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Confederate Express is a strategy-oriented tactical RPG. The game is a Windows PC title.
Confederate Express is a strategy-oriented tactical RPG. The game is a Windows PC title.
2,386 backers pledged $39,739 to help bring this project to life.

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Budget and Scope

Posted by Maksym Pashanin (Creator)
15 likes

Based on original design, the scope of Confederate Express was enormous.

With 24 different playable characters, multiple classes, procedural world exploration and squad-action tactics - no wonder the estimated budget was a whopping $400k.

Our plan for kickstarter campaign was to intentionally set the donations goal low - that way we could at least get a solid vertical slice out of it to show later to investors. Even though our campaign's performance was stellar (earned $1 for every pageview) - we were not featured by KS staff; and therefore were left to figure out a way to get the rest of the money ourselves. That's where the ugly plan to pivot with Knuckle Club came from - ultimately leading us to a whole year of wasted time and effort.

At that point - there was absolutely no chance we could get outside funding, so the only way to finish Confederate Express was to roll up our sleeves and do it on our own - just the two of us.

First, we slashed the game's scope. No more procedural world exploration, no squad-action, no vehicle mechanics. The idea was to create 50 levels and just load them one by one - starting with easiest ones and saving most difficult for the last. This way we won't have to be stuck trying to reinvent the wheel or become an endless feature factory.

The end product was a minimal visceral exprience, focused on player control micromanagement and spiced up with handmade animated visuals engaging spectator's imagination.

Even though it saddens us to see Confederate Express not reaching it's original vision - we still got many exciting accomplishments out of it. First, we have created False2D™ - an incredible production tool that was instrumental in reducing workload greatly, saving us time and money. We also accumulated an extensive indexed library of animations, all adhering to a strict standard. This library is a foundation for the future work in aliasing - our proprietary image scaling technique - which we have great plans for. We strongly believe that aliasing has a great potential in competing with AAA 3D visuals in the future.

Fast forward to 2017, we are reaching the end of production, and the game is getting closer to becoming a reality every day. We are still shaping up things as we move along, but the core objective is to get the game shipped, at any cost.

Please join us next week for our Monthly Progress Report update, where we will showcase the work completed for the month of September as well as future plans.

We appreciate your support!

Dennis & Max

A Personal message to our backers

Posted by Maksym Pashanin (Creator)
23 likes

Dear friends! We are here to make amends.

We have made many mistakes, and not communicating with you guys was the biggest one. A total dick move! What were we thinking?? Overwhelmed and frustrated, our poor judgement got the best of us.

You must know that we kept a kindling fire of our project going. This entire time we were putting the game together - albeit slowly, but steadily - constantly learning and improving during the process. The game is very close to being finished, and we are working extra hard to deliver the best we can. There is an early build available for you to check out - it's located at kilobite.itch.io/conex - and you should have a personal free key sent to you by itch.io this week. Please take a look and let us know what you think! And everyone is welcome to chime in at our special backer forum kilobite.itch.io/conex/community

We understand that this might come as too late for some of you... but all we ask is if you could find it in your heart to forgive us. We are eternally grateful for your support!

Dennis & Max

Status Update

Posted by Maksym Pashanin (Creator)
48 likes

Greetings everyone!  

 In this update I wanted to discuss Confederate Express as a project moving forward.

 First of all, I wanted to clear some confusion up regarding an investment group that stepped in to fund ConEx stretch goals.

 I have founded Kilobite in 2013, and during that period I have been working by myself whilst outsourcing most of the work via contractors. I have been scouting talent on the internet and offer them small jobs on a contract basis for my video game (Confederate Express). That was my business model - keep margins low and talent pool deep. Finally, when ConEx concept surfaced on Kickstarter, I have been contacted by a small investor group that was very excited about my new pixel art engine tech, and with their own project (Knuckle Club) nearing completion, they saw an opportunity to become the first game with per-texel pixel art post-processing technology (what a tongue-twister, haha).

 That was when the investors presented me with an offer to purchase Kilobite and hire me as a their full-time employee; but the biggest concern for them was Knuckle Club becoming the first game with pixel art post-processing tech. That's where an offer for extra funding of my personal project (Confederate Express) and the non-compete clause restrictions came from.

 But I have never seen the situation this way in my head. The only thing I wanted was to make Confederate Express the best game it can possible be, and being high on amazing feedback from the vast Kickstarter community, I have foolishly started chasing an impossible dream. Budgets got bigger and bigger, work kept piling up, and deadlines kept getting delayed. 

 A lot happened since; Kilobite is now employing a lot people from my collected portfolio on a full-time basis. They have also split my engine tech into a different brand (False2D API), and are currently planning to release it as an SDK toolset for Unity.

 With recent update it was my lack of business expertise and poor decision-making that has led to a major outrage of ConEx backers, which have also affected my employer's reputation as a brand; I made an oversight by delaying my personal Kickstarter project in favor of getting extra stretch goals funding for it. I wanted to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for an apparent lack of communication and poor planning on my part. I take full responsibility for recent events.

 Moving forward, I am now focusing my efforts full-time on making sure Confederate Express gets delivered promptly. I am also keeping a record of every expenditure made, and notify backers accordingly in order to make my decisions as clear and transparent as possible. I am now aiming for a December 2014 release date, with a closed beta starting in November 2014.

 In the end, it was my poor decision-making and lack of communication skills that led to this unfortunate situation, and I will do everything in my power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. I apologize profoundly and hope to regain your trust by delivering the product I promised.

 On a final note, I wanted to thank all of our backers for support and interest in mine and Kilobite's games! You are the sole reason of my motivation.

Sincerely,

 Maksym Pashanin

P.S.: the next update on Confederate Express is coming up next week, please stay tuned!

Introducing Knuckle Club

Posted by Maksym Pashanin (Creator)
12 likes

Greetings, everyone!

After a long wait, we are very excited to finally reveal the sister project we've been working on: Knuckle Club!

 Knuckle Club is a real-time brawler with RPG elements set in cyberpunk era. With this game, we are featuring a brand new graphical API called FALSE 2D, which is a special toolset that simulates 3D conditions in 2D environments. With this API we are finally able to precisely adjust the lighting conditions of our scenes, giving us full control of the final product.

Unfortunately due to recent restructuring of Kilobite, the development of Confederate Express have been postponed, but as an upside it has received a graphical overhaul and now it fully supports FALSE 2D API. As an apology for the delays, we are offering every backer of Confederate Express a free reward pack from Knuckle Club! The reward pack chosen will be the closest to backer's pledge. We will be sending a separate email for every backer with specific details about the reward, so keep an eye on your inbox.

We have also prepared a series of exciting technical updates on Confederate Express to share with our backers, so please stay tuned! We are planning on unrolling the updates shortly after Knuckle Club campaign ends.

For more information about Knuckle Club, please visit our official website, kilobite.com!

And as always, if you have an opinion or wanted to ask a question, please stop by our kickstarter page and leave a comment! All feedback is greatly appreciated.

New engine and pixel art post-processing

Posted by Maksym Pashanin (Creator)
41 likes

Hi everyone!

Since last update we have made significant changes to our 2.5D graphic engine.We have put all of our free time into improving and optimizing engine's performance, compatibility and overall features. The newly redesigned version allows us to have dynamic color/specular/light maps, ambient occlusion and many other graphical improvements, all of which are animated with pixel-perfect precision in real time. In addition, a separate software suite was designed to significantly reduce the time artists spend animating characters and environment. It automates most of the workload which allowed our animators produce over 200+ frames per work day, compared to only 60 before; not to mention the 40% frame size increase that they had to work with.

Pixel art post-processing

When designing video games our two main passions are animation and post processing. We LOVED gorgeous animated classics like Metal Slug, Street Fighter, Full Throttle and many others, but unfortunately there has been very little progress in recent years in terms of developing animation fidelity in video games. Even Disney still produces completely hand-drawn animated films, yet there has been almost no progress in hand drawn animation in video games ever since the introduction of 3D. We believe that it's a lost art, and our true passion is to try and carry the torch for the next generation of game developers.

Same can be said about pixel art post-processing. There has been virtually nothing done to help pixel art images look better, much less animated ones. We have been tinkering around with an idea of animated pixel art post-processing for a long time now, and we believe that we made significant progress towards our final goal. Take a look at what goes on during rendering of one of our characters:

We apply several layers of effects, all of which are animated in real time; this allows us to apply different environmental and lighting effects that increase overall fidelity and immersion of the game. Here's an animated example in action (alternative link: http://i.imgur.com/Ejg6zyv.gif):

Up to 256 different lights and conditions can be present on a character at any time, and no modern shaders were used (Shader Model 2.0 on Direct3D9), which means a 12-year old video card could run the game without any problems.

Current Project

Our team is working 12 hour shifts to meet the deadline for an upcoming project, but unfortunately we still are unable to release most of the information to the public yet. The approximate deployment date is April 15th, 6 weeks from now. We hope you will enjoy playing the project as soon as it comes out, and meanwhile here's more screenshots to feast your eyes on:

Thanks for checking out this update, and we appreciate your patience with recent events. And as always, if you have any questions - please come over to our Kickstarter page and leave a comment! Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

See you guys soon!