About this project
What is Ghost in the Machine?
Ghost in the Machine is a retro-style platform video game. Somewhat like a new-old-Virtual Boy game, it has low-res graphics, high-contrast graphics, and 8-bit Nintendo music. On top of that, it has tough as nails-n'-asphalt game action! You play as a little ghost guy running through what looks like an old factory, getting from point A to point B. It sounds simple, but there are lots of tough puzzles and tricky platforming sections to keep you busy (not to mention unlockable secrets!)
Why Will I Like this Game?
Ghost in the Machine is very challenging, but also very simple. All you need to know is the objective, and the game teaches you the rest through trial and error. You won't be sitting through tutorials or reading manuals, as all player learning is done with experimentation. Tight controls and a very clear indication of what ideas have worked make for a comfortable problem-solving environment, leading to a lot of "A-ha!" moments.
What's the Story?
We started Ghost in the Machine as an entry to a 24-hour Game Jam hosted on our school floor, Computer Science House. The theme for the Jam was "unforeseen consequences" and we chose to interpret this very literally. The original game had a very harsh dither-based mask around the edge of the screen, making it very hard to see in front of you. While a lot has changed since then, the game still is a lot like its original incarnation.
Does it Support The Oculus Rift? Is this a Loaded Question?
To truly honor this "new-virtual-boy" feel, Ghost in the Machine supports the Oculus Rift VR headset for true 3D depth! The foreground pipes stick out while the bricks and gears in the backdrop truly feel far away - after adding support we instantly concluded that the Oculus VR is the best way to play the game. However, I don't want anybody to be left out, so all gameplay content available in the VR mode is just as accessible in the regular mode (except it won't pop out at you, of course).
What Can I Play It On?
This game is, right now, intended for Windows computers using a USB gamepad or the keyboard. It doesn't have intense system requirements, and ought to run on anything made in the last ten years (like my laptop). The arcade version runs on Linux, and ports for Mac OS X and Linux are predicted future platforms. The game is fully portable so this shouldn't be a big issue; with some re-tooling (and a complete overhaul of the graphics and sound functions) the game may be running in C on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis eventually...
How are we Making It?
While the original was rapid-prototyped in Multimedia Fusion 2 with the target platform being Windows and iOS, it's been rewritten in C++, making ports to Linux and Mac OS X possible (we'll see). All the graphics were made by the two of us, and the music by fictional J-pop band M☆FT (it's really just Michael Moffitt, but sssh). The music was all made in FamiTracker, which emulates original Nintendo sound hardware for authenticity. All the music and sound in this game could come from a real Famicom!
What about the Development Cycle?
We are hoping to have the game done by December 2013, but being a student is hard work - this game has been made during whatever shreds of free time we can afford! Our rewards are listed to the right, however, and a lot of them include access to the beta, which you can play around with. Despite being very busy, we are very open and responsive to feedback from backers, testers, or even fans, and will listen to everything you have to say.
Risks and challenges
We are both full-time students, and as such we have to spend a lot of time putting academics first. Finding time to work on the game has been challenging, though we have managed. A lot of work will be done during the summer, as the biggest task right now is making levels - 81 is the target number.
Also, programming is kind of hard! My C++ is primarily self taught, and I learn a lot of new things on the way that improve the game. Right now the game runs very well, but there is always room for improvement.
We don't think we will have trouble meeting this goal, and feel we can have it finished by December. We will be keeping the page updated with development news, so project backers will always be on top of how we are doing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The game will be distributed without any DRM. You can download it and copy it in a little archive and keep it forever, it doesn't care if it's online or even copied to one of your other computers. If people pirate the game, that's unfortunate, but implementing effective DRM is tedious and it's going to be cracked eventually anyway. What's worse is that it might encourage the inclusion of malware in cracked copies, which means that people playing our game are running malware. We'd rather people enjoy our game, and hope that they feel justified in paying a measly $5 for it.
We'd like two additional Oculus Rift development kits, for starters. Furthermore, Steam Greenlight is going to cost $99 when the game is complete. Plus, we are using free tools to make this game, and while we're used to those and can do fine, we may want to purchase a license for Adobe Photoshop so we can use that for some things. Less urgently, but still importantly, my laptop isn't particularly powerful, and it's slowed down the development process in a few ways. Depending on how well everything goes, a faster model may be considered.
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