"Terrain of Magical Expertise" (or "TOME" for short!) is a 2D turn-based RPG. based on the webseries of the same name by Chris "Kirbopher" Niosi - with gameplay inspired by the likes of Super Mario RPG and heavy story influences from the .hack and Mega Man Battle Network series!
You assume the role of a young White-Hat Hacker (a hacker who uses their abilities for good), gifted a copy of the latest and greatest Massively Multiplayer Online game: TOME! But it's not just for simply playing around. At the time of your first login, an event titled "The Campaign of Champions" is underway, which pits the game's many guilds of rival players against each other in four weekly competitions...with major prize money as the stakes! However, an assortment of underhanded Black-Hat Hackers (hackers who uses their abilities for...not-so-good) seek to win each of the four weekly events by way of cheating right under the moderators' noses!
As a favor to a close (and mysterious) friend, you create an inconspicuous account and log in to the world of TOME to stomp out the filthy cheaters and level the playing field for all competing players in the Campaign of Champions. However...before you know it, you become involved with one such guild hoping to win it big. Thus, the story begins...
Friendly, outgoing and just a touch awkward, "Alpha" is one of the first players you meet upon logging into the world of TOME! He fights with summoning various powers inspired by legendary Greek Gods. With a fair amount of talent when it comes to playing RPGs, Alpha's eager to impress so he can make some new friends! Not to mention, be helpful to one very important friend in particular...
Alpha's loud-and-proud, quick-witted 'IRL' best friend, "Kirbopher" is a dedicated team player! He fights with a collection of gadgets; his favorite being an energy-bladed dagger. Though Kirb means well, his outspoken nature and lack of tact can get he and his teammates into hot water sometimes. Not the least of which, he often morally headbutts with his fearless leader...
Headstrong guildmaster of "The Dandy Alliance", "Flamegirl" is someone you wanna be on the good side of! She fights with a collection of fire-based spells and some killer kicks. Flamey is level-headed, intelligent and works hard to maintain order amongst the group. That said, her stress levels are high, as she has the most amount of pressure to win the contest’s prize. Thankfully, she's supported by...
The over-the-top, justice-loving "Nylocke", whose long-winded self-imposed nicknames are simply endless! He fights with his trusty enchanted sword made of solid ice...and his heartfelt speeches! Nylocke serves as The Dandy Alliance's trusted Knight with his long experience in the "RP" part of "RPGs". Though often a source of comedy, he is a beacon of unyielding good who rallies the troops!
An enigmatic and quiet individual, "Gamesoft" only speaks when she has something very important to say. She fights by morphing her limbs into different objects, as well as manipulating dark energy. Gaining her trust takes time and patience. Though shy by nature, she’s a fierce competitor in-game and can strategically pick apart any opponent’s tactics with remarkable precision!
With these new friends in tow, (even though, you're the one in tow!) your quest to covertly bamboozle the Black-Hat Hackers eventually transforms into a personal goal of giving these fine folks a fighting chance in the competition. As you learn more about them, a loving bond is formed between the members of The Dandy Alliance that will light up the path to victory!
.:THE WORLD OF TOME:.
The Terrain of Magical Expertise is divided into four regions, ruled by its own "Netking". Different locations with their own unique objectives are split up into smaller sections within the regions themselves, in the form of floating pieces of land containing specific environments. To directly travel to a location in any region, players can warp to them from the central hub world by entering in addresses (Example: Telluria City -> Palladi Park -> Sector C) and using magical "Telepillars" enchanted with the "Web of Light".
Edodes Woods are ruled by Chief Bitopio. A lush forest with two magical rivers that split up the land into three sections: woods, fields and jungles. There are tribal villages, wide-open plains and even a mysterious maze of trees!
Morganite Valley is ruled by Queen Rulerruby. A giant beautiful ravine with two crystalline canyons surrounding it, both of which hide some gorgeous caverns adorned with precious gemstones. There’s mines, cliffs and even snowy peaks!
Telluria City is ruled by President Execk. A large metropolis divided into four unique sub-districts, inspired by the likes of Manhattan and Vancouver. The four sub-districts range from calm upper-class areas to a more lively and potentially dangerous part of town...
Orange Island is ruled by Empress Kindarspirit. A collection of small islands that swirl around a massive volcano. There are tropical beach-like areas with everything from peaceful suburban towns to treacherous rocky hills divided by flowing magma!
The regions are all united together by the central Zen Hub overseen from the heavens by the great Webmaster. The players, or rather the “brave warriors from another dimension” convene here first and teleport to the various parts of the TOME world from this hub.
.:THE BIRTH OF A WARRIOR:.
Upon creating an account for the White-Hat Hacker, you will be given a slew of options to choose for how to customize your character!
.:BATTLE SYSTEM & PROGRESSION:.
In the world of TOME, combat is carried out in the "Battlegrid" - a combination of magic and technology that confines all violent acts into a pocket dimension where the many warriors can settle their differences within. This classic turn-based system allows for up to four party members and enemies on each side. As with the traditions of most RPGs, you lose when all of your party members' HP (Hit Points) are dropped to zero, but defeating all of your opponents yields victory, of course!
In addition, this battle system has mechanics (often called "timed hits" or "reaction commands") that require a tad more effort than just jamming the same buttons over and over...but that extra effort can boost your power in tight spots! Executing these abilities will vary from skill-to-skill. Some require well-timed button presses, rotating the control stick, inputing codes, etc. Honing these skills will come very much in handy for winning the many battles you'll have against countless enemies out in the terrain.
While in battle, during a player's turn you have 30 seconds to choose your action, with four options to pick from:
STRIKE: An attack that any character can use with their standard weapon or physical power, on one enemy at a time. Spellcasters have a standard two-hit combo, Weaponarys have a two-hit combo with a chance at getting a critical hit, and Brawlers can perform combos with up to SIX hits!
STRATEGIZE: This allows for several options. You can Defend to have a character decrease damage for that turn, Scan an opponent to see their details, remaining HP and some of their profile, Retreat from battle against monsters and Focus your spirit to recover a bit of your MP (Magic Points). For the White-Hat Hacker, THIS is where you store the secret drop-down menu for your tricky hacking abilities...
ITEM: Usage of an item from your collective inventory for the turn. As per the usual, different items can recover health and magic, damage enemies, heal status effects and much more!
MAGIC: Your character can perform one of several special moves they have access to. As the game continues, they can learn more powerful abilities, which can do everything from attacking multiple enemies, healing you or your party members...or other such special effects! Plus, with the use of a special item, your party members can learn Team Attacks where two teammates combine their strength for an even greater power!
As you'll be playing the game from the White-Hat Hacker's perspective, you'll always be in control of your personal avatar in the game world. As the story unfolds, you'll be teamed up with different combinations of your party members on the various missions you'll be sent out on as part of the Dandy Alliance, getting to know your teammates both in terms of their skills...and their personal hopes, dreams and aspirations!
In wanting to create a unique RPG experience for TOME, there are two key things we're aiming to do with the game's overall progression. The first of which, is that there isn't a traditional "leveling up" system; as in, no experience points. Instead, by winning battles against monsters and players, you earn money to buy upgrades called "Power-Up"s that you can equip to yourself and give to your party members for various boosts. Progressing through the game allows you to save up for bigger and better Power-Ups to give your entire team good advantages in any situation! This idea also stems from wanting to create a sense of universal balance to the imaginary 'players' of the game's world.
On that note, the second key thing we plan to incorporate is a different sort of 'consequence' to winning and losing. Much like how there's no EXP, there also aren't any traditional "save points" either. Instead, there are several moments throughout each part of the story where there's a 'win scenario' or a 'lose scenario'...but regardless of which one plays out, the story continues. This is in order to build a sense of immersion between the player and their new 'friends', create stakes to give a fair amount of punishment for moments of failure, but also give motivation for improving at the game's battle system so that the rewards for victory feel all the sweeter!
Some of these things will be developed as we continue production on the game...and there's even a few other surprises we have in store that we haven't revealed just yet!
HOW YOU CAN BECOME PART OF IT ALL!
The "game within a game" of Terrain of Magical Expertise needs to be populated with dozens upon hundreds upon (hopefully!) THOUSANDS of players...and this is where YOU come in, literally! By donating as low as $30, a depiction of yourself or one of your own characters can become a part of game as a background character! Plus, the higher donation tiers can allow you or your character to be made into a fully-fledged, fully-animated enemy character that The Dandy Alliance will face in combat!
PLEASE NOTE: All reward tiers involving the creation of an NPC based on your likeness or one of your characters will require your signature on an Assignment of Rights Contract that will be sent out after the Kickstarter's completion. This agreement will allow us to use your character or likeness, but only for the purposes of creating, selling, and marketing the game without making you give us us any actual ownership of them otherwise. You’ll be given at least 30 days to review, sign, and return the contract.
Risks and challenges
- "Why are you asking for so much/little money?"
So, to begin with, this is one of those tricky things about a large-scale project like this. This is both "not a lot" AND "a lot" of money, we're asking for, in that a base of $75,000 is quite a bit of funds, but it is also not a standard amount (by any stretch of the imagination) for an RPG project. Our goal is to keep this game simple, straightforward and attainable within the next few years. I also firmly believe, as a fan and supporter of many indie game projects via crowdfunding, that the prices we're offering for inclusion into this project are, a steal, if not reasonable. I think it should go without saying though, that if even the lowest tier is out of one's price range, passing on the opportunity is completely understandable.
- "Why isn't this a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG that uses VR like in the original series?"
We chose to do a single-player experience because that's the type of game we wanted to create. Although the original webseries took place on an MMO and used VR, those weren't things we wanted to focus on in terms of making the real game itself. It's also something that, quite frankly, is beyond the scope of our small team.
- "Will this be on consoles?"
We'd very much like it to be, but that's something we can't make promises about at this stage. The most likely way for us to get console support for Terrain of Magical Expertise is by way of a publisher that can help us obtain dev kits and lend further support beyond the Kickstarter. One of our goals for 2018 is to attend Game Developers Conference, with enough progress in hand to shop for a publisher that would be interested in taking us on. These are all things that are uncertain at the moment, but we're definitely keeping them in mind.
- "Why is the White-Hat Hacker the player character!? Can't I just create and customize my own character from scratch?"
Fans of the TOME series in particular know that the world of the game is very much open to creativity with its massive array of players...so, you might be understandably disappointed that the player-character in this case is limited in its designs. However, there's specific reasons behind why we made this decision. Due to the animation style we've chosen in order to make production easy and quick, creating a giant (and impossible to satisfy everyone) selection of customizable options for the White-Hat Hacker adds a significant amount time and tedium to the process in place of more important things. We felt that it was best to go with a simple, iconic, all-encompassing set of designs for each of the White-Hat Hacker's four selectable races. That said, this is also a big part of why we want to put more emphasis on the other characters that exist in the game world to be created -directly- by you! It's a different approach; instead of attempting to build something close to your own creation with a limited system, you have the option to get something much closer to your vision put directly into the game!
- "How much input will I have on the creation of my character?"
This is also an important question that has a multitude of answers, depending on your donation tier. To start with, on the absolute base level, if you donate even the minimum reward tier of $30 for a simple background character, the survey that will be sent out upon our project getting funded will allow you to either link to a reference image of your character, give a written description of them, or both if necessary! For the $90 tier, you may also provide a brief summary of the character's personality to provide inspiration for what their one speaking line might be.
For the $200 and $350 tiers, this is where more information would be necessary to supply: for starters, your character's choice of elemental alignment, race and class in order to take into account the number of different combinations (hence why there is a limited number of these). You'll also be asked for back-up options on these attributes in case, for example, a Crystal-Element Humanoid Spellcaster has already been filled, in which case you might need to change either their element, race or class. In addition, for these tiers you can provide suggestions and ideas for their special abilities and attacks, but keep in mind that everything is subject to change based on what is necessary for the game. Limitations such as these have to do with putting the importance of the game's design itself first. While we, of course, want to deliver something as close to your vision as possible, the project has to be manageable and fair to both sides and the enjoyment of the game is more important than any single character.
For the two different types of $500 tiers, while there certainly will still be some restrictions and limitations, this will involve the most amount of input on your character being either a Dojo Master or Boss. I will be in direct communication with you (most likely over e-mail) on details to implement with your character, their abilities and how exactly they'll fit into the game.
Lastly, and this is the most important thing: by donating to any tier involving a character, you are accepting that we are legally allowed to use a TOME-version of your creation (with proper credit, obviously) in this potential product and any other potential ports or re-releases. Your compensation for the donation of your character is the usage of it in the final product, if funded and successfully produced (and if not, see the final question below for details on that).
- "If my character's going to have speaking lines, can I voice them?"
This one's a bit more complicated to answer, but long story short, I can't guarantee that and it's not likely. The voice recording process will be something happening FAR into the game's development and I want to give priority first and foremost to the cast of the story-relevant characters. Coordinating the potentially massive number of donators who wish to voice their characters is also extremely difficult and time-consuming (even though it's potentially just one line). I apologize if this is an exciting aspect of the process you might have been hopeful for, but I hope you'll understand.
- "Why don't you guys have any physical rewards?"
We're not going with any physical rewards to put as much of the funding as possible towards -the game- and NOT towards other potential costs that take away from the product we're trying to make. In addition, we want to keep the rewards as simple and straightforward as humanly possible. As an animator of 10+ years, I am fully confident in being able to deliver all of the promised rewards to donators, because they're ALL being kept digital.
- "What if this project fails and the game doesn't get made at all in the end?"
Okay, here's the big one. In this day and age, fans of indie game projects have become pretty understandably jaded with the concern of crowdfunding campaigns not being able to ultimately deliver on what they aim to create. Some projects spend years in limbo, some get cancelled altogether. This is a completely reasonable thing to be worried about.
I can't stress enough that our goal is to keep this as simplistic and realistic of a project as possible to create with the people and resources we have at our disposal. That said, I feel it necessary to level with you all. I (Chris Niosi), have never had a lead position on a game project before. Though I have a fair amount of experience in various capacities working on games from the last few years and have a LOT of experience in managing large-scale projects that have come to fruition in the past, the truth is, I have never -created- a game before. But, I'm confident that we can make this happen thanks to the infinitely-more experienced team I'm working alongside. Everyone from the programmers, designers, artists etc. are all trusted friends and colleagues that all share a vision of making something awesome.
Now, all that said...let's address the actual question. IN the event that something unexpected happens to cause the Terrain of Magical Expertise RPG project to be cancelled, there is one thing I can absolutely 100% assure all potential donators:
IF the project is, for ANY reason, cancelled...you will get what you paid for.
By this, I mean, you will still receive the reward you donated for. Even if there is potentially no final product for your reward to appear -in-, I will make sure all assets to your background character will be delivered to you. I can NOT promise refunds, but any and all animations, sprites, talking icons etc. will all be sent to you personally, in which case, think of it as a commission. But again, our aim to finish this project is strong and we do not foresee this scenario playing out. I'm mainly addressing this likely question/concern to put as many peoples' minds at ease as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)