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A gentle, bittersweet narrative RPG about trading, making friends and conspiring against the Sun.
A gentle, bittersweet narrative RPG about trading, making friends and conspiring against the Sun.
923 backers pledged €16,311 to help bring this project to life.

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Selling Sunlight: a wandering merchant RPG project video thumbnail
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WE GOT FUNDED, BUT IT'S NOT OVER YET! READ ABOUT STRETCH GOALS!

Featured on:

                        PC Gamer | VentureBeat | Siliconera

Click on the image to download the demo
Click on the image to download the demo

 

Want to listen to a tune from our soundtrack while you read? It helps set the atmosphere.

In narrative RPG Selling Sunlight, you are a wandering merchant whose face got stolen by the Sun. To get your identity back, you'll have to explore a strange, hand-painted world, befriend other travelers, trade goods and information and conspire against the Sun Himself.
Will you ask for His pardon, or try to defy Him?

Selling Sunlight is a role-playing game with no fights, many bees and too many words, focused on interpretation and atmosphere. It will be available (in English) for Windows, both on Steam and on DRM-free platforms like Itch.

We want to make an experience that is like chamomile for the soul, for we think the world desperately needs more games like this right now. Games where nobody wants to murder you, where people with different cultures all live together, and where everything will eventually be okay.

Our list of influences include Sunless Sea, the Rune Factory series, the Art Nouveau movement, the Earthsea books, Invisible Cities, and Japanese animes about wandering like Spice&Wolf, Mushishi and Kino no Tabi.

 

300 years ago, the world of Selling Sunlight became tidally locked: it now constantly faces its own Sun, half burning and half freezing. The only habitable zone is a tiny strip of eternal sunset between the two hemispheres, home of wildly different civilizations now forced to live shoulder to shoulder.

  The five main locations are:

  • Orange War Machine, a monstrous war tank abandoned after the Sunset War, now home of drifters and outcasts;
  • Yellow Beehive, where honey is worth more than gold and tribal traditions still persist, laced with splendor;
  • Green Hamlet, a city of withering plant-people and of trees with leaves made of glass;
  • Teal Aeteneum, where fierce sea-librarians take care of fish that are also books;
  •  Indigo Peak, where Science has triumphed over the Sun and strange machinery mumbles under the mountain.

 The world stands still, but it's about to change.

Lamp bulbs are slowly replacing candlelight. Old tensions are boiling under a veil of mutual courtesy.
And the Golden Priests can't even explain what the Sun is doing.

The Sun is ever-knowing, all-seeing and always splendid. We should all strive to be more like Him: always changing, shifting, always improving Himself through a process of constant self-burning.

We're all eternally grateful to the Sun, for his energy powers all our magic spells and our technological contraptions. Our ultimate wish is to get burned by His radiant flames, becoming eternally one with Him.

We think our Earth stopped moving because She loves the Sun so much, She can't stop looking at His face. Or maybe the Sun Himself engineered this, inviting us to come to the bright side and get embraced by His flames.
We don't know for sure, for He doesn't speak to us; or maybe we're just not bright enough to listen.

Don't give attention to the heretics saying that the Sun is trying to murder us all. He wants burn us because He loves every single one of us.

Except for YOU, of course.

You did something bad. Broke ancient rules. The Golden Priests strapped a magical mask to your face, for the Sun no longer wishes to look at you.
You don't have an identity anymore. You're Faceless.

You also discovered that nothing technically prohibits you from joining the Merchants' Guild.

Your character is a blank slate: their race, gender and orientation are completely up to your choosing.
Your character is a blank slate: their race, gender and orientation are completely up to your choosing.

You are an officially registered merchant of the Guild. You can move freely between the Seven Cities and trade your goods with other merchants. You play by the rules.

You are trusted. You are hated. You are a mysterious, charming mess of a merchant.

You mostly confuse people a lot.

 

Selling Sunlight has a very loose storyline about getting your identity back, but you are free to ignore the main quest and explore the world as you wish.
Travel on a cart and explore the world map to reach new areas. Random events, good or bad, can interrupt your journey: a broken wheel, a meeting with another merchant, an encounter with a fire spirit...

Some random events allow you to mark on the map new locations you can revisit, like a fishing spot, a small settlement or an ancient ruin. As you keep playing, you will fill your usual trade routes with plenty of secret places only you know about.

As you travel on the world map, time passes. Some quests will require you to deliver goods to a destination before a date, while some particular events, like festivals, only appear during certain times of the year.
Stay on the road to quickly reach your destination, or lose yourself in a forest to look for strange wonders?

During your journey you'll meet musicians, botanists, scholars, nomads, missionaries and many other wanderers. You can travel together to chat during the journey and swap stories at inns.
As you befriend them you will unlock new storylines, but the narrative will change based on what people think of you.

The good part about not having a face is that it's simple to conceal your true emotions. Swap between four different attitudes (Friendly, Gloomy, Rigid, Charming) as you talk with people: characters will remember the attitude you used the most with them, and this will change the nature of your friendship.
Will you be a reliable friend? A charming friend always ready to crack a joke? A pessimistic, gloomy friend?

An example: there's a shy, troubled clothier living in Green Hamlet. Be a stern, serious merchant and he'll give you a mission: to bring him a rare, beautiful bolt of cloth from another city. The matter is incredibly important to him, and he needs the help of a reliable friend.
Be more charming, and he will reveal that his marriage is falling apart: his wife is getting more and more distant and he doesn't really know what to do. He was thinking about making a nice dress to win her back, but maybe you have a better idea?
Same story, different perspectives.

Speaking of love stories, yes, some characters came become more than just friends.
Smooching can get complicated when you are a mysterious figure of indefinite gender with a magical mask glued to your visage, but this shouldn't stop you from trying. The inhabitants of this multicultural place hold different views regarding gender, relationships and sexuality: you'll surely find someone that likes you for what you are!

Each city has a local product and other wares that are always in demand. To make a profit you'll have to travel between different cities, buying low and selling high. But money isn't the only thing to consider: some goods are more difficult to handle than others.
Stone is profitable but heavy, and big loads will slow down your cart. Glass holds magical proprieties, but can break easily during the journey. Food sells well everywhere, but easily deteriorates...

To become a successful merchant you also have to learn how to haggle. Use a variety of verbal skills to calm, seduce or irk the other merchant, persuading them to lower their prices before their patience runs out.
You can change the attitude (Friendly, Gloomy, Rigid, Charming) with which to deliver a skill, trying to find the one the other merchant best responds to. But don't forget that people will remember which attitude you used with them!
Don't ruin a friendship for a small discount.

Low on funds? Use skills to offer goods or services instead of money. You could ask the other merchant if they need a delivery, for example, or offer useful information like the position of a fishing spot you found.
Be witty, be imaginative, be kind, and you will surely succeed.

 

Selling Sunlight is in a pretty good shape right now: the core mechanics have already been programmed, and most of the storylines have already been planned out. Now it's a matter of adding new locations, characters and storylines to the game, making the world bigger and more interesting to explore.

We've been working on this project for over a year, funding it with our personal savings. We chose Kickstarter because we need some additional funding to make this game even better.
We plan to use the money for:

  • Freelancers: Some wonderful people are helping us with the music and the animated sprites, and we wish to pay them at a fair rate!

  • Hardware: Selling Sunlight's art is being almost completely hand-painted with watercolors. An high-resolution scanner would permit us to scan our images with an even higher level of quality and detail, increasing the game's prettiness by 200%.
Background details.
Background details.
  • Marketing: we believe Selling Sunlight is a game that could be enjoyed even by people that aren't usually into games. A good marketing campaign can help us to reach a broader audience.

 

Since we exceeded our initial goal, we plan to use the additional funds to add more content to the base game, which will be free for all backers: more characters, more locations, more events...
We would also like to collaborate with diverse writers to add more varied characters to our world.
Here are the extra locations we planned, which include new characters to romance:

15.000€ - THE RED TEMPLE | REACHED!

A city on the bright side of the planet, where the Sun never sets.

A city protected by a dome of mirrors, and ruled by a tyrannical wizard.

A city where Golden-Priests are so powerful, they can become pure sunlight, and travel by mirror reflections.

A Golden Priest with a fabulous cloak.
A Golden Priest with a fabulous cloak.

A city made of glass, candles, and lies.

A city where they will teach you to love the Sun again.

Have you ever thought that He may not be so bad after all? Maybe he punished you with the Mask because he wanted you to become a better person. One that would be worthy of becoming His companion.

Visit the Red Temple. Romance the Sun. Try not to get burned.

We reached our target goal of 15.000€, so the Red Temple will be released as a DLC some time after the release of the main game; it will be free for all backers.

18.000€ - THE LILAC LEGION

The Lilac Legion is not a city: it's a lost army.

When people fought to take control of the strip of eternal sunset, three hundred years ago, the Lilac Legion lost.Their successors now live on the edge of the habitable zone, huddled in frozen carcasses of gigantic war-beasts.

A Lilac warlock and his familiar.
A Lilac warlock and his familiar.

The people of the Lilac Legion do not like the Sun: most never saw Him in their life. They prefer to mingle with strange gods and to give offerings to the Cold People, who do not actually look like people, but are savvier than most.

They ruled the world long ago, when it was colder. When the ice melted, they slept. Now that half of the planet is frozen, they're taking it back.

They don't like the Sun either. They look like colossal spiders made of snow and ice.

We don't doubt you'll find a way to smooch them anyway.

If we reach our target goal of 18.000€, The Red Temple will be released as a DLC some time after the release of the main game; it will be free for all backers.

All the social goals got filled! Thanks to all the people that streamed our game, liked our pages, lighted candles and sent us ridiculous, wonderful prayers. Your enthusiasm unlocked a new storyline that will be added to the game, free for everyone!

TIME TO RELEASE THE BEES

In the temple of the Sun-God, the most graceful bees are raised to produce the sweetest honey. Each has his own personal caretaker.
Would you like to become one?
Adopt a fluffy ball of wings. Give him a name. Bring him food. Pet him. Harvest royal jelly. Help him grow bigger and stronger. Who needs a cart when you can ride a giant bee?

 

We are Chiara, Anita and Giada, an all-female trio of artists from Italy. We met at Art School and worked together on comic books for years before jumping into games. We've known each other for a long time and already worked together, so our creative process is well-honed.

Those nice folks are also helping:

Selling Sunlight is our first commercial videogame, but we're being mentored by people much more experienced than us: the folks at Failbetter Games (Fallen London, Sunless Sea), graciously took us under their tentacles as part of their incubation program. Our writer/coder Giada spent 8 months working at their offices, receiving feedback about the project and learning how to transform our vague visions into a real game.
(Spreadsheets. We learned to use spreadsheets).

The only thing we need now is your support!

 

 

Risks and challenges

The skeleton of Selling Sunlight has already been built, and it's solid. All the most difficult parts of making a game (design, programming) have already been taken care of. What remains now is mostly content production: we have to write and draw all the characters and the storylines that will be in the game. The work is long, but doesn't present significant risks.

The biggest risk is that the game will take longer to complete than we've anticipated. It's our first time working on a project of this scale, and while we've made allowances in our schedule for unforeseen work or tasks that take longer than expected, accidents can always happen.
That's why we will release our planned roadmap after the Kickstarter, and keep backers informed about the state of the project through monthly updates.

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    Smuggler

    All previous rewards PLUS a digital copy of the game soundtrack and a prayerbook about the best god, THE SUN. Evangelize your friends! Tell them about the joy of being engulfed in flames!
    (Warning: setting your friends on fire is not advisable.)

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    All previous rewards PLUS a digital artbook full of sketches, illustrations and lore, including a short prequel comic.

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    Salesman

    All previous rewards PLUS leave a message! Send us a short text that will appear in the game. On a gravestone! As a message in a bottle! In a book! The possibilities are endless.

    Includes:
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    Exporter

    All Salesman rewards PLUS name a NPC! We'll use your name suggestion for one of the characters in the game.

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    Businessman

    All Salesman rewards PLUS design an artifact! Work with the team to design a rare artifact that will appear in the game.

    Includes:
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    Tycoon

    All Salesman rewards PLUS design a minor location! Work with the team to design a minor location that will appear in the game.

    Includes:
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    • DRM-free digital copy of the game and one Steam key (PC)
    • Beta access to the game
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    Pledge €300 or more About $358

    Merchants King

    All Salesman rewards PLUS design a character! Work with the team to design a traveler that will appear in the game. You will get to discuss both their design and their personal storyline.

    Includes:
    • Your name in the credits!
    • DRM-free digital copy of the game and one Steam key (PC)
    • Beta access to the game
    • Digital soundtrack
    • Digital prayerbook
    • Digital artbook
    • Digital prequel comic
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    Golden Saint

    All Salesman rewards PLUS become a Golden Saint.
    Saints are legendary, devoted priests that burnt so brightly they became half human and half flame.
    One of them will be named after you. Your story and your deeds will become a living part of the lore.
    How will you be remembered? Magnanimous prophet, or cheery pyromaniac?

    Includes:
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    • DRM-free digital copy of the game and one Steam key (PC)
    • Beta access to the game
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    • Digital prequel comic
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Funding period

- (35 days)