Mooncrest: Former BioWare devs fuse story & tactical action
A story driven, fantasy RPG from veteran BioWare designers with over 20 years combined AAA experience.
After generations of peace, whispers of an ominous threat are heard on the streets of Mooncrest. Can a mismatched pair of heroines overcome the challenges of their enemies and each other or will all end in ruin?
Mooncrest is a single-player, story-based fantasy RPG, with a focus on real-time tactical combat, cinematic conversations, and challenging puzzles. KnightMayor’s premiere title features:
- A Story of Sisterhood: An immersive story of fellowship where the interactions with your wayward companion propel you on an adventure of intrigue.
- "Souls-style" Combat: Engage in real-time combat where your wits will matter as much as your reflexes.
- Challenging Puzzle Solving: Tease your brain with puzzles that favor logic and reward your cleverness.
Mooncrest is brought to you by a seasoned team of former BioWare and pen-and-paper game designers. We have more than 20 years of combined game development experience and our goal is to bring back the single player, story-driven experiences we loved in the past.
We're bringing Mooncrest to Kickstarter because we suspect we're not the only ones that miss this kind of game. We want to involve you in the development process; your feedback is necessary in making Mooncrest the best game that it can possibly be.
Compassion is fundamental to becoming a paladin and none show greater promise or embody the virtues of the ancient order more than Sera. Raised in Mooncrest at the paladin temple from a young age, her perspective is idealistic yet naive. Having completed her trials, Sera has become a full fledged paladin when she sets out into the world for the first time.
Crossing paths with Pirotase–a streetsmart outcast–makes her question the dogmatic views of her order. While not the cause of all the troubles in Mooncrest, Pirotase sets Sera on a path that challenges her beliefs as they unveil a conspiracy that puts all of the city at risk.
Character Driven Story
At the heart of Mooncrest is an engaging story told through characters in the BioWare style. Instead of playing with an array of shallow companions, players will journey with Pirotase for the entirety of the story. This allows players to explore more depth with Pirotase’s character and develop a more intimate relationship with her.
Sera is noble yet callow while Pirotase is more worldly and chaotic. Despite obvious disparities in their personalities neither will be able to complete their agendas without the other’s assistance. Your interactions with Pirotase are key to the unfolding narrative and players will spend time navigating their conflicting personalities. Players will engage with Pirotase and the other characters through cinematic conversations.
While interacting with other characters in Mooncrest, conversations will provide a cinematic experience in which you will make choices that control the tone and flow of dialogue.
These choices, governed by Sera’s internal thought processes, help to reveal the breadth of her own character. The decisions you make will also shape and direct Pirotase’s growth as a student of the paladin order. The measure of Pirotase’s discipline and compassion stats are directly affected by decisions you make in conversations. These stats influence how she performs on the field of battle.
The world of Nocturne can be a dangerous place. It will take more than quick reflexes to survive your enemies; you’ll need wits, courage, and the ability to adapt on the field of battle. Mindlessly hacking and slashing away at your foes will accomplish little in a system that rewards measured action. Inspired by the Souls series style of combat, those that carefully consider their movements will survive while the impetuous and short-sighted will earn only a place amongst the dead.
Moment to Moment Tactics
Combat in Mooncrest is driven heavily by the use of a stamina gauge. Most combat actions will drain a portion of it and, though it is constantly recovering, you’ll have to plot your actions and movements with your stamina in mind. Careless attacks can leave you unprepared to defend against an enemy’s renewed assault.
While the best defense may be a good offense, you will eventually find yourself in a situation where self-defense is the more prudent course of action. You can stop most damage from an attack with your own weapon and timing the deflection correctly will result in a more effective blocking action and may buy you an opening to strike back. If an attack looks to dangerous to stop, you always have the option of quickly evading past or through it to position yourself for a lethal follow-up!
Weapons of the Order
As a paladin, Sera is trained in the use of the longsword, mace, and axe. You’ll need to learn the ins and outs of all three if you want to survive the coming evils. They each offer different move sets, strengths, and weaknesses in combat; whereas the longsword is fast and has the advantage of reach, the mace is heavy, slow, and capable of staggering an opponent more easily. Choose the right weapon for the right job and crush those that stand before you.
Making Combat Your Own
In addition to developing your own approach to combat, you’ll gain skill points that allow you to unlock new active and passive abilities to further support your personal style when waging war. Interested in improving your blocking capabilities? Want to evade more effectively? Maybe you just want to break faces faster than before. There’s a skill for that.
Two Heads are Better than One
The way forward will be dangerous, but you won’t have to face your challenges alone! Pirotase is skilled with a bow and she’ll have your back, supporting you with cover fire and snarky commentary about the state of the battle and providing insight into your enemies weaknesses. Timed carefully, you can also call shots to stagger your foes and leave them wide open for a crushing counterattack.
Your influence over Pirotase’s senses of discipline and compassion will also feed into her combat skills, making her an even more deadly archer than she already is.
It will take more than a sharp blade to unlock Mooncrest’s deepest mysteries. From guilds that use trials to test the mettle of new recruits and the affluent who guard their valuables with devious traps, to the machinations of a mad tinkerer who crafts mind-bending challenges for his own amusement, there are numerous secrets for you to uncover.
Taking inspiration from the adventure game genre, Mooncrest includes logic puzzles that offer new twists on classic challenges as well as its own unique experiences. We believe that a great gaming experience tests the player on several different levels and we look forward to bringing puzzles back as an integral component of the game’s design; a feature that we feel to be relatively neglected these days in favor of simplistic Quick Time Events or mini-games.
Our goal is to present our challenges in an intuitive and contextually sensible way, allowing you to focus on solutions without having to resort to a trial-and-error approach.
We've been fortunate to work with some very talented artists on creating the look of Mooncrest. We have been working with a young up-and-coming artist, Raph Lomotan, who has been helping us flesh out the setting and environments of Mooncrest. A lot of time and detail was spent on developing a thematic and engaging setting for players to explore.
Simon Kopp and Maximilian Degen of Ori and the Blind Forest fame, helped us establish the look of our two main protagonists. Simon also painted our key art image shown above. To see more of Simon and Max's artwork, check out the Q&A on our website.
Music plays an integral part in fleshing out the world of Mooncrest. Our resident composer David Vitas shares our vision when it comes to the soundtrack:
"The reason why I’m so interested in Mooncrest is because of the “world building” aspect. This project has given me the opportunity to flesh out the world of Mooncrest through my music. I think the key to a good score is something that resonates with players. I want the score to build upon the idea of Mooncrest, and elevate it!"
"The Promise is a track that sums up how epic the world of Mooncrest really is. I started with a simple sketch on the piano, and then added more layers as I progressed. This is just an example of one type of theme. I’m very interested in composing for different moods, and I know you’ll like what you hear!"
The goal is to make everything fit the mythos, while also giving Mooncrest its own musical identity. You can listen to more of David's music on his personal website.
Mooncrest is named after the main city in Twilight, the Neverwinter Nights module that provides the original inspiration for our game. The story and plot have been revised and rebuilt in order to account for years of player feedback as well as our own industry experience and knowledge. As much as we love the original module's name and how it is reflected in the story, we have no interest in the project being associated with the “sparkly vampires” novel that was released a few years later.
Twilight was part of a trio of Neverwinter Nights modules: Twilight, Midnight, and (the unreleased) Dawn. During their time, these modules achieved the following accolades:
- Over 140,000 downloads
- Induction into the NWVault Hall of Fame
- Each module held the #1 user rating on NWVault
- Each module received the official NWVault Reviewer's Award
- Twilight was featured in Computer Gaming World magazine
- Midnight was featured in Computer Games magazine
Unfortunately, the original NWVault site that hosted these modules has gone dark, but they can still be found at: neverwintervault.org. Those interested in seeing information on the modules can still find them thanks to the Wayback Machine at these links: Paladin Trilogy: Twilight, Paladin Trilogy: Midnight
AAA games normally cost multi-millions of dollars to create. How can you possibly fund this game for only $400K? Fair question. We have spent almost a year in preproduction on Mooncrest prototyping systems, designing a new fantasy setting, and laying the groundwork for our company. There are three areas we are focusing on that will help reduce overall costs.
Using a Proven Technology
A tremendous volume of development time and resources can be spent creating proprietary engines and technology from scratch. We decided that, for our purposes, it was wisest to move forward with software that had a proven track record and a high level of available support.
Unity is a stable, flexible engine with a thriving support base. The engine continues to grow in power and capability on a regular basis and it offers a wide variety of potential solutions to many issues. This has a significant effect on efficiency, which in turn lowers development costs.
Balancing Efficiency with Quality
In some respects, AAA development has turned into a graphical arms race. A large amount of time is spent to get an edge in terms of visual quality so that the game will have a marketing advantage over competitors. We neither can nor want to compete with AAA at that level. We are approaching art from a slightly stylized perspective that we find both visually appealing and less technically intensive than photorealism. Our approach to art allows us to reduce the overall development cost, improve application performance, and still create an attractive game world.
The Human Cost
By far, the largest development cost for a project is human resources. AAA projects regularly staff 100+ full time employees for several years. Salary and benefits can represent upwards of 70% of a project's budget. We are minimizing this cost by employing trusted freelancers for some of the asset development (e.g. audio and animation). This allows for the same quality at a fraction of the cost due to lower overhead.
KnightMayor is composed of four seasoned developers. Our goal is to leverage our experience to make story based games efficiently with a focus on single player gaming.
Rick Burton: Rick is a veteran designer with eight years of experience with BioWare having worked on Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic and SWTOR: Rise of the Hutt Cartel. He is also the creator of the NWN mods which inspired Mooncrest.
James Henley: James is a developer of ten years experience who originally joined the industry via the Neverwinter Nights modding community. He has worked as a designer on Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Skylanders: SWAP Force, and Steam Bandits: Outpost. In that time, he has acted in a number of design roles including technical, combat, level, and cinematic design.
Brian Ledden: After ghostwriting Orwell's 1984, and inventing horse tranquilizer, Brian took up new media art at the University of Texas, which led to much exploration in anger, fear, pain, aggression, and watercolors. Soon after, he realized the building he was working in was BioWare's Austin studio, so he stuck around to help develop Star Wars: The Old Republic. In the time elapsed since the game shipped, he has worked on numerous small productions, photographed over a dozen weddings, picked up drumming, become a Cicerone certified beer server, and played over 200 hours of FTL: Faster Than Light.
Jeffrey "V" Visgaitis: Jeff started in the RPG industry as the Founder and Art Director of his own company developing products for Dungeons & Dragons under the d20 System license. Several products he worked on were nominated for multiple Gen Con EN World RPG Awards and excerpted in Monte Cook Presents: The Year's Best d20.
Let’s be honest: game development isn’t cheap. We need additional funding to bring our vision to life. We could have sought a publisher but that would have introduced a number of potential restrictions to the vision. Mooncrest is a game made the way we think a game should be made; no publishers telling us the lead character needs to be male, that the game is too complex and needs to be dumbed down for mass market appeal, or that we require a multiplayer component to boost sales.
For t-shirts we will contact you at the end of the Kickstarter and ask you for your size.
We offer various perks to customize your reward level. To include an add-on with your pledge, go to "Manage" at the top of the Kickstarter page and increase your pledge by the total cost of all add ons. Once the Kickstarter ends, we will contact you with more details on how to specify which add-ons you want.
Digital Add Ons (Require $10 tier and above):
- Digital Soundtrack +$5
- High-Res Digital Concept Art +$5
- Digital Artbook (PDF) +$10
- Digital Combat Guide (PDF) +$10
- Digital Explorer's Guide (PDF) +$10
- ALPHA Testing (requires $75 tier or higher) +$25. Opportunities to participate in specific closed doors system tests such as combat.
- Eternal Cemetery Quest (requires $250 tier or higher) +$25. Embark on a quest to find your hidden name in the game. If completed, you will receive a unique reward.
- Extra Digital Copy of the Game +$25
- Three Extra Digital Copies of the Game +$60
Physical Add Ons (Require $25 tier and above):
- Mooncrest Button Set +$10 (5 unique buttons)
- Physical Soundtrack +$15
- Mooncrest Poster 18" x 24" +$20
- KnightMayor T-Shirt +$25
- Mooncrest T-Shirt +$25
- Limited Edition Print Set (5 unique prints) +$25
- Physical Artbook +$50
We could get flowery here and talk about what a long road it’s been, or what sacrifices have been made along the way, but there’s really only one thing to say here that matters: thank you. Thank you to everybody that has supported us along the way. Thank you to our friends and family that have dealt with the long nights and added stress as we’ve worked out the vision and goals for this game. Thank you to everybody that has taken the time to read through the epic wall of text above, helped us make noise about the project, and chosen to support the dream that is Mooncrest. Thank you all.
We would also be remiss if we didn't mention a special thanks to our friends at 360 Studios for filming our Kickstarter video and Wonko's Toys & Games for letting us take over their store for our shoot. Thanks for helping to get us this far!
Risks and challenges
A meteorite strikes the Austin metro area. The zombie apocalypse finally happens. An EMP knocks out the interwebs. We randomly get bought out and shut down by a major publisher.
Barring those issues, the risks in developing a game are well documented throughout the industry. We have spent almost a year in pre-production developing our pipeline and integrating proven technologies such as Unity to help our production go as efficiently as possible. No amount of planning can account for all of the issues that crop up doing development; however, we are an experienced team that has shipped multiple AAA titles and we are confident in our ability to deal with anything that may arise.
Maybe even zombies.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)