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£4,984 pledged of £10,500 goal
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By Steven McCarthy
£4,984 pledged of £10,500 goal
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About this project

RELEASE DATE: SPRING 2016

Ghost Police will ship in 2016, but the purpose of this campaign is to make it even better! If the campaign is successful the game will release with Jake's soundtrack; if not the game will release with licensed music!

PLATFORM: WINDOWS PC

 In Shovel Knight you dig through blocks in each level to progress across the map and put a stop to heinous fiends. In Minecraft you dig through blocks to make space and craft materials, to create houses, tunnels and weapons.

 In Ghost Police you tear apart the very fabric of space itself to stop an invasion from the afterlife.

UPDATE: 10/21/2015

Cat's out of the bag, I guess. Ghost Police will be producing an official crossover with the radical point-and-click shmup Starr Mazer! Brick M. Stonewood will be making an appearance in our game, and as for the freelance [ghost] police - you'll have to catch up on the Starr Mazer Twitter account and the Blaster newsletter to find out more!

Ghost Police is a non-shooting shooter. Pixelart fights pixelart for domination of the screen, and your weapon is the ability to destroy it and reshape it at your whim. Think of it as a cosmic brush!

The far left is a screen from the tutorial. Each ship is restricted to its own background layer - if it crosses over, it'll take damage!
The far left is a screen from the tutorial. Each ship is restricted to its own background layer - if it crosses over, it'll take damage!

 So this looks relatively tame - we learn the basics of brushing the level and finding items hidden under each background layer. How does this apply to a shooting game where you fire and dodge enemy bullets? Well, this is how a normal shooter might look if you're piloting two ships:

 And this is how you might approach the same scenario in Ghost Police:

 And if every level were this simple, the game would be a snap. Unfortunately, most enemies are native to one background layer and only show up as an indestructible outline on the other background. Even when you brush out the background, the enemy can still play hide-and-seek!

So that makes actually destroying the enemies a little bit harder.

 You'll need to navigate two ships at a time through two overlapping levels of obstacles and enemies, but don't feel discouraged - power-ups are dotted across each stage to boost the size of your brush and your timer gauge, each hidden deviously under the background graphics of the stage.

 If you see an enemy approaching, your options are numerous - brush a load of the opposite background (or opposite-space) between you and the enemy, as a barrier to absorb bullets? Brush a stroke of space in the enemy's firing range so they can't fire at all? Scribble furiously over them to whittle down their health? (Not every enemy is safe to destroy!) But don't lose focus - if one ship is under attack, it's entirely possible the other ship is about to be ambushed, or a sneaky power-up is scrolling by undiscovered.

 The independent videogame market is in the middle of a large 8-bit boom, with the rise of more games putting serious effort into old-school graphics and music. As you can tell from the video and screenshots Ghost Police doesn't offer merely the option of NES art or Game Boy art, but combines them together for the four-colour equivalent of chocolate and vanilla ice-cream. The contrast of colour makes it that much easier to tell the overlapping dimensions apart, crucial for the player to concentrate on the hazardous level designs and bullet patterns.

Defeat enemies within a short time for a score multiplier!
Defeat enemies within a short time for a score multiplier!
Turn score into coins to purchase items, or set handicaps on your gameplay to reward bonuses!
Turn score into coins to purchase items, or set handicaps on your gameplay to reward bonuses!
Battle unconventional bosses that will push your multi-tasking to its limits!
Battle unconventional bosses that will push your multi-tasking to its limits!
Take part in... turn-based RPG battles?
Take part in... turn-based RPG battles?

 As for the music, veteran musician Jake Kaufman will be providing original chiptune compositions for the game! Jake has created music for many videogames over the past decades including Shovel Knight, Ducktales Remastered, Double Dragon Neon and the Shantae series - incredible pedigree and versatility in many genres! It's a delight to have Jake bring his years of experience to the table - he's the reason this Kickstarter exists to begin with! However, you, the pledger, the gamer, are even more important to this Kickstarter, as you hold its fate in your very hands - so you deserve an honest and level-headed breakdown on where exactly your money is going!

Rough designs for our lovely angels! Literally and metaphorically
Rough designs for our lovely angels! Literally and metaphorically

 Ghost Police is a small-scale production managed primarily by one person. Contrary to what you might expect, the game's actual development is secured regardless of this Kickstarter's success - Ghost Police, the game itself, will be finished and released either way! The reason this Kickstarter exists is to get the best music for this production, courtesy of two of the biggest names in videogame music. While the production of the game itself can continue with fiscal comfort, the spare money just isn't there to pay the piper - and the time it would take for the developer to produce a competent soundtrack would stretch the game's release from 2016 to 2023. You don't want this game to be called Ghost Police Forever, do you? This is why we really need your help!

 As was mentioned Jake Kaufman will be providing the original soundtrack for Ghost Police, using the Namco 163 mapper chip designed for the Famicom system. A soundchip in a whole different league from even the Konami VRC6, used to compose the soundtrack for Shovel Knight, the N163 produces 8 extra channels of wavetable audio. With a sound quality that brings the best of NES and Game Boy audio together, we're excited to be on the ground floor as much as you are when Jake works his dark magic!

 A professional score, and a specialised chiptune score at that, is a challenge to produce and thus doesn't come cheap. The authentic sound we want for Ghost Police requires writing music to hardware specifications - no soundfonts, no midis, and no generic techno samples! On the NES' standard 2A03, two Square channels, a Triangle channel, a Noise channel, and a DPCM channel for low-quality samples are what you have to work with. Custom soundchips from Namco, Sunsoft, Konami et al gave their musicians more channels to work with, but even these chips have their limits. The N163, then, is an ideal compromise between limitation and ambition.

 Besides the highly technical and specialized nature of composing with old soundchips, money is also required for basic necessities such as food, electricity, house maintenance, and Jake's adorable dog Nugget (who has just recently had a visit to the vet)! To cover all these expenses then, Jake will be producing $10,000 worth of material for the game.

 Jayson Napolitano runs Scarlet Moon Productions, and will be lending his talents to Ghost Police by taking part in campaign outreach activities and production tasks related to the soundtrack that are not composition. He will also organise and produce the remix album (if we reach that funding level).

 Steven McCarthy is a freelance illustrator with a university-level foundation in drawing. In the past he's provided technical support and graphic design for companies dealing with solar panel installation, motorhome hire and clothing. On top of these extraneous qualities Steven has a raw, self-taught edge in pixelart and old-school game design honed through years of enthusiasm and single-minded trial-and-error. Ghost Police is his in/auspicious debut as a producer and he will be creating more content and characters in the game related to the Kickstarter.

Steven's speciality is sprite art, from classic Game Boy and NES to the arcade graphics of the late '90s!
Steven's speciality is sprite art, from classic Game Boy and NES to the arcade graphics of the late '90s!

 The £10,500 goal, or roughly $16,000, will be divided into $10k for music production (62.5%), $2k for campaign management (12.5%), $2k for additional art/assets related to the campaign (12.5%), and $2k for Kickstarter fees and failed pledges (12.5%). With Kickstarter, projects in the United Kingdom acquire a fee of 5% of total funds, and payment processing fees cost 3% + £0.20 per pledge. Pledges under £10 have a discounted micropledge fee of 5% + £0.05 per pledge.

The majority of rewards are kept purely digital to save on further expenses; CD shipping is handled under the additional arts/assets portion of the budget. We know people will be disappointed there aren't many physical items on the rewards list, but we also know people would be much more disappointed if the game made its pledge goal and the money spent on production and shipping left Jake and Steven out of pocket.

Beloved by his Family, crimelord Austin Phoenix escaped justice for 12 years. Bullets couldn't find him, police couldn't touch him - it took a miracle to stop the Terror of New York. A miracle of the most awful kind. 

"Vivat Rex In Aeternum". From the moment he was born, Austin Phoenix wanted to live forever. All his life Phoenix was driven mad by the hunt for immortality. And seven days after his body was laid to rest... another miracle happened.

The Tribunal called it Another World. The FBI labelled it Dead Air. People in New York called it the Void; it consumed everything it touched. Whatever it was, the Void spread without stopping, tearing holes across the city. The new Family leader, Lady Dahlia, had her own plans in mind for bringing beloved Austin back from the grave.

Amateur detective Pepper Galgirl lost her sister to the Phoenix Family. Amateur detective's assistant Joe Guyman lost his life when he pried too deep into the Family's secrets. Now the two private investigators - one alive, one slightly less so - must team up once more to put a stop to the Family reunion.

When detective Shirley Galgirl disappeared in the middle of the night, her younger sister was forced to manage the agency herself. "Thrifty" is Pepper's middle name, haggling for expired groceries and cheap goods, ruthlessly exploiting loopholes and manipulating events or people to her benefit. She refuses to be taken advantage of herself.

Pepper is a quick learner, smart despite cutting school, and empathises strongly with the poor and downtrodden people of New York, particularly children and those who try their best in spite of disadvantages and poor fortune. Pepper’s moral fibre and sense of self-control often conflict with her avarice, and sometimes prevent a more hard-nosed pursuit of her goals. She's malleable enough, then, to be the hero or villain of any given story.

Joseph knew the Phoenix Family meant bad news, even before he was gunned down by mobsters. A former Family debt collector with a scatter-shot temperament, years of drudgery have turned him into a resigned misanthrope willing to do the dirty work rather than the organising. Generally Joe keeps Pepper's greed in check, and she keeps his temper under control when possible.

Talented in many fields, Joe envies the endurance of people who find their dream hobby and persevere, while he only wants a lazy lifestyle. Lacking self-awareness, one of Joe’s key traits is committing to a task with 100-percent effort, often resorting to extreme measures to do so. Generally the best he can hope to be is a resigned bumbler - or a very dangerous opponent.

As a backer of the Ghost Police production your input will not go unrewarded! Unless you choose not to pick a reward for whatever reason. But if you're so inclined to pledge, let's see what's behind Door #1!

A mockup of the finished product
A mockup of the finished product

 "A new Jake Kaufman album with a free game included? It's like Christmas in December!" But wait - there's more!

"What are Stretch Goals", you might ask? Well, if we receive more funds than the goal set for the campaign, we'll put that extra money towards other rewards for our amazing pledgers! On top of the original chiptune soundtrack and game, we have a couple of ideas to further enhance your playing/listening experience!

£13,000/$20,000 - GHOST MODE

Play as a ghost and use the abilities of any generic enemy you possess! Homing missiles, charging attacks, circular patterns of bullets, self-destruction - if the fodder can do it, you can do it! A lone ghost can't survive in the treacherous space of Earth, so seek shelter through foe after foe while you make your way home!

£16,000/$25,000 - EXPAND SOUNDTRACK

Increase the soundtrack of Ghost Police from 5 to 10 (or more...!!) Limited cartridge space and memory often meant levels would reuse the same songs (amongst other things like recoloured tiles and enemies). Now while that can be the case with Ghost Police - it doesn't have to be! The additional funding can be invested into producing more thematic music for the game and your personal enjoyment.

£19,500/$30,000 - REMIX ALBUM

We would be delighted to fund an entire album of remixed songs, featuring Jake Kaufman in his element, along with the talents of Dale North from Mint Potion, and other special guests!

£32,600/$50,000 - MAC/LINUX PORT

The game is currently set to be a Windows computer release, but with additional funding we can hire experienced developers to port Ghost Police to Mac and Linux platforms. The game will need to be rewritten in a different programming language and extensively tested on different systems to ensure it plays just as well as it does on Windows.

£64,800/$100,000 - 3DS PORT

...and if the code conversion goes smoothly from Windows to Linux, we'd like to try putting the game on a Nintendo handheld! We've talked to a publisher interested in bringing the game kicking and screaming onto a 3DS release, and the idea is promising! The stylus and analog pads would make great controls, and the short levels and additional challenges would make Ghost Police a nice choice for portable gaming.

GIVE GHOST POLICE THE MUSIC IT DESERVES!

Please support the Kickstarter and share this campaign with your friends on Twitter and Facebook! Raise your banners high in support of keeping Jake Kaufman off the streets!

Unless you happen to phase through solid matter. In which case, a hearty thumbs-up will suffice.
Unless you happen to phase through solid matter. In which case, a hearty thumbs-up will suffice.

Risks and challenges

The beauty of pixelart is that the lower the canvas size is, the more important each individual pixel becomes in conveying details or entire features of an object; a misaligned or missing pixel can radically alter the structure of a picture. The same holds true for small teams and one-man-armies working on developing games! Even that saviour of the industry, the incredibly modest Steven McCarthy, is merely one man - and no man is an island. Accidents and diseases could spell physical disaster, mental strain and worse yet - development delays. For your benefit Steven has selflessly locked himself in a single room to code away on the project, taking mandated 16-hour breaks each day for required tasks like sleeping and eating. As a professional musician with decades of experience under his belt, Jake Kaufman is used to the treacherous conditions of general game production and music composition; his iron will only requires 15-hour breaks.

Fear not for the game's development though - the safety of the source code is paramount and has been backed up across multiple sites and hard drives. The free-form production environment of the game allows for a fluid and open-ended development process - through wind, rain and sleet, the game's eventual completion is guaranteed. Should the worst come to the worst however and Steven is slain in glorious battle against the undead (or run over by a parked car or something), precautions have been made! Jake's soundtrack will still be made available on a pay-what-you-want basis, and Ghost Police's source code released to the public.

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    A digital copy of Ghost Police. Thank you for supporting the release!

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    The £5 reward and early access to the full digital soundtrack!

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    On top of the £10 reward tier you'll be given the opportunity to beta-test the game through build after build, giving feedback on gameplay and design.

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    On top of the £20 reward tier you'll receive a digital artbook containing concept art, sprites, storyboards etc. Own the complete illustrated guide to Ghost Police!

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    Want a CD of the official soundtrack? On top of the £20 reward tier you'll receive a physical copy of the album! (Add $10 for shipping outside of the US)

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    If you can't choose between the artbook and CD, pledge for both and save $30! (Add $10 for shipping outside of the US)

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    Pledge £100 or more About $153

    Join the family with a pixelated bust of your own likeness! You'll be included in a group photograph with your fellow £100-tier backers, your choice of being alive or being a ghost! This tier includes the previous tier rewards.

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    A digital one-of-a-kind sketch drawn by the creator to the backer. Includes £100-tier rewards.

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    Pledge £350 or more About $536

    Design an NPC for one of the levels! Hostile or helpful, dead or alive, active or hidden - terms and designs will be brainstormed over to keep your NPC appropriate to the context of the level and game. Includes £150-tier rewards.

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    Pledge £700 or more About $1,072

    Want to design a secret extra challenge? The artist and developer will help you produce a boss battle to remember, and put it in Ghost Police! Attack patterns, dialogue, dead or alive, how to find them, how to defeat them - when it comes to designing the boss, you're the boss. Includes £350-tier rewards.

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Funding period

- (30 days)