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£9,251 pledged of £20,000 goal
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About this project

Thanks everyone! Sol Trader will return...

It's been quite a ride, and I really appreciate all the thoughts, feedback and encouragements I've received over the last few weeks. When starting the Kickstarter I didn't know what to expect, and I've be overwhelmed at how great this community has been to me. I'll definitely be back!

Whilst I'm obviously disappointed not to get funding this time round, I truly believe in the game idea and want to see it released. Therefore I'll keep plugging away at the game whenever I can. I'll post updates to the campaign so that you can keep track of what's going on, and will run another campaign to raise funds for a big release at the end of the project's development.

How can I support this project anyway?

There will be a few ways of doing that in the future:

Thanks again for all your support!

Chris

Original description follows:

"If you don’t want to play Sol Trader when you've read [the Kickstarter], I’m afraid we can’t be friends anymore. That’s just the way it is." - Adam Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun

"Incredibly in-depth." - Indie Gamers UK

I've replaced the main Kickstarter trailer with the new one: here's the old one for reference:

Hello: I'm Chris Parsons, a former AAA games developer turned software consultant and entrepreneur. I've recently come back home to my love of making indie games, and I'd love to introduce Sol Trader to you, the game I've been working on for the past three years in my spare time.

Sol Trader is a space game for PC and Mac. It combines the immersiveness of Elite and the fun of Asteroids with the depth and intrigue of an RPG and the generated histories of Dwarf Fortress.

It features a complex procedural history generator, inspired by the adventure and legends mode in Dwarf Fortress. Each new game is already two centuries old, with a living history full of characters that are born, live and die before you even exist.

When you create a character in this world, you face the same choices as all the computer-controlled citizens did. The decisions you make in your character's early life set your starting skills and attributes, and your family connections and business contacts. The game generates two centuries of characters, events and interactions to set the scene: as a player, you are born into this world and form relationships in it before the game starts.

You'll then be able to create your own legend within this world: explore the known (and unknown) solar system, trade goods, run missions, leverage your contacts, and avenge members of your family as you see fit.

When playing the finished game, you might find yourself:

  • Speeding through a dangerous asteroid belt to avoid pirates
  • Meeting the President of Earth's Old Federation
  • Painting your ship the colours of your pirate band
  • Blackmailing an official for valuable information
  • Becoming a double agent for two different governments
  • Trawling the city markets for the best deals by day
  • Hitting the bars at night to network with important contacts
  • Getting a friend to repair your ship for a discount
  • Outfitting your ship with extra powerful engines to escape pursuers
  • Mining asteroids for rare metals with specially equipped lasers
  • Collecting satellite and ship debris for a paltry fee
  • Running out of fuel and calling a rescue ship
  • Avenging the death of a family member
  • Gaining lucrative missions from the senate due to your father's political connections
  • Collecting samples from a far planet for a scientific mission

Exploring the Sol Trader Universe

The game universe stretches to the far reaches of our current solar system. All of the major planets and moons are included, which means players will be able to fully explore 20 huge distinct regions in the base game, all full of planets, moons, asteroids, space debris, pirate hangouts and other ships going about their business. Travel between these regions is through a network of jump gates, allowing players to hop from region to region to travel large distances to trade valuable goods or mine rare minerals from asteroids.

Regions are very large, and with powerful scanner equipment installed on your ship, you never know what you might find far from the busy jumpgates. In certain regions travel is very unsafe: pirates are known to hang out near the major gates, and discerning traders are well advised to travel with hired escorts.

The Politics Of Sol Trader

Concept art for base male character
Concept art for base male character

Control of regions are divided between four main factions. The regions and factions start each game with the same setup, two hundred years before you come on the scene. The history generation will then take these factions and create organisations and individuals within them. Individual actions trigger inter-faction events which cause the relationships between factions to thaw or grow colder, and forms the unique universe which you are then born into.

The Old Federation: The remnants of Earth's original government control the four inner planets, with Earth as the capital. Ancient and proud, they see themselves as the true guardians of human culture and civilisation.

The New Order: The Order rebelled from Federation control about 300 years ago due to the imposition of heavy taxes and a catastrophic breakdown in relations. Despite enormous losses in the Century War with the Federation, they remain powerful and a force to be reckoned with. They control the most important moons of Jupiter, with their influence stretching as far as the Uranus Rim - beyond this is uncontrolled and largely unexplored space.

The Galileo Alliance: Disillusioned with the broken promises and the gradual dilution of the once strong ideology of the New Order, the Alliance seeks to form a new egalitarian partnership of equal governments. Many of the moons of Saturn have joined the Alliance, but due to the lack of a strong navy their power to exert control on their territory is limited.

The Pirate Belt: The long asteroid belt which forms the gateway between the New Order and the Old Federation was long deserted and ignored by both governments after the bitter and inconclusive war resulting from the New Order's indepedence. Between the rocks, gangs of those rejected by both of the great empires, began to gather, and today exert much power and influence. It's hard to escape their influence should you wish to travel from the inner to the outer system...

Ship Equipment

You'll be able to purchase a variety of ships in Sol Trader, and be able to own more than one at once.

Ships can be fitted with a variety of equipment, depending on what their hulls are designed to take. Weapons will come in all shapes and sizes, from standard bolters firing depleted uranium shells, to tracking missiles, to powerful mining and attack lasers. You can defend your ship with power hungry shields or by buying special armour coated hulls. Ship scanners of various types are available, with different sensitivities to smaller and larger objects.Equipment and engines must be powered, and a player is free to choose the types of reactors used to provide power to the ship: choose from a range of types, from responsive yet inefficient fission engines to solar panels which provide a weaker steadier power supply.

You can purchase a regulator which allows you to adjust power to certain ship components whilst in flight. This allows you to boost shields to ram enemy ships, weapons and maneuvering thrusters in a dogfight, and redline your main engines when it's time to leave...

Different components receive damage and can be repaired by mechanics that you will meet on your journey. Making friends with a good mechanic will make all the difference when you return half-alive from the Callisto salt run.

Can I Mod Sol Trader?

Yes, the game will be fully moddable. It's already possible mod all the art and the solar system layout, rewrite the whole AI and retune all the ships and components.

Why A Kickstarter Now?

The game is currently playable and in late Alpha. Whilst it has come a long way, there are several large pieces I need to finish:

  • Missions
  • AI conversations and interaction
  • Asteroids and Mining
  • Online scoreboards: compare your story and achievements with others! 
  • More weaponry and equipment for ships
  • Sound effects
  • The ability to buy new ships
  • Economy balance and expansion Inter-faction politics

This is the game I always wanted to make. I've been working on various versions of it since childhood, musing, honing and perfecting the ideas, drawing influences from other games that I've played along the way.

I've been live streaming development on Twitch: here's a recent video from just before Christmas:

I built lots of momentum in 2014. I was able to manage my finances to the point where I was able to spend a day a week focused on the game for six months. I used part time contracting to fund myself last year, but I want to commit as much time as possible from the remainder of the project to focus on it and give it the dedicated attention a project this rich and deep deserves, and keep up the excitement and momentum.

That's where this campaign comes in and your pledge makes this possible. Will you support me and join the adventure?

Why Should You Back Me?

I have lots of experience working on games and large software projects:

  • I worked for four years as a professional AAA games developer. I worked at Elixir Studios at the start of my career, working on Republic: the Revolution, Evil Genius and other unannounced titles.
  • I've always loved making indie games. I sold my first indie title 25 years ago: I wrote a version of "tag" and sold it to my school friends for £0.10 at the age of 11. I care deeply about seeing this project through.
  • I built a software service company from scratch to 12 people, creating and shipping lots of software projects for customers.
  • I started programming 30 years ago and have been programming professionally for 16 years. I now train other programmers and blog and speak at conferences regularly on programming and team dynamics.
  • I've already built much of the game, as you can see in the video. Apart from paying for some artwork, I've already got three years of part-time development done entirely on my own.

How Will You Spend The Money?

Taking into account UK Corporation Tax and VAT on any purchases and the extra artwork that I need to finish the game, here's a provisional breakdown of where the money will go:

I'll update this as we get closer to stretch goals, as they will require additional costs.

Press coverage


Stretch goals

£30,000: LINUX SUPPORT

The game is currently building and working for Windows and Mac. The libraries I'm using are all available for Linux, too: it just needs some time invested in getting it working. I'd love to be able to support Linux: help make it happen!

£40,000: COMPOSER

We'd love to get a great composer involved in the project. We have an idea of who we'd like to approach, and if we come close to hitting the stretch goal we'll reveal more details about this.

£60,000: ALIENS

The technology discovered in 2060 which led to jump gates didn't just usher in a new age of fast travel through the solar system: it unknowningly opened up a pathway for those far distant to learn and interact with our solar system. Most of humankind has no idea that there are those who have known about our fledgling race for three centuries, and are biding their time...

Want to interact with alien cultures and technology? I have plenty of ideas to bring more richness to the world in the form of secret Alien subterfuge - this goal gives me enough time and money for artwork to make it happen!

£100,000: MULTIPLAYER

Multiplayer is the holy grail of a game like Sol Trader, although I never want it to compromise the single player game, so it would need carefully thinking about. It would be amazing to have friends alongside you interacting with the world and working together to complete missions and help each other. Or you could compete to see who can amass the most pirate kills, or the most credits! It's technically challenging but perfectly achievable given the time to make it work.

£250,000: GROUND MODE

If there's enough demand, I'd *love* to allow players to walk around planet surfaces, cities, their own ships, and the interiors of space ports and space stations. Actually meet other characters in seedy bars, overhear conversations and learn information. Walk on the surface of the planets and moons, explore caves and find rare artifacts. Board huge drifting space wrecks and salvage valuable cargo. This is a large piece of work and will require a lot of artist time, which makes it a big stretch goal. It's definitely achievable though.

More information

There's more about the game at our website and social media accounts - check them out!

http://soltrader.net
http://twitter.com/soltdr
http://facebook.com/soltrader

Thanks for considering me! Come and join the adventure!

Risks and challenges

The risks associated with a long solo project such as this one usually come down to motivation and burnout.

A successful Kickstarter should actively help to stop that from happening as much of the game is already done.

It's possible I won't be able to hit the dates that I've set due to unforeseen development problems, but if that's the case, I'll communicate about it as soon as possible. I care deeply about this game, and would love to have the time to make it all it can be.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £2 or more About $3.07

    CREDIT TIER

    A mention in the credits of the game with our eternal thanks for making the game possible.

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    TWO STICKERS TIER

    The CREDIT TIER plus:

    We'll send you two limited time available Sol Trader stickers (one logo sticker, plus a random ship) via post.

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    OWNER TIER

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    A FULL COPY of the finished game to download, plus a Steam key (assuming the game gets greenlit).

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    OWNER TIER (FINAL £10 TIER)

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    BETA ACCESS TIER

    All the benefits of OWNER plus:

    Early access to copies of the beta game! Help shape the game through your feedback when the beta is released in Spring 2015.

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    ALPHA ACCESS TIER

    All the benefits of the BETA ACCESS plus:

    Full access to the alpha builds of the game, available right now. Play the current version of the game as soon as the Kickstarter finishes!

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    Pledge £30 or more About $46

    STICKER COLLECTION TIER

    All the benefits of the ALPHA ACCESS plus:

    A full set of six collectible stickers: one logo sticker plus all five ship stickers. These will only be available for a limited time.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $77

    NAME AN ANCESTOR TIER

    All the benefits of the STICKER COLLECTION plus:

    You get to choose the name of an NPC to be added to the list used at the beginning of history generation. You might end up playing as the great-great grandchild of this character ... or perhaps they turn out to be your deadliest enemy...

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    Pledge £75 or more About $115

    NAME FIVE ANCESTORS TIER

    All the benefits of NAME AN ANCESTOR, except instead of just naming one, you get to add FIVE names to the starting list of characters at the beginning of history generation. Put all your friends and family in the game and see how they interact!

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    Pledge £150 or more About $230

    NAME AN ASTEROID TIER

    All the benefits of NAME FIVE ANCESTORS, plus:

    Add your name to the list of names used when the in-game asteroids are generated at the start of each new game. Your name might be used for a tiny valuable mining asteroid, or a huge rock that poses a hazard to shipping traffic!

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    Pledge £300 or more About $460

    NAME A CITY TIER

    All the benefits of NAME AN ASTEROID, plus:

    We'll also name an in-game city permanently after you. There are only a limited number of cities and they will appear with the same name in each game. Leave a lasting mark on the game for all players to see.

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    DESIGN A SHIP TIER

    All the benefits of NAME A CITY TIER, plus:

    Come up with a concept picture, name and description of your very own ship design, and we will add it to the game! Our artists will work your concept into reality, and it will ship with the finished game in July. This is a great opportunity for a big influence in the content direction of the game.

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    EPIC NPC TIER

    All the many benefits of the NAME A CITY TIER, plus:

    You'll get to design an NPC of universal renown who is guaranteed to be part of the history of every game. Choose from either an Elite fighter, General, or President of one of the game's major factions. This character will also have a city or famous landmark named after them (think Stalingrad or JFK Airport...) A great opportunity to immortalise yourself, a friend or a loved one.

    (To also design a ship, see the next tier...)

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    EPIC NPC AND DESIGN A SHIP TIER:

    The combined benefits of both EPIC NPC and DESIGN A SHIP. Have a real and lasting influence the content of the game.

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Funding period

- (30 days)