Bedlam Brawl will be a casual social game that anyone can pick up and play, for 2 min. or for 2+ hours straight, on their iPhone or iPad. It is set in a high fantasy Oblivion/Diablo-style world that can appeal to older players as well as young, with some twists for those who enjoy depth. Release date is tentatively set for October 2013, with an open beta starting in late August.
On release day, the game will offer players the ability to create multiple characters in 6 very different classes. This is something very few mobile MMO's offer at the moment. It extends the average career by allowing players to experience the game content and the community in radically different ways.
More classes will be added if the game does well, drawing from the 16 classes available on Bedlam MUD. Android and Mobile Web clients can also be added.
Unlike typical social games, Bedlam Brawl will offer increasing depth and a number of long-term goals that can satisfy even non-casual players over many months (6 classes, set collection, crafting, eventually private houses). It will be an "intelligent" casual MMORPG that unfolds gradually from very simple to maybe surprisingly deep.
With your help, Bedlam Brawl will be as visually impressive as any 3D game, but it will not ask players to master any complex controls. Polished 2D scenes will unfold on an endless carousel, with 1-touch buttons for any possible actions, and the standard toolbar allowing players to access common locations from anywhere. The UI will be instantly familiar to iOS users.
Bedlam Brawl will have a strong Guild Wars / PvP component, with players forming alliances to dominate other guilds. Guild politics will extend beyond dramatic showdowns, into various competitive activities, many of which will reward game mastery and creativity, not just brute strength.
While in-app purchases will be available, these will be designed to save players time rather than to make players who spend money unbeatable by those who don't. This should be the standard definition of a free-to-play game, but we all know that's sadly not the case.
One thing Bedlam Brawl rankings will offer that no other game I'm aware of has is a way to measure yourself against players like you. Of course, players will be shown their overall daily, weekly, and lifetime ranking. But they will also be shown their Karma-Group Rank that shows them how they are doing compared to other players who invested about the same resources as they did. This means that if you spend nothing but time, you will be in a very large pool of players, and if your Karma-Group Rank is high, then you'll know you are doing very well by virtue of your skill and time invested.
The social aspect of guilds will overflow naturally into social networking sites. The Bedlam Brawl iOS app will offer deep Facebook and Twitter integration, with incentives to use viral tools. These incentives will be designed to be organic and fun. For example, instead of forcing players to tweet/FB post daily for in-game rewards like some games do, the game's online presence will be defined by fun activities like guild taunting competitions, most original screenshot caption contests, best guild shield design, most intimidating guild motto, etc.
In designing inter-player and inter-guild activities, the emphasis will be on encouraging everyone to be creative (and nice) and to produce entertainment value for other players. If the game goes viral in the process of having fun, then it will be a welcome side effect!
I have been developing for iOS since 2009 and have 4 apps currently in the AppStore including Bedlam MUD/MMO, a precursor to Bedlam Brawl. I have extensive experience in cloud game server development and mobile game client design, as well as hands-on experience in running a cross-platform MMO for over 3 years (quest events, bugfixes, new feature releases, customer support, Facebook app & integration, the whole nine).
There is a lot more to creating a successful game than the game itself. I am a professional user interface developer who has designed dozens of websites, including HTML5 interfaces. My experience in web and graphics design (including book layout design) dates back to 2001. Putting together a game promo website or a game forum does not present much of a challenge. In fact, www.bedlambrawl.com is already up, and you can subscribe for project news.
The epic theme for Bedlam Brawl was inspired by HBO's "Game of Thrones" theme but with a mellower build-up and a more melodious conclusion.
Garathorm is the main city of the Bedlam world. It is at the heart of the continent of Mirvos, and aspires to be as great as it is corrupt.
If you've gotten this far, you know that casual social MMORPG's (especially the ones targeting cellphones and tablets) have been very hot for the last few years. I believe
this guarantees Bedlam Brawl one shot at impressing thousands of casual gamers in
the first few days of releasing the iOS app.
But the real trick is in keeping those crowds engaged, and getting them to tell others about the wonders of the world they are discovering. This is where I need your help. Together, we can make sure that the art is dazzling, the server is stable under heavy
strain, and that the gameplay is both seductively simple in the first hours,
and satisfying in the long run.
In short, we are about to put out a next-gen casual mobile MMORPG. It will be a game that anyone who can tap, can just pick up and play. But we're also going to make sure it has something in it for smart people.
Your money will buy:
* Some original art to help the game shine. More quality stock art (like the one shown above) to provide lasting content while keeping overall costs low. (30%)
* Cloud server costs for the open beta and the first months of production (Amazon EC2). (10%)
* One or more contracted assistants to help with scene design and input into the game database, help with unit testing and stress testing, monitor the game server when I can't. Depending on funds, an assistant can stay on to run game-wide events after the release. A student with some background in design and computer science will be perfect for this. I have several candidates in mind that could be interested. (40%)
* A modest salary for me for the next 3-4 months of burst development. If it were up to me, I would do this for free, as I have been. But I have a family. This part helps make sure that the game is completed before the end of the year, and that I get to keep my family in the process. (20%)
If the goal is exceeded, this will give me the ability to contract more hours out to game content creators and helpers, as well as to buy more quality art. This means more areas, items, and NPC's on release day, as well as better in-house testing before the open beta. It could also mean completing the game ahead of schedule, although if I find myself with extra time, I would rather add more features and content for the initial release.
Having done this sort of thing before, I have no doubt that I'm qualified and capable to pull this off. Without you, it may take several years. With you on board, several months. Am I over-confident? I don't believe so. In 4-5 months, the server is at 20% and the app is at about 15% completion, with no real hiccups. Most of the screenshots you see above are real, not mockups.
Qualifications are only part of the equation. The other part is that I'm really passionate about this project. I have researched a number of time-refill games making a splash on iOS and have learned from them. I have thought about game design intensively for years, and for the past three years, I've been a keen observer of AppStore dynamics, fads, and undercurrents.
While I am certain that I can create this game, there is a good number of things beyond my control. For one, during beta testing, I would need to be able to identify as many issues as possible. To do that, I will need the help of dedicated testers, many of whom may come from you, my Kickstarter backers!
Another major concern is to make sure the server is able to handle the load of thousands of players checking out the game in the first few days after the release. Writing and conducting comprehensive stress tests is a must.
No matter how much you test and test, there's always a chance that things will go wrong post-release that you haven't been able to trigger or simulate. That's why it's important to have the capability to roll out hotfixes and updates fast. This capability is built-in on the ground level of my server and app code. If not used for patches, it will be used extensively to add content dynamically during the life of the game (a good MMORPG is like a living organism).
In the absolute worst-case scenario, Kickstarter backers can expect the game a bit later than planned. It could be that world building, for which I will be dependent on external help, would take more time than I have allotted. It could be that the beta doesn't attract as many hardcore players as are needed to make sure bug and balance issues are put to rest. Finally, it could be that Apple takes longer to review and approve the app than it has taken in the past.
Delays are the worst you can expect, because I will see this project through. Thank you for reading, and I hope to meet you in Garathorm soon!