About this project
Wanderer tells the tale of a man called Rook, a greying convict who wakes from cold sleep aboard a massive orbital prison facility to find that it's crash landed on the ruins of an abandoned Earth. With the help of a hacker named Jin and the aid of a ragtag group of survivors he recruits along the way, Rook must explore the planet and locate the cell blocks which have detached from the prison's central tower and scattered across Earth's ghostly wasteland.
During his mission, Rook will run into allies and adversaries in the form of dangerous gangs of fellow prisoners, the survivors of the Earth's mysterious apocalypse, and bizarre parasitic extradimensional beasts that haunt the dead planet. Core gameplay fuses platforming, pseudo-turn based combat, puzzle solving, and interactive dialogue/decision making into a story driven, atmospheric experience. Tying it all together is a unique visual aesthetic that merges lo-res pixel art characters with a lovingly hand-painted world.
Update 3: Design Philosophy and Inspirations Pt. 1
Update 4: Design Philosophy and Inspirations Pt. 2
Update 6: Earth, 2171 AD
Update 7: Battle System Breakdown
Update 8: Add-Ons + New Character Reveals
Update 9: Inventory System
Update 10: New Add-Ons + Early Music + Skill Sneak-peek
We're very excited to be able to share a draft of a title theme for Wanderer done by our awesome composer Jonathan Geer:
Wanderer is a cinematic platformer at it’s core, a modernized take on classics like Another World, Flashback, and Heart of Darkness. Rook can walk, run, jump, crouch, and climb through the world. Additional movement abilities will be unlocked by the player as they advance, opening up the ways they can move around the environment. Light action elements include environmental hazards that Rook has to safely navigate and a ranged/melee attack used to stun/attack enemies that roam the world. Up to two computer-controlled companions at a time can be assigned to follow behind Rook as the player explores the world.
The game world consists of a simplified overworld map filled with locations to travel to and explore. It's centered around a hub where players can return to upgrade abilities and equipment and find companions stationed when not in the party.
When Rook makes contact with an enemy on the 'field', the game switches to JRPG style pseudo turn-based combat (allowing the player to control all three current party members). Striking the enemy before they can strike you will give you a free first attack, and the same applies in reverse for the enemy, so you'll need to take note of how each enemy behaves and moves on the field to be successful.
The combat system is intended to be challenging and fluid, and is largely based on player skill and strategy rather than stats or random chance. Timing, reflex, and pattern recognition are emphasized, and the player will need to manually time and input offensive/defensive maneuvers to maximize their advantage in battle. Wanderer's battle system design is influenced by RPGs including Paper Mario, Valkyrie Profile, and Rogue Galaxy.
As Rook explores and moves through the world he'll find points of interest represented by nodes that can be interacted with in familiar "point and click" adventure game fashion (look at, talk about/to, use item with, pick-up etc.). These interactions take place via a context sensitive radial menu that show the player which actions are available. Puzzles will require the player to examine and interact with characters, the environment, and obtainable inventory items to overcome obstacles and advance the story.
Along Rook's mission, the player will have the opportunity to interact with a colorful and varied cast of characters via branching dialogue choices. The way the player chooses to respond to other characters will affect how they view him, and key points in the story will present the player with multiple ways to handle a scenario, each potentially leading to lasting consequences. Inspired by modern interactive narratives like Heavy Rain and Telltale's Walking Dead series, decisions and conversations will play out in real time, actively engaging the player in the scenario and sometimes requiring them to make choices on the fly.
In the fairly distant future, humans have escaped beyond the confines of their native planet after a mysterious, cataclysmic event has left it crawling with bizarre otherworldly creatures and turned it a place where time and space have come ever so slightly unraveled. With colonies on Venus, Mars, the moons of Jupiter, and dozens of massive space stations throughout the solar system, for much of humanity the Earth has become nothing more than a massive graveyard and a nostalgic memory.
The main character of the game's story, known simply as Rook, is an aged convict held in a state of stasis aboard an Alcatrez-esque orbital prison station designated the VC Harlegand. The Harlegand is stationed in the now isolated corner of the galaxy around Earth, making escape a nearly impossible prospect.
After the prison crash lands on the Earth's surface for unknown reasons, Rook is awoken from his prisoner stasis pod by a hacker and fellow prisoner named Jin who's jacked into his neural implants remotely. Unfortunately, as a death row prisoner who was never intended to be fully resuscitated, upon waking Rook finds himself suffering from fragmented memory, recurring hallucinations, and painful migraines. The prison's medbay can ease his symptoms, but Jin need's Rook's help to reactivate it.
Proposing a plan to escape the planet, she suggests the two work together towards a common goal of survival. The duo embark on a journey to gather what she needs for them to escape, which entails traveling to each of the cell blocks that detached and scattered across the Earth's surface when the prison crash landed. Along the way they'll befriend fellow survivors, clash with gangs of dangerous criminals and monstrous creatures, and unravel the mysteries of the Earth's nebulous fate.
Supplementary story elements unfold through optional text logs and entries to the player's codex gained by exploring and interacting with the world and speaking with characters. These offer additional detail and flavor to the game's setting for player's who are interested in it's backstory and lore.
On a secondary narrative level, a strong emphasis is placed on a diverse and engaging cast of misfits and survivors that Rook will encounter and work together with on his mission. Each ally has a unique backstory and viewpoint that the player will learn as they spend time together. As companions follow the player through the world, they'll often comment on the current scenario or begin a conversation amongst themselves that you can engage in while exploring (and even during combat!).
Having certain party members with you will also contextually open up new options and unique ways to deal with scenarios you encounter on your journey. These contextual bonus interactions not only serve to make party members feel autonomous and organic, but offer the player a meaningfully unique experience based on the companions they choose to bring with them..
Just a few of the story's main characters include:
The player will also encounter a wide range of NPC factions that may help or hinder Rook depending on the choices that are made, each with a distinctive visual style, richly detailed background, and unique set of motives and objectives:
The player will also encounter bizarre alien parasitic entities nicknamed 'Phantoms', taking the form of a wide range of hostile creatures and beasts to fight, each with it's own capabilities, behaviors, strengths and weaknesses:
Wanderer is being designed as an episodic series. Episodes will be developed and released in sequential fashion, with each being released as soon as it's finished. Each new episode will add new content in the form of newly discovered areas on the world map (as well as hidden ones that must be discovered by other means), adding new objectives to push the main story forward as well as lots of side content to be completed at your own pace.
Each area on the world map serves as a 'level', full of encounters, puzzles, obstacles, fights, and items. Some levels are much larger than others, and some contain purely optional content seperate from the primary story. You are free to come and go between areas as you please, and you'll sometimes need an item from one area to solve a puzzle on another. Past areas can be revisited in subsequent episodes, and sometimes new content will be added to old areas, so you'll have to keep an eye out and explore to get the most out of the world!
For the Kickstarter, we'll be funding the entire series as a whole, and a $15 or more pledge gains you access to all episodes. We're planning to develop 5 total episodes, but if we hit certain stretch goals, we plan to expand the scope of the game with additional episodes. The reason we're taking the episodic approach to development is to allow us to make an RPG with a greater sense of scope than we would otherwise be able.
Like our favorite RPGs, Wanderer is a long, winding story full of twists and turns, evolving and growing character relationships, and lots of player character progression. To do it justice in a single development period and in a reasonable amount of time isn't a realistic goal for a two-man development team. That's why we're breaking it up into pieces, to make the project manageable and get the game into your hands much sooner. Another benefit is being able to engage with your feedback between episodes, and make sure each one is full of the best possible content!
Our objective is to be able to release the first episode by September 2016, and then release subsequent episodes every 3~4 months.
Our core team is composed of 2 individuals, an artist/designer and a developer/coder. The project found it's humble beginnings on the TIGSource forums, where Cris posted his initial pitch for Wanderer while searching for a developer to collaborate with. As fate would have it, Serge was looking for a new project to work on, and quite literally within five minutes after the creation of it's devlog, the two teamed up and Wanderer's development was underway.
After months of searching for for a musician and composer that fits our vision of the game, we've recently teamed up with veteran Jonathan Geer, and we're very excited to have him on-board to bring Wanderer's soundtrack to life.
Jonathan's impressive versatility is a perfect match for Wanderer's concept, and will allow for the soundtrack to have an array of styles that complement the narratives blend of moods and tones. Though we hope to share a first look at the game's music with at some point during the campaign, in the meantime you can have a listen to an assortment of Jonathan's previous work:
- The game's platforming including full AI companion and enemy pathfinding.
- Puzzle solving/adventure game mechanics.
- An initial implementation for combat mechanics.
- Branching and contextual dialogues.
- A custom and complete in-game scene editor with an advanced script system.
- All the basic components like the save system, medias integration and management pipelines and an advanced and flexible rendering pipeline with light and post-processing effects.
Currently, our programmer is working a full-time job and our artist is living on savings in order to dedicate his time to the project. This is not a situation we can maintain long term. To continue working on Wanderer we need some additional support to allow us to dedicate our full time and attention to the project.
Wanderer is a passion project, the game we always wanted to play but no one ever tried to make. With your help, we can make it a reality! Thank you for time and support! Together, we know we can make a one of a kind gaming experience, and we want nothing more than to share it with you. :)
Risks and challenges
Wanderer is treading new ground in terms of core design structure, which is where we believe much of the appeal lies, but which also means there’s an inherent amount of risk involved in execution. A lack of a tried and true formula means we’re going into this endeavor largely without the benefit of footsteps to follow in regards to the flow of gameplay and the synergy of various hybrid mechanics.
This risk is why the game’s core mechanics are designed with simplicity and elegance in mind. Adding too much complexity to too many potentially disparate mechanics could quickly muddy the design and make it very difficult to analyze what’s working well and what’s not. Keeping things simple and clean means we can make adjustments on the fly and adapt the direction and emphasis of core gameplay without losing lots of design work and development time.
The game is very ambitious in terms of scale and scope, especially given that development is handled by only the two of us. That’s why early on we made the decision to divide it into episodes, to allow us to divide what would otherwise be an insurmountable amount of content into much smaller and more manageable milestones.
Further, the episodic structure additionally benefits us by allowing us to receive valuable player feedback between the release of episodes. This will help us steer the direction of content over the course of the games overall development cycle and gives us ample time to make adjustments as necessary.
Finally, even though this is the first project our team is working on together, we've already made considerable progress on the development, and over the previous six months we've setup a very efficient and adapted workflow. Our pipeline is already established and proven, and we'll do everything in our power to stick to our projected deadlines and deliver the experience we've promised in our presentation.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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