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Cosmic Top Secret, released this week, is one of the most interesting and unusual titles we’ve come across on the App Store. It’s a true story about a Danish girl who found out her parents were Cold War spies, told through a charming mix of audio and video recordings and old documents. It’s a game; it’s an app; it’s a documentary. Talk about mixed media!
The game is a unique composition that defies the usual genres and can be quite difficult to explain – so instead, we asked creator Trine (a.k.a. “T”) to describe the game in just ten words, and she did us proud: “Uncover T’s lovable parents’ secret life as Cold War warriors.”
T was gracious enough to answer a few more questions about Cosmic Top Secret. Read on if you’re curious for more background on the world’s first “docu-game.”
When did you first learn about your parents’ involvement in the Cold War?
I discovered it in small steps from childhood to adulthood. I don’t recall my exact age but it was some years before the fall of the Berlin wall. My dad told me he had to go for work far away at this secret fortress deep underground and I thought that was extremely exciting!
I later realized it was by the coast in the southeastern part of Denmark, quite close to Eastern Europe and a good spot for keeping an eye on Soviet vessels passing by. Later, as a teenager, he accidentally told me he worked on DASK, the first computer build in Denmark, but he refused to say any more about it – it was for the Danish Intelligence and he had given his lifetime pledge not to talk about it.
In the following years, when I tried to convince him to tell me about it, I discovered that my Mom also had worked for the Intelligence – in an even more secret division. My parents actually knew each other from that time, under circumstances that I also knew almost nothing about.
What can you accomplish with an app that you couldn’t with traditional storytelling?
We can add this extra dimension of “play” – both in the sense of playing physically and interactively, with a dynamic world populated by responsive characters. It all adds to the experience beyond a purely “told” story. This lets you play with these story elements and the core feelings – which manifest themselves as gameplay mechanics – which is why Cosmic Top Secret works so perfectly as an app.
Do you think Cosmic Top Secret will appeal to non-gamers?
We know it does, since quite a few non-gamers have played it already and enjoyed it! I think it’s’ more about what kind of person you are, rather than if you’re a gamer or not.
Most people probably like to play games, but for various reasons, they may have stopped – a bit like how most people drew at a young age but may have stopped as they grew older. But if the content – the storytelling – appeals to gamers as well as non-gamers, they should (and could) enjoy games just as they would any other form of entertainment.
It’s up to us game designers to broaden the user experience and facilitate a design that caters for a more versatile audience, which takes a lot of time. It’s all about user-testing and trying to break down conventions regarding what a game is, what a film is, what the definition of a “gamer” is (or is not) and so on and so forth.
What are your favorite apps or games for iPhone and iPad?
My first really enjoyable experience was Sword & Sworcery. I just loved the tone and atmosphere of that and how it played around with the interface in new ways.
If you’re sold on diving into the world of Cosmic Top Secret, the app is available now on the App Store for $6/£6.