Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 8, 2012.

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Starlight Inception is the rebellious stepchild of Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace 2, taking a fresh approach to a classic genre.

We pledge to give 5% of the profits back to the Kickstarter community.  More information on Kicking it Forward

NEW QUESTION AND ANSWER VIDEO POSTED at: UPDATES

NOTE: We apologize for the confusion, but we are folding all launch DLC (two fighters and one mission) into the product, and not offering launch DLC..  We've also created a new $30 tier that includes all future DLC since Kickstarter doesn't allow us to change descriptions once we have backers. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

We've also listened to your requests and added several "Special Promotion" Reward tiers that include individual items and a copy of the game. Please disregard the mention of launch DLC in those items as per the above note.

Please see the FAQ for additional details about the game. 

Starlight Inception is the rebellious stepchild of Wing Commander, X-wing and Freespace2, taking a fresh approach to the classic space combat genre.

Link to Reddit AMA

You assume the role of a young space fighter pilot assigned to the star carrier U.S.F. Independence, deploying to hotspots throughout the Solar System during World War IV.

Starlight Inception is a realistic and relevant 1st person (both with cockpit and without) / 3rd person strategic and tactical  space combat experience. It has a unique blend of action with an involving storyline. Features include ship based combat both in space and on planets and moons, interplanetary exploration, and multiplayer dogfighting.

There are two main game modes - one is mission based, and has a storyline following a pilot through the fourth World War, fought amongst the planets and moons of our star system.  The missions are varied, including straight shoot-'em ups, rescue missions, salvage missions.  All the missions contain elements of exploration, combat and in some cases, stealth and tagging the enemy for larger assaults.  There is a fair amount of world building in this mode, as you interact with enemies and wingmen, sometimes discovering things or achieving things during the mission that affect the overall course of the story.

The second game mode is a sort of strategic defense of your mothership, where you deploy turrets and engage in ship to ship combat to defend against incoming marauders.  This mode is more geared toward players who just want to get in a cockpit and begin engaging the enemy (i.e. casual players).

Both modes have achievements locked to them, as well as gaining the player command prestige for objectives met and side quests.  Command prestige is the currency of the game, and allows players to 'purchase' better ships, better weapons, better equipment, better drone wingmen.

There is a multiplayer component, where players can play head to head or on teams in various modes, including deathmatch, capture the flag, defend the mothership, etc.

Our early prototypes used a very arcade-y feel, more akin to Wing Commander, but we are still tuning aspects of this approach, looking at adding Newtonian elements, within reason.  Several space sims have done the Newtonian thing really well, but sometimes this results in a ship that's hard to control.

You will collect space fighters in the same way that you collect cars in Gran Turismo, and you'll have a similarly deep level of configuration and tuning of ship's systems, both before combat and during a mission.  You'll be controlling your power and ship's systems, deciding where to allocate precious energy while you're defending, sneaking past capital ships and engaging bases and enemy fighters.  You'll be fighting in space, as well as over planetary environments.

The game will be from a 3rd person perspective, a controllable tethered camera behind the rear of a fighter.  It will also have a cockpit mode, and a simple interface 1st person mode.  We really intend to give players some interesting choices in terms of user interface. You'll be able to click on buttons within the cockpit to adjust different settings for the fighter.  

Our promise is that we'll be working toward a model that is fun for the player, and that doesn't get in the way of the gameplay.

The game will be tuned for joysticks, flight yokes, game controllers and keyboard and mouse combos on the PC, so we are really shooting for flexibility in the control scheme.

Please see the FAQ for additional details about the game.

Early Concept Art - fighter designs

Refined design - Spacefighter "E"

Rear of Spacefighter "E"

SpaceFighter "E" escapes planetary orbit to search for a real name...

"I just backed Starlight Inception on @Kickstarter" - Richard Garriott, via twitter 

"Excellent!  Been in need of Space in games!  FB should have a "Want" button!" - Matthew Thomas Scibilia, President/CEO Critical Mass Interactive

“...I can say with confidence that Garry and his team are a passionate, creative and hardworking game development studio that will do what it takes to make ‘Starlight Inception’ a fun and engaging game to play.  Garry has a clear vision for a great game.  He will spare no effort to bring that vision to life.  Having been a huge fan of space combat games such as ‘Elite’ and ‘Wing Commander’, I look forward to playing such a game again when ‘Starlight Inception’ is finished!” - Wayne Harvey, Vice President, CTO Vicious Cycle Software, Inc

"Garry has been passionate (I mean, a FREAK!...in a good way that is) about space games since I knew him back in our Lucas days.  Personally, I'm really excited to see what he puts together, and can't wait to play it." - Michael Levine, President, CEO, Pileated Pictures, Planet Cazmo, HappyGiant

"Having collaborated on various projects and endeavors with Garry over the past twenty years, I know he works really hard to accomplish what he sets his mind to, is tireless in getting the game right, and has produced some great titles.  He is one of the most passionate and devoted individuals that I know to the sci-fi genre.  I can't wait to see what he does with Starlight Inception." - Kalani Streicher, President, CEO, COO Kalani Games

Our goal is to create a descendant of the space combat genre - it's a game about flying space fighters, bombers and other spacecraft, but it's also about managing the ship's power usage between shields and stealth generators, engines, and weapons.  Plus, as you get further in the game, you amass quite an arsenal to pick from for missions.  The game's art style is photoreal and gritty - you'll feel like you're in the middle of a big battle amongst the planets, moons and asteroids, making decisions that affect your life and the life of your wingmen, whether human or autonomous drones.

-  DRM-free digital download on PC, Steam download for PC or digital download through the Playstation Store for Sony Playstation Vita

-  Dramatic and realistic storyline: Players will experience an enveloping space saga with a deep and involving story that spans the solar system.

-  Richly detailed: Rich detail will show from the capital ships, environments, space fighters, transports to explosions.

-  Space action: Action in space and over the surface of planets and moons. Fly over a planet’s atmosphere then swoop down over surface vehicles and troops for a visceral experience both at high and low altitudes.

-  Camera perspective: Switchable 1st and 3rd person cameras let the player tailor the game experience to their own liking.

-  Lots of stuff to do: Blow up stuff with the most advanced fighters known to man, salvage destroyed vessels for cool stuff, defend your ship against incoming marauders, locate and destroy ground targets, blow up more stuff...

Please see the FAQ for additional details about the game.

David Arkenstone (World of Warcraft Cataclysm), a triple nominated Grammy award recipient has agree to do the music for the game.  His work is both evocative and deep, and he's shared a couple samples that would lead us to a really amazing soundtrack for the game.  David has told me that he's stoked to be working on a space combat game, as he shares our love of the genre.  You should go to iTunes and check out some samples from his other albums - the World of Warcraft music is really wicked cool, and we feel honored to be working with David.

Or, why aren't you asking for $30 million dollars to make this?  The answer is first and foremost because it doesn't take $30 million dollars to build this kind of a game.  

Escape Hatch is an independent, scrappy developer which has been working for years with budgets that are less than optimal, and producing products that are successful.  Since 2004, Escape Hatch has kept the same philosophy: keep costs down and productivity high.  Minimize risk wherever feasible.  Don’t reinvent the technology wheel, but be inventive in gameplay and create solid graphics.  Tell a good story.

From Garry: "My projects at LucasArts were brought in under budget and on time, usually at fractions of what other games were costing.  I carried that philosophy of economy and putting 200% into the game when I started Escape Hatch, and it's remained our philosophy ever since."

With all that said, the next obvious question is why are you only asking $150K to build this game? The answer to that is because we aren't greedy and didn't want to ask for more than we need.  We're passionate about this project and are throwing our own money into this. We, being Garry (project leader, coder, etc.) and Melissa Gaber (producer) are taking no salary of any kind for this game, no matter how many pledges come in from Kickstarter.  

Our real operating budget is in line with what can reasonably be produced, and will allow for a high quality game with real voice talent, sound effects, AAA art and amazing depth of gameplay, but we can't get there without you.

With that said, if the pledges exceed what we're asking for, the extra funding will go straight back into the game.  Better levels, more action, better and more art assets.  Other platforms.  A bigger, more wider released, better game.

Here are some early ideas for what some of the rewards will look like, but the look might change over the course of the project:

Mug:

T-Shirt (white):

T-Shirt (ash):

T-Shirt (black): 

Hoodie:

 

Escape Hatch Entertainment is run by Garry Gaber, his wife Melissa Gaber, and a team of talented artists, designers, and programmers.

Garry is a graduate of New York University with a degree in Cinema Production.  He landed a job with LucasArts in 1994, and contributed art to several outstanding LucasArts titles including Star Wars Jedi Knight, Star Wars Rebel Assault II, and Armed and Dangerous.  Working as a project leader, lead artist, and designer on Star Wars Force Commander, Mr. Gaber then moved on to project lead and design Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds and its subsequent expansion pack Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns.  The Galactic Battlegrounds franchise has sold over one million copies worldwide.  After leaving LucasArts, Mr. Gaber founded Escape Hatch Entertainment, and designed and produced several acclaimed games.

Garry Gaber - IMDB

Melissa Gaber, a graduate of Dominican University, acts as a producer, HR person, critic, accountant, and she's really good at it, especially the criticizing...

Escape Hatch has always run the same way, and it has helped us to be successful - keep overhead low, let people work the way they feel most comfortable, and let them be creative.  We have also leveraged local Austin talent whenever possible.  In addition, we work with the local community college students, giving them a chance to work on real game products under Garry's tutelage (always for pay).  Additionally, for this game we are reaching out to the Wing Commander, X-wing vs. TIE and Galactic Battlegrounds modding communities to give them a chance to contribute to a commercial product.

Whether industry professional or industry novice, we work to get the most professional output from our team, and I have no doubt that this project will be no different.

At our budget point (which doesn't include a salary for Garry or Melissa), we look at the game first, and think, how many space fighters, capital ships and planetary environments can we get in the game for that amount?  How many cool cinematics for the story?  So we pick and choose our battles, using talented people to create high quality assets for the game, and advisors to review material, read scripts, review art look and UI.  Concept art is used to decide upon the look, and is largely done as a series of iterative designs in our 3D software.

We are deeply humbled to have this opportunity.  We'll do everything we can to make the game that has been promised and to blow you away with the final result.  Please stay in touch with us at www.eschatch.com and www.unitedstarforce.com or feel free to contact EHE directly to share your thoughts and feedback at info@eschatch.com.

Facebook (Starlight Inception): http://www.facebook.com/starlightinception

Facebook (Escape Hatch): http://www.facebook.com/eschatch

Facebook (Garry Gaber): www.facebook.com/garry.gaber

Twitter (Escape Hatch): @escapehatchent

Twitter (Garry Gaber): @garrygaber

Words cannot adequately express my sincere appreciation for the time you are taking to read this, and for helping to support our project.

Kindest Regards,
Garry

FAQ

  • There are two main game modes - one is mission based, and has a storyline following a pilot through the fourth World War, fought amongst the planets and moons of our star system. The missions are varied, including straight shoot-'em ups, rescue missions, salvage missions. All the missions contain elements of exploration, combat and in some cases, stealth and tagging the enemy for larger assaults. There is a fair amount of world building in this mode, as you interact with enemies and wingmen, sometimes discovering things or achieving things during the mission that affect the overall course of the story.

    The second game mode is a sort of strategic defense of your mothership, where you deploy turrets and engage in ship to ship combat to defend against incoming marauders. This mode is more geared toward players who just want to get in a cockpit and begin engaging the enemy (i.e. casual players).

    Both modes have achievements locked to them, as well as gaining the player command prestige for objectives met and side quests. Command prestige is the currency of the game, and allows players to 'purchase' better ships, better weapons, better equipment, better drone wingmen.

    Last updated:
  • Yes. There is a multiplayer component, where players can play head to head or on teams in various modes, including deathmatch, capture the flag, defend the mothership, etc.

    Last updated:
  • The game can be played both in 3rd person, outside the ship, tethered camera mode, or 1st person through the cockpit mode. The UI is planned to have at least two modes - a HUD like treatment and a more realistic, rendered cockpit view.

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  • The game will be tuned for joysticks, flight yokes, game controllers and keyboard and mouse combos on the PC (I loved Freelancer's control scheme, even though I still prefer a yoke or joystick),

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  • Because the Vita is such a technologically advanced handheld, there shouldn't be any dumbing down going on between the two platforms. In our minds and the design, the gameplay is the same on both platforms, with the primary difference being the obvious control schemes and optimizing assets for the size of the screen.

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  • I know physics are very important to players of this kind of game, and I know we'll be tweaking the feel of the ships until launch. Our early prototypes used a very arcade-y feel, more akin to Wing Commander, but we are still tuning aspects of this approach, looking at adding Newtonian elements, within reason. Several space sims have done the Newtonian thing really well, but sometimes this results in a ship that's hard to control. And never mind the fact that things like missiles become sort of counterproductive in a real Newtonian model of space, pushing your ship backwards with an equal and opposite force every time you fire one.

    Our promise is that we'll be working toward a model that is fun for the player, and that doesn't get in the way of the gameplay. It may be something new, and I hope you guys can accept that.

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  • No. Regarding the art you're seeing and the teaser, these are all early concepts for the game, and culled together footage that will never be used in this form, not a real formal teaser announcement. From what I can glean, Kickstarter is meant to get projects going, not to fund projects that are far along in their lifecycle, although that definition has been changing. I might not have been clear enough on the page - we are really really early here. Like, concept doc early. Everything you currently see, logo, ships, etc. will change as more team comes aboard and we really get going. Game Development are iterative. This one is no different.

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  • We aren't greedy and didn't want to ask for more than we need. We're passionate about this project and are throwing our own money into this. We, being Garry (project leader, coder, etc.) and Melissa Gaber (producer) are taking no salary of any kind for this game, no matter how many pledges come in from Kickstarter.

    Our real operating budget is in line with what can reasonably be produced, and will allow for a high quality game with real voice talent, sound effects, AAA art and amazing depth of gameplay, but we can't get there without you.

    With that said, if the pledges exceed what we're asking for, the extra funding will go straight back into the game. Better levels, more action, better and more art assets. Other platforms. A bigger, more wider released, better game.

    Last updated:
  • For a small studio to survive, it has to stand out where there isn't a lot of competition from larger products. Originally PSP made sense from that perspective, but PSP couldn't handle the graphics we were throwing at it. So we thought, where now? And we looked at Vita, a touch device with twin joysticks with no space games on it, and thought this might be a place where we could shine. The reason we then chose PC was because, with modern engines (at least our modern engine) there's no such things as ports. Unity3d, for instance, has buttons to export to iOS, XBOX 360, Mac and PC, amongst others. Your chief concerns are adjusting for screen size, and setting up a control scheme which works. Vita can push polys so much better than any other handheld, that it can support near - PC graphics. So we make our art assets for PC first and foremost, and then downsample textures and (maybe) poly count for the Vita. But things like physics, gameplay, game modes, etc - they all go over with the touch of that switch. If doing the graphics for PC first means PC leads, then we can agree to disagree on this fact. In the old days, back at Lucas, a port really was a port. You basically had to rewrite all of your code to get it to work on other platforms, which led to compromises. We do not intend to make compromises with Starlight, and shouldn't have to.

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  • Currently, we only plan PC and PS Vita. However, if we overfund in this campaign, we will look at other platforms, particularly the Ubuntu flavor of Linux and Mac, but also iOS.

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  • Yes.

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  • Spread the word, through whatever means necessary. We attached a big megaphone to our minivan and we're driving around Austin (o.k., that's not really true), but Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus are all great means to reach others and tell them what we're doing.

    Last updated:
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    PDF of the Starlight Inception Book (filled with 50+ color pages of concept art, original photos, developer bios, the game's script, secrets of production) and all previous reward tiers.

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    Starlight Inception T-shirt, original Starlight Inception poster (suitable for framing), special thanks in the game's credits, all previous reward tiers. (These items are exclusive to the campaign and will be shipped for free in the US. Please add an additional $15 to your pledge for international shipping).

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    SPECIAL PROMOTION BOX SET: Limited edition Boxed version of Starlight Inception includes printed manual and physical media of game (only available for the PC, and does not count as a previous award). ADD $100 for each additional version of the game and box. International shippers, please add an additional $15 for shipping.

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    SPECIAL PROMOTION: A copy of Starlight Inception™, distributed digitally on PC, via Steam for PC, or distributed digitally on Sony Playstation Vita plus all launch DLC, exclusive access to the Beta, and access to the private discussion community PLUS the Starlight Inception hoodie (international shippers, please add an additional $15 for shipping) This is a Special Promotion only for people who want the hoodie and game, and does not apply as a "previous reward tier" for higher pledges.

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    SPECIAL USF FOUNDERS REWARD: Your name on a special USF plague which hangs on the bridge of every capital ship on the fleet that lists you as one of the founders of the United Star Force plus a special code which grants you extra command points (prestige) in the game, and thus earlier access to extra ships and ship parts.

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    Starlight Inception Poster autographed by Garry M. Gaber and the rest of the design team, a special Starlight Inception Mug, Starlight Inception hat and all previous reward tiers. (Please $15 to your pledge for international shipping.)

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    A Starlight Inception Hoodie -and- your name on the side of a fighter, plus all previous tiers. (Please add $15 to your pledge for international shipping.)

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    A hand-painted (by a local Austin expert miniature painter) plastic replica of one of the signature Starlight fighters, plus all previous reward tiers. Each miniature will be individually numbered.

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    A PS Vita preloaded with the game. In addition, a pilot in the game will have your likeness and name. Includes all previous reward tiers.

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    Become a senior ranking military officer (either USF or NAN) in the game. We'll use your likeness, and help you create a backstory for your character, and will find a way to integrate it into the story, immortalizing you as a figure in the campaign of World War IV Also includes a PS Vita preloaded with the game. Includes all previous reward tiers, except the pilot ($1500 reward)

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    Lunch with Garry Gaber, David Arkenstone, and other members of the team, a Sony Playstation Vita preloaded with the game and all previous reward tiers - you'll just need to choose between being a pilot or senior ranking military officer in the game. (Includes deluxe hotel accommodations for two nights in Austin, Texas, and a limousine to and from the restaurant)

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    RECORDING SESSION: Come out to our recording session and hang out with the stars - we'll fly you to the location of our recording session (international people pay difference between domestic and international fare), set you up in a deluxe hotel for two nights, and ferry you to the recording session in limousine style, where you'll get to watch a star record lines from Starlight Inception. A once in a lifetime opportunity. In addition, you'll receive a Sony Playstation Vita preloaded with the game, and everything from the $1000 tier. ADD $15 for each additional version of the game of either format.

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