Mind Diver is an intriguing detective game where you travel in time to fix broken memories from a relationship, investigate the events of one fateful night and unravel the case of a lost loved one. It’s the brainchild of six developers from Copenhagen, operating under the name of Indoor Sunglasses. The game is still in early development, but Co-founder and Creative Director Victor Breum firmly believes in the concept: “It’s a delicious detective loop!”
“We are six people from six different educational backgrounds who founded Indoor Sunglasses in 2022 after graduating”, Breum explains. “Mind Diver was a graduation project that we all collaborated on and found a shared love for games that both entertain, stand out, and leave you feeling enriched. And also, of course, a shared love of mysteries. Mind Diver is our first commercial game together, but we have worked on everything from tiny experimental solo games to The Division 2.”
Mind Diver began as a deeply personal experience for Breum. He reflected on past broken relationships and the inherent difficulty in understanding what went wrong in each one. “I thought that trying to piece together what happened in the past felt like a puzzle – a puzzle you could turn into a super emotionally powerful video game”, he says. His inspiration drew from games like Outer Wilds and Return of the Obra Dinn, where storytelling and gameplay intertwine seamlessly. “I fell in love with the idea of a detective game where you fix broken memories from a relationship. There are shockingly few games about love, actually, and I think that’s a shame!”
One of the aspects Breum is most proud of in Mind Diver is how well the puzzles and the story complement each other. “When we test the game, we get a lot of praise for the voice acting and the writing. And don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of both of those as well. But I think people don’t notice the reason why they enjoy the voices and story so much in Mind Diver. I think the real reason is that the puzzles require that you pay close attention to the voice acting and the story.”
The visual style of Mind Diver is an integral part of its unique experience. Indoor Sunglasses experimented with various approaches to depict memories frozen in time, including unconventional inspirations like carvings in frozen meat. However, they ultimately found their muse in imperfect photogrammetry scans. “Something about how the 3D scans obscure details and fall apart at the edges totally recreates the experience of trying to remember,” Breum explains. This visual style adds a layer of emotional depth to the game, making players feel the struggle of recalling past moments.
Embracing the artifacts
Intriguingly, the team’s approach to creating assets for the game was unconventional yet effective. “We tried out many different pipelines for the assets, including expensive, complicated ones, but settled on simply using a phone app,” Breum reveals. By embracing the artifacts created by the phone app, they achieved the desired imperfections. Later refining them in Houdini and adding various details and shading tricks to make them suitable for the game.
When it comes to their creative process, Indoor Sunglasses operates with a collaborative and open-minded ethos. Breum: “We have different roles on the team but I think you make better things if anyone can challenge anything.” He believes in fostering a culture where creative discussions and ownership are encouraged, citing books like Radical Candor and Creativity Inc. as sources of inspiration. “It takes a lot of work, intentionality, and reflection to avoid all the pitfalls. But when we are in meetings where someone pitches an idea, and other people intelligently challenge it, and make the idea better, and the person who pitched just feels grateful, all the work is worth it. It benefits all of us and people are just happier. And happy people make good stuff.”
The team at Indoor Sunglasses also discovered the value of doing research. “Again and again, whenever we have done deep dive research on a certain subject for the story, or when we have done deep research on certain design principles or processes, it always pays off immensely”, says Breum. “Research can be hard to carve out time for, as it doesn’t produce right that instant, but it invariably leads to the things we make becoming richer and the way we make them becoming better.”
As for the future, Indoor Sunglasses has ambitious plans. They’ve developed a vertical slice of Mind Diver containing the core mechanics and two areas, offering around 1.5-2 hours of engaging puzzles and story. Currently, they are in search of a publisher or investor to help elevate the game to its full potential.