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Unfold the mysteries of dystopian animal society inhabiting retrofuturistic Vancouver.
Unfold the mysteries of dystopian animal society inhabiting retrofuturistic Vancouver.
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2,362 backers pledged CA$ 95,280 to help bring this project to life.

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End of 2018 Update

Posted by EggNut (Creator)
43 likes

Dear friends,

First and foremost, thank you all for your endless support, kindness and patience. 2018 was a year filled with challenge, determination and thrill for our small international team. We have quit our full-time jobs, changed cities and countries, and worked harder than ever in our lives. We have so much planned for the future of Backbone and we thank you for giving us this one-in-a-million chance to follow our dreams!

It's a big, detailed and transparent update, hope you enjoy it. TLDR: development is going really well and is in its full swing, and we can't wait to show you the results (soon!).

Granville street at night
Granville street at night

Backbone Prologue is very close to release, but not quiet there yet. Art, story and development is finished for distinct locations filled with branching NPC dialogues, puzzles, stealth sections, and exploration. Game is playable from start to finish, and provides some level of replayability. We are currently working on music, sound design, and enhancing the visuals in tech art department. 

As a new studio, there was (and still is) so much for us to learn. When we first talked about the demo, it was easy to imagine the release in August, just 3 months after Kickstarter. When that deadline passed and we only scratched the surface of the content and quality we wanted to show you guys, it became pretty apparent that we can't achieve that without attracting new people into our team. Nikita was doing the work of the only developer, composer, game designer and tech artist on the project, Alex was juggling marketing, project management and narrative design, and artists had so much on their hands, that they couldn't possibly take on more diverse tasks without compromising the quality. Maluly came on board to take on the writing task, and it made things so much easier. And two months ago we were joined by our new dedicated full-time tech artist - Artem Pisarev! He is focused on discovering and implementing new ways to make Backbone look even better, it's a complex and time-consuming job that you'll definitely notice in the end result.

Scene without any enhancements - just pixel art sprites and textures
Scene without any enhancements - just pixel art sprites and textures

Other great news is that after 1 full year of development and 2 years of planning, we now have a much better grip on what we want Backbone to be. It took writing 30 pages of lore and characters backstory encyclopedia (describing foods, musical bands, and social-political structures of dystopian Vancouver), several script drafts, multiple gameplay iterations and testing, art concepts and hundreds of hours of conversations to get where we are. And we're very lucky to have had the time and resources to do that, because the world of Backbone now feels more alive then ever, and the goal to tell its story more manageable. Of course, the concept is going to evolve during the next year of development, but we're now much more prepared to take on the challenge.

Same scene, but with dynamic lighting, effects (rain, fog), normal maps and materials
Same scene, but with dynamic lighting, effects (rain, fog), normal maps and materials

There will be several stages to Prologue release: testing (and lots of it), marketing campaign (producing a trailer, building hype in social media, get streamers to play it and press talk about it, etc), and actual release with troubleshooting and other difficulties that come with it. When the build is 99% close to completion, we would like to open up a closed beta-test for our Kickstarter Backers. We'll be able to take in your feedback first-hand, polish some more, and then launch Prologue on Steam (wishlist here - https://store.steampowered.com/app/865610/Backbone/) and other stores. 

This demo is a vertical slice of the game, but unlike early access titles, it's a self-contained story that also serves as a prologue to a bigger plot of Backbone - your first introduction to the world of dystopian Vancouver and Howard Lotor. That means we only have one shot to make good impression, and really want to make it count! Successful Prologue launch will hopefully make more people excited about Backbone, so we see it as an integral part to the final game launch in 2019.

Sketch of Vogue theatre found on Vancouver's Granville street
Sketch of Vogue theatre found on Vancouver's Granville street

If you'd like to participate in the closed backer beta-testing, we'll post a Backer-only Update when the build is available. The best way to get in touch with us personally is to join Backbone Discord server: https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

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Replay with sound
Play with
sound

One last thing to polish before the launch is sound and music. Our composer Nikita Danshin is recording most of the sounds of rainy Vancouver live: determined steps on the rain puddles, heavy breathing after a chase, dripping water from the rooftops, warm crackling of the vinyl record and snapping of neon lights. Soundtrack will include original ambient tracks (you can listen to some of them on our Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/eggnutohmygod) and songs recorded with young vocalists from the Sunshine coast. For one of the tracks, we made a cover version of the haunting soviet song from the 60s that our parents used to listen on vinyl when they were young. Translating lyrics to English and adapting soviet sound to our modern vision has been an exciting challenge, and we hope you appreciate the result when you hear it in the game. 

From raccoon PI simulator concept to Backbone: 1 year later.
From raccoon PI simulator concept to Backbone: 1 year later.

That's it for today, please let us know in the comments if there is any aspect of development you'd like to be covered in the future updates! We're always eager to be transparent and share as much as possible (while still avoiding spoilers) with you guys. 2019 is going to be great. Thank you. 

Happy holidays, wishing you the best in the new year! Love, Eggnut.

August & September Update

Posted by EggNut (Creator)
36 likes
Howard meeting Clarissa and her confidante Boy for the first time
Howard meeting Clarissa and her confidante Boy for the first time

Hello, dear backers!

Thanks to your support, our co-founder, developer and composer Nikita Danshin was able to quit his full time job and move into the Canadian woods to develop Backbone full-time starting this October. Check out his new track for Backbone OST called Public Disquiet on our Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/eggnutohmygod

It's been three months since our last update, and we have been working hard to finalize the pre-production of the game in the form of a playable Prologue. The narrative, gameplay and visuals are almost done for this first chunk of Backbone! Branching dialogues, puzzles, stealth sections and some of the technical art stuff (lighting, materials) take a lot of time to perfect, so we'll announce the release date once we're 100% satisfied with how the game looks and feels. This first iteration of the game should be a good example of the experience we want to create, so we want to be as proud of it as possible. 

We're making a lot of polishing progress by testing the game every day, optimizing it so it functions as expected on different hardware configurations. The Prologue is free and will be released on Win, Mac and Linux in Steam, GOG and possibly other stores.

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Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Gamedev has always been about quality and art for us, and with our experience in crunch during the preparation for this campaign (which brought us fast results but was difficult to recoup after, like all crunch), we are absolutely certain that taking as much time as possible to perfect team's vision while maintaining healthy work ethics is very important. Our main goal with this Prologue is to test most of the ideas we will further develop in Backbone, to ensure going through production smoothly without blowing the scope and unnecessary prototyping along the road. 

Backbone in 2017 vs 2018 (pre-trailer). Right now we're working on making the third iteration even more beautiful!
Backbone in 2017 vs 2018 (pre-trailer). Right now we're working on making the third iteration even more beautiful!

Here are some project stats: we're keeping a good development pace, having so far spent 2861 hour on demo development since the end of this campaign, by tracking 500-600 hours a month. 80% of tasks set in project roadmap are complete, and although there are still a lot of bugs to be found and fixed, the prologue is fully playable from the narrative standpoint from start to finish.

What goes into building a scene in UE4: beautiful pixel art + modern engine effects
What goes into building a scene in UE4: beautiful pixel art + modern engine effects

Our team has recently been joined by a new narrative designer Maluly - our mega supportive Kickstarter backer #1000 and Discord community mod. Maluly is from Mexico, with a degree in anthropology and an amazing feel for words and stories. With her help, we'll be able to bring more depth and character into the game world of Backbone! Eggnut team has been working together full-time since June, and it has been a very rewarding, enriching experience in teamwork, communication and art. We are very lucky to have this amazing team of individuals, and it couldn't be possible without your support.

Wishlist Backbone on Steam!
Wishlist Backbone on Steam!

Backbone page is live on Steam - please wishlist it! You're going to get notified there and on Kickstarter once the Prologue is live. https://store.steampowered.com/app/865610/Backbone/

Pitch your Backbone ideas, write romantic fiction between a detective raccoon and a cook and more on our Backbone Discord server
Pitch your Backbone ideas, write romantic fiction between a detective raccoon and a cook and more on our Backbone Discord server

By the way, if you want to participate in the discussions when the demo is out - please join our warm and amazing Discord community. Make sure to get Backer role to get into secret backer channels - discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Until next time, stay awesome, detectives!

July '18 update: characters and climbing

Posted by EggNut (Creator)
38 likes

Dear friends,

Super quick update today on the work we've been doing throughout July. Can't show you a lot, because we want to save the best stuff for the release. Our current plan is to spend at least a whole month on final visual and writing polishing, and then we can announce the exact release date for demo. 

Characters

Take a look at some of the exciting characters you're going to meet very soon! 

Sooz. She will cut you. Sniffer type enemy
Sooz. She will cut you. Sniffer type enemy
Anatoly. Your favorite taxi driver. Will not stop telling sleezy jokes.
Anatoly. Your favorite taxi driver. Will not stop telling sleezy jokes.
Clarissa Bloodworth. Bear fatale and a major side character.
Clarissa Bloodworth. Bear fatale and a major side character.
Boy. Bartender at the jazz club.
Boy. Bartender at the jazz club.

Gameplay

Most of gameplay mechanics, especially smell based stealth are super duper WIP in terms of visuals, so excuse us not showing this important part enough. For now, take a look at these exciting things:

Jumping and climbing! (WIP)
Jumping and climbing! (WIP)
Picking up items! (WIP)
Picking up items! (WIP)

Streaming on Twitch! 

Last week we tried something new and streamed our pixel art process on Twitch for 4 hours straight. It's been loads of fun, and we're doing it again! Mark August 18th, this Saturday, 8AM PDT (4PM London) in your calendars. You can check out previous stream and follow us on Twitch to get notified when we're live - https://www.twitch.tv/eggnut_studio

hello fellow stremer kids!
hello fellow stremer kids!

Backbone merch and pre-orders:

The pre-orders on BackerKit will be closed on September 1st, and your cards will be charged for any additional purchases. Pre-order here - https://backbone.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders. You could still change your add-on selection and shipping information, which we will put on hold closer to the game release. If you have not yet filled in your survey, please check your e-mail for a link from BackerKit. If you haven't received this link - send us a message and we will fix it! Here are Backbone T-shirt size charts for your reference:

Women and Men size charts
Women and Men size charts

Working on Backbone is a dream come true, and we are so grateful to have this opportunity! Thank you so much!

Join our friendly Discord community https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/backbonegame

June '18 update: What's up with the demo

Posted by EggNut (Creator)
43 likes

Dear friends,

Welcome to the first post-Kickstarter update! For the past month we've been building the Demo level that is essentially the foundation of the art style, gameplay and the storytelling of Backbone. Now that we have a budget and people looking forward to Backbone, we want to make sure we're making absolutely the best game we are capable of, so we'll be putting as much time as necessary into this first block. Here's what we could tell you about the Demo for now:

Story. The full demo script is done, yay! It will feature a complete investigation for Howard to go through, and will be a part of the main game narrative, so not a single hour of development will go to waste. We pay close attention to the characters and lore, so be prepared to venture into the darker corners of the city to learn more about the world of Backbone and the social systems of dystopian Vancouver, and meet some cool/crazy people. 

Gameplay. You decide what kind of a detective you want to be. Use your wits and pay attention to the environment to solve puzzles, apply your raccoon charm in branching dialogues, and even sneak through the big portion of the game if you're a fan of stealth-based gameplay. Fiddling with the garbage bins is obviously essential for every path. You will be able to replay the demo a couple of times to discover new bits of lore, dialogue options and gameplay styles. The demo will feature the majority of principal mechanics, with the exception of some special abilities that will come later in the main story narrative. Most of the development is done, and we will be able to show the gameplay videos in the next update.

Music & Sound. Our composer Nikita Danshin will write 3 musical themes for the demo + record live sound effects. There is no plan for the voiceover for the demo now, expect updates on it after we start working on the full game.

Art. This is the most complex and time consuming part. The demo will feature 3 big locations: Howard's apartment, Granville Street and the 4-story building. The environment art is complete by about 50%, Howard's apartment and street levels are ready for polishing in the engine, and right now we're sketching up an interior of a big building where most of the action-y gameplay will take place. We still have to start creating the NPCs.

Howard's apartment sketch
Howard's apartment sketch

We want you to learn about the game world by paying close attention to your surroundings, so we're putting a lot of time into the little environment details. Even the buildings that you just pass by, like this store on the main street, should feel alive and tell a story (find the high res here: https://imgur.com/Ar7nukG)

The prototype building we found in Vancouver
The prototype building we found in Vancouver
The final result
The final result

Our animator is almost done with Howard's animations - these are very time consuming, because he's the main character and you're going to be looking at him a lot. Once these are ready, side character animations will be a breeze.

The beauty, the grace, the raccoon
The beauty, the grace, the raccoon
35 frames created pixel-by-pixel
35 frames created pixel-by-pixel

For now, we're shooting to release the demo early Autumn '18. 

Working on Backbone every day for the past month has been a huge privilege, and it's only possible because of you! Thank you! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or in Backbone Discord chatrooms: https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Follow us on Twitter - https://twitter.com/backbonegame

If you missed the Kickstarter, pre-order Backbone and cool merch on BackerKit - https://backbone.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Come join us on Backbone Discord server!

Posted by EggNut (Creator)
26 likes

Dear friends, 

Just a quick notice - we've opened up a Backbone Discord server and we'll be happy to see you there. If you're a backer of tier $32 Sniffer or higher, you will find instructions on how to get access to closed backer chatrooms at #welcome. 

Join here - https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

On the other note, we found out that we will get access to our Kickstarter funding on June 11, and the BackerKit approval will take another 2-3 days. So we'll be able to send you the surveys on June 13-14th, a bit later than previously expected. As usual, if you have any questions at all - get in touch on discord, by e-mail hello@eggnut.net, or here in the comments, we're always happy to help. 

See you next time for June Update in the beginning of July!

Love, Eggnut