Contact Andrew: http://www.andhegames.com/contact-me/
Pledge through Paypal: paypal.me/andhegames
What are stretch goals?
Extra stories, areas, and more that we'll be able to implement if we get to certain funding levels. They'll be given for free to every backer who gets the game!
Expanded Area: the Rats
The Sapila (Rat People) have been banished to the swamps, with eerie floating watchers preventing them from ever leaving. What did they do? Are they trying to escape? This stretch goal will fill out their story.
Short Story: Shepherd's Purse
The Kako are cannibals, depraved, crazy beasts to be killed without remorse. Everyone knows this. Shepherd's Purse, an elder at a Kouneli Outpost, isn't so sure...
Expanded Area: the Ruins
What happened here? Runes and dead plants adorn the stones. Giant statues tell of past rulers, each with their Ozymandias pride. Careful searching will reveal truths found nowhere else.
+1 Sticker Design
For everyone who gets stickers, an extra design!
. . .
Thistledown: A Human Story
. . .
In everything I do, I try to bring people together.
I've made tabletop RPGs to bring families and friends together, and I've made coloring books designed to be colored together.
With Thistledown, I've written a story about the most uniting human experience - pain and tragedy.
I believe that all of our differences, all of our strong opinions and theories about how reality work, all the things that divide us, fall away in the face of pain.
I experienced this first-hand when my wife was diagnosed with cancer after years of remission – people we didn't even know stepped up and took care of us. They supported us, fed us, and encouraged us.
Our pain stripped away the cultural/political/societal barriers, and united us at our core - as humans, who suffer and comfort those who suffer. There's nothing that unites us like the experience of pain.
Thistledown is about anthropomorphic animals, fairies, and magic.
But it's a very human story.
The conscious suffering that we experience like no other living creature does is perhaps the most human experience. Thistledown is an attempt to touch that experience, and tenderly examine it.
I also believe in the healing power of creativity - working on Thistledown helped carry me through unbelievable difficulty, stress, and fear. If you have a creative ambition, artistic pursuits can do the same for you. I hope to serve as an example and an inspiration for those who have creative ambitions: creativity isn't just something that you can do while going through tragedy, it helps you recover from it.
- Thoughtfully written. Thistledown assumes that games have the capacity to tell a real, true, beautiful story, so we've poured months into writing, analyzing, and refining the story. I contacted the smartest and most creative people I knew to be a part of the script advisors, and I listened to their advice with both ears. Thistledown is orders of magnitude better because of their input.
- Story only mode. There's a 'story mode' that you can toggle on at any time, which removes most of the platforming challenges and all of the combat. It's an important goal of Thistledown that the story can be experienced by anyone who wants to experience it.
- Attention to characters. I believe that everyone has a unique story to tell. I've worked hard to animate and create unique portraits and personas for every character in our 60+ cast of characters. You won't meet any 'generic' people, just as there are no generic people in real life.
- A deep, expansive world. We sought to make a world that felt real and bigger than the story itself, so we put in major work building the world of Thistledown, only 10% of which will be in the game. We made a world that feels like you are only glimpsing a bit of it, because you are.
Thistledown is a platformer and a visual novel, or a story-heavy RPG. It's inspired by countless other works. Here are some of my favorite stories and worlds that informed Thistledown:
World: Cave Story, Redwall, Middle Earth, Tooth and Tail.
Story: To the Moon, The Wind Rises, In This Corner of the World.
Theme: The Book of Sorrows, Watership Down, Firefly.
Magic:Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Ra.
We'll be revealing more information about all of the different members of The Animalia (a catch-all term for the different animal races in Thistledown), as well as the different kinds of Fovos (magic folk, fair folk, or faeries) as the campaign goes on. We'll cover those most important to the story of Thistledown, only a portion of the peoples of Thistledown.
The Kouneli (Pronounced co-nelly)
Organized in small tribes and families, the Kouneli are humble creatures, living in burrows and using their limited magic to encourage plant growth.
Magic:The Kouneli have a small life well of magic, which they can impart to plants, encouraging growth. Every year in the spring, each tribe of Kouneli concentrate their magic to grow a guardian thistle, a symbolic protector, which grows to the size of a redwood.
Feral, meat-eating rabbits, who file their teeth to points and dock the ears of their young ones. They frequently raid small villages and will feast on their genetic cousins, the Kouneli, without remorse. There are very few who know how they came to be this way…in Kouneli myth, the Kouneli gained consciousness and split from the Kako Bloodline many ages ago. They are generally albinos or jet black.
The Erpo are white foxes, living a secluded existence in the mountains. They reside in insulated canvas yurts, which are improbably fashioned into towers. Probably takes magic to get them to stand up. Probably.
They are constantly driving back the hordes of Kako threatening the world.
Magic: The Erpo are powerfully magical, second only to the High Fovos in magic capability. They are one of the only races of the Animalia who can practice magic without a contract with a Fovos.
The Klosi are the most technologically advanced race in the world of Thistledown. They had magical powers once, but almost all of their abilities were taken away from them when they angered the wrong High Fovos. The only ability left to them: they can spin anything. No longer having access to their magic, the Klosi turned to technology, using complex systems of gears and pulleys to create a giant city in the trees.
Magic: They can spin things. No straight lines. Just spinning.
The Asvos manage the countless magical contracts that the magical folk forge with less- or non-magical folk. They’re the contract lawyers of the world.
Magic: None, although powerful deep magic protects the contracts they manage. This allows the Asvos to hold the (incredibly powerful) High Fovos accountable.
The High Fovos
The High Fovos are a group of incredibly magical, long-lived faeries. None of the Animalia know what they really look like, but the form they generally take is that of an 18th century human. They wear powdered wigs and enjoy showing off their finery. They torment the Animalia as much as they can.
Magic: The source of nearly all the magic in the world of Thistledown. If a member of the Animalia wishes to perform a magical feat beyond their abilities, they have to sign a contract with a High Fovos or a Low Fovos. The High Fovos are a poisonous race, and they will often try to cause harm to those who sign contracts with them, just for their own amusement.
The Low Fovos
The Low Fovos come in many forms - from flying lizards to sleepy, hill-sized golems. They are significantly less magical than the High Fovos, but have some power.
The pixel art in Thistledown is a work in progress. I use a lot of moving layers and parallax to create the illusion of depth, and to flesh out the world:
Lighting layers allow me to adjust the lighting precisely to create depth and contrast with colors. Objects fade as they go back in space, and shift in color towards the sky, the ambient light.
I've drawn tons of giant set pieces, that really flesh out the world and make it intriguing. Each statue and building has its own history, a reason for being in the world:
Did I mention mood? The art in Thistledown oozes the mood of the story. The environments, weather, etc. all contribute to the story.
A personal tragedy forces Oni to push beyond the borders of her village, in search of an unspeakable evil. As she assembles the pieces of an ancient magical contract, Oni leaves a bloody trail behind her, careening towards darkness, death, and worse.
Thistledown is a story first. The stakes are high, but only for our main character. It's not the story of a summer blockbuster. She's not saving the entire world in an epic showdown with the villain, she's just fighting for her life, and her family. She's getting kicked, and persevering.
When I first posted about Thistledown online, the first comment was from Sam - "I am already a huge fan. Going to drop you an E-Mail". Sam Jones has been an ardent supporter of Thistledown since the beginning, and has written lovely, thoughtful, beautiful music for the soundtrack.
Who are we?
Andrew Miller - Story/Art/Code
Davey Dovel - Worldbuilding genius, coding sensei
Sam Jones - Musical Maestro
- (Working on his own game: Healing Process: Tokyo.)
Doubtful Games - a tiny game company started by Andrew and Timothy (his brother).
Special THANK YOU to:
Matthew Miller - story consult | Mollie Young - story consult | Mitch Roush - story consult | Friendly Cosmonaut - GMS2 instruction, and lots of helpful code. | Shaun Spalding - GMS2 instruction | Pixelated pope - GMS2 instruction | HeartBeast - GMS2 instruction | Michael Azzi - pixel art instruction | Sonia - Everything. You're the best. I love you.
The state of the game
Thistledown's script has been written, the main character designs have been fleshed out, and most of the major systems are built. What comes next is a whole lot of pixel art, animating, and building cutscenes.
I've been working on Thistledown for a year and a half. I believe in the story, and eventually I would finish the game, even without Kickstarter.
However, I would like to recoup some expenses of development and publication, and I would like to pay something to the people who have helped me make the game what it is. At the minimum funding level, I would fulfill pledges first, and then devote any money left to those goals.
If we overfund, I will be able to devote even more of my time to the game, and can add additional areas, stories, and free DLC stories based in the world of Thistledown. I want to be able to expand on my vision.
Whether or not this happens depends primarily on you - I don't have a publisher (Doubtful Games is my own company), or a marketing budget. If you believe in Thistledown, please share it. You'll help to make it bigger and better than I can do alone.
If you're in the middle of tragedy right now:
If you're facing medical bills, or the kind of financial struggle that tends to accompany unexpected tragedy, there's no need to back this Kickstarter. Contact me here, let me know what's going on if you wish, and I'll send you a copy of Thistledown when it's done. It's the least I can do.
The Wall of Gratitude
I'm so incredibly grateful to anyone who backs this campaign. You're literally helping make my ideas reality, and I can't thank you enough for that. As an extra way to say "thank you", every backer will get their name drawn on the wall of gratitude. It will be a digital wall, with each backer having their own space, regardless of how much they contribute. I'll upload the wall to the internet in many places, thus immortalizing what you've done for me.
Maybe for a stretch goal, we'll make a real, physical wall of gratitude. That would be sweet. Maybe we'll name it Wall-E... Or Wall-G, "G" for gratitude. Hee. :)
Instruction manual + lore deep dive
Printed on real paper, these beautiful books are not only for reading with your eyes, but also holding with your hands. Luxury.
- Game controls, lovingly illustrated
- A follow-along 'director's commentary".
- Secret cheat codes. They won't help you win the game, but they will give you more insight into the world of Thistledown.
Lore Deep Dive
An exploration of the world and universe of Thistledown, outlining races, timelines, history, technology, magic, and myth. Fully illustrated.
We love stickers. We'll jump at any chance to make beautiful vinyl stickers. This is an ever-expanding pack of stickers, too! To start off, you'll get 10 copies of 3 designs (chosen by backers, naturally), and then as we fund more, we'll add more and more designs. When we add the designs will be outlined in the stretch goals. Get ready to vote your favorite stickers into the pack!
Jewel Case Soundtrack
Mmmmm, real plastic. The Thistledown soundtrack, fried into real plastic using real lasers. I think that's how they make CDs.
The poster: but should it have Oni and Wyrm on it, or illustrations of all the races of Thistledown? We'll do a poll mid-campaign to choose the final subject matter.
Either way, it will be big, shiny, and beautiful.
Work with us to make your own character in the world of Thistledown. You'll decide race, distinguishing features, name, dialogue, and whatever else you can think up. I'll create your character in the finest pixel art, and put them in the game for you to find.
The Low Fovos come in many different flavors, so to speak - there's nearly endless variety to these 'lesser' faeries. From tiny dragons to sleepy monsters the size of a small mountain, the Low Fovos are everywhere.
Design your own, work with us to come up with backstory/history/etc. and have your new creation incorporated into the lore and canon of Thistledown forever.
A major creative challenge, work with us to design a race - to be incorporated into the canon of Thistledown forever. You decide:
- The animal that they're based on
- Magic use
- Oh, and everything else.
We'll help you refine the race to fit into the world of Thistledown, and they'll be incorporated into Thistledown: A Tragedy of Blood with their own unique area.
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Follow the development of Thistledown on these channels:
Money back guarantee
If you're not happy with your pledge, let me know. I'll make it good.
PC/Mac to start with, Steam Keys included. I'd like to support more platforms in the future.
How long will the game be?
I'm not adding padding (poorly thought-out, un-fun gameplay designed to make the game feel more valuable) to Thistledown. I hate it when I have to waste time playing broken, terrible mini-games to get on with the story. Thistledown won't be a long game, and it won't be infinitely repayable. Probably no longer than 2 hours, unless we add extra stories through stretch goals.
Do you accept PayPal pledges?
Yes! Here's the link: paypal.me/andhegames.
We will honor all available pledges through this link. (Don't pledge for something that's currently unavailable, please!)
Why is the goal so low?
I just am looking to pay for production and publication costs - I'm doing all the art and code myself, and I'm not trying to pay anyone's salary.
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Risks and challenges
Challenge 1: Coding
This is my second commercial video game. It's the first commercial video game I've coded myself.
There's inherent risk whenever we face something for the first time, but I've put in the work to give me the confidence to bring this project to Kickstarter. My schooling looks like this:
I've done the art for 8 small video game projects (game jams, etc), and coded 50+ tiny games and projects - I learn best by making, and I've tried to make as much as I can. I'm no expert, but I'm constantly learning, and I have weekly meetings with my coding sensei to consistently improve.
Challenge 2: Fulfillment
I've done 4 Kickstarter campaigns, manufacturing and fulfilling each one early. I've shipped products all over the world, working with manufacturers and fulfillment partners to insure that all of my backers receive their shipments. I'm quite experienced in producing physical products, and getting them to backers on time.
Challenge 3: Time pressure
I have a lot of help with any project that I do, but I'm still doing most of the work myself. I have two daughters, and responsibilities outside this project. If I start to fall behind, I plan to hire someone to help complete the project, even collaborating with a publisher if needed to fund the hire. Ideally I would like to keep Thistledown indie, but I'll do anything required to finish this game well.
Challenge 4: The unexpected!
Who knows what will happen? I know from managing four Kickstarter campaigns that crazy things happen. I can't plan for everything, but I can promise clear communication throughout the whole process. If something goes wrong, I'll let you know what's going on, ASAP.
- (30 days)