Share this project


Share this project

Tortured Hearts - or, How I Saved The Universe. Again. project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with

An epic length RPG in 2D/3D cartoon animation which satirizes game cliches. Game has every feature an RPG ever had, plus attitude.

An epic length RPG in 2D/3D cartoon animation which satirizes game cliches. Game has every feature an RPG ever had, plus attitude. Read More
pledged of $300,000 goal
seconds to go

Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on April 29, 2012.

Share This Project

About this project

More information on:

"I love the art style in the video, and I hope you will make the game one way or another! I'll spread the word on Facebook. :-)"
John Alvarado, Technical Director at InXile (The makers of Wasteland 2)

Stay in touch with our Facebook page and help us involve more people from all around the world:

Please read updates for additional information about the project (plot, skills, areas, conversations)

You can see the tech demo on YouTube:

Tortured Hearts: Or, How I Saved the Universe. Again. (TM)

is an epicly epic RPG, dedicated to the proposition that most RPGs take themselves far too seriously. Since almost every imaginable plot scenario and character has already been used and overused to the point that cliches are unavoidable, TH instead revels in pointing out that the life of adventurers is one endless heroic cliche, some sort of existential trap created by the gods of RPG worlds. In other word, it has everything every other RPG game ever had, and introspective humor too. It is not a hack-and-slash fest, but has adventure game aspects too; problem solving is as important as combat.

A 3D concept of an interior scene:

What’s done so far? LOTS:

1. 200 areas

2. Over 500 NPCs

3. Over 100 quests

4. A long and complicated plot (see update #7)

5. A crafting system which will create saleable items and buffs

6. Almost 500,000 words of dialog (including henchman conversations) already written, plus a journal to keep track of quests. (See update #7)

7. A variety of henchmen who contribute in an interactive way with the PC

8. A henchman relationship system which can lead to romance.

9. A character development system, first used in Newcomer™ and now perfected

10. All the quests and conversations are scripted and tested, so that the game is playable now in the development environment

11. Combat system will be turn-based, by popular demand

The Story

Like all our favorite games, this story is as non-linear as possible, with only three choke points that keep the player from advancing too quickly and arriving at a state of confusion. These choke points are logical breaks that demand a certain amount of expertise and knowledge before safe progress.

The Setting (See Update #9 for more detail)

Tortured Hearts™ is set in the unique custom world of Eupherea, where things are different. For example, the gnome race hasn’t yet been written out of the Big Picture. Celestial bureaucracy, which functions much like ordinary mortal bureaucracy, has a hidden hand in the affairs of things and especially in the lives of adventurers. This philosophical premise naturally devolves into the question of whether there is really free will, on the part of the adventurer, or whether blind lust for loot and glory is the only real prime mover in the universe, a question the PC often asks himself.

The story is serious even though the situations parody cliches. The opening scene shows one particular seasoned, cocksure adventurer being drugged and robbed and thrown on a town dung heap (what a novel concept, eh?). Now he has to reestablish himself and, of course, take vengeance on the dastard who did this. He will travel to the ends of the cosmos and save the usual lost princess, cute animals, hopeless peasants, and the universe. Even a goblin. He will fulfill prophecies he doesn’t even appear in. He will conquer impressive, impossible bosses by hook or crook. He may even find a magic weapon in a crate. At the end, he finds that personal satisfaction and resolution always lie just out of reach, leaving (of course) the cliché opening for a sequel. The journey to this point provides about 100-150 hours of gameplay.

The Party

This is a single player game, with 8 possible companions (unless of course you donated $3000, in which case you can be your own companion). It is quite possible to play solo. If you choose companions, you can have up to five in a party for the classic 6-person party. However, not all these companions get along with each other. They have their own personalities, skills, and agendas. The PC and the companions have approximately 100,000 words of dialog with each other. Much conversation is initiated spontaneously by the companions and occurs between them as well as with the PC. Other NPCs have one-liner remarks to add color and hints in the background.

The Gameplay

Tortured Hearts™ is a non-linear RPG which emphasizes problem solving through interactive dialogs. There are six playable races: human, elf, half orc, halfling, dwarf, and gnome.The PC appearance can be modified as to head and gear. Races have different starting statistics as in most RPG. Character skills (e.g. communication) and abilities (e.g. strength) can be developed freely. There are no predetermined classes with built-in limitations, only trends which you can follow or not. Besides skills and abilities, there are sidelines, which are crafting skills that can earn gold and other rewards. You don’t have to be a crafter to get what you need. Generally speaking, the game world is rich and generous. You don’t have to play nice all the time although you will probably do better if you aren’t playing the jerk role. There are often ways to solve problems that don’t involve killing something.You can access all companion inventories. You can also train them individually and use their skills and abilities to make up for your own limits. They can help you automatically or you can tell them to bug off, you want to do it yourself. Combat will be turn-based. The party can be controlled as a group with a party controller widget.

Because many NPC interactions involve choices, there are many possible ways to get through the world. This and the flexible character system and multiple henchmen make the game highly replayable.


Tortured Hearts™ will use full 3D models and movement in a 2D/3D style as in the tech demo video on YouTube:

Don't worry, we will still have blood and gore and body parts if you like, and if you don't, the gore factor can be shut off. We are going to use the Unity3D game engine and technology to express the game. This will make it easy to port the game to other popular platforms including tablets.

Interior Concept Animation:

What needs to be done?

This is where the pledgers come into the picture; we need the money to finish the graphics, music and sound effects, voice-overs, and combat system, and hand a bug-free product over to you.

Estimated time to delivery, 18 months.

What if we are overpledged?

Depending on how much, whatever we can squeeze out of the following list of upgrades: More music, more voice-overs, more languages, shorter time to completion, more platforms, more thorough testing, boxed collector’s edition.

The Future

A sequel is already in the planning stage. The torture is sure to go on as long as we do.

Thanks in advance for your involvement and pledges.

The TH Team

Our Core Team

Zoltan Gonda, of Budapest, spent 10 years in the game industry doing “real” work building strategy games as a scripter and level designer. He worked on Haegemonia: The Legions of Iron; Rush for Berlin; Panzers Phase 2; Panzers: Cold War. But even before perfecting tank battles, an inner voice kept telling him he was to undo some of the disruption that had occurred in the universe of role playing. This led to a creative burst starting with Newcomer™, a game for Commodore 64, in 1990. It escalated with two Neverwinter Nights™ community modules, Tortured Hearts I and II, and has come to full flower with this stand-alone game, Tortured Hearts™, which has nothing much to do with Neverwinter Nights™ and certainly not with Dungeons and Dragons™.

Csaba Foris, of Budapest, is the lead artist and another professional, with 20+ years experience in broadcast animation and game art. He drew the original art for the original Newcomer™ and has been a collaborator with Zoltan Gonda ever since, bringing to life the vast concepts imagined first by Zoltan and now Lenore. Doing a darn good job, too.

Zoltan Toth, of Budapest, is the lead programmer, and also has more than 20 years experience in the game industry, working with various platforms: C64, Amiga, Playstation, PS2, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Mac, PC, X-Box. His company story is at

Lenore Hoehl, of Arizona, is the English interface and office wonk who has written or proofread over a million words of deathless game text strings and invented tons of NPC gear.  She founded Game Psych LLC to help with the business end of development. The trademarks Tortured Hearts™ and Newcomer™, as games, are owned by Game Psych LLC. Game Psych has already made two as yet unpublished casual games and parts of several others with the Hungarian partners.

Sound effects and music will be provided by Aquasound, Additional music will be provided by Gergely Buttinger, who actually lives outside Budapest, and has contributed both graphics and music to games for years.

Other helpers are standing by ready to join. You too can join the show by getting involved with pledges and comments.


  • We could have asked for less, hoping we'd be overpledged. But what if we weren't? We couldn't promise a finished game of the best quality. We are already on a very spare budget that we know is enough to finish. Update #1 explains this a little more.

    Last updated:
  • Sorry to say, we need to ask an additional $15 for shipping outside of the U.S. on any pledge of $100 to $500. Shipping for pledgers of $1000 and above is free.

    Last updated:
  • Basically the PC, but as we are using Unity, other platforms that are supported by Unity are possible if enough is pledged to cover costs of those licenses and development. At this writing, Unity supports iOS, Android, PC, and Macintosh. Linux is not in the picture yet.

    Last updated:
  • To be discussed.

    Last updated:
  • No, because the story is centered around a particular protagonist. However, that protagonist can be customized by gender, race, name, abilities, skills, appearance.

    Last updated:
  • Absolutely! This isn’t just a game design document. We have already invested a tremendous amount of work in this game.

    Last updated:
  • Celestial bureaucrats, who write down Very Important Things.

    Last updated:
  • It’s a little late now for plot or big quest suggestions, because the game is so close to finished. However, beta players ($50 or more pledge) will have plenty of chances to hunt bugs and make suggestions about balance and story details. The contributions of beta players can make significant differences in many ways.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5 USD

    Level Aspirant --
    Our eternal gratitude and 5 wallpapers of your choice from the bundle designed specifically for Kickstarter.

    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10 USD

    Level 1 -- Newcomer -- Get DRM-free downloaded game, an item of your choice right out of a treasure chest when the game starts, and a letter of thanks signed by a Celestial Scribe.

    Estimated delivery
    231 backers
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15 USD

    Level 1+ -- Newcomer with Hope--
    Get all previous, plus a bundle of 10 wallpapers designed specifically for Kickstarter.

    Estimated delivery
    22 backers
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20 USD

    Leveling up -- Newcomer with Attitude -- Get all previous plus a tourist guide to the game world, issued by Sylfeung Adventuring, Inc., with maps and transportation description (digital).

    Estimated delivery
    30 backers
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25 USD

    Level 2 -- Enhanced Newcomer -- Get previous, an extra license, a magic potion you can use if you want better deals ( virtual prices for virtual, in-game goods) from NPC vendors, and another optional magic potion to give in-game bonus of additional 20 pct. XP gained over normal XP awarded, plus your own Prophecy issued by the Celestial Scribe Committee.

    Estimated delivery
    82 backers
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50 USD

    Level 3 -- Ultimate Newcomer -- Get all previous, another extra license, an additional spiffy item of your choice (two total), a magic potion you can use if you want to give an in-game bonus of additional 10 pct. XP gained. (30 total over normal reward) You’ll have access to the closed beta testing session which means you get to help polish the final product and rant directly to the authors.

    Estimated delivery
    41 backers
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100 USD

    Level 4 -- Serious Contender -- Get all previous, two more extra licenses, a poster signed by the development team, another dose of magic potion you can drink to give additional 20 pct. virtual gold received as in-game only loot, and CD of the soundtrack music.

    Estimated delivery
    13 backers
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150 USD

    Level 4+ -- Natural Born Adventurer -- Get all previous, plus a physical badge with the TH logo and title "Natural Born Adventurer," and the digital version of the novel, Tortured Hearts 1 - Down a Dangerous Road (the first prequel of the present story).

    Estimated delivery
    1 backer
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200 USD

    Level 5 -- Seasoned Looter -- Get all previous, 4 more extra licenses, an additional starting item of your choice (3 total), a T-Shirt, and a TH logo flash drive with the game on it. Your badge now says "Seasoned Looter." Also your name will be eternalized somewhere in the game world for your own little Easter egg, and you’ll be put on the special credit list.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $400 or more About $400 USD

    Level 6 -- Mighty One -- Get all previous, 8 more extra licenses, another T-Shirt, and the custom pet of your choice. The pet can be anything, even a dragon, a finch or a piece of rock if you like. Your badge now says "Mighty One." Also, a hintbook in comic book format!

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750 USD

    Level 7 -- Chosen One -- Get all previous, 16 more extra licenses, 2 additional starting items of your choice (5 total), and now your name will appear on a living creature, either as a boss monster or NPC, your choice. Your badge now says "Chosen One." Your credit list appearance is upgraded with your photo or avatar.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000 USD

    Level 8 -- Savior of the Universe -- Get all previous, 32 more extra licenses, 5 additional starting items of your choice (10 total), and your personalized NPC is immediately upgraded to a companion (aka henchman). Your badge now says "Savior of the Universe." You can be a major character in the sequel. And for an unforgettable treat... you can visit us anytime during July and August in our southern Arizona office.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer

Funding period

- (40 days)