A graveyard simulator, a story of epitaphs, a tale of ghosts that haunt, a game with no goal— all valid descriptions of Boon Hill.
Boon Hill - Graveyard Simulator
To put it as simply as possible, Boon Hill is a game about reading gravestones. There might be a few other elements in the final product but the bulk of the game would be just walking through a graveyard, reading epitaphs and thinking about who these people were and never will be again.
Update May 07: Wooo! We have achieved our goal of 5,000 dollars. Surprisingly quickly too, after only ten days. Thanks very much to everyone who has supported us and will continue to support us and this project. It could not happen without you.
If you wish to see the reasons why you should keep giving us money scroll down to the 'stretch goals' sections below. Or you can just give us more money because you like us. We like you.
Update May 17: We've met our first stretch goal at 7,500 dollars. This is great! I hope everyone tells all their friends so we can reach the next one. You are all great.
Update May 24: We've met our second stretch goal at 10,000 dollars. So we'll be making the game cross platform for the Mac, PC, Android and iOS, hopefully Linux as well but we can't guarantee that.
It might be hard to imagine why someone would want to play a game about walking through a graveyard. Have you ever done that? Just walked through a graveyard and spent time examining all the different gravestones and what's written there? You should if you haven't.
The gameplay is simple: you move around and examine things. The most obvious things being the headstones, of course. You can also interact with any NPCs you might encounter.
The game itself has no win scenario. As the protagonist you'll start with a specific gravestone you're looking for, but finding it won't end the game. Looking at every gravestone once won't end the game. Doing everything there possibly is to do won't end the game. The game ends when you decide to leave the graveyard. The experience is yours. It isn't dictated by some preset guidelines.
There will be some specific event triggers, yes, but they don't need to be triggered. Maybe today you don't want to talk to anyone, you just want to leave flowers on a gravestone and sit for awhile.
The game has no lose scenario either. There is nothing threatening the player. No zombies bursting up from the graves and no vampires hidden deep in the mausoleums. The gravedigger is not digging a grave for you and it's impossible to be buried alive. There's nothing to be afraid of at Boon Hill, except perhaps your own mortality, despite what some NPCs might tell you.
Though they do say you should never fall asleep in a graveyard.
Discover Mystery in the Graveyard
I don't want to imply the game is aimless. Boon Hill is about inferred stories, about the connections people have that continue even after they die. The graveyard tells many tales woven by those who've long since passed on: stories of love, life, sorrow, and joy, told over generations.
The threads of narrative are woven throughout the gravestones for you to discover, if you have the inkling to look. A row of graves all with the same last name, most of them having died very young, suggests a specific set of circumstances. An epitaph that reads 'Survived by no one' is dour, yes, but clearly someone carried out their last wishes. Here, people are tied together by something as simple as similar birth dates, the places they were born or died, and even the styles of their grave markers. Subtle stories abound in the rows of stone.
Game Elements and Specifications
Currently the game will be released for the PC platform only. Why? Because cross-platform development takes more time and thus costs more money.
The graphics will be, as shown in the demo images on this page, pixel art. Why? Because I'm a pixel artist and I have friends who are pixel artists and art is expensive. Also, on a more subjective note, I like pixel art (thus why I'm a pixel artist). I think it helps create a symbolic world that isn't weighed down by photorealism.
The music and sound design will be simple but hopefully immersive. A very talented musician wants to work on the project, and there would always be the option to turn his very talented music off if you'd prefer your graveyard experience silent.
One thousand grave markers are currently planned, each with its own implied backstory. Why not more? Mainly because someone (primarily myself) has to write each and every one of those.
Fancy, advanced 16-bit graphics! The kind of graphics you drooled over twenty years ago.
The ability to choose your gender as male OR female! How very progressive.
One thousand individual graves and epitaphs for you to read! It's the whole point of the game, after all.
Several NPCs to interact with! At least more than two. Talk to them, learn their stories.
A map system! So you will know where you are. Getting lost is frustrating.
Virtual graveyard! Real depression! Feelings of depression are not guaranteed, but reading epitaphs is not known as a heartwarming pastime.
The ability to sit! You'll be able to sit next to graves.
Real-time mourning! You'll be able to bow your head, leave flowers on gravestones, and look sad. All in real time!
Figure out what's up with that weird goth chick! She's kinda creepy.
Lie in an open grave! Haven't you always wanted to do that?
But mostly, Learn about the history of this town and the kind of people that lived their through the legacy they have left behind in the graveyard boon hill.
When I see a Kickstarter I always want to know exactly what they plan to spend money on, how far along in the project they are at the start, all those sort of things. Thus, for your perusal, here's an itemized list of what our funding would be used for.
All of these estimates were gathered from people I trust, or who are actually working on the project currently for free, and most of them were averaged out from a few sources.
500-800 dollars - Sound design
2,000-5,000 dollars - Programming
1,500- 3,000 dollars - Pixel art
500 - 800 dollars - Writing
Total Production cost: 4,500-9,600
As you can see, the lowest estimate from every element of the project sums to 4,500. That would leave, after everyone was paid for their work (and underpaid at that), only 500 dollars, which would cover the cut to Amazon and Kickstarter, leaving basically nothing for things like distribution and any kind of marketing. Everything else would need to come out of pocket.
5,000 dollars is asking for just 1,000 people to pre-order the game at 5 dollars each. That seems like a realistic goal for this strange quirky game, and one I'm excited to try and meet.
Getting the Game, Running the Game
Currently the game is only planned for the PC. The donation of five dollars or more will guarantee you a digital copy of the game. No physical copies of the game are planned because that costs money. Of course, after the game is made more copies will be available for purchase through online distribution.
The system requirements are all up in the air but the game won't be graphically intensive, shouldn't be overly large, and thus should run on all modern PC systems.
Update May 07: Originally we were just focused on getting the bare minimum funding to get the project completed, but as we've managed to get that amount, we wanted to show some of the other features we would love to have the money and time to make.
So here they are, the Boon Hill stretch goals.
$7,500 Reached! -More NPCs and Random Elements. Encounters that aren't static, such as people coming and going from the graveyard. Giving it a more 'living' feel. - We've met this goal and so this will be part of the game.
$10,000 REACHED! - Part of this one has already been mentioned, making the game cross platform, for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. This hasn't changed. On top of that we'd be adding a 'double' soundtrack. There will be one soundtrack along the lines of the music in the kickstarter video and another rooted in chiptunes. You'd be able to switch between them (or turn the music off) based on your preference. - We've met this goal and so we will release the game cross platform.
$12,500 - A more fleshed out graveyard with a greater variety of gravestones and other areas such as a pet cemetery. We'd have the resources to really flesh out the world of Boon Hill.
$15,000 - Improved graphics for the menus and such, as well as a super cool animated intro of the sun rising over the graveyard in pixelated splendor. Other graphical improvements.
$20,000 - The team would be paid what they are actually worth for their time and efforts. On top of us making a living wage? A character editor. Instead of simply the generic male or female protagonist, you would be able to design your own from different elements to make your avatar feel unique.
Anything beyond 20K is insanity and can not even be considered right now.
All of these are of course subject to change as the project moves forward and people voice their opinions. New goals may be added or edited at any time.
Thank You Kindly
Even just taking the time to look through this Kickstarter proposal is helpful. If you're interested in the game being made but don't have the money to donate, consider just showing it to a friend.
The website for the game is at: www.14hoursproductions.com
E-mails can be directed at: Boonhill@14hoursproductions.com
Follow us on twitter @TheBoonHill to receive a daily epitaph.
A thanks to everyone who has supported the game so far, and everyone who will support it in the future. Dreams die when we do, not before.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
So we get the 5,000 dollars. What then?
We make the game. That is guaranteed. Whatever happens, if the 5,000 dollar goal is met the game will be released. All donation pledge gifts will be honored. The current goal is for the game to be done completely and sent to everyone within three months of the Kickstarter closing. If all goes well, everyone should have everything by or before the end of August.
Problems might arise, as they often do. Many of the people working on Boon Hill are doing it as favors, and even with the 5,000 dollars won't exactly be able to quit their day jobs. While not ideal, delays in the final product are possible. However, even if I have to pay another five grand out of pocket to make sure it gets finished, it will. I love ramen.
Another possible issue is that a lot of the pledge rewards involve communication between the pledger and the team. With this in mind we'll make sure to have lots of forms of communication open, and want anyone that pledges to do the same. Please ensure the e-mails you present us with are valid, and are not carting things off to your spam folder.
We would potentially release a whole updated version of the game to everyone for free to fix any issues or mistypes with people's pledge rewards. We want you to be happy with them.
If you're actually excited to play the game, we're excited to make sure you get the game.
That really depends on how you define a game. If you define it by win scenarios and concrete preset goals and achievements. No. It isn't. Though if you define it in a wider sense of the interactive experience, of course it is. Call it what you will, art experiment, interactive fiction, weird, (hopefully you don't call it boring). I call it a game, because you play it.
Apparently, yes. People kept asking for them. Specifically a stretch goal that involved getting the game made cross platform (the most requested was cell phones). So that is now a stretch goal we have. If we reach 10,000 I grantee we'll put it out on every platform we think we possibly can. We'll try to manage it even if we don't reach it.
A common question, and yes. You can look at graves, talk to people, but most of the game takes place in your own head. It's about trying to figure out the stories of the people buried around you. Any graveyard has a lot to say if you take the time, Boon Hill is no different.
The short answer is, we don't know. The long answer, is that we'd love to do a Linux version but the set up we're using to make the game isn't currently Linux supported. The programmer thinks he might have a work around but we can't grantee it. We want it to be on everything, but I'd hate to promise this and not deliver. We're trying but it might not happen.
Yes. It does. It involves every single previous reward. It'd say that, but I forgot to put it in and can't edit it anymore. Just know that it involves all the rewards that come before it.
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Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
One digital copy of Boon Hill for the PC. The retail price of the game is going to be 5 dollars, so a donation of five dollars will pre-order you a copy of the game.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
Along with the digital copy of the game you will receive a PDF instruction booklet in the style of old NES games. Anyone who doesn't get one will still be able to play the game fine. This is just a nostalgia thing. You will also receive a digital version of the game's soundtrack.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
All the previous rewards, and you can have a name of your choice (no joke names) included on a grave marker in the game. Immortalize yourself or one of your friends by burying them!Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
All of the previous rewards, and you can write the epitaph (as long as you keep it semi-classy) for the grave with the name of your choice. Ever wanted to say something poignant for the ages and didn't want to wait to die? Now's your chance.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
You get the chance to describe a custom headstone for us to put in the game. Only restriction is it has to be realistic and somewhat match the predominant art style. Also includes all lower reward tiers.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or moreYou selected
11 backers Limited (39 left of 50)
At this amount you will get a physical video game box, instruction manual and OST. This is the only reward with a physical product, and only 50 will be made. If no one gets this one, I'll just keep them all myself.Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
At this amount, you will have my eternal gratitude, and in addition to the other rewards you will also get to have an object of your choosing dedicated to whomever you please. Things such as a bench, pagoda, fountain or other graveyardy thing.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)
For your generous support we will place an NPC of your design (obviously within reason) in the game as a mourner. You will be able to work with the writer to craft a few lines of dialogue for your character. Also, you receive all lower reward tiers, so your character can mourn at the grave you designed.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)
The opening title will have "PRODUCED BY:" Followed by your name. Because seriously, that's a lot of money to give a game about gravestones. Limit five, because if more than five people want this reward something has gone horribly wrong in the universe.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
A mausoleum will be put in the game in your honor. It will be filled with statues and paintings and whatever you want. It can be in memory of whatever and whoever you want as long as it doesn't break any copyright or libel laws. It would basically be a mini-graveyard within the larger graveyard. You would be able to request any design style you wanted, and dictate the look of all items within it. It also would cost ten. Thousand. Dollars. Seriously. We're only asking for five grand total. Still, if you must have your own virtual mausoleum, now is the time.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)