Backbone — pixel art detective adventure inspired by noir
Backbone is a pixel art cinematic adventure with stealth and action elements. As private investigator Howard Lotor, you are set to solve detective cases, interrogate witnesses, explore the intriguing and dangerous world around you, and sneak your way to safety using smell-based stealth mechanics.
Backbone combines the visual and social contrasts of film noir with anthropomorphic animals, retrofuturistic technologies, and dystopian fiction. Crawl through the dark alleys of pixelated Vancouver, and experience the impactful storyline focused on themes of power and prejudice.
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A rich, living and breathing world waiting to be explored. Backbone takes place in dystopian Vancouver, BC, featuring real locations and breathtaking pixel landscapes.
A stylistic and thematic fusion of film noir, anthropomorphic animals, retrofuturism and dystopian classics. The world of Backbone is something you’ve never seen before but always wished you had.
Challenging, thought-provoking storyline featuring themes of power, corruption, social decay and systemic discrimination. Backbone tells a tale about how our environment shapes us, and how we influence it in return.
Detective work. Collect evidence, interrogate witnesses, connect the dots and follow leads on your own. No hand-holding - move forward through the game by your own rules. Every case has numerous trails, and it’s up to you to decide which one to follow.
Stealth & Action. In the animal world, smell is the most powerful sense. Hide in multi-level environments, mask your scent in garbage bins, follow suspects and escape the chase.
Special abilities. The Artifact is a unique ancient technology with unknown origins and purpose. If you learn how to use it, it might change the regular order or destroy it.
The planet is sprawling with anthropomorphic animal species. The streets of Vancouver are overgrown with ivy and humongous trees, branches and vines piercing through the concrete, and huge flowers nesting on top of the roofs.
The Great Apes call themselves the founding fathers of this world, and they are the moral, ethical and political compass of society. Citizens are divided into informal classes according to their species. The political and underground power is corrupted, and the glass ceiling seems impossible to break.
Vancouver is surrounded by high walls from every side to make sure that no one from across it intrudes. It is strictly forbidden to cross the wall, and the only thing waiting outside is savage hostile creatures.
Howard Lotor is a raccoon and a private investigator who doesn't feel like he belongs. His mundane life is interrupted with the appearance of a powerful technology that can blur the lines of conventional order and change society forever.
Backbone's visual style is a modern take on the classical retro adventure look. While conceptualizing the world of Backbone, we knew we wanted to take the best parts of our favorite city and combine it with hi-res pixel art.
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful and noir cities in the world, and we knew right away what streets, landmarks and favorite spots to include in the game. Vancouver finally plays itself!
Every character and environment element is animated frame by frame. It is a tedious process, but creating life and charisma out of a collection of pixels is magic we wouldn't trade for anything else.
Combining pixel art with 3D effects in UE4 like multi-layered backgrounds, parallaxing, dynamic lighting and lens flares adds to the cinematic feeling of the game. Sprawling city, contrasting silhouettes against the setting sun, dust particles, neon signs and steaming sewer hatches enhance the noir atmosphere of the city.
An important element of noir Vancouver is the music coming from jazz bars, noisy alleys, night fish markets and industrial blocks. Backbone’s composer Nikita Danshin is combining jazz and electronic music to create a viscous soundtrack that feels like a dark, enveloping veil of bebop and cinematic soundscapes.
EggNut is a game development studio from Vancouver, Canada. We got together in 2016 and decided to start making video games. We all have stories to tell, and games are the best medium for conveying the complexity of the human condition.
We might come from different backgrounds and live in distant countries, but we are united by strong determination to create meaningful experiences. Every member of EggNut has years of experience in IT, art, design and music industries, and we're bringing it into our own project to create something new and inspiring.
We have spent the majority of 2017 in pre-production - assembling the team, prototyping the game of our dreams, and working out the pipelines and workflows. We started producing content for the trailer in January 2018, and we'll reuse every asset that we created in the actual game. Right now everything is ready for production: the game structure and scope, story and plot outlines, character arcs, world building, level design, and production schedules. All that remains is to get the team working full-time, to release Backbone without wasting any time on other projects.
We developed a Backbone demo level with storyline and core mechanics: walking, running, crawling, stealth, smell, dialog, inventory, and action. We want to polish it with the assets we prepared during our proof of concept stage, and publish for all backers this Summer.
So far, we have been creating Backbone using our personal income and free evenings and weekends from our full-time jobs. We love the full creative control indie development brings, and we don't want to depend on side companies to dictate our vision. We know that we have all the resources and skills to finish the game and publish it successfully. The only thing lacking is financial support and thus the ability to get the whole team working full-time, and porting costs for Switch, PS4 and Xbox One. To stay independent we need your support!
Kickstarter is also an amazing platform to attract passionate community. Backbone is all about social context, so the more feedback we get from people with various experiences, the better. Backers with tier The Sniffer and higher are invited to participate in closed beta testing and communicate their vision in our Backer-only Discord server. Let's build this game together!
Risks and challenges
EggNut team has extensive experience in IT, art and music industries, but this is our first video game. Game development is a very tricky thing - you never know if you made a good game until thousands of different people actually play it. Before launching this project, we spent a year in pre-production, exploring creative and business sides of game development and discovering ways we could make this work with minimal risks. We are confident in our creative power, teamwork, project management and production strategies, and we want to be as transparent as possible about our processes.
These are the main things we're doing to minimize risks:
・We are a small team of 6 people working remotely (no rental costs) with inexpensive technologies and low cost marketing plan.
・We are committed to result and have an established way of working together as a team.
・Our goal is to ship the highest quality product possible without stretching it horizontally with new features, but rather perfect the existing and most necessary ones.
・We have a designated project manager, which is rare for an indie team. We build roadmaps, deadlines, track every step of the progress and evaluate everything before making decisions. This thorough planning helps to imagine every possible scenario and adapt on-the-go.
・Pre-production went on for a year, and we're ready to enter production stage with all our assets being reusable. Not a single hour was put to waste.
- (30 days)