What is Tomb of Tyrants?
Tomb of Tyrants is a dungeon-defense puzzler in which you take on the role of a tyrant (or historical curator), building a dungeon (restoring a historic site) and crushing heroes (nobly defending an anthropological treasure trove from greedy adventurers). Players match resource tiles to clear room and purchase additional floors, traps, and monsters while intrepid parties of do-gooders (vandals) venture down from the surface to defeat you and claim the Tyrants' hoard. This dual-plot setup allows you to play as either the villain or someone with grossly misplaced values.
Matching tiles from the hoard below your dungeon clears room for expansion, while giving you the resources to construct new floors, which in turn allow you to recruit monsters, set traps, and produce items. The Tyrants' hoard never ends, but slain creatures drop additional resources and items into the puzzle, increasing the pace of the game as your dungeon's death toll accelerates.
Even as the challenge ramps up, the player character remains very weak and can be easily dispatched by the humblest of heroes. Death of this lode-bearing boss will bring your dungeon crumbling down upon everyone within--refilling the Tyrants' hoard once more. Every game fuels future sessions, as players unlock advanced floors, creatures, upgrades, and artifacts by completing rituals and thwarting prophecies.
State of the Project
After almost five months in development, Tomb of Tyrants is rapidly nearing its alpha stage (see the rewards section for more on this), so most core gameplay mechanics have been completed, and while there are many planned features remaining, the bulk of development beyond this point will be content production. Ideally, I want to offer hundreds of creatures, floors, traps, items, and more, but this phase of development requires time and money. I am targeting an end-of-year 2014 release window for version 1.0, but pre- and post-releases are also planned.
In addition to the core mechanics (most of which can be seen in the video above or are described in the rewards section below), there are a number of advanced, but as-yet-unimplemented features.
Rituals are target resource combos that unlock new content. You can have as many as four rituals in progress, and you complete them by matching a region of any resource in the ritual arrangement. Every completed ritual unlocks something new for your game, be it a floor, a creature, an item, additional legacy slots (more on that in a moment), or even an enemy hero. You will begin by matching a handful of simple rituals, but will eventually complete hundreds of complex combinations that require skill, planning, and luck, and every one you complete will incrementally increase the richness and complexity of future sessions.
Legacy slots allow you to mark items and minions as "sacred"; the things you mark will tend to find a way of resurfacing across future playthroughs. Have you found an artifact you can't do without, or hatched a dragon you'd like to raise? Designating them as legacy items will cause the game to reproduce them in future sessions, so that that artifact becomes the tyrant's trademark, and that dragon, their right-hand man-killer.
There is going to be tons of session and cross-session stat tracking, so naturally, I'm considering a lot of leader boards with categories like "rituals completed," "heroes slain," "longest-lived legacy minion," or even just "most tiles matched." There are a lot of potential stats to compare against your friends, and of course, as with everything here, I am very open to player suggestions.
This game has required a large investment of my own time and money, but now, I am struggling to make ends meet. I will be continuing development regardless of this Kickstarter's success, but I may end up doing so alongside another job, greatly delaying the game's release. If we are successful, however, I will be able to fully devote my time to this game, and you will have effectively changed my life forever!
Why Only $6k?
I am the sole developer on Tomb of Tyrants, and I have survived the last several months on less than $5k, so I know that an additional $6k (minus fees and taxes) will enable me to survive several more months, giving me enough time to prepare the game's release, which will ideally make more money, in turn. This Kickstarter's funding will go straight into keeping me alive long enough to finish the game and cover a handful of development-related expenses (e.g., the Steam Greenlight fee or a third-party leader board service).
Nope. I'm just one guy; you can't pay me to work any harder or faster than I already do, so excess funding won't magically allow me to guarantee a bunch of big, long-term milestones--those would just delay release anyway. However, a little extra money would enable me to work safely and comfortably for a greater period of time, so it's by all means encouraged! The more money I make from the game, the longer I'll also be able to provide extended post-release support and updates; maybe in the end, more will come of it, but it would be deceptive of me to suggest a bunch of tantalizing rewards like additional platforms or multiplayer.
Rewards and Deliverables
All pledges at or above the $5 (Patron) level will receive a copy of the game, and at or above the $10 (Curator) level, this will include alpha and beta releases. I am planning the backer alpha to begin within the next two months; this will be a largely feature-complete version of the game, if rather slim on content. I plan to post regular updates over the following months, building the game's content, features, and stability until "final" release in late 2014, after which I aim to continue growing the game. I am currently targeting both a PC (most likely through Steam Greenlight) and OUYA release, and if you pledge for a copy of the game, I will supply you with the version(s) of your choice when the time comes. As of now, I cannot guarantee any additional platforms, but likely candidates include other Android devices and possibly iOS, as the game is already well-suited to touch devices.
At the $10 (Curator) level and above, backers may provide one entry for a name generator per $10 of their pledge. The game will use several lists to select names for elite and epic minions and heroes--separate lists for humans, elves, goblins, etc. "One entry" can be a single first or last name (to be paired with another first/last name) or an entire name, and you may even suggest which races or creatures you think your name might suit. Don't sweat the rules too much here; in all likelihood, if the number of names you submit vaguely matches up with the amount you've pledged, I'll probably throw it all in =).
Credits and Sponsorship
Because this is a plot-lite game without a traditional ending credit roll, the game's full credits will simply play randomly in the background of the title screen (I have plans to keep this both interesting and tasteful), but the game's codex will also list item, character, and floor sponsors/designers. In addition to this, I am considering a brief credit roll during the game's destruction phase.
This will occur after your tyrant is slain, while your dungeon crumbles and the game resets, tallying your score. The game will use some of the vacant screen real-estate to offer a few credits that indicate items, creatures, and floors in your dungeon that were sponsored by backers. The goal is to share some fun stats ("Your 31 goblins were brought to you by What's His Face" or "You used five such-and-such potions by Some Girl"), while crediting the community-backed nature of the game.
At the $5 (Patron) and $10 (Curator) levels, backers may supply an appropriate name (theirs, a friend's, a pseudonym, etc.) for "Backer" credit in the game's extended credits.
At the higher levels, backers may supply the same for a "Sponsor" or "Designer" credit. I will contact those sponsors who are not also designing, and find a fitting item, creature, hero, trap, or floor to bear their name.
I will work with high-level backers to design a champion, item, creature, floor, or more for the game. I have extensive plans for all of these categories, but loads of varied content is one of my primary goals for this game, so if you'd like to recruit sharkmen blackguards or face bunnyfolk samurai, here is a good opportunity to help me out and make something cool.
- Most heroes and minions are low-level, randomly-generated fodder for your dungeon, but as you become more powerful, you'll attract epic-level heroes and minions. I want these highest-level characters to feel hand-crafted and unique, and backers at the $30 (Champion) tier can offer their assistance. You'll design an epic version of an existing or planned character archetype; for instance, there are already wizards in the game, so you could create an epic wizard with some unique traits, advanced abilities, and custom appearance. If another backer wants to design some tiger people, then that archetype would also become available to this reward-level; as a result, these rewards will mostly be fulfilled after I complete some of the creature designs below.
- At the $40 (Artificer) level, you can design an item--a special tile that can be collected, used, or stored. Most tiles in the hoard are generic resources, but items have a unique background and shine to highlight their importance. An item can be an artifact dropped by a vanquished hero that confers a passive bonus, a usable potion that buffs an entire floor of minions, a piece of masterwork gear to upgrade one of your units, or a tool for manipulating the puzzle in unconventional ways. For example, the Fossilized Falchion above grants a passive bonus to all skeletal units' attacks, but it can instead be given to a specific skeleton to promote them to epic status.
- At the $50 (Breeder) level, you may design a minion or hero archetype. This can be something as simple as a new race/class combo (e.g., half-orc monk) or something totally out there (like centaur cavalry--people riding centaurs? Centaurs riding horses?). You can design as little or as much as you like, from just giving me that race/class combo to suggesting appearance, alternative color/equipment schemes, stats, traits, abilities, codex descriptions, and more.
- At the $70 (Architect) level, you may design a floor for the dungeon. Floors are how players expand their fortress and build their arsenal, as each floor comes with the ability to buy new units, items, or traps. Some floors may also increase resource caps or provide work sites that specific creatures can use to generate additional tiles. As a floor designer, you get to invent a floor, deciding what it looks like, produces, requires, unlocks, and costs. Depending upon the nature of your request, you may even get to design some of the things that go with it. For example, the Abhorrent Abattoir (alliteration is a plus) produces a brutish butcher minion and contains a chopping block work site that an idle butcher can use to produce flesh and bone tiles--making those tile matches more bountiful for dungeons that thrive on those resources. The Harrowing Hallway, however, is a tripple-trap-riddled passage; if any hero trips a trap, it damages all heroes on that floor. For additional details on how floors work and interact, see Update #2!
- At the ridiculous $120 (Tyrant) tier, I'll work with you to design a themed collection of items/characters/heroes/floors/whathaveyou. Want to design an entire party of epic adventurers that always spawn together, each with a unique item drop? Maybe a floor with multiple new character archetypes and champions to match? Or a set of artifacts that combine into one uber artifact if you collect them all? That all sounds good to me, but we'll find something that sounds great to you!
After the campaign's close, I will survey designers for what they are interested in or have in mind, and then reach out to individuals for detailed collaboration. While the order of completion will be based largely on immediate balance and feasibility, I will endeavor to keep everyone apprised of the status of their requests from the beginning. If you want to design a dragon mummy, that will be a larger undertaking, so I may not get to it as soon as, say, a goblin king, which would be a relatively simple addition. Of course, no matter what you design, I will try to work with you to develop something that feels rewarding to you, while still remaining balanced and true to the game.
You may notice that the sponsor and designer levels have a delayed delivery date of June 2015; while I would love to complete all backer suggestions by the game's 1.0 release, I do not feel that I can guarantee this. Although I have limited the number of these pledge levels to what I expect I could handle by the end of this year--and I do not expect to fill all of these slots--, I want backers to be aware that I may not complete all designs this year, because producing a stable, polished, and feature-complete game must remain my number-one priority. Furthermore, as with any commissioned work, know that prompt completion may sometimes rest in the hands of the commissioner. And yes, if you pledge at one of these levels, I will call you "the Commissioner" all you like.
Although some rewards are quantity-limited, you can absolutely pledge for multiple rewards if you desire--I've set low quantities to leave wiggle room for backers who want to pledge for multiple design or sponsorship rewards. Simply add any additional pledge levels' values to your pledge, and you can tell me what you want on the post-campaign survey. If you pledge for additional design rewards, you will receive extra copies of the game, as well, to share with your friends.
Risks and challenges
As a solo development project, Tomb of Tyrants will be especially susceptible to the unexpected. I have planned milestones for the coming months--just as I have hit milestones in the past months--, and I intend to release regular (at minimum monthly, but likely near-weekly) progress updates via Kickstarter. When the game hits alpha, I expect a bit of a speedbump as I adjust to feedback (tweaking mechanics, balancing elements, fixing bugs), but after the initial shock, hitting that stage should actually help drive the development pace.
All of my rewards are digital, so physical fulfillment and logistics will not be eating up any time or money. However, I am offering a lot of design rewards, and those can be daunting, due to their collaborative and subjective nature. I really want to give everyone something that they feel is awesome, while ensuring that their awesome thing isn't "too awesome" for the game; I look forward to working with everyone at these levels, but if, by some chance, we cannot work out something agreeable, I will graciously offer reimbursement.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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