About this project
Former LittleBIGPlanet 1 & 2 and Tearaway game designer Daniel Leaver proudly presents Ironcast.
Inspired by Victorian era science fiction writers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, Ironcast is set in an exciting alternative history; a time when refined men and women in top hats and bonnets commanded gigantic walking war machines, laying waste to the enemies of the British Empire!
Players take control of a 7 metre tall walking vehicle called an Ironcast. They must face off against an invading force of enemy Ironcast in order to defend 1880's Victorian England.
Battles are fought by generating resource nodes which in turn drive the Ironcast's various weapons and systems. Players must choose how to spend these nodes wisely, either offensively in order to cripple and destroy their opponents, or defensively, if they suspect a barrage of incoming weapons fire is due.
Turn based strategy combat set against a rich and interesting alternate 1880's history.
- Roguelike campaign mode where death is permanent but with persistent rewards from one game session to the next. Drive back the invading forces and press forth for victory!
- Completely hand painted art style.
- Inspired by the steampunk genre and Victorian science fiction.
- Loot new technology and upgrade abilities from the wrecks of fallen enemies.
- Customise your Ironcast with a range of unique weapons and defensive systems. Over 50 different unlockable items will ensure an almost limitless number of combinations.
- Passive boosters allow players to augment and tweak their Ironcast's weapons and abilities.
- For PC, Mac and Linux.
The year is 1886. France and England have been at war for over a decade, both sides commanding gigantic walking war-machines known as the Ironcast. Each towering construct bristles with advanced Victorian era weapon systems and electrical shields.
French forces cross the channel, supported by huge Naval fleets and airship bombers, landing to do battle in the burning, ruined streets of 19th century London.
Although designed for military purposes, the British army does not own the patents or designs for the Ironcast. The war-machines are instead built and operated by a private group of supremely wealthy businessmen and women, collectively known as the Consortium of Merit. Sick of the duration and bitterness of the ongoing Anglo-French war, the Consortium developed and manufactured advanced models of Ironcast in order to break the stalemate and declare a victor, once and for all.
The Consortium resisted the pleas and threats of the beleaguered British Government to hand over their designs, but instead agreed to join the war as a powerful supplementary force, on one condition; each Ironcast would remain separate from the British Military, and would be commanded by a lady or gentleman of the highest calibre. Their pilots, gunners and support crew would be chosen by the Consortium of Merit and none other.
Smartly dressed and devoid of the usual rough qualities found in fighting troops, an Ironcast commander is a whole new breed of tactical genius, eloquently directing their crew in battle from the comfort of their elaborately decorated and baroque Ironcast cockpits.
They are an elite fighting element in service to Queen Victoria and Queen Victoria alone. The newly formed Ironcast Dragoon League has become the bulwark of England’s defence and the spearhead of their eventual offensives into France.
The campaign sees the player take the role of one of the few surviving Ironcast Commanders, the majority of which were killed by a devastating attack on the English command centre, The Spire. They must organise the surviving British forces into a coherent fighting force, repel the French invasion of England and finally launch a counter offensive directly into the heart of the French capital; Paris.
It is a desperate time for the Ironcast dragoons and the Consortium of Merit; a time in which the player's efforts will be greatly appreciated!
Players must match coloured nodes from a grid in order to gather energy, ammunition, repair tools and engine coolant. They must then use these resources to unleash a torrent of cannon, laser and missile fire upon the enemy in order to cripple their systems and ultimately be the last walker standing.
Powered by a mysterious energy source called Voltite, the Ironcast are supremely advanced by Victorian standards. However, such powerful war machines are not without their flaws.
Every action the player takes during battle - whether that's firing their cannons or powering up their energy shields - generates a vast amount of heat. Players must ensure that they keep enough coolant supplied to their systems else they risk overheating and taking additional damage!
The game is turn based. Players can only make three complete matches from the power grid per turn, but can activate any mech abilities or fire any weapon system that has the required resources without ending their turn. A match must be at least 3 nodes of the same colour, but there's no upper limit on how many nodes are linked in a match, as long as each node is touching another.
Each ability or weapon system can be activated several times per turn, although most abilities have a “cool-down” period before they can be fired again (measured in turns).
The opponent's systems can be targeted specifically; enemy heavily protected by strong shields? Target and disable their shield systems first. Enemy crippling your evasion systems? Take out their strongest weapon first. It's up to the player what they target first and how they plan to win the battle!
Finally, damaged systems can be repaired by matching repair nodes. Players can spend these nodes to restore health to their disabled systems, but resources are limited and they should be careful in deciding which system to give a valuable boost.
The weapons in Ironcast's version of the Victorian era are a curious mix of explosive projectile cannons, missile launchers and energy weapons.
The light cannon fires a rapid-fire stream of explosive shells, able to tear through heavy armour with ease. However, it is fairly ineffective against energy shields due to the relatively low damage of each shot.
The heavy cannon fires a twin payload of 6" shells. Each shell causes a medium amount of damage, ensuring it's always able to be partially effective, even when enemies have shield protection.
The energy lance fires a high power beam, able to cut through armour and shields with ease. However, as it only fires a single blast each time it is activated, it is susceptible to missing if the target currently has a high evasion chance.
The missiles fired from the missile launcher strike a single location for a fairly high amount of damage, but cause a smaller amount of "splash-damage" to all other systems too.
The shock coils energy weapon can be fairly unpredictable. It has lower single target damage output than the Energy Lance, but has a 25% chance to strike the enemy a 2nd time. This can occur several times in a row if you're lucky!
Players can equip a multitude of different components and systems that will help protect their mech from damage. The primary defensive system is a sophisticated energy barrier, capable of deflecting projectiles and absorbing laser blasts alike. We call these barriers shields.
Shields completely block a fixed amount of damage from each shot that strikes the Ironcast. If a shot's damage number is higher than the shield's protection number, a portion of that damage will punch through and strike the intended target.
In addition to shields, Ironcast mechs can also increase their movement speed in an attempt to avoid incoming damage altogether.
The standard evasion chance is only 5% (to represent the natural inaccuracy of Victorian targeting systems), but this can be increased significantly by diverting energy nodes to the evasion system, causing the mech to walk and potentially avoid 25% or even 40% of all incoming shots!
Ironcast's campaign mode is a roguelike experience, featuring character levelling, numerous mech systems and weapon upgrades and randomised loot and mission content. Most missions will be procedurally generated from a set of pre-made components to give maximum variety from one play session to the next. The only exceptions will be boss missions and specific story missions designed to push the narrative of the game along.
The goal of the campaign is to repel the invasion of French forces before they reach the capital, London. Players have 14 days (which is the equivalent of 14 missions) to prepare themselves before the boss encounter, gathering experience points, cash resources and War Assets.
War Assets (WA) represent hundreds or even thousands of ground troops, air support and friendly armour that will engage and weaken the bosses before the player has to fight them. The more WA the player has before a boss encounter, the more likely it will be that they defeat the boss. We say more likely, but it'll never be easy. This is a Roguelike, after-all...
For example, if the player has 500 WA before the first boss, they could expect all enemy health and effectiveness to be reduced by about 25%, bringing it down to a potentially beatable level. However, if they only managed to secure 100 WA, this reduction will only be about 5%. A small difference and likely a disastrous battle for the player.
Players also earn scrap materials and experience points from matching yellow nodes and defeating enemies throughout the game. They then spend these scrap resources on Ironcast upgrades, weapons and defensive systems. It's important that players try to keep ahead of the curve where possible to ensure that they'll be strong enough to survive the boss encounters.
Due to the difficulty and long term progression you see in Roguelikes, the player will be highly unlikely to get far into the game on initial play attempts. However, there is a certain amount of persistence from one gameplay session to the next, with players unlocking the chance that more powerful items and components will drop from destroyed enemies on subsequent playthroughs.
The whole campaign is expected to last around 60 minutes for an experienced player. Perfect for a lunch break.
At the beginning of every new campaign, players choose from a selection of different Ironcast frames.
Ironcast mechs have varied statistics such as health, ammo and energy capacity and starting weapon load outs. In addition, they also come with a unique Active Ability, which is exclusive to that Ironcast.
The Dunraven is a sturdy Ironcast, that benefits from larger than average ammunition stores. This means that they can effectively fire their weapon systems more often than other Ironcast, as long as the player is matching purple nodes efficiently enough, that is.
The Arundel is a lighter Ironcast. It's still built to withstand serious punishment, of course, but what it lacks in overall protection, it makes up with larger energy stores. The Arundel can store more energy nodes, and therefore can power larger shields and evasion systems, for longer.
The Warwick is a titan of an Ironcast. It's built to take some serious punishment, and not overheat whilst it does so. The Warwick has larger coolant reserves than the other Ironcast in addition to it's higher overall health, making it a tough beast to put down.
Once a player has chosen an Ironcast, they must then pick a Commander to lead it into battle.
Each Commander comes with a powerful Signature Passive Booster, which augments the player's experience in interesting ways during battle.
We aim to have three playable Commander characters. Here are the first two:
Owner and chief technician at Powell Energy Co. After losing both of her sisters to a French bomb at her home town in Wales, Aeres turned her attentions to the development of energy weaponry. She is a brilliant scientist, with arguably the greatest knowledge of Voltite technology in Britain.
Signature Passive Booster: "Electrical Gift" - Matching 5 or more energy nodes reduces the cost of activating the next energy based system by 1 (to a minimum of 1). The heat cost remains unchanged. In addition, the ammo cost of firing all energy based weapons is reduced by 1.
The owner of Beechwood Munitions. Having already acquired a wealth beyond imagination from his company, Beechwood now seeks something else to occupy his time. He looks to the glory of victory on the battlefield to build his legacy.
Critics call him vainglorious and dangerously selfish in his war manoeuvres, but one thing’s certain; he always gets the job done, whatever his true motivation.
- Signature Passive Booster: "Master of Munitions" - Matching 5 or more ammo nodes awards the player with a bonus of 2 purple nodes. Matching 8 or more purple nodes boosts the damage of the next projectile attack by 10%. In addition, all projectile weapon damage is increased by 5%.
Linking nodes together generates resources and awards the player with Experience Points (XP). The longer the chains, the more resources the player has to spend and the quicker they'll gain levels for their Commander. The best players will always be looking ahead before they make their matches, to see what new, longer patterns could be formed.
But why include match 3 mechanics at all?
We believe that matching shapes, colours and patterns is an integral part of the human brain. It's incredibly satisfying and addictive; a good reason for why many casual puzzle games are so appealing to so many players; they're really good fun!
A huge part of what make Ironcast so exciting to play is strategically taking your opponent apart piece by piece until they're ultimately destroyed! Disabling their strengths and exposing the weaknesses of their Ironcast set up is fantastically rewarding, but it takes a tactically minded player to pull off perfectly.
We also wanted a resource generation mechanic that would compliment that planning but without being too heavy; there really is such a thing as too much thinking! A mechanic that would be instantly gratifying but would also allow players to get better at with time; a bit of skill to go along with the strategy. Match 3 was the perfect... match!
Match 3 games don't have to mean "casual". There are excellent examples of deep and compelling match 3 games such as Puzzle Quest and Dungeon Raid. We just think that there aren't enough of them!
Ironcast is a deep and exciting strategy game, complimented by an accessible and addictive resource gathering mechanic.
Ironcast was designed from the start to be a project that could be finished inside of a year. We've been careful to select only the features which we believe are essential for an exciting and compelling game. Anything else had to be put to one side in the "wouldn't it be great if..." pile.
This dedication to clean, uncluttered game design comes from a great deal of experience working within the games industry, where some projects languish for several years before they finally see release (or are never released at all!). This is not how we believe game development should be done.
However, it's not always easy to work this way. It means that tonnes of genuinely awesome ideas and content simply won't be made without additional funds or time. This is where Kickstarter, and you, come in.
There are only 3 full-time developers on the game, with a number of part time contributors supplying animation, audio and video. This is why we've set a deliberately low goal of £10,000 ($16,600) which is the required amount to ship Ironcast with the following feature set within the year of 2014:
- 3 core Ironcast mech designs, with attached signature abilities
- 3 Commander characters, with attached signature passive boosters
- 4 background environments (one of which you can see in the trailer and images above).
- 30+ missions, with dozens of randomly selected modifiers to keep them fresh and challenging.
- A mid-game and endgame boss to test your commanding skills.
- 8 core weapon systems with multiple upgrades, tweaks and passive boosters, making for hundreds of possible combinations.
- 30 or so passive boosters and active abilities.
However, there's so much more that we wish to put into the game! With your help, it can be done. With enough backing from you, the public, and a little bit of luck, we'll be announcing realistic stretch goals early on. Expect more Commanders, more Ironcast designs, more locations and missions, perhaps more platforms, and of course, competitive multi-player, to be on the list.
We won't be pushing back the launch date for these stretch goals, however, as we've already got a clear cut plan for how to get to launch. Instead, we'll be patching the stretch goal content in at a later date, so you can all enjoy Ironcast while we continue to work on new content for the game.
Ironcast is being produced by a brilliant and creative team of developers, each coming together to pour their love and talent into the project.
Daniel Leaver - Designer, Dreadbit. @rovient
Daniel is the designer on Ironcast. He's responsible for thinking up the crazy weaponry and creating the missions and content that make up the game.
Daniel's been a professional game developer for more than 8 years. He was a senior designer at Media Molecule, and was a core part of the team that developed the BAFTA winning LittleBIGPlanet games. He designed and built levels and gameplay features for all of Media Molecule's titles, more recently Tearaway for PlayStation VITA.
He's also run a business before, as one of the co-founders of Ambient Studios, producers of Monster Meltdown on iOS.
Chris Butler - Programmer, Polygon Hearts. @avalix
Chris is an experienced programmer with 5 years of industry experience. He is responsible for taking Daniel's ideas and Amber's art and bringing them to life!
Having starting his career working on AAA titles, Chris gained his experience working on tools and engine code for console and handheld games, and was a core part of the team that brought Need for Speed: Most Wanted to the PS VITA.
He then moved onto providing coding services to the indie scene, working on a range of titles such as Monster Meltdown, Hohokum and Super Exploding Zoo.
He is also active on Twitter and up for a chat!
Amber Blade Jones - Artist. @eyecager
Amber has been a part of the video game industry for 3 years. She worked in-house for 2 years as an artist for Escalation Studios and on the side worked on Skullgirls.
Nothing excites Amber more then seeing robots full of character!
Full game pre-loaded on custom USB drive:
The drive will come with a DRM free copy of the game pre-loaded onto it (although you'll still receive any digital download codes on launch day so you can get right into the game straight away!).
I'm assured that the drives are made from recycled materials, so are as eco-friendly as any physical technology can get. They're a great alternative to a plastic box with a DVD inside!
These USB drives will not be available after the Kickstarter ends, so they'll be a collector's piece of sorts.
The Steampunk Jetpack:
We're extremely proud to present the Escape and Evasion Rocket Pack (E.E.R.P), a life-sized, one of a kind steampunk prop, created by the wonderfully talented metalworker, Kruki99. It is completely unique in the world and can only be yours if you opt for our highest pledge level; Grand Iron Admiral.
The jet-pack is a non-functioning replica of the type of escape method utilised by many Ironcast Commanders once their steed has been crippled beyond repair. It has been meticulously hand-crafted by Kruki99 using reclaimed materials such as brass, leather and glass. There are no resin or "metal effect" components; it is a solid, quality piece of art.
Imagine wearing this to your favourite steampunk or gaming event! The E.E.R.P is the ultimate accessory in steampunk cosplay and fantasy dress-up.
For more photos of this incredible pledge reward, please visit Kruki99's Flickr page, here. You can even see some photos of the man himself sporting the piece.
Finally, a few words about how your money will be spent.
- Kickstarter fees: First off, Kickstarter will take an estimated 10% of the funds through Fees, and VAT on those fees.
- Development: We'll require funds in order to pay for audio and animation outsourcing work. Any additional funding over the goal amount will help to pay the core development team and improve our quality of life.
- Taxes: Putting aside up to 15% for UK taxes on funds.
- Quality assurance and testing: A big chunk of the funding will be required to bring in an external QA team for a few weeks to help us squash bugs and fix issues. Obviously this is a fixed amount, so will become a lower percentage if we're lucky enough to receive more pledges than our goal amount.
- Marketing: This doesn't just mean advertising, but also just getting the game onto digital distribution platforms like Steam.
- Legal: as with all businesses and products meant for sale, there will be contracts, solicitors and legal fees to pay.
Risks and challenges
As you can see from our trailer video and GIF images, we're already pretty far along with Ironcast's development. We're confident that we can produce the rest of the game in the next 2-3 months with your help.
However, experience has shown us that it's often the finishing process that proves to be the most difficult part of the project. Going through quality assurance (QA) and testing phase is one of the toughest times for any development team, especially one as small as ours.
To combat this, we plan on using some of the Kickstarter funds to hire competent and proven testing outsource team to ensure that Ironcast is as bug free and polished product as you guys deserve. Although costly, dedicated QA testers are vital for ensuring an excellent player experience.
We're also building the game using Unity, the excellent 3rd party development software package, which should also help to reduce the number of bugs relating to the wide variety of gaming PC hardware. If a PC can usually run Unity titles with no issues, then they should be able to run Ironcast at the same level of stability.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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