A Rimworld / Dwarf Fortress inspired survival simulator set in a Lovecraftian universe
A Rimworld / Dwarf Fortress inspired survival simulator set in a Lovecraftian universe
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thu, September 12 2019 3:00 PM UTC +00:00.
Fringe Planet is a survival simulator game inspired by Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, Rimworld, Prison Architect, Eldritch and many more. All set within a well developed universe inspired by the works of fantastic fiction - H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley and Lewis Carroll.
Six strangers with no memories of their past wake up on a frozen island which is drifting through a vast higher dimension known as The Void. It is the job for the player to help these strangers (called peons in the game) and help them survive and eventually prosper in this ancient, alien environment.
Fringe Planet has the following features (and read more about them below!) :
- Detailed simulations
- Deep and extensive lore
- Epic machinery
- Brutally hard story telling
- A living breathing world
- Modding support
The peons are humans who have been plucked from Earth - from many different countries as well as through different periods of time. Each peon is unique and procedurally generated (every aspect of them are determined randomly) and will have different stats (how strong they are, how clever they are) and traits (are they naturally clumsy? are they scared of heights?). Even their physical appearance and clothes are unique. The player does not control these peons directly, but instead issues orders - and it's up to a peon to follow them. But remember that peons have their own needs and wants. Placing a machine down that the player has ordered may have to wait as the peon is hungry and needs to eat.
As the game is played, the peons will slowly remember their pasts and this will shape the skills and stats of these peons. The player will discover the lore of this vast universe and also find out about a very important feature of the game : the story tellers.
The Story Tellers
The story tellers are an AI (Artificial Intelligence) that watches how people play the game. As you struggle to collect food and build shelter, the AI story teller is watching and has a vast array of events that it can throw at you to make the game harder - aiming to exploit your weaknesses.
The story tellers are not just a game mechanic, they are also the main antagonist of the game. The story tellers, in game, are representations of vengeful, eldritch Gods called The Aspects. The Aspects actively want to destroy the peons, but are playing a very long game and have rules that they must obey when dealing with these humans who have appeared in The Void.
The Void is a magical place and Fringe Planet features a collection of occult inspired machinery. Spirits can be captured and used to power machines. Demons can be used to power smelters. Magical energy can be wirelessly transmitted to feed conveyor belts. Vast arrays of machines can be set up to automate resource gathering and building.
As the player uncovers more of the lore of the game universe, and as their peons move from huddling around a fire, to building wooden shacks, to raising mighty buildings of their construction and huge arrays of complex magically powered machinery - they will discover the truth about The Aspects and about The Void. It is up to the player as to how they want their game to end - by destroying The Aspect they are playing against, by escaping back to the real world, or by promoting a single peon to Godhood - turning that peon into an Aspect themselves. Or, if a player wishes, they can ignore the end game completely, and just see how long they can survive the ever increasing difficulty.
I'm a huge fan of big orchestral music - be it live performances of incredible modern works or watching a classical opera. I want the Fringe Planet soundtrack to be epic sounding - and to further that goal I've got an incredible composer on board (Mendel Bouman) who is turning my vision into actual music. The soundtrack itself will be an incredible exploration of the themes of the game, and will feature an incredibly diverse set of tracks which are not only epically dramatic but which will also be awesomely evocative. Check out the title screen music below!
Detailed simulations - The peons are made up of bones, which can be broken or removed - and have a body full of squishy organs that determine how they perform. The peons will talk (and dream) about things they have experienced - they can also go insane from the things they have seen. A fire will heat up a room, leaving a door open will let the warmth escape. Plants grow and can be farmed. Ore is placed in unique patterns, magical spirits walk along ley lines and can be captured. Magic is real and has consequences. Clothes degrade with wear and tear, and the peons can get dirty as they work (all reflected graphically in the models).
Detailed lore - The lore of Fringe Planet is incredibly detailed, with a lot of stories to be uncovered, and a lot of mysteries to be solved. Heavily inspired by Lovecraft and others, this lore is as fantastic as it is terrifying.
Epic machinery - Automation can be the key to success in Fringe Planet. Setting up belts to perform crafting or mining will free up a peon from doing a task manually. Mining machines will extract ore from voxels much more efficiently than a peon would - it's up to you to decide how best to use this technology.
Replayability - Every game will be different. The game is designed so that every play through happens differently; with a gazillion possible peon combinations and an even higher number of possible starting islands - every game will feel very different.
Brutally hard storytelling - Fringe Planet is not an easy game. The Aspects are actively trying to force you into a "game over" state. The frozen reality of an island floating through an infinite void is a brutal one for survival. Expect to be replaying this game a lot.
Living breathing world - As eldritch as the universe of Fringe Planet is, it's a living world. Creatures hunt, nest and breed. Wind blows and trees grow. All of this is designed to create a dynamic and interesting world to play with.
Modding support - The game has been built with extensive modding support. Steam workshop integration is planned for release, and modding documentation will be extensive. Every aspect of the game can be changed/tweaked.
My name is Nic Rutherford. I'm a solo developer from the United Kingdom. I've been working full-time on Fringe Planet for over a year and a half now. I started writing code before I could speak (I have dyslexia and dyspraxia and have had years of speech therapy). Now thirty plus years later I'm using the lessons learnt on a BBC Microcomputer (and a few other systems over the years!) to produce my first commercial game. I've been heavily involved with development my entire life. I've produced everything from neural network powered search engines, to apps that monitor cattle bowel movement.
I've worked a lot with start-ups, always being the guy behind the scenes producing the technology. Just over a year an a half ago, there was an exit situation in a start-up I was working with, so I decided to start up by myself and combine my passion for gaming and development and thus Fringe Planet was born.
When I'm not glued to the PC developing or gaming, I enjoy a lot of other things. I'm a huge fan of a lot of different types of music, loving everything from heavy metal to opera. I play guitar, bass and trumpet and try to get to the opera whenever I can. I also enjoy fishing and camping. I've spent many years trying to make the perfect curry, so cooking is quite the passion as well. Whenever I'm not doing anything of that, I'm normally curled up with a good book. Reading is my number one way of relaxing.
There is a lot more about me here : https://fringeplanetgame.com/blog/2019/03/15/all-about-nic-dev-blog-37/
So what do you get when backing at a higher level? You will get to directly influence and add things to the game!
Peon name - all peons are procedurally generated. This reward will let you add a name to the pool that names are selected from.
Memories - all peons have a past. They have three distinct memories of their past - their childhood, their teenage years and finally their adulthood. As the peon remembers more of their past, their memories become more distinct. For instance a childhood memory would start as "I remember open fields". As more is remembered "I remember playing outside with my friends a lot". Finally when the memory is fully remembered : "I remember playing a lot of sports with my friends outside, we were always running about and having fun". These memories could be good, or could be bad. But whenever a memory becomes clearer, the peon will get a stat increase. A memory of being at school could increase intelligence of a peon as he remembers learning.
Traits - all peons have set traits. These traits will change how their AI works as well as influencing their stats. They could be scared of heights, they could have super strong legs. We can work together add a bit of your personality to the peons.
Creatures - Fringe Planet is an eldritch dimension full of strange creatures. Both major and minor creature rewards will involve us discussing creature design, getting some concept artwork done and finally building the model and the behaviours of the creature. Do you have a fantastic creature that haunts your dreams? Add it to the game!
Monument - The void is an ancient place, and there are many things trapped there. This reward will allow you to place a message in an in game monument that can be generated on floating islands that drift past.
Mini Biome - Many different lands float through The Void. Some can be captured and used to extend the play area. This reward will let you work with me and come up with some rules to procedural generate the mini-biomes of your dreams. Maybe you dream of giant gold cubed islands floating through infinite. Or maybe your tastes are more esoteric.
Events - Bad things happen, good things happen. Events are used by the story tellers to influence the game and provide replayablity. Maybe some food has been discovered to be full of maggots, maybe certain magics will be more powerful due to a spiritual alignment. Work with me to put your events in the game.
Rituals - Magic is very important in Fringe Planet. As the peons progress through the tech tree they will discover certain rituals which have a massive influence on game play. Working together, we will turn your idea for an occult ritual into something that can be performed in game.
Storyteller - Creating a story teller will be an involved process, which will very much add a lot of things to the game. You'll get to flesh out your vision for an eldritch deity who is obsessed with destroying the peons. You'll choose the events the story teller has access to, as well as tailoring their personality (and text).
A note about rewards : I have the right to say no if I think a name/trait/creature/event/ritual or storyteller is racist, homophobic, sexist, offensive, game breaking or not in theme. We can work together to try and find a viable alternative - but if we do completely disagree on anything, your reward will be refunded.
Even though I'm working on this as a solo developer, I've got some fantastic people who are helping me with various aspects of the game, and the business side of things.
Mendel B - The music master behind the Fringe Planet sound track, as well as a very successful entrepreneur who has been providing business advise over the past year. A well known figure in the Netherlands Indie Game development scene.
Shan P - An incredibly passionate marketer who has been advising me about getting the word of Fringe Planet out. Previously has worked with many game developers as a marketer, focusing on maximizing exposure on Steam. She has been fantastically helpful in both getting this Kickstarter together as well helping me publish newsletters.
Merijn B - A developer and game designer, he has provided an incredible amount of support during my time with the Indietopia Accelerator. Incredibly knowledgeable about start ups and a huge fan of retro computer games.
Delfo P - A fantastic artist who has provided a lot of incredible 2d assets - the UI pictures are all his handy work and I have him to thank for the amazing Fringe Planet logo.
Pip, Gulliver and Rosie - My cats. They would get annoyed if I didn't mention them.
What stage of development is Fringe Planet at?
Fringe Planet has been in active development for over a year and a half now. I'm rapidly getting to the point where I will be releasing a beta version of the game. The majority of the core gameplay systems have been created and there is a lot of content at various points of the game, the goal in the next few months will be to turn a vertical slice of gameplay into something with much fuller features. Graphics are also under going huge changes at the moment, the UI is currently a mixture of developer WIP art and professional art drawn by Delfo. Ultimately all UI elements will be replaced with his work.
When will I be able to play the game?
Everybody who picks a reward of "Potential survivor" and above will get an invite to the closed beta - which I'm anticipating will happen three months after the successful conclusion of this Kickstarter campaign. This will be weeks before anyone else gets to play it and months before people get to play it in Steam Early Access. The game will be released on Steam EA after the closed beta. The demo of the game will be a very limited subset of features, focusing more on performance optimisations than gameplay changes. After that I'm anticipating another year of development to get the game fully fleshed out and full of content.
But there is more! Once the game is finished (i.e. matching my full vision for the base game) - I will be regularly releasing functional DLC for the game. This will *always* be free.
I know there is a lot of worry about Kickstarting games and Epic store exclusivity when people have pledged expecting a Steam release. Let me publicly state, this game will be released on Steam - nothing will change that.
What platforms will this game be coming on?
At launch, Fringe Planet will be available on PC (both Windows and Linux) as well as on Mac. I'm not ruling out launching on consoles as well, but that would depend on how popular the game is on release - console porting is something I have no personal experience with, so I would need to see if; a) there was the demand for the game there and b) find an awesome company to help me port the game to consoles. The game will be launched on Steam but I will also be publishing a DRM free version, for those who prefer that.
What languages will the game be released in?
Fringe Planet is a fairly text heavy game. The initial version of Fringe Planet will be released in English. However, I am planning to support as many different languages as possible. The priority list for this is Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese and French. However, Fringe Planet will support community translations. I'll make sure to make these available before release.
What accessibility options will be included with Fringe Planet?
Accessibility is an issue which is incredibly close to my heart. Very early on in development I created an engine that allowed audio cues in the game to be displayed as text (very old screenshot of this system below!).
All subtitles can be customised depending on importance - font, font size, background colour and font colour can all be changed. Every version of the game will ship with this engine. I'm also planning on supporting input delays/time slowing, colour blind modes as well as difficulty levels. I want everybody to be able to play and enjoy the game, in whatever way is the best for them.
Why is it called Fringe Planet, and not Fringe Island?
I get asked this a surprising amount - the answer is two fold. Firstly, with the epic scale of the lore and the universe I've created with Fringe Planet - the sense of size is incredibly important - everything should feel epic and huge, even as the peons feel so small and tiny. This is really important to get the feeling of cosmic horror I want the game to have. Secondly, it just sounds like a much better name!
Kickstarter is a fantastic place not only to raise funds, but to also raise awareness of the game itself. By being on Kickstarter, the game is being seen by hundreds and thousands of people who have probably never even heard of the game or myself. This is great for the profile of the game - no matter how good a game is, if no one ever hears of it - it's just not going to get played.
Also, raising funds is very important for the completion of the game. I'm working on Fringe Planet full time, and have been self-funding the game since it's conception. Getting funding at this point means that I have enough time to bring Fringe Planet to market.
Fringe Planet Blog : https://fringeplanetgame.com/blog
Fringe Planet Twitter : https://twitter.com/FringePlanet
My Twitter : https://twitter.com/beebug_nic
Risks and challenges
I've been pitching Fringe Planet to various people for the past six months or so and as such I'm very aware of the potential risks and challenges that this project faces. The biggest risk is actually me. Fringe Planet is a huge project and developing it is a lot of work. The good news is, I'm very open about development - I tweet daily about what I'm working on and every Friday write a blog post about the weeks work (and there is literally a years worth of development blog posts, should you wish to take a look!). I look after myself and am very aware of the risks of burnout and work to mitigate them when I can.
But what happens if I'm a hit by a bus? (actually this exact question has been asked to me while pitching the game so many times, I think I've developed a phobia of buses). The game source code itself and all related documentation are named items in my will. Should I get hit by a bus (or a similar fate) then the code will be given to a trusted and known third party - or it will be completely open sourced.
The challenge at this point is purely financial - assuring that I have enough funds to live on while I develop the game. Funding will also allow me to split the workload (getting additional artists/UI designers on board, sound engineers, all things that are outside of my skill set). Getting marketing budget as well would be also incredibly handy.
If this campaign is unsuccessful, I've got a couple of options, but the mostly likely option will be moving development of Fringe Planet to a part endevour while I consult on other projects to bring the money in. Fringe Planet will be released, the Kickstarter just allows me to keep focused on making the game full time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!