Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 28, 2013.

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Power Up - an epic, retro space shooter presented in modern style... and all made by one person!!

it About Me

Hello. I'm Mike Hanson and ever since I was little I wanted to make a console game!

Last year, I got motivated enough to actually try to do it and so far, the results have been pretty good... When it came to game mechanics and design principles, I couldn't resist the retro charms of those computer, console and coin-op games I grew up on, but when I got going with the garnish I decided to take a bit of a risk on the visual style of the game and create something altogether more modern than pixel art and chip-tunes.

Here's an early, pixel popped incarnation of Power Up - You can click on the picture to read more about this on my blog.
Here's an early, pixel popped incarnation of Power Up - You can click on the picture to read more about this on my blog.

...Instead, I went with rendered, post-produced 3D art alongside juicy sequenced, sampled music which combines big beats with choir and orchestral score. I borrowed the software I needed to do this and decided that while I worked on the game, I would save my spare pennies like mad so that when Power Up was ready (a year or so after I started it), I would be able to afford my own, commercially licenced copies of the software I'd used to make the art and music assets. That was the plan, and goes some way to explain how I was able to get this far...

The modern, updated version of Power Up I'm making now currently looks a bit like this.
The modern, updated version of Power Up I'm making now currently looks a bit like this.

When I got made redundant a few weeks ago, I had to commit my savings to my living expenses. Hey, this is real life. These things happen... I decided to stick with my project, regardless and explore what options I had left... which led me here to Kickstarter.

A Bit of Project History

Power Up started out as just an educational hobby as I wanted to teach myself a bit of simple game programming. Since then, the game has become my very own little labour of love.

For the last 12 months I've poured every moment of my free time into the project, learning to make better art, code and music as I've gone along. I hoped to get my head around some of the finer points of good design, and soon I found myself sharing my every setback and breakthrough with a frankly, brilliant twitter community.

I love to share what I learn! I regularly upload tons of  pictures, to my twitter account: @psypsoft, along with progress reports, links to my latest blog posts, production videos, and even the occasional project trailer or press article. I'm always up for a natter and will usually respond within a day to any questions, to give/take advice or just generally talk bubbles with anybody nice enough to get in touch.

This big guy is "Orbital Defense-1". I was quite proud of him. You can click this pic to see how I built him. There's also loads of pictures of the process on my twitter account too.
This big guy is "Orbital Defense-1". I was quite proud of him. You can click this pic to see how I built him. There's also loads of pictures of the process on my twitter account too.

If you haven't seen or heard of my project on twitter, that's ok. I won't hold that against you. You're putting all that right just by being here and reading this.

But Let's Talk About the game!

POWER UP - SCENARIO:

"The Earth is doomed! As you pilot the prototype fighter, Weapon-F through the debris of your vanquished escape shuttle you come to realise that you are the last human alive.

You alone must take on the army of reptillian monsters responsible for the destruction of humankind. You alone must carry out your final order... revenge!"

...You get the idea, right? I'm sure you've gathered by now that Power Up is indeed a game. More specifically, its an indie that game I'm making all on my own, for Xbox Live. I designed Power Up in the style of a classic sidescrolling space shooter because I realised that the first bits of game code I needed to get good at were tight controls and effective collision detection. It made sense to make my first game a spaceship shooter!

I was very visually influenced by the 90s Amiga games of my teenage years. Project-X was fresh in my mind as I began to paint the stars and nebulae of Power Up - Chapter 1 and as I played around with my weapon selection ideas I was reminded of Hellfire for the Megadrive.

...Other Shoot-Em-Up classics that crept into my psyche at an early age also no doubt influenced Power Up in wonderful and subliminal ways. These include the likes of R-Type, Battle Squadron, Chronos, Apidya, St Dragon, 1943, Xennon 2: Megablast, Armalyte, Silk Worm, SWIV, Agony, Blood Money, Dragon Breed, Dragon Spirit, Defender, Forgotten Worlds, Truxton and many, many more.

Meet the Chapter 1 Level-Guardian: The Cleaner! Yikes!!
Meet the Chapter 1 Level-Guardian: The Cleaner! Yikes!!

With a vast wealth of shooter heritage behind it, Power Up has grown and evolved. I've managed to implement a weapon select and power-up system which allows you to evenly strengthen all of your different guns at once or to fully focus on the weapons you want to use depending on how you play the game, regardless of whether you prefer the reliability of the straight laser, the sheer range of the spread shot, the protection of the sideshot or the fast repeating whip-action of the plasma cannon. Just don't forget to power up your rear gun too to avoid surprise attacks from behind!

Other pickups include progressive speed-ups for your ship which make you quick, nippy and gererally much better at dodging the myriad bullets, mines and homing missiles being hurled in your direction, regular points bonuses (of course) and mighty, screen-clearing, boss-draining Blast Bombs that you can collect along the way too!

As for the locations, the narrative of Power Up takes you on a journey to the core of an alien world through five chapters of intense spaceship shoot-em-up action. Beginning your mission in the debris of your fallen escape shuttle, you'll fight your way through the enemy planet's orbit, enduring numerous bullet-hell situations and balancing your array of weapons for maximum effect against your enemies. Then, you'll speed over their arid desert plains and into the vast Supercity, outwitting waves of vicious reptillian fighter pilots and mammoth, mechanical guardians. Finally, you'll journey deep into the planet's core where only the most skilled pilots will earn a showdown against the mosnstrous alien mastermind.

The story is driven through brief segments of classic RPG style character dialogue, between the pilot (that's you, that is), your on board Artificial Intelligence unit called HATI, and the various cast of characters, good and bad. Of course, all of the game's dialogue is extremely skippable, so if you're just looking for some good old SHMUP action and want to get to it, you can!

Here's the gruesome pilot for the Chapter 3 Level-Guardian, "The Worm". Nasty, eh ...and if you click the pic you can see the timelapse video of me painting him.
Here's the gruesome pilot for the Chapter 3 Level-Guardian, "The Worm". Nasty, eh ...and if you click the pic you can see the timelapse video of me painting him.

Throughout the learning process, I've stumbled accross a few other flourishes and touches you might like too. Asside from the masses of particle effects and general lightshows, one of my favourite little control innovations is what I call the "Parthian-shot death control", which allows you just a little influence over your dying ship so you can take a couple of your enemies to hell with you as you crash and burn! ...Nice!

I'm working hard to get all of this, and a few secret extra features available for XBLIG submission with a view to a release this coming summer..... well, no, I'm not. I'm writing this. But when I've done this, I'll be doing that! ...Not to mention obsessively and repeatedly checking back here to see if anybody is actually pledging, of course.

Want to be a part of it? Of course you do! What kind of crazy person wouldn't? So why not make a pledge, then tell your friends... and then come to Twitter and tell me, @psypsoft what you think about it all. I won't bite, honest!

So What Do I need?...

Power Up has been made with a few bits of specialist software. Lucky for me, the programming side of things is free for XNA developers... but here's what you guys will be funding me for...

*3D Studio Max - This is the 3D software I use to create all of my spaceships and a few level elements. Its the biggest cost for my project at a whopping £2900.00!! (Source: http://store.autodesk.co.uk/store/adsk/en_GB/buy/Autodesk_3ds_Max_2013/productID.251720300).

*Adobe Photoshop (commercial version) - This is what I use for my textures and model post-production. It's also what I use for all of my level backgrounds, my character illustrations and my User Interface art. It's very much an essential piece of kit for any modern game and a commercial licence for a full version will cost me £660.51. (Source: http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/small-business-pricing/software-catalog._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_photoshopcollection.html)

Click the picture above to watch the video of me creating this desert background in Photoshop.
Click the picture above to watch the video of me creating this desert background in Photoshop.

*Steinberg Cubase 7 - I use samples, instruments and whatever I have to hand to create the music in Power Up, and I do it all with this. For an official licence, Cubase costs £488.00 (Source: http://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/buy_product/product/cubase-7.html)

*Adobe Audition - This is where I create all of my other sounds. Lasers, explosions, shield hits, missile launches, you name it, Audition's brilliant set of production tools helps bring Power Up's audio to life. This will cost £329.64 (source:http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/small-business-pricing/software-catalog._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_allsoftware_uk.html)

These are the costs at the time of writing. I've been checking them out over the last few weeks and they seem to fluctuate slightly but hopefully not to the extent that I can't handle if I account for it in my total. Let's add those figures up and see what we're looking at to make Power Up viable for a commercial release...

Total cost of software: £4378.15

Accounting 5% for Kickstarter's very reasonable fee and 5% for a third party payment processor's fee, we're looking more like this...

Total cost including fees: $4815.96

And finally, taking into account those fluctuating Adobe prices, I'd better make sure I round up a bit to cover them...

Final total: £5000.00

Still not convinced? Tell you what, give this pic a click and check out my first Power Up trailer - "One Man, One Year".
Still not convinced? Tell you what, give this pic a click and check out my first Power Up trailer - "One Man, One Year".

So what if I smash it? is there anything else I could do if I make more money than I need?

Sure. If Power Up does well on Xbox, I shouldn't have too much trouble porting it for Windows by myself, and after that I might even consider a Windows Phone version too... though that's probably where my currently limited programming expertise ends. so what else could I stretch to?...

1. iOS and Android, Multi-Resolution Ports:

Working in multi-res handheld games has given me a few good contacts. I have programmer friends just itching to help port Power Up to iOS and Android phones and tablets of all descriptions, and I'd love to let them do it... but I would never ask them to do it for free. If your pledges prove there's a demand for the ports to happen and reach £6000, those guys will get paid and that will happen.

2. Ouya Port:

I'm hearing a particular demand for PowerUp on the new indie consoles and I'm certainly hoping for the means to do it. £6500 will get us an Ouya version. (See below for details of the planned GCW-Zero version).

3. Unlockable Paintjobs:

It recently occurred to me that in order to get iOS ports out there with little fuss, I'm going to need some sort of Mac! Well my cheapest option seems to be the Mac Mini at £499.00 (Source: http://www.apple.com/uk/mac-mini/), so if this Kickstarter reaches £7000 and covers the cost, here's what's in it for you...

4. Nintendo and PSN Ports:

This is where we start looking into PSN and Nintendo versions of PowerUp. There's a few hoops to jump through to make these happen, but I'm told it can certainly be done.

5. GCW-Zero Port:

I've been talking to the GCW-Zero guys and it looks like this version will carry its own unique complications. As I can't absolutely guarantee a version in the immediate future, I've had to slightly lower the port in the stretch priorities.

However, I really hope to work with the GCW-Zero guys to come up with a porting solution that fits PowerUp. With a bit of luck that will happen before this campaign runs out and I'll be able to bump it up.

6. Toys and Merchandise:

I'm looking into the possibility of additional merchandising for the game. you know, tee-shirts, posters..... models! Yep, models! I don't know about you, but I would love some real life models/toys of those spaceships around Psychotic Psoftware Pstudios (er, my home office). It's early days yet but if the money's there and PowerUp drums up the popularity, this could happen too a little further down the line. Hey, it worked out for Mr. Lucas... (personally, I'm angling for my very own Power Up spaceships soap-set. Imagine that!)

---

So with regards to stretching the project to make something more of Power Up, its really all a question of my having the resources to do it.

That's where you come in. Thanks for taking the time to check this project out. I'm still working hard on it but ultimately, whether or not I get my software licences to release it is totally up to you...

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Power Up is a one-man development. That means I'm only relying on myself. The advantage here is that this leaves very little room for any collaboration timing mishaps. I won't be waiting on anybody else. However, that mortgage needs to be paid so my main personal priorities have to centre on finding a new job. That said, I've got Power Up this far while in full time employment so be it full or part time, even a string of freelance jobs, I always have and always will find time for Power Up. It's my baby.

Other than that, the main risk for delay lies in the Xbox Live submission process. Basically, this is an unknown quantity for me. for all I know, it could take 3 days, it could take 3 months. However, one thing you can be sure of is that I'll keep you informed every step of the way, daily on Twitter and regularly on here and Facebook too.

FAQ

  • Good question. What I actually need the money for are the commercial licences for the software. Those licences will allow me the rights to publish the games that I make using the applications I listed above. What it boils down to is this...

    *If I don't buy the software officially, I can't release Power Up.

    *If I do buy the software, I can.

    Last updated:
  • Of course you can still back the project.

    At the time or writing £1 is worth about $1.58, though this fluctuates slightly on a daily basis by a cent or two.

    Basically, based on the current exchange rate, the reward tiers pan out a bit like this...

    £2 = $3.15

    £5 = $7.88

    £7 = $11.03

    £12 = $18.91

    £14 = $22.06

    £35 = $55.15

    £37 = $58.30

    £100 = $157.58

    £102 = $160.73

    Last updated:
  • It does. That's because I only expect an allowance of 50 free copies of the Xbox version to give away and I'm not actually guaranteed that, so it makes sense for me not to make any commitments that I'm unsure of being able to honour.

    ...That said, I do have control of how I distribute the PC version and recently even figured out how to make a successful build! (Go me). If you think you can hang on for a few months while I make a nice PC version, I've now added a few new tiers just for you.

    Do bear in mind though, that being an indie game, Power Up for the Xbox won't cost much at all.

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  • Thanks. It's really kind of you to offer, but...

    I've had lots of offers for help from some brilliant programmers, artists, designers, musicians, web developers, etc. As specialists, their work is brilliant. Much better than my own jack-of-all-trades approach to things. You deserve to be paid specialist rates and I don't have the means to do that.

    The main reason I started fending for myself, learning art, code and music was simply because I couldn't find work. I kept it up mainly because what work I did find didn't cater to my gaming tastes as well as I'd have liked.

    Skilled and creative people all too often have to give their hard earned experience away at rocvk bottom prices. I'm all about bringing a sense of value back to these skillsets, so I certainly won't ask anybody to work on the cheap or even worse, for free!

    Sure, if I ever did well enough to expand, I'd consider getting other people involved, but right now it's very much a pipe dream. It's very likely that I'll be going it alone for some time to come.

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  • I'd love to make a version of Power Up for the Ouya and GCW-Zero consoles, and am looking into ways to make that happen.

    At this early stage I can only commit to PC and Xbox as that's what I'm able to code myself... and as you can see on the main page, if I hit my first stretch goal, I'll be commissioning versions of Power Up for iOS and Android.

    Un-officially, next on my game porting list will be the indie devices like Ouya and GCW-Zero.

    Last updated:
  • Yes, it does... But as some of these award tiers have already been backed I'm unable to update the descriptions to make this clear. So, just to clarify, yes. The PC version of the game will be DRM free.

    Last updated:
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    75 backers

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC - Once I've finished the Xbox version and seen the benefit of all that lovely QA, I'll be able to put a few months into making the game work for PC too. If you'd like a digital copy of that version of the game, but aren't into seeing your name in lights, just pledge in this tier.

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    30 backers

    YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - I can't release Power Up without hitting that target, so I'll be especially grateful to anyone who puts in that little extra... I'll even etch your name into my credits for the ages!

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    68 backers

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - Pledge in this tier and and you'll recieve a digital copy of the game for PC as well as having your name in the credits. Obviously, this will come a few months after the Xbox release but hey, it's darned good value in my book.

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    9 backers

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK - A late addition to the tier selections, you guys requested it and here it is... If you'd like the DRM free game and soundtrack but are happy to remain anonymous then this is your tier, right here!

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    14 backers

    THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - Power Up will have at least 6 game-level and boss tunes... Maybe more if I have time, so it makes sense for me to add an extra tier here. Make a pledge in this tier and once I'm done, I'll email you a DRM-free digital copy of all the in game music. you'll also get your name in the credits.

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    39 backers

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - In this tier, you'll get all the perks of the previous tier, but this one also includes a digital copy of the game for PC! Don't forget, there will be a bit more of a delay here while I finish it up but hey, this is a Kickstarter. You'd expect that, right?

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    10 backers

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS - If you'd like your own copy of the game and the soundtrack, plus your name in the credits in a colour of your choosing, then this is the tier for you. Just email the colour you'd like to me at psychoticpsoftware@gmail.com and I'll make sure you stand out. If you're not bothered about what colour I use, I'll assign you one at random.

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    9 backers Limited (21 left of 30)

    A CONCEPT ART PRINT and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - Pledge in this tier and you'll be sent an exclusive signed print of one of my Power Up concept art pieces. I'll also email you the DRM-free game soundtrack and include you in the credits.

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    7 backers Limited (23 left of 30)

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and A CONCEPT ART PRINT and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - Again, this tier is like the last but includes a digital copy of the PC version of the game. Again, this comes a few months after the Xbox release as I'll have to finish the PC version first. Still, a great deal for just an extra £2!

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    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and A CONCEPT ART PRINT and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS - By popular demand, this new tier includes all the good stuff from the last tier but makes your name POP! ...in colour! If you have a particular colour you'd like to see your name in, put it in an email to me at psychoticpsoftware@gmail.com and I'll oblige... if you don't, your colour will be assigned at random.

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    2 backers Limited (18 left of 20)

    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and A CONCEPT ART PRINT and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR LOGO IN THE GAME - Want to see your company affiliated in the Power Up credits?... Simply pledge in this tier, then send a high resolution copy of your logo to me at psychoticpsoftware@gmail.com. I'm sure it goes without saying that any inappropriate images won't be allowed in... If in doubt about your logo, just throw me an email and ask.

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    1 backer All gone!

    HAND DRAWN CONCEPT ART and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - If a piece of original, signed hand drawn space shooter concept art is your bag then this is the thing for you! Basically, I'll be tidying up my innitial design sketches to create something much more presentable. These are very limited so that my drawing hand gets a rest. If you pledge this category, you'll recieve (at random): *1 of 5 pages containing level baddie designs. or *1 the 5 level boss designs. I'll also email you the DRM-free game soundtrack and you'll recieve a particularly honourable mention in the game credits.

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    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and HAND DRAWN CONCEPT ART and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN THE GAME - If you'd like a digital copy of the PC game to go with that bit of original concept art and your honourable mention, then for an extra £2, you can have exactly that! Just remember, you'll have to wait a little bit longer while I finish the PC version of the game.

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    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and HAND DRAWN CONCEPT ART and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS - Make yourself stand out with a splash of colour while also bagging yourself all of the goodies from the previous tier. Just bid in this tier and email your choice of colour to me at psychoticpsoftware@gmail.com. If you don't have a colour preference, I'll assign you a random colour.

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    POWER UP, THE GAME FOR PC and HAND DRAWN CONCEPT ART and THE POWER UP SOUNDTRACK and YOUR LOGO IN THE GAME - If you're a company, why settle for your name in Power Up when you can have your logo in it?! Just bid in this tier, then email a high-resolution copy of your logo to me at psychoticpsoftware@gmail.com, and you'll see it in the credits as well as recieving all the cool stuff listed here.

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Funding period

- (30 days)