game for GDC, PAX East, and Gamescom in 2016, they went into full production to make Hidden Folks v1.0, which was released in February 2017. The game initially featured around 15 areas, Adriaan and Sylvain added new themed areas to the game in 2017 and 2018.

This timeline is an oversimplification of the development process of Hidden Folks at most. Please also read the DevLog from Adriaan on Steam for much more precise information.


Adriaans Prototype

  • illustrations “stolen” from Sylvain’s website
    • no animations, no sounds
  • main gameplay loop
    • screen one: folks-to-find
    • screen two: find the folks
    • found folks are greyed out
  • randomly generated worlds
    • worlds draggable & zoomable


Sprite Test #55

  • four test worlds
    • sprite animations
    • street scene
    • factory scene with moving objects
    • empty
  • diegetic navigation
    • in-game objects to change worlds
    • go back by clicking oval billboards
    • random arrangement by clicking on bush
  • folk to find is shown as overlay


Megabooth #203

  • message to Megabooth judges
  • magnifying glass for screen, that shows folks to find
    • storytelling context as tip for each character
    • check for already found characters
  • different interactions
    • click / push buttons / objects
    • move
    • push
  • different world goals
    • find folks
    • compose the world “Miniature”
  • almost a vertical slice (?)


Hints Experiment #285

  • sounds!
    • for (almost) every interaction
  • folks-to-find menu on the left side
    • game can be reseted
    • levels can be skipped
    • bonus folks-to-find
  • some folks activating new folks-to-find per speech bubble


Gamescom #523

  • customized for Gamescom
    • story has Gamescom related elements
  • in-game menu
    • folks-to-find below the screen
    • story-context for each folk as tip
    • bonus objects
    • sign-post for next world
  • world selection menu
    • drag & drop
  • distinct storyworlds
    • camping
    • lab
    • warehouse
    • desert
  • new interactions
    • push several times to activate
  • speech bubble changed into
    • story related dialogue
    • helping with bonus objects


Release #1449

  • levels organized into worlds
    • each world with several levels
  • new and finished worlds
    • forest
    • dry lands
    • city
  • improvements
    • amount of objects that has to be found (instead of bonus)
    • adjusted menu graphics


Behind the Game

A conversation with Adriaan de Jongh about his latest game Hidden Folks, how it’s different from hidden object games, the art and science of hiding things, and why the game is not free to play.
(By Stefan Lesser)




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