Thanks to you, Sol Trader was funded today! You are all amazing and I'm so grateful.
I'll keep posting regular updates with my progress.
NEW: Demo updated with new combat and lighting effects - read more on the update.
This is a preview demo: some of the features described in the Kickstarter will be added in the coming months. If you come across any issues please post in the support forum.
In the gaming press
"I know I said the last game was good: I've found one even better." TinyPixxels (video interview)
"If you don't want to play Sol Trader... I'm afraid we can't be friends anymore." Rock, Paper, Shotgun
"Prettier than ever" Indie Gamers UK
Featured Playthrough: Swordfish Plays takes on the Sol Trader demo (video)
There's still time to hit those stretch goals! :)
By popular demand we now have add-on tiers! If you'd like one or more rewards added on to your tier, simply pledge over your tier by the required amount:
- Single-player combination of top down 2D spaceflight and strategic manipulation of your network of contacts
- Run missions using your family and friends' connections to government or business
- No ship given to you at game start: you must take a loan and hire a ship, or borrow one from a wealthy relative
- Fly between planets, interacting with the various characters you come across in cities and in space
- Research information on other characters through chatting to friends and relatives
- Customise your ship with lasers, passenger quarters, shields, bolt weapons, missiles and scanners (coming soon)
- Blackmail others with the information you find, or sell it to the press (coming soon)
- Trade goods for profit
- Procedural generation of a whole society of thousands of random characters
- Start every new game from your character's birth
- Choose your parents and all your major life choices as you grow up
- Your choices determine your personality and your friends, relatives and enemies
- Full modding support: change all the organisations, events, weapons, planets, ships, conversations and tutorial system.
- Windows, Mac and Linux at launch
- Already greenlit on Steam
Each new game is already two centuries old. Thousands of random characters are born, live and die as the game is generated, creating totally unique societies each time. When starting a new game you do so from your character's birth, choosing your parents and all your major life choices as you grow up. Your choices determine your personality, your friends, relatives, business contacts and your enemies.
There is no set story. The game generates thousands 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.
Here's the core gameplay loop you'll experience when playing the final game (some features coming soon):
You land at London's space port and immediately head to the market to see if an old contact of yours, Caleb Churley, will still give you a good deal on your cargo. Whilst offloading your metal delivery, you discover through chatting to Caleb that he needs a parcel taking to Vikon on Venus. It's a bit of a distance, but you know they're short of water at the moment, so you buy all you can fit into your small ship. Caleb's grateful for the parcel delivery, so you get a good price on the cargo.
You drop by the bar on the way out, and discover that Rachel Holden was seen in Vikon recently. You've been meaning to try and track her down, as you've been asked by the local crime syndicate to keep them up to date with her whereabouts. This little trip is turning into the perfect excuse to handle some unfinished business.
You debate whether to take passengers to Vikon. Your ship isn't fitted with passenger cabins yet, but it's worth seeing who wants to go. In a local hotel you find three people keen to go: almost too keen. They're willing to pay way over the odds for transport, which means you're likely to have someone on your tail once you leave Earth's safe zone. We can run that risk, but in order to have space for the cabins on your ship, you'll need to remove your escape capsule. That means if the ship gets blown up it's game over for you. It's a huge risk, but you could really do with the money... plus one of the passengers is the son of Charles Heckler, someone you'd love to get an introduction to...
Sol Trader isn't just a concept: it's already in beta. This game is already real, and already fun, with all the features listed above (apart from those listed as "coming soon"). We are already greenlit on Steam.
I'm on Kickstarter to raise awareness, to give people a chance to get in on the beta process early, and to help make the game awesome during the final few months of development. The money I've asked for will mainly go towards artwork and music costs:
If you back at the £10 OWNER level and above then we'll send you a copy of the game on release. If you want additional copies, then just add £10 to your pledge for each extra copy.
£10 was originally the early bird tier, but it seems unfair for people to get a better price just because they happened to check the site quicker than others. Therefore I've decided to offer everyone on Kickstarter the £10 early bird price. The price will go up to the retail pre-order price of £15 as soon as the campaign ends!
By backing this Kickstarter at the £20 INSIDER level and above you'll get a access to new beta builds as they are released, right from the end of the campaign. You will be able to shape the game during its final months. Plus you'll get some great rewards, too :) INSIDER will still be available after the campaign ends but will cost £25 instead of £20 - don't miss the Kickstarter price!
I have no plans to launch on Steam Early Access as it restricts beta access only to people using Steam. There will be a regular Steam launch on game release. The game will retail at £15 on Steam.
- more varied missions
- different cultures
- more planets to explore
- a full weapon and ship customisation system
- more artwork and sound
If we blow through our target, then I have more awesome stuff I'd love to add! See the Stretch Goals section below.
The preview demo only has about a third of the art content I want it to have on launch. Aamar Rana my resident artist has some cool concepts for some extra jump gates and there are many more planets and moons to create. Some of the money will go on commissioning this artwork, plus custom art for some of the rewards.
I have commissioned a soundtrack from the awesome Andy Dollerson and he's done a great job of capturing the mood and feel of the game. We're planning four main tracks, with more as a future Stretch Goal. As a taster, here's the first preview track:
This roadmap is subject to change and reordering, but will give you an idea of what's left to do and what order I'll add new features in.
After this, 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 been working on Sol Trader since November 2011. It's come a long way! I've been live streaming development every week on Twitch: here's a recent video:
There are loads more videos on the YouTube channel showing the progression of the game through development.
Here are some of the details on specific rewards:
Your name in the credits: your full name will go in the credits for the game, in the Sol Trader guide digital artwork, and printed manual.
Badge on your forum account: The appropriate badge will be added to one forum account of your choosing on the official Sol Trader forums.
DRM-free copy of the game: The game will not have copy protection and will be delivered via direct download. You will also get a Steam key.
Access to the beta program: You'll get access to a special forum which I'll use to distribute new build of the game and to gather feedback. Builds will be released regularly and I will spend a good deal of time reading and responding to feedback and engaging with the community.
A digital copy of the Sol Trader soundtrack: You will receive all the music composed for the game as a set of high definition music files.
The Sol Trader guide: you will receive a digital PDF book with hi-res art, all the schematics and images of the various ships and the history of the Sol Trader universe.
Add a name to the ancestor database: you may add one name and surname of your choosing to the database of ancestor names. A fixed number of these names will be taken at random when generating a new history. All names must be approved by me before being added and must fit into the game world.
Printed Sol Trader manual: We have a real treat in store for you here. We're producing a cloth covered hardbound version of the Sol Trader manual, with embossed silver leaf title. The book will contain both the regular game manual (distributed free with the game as a PDF) and the Sol Trader guide.
Life time season pass for upcoming DLCs for free: you'll get a free key for every piece of DLC content I ever produce for Sol Trader.
Coaching Conference calls: I work as a software team consultant for many different companies, teaching development, games, code, great team practice, testing, communication and leadership. I'm offering a one hour consultancy session on Skype where I can hear the issues you're facing, make recommendations, point you to other resources and help you avoid common errors.
I've written a lot of articles at http://chrismdp.com - have a read for an idea of how I might be able to help.
The conference calls need be during UK office time and both be scheduled within 60 days of the Kickstarter closing.
Dinner in London: I'll take you out to a slap up dinner at a top restaurant in central London, where you can ask lots of questions about the game, pick my brains about game development, marketing, or chat about anything you like. We'll pay for food and wine, you pay your own travel costs. You must be available to come to London in early December 2015. This one is for over 18s only.
Name an in-game city: All names must be approved by Chris before adding :)
Design a ship: come up with a concept picture, name and description and we will add your ship permanently to the game. All designs and text must be approved by Chris before added and must fit into the game world.
Design a famous NPC: Your NPC will form part of the history of the game before the generation starts, and their story will be written into the history as printed in the Sol Trader guide and manual. All content must be approved by Chris before adding and must fit into the game world.
Risks and challenges
Most of the development is already complete - the game is currently in beta as can been seen from the demo. Apart from paying for some artwork and music, I've already got almost four years of part-time development done entirely on my own. The game is on course to be released in April 2016.
Making games is hard, and it's entirely possible that unforeseen problems could delay development. It's also possible that any stretch goals will cause this deadline to slip slightly, or I need to tweak game balance more than expected to make the end result better.
It's definitely coming out though. I've got this far. If there are any delays in shipping the game next April, I'll communicate promptly through Kickstarter updates.
Thanks very much for checking out my campaign: if you have any questions please do let me know.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)