In a small kingdom on a vast continent, a family is torn apart by civil war. Alliances are made and broken as scheming noble families manipulate events to their advantage. A secretive group, sworn to defend the world, falls apart as dark armies march through undefended portals. Three princesses, feared dead, raise an army gathered from all walks of life: a farmer, a teacher, a sworn retainer, a refugee. Every survivor of every battle grows stronger, until a mighty army stands ready to punish those who caused this suffering. But what use is the bloodshed, if the heroes fight for impossible goals? Noble ambitions might do nothing more than prolong the war. But maybe somehow victory can still be found, depending on how it is defined.
That is what Himeko Sutori will be. The game has come a long way already and has already been approved for sale via Steam Greenlight:
It's at a playable alpha stage right now and we are asking you to help us make it the epic, fully featured RPG we know it can be.
Himeko Sutori is a video game for Windows, OS X, and Linux. It is an RPG in the Japanese tradition of detailed characters and twisting plots, with individual customization of your party members. It also steps beyond convention as the first JRPG to combine unique individual heroes with epic-scale battles that involve hundreds of unique named characters.
Himeko Sutori is also an emotional outlet, the project that Nathaniel began pouring his soul into two years ago, starting with an unfixable situation at work. He could not resign from his job and leave his family hungry. And he would not just escape into playing a video game, leaving real-life problems unsolved. Instead he founded Rockwell Studios and began telling a story, pouring all of his feelings of frustration, helplessness, and insecurity onto Himeko Sutori's unfortunate protagonists.
In developing Himeko Sutori, we drew inspiration from some of the classics of the genre, and made lots of improvements. We loved Final Fantasy Tactics, but the small battles didn't make us feel like a major player in the war. We also loved Ogre Battle 64, but technical limitations of the day made the combat too simple. And with several new ideas backed by modern computing power, we set out to revitalize the turn-based tactical JRPG genre.
The base campaign of Himeko Sutori follows the lives of House Furukawa, vassals of the Yamatai emperor, who reluctantly joined the Central Kingdoms during the last Shadow War.
Feudal lords rule over their domains in shaky alliance one with another. The three most powerful alliances are, located roughly from north to south, the Nocturne Empire, the Central Kingdoms, and the Ittihad al-Janub. The physical world is difficult to traverse, with large mountain ranges and vast expanses of wilderness. But it is also interconnected through world gates, which allow travelers to cover great distances quickly–if they are brave enough to face the dangers that lurk beyond the gates.
The first thing you'll notice about Himeko Sutori's combat is its focus on squads, known as "lances" in the game. To organize a lance, you first choose a leader, then based on his or her leadership score and character class affinities, you'll build a lance that functions as a cohesive unit on the battlefield. This system lets you field huge armies without slowing down the combat.
Although you give the orders to move and attack, your individual soldiers will take actions based on their character class: armored knights will attack the closest enemy, rogues will attack the weakest enemy, and barbarians will attack the strongest enemy and deliver bonus damage. Clerics will heal the most injured ally, illusionists will mitigate damage through misdirection, mages will wipe out swaths of enemies with area attacks, and warlocks will incinerate individual foes from a distance.
As you build your lances, you'll have to make strategic decisions: Do you group all the rangers to maximize their ranged damage? Or do you mix in knights and clerics, reducing ranged damage, but increasing the squad's close-combat survivability?
Himeko Sutori is a min-maxer's dream with limitless combinations to try. Each character class has a primary attribute, skill, and element, each shared with one other class. As your characters level up, they will get less experience from battles, which encourages you to switch their character classes often to get more XP as a lower-levelled class. So your knight might benefit from some time as a rogue to increase his blades skill, and your rogue might benefit from some time as an illusionist to increase her black element, and your illusionist might spend some time as a paladin to increase her charisma attribute, and your paladin might become a barbarian to increase his heavy-weapons skill, and your barbarian could train as a warlock to increase her red element, and so on.
You'll also learn to change characters in relation to each other in order to maximize a squad's effectiveness. Each lance captain's primary element has an effect on how many units can fit in his or her lance: bronze leaders have difficulty fitting green units into the lance, as with blue leaders and red units, black and white, and vice versa. You'll also learn to exploit the augment system, where a green leader bestows a bonus to red soldiers, red to black, black to bronze, bronze to blue, blue to white, and white to green.
At Rockwell Studios, we understand how important music is in creating a rich and immersive environment. That's why we sought out Kevin Won, one of the industry's most exciting new composers. You can hear some of his previous work here and on his website, kevinwonmusic.com.
Backers at the Digital Deluxe tier will receive a download of the original soundtrack Kevin will be composing. And if you pledge at the Composer tier, you will receive special edition CD of the Himeko Sutori soundtrack including the main theme, which is set to be recorded in June with a 55-piece orchestra at AIR Studios in London, England. You'll also receive a signed score from his recording session.
We might be able to add more recording time with a live orchestra as a stretch goal. Check back often to see how we're doing.
The great tactical RPGs we love so dearly arrived during the transition from 2D to 3D graphics, and that is the look we want to recapture. Shane Butler, talented pixel artist and founder of Endymion Games, is helping us achieve that look.
So far, he has contributed all of the armor sets you see in the trailer and screenshots. After this Kickstarter, you'll be seeing a lot more of his work.
The game engine is already finished. We still have some bugs to work out and some more features to add, and balancing and playtesting of course, but the game engine is essentially finished. To get here, we have worked in our free time, paid for assets out-of-pocket, and built a pretty impressive alpha version. So why are we coming to Kickstarter now?
We are asking you for money so that we can take the relatively simple alpha that we have now and turn it into the deep, beautiful, fully featured epic that we know it can be. Himeko Sutori can have more sprites and more music, more variety and more content in general. Besides the small amount we'll need to set aside for professional licenses on a few pieces of software that we're using, all of this money is going directly into assets for Himeko Sutori, so we can deliver a better game to you.
We have put well over 1000 hours of unpaid development into the game so far and Nathaniel has decided to continue working on Himeko Sutori unpaid until we sell the finished game. If this Kickstarter performs well beyond our expectations, Nathaniel may reconsider the work-in-his-free-time approach, quit his day job, and work on Himeko Sutori full-time. But unless that happens, all the money will be spent on paying for more content.
Rockwell Studios has been very frugal so far, spending only the minimum we can get away with to put together a functional alpha. We have also delayed purchasing many professional software licenses. But now that we're ready to move Himeko Sutori to a commercial release, we have to make a few big investments. With the initial $10,000 that we are hoping to raise here on Kickstarter, this is what we are planning to spend:
Note that we are not paying anything for additional coding or design. There is still plenty of work for our founder and lead programmer, but this Kickstarter is not a chance to line his pockets. This Kickstarter is our way of making Himeko Sutori the best experience that it can be, and if the coding can be done for free, then we're spending the budget elsewhere.
We have lots of ideas for the things we would like to do with Himeko Sutori. For now, we are just trying to get the funds necessary to deliver a complete game. But with your help, we can go well beyond that.
We are setting our first stretch goal at $12,500. Every time we reach a stretch goal, we'll reveal another. Invite your friends to contribute so that we can do more and more with Himeko Sutori and check back often to see how we're doing.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk to any potential backer is that the creator could take the money and not ever finish the project. But that's not going to happen here. You know it won't happen because the game engine is already completed! (And for some of you backers, you'll be getting to see the alpha for yourself soon.) The game needs some tweaks and bug fixes, and we would like to add some more features, but the game engine is pretty much done.
We are backing up all of our work to multiple online and offline repositories, so data loss isn't an issue. The only thing that can stop us is death, and in case of that, we will tell a friend where the source code is and how to release it. Himeko Sutori has already been approved for distribution on Steam Greenlight... There is really no risk of you walking away with nothing.
Realistically, the biggest risk here is that we spend money for something that doesn't make it into the game, and the game ends up being less than it could have been. We are alleviating that risk by building a team of hardworking individuals whom we've known for years, whose work we've seen before, and whom we can trust to deliver their share of the project.
And if we can reach the $20,000 modding stretch goal, then you'll have the opportunity to play an unlimited amount of player-created content forever, even if we never add anything else.
We are hoping to deliver you the full commercial release of Himeko Sutori in one year, and we promise you updates at least monthly to let you know how that target is looking. And we promise that if a year goes by and there's no release date in sight, we are going to release to you all of the code and assets that Rockwell Studios owns the copyright to. We all sincerely hope it doesn't come to that, and you never can tell what the future holds, but if you place your trust in us, we owe it to you to deliver whatever we can.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)