We've been posting some updates and short essays on the different aspects of the game world and design. Look at them!
Tangiers is a dark, uneasy game - an exploration of broken cities and landscapes.
"...Tangiers must see the light of day, and I trust in Mr Harvey's passion to see that happen." - Rock, Paper, Shotgun
"...striking art style and bold ideas have certainly left me hungry to find out more." - Eurogamer
"I don’t know where Tangiers has been hiding, but I’m glad it’s finally emerged from the shadows of its stark industrial environment..." - PCGamer
Tangiers is a blend of stealth and exploration for Windows, Mac and Linux built within the Unity engine.
Using the sandbox stealth of Looking Glass Studio's Thief series as the base of Tangiers, we're looking to build a world inspired by, embodying and adapting the darker avant-garde of the 20th century.
Writers such as Burroughs and Ballard, artists within the Dada movement and the music and textures of Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and David Lynch all drive us. They are our motivations - often oblique, sometimes in open reference.
You play an outsider to the world, an entity with a singular, enigmatic goal - to find and dispose of five other beings. Your arrival here has fractured the world; the city that these other beings resided in is now broken into shards across a broken, bleak landscape.
You must infiltrate these cities, searching to discover your marks - investigating both precisely who, and where.
Keeping to the shadows is to be encouraged - reality here is a fragile place. Your interactions with the world cause it to fall apart. In homage to Burrough's cut-up technique, the world collapses and rebuilds itself the more you interact with it - future areas rebuilt with the fragments and personality of places you mistreated. From this every play-through will, subtly or drastically, be unique to you.
The fragile state is inherent in the entire setting. The spoken words of its inhabitants materialize physically - collect the frustrations of a guard unable to locate you and use them to distract, mislead and spread disinformation. Gather the intimate words of an illicit conversation and use them to unveil secrets, hidden pockets within the city. Turn them into reality - a character mentions rats and you can turn his words into a devouring swarm of them.
Traditional rules are lost. Buildings ignore gravity, ignore the constraints of space. Architecture adopts the mind-state of its inhabitants, who are in turn physically and violently changed in response. This is a world that is as horrific as often as it is absurd and inane.
Some, but not all of the features you'll find in Tangiers are:
- Shadow based stealth engine.
- Sandbox environments: choose how you'll proceed through areas and the manner in which you do so, be it ghosting unseen or methodically disposing of all you come across.
- Expansive external landscapes full of side-narratives and hidden areas to discover.
- Language becomes reality - collect other characters' spoken word to utilize as a tool to your own ends. Use words and combine them with your standard abilities to distract, mislead or create new effects based on their meaning.
- Non-linear progression: Entirely up to you as to the order in which you approach each levels.
- Reactive difficulty: The depth of challenge in areas is set based upon your overall progress.
- Reactive game world: The world of Tangiers rebuilds itself as you progress, based upon what you do and where you do it.
- Windows, Mac and Linux versions.
At its heart, Tangiers sits on a traditional stealth engine. Keep to the shadows, keep quiet and use your abilities to manipulate a hostile environment. Levels are open ended - plan and choose your approach, infiltrate any number of routes, keep to the shadows and stay quiet.
While we're keeping closely to this style of game and indeed aiming to go back to the genre's roots, we don't just want to repeat what's been done before. A lot of similarities, yes - but almost all your interactions with the world, and the world's interactions with you will be viewed through the concepts and ethos of our creative inspirations.
We're Andalusian, a Bristol based two-man team and friends aiming to render games that are both off-kilter and mature: games that look to a wider range of cultural influence than you'd normally find in the medium.
This is our debut game - while we are perhaps inexperienced, we've scrupulously designed Tangiers from the ground up to take that into account. From holding off fundraising until the core game-play was satisfactorily implemented, to designing the aesthetics and workflow to accommodate a rapid development of the world, we're confident that we're well-placed to see this through to success. But who are we?
There are two of us in the core team of Andalusian: Alex Harvey and Michael Wright.
Alex is the lead of the project. He orchestrates the whole operation, managing and coordinating everything, as well as spending far too many sleepless nights scripting the game and modelling up the art assets.
Michael is the number two of the studio. He's our workhorse; While Alex focuses on making sure everything works and looks pretty, Michael sets to grinding through the bulk work of texturing up the cities and making the coffee.
We're not alone on our journey though!
Catt Stewart is our concept and character artist. Formerly from Bristol, Catt now lives in Barcelona, a few hours from the real Andalusia.
Continuing the theme of our colleagues living in different timezones to us, Joseph Rubio is in Texas while he takes care of all audio duties.
We'll be putting up a "Meet the team video" soon to let them introduce themselves better.
The sound design of Tangiers is very much the cornerstone of our atmosphere, our world.
Joseph Rubio will be producing us a textured, industrialized soundscape for the project. The audio will be exploring a range of emotions, from suffocating, tight mechanical drones to light, alienating atmospheres, the soundtrack will co-exist perfectly with the game's visuals.
But we're not stopping there - we're taking an approach of mood and tone to all the games sounds. Footsteps become percussion, the echoes and reverberations blend, merge with the ambiance.
We've been working on Tangiers both part and full time for close to 8 months now - but we've got to a position where further funding is necessary to continue development.
Despite the sensible choice being "don't do it", Alex left his job to pursue his long standing dream of developing such a game. Michael put himself in a similar position, so as it stands currently, the two of us are working full time without anything approximating an income. It's all very utilitarian and DIY in the Andalusian office - the so called "office" is Alex's bedroom, Michael's laptop is far too old and held together by duct tape and his office chair is missing a wheel.
To continue work on the game full time (and to give development the attention it deserves), Andalusian needs your support.
If we're successful with this, the money raised will be split between allowing the two of us to work on Tangiers full time, as well as pay for the time and services of Catt, our concept/character artist, and Joseph, our musician. It'll also go towards replacing Michael's laptop with a device that is free of duct tape, on producing and delivering the Kickstarter rewards, as well as on the omnipresent shadow of taxes, software licenses and business overheads.
Getting funded on Kickstarter would not only garner a new wheel for Michael's chair, but it gives us the capability to see the game through to completion, to finish a project that is a bit too niche and off-beat to fund through most other avenues.
Working with you, we can produce a daring, original game - one that wouldn't be possible otherwise.
£35,000 is the minimum amount of funding that we can get away with. Our fingers are firmly crossed about getting more - from our angle, more money means the chance of a better working environment than Alex's bedroom, a third full time developer and more resources to spend on external art and music. For you, that all means a deeper, richer Tangiers.
Next to making everything better, let's look at what else is possible:
£40,000 - Commentary
If we hit this mark, we'll be able to put a commentary into the game. It'll be an optional toggle - in the Valve style of activated talking points dotted around the game.
Tangiers is a sometimes esoteric, sometimes enigmatic project. While we won't be spoiling or explaining any of the narrative, with the commentary we'll discuss the thought process behind a lot of ideas and the nature of how our influences directed certain parts of the world and design.
£45,000 - Extra Difficulty
Here we add a "hardcore" difficulty mode. Not for everyone, but for players that want their life to be a bit more difficult. Hardcore difficulty will not only restrict the camera (still third person, but you'll lose the extra awareness), but your enemies will have heightened awareness and a greater aptitude for searching you out. This mode will force you to constantly think tactically and make best use of everything you come across.
£52,000 - Reality Tears
At this level, we incorporate reality tears into the cut-up and collapse of the world. Dorways and fractures into pockets of alternate existences. Similar to the portals in Prey (or Portal!), you step through them into alternative fragments of the world. Built up from memories of already visited places, they act as bridges across the map, areas to fall back on or - if you can find a way to close them, a place to lure and trap other characters.
£58,000 - Reactive Music
The music takes on the properties of the cut-up - reflections and echoes of visited locations find their way into the audio as do you current actions and some more targeted influences of the current environment. Using the audio compositions as a base, we'll pull and push it in directions unique and driven to every playthrough.
£64,000 - Enhanced Character Dynamics
We can build upon the AI in the game. Two factions will be apparent within the characters, and there will be a strong tension between the two.
As you spread disinformation and paranoia amongst the inhabitants of Tangiers, these tensions will flare up - push things even further and you may even manage to have the world's characters deal with your targets for you.
Eventually in the late stages of the game, events will lead to conflict. As you hide in the shadows, pitched brawls and combat will emerge around you. You're faced with the further challenge of an unpredictable environment, of waves of hostility flaring up and dying down. The ambiance of Tangiers will of course be maintained during this - but it opens up a whole new creative avenue for exploring the game's parameters.
All listed in the side bar, check 'em out!
We're approaching our Beta access slightly differently to normal though. We've got a strong, single player focus on Tangiers, and the game is something that we really want you to experience as a whole. To find balance and to be able to provide a satisfying early access offering, our beta will come in the form of a prequel to Tangiers' main narrative.
The beta will be approximately a fifth of the size of the main game - equivalent to one of the city-shards and its surrounding landscape. It's the perfect opportunity to showcase and give an early look at all our mechanics and narrative techniques without spoiling all the surprises we have planned in the full game.
We should probably also show the Tangiers shirt - it should look something like this:
Feel free to give us feedback on this - we'll be refining the design so shout us out :)
£7 - Second Copy of Tangiers
Do you have a friend that might be interested in the project, or perhaps know someone whose unsure as to whether it's their sort of thing? An extra download of the game, discounted to the early-bird rate as a thank you for the extra support! Limited to one extra per backer.
£10 - Early Poster +£2 for international shipping
Some backers might not want to wait for all your rewards to come through, so we'll be getting this poster printed and sent out as soon as the money comes in! As a memento of your support, they'll be signed and have a thank you message written to you.
A3 Glossy posters. To keep the cost reasonable, we'll be (gently) folding them in half and keeping them safe between two sheets of rigid card. If you would like to have them sent out rolled in a tube, it's a bit pricey but add £4.00 on top.
The design will be based on this image, though I'll be reworking and polishing the textures, lighting and composition on it (that skies looking a bit too plain...).
£20 - Postcards from Tangiers +2 for international shipping
A pack of ten, high quality glossy postcards of various landscapes around the world.
£25 - Digital Only Credits Mention
We've had a few bits of feedback asking about a credits mention without the physical rewards. Fairly self explanatory - this is the end credits mention found in the £80 tier.
Risks and challenges
So - we've not shipped a game before. But we are well aware of the massive effort involved in building a complete game, just as we've played Boiling Point enough times to see what happens when games get too ambitious.
Tangiers has been designed from the ground up with our experience and limitations in mind. From the workflow surrounding level design and testing to the low-fidelity art-style, we're positive that completing Tangiers is well within our reach.
We've been holding back from fundraising until we got to a point where the biggest hurdles are passed. The areas that we considered the highest risk are now robustly implemented - the stealth engine and the AI. Our work now is expanding these platforms and building the game world.
There is of course the risk that we overrun against schedule. With the exception of overheads and collaborators that we'll be paying at the start of the project, all of the work is being done by the two of us at Andalusian - if we do overrun, we'll simply tighten our belts and carry on working. The chance of Tangiers being cancelled for whatever reason is negligible.
We've put a lot of effort into planning ahead with Tangiers to make sure everything is set to a realistic scope and schedule, and hope that you'll be happy trusting us to deliver.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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