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Reduction is a 12-mission, original campaign (by me) for Alien Swarm (a top-down shooter by Valve) with lots of bug-blasting action.

(To see the full story, and the official game trailer - and to download and play the 4 of the first missions - visit the Reduction blog at PrepareToDrop.com.)

Mount up, Offworld Drop Marines! You are wondering why you've been sent to the Fringe Worlds. Well, now you know: to deal with this scourge: the "Crawlers" - strange, bug-like aliens, each of which can rip a man in half in just seconds. Be prepared, and keep your weapons at the ready...

But you're in luck. This set of orders, care of Callsign "BigDog", has authorized your early return to Earth, for some well needed rest and refit. So take care Marines. Check in your kit at Omega Station, and prepare for some much-needed downtime... Far away from those terrible crawlers... Back home within the safety of Earth. It's going to be great to return once more to the green planet. After all, you've been away for a few years now...

Reduction is a non-canonical, independently-made and FREE campaign for the Valve game Alien Swarm (which, in turn, is free [totally free, not "free-to-play"] and available at AlienSwarm.com - engage in combat with hordes of hostile aliens, with 4-player co-operative teamplay, including built-in voice communications). In Reduction you find yourself in a bug-war on the remains of your crumbling home planet: Earth. Experience an original new universe in the familiar "alien invasion of Earth" sub-genre of science fiction.

(Valve makes their tools freely available specifically for us to make maps and campaigns. Reduction is one such campaign and will be freely available for download and play during beta and when it is finished - assuming we can get it finished!)

You can even PLAY REDUCTION NOW! Four of the first missions are freely available here: PrepareToDrop.com.

Reduction has been in production now for two years - more than 4000 hours (that's basically 2 years of crunch; check out my Steam profile: "xfunc_carter" - the AlienSwarm_Reduction group code on Steam is ASWR).

The immediate plan now is to finish the remaining 8 levels of Reduction - completing it as a kickass campaign for Alien Swarm; finishing the story which I began in the 4 levels you can play now. It will be freely available once finished.

However, if I get overwhelming support for Reduction, the long term plan is to hire members of the Source mapping/modding community to finish it - and possibly to even turn it into a total conversion: a standalone game - complete with a Source engine licence. (And after that, who knows?... A graphic novel?... An RPG?... A movie!... Let's go for it cause we're gonna go and we're gonna some!...)

In the two years since I began Reduction, I've honed my Source tool and level-building skills to a fine edge. I know Alien Swarm mapping and development backwards and forwards at this point. (I have also been a producer and designer of game projects at the professional level.)

I have a number of people waiting in the wings now to help to complete Reduction. Some are game development colleagues of mine (such as from Core Fire Media); some are developers and mappers from the Alien Swarm and the Source community.

What's more, those external colleagues and suppliers of mine in my area (the Province of Ontario, in Canada) have access to large tax credits (30 to 40% for game development work). So any contribution you make can be immediately amplified by that large amount to add more polish and quality to Reduction.

I have access to all the forces, tools and firepower required to finish Reduction. But after two exhaustive years of crunching and self-funding, at this point I just need contributions from you to make it possible to finish it. I'm at a decision-point now: either I am able to finish Reduction (which I really want to do!), or I simply need to move on and leave the project as is (which I really don't want to do!)...

(To see more, visit: PrepareToDrop.com.)

Rewards: Because I don't own Alien Swarm, Reduction (i.e. the Source game campaign for Alien Swarm) is and will be available for free. So to acknowledge your contribution as a Backer, I'll be sending sci-fi Drop-Marine-inspired gifts and rewards that broadcast that you were there to get it off the ground.

Here are a few sample images of some of the gifts...

Q: "Why would I contribute to a game campaign that will be released for free?"

A: Because it gives you total bragging rights when Reduction goes on to become a major franchise. Because YOU will make it into a major franchise - with even just a small contribution. Because your rewards become collectibles if it succeeds, that show you were there at the beginning and you made it happen!

(Also, you might happen to like the missions and the story of Reduction, and want to play the campaign through to the very end...)

Q: "Are you sure you're allowed to do this?"

A: Other game mappers have put up Paypal donation buttons to seek contributions from the community and their audience in order to build their maps. There hasn't been a problem then, and that is technically the same thing as what Kickstarter allows us to do here (and what is being done here with Reduction). It's just that Kickstarter is a far better way to do this - the odds of completion go way up, there is more exposure, and the contributors get much better acknowledgement (and rewards!) for what they do.

Who knows? If you are a mapper or modder, you might try doing this as well. You just have to be careful, in terms of business and outlining that you're seeking contributions only for your own original work.

The bar has been raised so high today, in terms of audience expectation of games, that you really need to develop full-time or near full-time to produce a mod or even a campaign that will get general acceptance. (It isn't 1999 anymore. Take a look at the difference between the first version of de_Dust, for Counter-Strike [12 years ago], and the one that is coming out for Counter-Strike:Global Ops - it's night and day.) So this may be a way to go for the whole mapping / modding community.

Q: "You're just a fan... Who do you think you are?... Et cetera [insert other negative comments here]...."

A: Please feel free to contribute if you like the work you see in this project. Otherwise, thanks for your time and attention.

Q: "What's in it for Valve?"

A: I'm not connected to Valve, but I imagine they put up Alien Swarm and the tools to get more exposure and members for Steam. It also helps keeps the Source technology in active use out in the community (since third-party companies are overwhelmingly turning toward UDK and Unity for middleware now). It could also get them a Source engine licencee, if Reduction receives really overwhelming support.

Q: "I want to get involved as a mapper / contributor for Reduction."

A: I am completely open to those who wish to join the Reduction team, if Reduction gets funded. There are only a few caveats:

  • Team-members can only be taken only if there is overwhelming support for Reduction - because I want them to be paid for their work.
  • The Reduction team will be a small and tight team. It isn't going to be one of these mod projects consisting of dozens of people contributing willy-nilly, coming and going. It's going to be a professional team.
  • Team-members will have control over what it is they are making, but I'll have final say in creative decisions (though I'm not into top-down control - it's just to keep things from going out into the weeds). The levels will be made according to the "Reduction Bible" that's been written (describing the basic story, events, look-and-feel of each level, and the production pipeline). The typical deployment will be one mapper per level - and you will own that level! (for months, actually...).
  • If we get super overwhelming support, this may become a total conversion, and we'll need programmers and artists as well.

Q: If this does really really well, what are your future plans?

A: We may turn Reduction into a total conversion (basically a new game - similar to what it is but with remade content, weapons, new aliens [ones not so similar to those in the Aliens franchise], new soldiers [names, dialogue, etc], new character specialties with new character actions). Plus I've already planned a prequel (Reduction Prior), a sequel (Reduction Post) and even a "parallel" campaign (Reduction Parallel - it occurs during the main Reduction campaign, but from a different vantage point). About 6 missions per expansion project. Beyond that, who knows?: a graphic novel?, a movie?, a TV or webisode series?... The sky's the limit.

Q: "Where can I get that bitchin' alien desert planet mission I see on the Reduction Mission 2 Trailer video?"

A: You mean the one featured in this video, here? That level will be released if and when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds. It's the "missing level" from the campaign you can download now (which consists of Missions 1, 3, 4 and 5). I've got it 95% finished (just a week of work would do it). But if the Kickstarter campaign doesn't succeed, Reduction itself is over and I need to move on, so there's no point in releasing Mission 2.

But hey, if you make this Kickstarter campaign succeed, this will be your immediate reward! (Which I am dying to share anyway.)

Q: What about that crazy ask video you originally had up here?

A: See below...

Okay, here's the original ask video I had up here on Kickstarter. I got some terrible, poisonous comments because of this video, but I decided to repost it, because I still feel its let's-have-fun spirit is what I want people to remember. (Go read the comments in the Youtube section of this video for more...)

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    THE OFFWORLD DROP RECRUIT LEVEL Since you just signed up we need to keep track of you - for your next of kin at least. So here is an Offworld Drop Marine service dogtag (can double as a keychain). (Please specify whether you want the Tech, Medic, Leader or Gunner specialty for this level.)

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    THE OFFWORLD DROP MARINE LEVEL Just finished your first combat drop (simulated). As a celebration, you get a copy of the Reduction poster - to remind you of the ordeal that our valiant Offworld Drop Marines are going through to protect the ungrateful remainder of Mankind from the scourge of the alien crawlers in the Outer Worlds. The poster will have printed on it a solemn list of names: the credits of the mappers and modders who come on board the team, and the Elite Backers rollcall. (Includes the prior reward.)

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    THE GEAR-UP,-GET-HOT LEVEL Your first tactical deployment. To kit out for this, here is one issue Offworld Drop Marines water bottle (dark royal blue) - for long treks on hostile barren crawler-infested rocks out among the Outer Systems. (Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE GET-ON-THE-READY-LINE LEVEL Get on the dropship Marines! Here is One standard issue Offworld Drop Marines dress t-shirt (shortsleeve). Please specify whether you want some cynical-Drop-Marine-inspired-bitching-and-complaining dialogue on this T - or the Hardcore I'm-a-serious-mofo-Drop-Marine "Reduction Backer" logo image. (Specify one of the following colours: Black, Dark Royal Blue, Dark Maroon Red. Specify one of the following sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL. Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE EXPRESS-ELEVATOR-TO-HELL-AND-GOIN'-DOWN LEVEL In the back of your mind, you always knew this moment would come. Add one sheer fine-material American Apparel longsleeve T-shirt to your kitout Marine! (emblazened with the Reduction logo and "Backer" declaration). Or you can choose a second T-shirt, OR the remaining 3 dogtags (for the full set of 4 dogtags). Prepare to get some! (Specify one of the following colours: Black, Dark Royal Blue, Dark Maroon Red. Specify one of the following sizes for the longsleeve T-shirt if that is your choice: S, M, L, XL, 2XL. Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE MY-SQUAD-OF-BADASSES-WILL-PROTECT-YOU LEVEL You have now entered the ranks of the Elite Backers - to the eternal gratitude of the planning echelons back at Division. Like any too-cocksure Offworld Drop Marine Tech knows, you need this Black Leatherman Wave multitool to hack all those panels that open the door to let you the hell out! (And to hack through the occasional bug who gets past the squad's free fire zone...) This tool will be laser engraved with the Reduction logo, the Offworld Drop Marine squad image, and with an "Elite Backer" declaration (the engraving into the black oxide finish allowing the shiny stainless steel beneath to pop out). You will now be listed in the "Elite Backers Rollcall, Copper Rank" in the credits of Reduction, and on the Reduction poster. AND we will send to you an "Elite Backer" Copper Medallion (with its unique edition number engraved on the reverse). (Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE JUST-A-GRUNT-BUT-DEFINITELY-IN-COMMAND LEVEL You are solemnly taking your position as Numero Uno Grunt Commander on this mission. Add to your loadout a black briefbag or backpack with the Reduction logo (please specify your choice of which). You will now be listed in the "Elite Backers Rollcall, Silver Rank" in the credits of Reduction and on the Reduction poster. You have earned and will receive an Elite Backer Silver Medallion (with its unique edition number engraved on the reverse). (Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE NUKE-IT-FROM-ORBIT,-IT'S-THE-ONLY-WAY-TO-BE-SURE LEVEL - $2500 - The ultimate position of leadership: Moral Command. At this level, frankly you are saving Division's ass from crawler overrun. Your Offworld Drop Marine loadout will now include a bonafide Survival Kit - which will help keep you alive in case of encroaching hostile crawler lifeforms (or any real disaster, actually). You will now be listed in the "Elite Backers Rollcall, Gold Rank" in the credits of Reduction, and on the Reduction poster. You have earned and will receive an Elite Backer Gold Medallion (with its unique edition number engraved on the reverse). (Includes all prior rewards.)

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    THE IS-THERE-A-JAMES-CAMERON-ON-THE-DROPSHIP? LEVEL - $10,000 - You have elected to spark Reduction as a new entertainment franchise! At this level you are rewarded with an 18-month exclusive option to purchase all screenplay/movie/TV/webisode rights to the original Reduction story (which is reflected in this campaign: a tale set against the familiar backdrop of an alien invasion of earth, but with a unique spin that reflects the angst of our times). (Purchase terms [negotiable], in case you exercise the option later, are: price of 3% of the budget with a floor of $100k and a cap of $1mm; and we can work out the remaining details later [within 9 months of this option transfer - if not, I will refund the option, less 10% to cover Kickstarter, Amazon and other fees].) If you want to also make it into a wholly original game that's a totally separate thing, but it'd be best for us to buy a licence to the Source Engine and let's start over from there. It's the only way to be sure... (And yes, includes all prior gifts.)

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    THE IS-THERE-A-BIGSHOT-GAME-PRODUCER-ON-THE-DROPSHIP? LEVEL - $10,000 (Possibly a synthetic one... But one nonetheless.) This tier includes a 3-day all expenses paid trip to Toronto, Canada, to hang out for a weekend, see what I am up to, where Reduction is going, and see our city. (Actually, Toronto was done up as a Half Life 2 mod, because we have the CN Tower, which frankly, makes TO feel like City 17. You have this giant needle reaching up into the sky, utterly dwarphing all skyscrapers around it. There is a cool Skywalk there... Which kindof feels like you are in a space station orbiting around the earth... [though, sorry, not taken over by aliens].)

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