You have reached the single most important page on the internet, the Kickstarter page of PreApocalypse, a turn-based strategy game for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS by Lonely Development! If you haven't already, check out the video above to get acquainted with the concepts driving the game, and to learn why Lonely Development is reaching out to the Kickstarter community. Then, keep reading for even more details about the project.
Empire management strategy games are nothing new. But that doesn't mean that PreApocalypse is more of the same. Lonely Development takes seriously the independent developer's responsibility to try new things, and PreApocalypse is daring to be different by populating the game world with AI players that act in a manner uncommon to this style of game.
The empires in PreApocalypse blend both tactically minded AI and scripted reactions to create a mind that makes emotionally driven decisions on the large scale, yet manages troops with the adaptive reasoning needed to drive tactical game-play.
Here's an example of a scripted sequence coming into play: your friendly undead neighbors have a strong attachment to the old graveyards of the world. When you acquire one of these areas from another empire your undead allies will demand you surrender it to them. After all, it is their ancestral homeland. This is a simple conflict, but with no obvious solution; not unlike many conflicts seen between real world nations.
My name is Zachary Kingston, and I'm the solo developer behind Lonely Development, which operates out of Jericho, Vermont. From an early age I knew that I wanted to create experiences that would affect others in the way great games have affected me. PreApocalypse is an aggressive attempt at realizing that goal!
If you're on the fence about supporting PreApocalypse, let me see what I can do to push you over the edge. Here are some of the things that I believe make this project a cause worth backing...
PreApocalypse is well under development. By completing roughly half of PreApocalypse's development without any external financial support I sought to demonstrate my personal commitment to the project and ability to deliver a final product.
PreApocalypse is a modest project with big dreams. PreApocalypse's funding goal, while certainly not "small", falls well within the lower end of the Kickstarter spectrum. You'll have to answer this for yourself, but I believe that the potential impact of PreApocalypse greatly out-scales its financial requirements.
About me. Professionally, I am an independent software contractor, which presents some obvious advantages. Additionally, my profession demands that I accurately assess project scope on a regular basis. So I am confident when I say that PreApocalypse, if funded, can be completed with the projected time and money budget.
Indie development is important. As the game industry continues to grow it is becoming more and more difficult for large game publishers to take risks and try new ideas. Fortunately, small groups and individuals with gaming passion are more than willing to experiment for them. Large publishers are watching for great ideas, and a clever indie game today may be a full AAA game experience tomorrow!
Cool backer rewards! Check out the right side of this page to see the awesome incentives you can grab when you support PreApocalypse. Insert yourself into the game, secure extra content for all players, see your name in the credits, and more!
If you're interested in learning even more, here's an exploration of one of PreApocalypse's core systems. This is the kind of posting you can expect to see on the backers-only development blog.
In the PreApocalypse Kickstarter video I made the claim that the game's combat system allows for fun and strategically deep combat, largely as a result of a David & Goliath mechanic that makes precision strikes a critical component of success. Let's take a look at that system now...
Combat in PreApocalypse occurs between two factions, each with their own collection of formations.
A sample battlefield:
A sample formation:
Notice that formations, like battlefields, are made up of squares. These squares translate directly, so this formation will take up a 3x2 grid of space on the battlefield.
Formations are rectangular grids, each square of which has the potential to hold a single unit. The units making up a formation move as a whole, but attack and take damage individually. Without boring you with the gritty details, melee units attack enemies next to them, ranged units attack enemies at range, and spell casters can cast a wide variety of spells if they avoid taking damage during the melee and ranged phases of combat.
In PreApocalypse players can customize each formation under their control to devise unique combat strategies.
For the purpose of this exploration let's transmute this formation into an icon that we can easily manipulate:
Okay, check out this 2D version. Just like in the real formation we've got two melee units (swordsmen), two ranged units (archers), and a spell caster (the monk with the halo). I've colored the monk blue because he is special to this formation; he is its Leader unit. All formations have a single leader. And in fact, any formation that loses its leader is destroyed.
In-game, Leaders are identified by the raised squares they stand on.
In addition to possessing a leader, valid formations must observe one other rule: there may be no completely empty rows or columns in the formation. For example, our 3x2 formation above is perfectly valid but the 4x2 formation below would not be allowed because the third column is empty.
While PreApocalypse’s formation editor would not allow you to deploy an illegal formation like this, this kind of damage might occur naturally if the unit occupying one of the columns three squares has just been defeated So, if that is the case, what happens to this formation?
Well, first, any empty columns or rows are simply erased from existence, causing our damaged formation to essentially split in two. Like this:
That doesn't seem so bad. That is, until we realize that the newly broken off formation (the archer + swordsman duo) is now estranged from their leader. And, as we know, a formation cannot exist without a leader. So these two units are lost, leaving us with only a single 2x2 formation.
I wanted to show you this formation amputation mechanic because it is the driving force behind PreApocalypse's combat strategy. Constantly exploiting weak points in an opponent's formations greatly increases the efficiency of an army. And the fact that points of attack generate naturally caters towards the type of adaptive, rather than purely pre-baked strategy that I expect to feel truly rewarding.
Risks and challenges
Even if PreApocalypse is funded it will face an array of challenges, most of which have been battled by every true indie game to come before it. Let's take a look at what the project is doing to avoid, or combat, some of these pitfalls.
Pitfall #1) Constraints of the "budget".
PreApocalypse is a game of ambitious scope looking to develop on a very modest financial budget. While this is one of the project's great strengths, it must be acknowledged that budgetary constraints have strangled more then one past indie game. So what is PreApocalypse doing to prevent a financial failure?
> Well, I hope to dodge this pitfall entirely by simply projecting a realistic budget from the start. As a professional software contractor I estimate software project timelines on a regular basis. So I am working from past experience when I say that PreApocalypse can be completed with the targeted $8,000 of Kickstarter funding.
> In addition, PreApocalypse has been designed with efficiency in mind. Most notably, the game's voxel-based art style makes the creation of content very streamlined. By accepting that this art style will allow PreApocalypse to look crisp, but probably not visually revolutionary, I am able to focus as much of my development time as possible on the software side of development. This leverages my personal skill-set and makes production of PreApocalypse as efficient as possible.
Pitfall #2) Distribution methods.
Like all true indie games, PreApocalypse will have to tackle the very real challenge of distributing itself to consumers. Fortunately, infrastructure to support indie game sales is growing as we speak (in forms such as Steam Greenlight and the Apple App Store)!
PreApocalypse will also release on Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS, to maximize its accessibility and target audience. And will, of course, aim to entice distributors by being the best game it can possibly be!
Your name in the credits and access to the backers-only development blog. In my eyes everyone who pledges a monetary donation is a genuine investor in this project. Through the development blog I will discuss the mechanics behind PreApocalypse and present regular updates on the project's overall completion status.
All previous reward tiers plus: The PreApocalypse Strategy Guide in glorious PDF format! Also, your name on a very special list of persons to receive digital downloads of every future Lonely Development game for free.
All previous reward tiers plus: A unique Leader unit with your name and (voxeled) image will be added to the game. I will be burning the midnight oil to make these units, so each pledge at this tier adds content to everyone's copy of PreApocalypse!
All previous reward tiers plus: A 30 minute phone or Skype conversation with me, the developer. We can chat about the game, or about your eleven cats, 30 minutes of my time and witty banter are yours (all calls from outside the U.S. will have to be via Skype, sorry). Also, play (and test) the Alpha and Beta builds of the game.