'Hyper Light Drifter' co-designer returns with indie-pop series 'We are OFK'

Teddy Dief finally opens up about the new project from Palmtree Team.

Palmtree Team

Teddy Dief is good at keeping secrets. They helped ignite the indie game scene in 2016 as a co-designer on Hyper Light Drifter, and ever since, their follow-up project has been highly anticipated by fans of that game’s neon-infused vibe. Meanwhile, Dief has been cobbling together a global team of artists, musicians and programmers, quietly building something known as the Palmtree Project, or simply 🌴. For years, they’ve kept quiet.

Today, they started talking. Dief and their collaborators at Palmtree Team unveiled We Are OFK, a musical, interactive series set to launch in the spring of 2021. Palmtree Team announced the project at The Game Awards with a music video for “Follow/Unfollow,” an original bedroom-pop song from OFK, the fictional band at the heart of the new series. We Are OFK follows the lives of four friends in their 20s as they attempt to break into the music business, fall in and out of love, and figure out how to pay rent and make art in Los Angeles.

True to form, Dief is keeping some of the details close to their chest. For starters, there’s no word on which platforms the series will hit, aside from Steam, where it’s now available for wishlisting. Plus, they don’t describe We Are OFK as a specific type of game, but rather more broadly, as an “interactive series.” It’ll be released in five episodes over five weeks, and there will be a new OFK song in each episode.

“It will play like an interactive TV series, with some extra playable dimension and treats tossed in,” Dief told Engadget.

From left to right: Itsumi Saito, Jey Zhang, Carter Flores, Luca Le Fae
From left to right: Itsumi Saito, Jey Zhang, Carter Flores, Luca Le Fae (Palmtree Team)

The fictional members of OFK are producer Jey Zhang, vocalist Luca Le Fae, pianist Itsumi Saito, and visual artist Carter Flores, and they all graced the virtual stage of The Game Awards for their debut performance. Jey and Itsumi use she/her pronouns, while Luca goes by he/him, and Carter uses they/them.

Representation and a human-first approach to game development seem to be foundational tenets for the Palmtree Team. For OFK’s high-profile Game Awards performance, developers dressed Luca in a shirt with bold text reading, “Black Trans Lives Matter.”

“The thing we’d like to convey with Luca’s shirt is that Black trans lives matter,” Dief said. “This is what each member of our team and each of our band members knows to be true. To say it on-stage at The Game Awards is doing so in solidarity with the many who also know this to be true, and in remembrance of the family and friends we have lost to violence towards Black, trans and Black trans people.”

We Are OFK announcement at The Game Awards 2020.

Palmtree Team comprises more than 30 people from varying locations, backgrounds and industries, including games, animation, television, fine art and — clearly — music. Dief said they were able to bring this group together because they expanded the search outside of Los Angeles, their home base, and beyond just the video game industry. Palmtree Team collaborates over regular full-team calls, and the studio operates as a mutual support system, Dief said. Every member of Palmtree Team is contributing to We Are OFK.

“We chose to work with the people, regardless of location, experience or situation, who we could trust to interact and create with our other team members, who would put mutual respect and love at the core of their work,” Dief said. “We Are OFK really took shape around each new team member who joined us, and we’ve always designed the project to play to each person’s strengths and loves. Reading this all now, it does seem very flowery and utopian, but somehow it’s actually worked out for us.”

We Are OFK announcement at The Game Awards 2020.

The video for “Follow/Unfollow” conveys this rose-tinted mood beautifully, packed with pastels and driven by a mellow yet energetic beat. It’s joyous, warm and youthful, with hints of modern-day drama. Just hints for now, though. It’s still Dief, after all.