About this project
Update #1: Art Feature - Oscar in the City
Update #2: Art Feature - Oscar in the Dark
Update #3: Art Feature - Oscar in the Wild
What is Oscar?
In Oscar each aspect of the game serves to convey a young girl's childhood struggles, each moment in the experience susceptible to change in gameplay, art style and musical genre. Oscar articulates the conundrum we all face whether we're fifteen or fifty-five: We all say we're fine, when sometimes we're not - even to those we trust the most.
Oscar helps us understand why we let this happen, but also why we sometimes don't have a choice. It's about creating interactive experiences in which we can all identify and feel understood. If you understand and value my efforts, we're hoping to garner your support.
On the surface, Oscar is an atmospheric 2D platformer, a guise under which I know most people will purchase this game thinking it's another Limbo or Braid clone. In reality it's anything but, though we take care to slowly draw them away both from a young girl's convenient fantasy and the conventional mechanics to which they've become accustomed; At first we let them feel comfortable, like everything is within expectations.
But as Oscar's wishful environments slowly twist and blend into the harsh realities of her everyday life, we allow the player to interpret the narrative through their own empathetic observations and sensory experiences. As the art shifts freely from impressionistic fantasies to photographic horror, the gameplay evolves from 2D, to 2.5D, to even wresting control of Oscar away from the player as they manipulate only her environment while she struggles through the level alone.
There are no narrators, no diaries and no audio logs; faced with ever evolving backdrops that strain between daydream and nightmare, amidst musical genres that frequently betray the mood on-screen, we let the player solve the narrative on their own simply by playing, only to look back in their moment of realization like in Fight Club or Memento, wondering how many signs of a young child in trouble they missed.
Oscar is a game created to evolve what the average gamer can expect from video games, a chance for those who have left games behind to give them another try under a different role in our lives. This isn’t an attempt to recreate old games; it’s an endeavour to help explore and grow the meaning of interactive experiences in our adult lives. As children we grew up with games; now it’s time for games to grow up with us.
Who's making it?
I'm Josh Long and I started as a pro gamer about 10 years ago, representing Canada at the World Cyber Games twice. After 6 years at Relic (3 as lead multiplayer designer) and a year at Blackbird (the Homeworld folk), I left to pursue what had once been a side-project when it was showing great signs of achieving something very different, a connection to games I felt I had slowly been losing despite having spent the last decade of my life working in the industry.
The story was written by Kristina Soltvedt Wiik, a game journalist Josh met several years ago on the job; she's since shifted to working as a developer. The rest of the team is comprised of a handful industry professionals, mostly local to Vancouver.
Why the funding?
Oscar was a passion project created outside of our regular day jobs as developers - a relatively common scenario. It might have stayed a side-endeavour until we infused a small, normal-looking platformer with a powerful and personal story that has since led the way during development. The results were surprising and more than promising; we felt the game had transformed into an experience with the potential to be more than just another indie game. We decided to go all-in.
We never actually intended to ask for help; we make Oscar because we like it. But as it's become a game we believe could be more than that, it's clear that we need some extra hands in order to fully complete Oscar.
10K - The current team! We've gone all-in and we need your help to keep going. Covers rent and other living expenses until Fall ship date.
20K - 2 Full-time artists for 4 months each! The game is very art-heavy; it changes styles and needs a very specific sensibility in order to help tell the game's story. Looking pretty isn't everything, but it's important to help the appeal of a game that's proposing a new, unknown experience. We want to hire the best we can afford.
~4K - Kickstarter fee (it's a bit more in Canada), some legal fees.
3K - Fulfilling rewards, not just shipping out goods but also funnelling some resources to support people who sign up as part of our focus testing crew or as inside developers up in the higher tiers.
3K - Rainy day fund because you never know! Licensing software, any legal duties, perhaps some advertising money for when we're releasing. We're making extra sure on our commitment to shipping.
Any extra funds - We'd love to be able to offer some of the part-time team some remuneration or employment, especially those in key roles. What isn't mentioned above is that high-calibre artists can cost much more than $2500 CAD a month, so any extra budget is going into the project's sheer quality.
The money the game makes - Wouldn't that be swell? It'll go into creating our next project, someone's personal story we'd like to tell using video games. No we haven't decided what it is yet, but we have several ideas and who knows, maybe someone's experience with Oscar will encourage them to share something powerful with us, and hopefully the world.
It's already been a wild ride full of risks and challenges and it'd be our pleasure if you'd join us in bringing our (slightly) crazy vision to fruition. The most personal stories are marked with completely unique events, but somehow with the right platform for expression these stories become the ones that touch us all; we think we've found one with Oscar.
So what now?
We've been prepping this campaign for a couple months and we're sure it'll be quite an adventure! Regardless of your level of interest, feel free to follow us on twitter, Facebook or check out regular updates about the campaign and our project here on Kickstarter and/or on our website. If you're a member of the press, e-mail us at email@example.com for our press kit and further information.
Thanks for tuning in!
- Team Sharkeye
Risks and challenges
Lead Designer Josh Long:
The knowledge of what it takes to -actually- ship a game isn't the pressing issue. I've shipped 7 games, 3 as multiplayer design lead, all of which were much more convoluted with huge budgets and teams. Finishing isn't an issue; we've already spent a long time figuring out what should go in the game and how. Hiring the staff that would allow us finish is the main hurdle we're facing because passionate or not, committed developers still need a source of income. Oscar has a lot going on under the hood and we need a few more staff members to take this on full-time in order to correctly build all the pieces we've mapped out.
As with any project it can be hard to pinpoint a release date, but shipping something imperfect is something you come to accept as an experienced developer; I treat Oscar as the beginning of a career-long pursuit of games that convey mature human experiences. The game is intensely personal but at a certain point you learn more from shipping a title and applying what you learned on the next one; this is how I've been able to be successful thus far.
Will Oscar turn as many heads as we'd like? Will it change how some people perceive video games? It's hard to say, but we know this game will take us at least part of the way; How far we can go exactly will depend to some extent on you!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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