Take on the role of genetically enhanced rats trained in military warfare and battle in a giant human sized world.
Take on the role of genetically enhanced rats trained in military warfare and battle in a giant human sized world.
On a puny planet in a tiny solar system, a lone scientist toils endlessly alone on his grand design. Tasked during the cold war to develop a weapon system capable of dismantling the enemy from the inside out, he has feverishly worked to harness one of the natural world's most diabolical creation's raw natural instincts into a fighting force capable of frustrating any foe into submission.
Cut off from the entire world and oblivious the war ended nearly a quarter century ago, he has never faltered in his determination. For 60 years he has experimented and tested to bring the ultimate weapon to life. He has made an army of the perfect soldiers. They are athletic, intelligent, cunning, silent, deadly and..well...really small. What took him so long? They wouldn't obey or follow any rules. They never listened. They did whatever they wanted and they were impossible to control...until now!
Now they are intelligent, disciplined, dedicated and hungry to please. Thanks to a healthy diet of chemicals, brainwave altering mind control rays and propaganda, all natural instincts have been replaced with a never ending drive for perfection. Their minds flooded with strategy and tactics, their only mission now is to be the perfect soldier and destroy the enemy.
You will take on the role of one of these tiny warriors and train him (or her) to be the best of the best. Rise through the ranks and prove you have what it takes to succeed in making this the most formidable army ever conceived. Don't strive for glory. Don't fight your heart out for the honor or the accolades. Don't give it your all for paltry medals or meaningless recognition. No, you do not sacrifice everything for those things which mean nothing. You do it for the only thing you have ever loved. You do it for the cheese.
Sharpen your claws. Brush your fur. Straighten your tail and polish your whiskers. It's time to jump into the Rodent Army Training Simulator.
At heart R.A.T.S. is a first person shooter. Players will be able to choose one of four playable classes. They are the soldier, the nurse, the gunner and the sniper. More are planned for the future but these will be available at launch. Each class will have available to it a wide array of weapons, skills, team bonuses and deployables. You will earn experience points and be able to choose your progression of skills.
R.A.T.S. will boast fluid gameplay and a robust set of gameplay mechanics that make running, jumping and shooting a pleasure to experience. The game will be fun to just play and the world will be fun to just explore and that is the most important aspect. But that's not all there is to do. Players will earn experience to upgrade and enhance each of the four classes with a robust skill tree system.
This is just a list of the maps that have been completed for the prototype version of the game. Many more are planned to be added before and after release.
This list mostly consists of a mere few examples of each actual category of weapon. The final weapon roster for the game is unknown at this point due to plans to just keep adding more as time goes on.
Along with the threat of other rats standing in the way of your glory, players will also face off against a wide array of environmental enemies and engage in boss encounters.
While it is easy to jump in and start playing for the first time, it does actually take a lot of skill and learning to be a truly awesome player. Shots must be lead as bullets have different speeds and ballistic trajectories while the map layouts range from extremely tight quarters with lots of cover to large open areas. Combat is furious in some maps while more careful and strategic in others.
The rats are fast and can jump very high so platforming is also a huge part of the experience. Players can traverse to just about every surface they can see and use that to their advantage. Some of these locations take a high level of skill and precision to arrive at safely.
The game modes will be set in a giant, human-sized, world and include everything that should be expected in a multiplayer first person shooter. It will have deathmatch, team deathmatch, base race, capture the cheese, king of the hill....etc. Players can battle it out in a variety of locations from household rooms to outdoors and even areas not typically conceivable but made possible by the inclusion of the virtual training simulator, where anything goes.
If the initial goal is met, I will have the resources to cover this part of the development. As stated in my history, I saved up all I could to cover the costs of developing the game. Unfortunately I only managed to accumulate enough to cover about 2 years and it's been much longer than that. The cost of living has just increased so much faster than I expected. I'm at the point where I cannot survive the last leg of the development process without help from you. My funds are entirely dried up and without the help of my loving family and friends, I wouldn't be here at all.
If this goal is met, I plan to continue porting the game over from UDK to Unreal Engine 4, where I will be able to produce a much higher level of visual fidelity and have access to advanced development tools which will speed up the entire process and offer the ability to add content and experiences which are currently impossible. I will also have the ability to release the game on multiple platforms including consoles, Mac, mobile and possibly HTML5. However, consoles will have to be a separate stretch goal as there are a lot of fees and costs involved in releasing on those platforms, but Unreal Engine 4 has them built in and can be done at the same time as all the other builds.
I already have the assets built and ready and can quite quickly reproduce the current state of the game in the new engine. It has only been on UDK since 2009, but that is still five years of daily hard work to get the game to the state it's in today and there have been a lot of hurdles. Before that, it was in the early stages of development with no target platform.
With the switch to UE4, I will be able to get the game to the same point within a few short months as I can import all of the current assets and simply enjoy a much higher level of quality. From that point, new features and elements will be much faster to produce and I will be free to make the game into what it was originally intended to be, a rich and awesome experience. If this goal is met, I will still release the current UDK version of the game, but only to backers as a reward and will serve as a conceptual demo for the final product.
The stretch goal is to develop the single player and cooperative storyline which will take the players through a creative and funny timeline of events leading up to an epic final conclusion. While this is in early development, it has been in design for several years, has several prototypes and promises to be quite memorable. I have already developed several enemy types and a couple of boss encounters but they are nowhere near the level where they need to be. It will take time and effort to put the entire storyline together and make sure that it flows properly and engages the players.
These rewards were designed around giving you a feeling of being a bigger part of the development of the game. I am, however, open to any suggestions for additional rewards that you would like to see or if you have advice about some of the rewards I've chosen that maybe you feel are inappropriate or not desirable.
I plan to either hold design contests or votes for the backers to choose designs that they like the most for the giveaway items such as the shirts, hats, wallpapers...etc. Here are some early design concepts that I've come up with but I will focus more heavily on ensuring that they meet everybody's standards and are desirable if and when the goals for this project are met.
Currently R.A.T.S. is a multiplayer only demo running on Unreal Engine 3 as it has taken a great amount of time and effort to build all the assets necessary to make the main world. I set funds aside several years ago to fund the development of this game as it has been something I've been dreaming about for over 10 years now. Unfortunately back then the available tools, engines and platforms were very limited and difficult for an indie developer to get ahold of. Since about 2004, I have been working the better part of every day on creating all of the artwork and animations for the game without any actual game engine to work with.
In 2009 I found the Unreal Engine 3 and ported the game over to it from various other failed engine attempts. The Unreal Engine has always been an excellent platform for games with its awesome rendering engine, robust multiplayer tools, mind-blowing material systems and helpful scripting environments. The one thing I was always missing though, was the ability to fully grasp the programming language in use. As an artist more than a coder, I found the syntax and structure hard to wrap myself around. I know how to code but I don't know every language's nuances and UE3's was a little too intricate and unfortunately that worked as a hinderance towards development.
In Unreal Engine 4, all of that has changed. With their focus on a combination of C++ and visual scripting systems, it has become possible to build all aspects of the game without relying too heavily on one system or the other. This greatly speeds up the development process and opens up entirely new possibilities for the game. In less than a month, I have already built the meat of the movement mechanics, the weapon systems, two full maps have been ported. That's one month to accomplish what initially took about 2 years and I have even managed to add new things I always wanted but could never figure out how to create on the previous engine. The first of those things is AI enemies that are fun to engage with and the second is a fully functioning vehicle system, complete with a working UH-1 Huey attack helicopter with awesome controls and flight mechanics.
If I only meet the initial goal, then production will continue on the current version and will be released on Steam (assuming it is accepted) roughly around October 2015. This should give enough time to polish and finalize the feature set and ensure that it is bug free and perfect as possible.
Risks and challenges
The development of R.A.T.S. poses a few challenges both with the development of the game and also within the business side of games.
I have been lucky enough to be connected with a vast network of seasoned professionals and highly knowledgeable developers so I don't believe any of these challenges will be unmet, but here is a list of what I'm anticipating and/or aware of:
The theme of R.A.T.S. alone has put me up against quite a few rather steep challenges given the scale and scope of the entire project. While at heart the game is relatively simple and straight-forward, we're still looking at creating a humungous world for the players to explore. This requires special attention to detail and lighting something of this scale is particularly difficult. Everyday items in a human sized world when you are a human can take many liberties because for the most part, you merely need to bump into them and you don't see them from that close up. When you're rat-sized, you basically see them thorough a microscope and you can go under them, walk around on top of and crawl around inside them. Texture resolutions on baked lightmaps have to be rather enormous and this causes the size and system requirements to increase as such. It can take my system nearly a day to build the bounced lighting for static lightmaps on just one map alone and it often takes many iterations to get the look just right.
Fortunately, with the port over to the UE4 engine, much of this will be alleviated as it affords the opportunity to run the game with truly dynamic lighting so that the entire world can be more interactive. With a static lighting environment, the look of the game takes on a sort of "Old Scooby Doo Cartoon" feel, where it's painfully obvious which objects are going to animate and which are "painted in" because they are simply brighter and less detailed. With dynamic lighting, there is one cohesive look to the entire game world so now players will be able to open every drawer, cabinet, door, window...etc and it will all blend together seamlessly.
Steamworks API is an aspect of the development cycle that I simply haven't gotten the chance to explore yet. There's a particular system of things that need to be covered in order for the game to register for Steam servers and work on that platform in general. While I know that it works as many games on this engine have done it, I still will have to face the challenge of incorporating this and ensuring that it connects cleanly, can update without errors and ties in with their whole achievement and trading card system.
Again, I am fortunate to be connected with a lot of intelligent people that know how this works and I hope to work with them to make sure that the game integrates flawlessly into Steam's systems.
Business and marketing have never been one of my strongest areas of expertise. As an artist, I find myself much more comfortable behind the scenes making sure that the product itself is meeting all of the standards. The game will need exposure, a solid marketing campaign and be presented properly to the public to make sure they gain interest for the right reasons.
The first real-world exercise for this will come very quickly when R.A.T.S. is submitted to Steam's Greenlight system for approval by the public to be sold on that platform. Without good public exposure and interest, the game will not be approved and another venue will have to be chosen. This test will come a few short days after this campaign ends.
Fortunately, of the thousands of people that have viewed and/or commented on the project so far, I have only experienced about a dozen people that expressed disinterest or didn't like the game. Public interest and enthusiasm for the project has been very strong throughout the entire time it's been in development and this has always been a very strong confidence boost for me to remain dedicated to the project.
The final set of challenges comes in the form of just managing life with game development.
While I have built the majority of it entirely by myself, I have received aid from others in the past. I had a programmer help me create the prototype on the UDK engine. I've had a few other artists come along to help me with some 3D models and rigs here and there. Unfortunately, given that I'm in a state where I cannot officially hire anybody or offer any compensation other than percentages of the revenue, I haven't been able to hold on to any other developers for any significant amount of time. About 99% of the art that's in the game right now was created by myself.
On the UE4 version, I have been working on it entirely alone. With your support, I hope to alleviate that by having some funds available to offer actual compensation for people to come aboard and help me produce the game. I'm looking to hire at least one reliable programmer, one sound and music composer and at least one public relations representative. The art's pretty much done, I really don't need much more of that but I am willing to bring aboard level designers.
I am 100% confident in my abilities to finish this game, but I am still only one man. I don't want to promise that I can finish this whole thing all by myself in a very short time because I don't think anybody can really do that. I do need some help getting the game done and I plan to utilize all of the funds towards that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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