The Kingsport Cases
A fully procedurally generated horror game set in 19th century Lovecraftian lore. It's the type of fear you can never get used to.
$25,000 - MOD SUPPORT! Story Editor + Tutorial (released within 3 months of launch)
$30,000 - (Will be announced if we reach 25k)
Play the Alpha Demo
Got feedback? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kingsport Cases is a fully procedurally generated survival horror game set in late 19th century Lovecraftian lore. When the quiet, foggy port town loses its only detective to a tragic accident, the local police department calls you, a fledgling detective of little renown from Essex county. “It’s an easy job,” they said, but you shouldn't count on it.
Players will be able to explore randomly generated maps within the town of Kingsport as they investigate the area for clues and knowledge to help uncover the truth behind the several mysteries at hand. A plethora of randomly generated yet charmingly dynamic characters will either assist or hinder you throughout your investigations as they carry out their own goals and ambitions as part of a procedurally generated storyline.
The Kingsport Cases’ estimated release date is February 2014 and will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux.
Want to hear the music? Main Theme Sample:
Procedurally Generated Maps -- Explore randomized maps meant to be different every playthrough as you discover new clues, puzzles, and knowledge to help you solve the case.
Four Interesting, Visually Compelling Locations -- Conduct your investigation in the Kingsport Manor, the Haunted Shipyard, and the University. The fourth location is a secret; you’ll just have to wait and see...
Character Creation -- You are the detective. Build your character with traits which will not only affect your character’s versatility in the field, but also the minutia of dialogue with NPCs.
Randomized NPCs -- Interrogate, befriend, or belittle new characters every playthrough. They each have their own personalities, quirks, backstories, and role within the story.
NPC Goals -- People have ambitions in life. So should NPCs. Discover NPC intentions and help or stop them from attaining their desires. Player intervention or lack thereof directly affects the outcome of the case and overall story.
Procedurally Generated Story -- Stories are crafted by people and their actions; such is the case in Kingsport. Plot lines are crafted by NPC Goals and player interactivity, and change dynamically based on the player’s choices.
Adaptive Characters and Story -- Characters will react to everything they know you’ve done, whether it be an interrogation gone wrong, an important case left unsolved, or anything else in between. Your choices will morph and craft your story.
Gossip Network -- People don’t just randomly know that you’ve done something; they have to find out about it. Cover your tracks to keep secrets or share knowledge openly with other people. Either or could hurt or maybe even save you. Choose wisely who you decide to trust...
Multitude of Endings -- If you want a “choose from one of three endings” type game, you might want to look into something else. Kingsport crafts your ending based on every action you’ve taken. You don’t get to be an awful person the entire game and then choose the goody-two-shoes ending. Trust us, your ending will reflect what you’ve done, and what you’ve become...
Recurring Characters -- Throughout your playthrough you will investigate several cases, and each case will have its own cast of interesting characters. It is possible for the characters you’ve already met and established relationships with to reappear in later cases, with all the knowledge they attained in the last case. Will they be ready to help or slow your progress?
Be Afraid -- Something dire is brewing in Kingsport. And that something wants you out of the picture. There is no defense against the darkness that hunts you, and you must be vigilant to escape it. It will come for you...
Purposeful Content -- The Kingsport Cases has a huge amount of content, enough to make every playthrough unique. A system in place prioritizes content you’ve never seen before so you can be sure to experience something new every time.
In game, players will arrive at a location with hints at the mystery needed to be solved. The rest is up to you. Do you interrogate witnesses first, or explore the area? Search every room possible or delve right into what you think is the heart of the problem? As you explore, you will quickly realize you are in grave danger. Hide and escape from ravenous enemies--both creature and man alike. Just remember, it’s all up to you to stop the calamities sure to come, and you get to do it your way.
The year is 1895 in the foggy port town of Kingsport, Massachusetts. City population has dwindled over the recent years; some say it was the closing of the shipyard or the more recent closure of Kingsport University. Others simply don’t notice, and take pleasure in the way the town quiets at night as the fog rolls in, like a blanket slowly pulled over a child to soothe it into a deep sleep.
When the town unexpectedly lost its local and beloved detective, the police had to call in a replacement. It was an easy job, they claimed. Nothing too bothersome ever happened in Kingsport. But as you’ll see, they were very, very wrong.
The Kingsport Cases takes place across four unique locations, three of which we’ll mention (the fourth is a secret!):
The Manor -- Owned by a wealthy family whose ancestry traces back to one of the original founders of Kingsport in 1639, the oldest manor in the port town is used once a year for the town's anniversary party. Decorated ravishingly with no expense spared to show off the family wealth, the manor is coveted as one of the more beautiful sights to behold in the town.
The Shipyard -- The Kingsport Shipyard was once the largest manufacturer of sea-faring ships on the East Coast, but ever since the blockade during the American Revolutionary War, business sunk. Kingsport's economy is now mainly fueled by fisheries, and as such the Shipyard has been closed for years. Many claim it is haunted, and few would argue if they saw the half-built ships, wave-broken docks, and utterly deserted buildings in the far-off, desolate cove by the sea...
The University -- Kingsport University had always been a misguided venture, claimed a weary founder years after its construction. "It never could compete with Miskatonic. Never has it and never it shall!" Most scholars in the North Eastern region would most certainly go to the more renowned Miskatonic University in Essex County, and as such Kingsport U. never got off the ground. Due to this, the town council recently shut down the building and are in the process of re-purposing it to be a museum.
How Does the Procedurally Generated Plot Work?
The biggest fear people have when they learn our game has a procedural plot is that the story might be jumbled, nonsensical, and hardly be a plot at all. Luckily, we’ve laid a solid foundation for the plot to be built upon, giving a basic blueprint to the story generator in a similar way a developer would give pieces to an engine to build a procedural map with. If you want to learn more about how the plot works, check out this podcast (a text version is also available) created by our lead writer, and if you have any more questions feel free to leave a comment!
"Will [Kingsport] start to feel the same? Is the game truly infinite? At some point, yes, you will dry up the storylines, locations, and overarching plots. The only things truly infinite are the characters and random maps. But with four planned locations, a minimum of 20 story blueprints in each one, dynamic goals and several divergent paths based off adaptive story-telling, you'd probably have to play through the entire game at least 20 times to see identical content again.
With an estimated 2-3 hours of gameplay per case, meaning 8-12 hours in one playthrough, that's 160 hours to 240 hours of gameplay before you start to see things playing out exactly the same...That is 8 scripted games worth of average playtime in one product, if the average game's playtime is roughly 30 hours."
-- The Procedural Plot in Detail
The Kingsport Cases has been called many things, but ambitious is the term we hear the most. And those who call it such aren’t wrong. We’re three people (plus two awesome contractors) creating a huge amount of 3D art assets, code, and writing. We’re very sure we can finish this game ourselves, and the ask you see is what we feel is the bare minimum required for sustaining us through this project.
20k will get us the absolute necessary software, the rewards you’re purchasing with your pledges, current contractor pay, Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and just enough top ramen and coffee to get us through the next nine months of development.
However, if the community deems it worthy enough to march us higher, we will use the extra money to bring this game to an even greater potential. Stretch goals you see will allow us to hire on extra artists, more writers, and maybe even a few coders. More money will also mean better software, more software, and most importantly, a better game overall.
So why are we asking for your money? Because we believe in this game, and we know we can bring it to fruition; we’ve already come this far. The survival horror genre is starving for more innovation, and enough gamers out there are begging for more. We want to innovate, and we want to provide a survival horror worth mentioning. But we can’t do it without your help.
And why would we continue to hope for more than our ask? Because we don’t just want to give you our bare minimum; we want to give you the absolute best experience possible. We’ve worked hard to make sure that our stretch goals, if met, will majorly improve the overall experience of the game. The extra funds will pay for the people, time, and resources necessary to make those goals happen. (Stretch goals will be announced if we hit $15,000 in pledges).
What is an "Alpha"?
In our case, an alpha is a decently stable build of a game that has key features--but not all features--on display. Content is limited as to show off the important or "risky" tech, not the full experience of the game, and the art (particularly the character and enemy models) are not complete. Our alpha demo will be released for free May 7th.
Follow Our Progress
Machines in Motion is a small group of developers working to create great games. Our first release, Borealis, was an experiment in slow paced, zen-inducing gameplay with a procedurally generated musical track and visuals. We're taking our experience and passion for procedural generation and the replay value it provides to The Kingsport Cases.
The Core Team
Tabitha Chirrick - Designer / Writer
Conrad Nelson - Programmer / 3D Artist
Andrew Stanek - Producer / Programmer
Matthew Cowdery - Concept Artist
Johnathon Paape - Audio Artist
Risks and challenges
Machines in Motion has been developing The Kingsport Cases with its own funds for almost a year. More than anything, we want to bring it to its maximum potential, with as much content as can be crammed in, but the truth is: this is an intensely demanding project--such is the nature of game development. Because we’re hoping this game launches us into a good starting zone as an indie developer, If we aren’t funded, we can’t risk spending more time hoping this game will be a (relative) commercial success, and we won’t be able to release it. This is perhaps the biggest (and scariest) risk of all. No funding means no community interest, and though we love this game and are putting our all into it, we can’t rightly dedicate time to a dead end project if we want to start a game company.
The biggest challenge associated with our game is delivering the promise of a unique experience every playthrough. We feel that through randomized characters and maps we’ve already done this, but we don’t think that’s enough. We want the story to be unique each time as well, and that requires a considerable amount of content. We’re working hard every day (and always will) to pump as much content as we can into this project
Another challenge for us is implementing player feedback. We’ve already collected a fair amount of criticism and integrated it into our alpha, art style, and more, but we expect to get a ton more feedback, and we want to listen. We believe gamer communities are often best at catching flaws in games, and that’s why we are and will strive to implement as much feedback as possible. Obviously, this could be quite a lot, but we’re determined to get the job done. We can’t promise every gamer will like Kingsport, but we can promise that by the end, we’ll have done everything we can to make it so.
Game development can be an incredibly unpredictable process. While our estimated release date is February 2014, depending on a number of factors this stands the potential of being wrong. Our current standard is to be as open and honest about any problems we come up against in development, so if we delay, rest assured you will know exactly why, and it won’t be because we’re sitting on our hands. Even so, this current release date is past when we expect we could be done, but if it comes out earlier, it’s simply a pleasant surprise. We appreciate our fans and critics alike storing their pitchforks when we run into issues; and we promise that any delay only means a stronger, better built game.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)