About this project
Imagine that Fire Emblem and Disgaea had a baby, and that baby turned out to be a prodigy...
“With destructible buildings, bridge construction to create new flanking opportunities and the ability to throw people into lava, it sounds like Telepath Tactics may contain all that is necessary for my tactical needs.”–Adam Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun
“The gameplay recalls Sega’s Shining Force series, mixed with a bit of Advance Wars — as a fan of both, I definitely approve of the direction this one’s taking!”–The Indie Games Blog
“You can smash through walls, rob the high ground, build bridges, and lay down explosives. You can also back your foes into undesirable puddles of stuff, like water and lava. For a change, try flinging your best friend off a cliff.”–GameZebo
"Telepath Tactics is the first tactics game where I felt competitive in a good way and had a great time whether I was winning or losing. I love the use of environmental effects in TT and they've led to some interesting land grab battles where it was more about controlling, deforming, or transforming the maps to win than directly battling my opponent."–Phil Tibitoski, Octodad
Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG in the tradition of Fire Emblem and Disgaea. It features a single player campaign with well-written characters embroiled in a tale of war and political intrigue, as well as 2-to-6 player multiplayer with support for hotseat play (i.e. you and your friends playing together in the same room, Super Smash Brothers style).
Telepath Tactics takes place in a fantasy-steampunk universe that averts most of the tropes you're used to from these sorts of games. Magic doesn't exist: instead, there is psionics and steam-powered technology reliant on a volatile, crystalline substance called vibra. Cavaliers don't ride horses: they ride giant, armored praying mantises. There are no elves, no dwarves, no goblins, no dragons: it's just humans and a few other, entirely original sentient races (such as the shadowlings, disembodied floating heads that quite literally feed on human suffering).
Telepath Tactics takes a highly deterministic approach to combat mechanics. Attack damage is 100% predictable, and attacks always hit unless there is some intervening factor (such as the attacker having been blinded, or the target having some special defensive status effect). In this regard, it is very much a game of skill akin to chess—chance will seldom determine the outcome of a battle.
Telepath Tactics borrows liberally from the best tactics games around to provide a wide variety of available strategies. Throw enemies off of cliffs; push enemies into water or lava; fling friends across gaps; set your enemies on fire; freeze them; blind them; cripple them; stun them; use hit-and-run tactics with cavalry and bowmen; teleport; grab item drops; stick your ranged units on the high ground to boost their effectiveness; the list goes on and on.
Telepath Tactics also brings fresh new environmental manipulation mechanics to the table. Push boulders, barrels and tables in the way to block off certain routes; build bridges to create new routes across water or lava; build barricades to brunt an incoming attack; destroy walls, doors and bridges to open up or close off routes of attack; shoot through open windows; place down explosive charges to create a trap for an unwary opponent. Telepath Tactics supports all of this and more.
The enemy AI in Telepath Tactics is aggressive and reactive. The enemy will not just sit around the battlefield waiting for your characters to wander into aggro range or trigger a script—instead, the AI will actively maneuver and seek out ways to get at your most vulnerable characters.
Telepath Tactics multiplayer comes with 22 unique character classes, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and battlefield roles. The single player campaign features unique, named characters based off of these classes, each with its own custom stats and leveling schemes.
You don't have to be content with the selection the game ships with, however. Telepath Tactics features extensive mod support that allows you to create custom multiplayer maps, custom tilesets, custom destructible objects, custom items, custom attacks, custom character classes, and even whole single player campaigns filled with unique characters, enemies, dialog and cut scenes. Everything is stored in easy-to-edit .xml files, so modding is a cinch.
The game also comes with a full-featured map editor to make creating new battles fast and simple. Create your own, or download someone else's: Telepath Tactics supports all of the above.
There is a lot more I could say about the game. Rather than talk your ear off, however, I will direct you to the latest draft of the Telepath Tactics manual with more (and more detailed) information on how the game works.
WHERE IS TELEPATH TACTICS AT IN ITS DEVELOPMENT?
Every single thing you read in the section above is currently in-game and working. There is no question about whether this project is too ambitious to complete: it isn't. The lion's share of the really tough stuff is already done. I just need more resources to give the game all the content and polish it needs.
Get a taste of the game in this public alpha demo!
SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED $25,500 FOR?
I've crunched some numbers, and $25,500 is the bare minimum amount of money it will take to finish Telepath Tactics to my satisfaction. (Please note that I am not counting wages for myself in this figure. I don't want a salary; I just want the money to get this thing done right.)
Here are the things your contribution will fund:
- Hiring a sound designer to create all of the sound effects for every last button click, movement, attack, character death, item usage, and action in the game. Estimated cost: $12,000
- Hiring a composer to flesh out the game's soundtrack with more music. Estimated cost: $4,000
- Hiring artists to create more art: tilesets, destructible objects, character portraits, NPC sprites, and a second gender for each character class. Estimated cost: $4,000
- Promoting Telepath Tactics* at PAX East. Estimated cost: $2,000
- Hiring a web designer to build a proper website* for Telepath Tactics. Estimated cost: $1,000
Now, if you're good at math, you might be scratching your head right now. "Craig," you might say, "that's only $23,000. What is the last $2,500 for?" Good eye. The last $2,500 is to cover the estimated 10% cut that Amazon and Kickstarter take from whatever we raise. (For instance: if we raise $25,500.00, I estimate that these guys will take a $2,550 cut; that leaves just about $23,000, the amount I need to cover the expenses listed above.)
* Publicity is important to the game: it means more people for you to play against in multiplayer, and more people creating single player campaigns for you to play. Trust me, you want this!
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE RAISE MORE THAN $25,500?
So let's talk rewards. We'll start basic, then build up toward the really awesome stuff. Any contribution gets our gratitude; the actual goodies begin at $10.
BONUS: Everyone who pledges at or above $40 will receive a free copy of Telepath Psy Arena 2, an addictive tournament-style tactics game with team management, challenge matches, randomly generated training battles, and 10 leagues filled with fights that will test your tactical skill!
BONUS: Everyone who pledges at or above $100 will also now receive a free copy of my last game, Telepath RPG: Servants of God, a Middle East steampunk tactical wRPG about oppression, democracy, God, and the nature of knowledge. That game normally costs $25 all on its own, so this is a pretty killer value!
Please give as generously as you can; it'll help a lot!
In addition to pledging, you can also help Telepath Tactics out by voting for it on Steam Greenlight--this will help ensure that the game sees a Steam release!
WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS AND HANDSOME DEVELOPER, ANYWAY?
I'm Craig Stern, the guy behind the company Sinister Design. (You also might know me as the creator of IndieRPGs.com, but I consider myself a game developer first and foremost.)
I've been designing board games and card games since I was a child, and I've been creating video games for more than half a decade. Over that time, I've put out a whole slew of turn-based strategy RPGs. Those games were pretty good, but I consider them all a dry run: Telepath Tactics is the real deal. Telepath Tactics is the culmination of years of careful thought and design work. I am not messing around with this game: I am gunning to create the most elegant, comprehensive, tactically deep strategy role-playing game in existence, and to then give it over to you, the community, to extend as you see fit.
Please contribute to make Telepath Tactics happen; you'll have my sincere gratitude, and one excellent turn-based tactics game to show for it.
Risks and challenges
Game design, in general, is an area fraught with risks. If you've paid any attention to the world of game development, you probably know about all of these already: going over time, going over budget, having your programmer or artist suddenly leave, etc. I'll just briefly address each of these:
1) I constantly tweet and blog about my progress while I'm developing, so if it's going to miss the estimated release date, you'll know well in advance. I'll try to avoid having this happen, of course.
2) If the game goes over budget, that'll be my fault. Therefore, if that happens, I will make up the difference out of my own pocket.
3) There is always a risk when working with contract artists. However, over the years, I've built up a core group of folks that I know are both talented and dependable--the chances of them running off and not doing the work are quite low.
Meanwhile, I am my own programmer, so there is zero chance of someone taking off and leaving me with code I can't read or use. I do not like to leave projects unfinished; it's just my personality. I stuck with my last game (Telepath RPG: Servants of God) for more than four years, then released it when it was done. Unless I am abducted by government agents or run over by a truck, Telepath Tactics is going to be completed. Period.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The main campaign will feature perma-non-lethal-K.O. In short: when characters reach 0 health, they have suffered injuries so bad that they can never fight again. However, they're still alive and will speak during cut scenes. (Basically, it's permadeath without you having to create a zillion variations in every cut scene to account for who is dead.)
I am not a fan of intrusive DRM: it's a waste of time to implement, and it hurts the player's experience of the game. If Telepath Tactics ends up having any DRM, it will be nothing more serious than entering a one-time activation code. Regardless of what I choose, early access backers ($25+) are guaranteed a DRM-free copy.
Telepath Tactics is now up on Steam Greenlight--if you want to see this game on Steam, go vote for it! http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/…
I'll be making the game available to early access backers shortly after the Kickstarter campaign ends: within no more than a few weeks, and possibly a lot sooner.
The same goes for the map editor: folks who select early access to the map editor as a reward will get it within no more than a few weeks after the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign.
Ignore the text that says "December 2013": that's a typo (and unfortunately, Kickstarter won't let me change it now that folks have pledged).
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