A sci-fi RPG with XCOM/Syndicate like combat. Three unusual heroes and a dog, use skills and tech implants to survive in an alien world
What I've done before
Whilst my name might not be familiar to many of you, I expect some of the games I’ve worked on in senior or lead positions might be.
- Heavenly Sword
- Silent Hill 2 PC
- Dreamland Chronicles : Freedom Ridge
What I'm Working on now:
Unusual Heroes are not your usual video game heroes. No muscle bound bald marines with a caring side, or well endowed women wearing metal bikinis here.
H is a brilliant mind stuck in a less than brilliant body, clever, witty and with a dark sense of humour he requires the use of a full body electric wheelchair to get around. H is the biggest geek of the team, never more happy than when hooked up to the net, programming something or other, or watching LOLCats.
T was born without either leg from the knee down, and is unable to use leg prostheses. From an early age her love of sports, has meant she is frequently playing or training for various games. T is the strongest mentally and physical of the group, whist the others can get quite melancholy and dark at times, T is always the up one. She also hates backing down especially to bigots, and has sometimes escalated situations beyond the point she can really handle, however they so far have always come out on top.
Z is the mellow thoughtful one of the friends, rarely rushed or panicked he keeps his head and try to talk a way out of any problems. From birth he has had very little vision in either eye seeing only shadows. Whilst at first his left arm was usable by the age of three it had to be removed at the shoulder. His guide dog D is always at his side and the extent that they seems to understand each other often seems magic to many people.
D is a golden labrador trained since a pup to be a guide dog. As soon as she was ready she was assigned to a visually impaired person to help them lead independent lives, as soon as Z entered the kennel they bonded. Whilst the softest dog anyone will ever meet (with a particular weak spot for choc drops), anybody threatening Z will encounter another side of D. Several times D's bark and snarl have sorted things out that could have turned nasty.
Where the game starts
We've all been there, spending time with your friends relaxing when *BOOM* you find yourself transported to an alien space craft with not even a hello.
Okay maybe not all of us, and those who have tend to wear tinfoil hats and talk about anal probes too much, but thats where the game starts and the adventure beings.
How, WTF, Why and do aliens have choc drops? are just some of the questions our team want answers too and you the player will guide them.
Unusual Heroes is a team based sci-fi RPG using the classic isometric (ish) view used by many of the best RPG of yonder year.
Taking inspiration from the classics like Ultima, Bards Tale, MegaTraveller, Fallout, Balders Gate and Planescape Torment it brings old school feel with a new gaming experience.
Like the seminal Ultima 4,5,6 the world is logical consistent, place wood in a fire and its burns into soot. Take corn, grind it and get flour, stick it in an oven and you get bread.
Each hanger has its own style and setting, and once into the game and be moved between fairly freely.
Conflict Resolution AKA Combat
Combat takes a departure from most RPG in that it uses an (original) Syndicate and X-COM style tactical basis with a hint of the fun from the original Cannon fodder.
This allows a bigger than ‘on screen’ combat that most RPGs use, using the environment, hunting down stragglers or out maneuvering your enemies make each combat much more than a numerical exercise.
Whilst shortened to ‘Combat’ in actual fact many winning strategies won’t actually use any direct force. Whilst they will engage and win many battles over the course of the adventure, combat isn't necessarily their strong point. Often they can use other strategies in many cases to get what they need.
Using your senses and stealthily avoid is a tried and tested method or perhaps taking out the power via physical or hacking means would be a better choice or a old fashioned decoy method has been a crowd favorite for thousands of years.
- H is a Transmutor
H’s affinity with machines has allowed him access to the ships energy to matter converters, by programming the machine he can create matter or project energy at a distance. However it uses a lot of energy that his systems must supply
- T is a Triathlete
As an all round athlete, T mastery of her own body makes here a crack shot, tough and able to physically dominate whereas others would be at a loss.
- Z is a BotMaster
Z mental ability to bond to non sentients, extends beyond D to small worker bots. Able to recruit and program them to his bidding, Z capabilities extend beyond the confines of his body.
- D is a Dog
Fast and agile but cute with a snarl and a bite, D can run circles around you whilst making you want to give her chocolate drops just before she bites your legs off.
Simple Visual Programming Language
Each hero has abilities that can be configured using an inbuilt node base Visual Programming Language. This node based editor allows special moves and attacks to be made and customized and new ‘spells’ or bot AI to be written.
Whilst the game comes with pre-made ones, it allows you to create you own variations by creating new programs using a node based programming language.
- Want a wall to only stop creatures > 50% metal? No problem
- Want to create some guard bots that will protect an area till you get back? No problem
- Blaster butt hit, push back and then blaster them? Sounds painful but fun!
Customize to your hearts content with a simple yet powerful node editor.
Each of the team members are unique in skills and abilities that improve over the course of the game. Aside from natural skills, alien silicon and nano technology is available to be plugged into the characters biological systems advancing them far beyond there normal abilities.The two 'leveling' systems biological and technological allow the characters to develop and mature in a very personal way for each player.
Pure human, Cyborg or Android?
It's your choice with all the pros and cons that come from those choices.
Controls and Accessibility
Controllable via a variety of controllers to ensure almost everybody can play, the main control method is the usual mouse point and click and keyboard shortcuts. However xbox controllers can be used with an intelligent menu system.
The can also be played semi-turn based or completely turn-based. Semi-turn based allows movement and exploration to occur as a party at whatever rate you can click, with a quick button press to switch into a full turn based system, where you can control each character separately if desired. Turn based stays in the slower mode, requiring and explicit 'turn end' press for those who prefer not having things happen except when they are ready, which is useful for those of us who require a bit longer or pauses as we play.
Alternative colour schemes will ensure colour blindness and lack of contrast isn’t an issue.
Closed Capture subtitles is enable for all parts of the games.
As a disabled developer its important, that accessibility is a good as we can make it, we will actively try and support different setups.
By choosing to fix the view in the traditional 2D isometric position, we have the lovely aesthetic and working gameplay system that has proved itself over multiple amazing RPG titles. However by mixing pre-rendered buffers with modern 3D for characters we can have it look like a living world. The result is a beautiful picturesque quality in real-time.
Support for the Oculus VR helmet is to be added as soon the dev kit arrives. Using true stereo through the entire art pipeline should give an amazing sense of realism.
-- WARNING TECH AHEAD :O --
We output stereo G-Buffers direct from an offline renderer (Lightwave 11 currently) which is used to prep the real-time G-Buffers before rendering. The result is almost seamless mixing, we also have plans to output light probes and shadow maps to enable believable global illumination.
Because we only render the characters and props per frame, we get to spend more time making them higher quality, including anti-aliasing.
-- NON TECHIES CAN COME OUT FROM HIDING NOW :) --
The platforms confirmed are Windows, Mac and Linux, a single pledge with the game gets you all three versions so you choose what you play on and when. DRM free goes without saying!
If you like the idea of the game a lot, you might like to get some of our swag and goodies we are making for this kickstarter.
Why have unusual heroes?
As games grow up we are starting to have more varied characters beyond the classic hero stereotypes. Its extremely rare to see a positive image of disabled people in any media, but at least comics and films have Professor Xavier, Daredevil and a few others.The desire to make a game with disabled heroes eventually morphed into the game design presented here.
I distinctly remember seeing Shaun of the Dead and noticing a zombie in a wheelchair, it stood out like sore thumb because it seemed so right and yet in all the zombie movies I've seen (and thats quite a few) no one ever thought to include the disabled in the zombie apocalypse Hopefully Unusual Heroes might cause a similar memory in some body if it gets made.
Getting to this point of Unusual Heroes story, has already lead me to start Cloud Pixies to make this. But games are expensive to do them full justice, the amount to fund is the absolute minimum this game can be made for, already much of my own money is tied up in licenses and work so far. If we were lucky enough to receive more than the asked amount, there are many extra things that can be added.
The team at Cloud Pixies
Currently Cloud Pixies has two full time members, me, the games main designer, programmer and creator and someone who fills in the gaps I can't do myself also a contract artist helps with additional art as required.
Additionally the four feline member of Cloud Pixies work when they like, with the Boss (as seen at the end of the video) mostly telling everybody what to do.
I've been in the games business for ages, starting in the long gone days of Playstation 1 and the software rendering PC era. On both Brink and Heavenly Sword I did much in the areas of graphics and console implementations, I was also largely responsible for the armies in Heavenly Sword. However as lead coder I got my hands dirty just about everywhere. Further back in time, you find the most unreleased but most relevant to Unusual Heroes, Dreamland Chronicles : Freedom Ridge. I worked at Mythos Games the legendary creator of XCOM and other seminal turn based strategy games. Designed by Julian Gollop we were making a spiritual successor to XCOM in 3D, it would never come to completion due largely to publishers decided turn based was old news.
However I believe strongly that smaller game focused teams are where the game play gems are to be found. Working with Jullian Gollop left me with a desire to make an RPG/Strategy game blend ever since. Julian also taught me a lot about balancing and design of strategy games (he’s just announced a remake of his classic Chaos game, so you might want to check it out!). A long history of working with consoles including (but not limited too) PS1, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, PS3 and Xbox 360. In particular during Heavenly Sword I work extensively on prototype 360 and PS3 including work for the Playstation 3 E3 launch. These experience mean I have a good idea about how to keep code lean and mean but also adaptable as things change.
Along with all the perks and the game, backers will get lots of updates and insider looks at the game as it progresses. Expect forums, detailed explanations of the underlying RPG systems used and access to a beta if you want to try it a bit earlier.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Games are notoriously hard to judge scope and cost, so it almost goes without being said, time and money are always a risk... but I say it anyway ;)
For Unusual Heroes, making it look good enough to engage the player but without taking away too much resources from the game design itself will be a challenge. Cloud Pixies is taking a fairly new concept (at least in the games industry) of licensing and using where possible cheap 'stock' art, this allows us to focus our resources on the really unique bits of art we need. Tech wise by choosing to use a mix of old school 2D rendering combined with 3D we should avoid any nasty tech issues that we could encounter.
Design is the most challenges issue from a quality point of view, whilst it would be possible to fall back to a 'standard' sci-fi role playing game design in the worst case, to really take the game to the potential I think it should be, will require tackling some tricky issues. Conflict resolution (AKA combat) is an interesting one already undergoing design iteration, with the heroes relatively physically weak the usual charge in all guns blazing isn't very satisfying.
A combination of pen and paper design, and rapid iterations (not always on computer, but including paper / card trials) will hopefully allow good solutions to the design challenges we face.
Scope will likely be challenge, the funding amount is enough to make the game under a very tight budget, keeping the scope of the project to that budget is a risk that will have to be carefully tracked. Its always tempting (and sometimes necessary) to add or change scope to make a quality game but deciding what makes the cut or what is left out is the key risk most games designers have to manage, Unusual Heroes is no different.
Unusual Heroes is certainly an ambitious game, trying to make a fun CRPG thats also shows disabled characters as the heroes isn't easy but we believe its possible with your help.
Thanks for reading.
Were guaranteeing the three main desktop gaming platforms now, without significant investment in a touch interface iPad and Android Tablet versions would suck and we don't want that. Of course if enough ask and pledge, we'd love to do it. The Ouya is a possibility, given our Linux version, let us know it thats of interest.
Whilst we gave it serious consideration, as who doesn't like a bit COD with some chips, we decided that because D the dog doesn't like outfits, it wouldn't be viable in todays free to play outfit selling market
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A thank you e-card from the team.Estimated delivery:
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A custom physical postcard of the game sent by the creator to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £1 to ship outside the UK
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Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available. *NO POSTCARD for no postage*Estimated delivery:
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Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £1 to ship outside the UK
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Downloadable (PDF) Collector's book of the game. Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £1 to ship outside the UK
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DVD Boxed copy of the Game. Mouse mat with Unusual Heroes logo. Downloadable (PDF) Collector's book of the game. Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £7 to ship outside the UK
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Limited Edition Mug. DVD Boxed copy of the Game. Mouse mat with Unusual Heroes logo. Downloadable (PDF) Collector's book of the game. Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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Limited edition T-shirt. Limited Edition Mug. DVD Boxed copy of the Game. Mouse mat with Unusual Heroes logo. Downloadable (PDF) Collector's book of the game. Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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4 2" Custom keyrings of the heroes. Limited edition T-shirt. Limited Edition Mug. DVD Boxed copy of the Game. Mouse mat with Unusual Heroes logo. Downloadable (PDF) Collector's book of the game. Downloadable copy of Unusual Heroes for any desktop platform its available for. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £10 to ship outside the UK
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Collectors Set featuring special engraved acrylic box with printed novella, printed full colour collectors book, limited edition mouse mat and game. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £15 to ship outside the UK
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Collectors Set featuring special engraved acrylic box with printed novella, printed full colour collectors book, limited edition mouse mat and game. 4 2" Custom keyrings of the heroes. Limited edition T-shirt. Limited Edition Mug. A real physical postcard to say thanks.Estimated delivery:Add £15 to ship outside the UK
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As previous tier + Kickstarter exclusive 6" clear acrylic silhouettes of the 4 heroes and stands with a personal message from the games creator on them.Estimated delivery:Add £20 to ship outside the UK
- (30 days)