Aberford: A video game of zombies and 50's housewives
Aberford: A video game of zombies and 50's housewives
A PC game with complex moral choices and brawler-style combat. Fight social norms and the undead in a pair of killer heels!
A PC game with complex moral choices and brawler-style combat. Fight social norms and the undead in a pair of killer heels! Read more
About this project
Your chance to fight zombies as a badass 1950s housewife is finally here! Aberford lets you step into the heels of a post-WWII suburban housewife fighting to save her family, friends, and city from a rapidly spreading zombie virus.
Aberford boasts two modes of gameplay:
- Challenges let you and your friends unleash hell on the infected hordes, using a mix of combo attacks, intelligent counters, and crowd-control skills to get your point across.
- Campaign mixes the combat into an amazing story where you’ll guide the conversations, manage the group dynamic, and decide what course of action our heroines will take in order to uncover the mystery of what happened in Aberford. Delivered in five chapters to help backers start enjoying it sooner.
With complex character stories, tricky moral choices, Cold War intrigue, and all the zombie-crushing action you could ask for, we’re making a game that you're going to love.
This Kickstarter is critical to making Aberford because we're a small indie studio and we're still early in production. A large part of our production budget is coming from crowdfunding, and without your help, we won't be able to make this game. So please fund as generously as you can, and let's make Aberford happen together!
**Aberford is still in pre-alpha development. All technical and artistic aspects of the game will be greatly improved before beta-release. The amount being raised by this Kickstarter will fund Aberford through beta-release**
A Fresh Setting
Aberford jumps you right into the action and won’t let go. Rather than showing you some zombies and then skipping ahead a few weeks (or years), our game focuses on the immediate outbreak of the virus and the things people have to do in order to survive.
When Peggy Whitman gets attacked in her home by an infected man, it’s up to her and her neighbors to find out what’s going on and put a stop to it.
Fight through spacious suburban neighborhoods, picture-perfect parks and schools, a thoroughly modern downtown, and even the mysterious Edwin Voorhees Industrial Laboratory, where many of Aberford’s citizens are employed.
Fantastic New Heroines
Aberford lets you play as a group of unique and interesting housewives, both for the sake of fun, team-based combat (like L4D) and to increase the depth of the story-telling. Each character has her own personality and combat advantages.
Angry and argumentative, Peggy Whitman is a professional-girl’s-baseball-player-turned-unhappy-housewife who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.
- Bonus to melee attacks
- Bonus to thrown attacks
The master of everything a 50s housewife should be, and a former army nurse to boot, Betty Smith will do anything to protect her friends, even if it means getting blood on a perfectly good dress.
- Bonus to movement speed
- Bonus to damage with light weapons
She may have lost her job as a riveter when the war ended, but Doris Baker is still tough as nails and ready to fight for her country and neighbors. There’s no challenge Doris isn’t up to.
- Bonus to speed with heavy weapons
- Reduced damage from incoming attacks
A former scientist and current mother of two, Sylvia Hornberger’s sharp mind helps keep her co-slayers alive, although she may know more about what’s going on than she’s telling.
- Bonus to utility effects
- Reduced cooldown times
After developing our original cast, we decided to diversify and deepen the bench of zombie-fighting 50s women with a few expansion characters. The expansion characters play important roles in the main story and they'll be available as part of the challenge mode. You can read more about them here.
Thrilling, Dynamic Gameplay
Aberford’s campaign mode is divided between storytelling and fighting, allowing you to test both your reflexes and your brainpower. During the storytelling sections, your choices affect:
- the information that comes out during the conversation
- the overall dynamic of the group
- the course of action the group ultimately follows
And there’s a steady supply of quick time events to help keep you in the action.
When the real fighting starts, you’ll transition seamlessly into a third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint to take control of the battlefield.
- Charge in headlong using melee combos and intelligent counters
- Weaken and disorient your enemies using clever utility skills
- Fight alongside your fellow housewives using the AI or another player using local Co-Op.
- Switch characters during a fight if you find yourself in a sticky situation.
In a challenging twist to the brawler format, all of your enemies in Aberford are bigger and stronger than you.
- Fight powerful, infected-type zombies, not waves of shambling corpses
- Earn each victory with cunning and tactics
- Use realistic weapons and techniques (no magical chainsaws)
Release in Chapters
Aberford's main story is divided into 5 chapters, allowing backers to enjoy the game in stages as it's released. Full development will take around two years, but backers will get to start playing Aberford much sooner than that with their beta access.
Wide Hardware Compatiblity
Aberford is being developed for PC, but we intend to port it out to Mac, Linux, PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii. And while we don't have final operating specs, we're working to keep the code architecture of Aberford lean and efficient. We want this game to run on as many systems as possible so that as many gamers as possible can have access to it.
Get a backer forum badge, an Aberford wallpaper, and our undying gratitude. (Get it? Undying? Because of the zomb...nevermind).
1 digital copy of Aberford* for PC via Steam, Beta Access, the digital Aberford Game Manual, the Rolling Nail (a unique backer-only in-game weapon)**
A digital copy of the Aberford art book, a digital copy of the "Aberford Zombie Defense Committee Survival Guide", unique backer-only clothing options for Peggy, "Making of Aberford" video
A digital map of Aberford, a digital copy of "A Visitor's Guide to Aberford Ohio", unique backer-only clothing options for Betty
A EXTRA digital copy of Aberford*, the Rose Knife (a SECOND backer-only in-game weapon), unique backer-only clothing options for Doris, a digital copy of INDIE GAME MAGAZINE featuring screenshots from Aberford
A THIRD digital copy of Aberford, a special Aberford Tee Shirt, printed and signed concept art by SPG, your NAME in the credits as a Citizen of Aberford
A signed physical copy of the game script, a unique collector's apron
A signed PHYSICAL copy of the Aberford Art Book, a FOURTH digital copy of Aberford
Your name listed in the credits as part of the AZDC, your picture converted into the Aberford style and placed in game for everyone to see, an Aberford hoodie
Have an in-game zombie or a victim patterned after you*
Have an in-game survivor patterned after you*
A domestic flight* to Utah to meet the team and help contribute voicework and/or motion capture for use in Aberford. SPG will provide food and lodgings as well**
Note: All port stretch goals are subject to the constraints of the platform. If a console maker blocks publication of indie games for a particular console, SPG will not be able to complete the port. We apologize for the inconvenience this causes.
What Happens When You Back Us
A Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, meaning that we won't accept any money unless we raise enough to make the whole game. And Kickstarter won't charge your credit card until we've funded and the campaign is finished. So you can safely back us knowing that there's absolutely no risk to you if we're unsuccessful (except the broken dreams, obviously).
Here's a look at where your money will go if you help fund us:
Everything we raise on this Kickstarter (minus taxes and fees) will go into making this game. And your funding really will matter, because we're not a rich studio with a nearly finished game that we're Kickstarting for publicity. This is a real indie project and we won't be able to make the game unless this Kickstarter is a success. You hold the fate of Aberford in your hands.
An Enthusiastic Community
Aberford has wonderfully active online community who've helped us refine our ideas and polish our design. Follow us on social media and see how the development process unfolded!
A Team Worth Supporting
Aberford is a labor of love between us and our fans. Since we first started pitching Aberford last February, we’ve found thousands of eager gamers (and non-gamers) who want to see this exciting vision come to life. Whether you’re excited for the female-lead story or you just think it’ll be awesome to fight zombies as a 50s housewife, you’re going to love Aberford.
And backing this project gets you more than just one great game. We're committed to continue developing
- High-quality, medium-priced games with broad hardware compatibility
- Games that are fun and challenging for gamers of all sorts
- Games that feature new and diverse characters
- Games that tell unique, intelligent stories
- Games that are always designed with the player in mind.
This is Sketchy Panda Games' first project as a team, but our members have worked on a wide range of games such as:
- Lost Toys
- Engines of War
- Anchorman 2: Scotchy Scotch Toss
- Whispering Willows
- Bioshock: Infinite
- The Weaponographist
- WWE 2K'14
Amanda created the designs characters, UI, and graphic designs she’s sure you’ll love. She uses the technical skills she’s learned over her many years of art-making and love of horror themes to bring the “Aberford” world to life, bringing anatomy, color theory, and lighting knowledge as her foundation and imagination as her...imagination. She has worked as an illustrator for shirts for retailers such as Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters, and her concept art and illustration has been featured in indie games like Whispering Willows and Habitat, and publications including Savage Worlds and Gamers for Good. In a zombie apocalypse, Amanda would run a community garden, and would likely spend most of her time locked in a room with a knife muttering “not my blood!” like that one guy in that one War of the Worlds movie that came out a while ago.
Mike does every job, including 3D modeler, texture artist, storyboard artist, level designer, etc. Mike brings his experience in world building, and detail oriented polishing as a Production Artist (Power Rangers, Digimon, Mattel, Monsuno) and Art Director (Whispering Willows, The Weaponographist)to the world of Aberford. During the zombie apocalypse, Mike would be so absorbed in drawing, playing video games, and binge watching netflix that he wouldn't even realize that the world was crumbling around him........
Carol is the fresh-faced character animator for Sketchy Panda Games. As her first project, she is giving life to Aberford's inhabitants (and, uh, "liveliness" to its dead?). She is super excited to put to use years of tutelage at Animation Mentor by experienced minds from the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks and Industrial Light and Magic, as well as being able to work with a wonderful team of fellow CAs of the Game Developers Conference. Carol is a softie at heart and probably wouldn't survive a zombie apocalypse for long. She would try to be as helpful as she could for as long as she could, then if/when stuff hit the fan, ultimately decide that sacrificing herself insome way for the survival of others would not be a bad way to go.
Kat is responsible for creating the models and textures of all characters, including the 4-woman zombie-crushing team, as well as the zombies. As an individual who is passionate about art and strives to create work that is compelling and immersive, she is excited to be working with Sketchy Panda Games on this project. In the unfortunate event of a zombie apocalypse, Kat would function clandestinely, gathering resources for her group while staying under the radar/in the shadows.
A fierce lover of storytelling (and games), Spikie tries to inject as much character as possible into her environments and designs. She’s been a freelance illustrator for the past 6+ years, intern at Hasbro (Girl’s Toy Design for Dreamworks’ Trolls), and is studying Entertainment Arts at ArtCenter. Spikie brings plenty of skill, experience, and enthusiasm, and is working hard to make this the best darn game it can be! In a zombie apocalypse, she’d probably die pretty early on, but if not she’d like to hole up in a super-walmart. Unless it has zombies in it. Is there still room to help with that community garden?
Pernilla has a background in Computer Game Development with a focus on Game Design. She loves experiencing games as an average gamer, but then breaking down how the different elements contributed to the experience as a whole. Pernilla would attempt to restore power in an apocalypse by trapping zombies on a giant hamster wheel. #GreenEnergy?
Adam is the instigator of this fiasco and the voice behind the popular Sketchy Panda Games blog. Adam brings a decade of start-up experience to the table, including marketing, budgeting, and project management. He’s terribly clever and would probably survive a zombie apocalypse with ease, but only after his multiple attempts to "rebuild society" had failed hilariously.
Closing shout out to everyone who helped us get this far! Our friends and families and the many, many people on Tumblr who helped us put Aberford together. You've all been fantastic, and we appreciated everything that you've done for us.
Risks and challenges
The biggest obstacle we face, as always, is production costs. We've done a lot of research, and we have a pretty good idea of what it will cost to make this game, but there are always unforeseen problems in video game production. Many of the tools we'll be using as indie developers are actively evolving and don't always have smooth pipelines for the type of production we're doing. We've tested and refined our process in these early months of production, but complications can arise, causing delays and costing money.
Running out of money before we're finished would be a serious problem in terms of completing Aberford, so we've planned out several contingency plans to make sure we can get to the finish line.
1 - We'll be running a pre-sales campaign from our website during production, in order to supplement our initial budget. We'll also be selling Aberford merchandise.
2 - We're releasing the game in chapters, which allows us to make regular pre-sale pushes and generate on-going revenue. It also helps demonstrate accurate production costs to banks and potential investors.
3 - The chapter releases also help ensure that, even if everything goes horribly wrong, you'll still receive some portions of the game to play through.
4 - We've also lined up personal assets to cover overages in the budget.
5 - We are working with bankers and private investors to have additional funds available in the event that the Kickstarter funds are insufficient to finish the game. However, securing these funds will be contingent on demonstrating a strong demand for the game (aka a successful Kickstarter).
Like our community, we REALLY want to see this game get made. So we're doing everything we can to prepare for any contingency.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
There’s a monster spreadsheet behind this, so I’ll give you the short version:
We expect Aberford to take at least two years to be completely finished (there’s five chapters), which for a game this size going from pre-alpha to releasable product is pretty fast. And we estimate an average team size of about eight people. Team size goes up and down based on what we’re doing at any given time, but an average of eight means everyone is going to have to work their butts off.
Now, lets assume that, including taxes and health insurance and software licenses, each employee costs 60K per year. Good programmers actually cost more than that, but let’s assume it averages out. That gives as an annual employee cost of 480K, which means that, not including equipment or rent, Aberford will actually cost 960K just for the people to make it. And none of those people are being paid nearly as well as I wish we could pay them.
All told, we’ve estimated the game’s cost at $1-1.3 million dollars, which is actually pretty little in terms of game development (AAA games cost $150-200 million, for comparison). Internally, we know we can cover the difference with a mix of loans, private investors, and personal savings, but the loans and private investors don’t become available to us until we show that there’s a market for this game. And the way we show there’s a market is through a successful Kickstarter. So the $675K (which actually becomes $600K after fees and reward costs) is only half the budget for this game, and we’ll have to pull together the rest ourselves. And we can do it, but only if we can show that 20K people are willing to pay for Aberford.
If not, we’ll have to simplify the project and start again. Or reduce the scope of the Kickstarter (and the rewards) to just Chapter One. Or slowly finish coding the playable demo and try again later next year. There’s options. But what we wanted to test and see if the market was able to fund a big game from early development to completion, because it would be a real game-changer in terms of what indie companies could offer and make. Your support here not only makes Aberford happen, but might help lift indie development to a new level.
We have a stretch goal to translate the game into French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. We are also considering translating the game into Portuguese. These would just be subtitles, though, we won't be able to re-record all the dialogue in other languages. (This is an indie project, after all).
One of our stretch goals includes ports to Mac and Linux, while a second includes ports to Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U. A third stretch goal includes ports to PS3 and Wii. Microsoft is closing the store for indie developers on Xbox 360, so we've had to leave it off the stretch goals due to uncertainty.
Whether we hit these stretch goals or not, we're still going to try and port Aberford to as many platforms as possible. We think it's important for game devs to make their games accessible to as many people as they can.
For you backers, nothing. Kickstarter doesn't charge you if the game doesn't reach its backing goal. However, that also means the game's production gets delayed and you don't get any cool backer rewards.
On our end, we'll have to decide how best to proceed. The most likely scenario is that we'll put a hold on art production and focus exclusively on the game and combat engine for a few months. Without funding, we'll have to keep working on it part-time. Eventually, however, we'll be able to finish a playable demo, and then we'll try again. Assuming that we do well enough to show there's an audience for zombie-bashing housewives.
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