A photo finish. An empty food bag with the team beginning to tire. A lobbed treat caught mid leap. An empty bank account with league dues at the end of the week. A breathtaking mountain view behind the supermarket.
Welcome to the world of Dog Sled Saga. It is a game slated for release on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and other platforms as we are able. It consists of races with simple input but complex systems that demand focus, and a rich campaign and team management element.
This is a game for people who love:
- Making the most of semi-random circumstances, as in Spelunky, FTL and The Binding of Isaac
- Balancing risk and reward on a deadline, as in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale
- Getting attached to virtual beings with a life of their own, as in Pokemon and XCOM
- One-button reaction games like Canabalt
- Dogs (and pets in general)
We've made our goal! In only 5 days! Here are some things we'll pledge to do if our campaign continues to climb. We tried to select things that will be costly in terms of time and money.
- $7000 - Dynamic Music The soundtrack will have multiple layers, interchanging as you race, to keep things aurally interesting and respond to gameplay!
$8000 - Time of Day and Weather Effects
We've been imagining this one from the start. We would love to do moonlit races (mock-up) and heavy snowfall!
$9500 - Wildlife Activity in Scenery
Another one we've been dying to put in. A hawk flying by alongside you... a small herd of deer staring your way... Lots of extra, time-consuming animation to produce!
- $11000 - Detailed dog close-ups and expanded soundtrack
Instead of just zooming in on our standard dog sprites, we'll give a much more detailed view of them in profile screens and such.
Also, a handful of songs on the soundtrack were written and recorded over the years by Dan, with guitars and stuff. Expect to hear some as bonus tracks on the soundtrack... eek.
$12000 - Trek Mode
Instead of competing in the leagues, pack up your sled and travel day-by-day over long distances. This will be the ultimate test in rationing your supplies and your teams energy and willpower.
- $14000 - Breeding for Dog Skill CombosWe've already planned a simplistic, non-dynamic way to carry your favorite dog's legacy over to fresh careers, but we imagine a deep system of skill-blending being VERY appealing (but time-consuming to balance).
^ COMPLETE! ^ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
$18000 - IndieCade Submission
This one's a bit more for us than for our backers. The festival's submission window closes right after our campaign ends, and if we're financially confident enough to travel and face the expenses of a convention, we would love to fulfill our dream of sharing our game among other developers.
$20000 - One-on-One Multiplayer Tournaments
Sure, tournaments could be organized independently, but we think that structured competition between real players with significant in-game rewards will be a thrill.
$25000 - MusherNet Cross-platform Cloud Saves
To us, this makes a boatload of sense for Dog Sled Saga, but it's tough stuff to pull off. Play the game on your computer, log in to MusherNet, carry your team with you on your phone. (Reminder--backers will get the game on a few platforms.) It will be a big undertaking to set it up and secure it, and keeping up reliable servers will be quite costly.
$30000 - 4 Player Multiplayer
The complexity and server demand of multiplayer will compound as we go beyond one-on-one races, but we think that the reward of such races would be wonderful.
If the time comes, we may add some stretch goals to the middle or high end of this list. Stay tuned!
Dog Sled Saga has simple, pick-up-and-play interaction, but also deep systems for dedicated players to uncover. Race with your unique team of dogs. Each dog's speed is hindered by hunger. Lob a limited supply of food to them to keep at full speed. Hazards on the track await.
Outside the races: use your winnings to hire new dogs, pay dues for higher racing leagues, or buy items to bolster you team. Treat your dogs well, and their innate hangups will transform into skills. Neglected dogs will diminish. Long-term success and a little luck will win dogs fame, potentially getting sponsorships and more.
Be alert to your dogs' behavior to succeed, in and out of races. If a dog is miserable, it will refuse to race, and a time may come to take them off the team.
Several factions (your league, the media/fans, a mysterious guild of mushers) will be paying attention to you, each with their own definition of success. Win their favor, and you won't find your efforts wasted.
The game will cater to fans of Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, FTL, etc., who enjoy starting from scratch and trying to beat the game as proficiently as possible, but those who want to can continue ride with their team beyond the win condition we have in mind, as the game will generate randomized races for an eternity. New careers can be started with the offspring of legendary dogs from previous runs!
We're putting a lot of effort into the world of Dog Sled Saga, and we want players to be able to build an identity for themselves and their team within it.
However, your dogs' identities will be defined as much by their name, appearance, skills, and gear as by the story that is built between them and yourself. This is inspired as much by Pokemon as by XCOM (except that your dogs won't be at risk of getting decimated by aliens). We hope that the potential for attachment to your team members will be as strong in our game as it is in those.
We have big plans to make Mount St. Something a worthy backdrop for your saga. Right now, the designs for our physical rewards (see below) are the best reflection of our setting, and they are a tiny taste of what we hope the final game will include.
We've brainstormed some unique occurrences that can happen to your team throughout your career, drawing from the histories, mysteries, and superstitions of our fictional region. We aim for a lot of rich but succinct storytelling that you and your team won't forget.
Dog Sled Saga is the debut game of a team of just two people. We're doing everything--game design, programming, art, music, promotion--ourselves. We have been working on the game since December 2012.
Dan FitzGerald - I am super pumped to finally transition from a long-standing, fairly passive fascination with game development to actually getting in on it. It hits on all of my skills and interests. I've been doing contract video production (lots of video game trailers!) and web development for the past 3 or so years, composing music primarily as a hobbyist for about 9, and playing games for about 23 years. I get a lot of satisfaction out of being a jack-of-many-trades and working as DIY as possible. However, I've never gotten the hang of the whole drawing thing. MEANWHILE...
Lisa Bromiel - I've been drawing since forever, and when my pursuits of combining art and career began to look more and more futile, I started seeing this game as the best possible challenge in doing what I think I do best--making stuff. I'm completely new to digital art and design and have only been at it for the past few months. I'll be excited to see what happens with Dog Sled Saga, and if we see any success, I'll happily keep on with this kind of work for the foreseeable future.
We've gotten good at collaborating since starting Dog Sled Saga. We work over each others' shoulders about as often as we work independently.
We were prepared to make Dog Sled Saga in our spare time and out of our own pockets. We've gotten over the hump of wondering if we have it in us, and now, completing the game will just take a lot of time and effort.
Our work on Dog Sled Saga is creatively satisfying, but it's at odds with our efforts to get by (time is money, as the saying goes, especially for people making a living off of contract work.) We think the scope of our game is realistic, but it's big. Realizing it on a trickle of free time and focus will not do it justice. We've decided it's time to measure how much interest there is in our game.
We often see Kickstarter campaigns list the expense of hiring artists, musicians, and other freelancers to polish the game. In this case, that's us!
There are a number of expenses with making and releasing a game. As the game grows, the pull to port it from the Starling Framework (which sure has treated us well, but is beginning to strain as we add color customization and more scenery) to something like Libgdx or MonoGame. However, these options carry license costs with them. There is a hearty list of other developer license, software licenses, test device costs, etc. that we're up against, as well.
Of course, we are offering backers the game in both finished and pre-release forms at different tiers. Wherever possible, the game and other digital rewards will be DRM-free.
The reward tiers, up to a certain point, include the rewards from tiers beneath them.
We've had a blast designing material rewards--things we imagine would come out of Mount St. Something--and we have some leads to ensure that anything we ship to you will meet our standards. We also have a number of rewards that will let you leave your mark on Dog Sled Saga.
Below are some mockups of the physical rewards (may or may not change before printing).
Mount St. Something National Park Brochure
$25 YOU ARE HERE tier and up
Essentially the manual for our game, including a map of locations for races and other landmarks.
Postcards x 5
A set of actual, mailable postcards with pixel art representations of some of Dog Sled Saga's landmarks.
Stickers x 5
Five different 1 to 2 inch vinyl, die-cut stickers with Dog Sled Saga graphics.
Coil-up nylon frisbee
$40 MOUTH-EYE COORDINATION TRAINING tier and $200 THE WHOLE 1,049 MILES tier [an option in several others]
For canines and humans alike.
Dogsledding League T-Shirt
$50 OFFICIAL LEAGUE APPAREL tier and $200 THE WHOLE 1,049 MILES tier [an option in several others]
To be printed on a unisex ring-spun cotton shirt.
Story of Aurora Pocket Storybook
An illustrated pocket book about the historic, almost legendary husky Aurora.
Editioned Art-Print National Park Poster
$65 HUNG ABOVE THE MANTLE tier and $200 THE WHOLE 1,049 MILES tier [an option in several others]
Custom Dog Sled Saga wooden USB drive
A physical copy of the game on a USB drive with graphics engraved on it. Also contains the soundtrack and many other digital goodies (although you'll have online access as soon as other backers). We will ship it in nice, handmade packaging!
Risks and challenges
We have a lot of confidence in Dog Sled Saga, and we think our scope is realistic, but it's big. Our release estimates may be off, our plans may evolve, and so on, but we are determined to make a game worthy of your support.
Multiplayer is notoriously hard to pull off, but we think it's essential to our game. Dan has web development experience, and some preliminary research has been promising, but real-time multiplayer will surely be a hurdle.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)