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All Mae wants to do is run around with her friends, break stuff and hang on to a life of aggressive aimlessness. She dropped out of college and returned home to her crumbling old mining town to do just that, but she's finding that nothing is the same anymore. The old town seems different. Her old friends have grown in their own directions. Mae herself is undergoing some sudden and unexplained changes, giving her mysterious abilities that grant her access to a side of town she never knew existed. The world is changing, things are ending, and the future is uncertain. Up behind the park at the edge of town, back in the trees by the old mine- there's something in the woods. And it could mean no future at all.
Night In The Woods is a 2D story-focused adventure/exploration game with many extracurricular activities to enjoy, characters to meet, and secrets to discover. Run, jump and use astral projection to explore the many sides of town of Possum Springs and the surrounding environs. Waste time around town with your crew of loser friends. Gain abilities that grant passage to new areas. Discover the secrets of a large cast of characters and the town itself. Experience a big crazy world and the remarkable events unfolding there. Play bass. Break stuff.
We're inspired by games that foreground exploration, visual atmosphere and mystery. But where many of those games emphasize solitude, Night In The Woods takes place in a town full of colorful citizens and features a memorable central crew with their own relationships, problems and motives. This isn't an empty world- it's packed full of people, places and things just waiting to be found, along with lots of stuff to do, all of which are different when night falls and you venture out into the empty streets to unravel the mysteries of Possum Springs.
Night In The Woods comes from a deep place for us. That point where you sense things are changing and it's time to move on but you just don't know how. Knowing that everything will end someday, and wondering how well we'll be able to meet it when it happens. How long we'll be able to hold on, and when we should let go. When to accept and when to fight.
Mae is the only child of parents whose families worked the coal mines in Possum Springs for generations. Since the mine closed they’ve worked and saved to enable Mae to be the first member of the family to attend college. Mae went for three semesters, dropped out and moved back into the attic. Mae was always a bit troubled- anger issues, no direction and, recently, paranormal abilities. She has no idea what to do with them, but through sheer chance she begins to notice something dark going on in town, a trail of clues leading up into the woods.
Bea and Mae were best friends until 7th grade, when suddenly they weren’t. She worked hard throughout school, was valedictorian of her graduating class, and aced her college applications. But when her mother died, her father didn’t take it well. Bea stayed in Possum Springs to help him recover, and to take her mother’s place at the family business.
Gregg and Angus have been together since junior year of high school and they are both working full time jobs to get out of this crappy town, thank you very much. Gregg is Mae’s best friend, talkative, exuberant and lovably gruff. Angus was that kid in school who wore ties and fedoras for no good reason. You either knew or were that kid.
Germ is Germ. His name might be Jeremy? Who knows. In fact no one knows where Germ lives, what Germ does, or what his deal is. At some point he started showing up to hang out. He’s nice enough but who knows. He’s weird. He’s Germ.
Kickstarter means that small, niche video games like this can exist. Night In The Woods began as a passion project for two guys who love making things. But as the project grew and solidified, we fell in love with it and are dedicated to making it what we know it can be. To do that, we’re going to have to allow for time and resources to bring it to reality. The funds from Kickstarter will give us those things, as well as enable us to bring on others to help us out, record music and sound, and all of the other expenses that crop up when you’re making something big and wonderful.
We’ve built a vertical slice of the game that helped us develop a workflow for combining Scott’s animation with Alec’s code, reaching a point where the in-game graphics and concept art/animation are nearly indistinguishable. Alec has built reusable code systems including movement, collision and dialogue.
Mae’s core animation set and partial sets of many other characters have been completed, but lots of tweaks and improvements will occur over the course of development.
Environments and characters have been created, story is outlined, everything is just waiting to be built out.
The game currently runs on PC and Mac. We plan to add more platforms as development continues.
In the music department, Alec has been jamming out tracks and sharing them with Scott for feedback. The trailer track represents a preview of our shared vision for the soundtrack of the game. Here's an early sketch of an in-game track entitled "Back To The Holler":
Alec Holowka is a dude who loves making games. He was born in the frozen tundra of Winnipeg, Canada but eventually moved to the slightly-less-frozen-but-super-rainy tundra of Vancouver, Canada. He lives in a house full of other indie developers. They call it… IndieHouse. There he basically hangs out and works on games ALL DAY. It’s kind of like his whole life. He has loved before and will love again, but his games will always be his children. We should also mention that he made a game called Aquaria. Some people have heard of it and it won an IGF award and stuff. But he would really prefer it if you just thought of him as a guy who wants to make meaningful things that last. He doesn’t want to sound like he’s bragging, that’s why he got me to write this. (P.S. I am secretly him) He has also written music for such games as: Offspring Fling, TowerFall and… Jetpack Brontosaurus? No one remembers that last one.
Scott Benson is a self-taught animator and illustrator and has been for more years than you want to know. You might know him from his animated shorts or music videos. His work has screened all over the world at festivals, in living rooms, and in the hearts of at least a few people. Scott is co-founder and admin of Late Night Work Club, a relatively-groundbreaking international indie animation collective. He is reasonably well-respected within his profession. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife Bethany and his cat Ico.
Risks and challenges
So this is all very exciting, but let’s sit down and chat for a sec. Making games is hard. Making a game that doesn't fall neatly into an established genre category is even harder.
What we’re attempting here is kind of ambitious. We want to create the feeling that the player is actually visiting another world full of unique and well developed characters. This involves combining gameplay elements from a few different genres with a lot of handmade content, including a great deal of unique character animation and environment detail. There will be a fair amount of experimentation in our approach. In the time we’ve spent building the vertical slice build of NITW, we’ve become very confident in our ability to deliver on this goal.
And we’re not alone.
Alec lives in a place called IndieHouse, a collective of independent game developers based in Vancouver, BC. Among the denizens of the ‘House are none other than Matt Thorson, the developer of the multiplayer archery game TowerFall, Chevy Ray Johnston, creator of the FlashPunk game engine and development resources such as Unity Patterns, and Noel Berry, the kid wonder (whose work has been featured on such notable websites as Rock Paper Shotgun). IndieHouse has become somewhat of a community hub in the Vancouver indie scene, hosting weekend game jams and events where indie developers exchange prototypes and development secrets.
This unique community is a great environment for developing games. Any title developed in the house is subject to constant feedback and improvement from many different game developers. If there’s ever an issue in the game that Alec doesn’t immediately know how to solve, he can walk over to the kitchen to consult an expert on the subject.
Making games is hard. But it’s also a lot of fun.
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