My first moments in Heart were weird. Photo Willy wonka‘s factory: a floor-to-ceiling patchwork chaos of different products, exquisitely entangled and crammed into one room. To see him ? Swap the chocolate for games, and you’ve got Heart. In the central hub, there are all kinds of worlds, game modes, and settings built around you. Oh, and there’s the house of Deadmau5 – but we’ll get to that.
The premise of Heart is that players have all the tools they need to create their own content. Whether with GMod-style mini-games, full-fledged titles or whole worlds built just to explore, the overall goal of Heart is to help tear down the walls that keep the average person from making high quality games.
I am joined by HeartThe co-founders of, Jordan Maynard and FrÃ©dÃ©ric Descamps, who boldly explain wanting to force “a change in the way video games are made, much like Youtube – and now TikTok – have changed the way videos are created” .
The idea that anybody can create a game that struck a chord with people around the world. From seasoned game developers in their 60s to fresh college students, Heart attracted a lot of people who want to take a chance on creating their own masterpiece.
You see, I’m here to see one of his virtual concerts, but obviously it’s not the usual handshake between brands. Maynard tells me that Joel ‘Deadmau5’ Zimmerman actually approached him on Discord to see if they could get something done.
“Deadmau5 has had this idea for over a year, and I don’t know if you know it, but it’s actually an Unreal [Engine] developer. “
Although Deadmau5 discussed his long-standing wish to make a game for fans, Maynard said that “the place he was always stuck was multiplayer – that’s a whole thing, and to do that in Unreal is really tough. “.
“He messaged me on Discord – I thought it was just some random dude, what are the chances that it was Deadmau5?” But it’s Joel, and we started talking. We worked very closely together on Discord, sharing screens, building stuff together, brainstorming ideas – it was really fun.
The result? A concert by Deadmau5 and his own “permanent residence” at Heart, called Oberhasli.
As someone who has only heard a few songs from Deadmau5 by the way, I was excited to see what the gig would be like for someone who is more interested in the gaming side of things. Once the concert started, however, it was evident that the two were deeply connected.
The concert opens with a magnificent light show – a fairly standard pillar of the last year of virtual concerts, but stunning nonetheless. From a graphical point of view, the ebb and flow of rainbow color is a reminder that behind user-generated content, it’s still a AAA game.
After about a minute of mesmerizing lights, the ground falls beneath me and I dive into a Mario-esque Chain Chomp from Deadmau5’s iconic mouse mask. From there it only gets weirder, springing from a wintry wonderland, doomsday wasteland, an underwater tunnel and finally a factory / industrial club, with a Deadmau5 mecha that hovers over the spectators. At this point, pistons send people flying, the Mau5-Gundam shoots eye beams above the stage, and conveyor belts gently escort inattentive players toward searing lasers.
Like I said, it’s not just a formal handshake between the brands. Every second of the experience – which lasted around ten minutes in total – is unique to Deadmau5. Each song rhythm is accompanied by a strange or compulsive visual (it’s usually both).
When I ask how much Deadmau5 was involved in producing the event, the co-founders explain that “we worked very closely with Joel himself, every other day he would come by and give us directions.”
The more interactive side of the gig was something Descamps and Maynard both wanted keenly. Watching other games go into virtual gigs, they wanted something that had a little more to do.
âA lot of them don’t have a shelf life. They’re pre-produced, pre-rendered, it’s kind of like watching a video – some of them are cool, but that’s it, right? There is no shelf life, before or after.
âPassively watching a concert in a game and not interacting with it is a bit lame. The whole point of video games is to be interactive.
They point out that even though this concert was created by fans of Deadmau5, the point of Heart is that everyone can access these tools and make their own creations. They saw coding lessons in Russian, making machinima movies and of course one of Deadmau5’s music videos that was created through worlds created in a Heart competetion.
Maynard and Descamps make me discover some other mini-games that Heart the players created. There is a fall guys obstacle course style, another that resembles the Surf servers Counter strike, and a relaxing farming game. As I jumped from creation to creation, it struck me again how similar parts of Heart are at Gmod, which has remained popular thanks to the creativity of fans creating new fashions. Curious, I asked if the title was an inspiration.
“Gmod, Roblox, we’re not unaware of it – there was a lot of inspiration, but for us it was the mod scene. The whole mod scene has been a huge inspiration to us on Heart. “
âJust four years ago, when we started working on Heart, we looked at the last fifteen years … a lot of innovation [in gaming] comes out of the mod scene.
In essence, a lot of Heart comes down to helping people with these innovative ideas turn them into something tangible without being intimidated by the idea of ââlearning modding. Maynard refers to Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene, who almost single-handedly spawned the Battle Royale game genre from its humble beginnings as a mod.
He emphasizes that âhis innovation was not [the] idea “, because it was something captured in Royal battle, in Hunger games; âHis innovation was designâ.
Maynard believes that “it shouldn’t have taken Greene ten years” to create his own game, and modders are currently too dependent on indifferent publishers who can be slow to provide modding tools. Sometimes these publishers are actively hostile to modding efforts.
“GTA RP might be a whole new genre, but for some reason the publisher is trying to keep their grip on mods. This [Core] is sort of the opposite philosophyâ¦ The radical inclusion of the gaming industry. “
In the name of this philosophy – the radical inclusiveness of the gaming industry – Heart wants to give modders “less reliance on publishers” while helping creative newcomers break through financial and time hurdles and get straight into game development.
In that regard, the Deadmau5 and Oberhasli concert are fantastic – I really enjoyed my time in the virtual concert – but they are just the icing on the cake. As high as it sounds, Heart aim high.
Heart is available now on PC and can be downloaded through the official website or the Epic Games Store.