This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, May 13 2019 3:29 PM UTC +00:00.
I've always felt there's been something missing from any recent attempt there's been to recreate that old school 3D platformer formula. Not that the few recent games in that genre have been bad - just that there's something missing. I think nostalgia is a big part of the problem. The old school games were phenomenal for what they were but they didn't have to rely on narratives to support them, and while most other types of games (FPSs, RPGs, fighting games, etc) progressed with the times and incorporated new ideas and developments to stay relevant, the 3D platformer was stunted. That type of game only progressed to a point before, more or less, that genre disappeared or transformed into what we'd now classify as adventure games. Recently there's been a trend of trying to capitalize on that nostalgia and yet I think, specifically for 3D platformers, they've all kind of missed the mark. I think the act of simply taking the games that were beloved and reskining them isn't enough. We've come too far as a community to still get that same feeling we remember even just from replaying the old games. And that's ok. We've grown. But now it's time for this particular genre to grow with us. That's the basis behind Toby's Topsy Tale.
We want to take the old formula of 3D platformers that defined the genre and incorporate it into an adult, narrative based experience; mixing old school 3D platforming with elements of psychological thrillers and survival horrors.
Toby’s Topsy Tale revolves around a tiny gingerbread man named Toby exploring a small, secluded home in the 1970’s. The sweet, nostalgic setting bares many secrets, from small details to discover to entire worlds to explore.
As the game progresses, The Player will began to become cognizant of dissonance both in the gameplay and the overall tone. The worlds grow metaphorically darker, the enemies become harder, the combat and mechanics become more grounded, and the horror starts to show through. It becomes increasingly apparent that things are not as whimsical as The Player once thought.
Toby’s Topsy Tale is a 3D platformer where the player controls Toby through several areas and a hubworld house. Each area is an enclosed world in which the player is free to wander in all directions and discover the environment without time limits. The worlds are filled with enemies that attack Toby, as well as friendly creatures that provide assistance, offer information, or ask a favor (Such as Pinto, Lord ‘Vacado, etc). The player gathers Cookies in each course, which allow for further progression through the house.
Items and costumes can be found throughout that reveal more about the world through their descriptions and by examining them.
The specific movements of the character are callbacks to old-school 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64. The Player can make Toby walk, run, attack, duck, jump, double-jump, dive, and hover.
Health - The amount of ‘life’ or additional damage the player can take before ‘dying’ is presented using a candy cane. When the player loses health, the candy cane grows shorter with the visual effect of degeneration or it being chewed down. When the candy cane is completely depleted, the player ‘dies’. Attacking and especially killing enemies replenishes health.
*Later in the game, as the style turns darker and more realistic, taking damage or low health will also be visualized using a blurry, veiny red effect on the edges of the screen that will distort vision as it becomes more severe.
Cookies- The core progression of the game is largely wrapped around the collection of ‘cookies’ which serve the same purpose as ‘Power Stars’ in the Super Mario 64 game. Certain doors, pathways, quests, and character interactions are hard-locked behind specific amounts of these cookies that are needed to initiate them. For example; from the kitchen, the only door that leads further into the house requires 10 cookies to unlock. You need to explore the kitchen thoroughly to find every cookie available before you can precede and explore further, which also progresses the story.
Candies- These mysterious collectables are well hidden throughout the game world, and serve to unlock certain events or the acquisition of certain items. Collecting all of these candies unlocks a particular ending for the game.
Coins - There are a certain amount of coins that can be collected in each level to unlock a cookie. These are non-respawnable and are actually useful for unlocking a couple specific costumes in the game.
Gumdrops - These little pieces serve as the main health pickup for the game. They are selectively placed around the game world but can also be dropped by enemies during combat. Different colors restore different amounts of health.
Toby's Topsy Tale takes place in a cozy, 1950’s style cottage deep in the Wisconsin woods. The main house serves as a hubworld, more or less, for the myriad of mini-worlds that are hidden in the game. While not extravagantly large, the home is filled with many secrets and areas to discover, which are spread across 7 rooms, a basement, and a few other areas of the house. To someone like Toby, who is roughly the size of your hand, a house that size would really feel like quite the massive landscape to explore.
Exploration is a key element to the game. Many secrets to the narrative are hidden in the hubworld and inspire the player to really pay attention to their surroundings to get the full experience. Much of the progression through the game revolves around the collection of cookies that will allow new areas to be unlocked and new secrets to be found. Much of the early levels are hardlocked behind specific amounts of these cookies, however as the game progresses the only limit to exploration will be your own constitution to the challenge and horror that arise.
Within the hubworld, you'll find many secret worlds hidden. To give a taste of the general feeling of the game setting, let's walk through what you can expect from the first section of the hubworld. At the start of the game, you wake up on the kitchen table which you jump down from to start exploring. Down on the floor there's a cabinet open you can get inside to find a cookie, and then there's a doorway into the living room blocked by a baby gate. When you approach it, a floating cookie appears with a 10 next to it to indicate that you need 10 cookies to open it. From there, there's only one way to go; through the open pantry door.
When you go inside, you find yourself in a dirty, cobwebbed pantry that you can climb your way up through- shelf by shelf- to reach the top. You'll meet a couple unique characters in here, including a sneezing sack of flour (named Powder) and Pinto, the depressed can of beans. Upon reaching the top of the pantry, you can go though a rat hole in the wall that comes out in a shelf above the counter. You can jump down to the counter-top.
From here, you have access to several new areas. To start, there is a cookie on the counter in front of you. You could go left across the stove-top and, if you're feeling risky, you could jump down into the open door of the oven (you would find an entire hidden world in there) or you could cross the sink to get to the fridge. There is a gingerbread door on the side. As you approach, it creaks open and strange music filters out from within. You enter to discover an entire world for your little guy to explore!
The Fridge World - This is one of the the first mini-worlds you should find in the game. You pop out of the door into a world of food creatures and have two options immediately; go left up a dilapidated ramp into the ruined kingdom of snack food filled with broken statues, gravestones, and destroyed buildings, or go right up the golden ramp to the healthy kingdom, where a little strawberry on legs (named Barry) will inform you that the king demands to see you at once. As you pass through the healthy kingdom, you'll pass a golden statue of an avocado man, a forest of unfriendly carrots, a prison for snack food, a few milk carton guards, and a small battalion of Strawberries firing cannons at a cake mountain in the distance. You approach the bottle castle and cross a gold bridge with red velvet carpets to enter. Inside is Lord Vocado- a big mustachioed, boxing glove wearing, crowned, french avocado. He sends you on your first quest; to cross through the snack kingdom, climb cake mountain, and defeat the Ice Cream Monster at the top.
You'll cross through over a dozen worlds like this with unique themes, quirky characters, and branching quests to uncover. Some of these worlds are apparent, marked by gingerbread doors, while some require a more keen eye and the occasional leap of faith, such as the oven world requiring you to actually jump into a half-open oven door. Like every other aspect of this game, the further you progress, the darker the world becomes.
The narrative in Toby's Topsy Tale is not forthcoming. The game starts with flashes (memories of his creation, brief glimpses of his creator, jolts of graphic imagery) and then Toby awakes, alone, in an empty kitchen. From there you explore the house to discover where everyone is, why you are there, if anyone is left in the house, and as much information about the residents as possible. Exploration is the foundation of much of the story-telling. You learn a lot about the home and it's residents lives by exploring, observing the hubworld, and collecting items with descriptions that provide new insight into the story and lore. Unfortunately, there is not much we can reveal about this element of the game without spoiling that experience of discovery, however, just to be clear, this is a horror, and disturbing elements will appear.
The story is very deep and complex but how much you get out of it will depend on your own ability to interpret pieces into a larger narrative.
Across the multitude of worlds and sections of the hubworld, we plan to have you encounter over a hundred unique characters. For the purposes of this kickstarter (and not spoiling anything too monumental) we're mostly introducing you to characters from the first hubworld area you explore.
Toby - The game's protagonist. Toby is a fun, adorable little guy that shows no fear at leaping into even the most dire situations. Like many great protagonists, Toby is silent, allowing the player to imprint their own thoughts and feelings onto him. He moves energetically and yet clumsily: falling flat on his face as a way to duck attacks.
The Boy - One of Toby's creators. Toby awakes at the start of the game with fond memories of the boy who helped make him; the boy who named him. And yet, he's nowhere to be found. Toby is alone. It is the desire to find the boy and discover his secrets that drives much of the early narrative.
The Grandma- Another of Toby's creators. The boy's grandma is a sweet, loving presence that Toby also remembers when waking up. The genuineness and care in her voice is unmistakable.
Pinto - At the top of the pantry, too far back for anyone to see, you'll find a curious little guy named Pinto. He greets you in a deep baritone saying, "Don't mind me, I'm just a can of beans." Seeing the friendly fellow that you are, he asks if you can help him find his sister, or as he puts it, "I'd look for her myself... But I don't have arms." He can tell you that he thinks she might be in the oven, but beyond that any prompting will only hear him lamenting more about his sorry condition. "I wish I could leave this pantry but I can't climb out... 'Cause I don't have arms." or "I didn't even want this beard but I can't shave it off... 'Cause I don't have arms." Truly a sad, sad little can of beans.
Lord Vocado - One of the first sights you'll see when you enter the Fridge World is a giant, golden statue of this big Avocado ruffian. You'll be prompted to his castle and, if you choose to go, you'll find him quite happy to see you. He introduces himself, in a thick french accent, as the Lord of all Foods and the Purifier of the Fridge, and immediately points out that you are an unhealthy food. He kindly informs you that you will need to be pardoned for being an abomination of sugar and that, if you can complete his quest, he will do so. He asks you to cross through the Unhealthy Wastes, climb the Cake Mountain, and slay the Ice Cream Beast at the top. In return, he will not only pardon you of your crimes, but also give you a cookie as a special gift. He is boisterous and not very fond of you, but always a lordly gentleman, even in his immense distaste.
Carter - Lord Vocado's elite guards. You'll find these guys standing vigil all throughout the healthy kingdom. They're friendly enough, if a bit watchful, as long as you stay on the Lord's good side. If it comes to combat though you'd better be prepared for quite a tussle; they weren't chosen as the elite for nothing.
Barry - Foot soldier of the Healthy Army. These are the most common inhabitants of the Fridge World and the easiest to dispatch. If it comes to combat, these are one of the only enemy types in this world that can be killed by jumping on their heads.
Kay & Doug - The first of the unhealthy foods that you find in the Fridge World. They're bunkered down on the opposite side of the Cake Mountain in a makeshift shanty town. Like Barry, they are also stompable.
Tellie - Just a tease of what the rest of the house has to offer. Tellie is from a later section of the hubworld where toys run the show. He's a basic npc for the area and stompable.
The Candyman - A looming presence throughout the game...
Crispy - The basic enemy of the oven level. These twisted little creatures are the burnt remains of gingerbread men left in the oven. They fight similar to Toby but are slower and brittle. One hit and they shatter into charred pieces.
Across the length of the game, you'll be forced to face all kinds of horrific subject matter ranging from homicide to abuse and, as you might expect, a fair amount of blood. The cutesy design is intrinsic to the story but it also serves to juxtapose the darker themes you'll encounter. Therefore I think it is important to emphasize once more that this game is in no way intended for children. It would be quite traumatic for children in fact. This is an adult game with very adult themes that utilizes classic cartoon stylings to add weight to the subject matter. We intend to be clear of that in all advertising so that it doesn't end up in the wrong hands.
That being said, our intention is not to add blood and gore just for shock value. The horror is intrinsic to the narrative and would feel out of place without it. That's about as much as we can say without spoiling anything.
- Old school platformer mechanics updated to feel more intuitive
- Massive explorable hubworld with distinct areas
- Over 15 hidden worlds to discover with unique themes
- Over 100 unique NPCs
- Branching side quests
- Over 100 unique items to collect that reveal secrets about the world and lore
- Moral decisions that impact the story
- Multiple possible endings
During the design process of Toby's Topsy Tale, we found ourselves inspired by the general gameplay and quirky design of Super Mario 64 and by the exploration based storytelling and tonal elements of the Dark Souls Games.
Our Studio was officially founded in 2018 where we began working on our first large scale project within that year. The two of us, Chris and Justin, are now in our early 20's, however we've been friends since middle school and have a long history of working together on projects. Over the years we both developed complimentary skills (Justin- Coding & Chris - 2D/3D art) which allowed us to take this step together. After a few test projects to make sure we'd be able to create games on the scale we wanted, we started workshoping Toby's Topsy Tale and have been working on it for nearly 6 months now.
How the money will be spent
The base level of funding asked for ($1,500) is needed entirely for hardware. Better quality computer parts, a new custom-built computer, and at least one art pad. Our Artist, Chris, has been trying to work on this project with a ten year old, 4GB ram laptop that can barely handle a single Youtube video. Our Programmer, Justin's, computer is much better quality but still needs to be optimized with new parts to handle what he needs to do, and any online artist could stress the importance of an art pad for any big project like this. If it seems like progress has been slow given the half a year development time so far, that would be why. Basically any task our Artist attempts takes about 5x longer than it would on a computer built for this type of activity which has really bottle-necked the game's progress so far. We're both full time retail workers at the moment, so allocating enough of our income to get the resources we need here would ultimately stretch us way thinner than we could handle- that's why we turned to Kickstarter. This project has been a labor of love for us from the beginning. We've put a massive amount of time and effort into this project, however we realize that without the right tools this game has no chance of being released any time soon, and that is an awful thought for us. These funds would allow us to get the parts we need to succeed- both with this game and as a studio moving forward- and that means every dollar donated is a beacon of hope.
Every dollar beyond the baseline $1,500 means more equipment, software, and resources for our studio. By no means are we underestimating the unbelievable effect the original funding goal would mean for us, but it is absolutely a minimum amount to keep moving forward. Anything past that would allow us to work faster, more efficiently, and ultimately provide a better product, which is any studio's dream. To fully succeed as a studio and to begin working more like one, we'd ultimately need around $60,000- which we realize is a rather excessive amount to ask for- so we accepted that working the way we've been working (with better equipment) would be sufficient. At $60,000 however, we'd be able to work full time on the game, which would be amazing, and we'd be still be able to afford anything we'd need to really make it the best game it could possibly be. We know it's a lot to ask for, but we have hope- both for this game and for the future of our studio.
$2,000 - $3,000 - 3 new unlockable skins for Toby with disturbing themes (Every stretch goal reached past $3,000 will also add a new skin to the game)
$5,000 - Fully 3D Inventory Lore Items - A notable depth of story and lore elements in Toby's Topsy Tale are uncovered via items collected in the world, or more specifically, through their descriptions. Originally we'd planned for these items to be displayed using 2D images with the descriptions next to them, however we'd prefer to have them viewable as a 3D objects that can be rotated and zoomed in on to provide an element of investigation to them. Parts of the item could be hidden and only discoverable by those with an eye for detail, and as such certain depths to the story could be up to the player to discover.
$7,500 - Ability to use more than one weapon - In our original design process we discussed having unlockable weapons for Toby to use to increase the depth of gameplay and to provide for slightly different playstyles. Beyond Toby's candy cane we also wanted to implement weapons such as Lollipop Mallets and Rock Candy Clubs that would deal more damage and stun enemies but be slower to wield, Giant Candy Apple Maces that would be unruly to wield but deal massive damage, Cake Pop Maces that knock enemies back and deal extra damage but are slower to wield, Sewing Needles that allow the player to attack much faster but have reduced range, and even some weapons that provide special effects in combat such as the Popsicle's freezing ability that slows enemies after being struck. As the game difficulty ramps up, variations in the way you approach combat may just give you the edge you need.
$15,000 - 2 extra game endings - When designing the game we knew we wanted multiple endings to the game based on decisions made during gameplay. From our original potential endings we managed to narrow it down based on the importance to the plot and the effort and assets that would be needed to create them, however we'd really love to include all of the ones we'd originally imagined to create the full experience and full narrative potential we originally wanted.
$25,000 - New Game+ Survival Mode - Toby's Topsy Tale, despite it's cute, quirky design and platformer inspiration, is not an easy game. It may start seemingly benign with the same bubbly enthusiastic feeling as the first time you explored Princess Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64, but before long you'll be cautiously exploring with the same adrenaline pumping focus of a Dark Souls game. We realize however that some players want a more invigorating and controller-gripping experience, where every encounter is life and death, and where only those with a master understanding of the controls can succeed; and so we came up with the unlockable Survival Mode for just that experience. This would include revamped enemy AI and other tweeks to make the mode absolutely brutal. For players with a need for excellence, the New Game+ Survival Mode is a must.
$40,000 - Release Date One Year Early - We realize that the release schedule we are currently on is rather extended, currently estimating release sometime in 2021, however at the moment, both of us here at Method Ox Game Studios need full time jobs to support ourselves and to be able to continue working on this game. We dedicate basically every ounce of free time that we have to this project, but in our current position, this schedule is the most realistic one we can achieve. At this level of funding (and therefore interest) for the game, we'd both feel more comfortable dropping down to part time at our day jobs to focus the majority of our attention on this game. With this project being our full-time job, we'd easily be able to knock a year off of the production times.
$60,000 - Doubled Game Size and Length - When creating a game like this you have thousands of ideas for areas to explore, worlds to design, characters to meet, spectacles to see, and unique gameplay sections to incorporate, however as with most big projects, the scope had to be reigned in quite a bit. Given such a large fan investment in our project, we'd feel obligated to include more of our original concepts in the game however. We feel confident that our current plan for the game would not leave off anything core to the experience we want to give players, however we'd love to add the bulk of extra content and experiences to the game. This would effectively increase the game length from around 20 hours to nearly 40 hours.
$100,000 - PS4 & XBox One Versions - At this incredible level of investment in our project, we'd be willing to go out of our depth a little bit to bring the game to both Playstation 4 and Xbox One. This would be quite a large endeavor but with this much interest in the project we'd love to provide it to a larger audience of console users.
$15 & up gets your name in the credits as "Victim" and a digital copy of the game for free
$30 & up adds a copy of our digital art book for the game which includes designs, concept art, and clues to secrets hidden within the game
$50 & up adds an 11oz mug with original, exclusive art for the game on it
$75 & up changes your name in the credits from "Victim" to "Survivor"
$100 & up adds a physical copy of the art book
$150 & up adds the right for the backer to claim one free digital copy of every game our studio makes from this point forward
$250 & up adds your actual name and picture naturally into the game world. There is already a predetermined place for these to be located, and while we can't say much without spoiling parts of the game, we will say that they are incorporated in an obvious, seamless way with morbid implications.
$500 & up allows you to work with Chris, the studio's artist, to design your own original skin for Toby to become an unlockable for the game. Obviously some stipulations would be in effect such as no licensed characters or copyrighted logos (pretty much anything that could put us in hot water legally) but almost anything else you could imagine could be crafted right into the game. We would be open to Skype, email, or phone conversations for the designing process and would allow for a few discussion or reworking sessions if need be to get the design just right. Your name will be credited with the skin in both the game and the credits.
From concept to life
Animation test (Unreal)
Animation Test 2 (Unity)
Contact Us - email@example.com
Risks and challenges
As with any new studio, there are questions of quality or experience that come to mind. We are new. This is our first big project that we're putting out for the public. It may seem like we're unqualified for those reasons, but I feel confident in us. I feel confident in our ability and in our determination. We worked extremely hard to get ourselves to a point where we can put out the game we want to make, and we're ready. All we need is a little support and a fanbase for our project. That's where you come inLearn about accountability on Kickstarter