4 for the Money: 8-bit Action Platforming in Daring Heists project video thumbnail
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$1,670 pledged of $120,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Kip Ritchie
$1,670 pledged of $120,000 goal
backers

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About

You can listen to us gab…or you can play the demo! Follow the link below and download the playable demo. Experience the fun and quality of the concepts, music and overall product to come. Call some friends and get your gadgets around. You've got a big job tonight...

Steam Store Page

Click Here to get the Demo on Steam!

Direct Demo Download Link

Click Here to download and play the Demo!

Gameplay

4 for the Money is an 8-bit, action-packed platformer for 1-4 players. Reminiscent of the greats from the late 80’s and early 90’s, the focus here is on simple gameplay with fun additions and gimmicks to make each area unique. The core of the gameplay is the feel of the classic 2D side-scroller. Jumping on heads, well-timed shooting, quick responses and pattern memorization are what the game is all about. Players will progress through semi-linear levels, collecting money and evidence against crime lords as they work their way to the front of the rat race.

Team up for outrageous teamwork that will leave friends and family laughing, shouting, throwing controls and everything else that makes for memorable co-op! The special abilities of each character must be used in conjunction between players to overcome challenging enemies and puzzles.

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Play alone for rapid role-swapping action to overcome an onslaught of vicious robots, puzzles and horrifying bosses! Players can switch their character at any time, mid-air or mid-attack, to fluidly string each characters abilities together.

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4 for the Money overcomes the challenge of many multi-player games made single-player, or vice versa. Separate level designs and changes to core gameplay elements between the single and multiplayer modes make for exciting gameplay and interesting puzzles whichever way you play.

4 for the Money features dynamic difficulty settings, allowing players to customize the difficulty. With 8 customizable difficulty variables including varying level designs, enemy health, damage received and checkpoint frequency, casual and hardcore players alike will enjoy the action, even while playing together. Your team can make the game ridiculously easy, impossibly hard, or anywhere in between!  There are essentially infinite possibilities!  Or you can get into the action quickly by choosing one of the difficulty presets.

Advanced Difficulty Customization
Advanced Difficulty Customization

Each of the 4 playable characters has skills that will remind players of their favorite characters of the 8 and 16-bit eras. Each player must be on their A-game, using their mobility and skills to cover each other as greater challenges and enemies loom. Will you choose weapon versatility, aerial movement, or body the opposition as the team shield?

There are no heroes here! Player characters feature exclusive colors that create a niche within the team where only they can succeed. The characters can generally only kill enemies of the same color. The unique color system requires team members to focus on fighting enemies, platforming and solving puzzles of their same color while avoiding enemies they cannot destroy. Team coordination is an absolute must, resulting in constant strategizing and frantic shouting and in the midst of tense combat and mind-boggling puzzles.

Jay Bleu

Jay, the epitome of the action hero, is the arms expert. With six weapons he can access and swap quickly, he can adapt to most any situation. A laser to shoot through walls, a shotgun to blast nearby enemies and his trusty pistol are among his arsenal. Some of his weapons allow him to cross the color barrier and destroy enemies that are not blue with explosions. He may be a knave of mobility, but he holds the aces of weapons and versatility

Redna Carmine

Redna, the infamous cat burglar, is all about stealthy maneuvering. Quick slides and air-dashes, coupled with wall climbing and other skills allow her to get most anywhere. She zooms around the battlefield, taking out red foes from all angles and deflecting enemy projectiles with her long fingernails. Careful positioning and quick movement have brought her to the top of the crime scene.

Fulvio di Bello

The boisterous engineer of the team, Fulvio, uses gadgets to maximize his air mobility. His latest, yet incomplete, jet pack allows him a mid-air jump. When combined with his quick-deploy parachute, he soars through the skies over yellow enemies until dropping his tremendous weight on their heads. His years of turning wrenches have built some serious muscle, which he uses to lift team mates and crates to help the team reach greater heights and get the jump on enemies.

Arnold Grayson

Arnold Grayson, the heralded ex-Special Forces agent, has trained his body and mind to the point of invulnerability. His line-backer build allows him to manipulate enemy movement and defend comrades.  He uses his iron grip to hold enemies as easy prey for his new partners in crime. He shows no fear in the face of danger, willingly placing himself in harm’s way. Bullets are flattened upon impact with his heaving chest. Electricity and fire change from harm to help when wielded by Grayson. His ability to challenge the power of opposition is invaluable to the mission.

Story

Join 4 anti-heroes as they enter the realm of criminals via a heist against a corrupt organization. The plot of 4 for the Money is set in the criminal underground of Europe. Deceptive and goofy villains come to light as players meet them toe-to-toe in their own territory. Allies and enemies will be found as they slog through the dregs of society.

This sleuth-style story is inspired by books including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Ian Fleming’s James Bond: 007, among others. Players will be put to the challenge of discovering the backstories of various villains via in-game collectibles hidden throughout the world and using this knowledge to expose the greatest crime syndicate known to mankind!

Our Progress

We have been working on the 4 for the Money since September 2016.  It's been a grueling 16 months and we've been able to build a rock-solid foundation for what we see 4 for the Money becoming. Our focus during this time was to create a solid foundation to show via a fully-functioning demo what 4 for the Money is at the core. To this point, all of the following features are implemented in the playable demo:

  • Intense, side-scrolling action platforming
  • 4 unique characters that play entirely differently from one another.  Each has a different means of moving, fighting, and contributing to the team
  • Fast-paced single-player action with rapid character swapping to play on the strengths of all characters in quick succession
  • A color-based system that further differentiates characters and the way they play. Each obstacle must be approached differently by each character.
  • Immensely customizable difficulty settings.  With 8 adjustable factors currently available in the demo and 11 planned for the full release, players can set the difficulty to fit their preference.  Replay value is also incredibly high as players can continue to increase the difficulty level until they have maxed out their skills in single or multiplayer.
  • Customizable controls for controllers of nearly any type as well as when playing with a keyboard.
  • Tutorials to train players on the skills of each character and the color system.

The demo features one complete level in the style of the 30 we have planned for the finished product.

Future Features

We have much more we’d like to do with the game than what is included in the demo. By reaching our funding goal, we commit to the following features in the finished product.

A World of Crime

 The world of 4 for the Money will be split into 30 levels within 5 unique environments, promising over 15 hours of action, mystery, boss battles and humor. Each environment has its own intimidating atmosphere and enemies:

  • The corrupt Prism Bank with menacing robotic security
  • A mysterious underground bio-research lab filled with horrifying mutants
  • A top-security prison in the clutches of a corrupt, political warden
  • A high-class resort managed by a world-class prizefighter
  • An oil field overrun by a gang of assassins

Players will forge their own path through the game in the order they choose. Each environment has a branching path. Players may choose, at any time, to divert to another environment to drastically change the experience and follow storylines revolving around different characters.

Each level features multiple secret collectibles that unlock story elements and hint at other secrets. Rooms focus on one-of-a-kind challenges, puzzles and mechanics to make every level memorable.

Intense and Atmospheric Music

4 for the Money flaunts one hour of music and hundreds of sound effects designed by well-loved indie sound designer Magnus Pålsson (known for his work on VVVVVV and other indie titles). Frantic, thoughtful, and epic moments come to life with masterful chiptunes! We believe that what changes a game from good to great is excellent music! Magnus has done just that. Each area will feature a new song to amplify the atmosphere, be it spooky, silly or crazy!

Online Multiplayer and Leaderboards

Cooperate and compete with the world! Join friends from anywhere to take on world-class villains. Increase the difficulty level for a greater challenge and increase your score multiplier to climb to the top of the leaderboards!

PC Release

Upon reaching the funding goal, we will continue development towards the completed PC version to be released on Steam and other platforms.

Gameplay Design/ Programming: Kip Ritchie

My Saturday mornings growing up were spent sliding under Shadow Man, Battletoad Booting Big Blag and throwing red balls at Fat Cat's face. With the advent of the Nintendo 64, many weekends were exhausted with 3 friends on a loveseat straining at a 13” TV as controls were thrown amid screams of rage resulting from Falcon Punches and The Golden Gun. Having developed alongside my 8-bit heroes, I incubated a love for video games, particularly 2D action platformers.

Since then, I’ve been analyzing what makes games fun. My first interest in developing games initiated with my design of all of the characters for an entry in the Final Fantasy series that I sent in to Squaresoft. I had full faith I would receive a response from the executives complementing my 7-year-old drawings and inviting me to join the development team. Squaresoft coldly threw my dream out with the trash, but this could not stop me! I continued generating ideas, occasionally finding an outlet in a cheap map maker, but always found myself frustrated by the limitations of my options. My pain was reignited as I found my first RPG maker. I had so few options I could make nothing more elaborate than the original Dragon Warrior!

At age 14, I received a simple game making program for Christmas. Although it had major limitations, I finally felt that I could unleash my creative spirit and began development on my first (hardly functional) games: Square Olympics, Our-Type, Sea Strangies and Effort! At age 19, I created my first complete game; a challenging (and maybe a little cheap) top-down shooter by the name of Superquest!

Since then, I have been logging, scrutinizing and developing my game designs while I earned my Bachelor’s degree in programming and software-to-hardware integration. Among the many ideas, I have always loved the concept of 4 for the Money. Fueled by a background in conceptual design, a love for great platformers and 6 years in project management, it was time to take the plunge into full-time game development.

 

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The Process

Nearly all of the art in the game is drawn by hand first.  It is then scaled down and fine-tuned to fit the look and feel of the 8-bit oldies, all the way down to the color palette.
Nearly all of the art in the game is drawn by hand first. It is then scaled down and fine-tuned to fit the look and feel of the 8-bit oldies, all the way down to the color palette.

 

The high contrast comic book style we have chosen is a good fit for the limited color pallete. It allows for a deep, dark look without having to use a wide range of colors.
The high contrast comic book style we have chosen is a good fit for the limited color pallete. It allows for a deep, dark look without having to use a wide range of colors.

 

Some of the sprites are just too small for a one to one conversion.  Sometimes we just have to design a character and then creatively simplify it in a way that retains that character’s personality.
Some of the sprites are just too small for a one to one conversion. Sometimes we just have to design a character and then creatively simplify it in a way that retains that character’s personality.

Art Direction/Character Design: Jake Ritchie

One thing that has always been intriguing to me is how much cross-pollination can be seen between video games, comic books and street art. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that gamers, comic readers and graffiti artists are all just geeks and social rebels at heart.

My name is Jake and I am the art director of 4 for the Money. I love color. When people ask me what my favorite color is , I always respond with, "That depends". Depends on what? Well, that depends on where the color is. What you are using it for. What mood you are in.

These ideas are the biggest influences on my contributions to 4 for the Money. Color is not just something pretty to look at, it's a tool. It can be used to convey feelings, issue warnings and provide instructions. The idea of color as a utility is one of the key concepts behind 4 for the Money. It does challenge you to change the way you think a little bit. However, once you get in the mind set of recognizing primary and secondary colors and how to interact with them, it starts to come naturally. It's also a lot of fun!

The art style of 4 for the Money is very heavily influenced by the big and bold, high color/high contrast styles of comic books and street art. It naturally gives emphasis to color, which is what our game is all about. It's also about being bank robbers and stealing back from a corrupt corporation. What could be geekier and more socially rebellious than that?

The 4 for the Money experience climaxes as the colorful characters and detailed backgrounds meet with retro music from renowned indie game composer, Magnus Pålsson (VVVVVV).

Magnus has mingled snoopy and bass-heavy with light and wistful in the soundtrack for the 4 for the Money demo, and he's got much more bottled up in his bald head!  Using Mac Tracker, he's stepped 30 years back into the history of mankind to the ancient days of the NES and Commodore 64. Upon drudging up all of his childhood memories and tediously arranging them, he seamlessly married them with the sleuth theme in 4 for the Money.  Relive the 80's through the ears of Magnus Pålsson!

Music and Sound Design: Magnus Pålsson

Bleeps and bloops in earwormy music forever!

Magnus Pålsson is best known for his work for the game VVVVVV. Having grown up on the music from the Commodore C64 and Amiga platforms, he's got a penchant for writing memorable and catchy music with strong melodies. Music inspired by and made for games. Early inspirations include Martin Galway, Chris Huelsbeck and Rob Hubbard, and later, a lot of pop/rock and metal.

On his site www.magnuspalsson.com you can check out his other musical excursions. Perhaps you would like to hear some versions of his work with a piano song? Got em. Guitars and metal? He's got you covered. When he's not making music or playing games, he loves philosophy, traveling, learning new things and long walks on the beach.

Another little-known fact is that Magnus does some oil painting. Bob Ross did a number on him, and strewn on the walls of his home are now a myriad of paintings with happy little trees and happy little clouds. And a Viridian painting. If you don't know who Viridian is, you still haven't played VVVVVV. Shame!

 

So...What are Stretch Goals?

We readily admit that we have a lot in mind for 4 for the Money, most of which does not fit into the scope of what is realistic now.  However, given excellent support from you, we'd love to continue to build extra, non-DLC, content into 4 for the Money.  Extra levels, ports to consoles and new modes of play are among the features we crave add ingfor you to enjoy!  We won't say that we will abolish the thought of extra content if we don't meet these goals, but with sufficient resources, we guarantee them!  Let's make more out of 4 for the Money!

Stretch Goal Details

$150K - 10 Bonus End-Game Levels

A giant part of 4 for the Money is going for 100% completion.  We loved doing this on Donkey Kong Country growing up.  Reaching this goal means we add 2 secret levels at the end of each area, in the format of that area.  These levels will continue the development of characters and concepts in the area while cranking up the challenge!

$175K - 100% Completion Secret Final Boss

As an add-on to the previous stretch goal, completing all of the bonus levels with 100% will unlock the final challenge!  An all-new version of the final boss in full, terrible glory!

$200K - Survival Mode

Who hasn't enjoyed a classic survival/horror game? Meeting this goal means a nerve-wracking addition to the Difficulty Customization for both single and multiplayer modes! No more freebies! Completing a level no longer refills your health and retries. An in-game store allows players to spend points gained in levels to purchase retries and refill their health. But if you run out of retries, you're dead. Permanently dead... You start the game over!

$225K - Hard Redesigns for All Single-Player Levels

We would die (hundreds of times) to create a hard mode.  As fans of hard-core action platformers, we believe this is video-gaming in crystallized form.  All single-player levels will be torn down and rebuilt into horrifying new challenges that will push hardcore gamers and the game concepts to the limit. In conjunction with the Difficulty Customization in the base package, players will meet the ultimate side-scrolling challenge! This also applies to the bonus levels from the $150K tier.

$250K - Hard Redesigns for All Multiplayer Levels

After the $225K challenge, multiplayer will seem easy...until this stretch goal is met.  No more helping hands or simple puzzles.  Only the best of the best will be prepared for this challenge!  Or players can turn on the hard levels and bring down the difficulty in other areas of the Difficulty Customization to double the length of the multiplayer campaign!

$300K - Xbox One Port

The first step toward filling the console world with ports! Xbox One owners will be able to couch up and play 4 for the Money with everything included.

$350K - Nintendo Switch Port

Another step! Nintendo Switch gets 4 for the Money!

$400K - Playstation 4 Port

The final leap into world of consoles!  Playstation 4 gets 4 for the Money!

$500K - Challenge Mode

Players face an all-new, arcade-style mode outside of the story in single or multiplayer! Players customize their difficulty, then enter universe of over 100 pre-built rooms loaded with tense showdowns and wild puzzles!  Play until you lose while competing for a high-score at the peak of the leaderboards! The longer you last, the greater the challenges until you are finally crushed!

 

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About Us

Creating the vision we hold for 4 for the Money is, admittedly, a big project. Due to the heavy demands of society, we would be crushed under the weight of mortgages and grocery bills long before reaching the deadline over two years from now. The funds earned from the Kickstarter will allow us to avoid other means of earning income and focus full-time on creating what we have envisioned.

Over the years, we have felt the lack of solid action platformers and we believe many more out there have sensed the same fault. We aim to create a community wherein we can get feedback with those interested in a strong new entry to the genre. Opening this door via the Kickstarter project will help to produce an even more impressive product for platformer fans.







Risks and challenges

Being that we have made it to a functioning demo with a product we love, we feel confident with the concept and do not see great difficulty with the development technologies. We were able to develop the demo in 8 focused months. Most of the core mechanics that will carry over to future levels are already made, so we believe our completion date is reasonable.

We have made PC games before, and have already ported a rough version of 4 for the Money to Xbox One, so we don't see any trouble on these platforms. However, the Nintendo systems and Playstation are new to us, which will certainly require some learning.

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    You in the Credits!

    Obviously, our credits will be fairly short. So what better way to extend them while Magnus' melodies carry players to rapture than by filling them with YOUR name. See your name or gamer-tag in the credits!

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    4 for the Money Art Book

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    Set generations of players against hordes of your enemy! Design a standard enemy for one of the areas. You design it and we'll work with you to fit it into the game.

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