Autumn's Realm is a fantasy RPG that allows the player to make real choices and changes the storyline based on player decisions.
The World of Autumn's Realm
Autumn's Realm is a fantasy RPG about a hero sent on a quest to save the world. Trained in a small desert village by experienced adventurers, you are sent to a nearby kingdom when a messenger arrives with a request for help. Monsters have begun threatening the towns, and a terrible famine has struck. Only you can save the people of Lavoreth from impending doom.
Another Different Approach to RPGs
Everyone says they have a new idea that will change the face of role playing games. Well, this is one that I've seen tried over and over, and still I feel like every attempt is missing something. I'd like to make it work the way we all want it to, and I have a good idea how to do it. The standard in role playing games (or rather, the one I'm challenging) is for the player to begin the game, follow whatever game mechanics the designers included (often some really interesting and creative mechanics with a great deal of customization) and through this process discover the story-line that the RPG follows. The new fad is to mix this up and let the player roam through an open world, making decisions that shift what happens in that world. Every time someone makes one of these games, however, we the players are initially delighted, and often the first play-through of the game is enthralling, but then, as time passes, we realize something is missing. A couple years later someone does the same thing again and brags about the innovation of their new product, and the same thing happens. It's a great game, and it has a lot of fun, intriguing elements, but it just isn't quite everything we wanted. With Autumn's Realm, we can fill in that gap and make a game which not only gives us shifts in the world around us based on actions, but alters the base story-line in response to choices and gives us a level of adaptability as yet unaccomplished. The current prototype version includes seven different endings, each resulting in a different final boss, a different series of events leading to the final confrontation, and even different towns, NPCs, and helper-characters for the player to experience. My goal is to have a lot more than this (two to three times as many, at least), so that playing through this RPG is something you will want to do again and again.
Hasn't This Already Been Done?
Yes, as I indicated, this idea has been tried before. Skyrim, for one, was famous for supposedly implementing this very same idea. However, despite all the flexibility in what you could do at any point in the game and the major decisions you could make throughout, Skyrim fell a little short of what I wanted, and it did so for a lot of people. Skyrim, Gothic, Mass Effect, and all the other games which make this claim implement the idea in exactly the same way. The player is given extensive freedom to determine what their next move is, and occasionally choices arise which change story elements in the bigger piece. Sometimes the choices are obvious and sometimes not, and often there are ways to reverse choices made earlier by betraying someone you have been helping. Overall, this sounds like a great idea, and indeed it has worked rather well. Here's what I want to do differently, and what I think causes the flaw that makes so many gamers dissatisfied with this style of game. I want the story-line players experience if they join the rebels early and are loyal the whole game to be different from the story-line if players support the people in power and then betray them and join the rebels. Obviously there's a slight difference between the two in any game that incorporates this style of mechanics, but ultimately these two options lead to almost the exact same final result in just about all games of this style. Here's how we're going to do it differently. Autumn's Realm is going to keep track of what choices you've made throughout the game, and every NPC, follower character, and enemy is going to behave differently depending on the path that led the player to that moment.
What About Story Quality?
Well, since my goal is to make a game that you never want to put down, it wouldn't make sense for me to scrimp on the quality of the stories I'm putting into the game. This is where some of the problems come in, though. After all, there are only so many great stories that one person can come up with, and when that same person is making everything about the game that brings those stories to life, the amount of effort is monumental. What I need is to partner with someone who can do some of that work for me. This is why I need you. Finding that partner is not easy, and not cheap, but funding isn't available for everyone who might have a cool idea and wants to try it out. To make this game great by keeping the stories engaging without delaying production of the final product while I learn computer programming, graphic design, and web design (and many other necessary skills), I need the support of the Kickstarter community. With that support, I can hire experts in a number of different fields to lend their skills to this project. In return for your backing, I'll give you a product you can be proud to say you helped bring to life.
How About Awesome Game Mechanics?
I would love to have some of the game mechanics I've seen in professionally released games, small company productions, and a lot of the other Kickstarter projects in the video game section. I strongly believe that the more customizable your game is, the more exciting it will be to the people who might play it. With enough funding, I will include the ability to forge unique weapons, increase custom skills that change how your character is played, and even allow you to define a history for your character that changes what you experience during game play. Because these are difficult features to implement, however, they will only be included in this game if the appropriate stretch goal is met. See the chart of goals below for more information on what features will be included at what funding level.
My older brother and I were inspired to begin this game several years ago because of our childhood enjoyment of the original Dragon Warrior game released in the US for the Nintendo back in 1989. Due to various shifts in technology and availability, I am now working on the project independently to bring the original intent to life in a new, exciting form. The project was originally intended to be a game played on a phone (at the time, we planned on releasing it for the old flip-phones that were popular before smart-phones), and my goal with this new version is to build a game which can be played on a PC, Android, IPhone, or Mac, but that will depend on funding.
Here's a breakdown of what we need to make this game a reality, and how the money will be spent.
Graphics -- $3500 - $4500
This is my main priority, and will be the first thing funded when we reach the initial goal. As I am not a graphic artist, we will need to hire someone to design all the graphics needed. The quotes I have received indicate the cost will be in this price range. Higher funding may allow us to put more money into graphics.
Website Development -- $0 - $1000
This is a relatively low priority, but in the initial goal it is possible there will be money that will not need to be spent on graphics. This money will go into developing a website to assist in distribution and awareness of the finished game. Some of this development will be done by me, and other portions will be completed by a web designer I will hire if funding allows.
Miscellaneous Expenses -- Remainder
My initial goal allows for $500 in this category, which will cover such expenses as purchasing software licenses needed to complete work on the game and ensuring backers receive backer rewards. Additional money received but not used in stretch goals will be added to this category and saved for unexpected costs that may arise. But don't worry, this money won't vanish. I'll give regular updates on what's going on with the project so you know that your money is being well spent and is improving the success of our game.
Stretch Goal 1: Music -- $1500 - $2000
The game currently uses stock music from the game creation system used to build the game. If we reach the first stretch goal, the majority of the additional funding will go toward getting custom music designed so that the game can have that much more of a unique personality. The $2000 not accounted for will be divided evenly between increasing the graphics budget and the miscellaneous budget, to ensure the best quality can be delivered in all areas of this project.
Stretch Goal 2: Compatibility -- $2500
If reached, this goal will allow me to purchase additional software which supports game design for Macintosh computers, Iphones, and Android phones and tablets. It will also cover the costs of me taking time from my normal job to redevelop the game in the new software to work on these different platforms. $100 will be spent on the software, $800 will cover my bills for the month I will need to complete the re-write of the program, and the remaining $1600 will be used for marketing, including listing the game in the android and Iphone app-finding applications as well as purchasing some ad-space to increase awareness of the product.
Stretch Goal 3: User Interface -- $5500
This goal will allow me to hire programmers to add better functionality to make the game easier to play and improve the appearance of the user interface. This will include improving the mouse functionality, improving the appearance of dialogue boxes, announcements, and battle messages, and improving ease of access to various screens for players. The code necessary to implement each of these changes is small (in terms of code to change major portions of a video game) but the total improvements will require almost the entire additional budget included in this stretch goal. The rest of the additional budget will be saved in case the cost for any of the features is more than expected. If it is not used for any user interface costs, it will be added to the marketing budget to increase sales of the product after release.
Stretch Goal 4: Game Mechanics -- $4500
This goal is the second great success of this project. The first, of course, was getting the project off the ground by reaching the initial goal. This is the stage where we can make a great game with not only an innovative story structure, custom graphics, custom music, compatibility on multiple platforms, and a great user interface, but also with unique, interesting mechanics to make the player's experience as customizable as possible. This is the stage where I can add the ability to forge unique weapons depending on what materials you start with, add the option to increase different skills which change how your character is able to solve different in-game puzzles or complete battles or challenges, and include player-defined character histories which change the development of the story-line. If we get here, $1000 will be added to the graphics budget to get graphics created for the new functionality. $3000 will be used to purchase custom code to create the new features. The remaining $500 budgeted will be held to ensure the code can be created within the budget, and if not needed, will be added to the marketing budget.
Stretch Goal 5: Game Manual -- $2500
$2500 may seem like a lot for a digital game manual, but there's a lot of expenses that go along with creating this additional literature. $800 of this budget will go to paying bills while I write the content. $1000 will be spent on illustrations and design to ensure the result is well laid-out, easy to understand, and has diagrams and pictures where they help clarify or improve the manual. The remaining $700 will be added to the marketing budget, and will be used to run ads and generally improve awareness of the game.
Stretch Goal 6: Disk release -- $3500
The majority of the additional budget from this stretch goal will go into supplies and printing costs to make game disks, game boxes, and game manuals. $500 will be used to get graphics designed for the box. Backers who have pledged enough to receive a deluxe or premium version of the game will have the option to receive a physical copy shipped to their door. I've had people tell me a physical copy of the game isn't worth the effort because many players prefer digital copies that can't get lost. The reason I think this step is important is that it allows me to get the game sold in stores. That widens the possible audience to include the kind of casual gamer that doesn't keep track of what is released when, but occasionally looks around the video game section of a store. This give our game a better chance of being successful. Not to mention some people still like physical disks. I do.
Stretch Goal 7: 3-D Game -- $95000
This goal seems largely out of reach to me at the present time, but it's entirely up to you if we reach it or not. At this level, the final result will be a full 3-D RPG of the style of Skyrim, but with the same flexibility of story-line from the original plan. $60,000 of the additional budget will be used to hire programmers to create the code to run the game. $20000 of the additional budget will be added to the graphics budget to make graphics worthy of the final 3-D game. The remaining $15,000 budgeted here will be added to various other budgets to make sure the quality of everything created fits the final project. I call this the "final frontier" goal because this is the minimum I need to build this style of game. However, every dollar we raise past this point increases my ability to improve this game. If this project interests you, the sky is the limit, and only you decide when we've reached it.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Obviously building a video game is a complex, difficult process. Not only do you have to get the basic game working so that beginning a game starts a new character and loading a game brings the player back to the last point that they saved and on the correct character, you also have to make it interesting. Writing one interesting story-line for a game is a challenging project in itself. My project takes that challenge a little further by requiring me to write several interesting story-lines, each with elements that complement each other so that a player can start at the same point and get to different results without the story losing coherency. This is where my skills really shine. I have a degree in Creative Writing, which means I spent years studying exactly how to make a story engaging to the target audience, and I've spent most of my time as a writer trying to build stories that people feel a part of. What better way than by letting the reader (or in this case, the player) make their own choices? That was my thought, and why I have dedicated years of my life to finding a way for people to experience a story exactly as they would if they were living it. I'm not there yet, of course, but this is a good start.
I mentioned at the beginning of this section some technical problems that can occur in game development, which are certainly concerns as well. I by-passed most of these problems by using a well-developed game creation software which has already solved those problems in the general sense. That doesn't mean I won't have any of those problems, it just means that I have a company to go to when they come up. It helps also that I have some knowledge of computer programming, so that while I couldn't ever write this program on my own, I can look at the code and determine what might be causing a problem.
These are a couple concerns that might come up during the creation of this game, many instances of which I've already encountered and solved. But the main reason that this project can work and WILL work is that I believe in it, and I am as dedicated to this project as a rocket scientist is to sending a manned mission to Mars. I'm asking for your help to bring this dream to life. Thank you for reading through my kickstarter project. Let's make it our project, and make it something to be proud of.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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