Abyssian Knights is a combat-driven animated web series about a covert military organization that is forced to go rogue in order to save themselves and overthrow the powers that be. It's a story about deception, secret societies and assassination.
Rendered in Unreal Engine 4 using a proprietary cel shader developed by our internal code ninjas, the Abyssian Knights project is a cross-media IP making its first appearance as a web series. The base funding goal of our Kickstarter is to fund the production of two episodes with additional funding enabling us to deliver more episodes and improve the quality of the project.
The story itself focuses around Aria, a young woman who's gone a bit too far infiltrating a secret society trying to find closure.
Conceptually, we took the drama and mystery from a Cold War Spy Story as well as a Prohibition Era Gangster tales and mashed it up with a modern fantasy version of the secretive Knights Templar. All done in the style of Japanese anime and rendered in a cutting edge game engine.
The web series is going to be available for free. You're backing this because you want to see this kind of stuff happen and also be able to brag to your friends that you were apart of something totally awesome when it was at ground zero.
The beautiful, port city of Heavensfall holds a secret.
Aria DaCappa has a pretty normal life as a college student in the city, partying it up with her childhood friend, Edouard "Derp" Derpiene.
However, when she finds an old magic crystal in her cellar, she begins to realize that things are not quite as they seem in her family.
An initiation into a secret organization leaves Aria with some startling questions about her past. She sets off to the run down fortified city of old-Heavensfall to find some answers where she meets her new handler, the mysteriously cold bartender, Tatiana Kraslichnaya. However, after she is introduced to the drug Angel Dust, Aria slowly finds herself caught in a web of demonic worship, deception and assassination.
Can Aria resist the draw of Angel Dust and uncover the secret of the magic crystal before it’s too late, or will her demise become yet another Heavensfall legend?
[NOTE: Web series plot subject to change]
NOTE: Character descriptions are done in the style of "Director's Notes". These are similar to the notes we have prepped for our character designer as well as any potential Actors or Voice Actors to really get a feel for what the characters are like. We want these characters to feel like real people you can relate to.
Aria, is our main protagonist in the web series. She's your typical somewhat bubbly college student. Headstrong and loyal, you can think of her like the girl-next-door who happens to be the captain of the college volleyball team. She's into cute things, drinking copious amounts of coffee and reading manga with a special fondness for BL manga.
However, that's mostly a facade. After some traumatizing events in her life, Aria keeps up this front to hide her depression, insecurity and fear of failure. Deep down she seeks closure for the events that happened and trains herself so she can one day seek justice on the people that wronged her.
Even though she's one of those girls will fawn over cute puppies. Piss her off before she get's her morning coffee and she will kill you!! O__O (editor's note: pretty sure we all know a few people like that!)
Aria's BFF. Tall and handsome, Ed melts hearts and has a thing for flashy clothes and nice shoes. Women love him and men like hanging around him. He's "that guy". Although what's strange is even though he's a ladies man through and though, somehow he's still single.
Coming from a long line of nobility that has served the Lords of the Land for generations, Ed is the "Seventh son of a Seventh son" in his family. Because of his special status, he's rather sheltered and is a bit more than "naive" when it comes to the rest of the world.
He met Aria as a child playing in the dirt or at least that's what he like's to say. In reality, he was getting bullied by a bunch of kids and Aria just happened to be there to kick their asses, but he won't admit to it. The playing in the dirt part happened after 'cause he had cool toys and his mom gave extra cookies for his "friends" that he didn't have.
Ed is probably one of the coolest guys you'll ever meet. He will totally be your best wing man at any party or the perfect fake boyfriend to show your parents to get them off your back. He is however, confident to the point where he seems arrogant and sometimes forgets that "normal" people don't have his privileges. Because of that, he is often seen as being a snobby jerk but thankfully Aria is usually around to break reality to him (usually with a swift kick to the shin or a smack to the head.)
What show is complete without someone broodingly mysterious? A former Mozhno girl that was sold and traded(feel free to look that up), Tatiana's got a thing for knives and no one is sure if she's just a hardcore drink mixologist or a mad scientist because of her fondness for experimenting with sometimes poisonous or hazardous chemicals.
As the bartender at the Bloody Elle's tavern, she has no problems dealing with drunks and has earned the respect from all the patrons as no one has yet, managed to drink her under the table. If she ever slips something in your drink though, it'll either be the best thing you've ever had or something you'll regret for a while.
She's got the elegance of a lady-in-waiting, the grace of a ballerina and the rapier wit of a snarky professor on exam day but, for some damn reason she tends to have the resting b!tch-face thing going on 24/7, making her hard for anyone to approach. Not to say she doesn't smile and laugh, but she's one of those people who always looks serious even when they're not. On the flip side though, the folks that earned her friendship have someone that's loyal beyond anything as she will do anything to help.
Sinclair & Book
Sinclair is Tatiana's adopted younger sister. Adventurous and full of energy, she's a twelve year old with Kawaii turned to eleven. While she can be a bit girly at times, she's fearless with quite an imagination which tends to get her into a lot of trouble. You can totally envision her sneaking into Tatiana's room in an imaginary secret mission, battling monsters in an attempt to recover a legendary book on Tatiana's shelf labelled "Tantric Secrets", only to get within arms reach before BAM! "an angry boss lady suddenly appears!!" and is immediately kicked out of the room.
Like most young girls, she's got a huge crush on someone, except in our case, it happens to be Ed and she will do everything in her power to stop him from meeting other girls. Imagine being Ed for a minute trying to ask someone out on a date. Things are going good until some 12 year old runs up to interrupt your conversation saying, "Daddy!! Mommy is having the baby now, we need to go!! Hurry!!!'. As your being dragged away, the person you were just talking to looks at you with disgust and leaves. The kid? That kid would be Sinclair c*ckblocking you and you just got owned... again...
Book is literally Sinclair's magic book and the two are totally inseparable. What makes book interesting is that instead of being the typical magic book that acts like a grumpy old dude, Book for some strange reason has the personality of a cute five month old puppy.
For the most part, Book acts as the voice of reason for Sinclair, but like most puppies, Book tends to run off chasing things it finds interesting. This often leads to Book getting Sinclair into trouble as much as often as it tries to get her out of it. We don't call these two the trouble making duo for nothing!
So you've seen the teaser video and you're probably wondering, what does the final product kinda look like? Thankfully one person actually told us that was what they were thinking and to share with everyone, here's a screenshot to give you a better idea. While it's not a screen grab of an animation sequence (the model is just in the standard T-Pose), it should give you a taste of what the visuals will be like for the series.
This screenshot itself compares the current Aria model with and without the outline against an very typical painted anime background. It's taken us about a year of R&D just to get to this point and we'll only be getting better. We've actually engineered the process so we can now have an outline that looks more hand traced and can actually have a different outline color for something like the hair than the rest of the body, just like in hand drawn anime.
(Oh did we mention that this isn't a pre-rendered image? This image was rendered in real time and is what we see when we're moving the camera around in engine. Final renders will be better as we'll be able to add additional camera effects and improved anti-aliasing)
Imagine if you had the opportunity to be a part of the community of an exciting new series right at the very beginning. Imagine being able to tell your not-quite-as-cool mainstream friends that you were into this stuff before it was cool. Well guess what? we're giving you that opportunity right now!!!
Get in early on the True Believer Early Bird tier (now renamed to the Braggin' Rights tier) and we'll issue you a digital certificate with your name on it that, certifying your bragging rights as an early adopter!!
"Making video games and anime is pretty much what every nerdy geek wants to do but it’s not always possible so most folks just file it away as a dream and go on being responsible adults.
However... Anyone who's ever tried to be a "responsible adult" knows much that whole "adulting" thing sucks.
The endless cycle of eating, sleeping and going to work just to pay bills sucks, the whole idea that only losers like anime and video games as adults suck and the notion that it's unrealistic to pursue the dream making that stuff sucks!
But you know what keeps everyone going?... HOPE.
Hope that one day the opportunity knocks on our door. Hope that the skills we’ve been honing on the side is good enough to meet the opportunity and the hope for support to help make it all happen.
My team and I have been working away for years trying to get everything ready to this point and the opportunity is currently knocking on our door. What we lack now, is the support.
The mainstream is only concerned about those who are already proven themselves to be successful. The rest of us underdogs who are still working day-in and day-out to be the overnight sensation get little to no support, which is why we’re here on Kickstarter.
I’m hoping to reach out to the fellow dreams out there who share a similar goals and dreams. I'm not just talking about the teenager who dreams of making their own video game or anime but also the 20-something recent graduate who lost their way in life as well as the 30+ who have long lost hope.
There simply aren’t enough cases of people (especially late in their lives like me) who managed to successfully pursue the dream of making a video game or anime but I'd like to prove that it *IS* possible and maybe inspire someone else to follow suit.
Doing all this isn’t easy but we can do it because you all believed in us.”
Originally we wanted to set the campaign goal for $200k but since we're a bunch of unknown people and we don't have any embarrassing stories from peoples parents to use as leverage, we decided to aim for $30k.
The goal of $30k is the absolute minimum we need to bring on board the animators who have helped get the project things far on a part time basis. The Abyssian Knights project falls into this weird spot in between the ultra-low budget one-two person indie projects which tend to really only raise about $5k and the well known companies going the indie route which can easily command $500k+.
While asking for $30k means we can bring in staff on a part time basis, it really only guarantees the delivery of 2 episodes and with a script rewrite to minimize the number of characters. We'll still have to pull in favors and sink in our own personal funds for everything else, just like we have done so up until now. Our hope is that you enjoy the first season enough that you'd be willing to help support the development of the content when we Kickstart more content in the future.
After the delivery of the first two episodes, we're just going to roll out additional content whenever we can afford to get things done. This is ultimately a passion project of ours and we'll just keep investing our own time and money to keep it going. As long as there's one person out there who enjoys this stuff, we'll just keep slowly cranking stuff out.
We like to believe that this is going to be the one of the few things that some kid in a hospital really enjoys in life and it's what helps keep him or her going. If this project helps them, it's worth it. Even if we're delusion to believe that, if this project helps inspire someone else out there to pursue their own dream of making some awesome stuff, it's still worth it.
Basically, at the bare minimum, you get two guaranteed episodes with the rest coming whatever, but you have the power to change that by helping us hit those stretch goals!
If you look at the chart carefully you'll see that at the bare minimum raised here only really covers some animation and some operational overhead associated with making the animations happen. Ideally, we'd like to get $200k for a full season which allows us to bring to you, real voice actors (not just the producer and his friends), improved motion capture, some proper music that isn't just something we got off a stock music site and we can finally pay for some back end programming to improve the visual quality of the cel shader.
Even though for the most part, we're offering digital rewards, our research has indicated that reward fulfillment in general still takes up about 30-40% of the gross amount raised. *IF* Anything is left over from our rewards budget, we'll let Budd splurge on a couple of packs of the premium $0.79 instant noodles for one day and then put the rest towards the production.
[The fine print: All sales final. No shoes, no shirt, no service and all that jazz. Oh yeah, absolutely no refunds but will offer a lifetime warranty on the digital bragging rights certificate. We want your grand kids to brag about you being the first people to get in on this.]
--- The boring part where we tell you about us ---
Dev Null Studios - Originally founded as the R&D division of our parent company, we eventually became a contractual ninja development house providing covert and clandestine ghost services for a select group of clients worldwide. We have since then risen out of the shadows to develop our own IP with Abyssian Knights being the first of many.
Due to contractual obligations, we can’t disclose what we’ve worked on. Just think of us as a bunch unknown game developers who are just somehow really well connected and happen to be licensed developers for a couple of major game consoles. (Yes the Abyssian Knights game will be coming to console! But first, the web series!!)
Senbon Umishima - Our Super Awesome Character Designer. A seasoned veteran from the anime industry, Umishima-san provides the authentic anime character designs this project needed. Why have character designs that are merely inspired by anime when we can get characters designed by an actual anime character designer? How much more legit can you get? You can check out her credits over on here.
About the Producer (cause he get's all the blame)
Budd Royce Lam – Ex-CEH, MM AF&AM, founder of the Dev Null Studios,the official forum for Caparison guitars forum and the only officially recognized forum for DiMarzio guitar products. He is one of the leading instructors at Ryerson University's course series "Computer Programming for Game Developers" and a former mentee under one of the previous "dragons" in the reality tv show "Dragons' Den"(Shark Tank in the US). This guy has more pieces of paper from schools around the world than we actually want to believe.
Founding his first business in 2007 as the distributor for the Japanese brand Caparison Guitars, he switched gears in 2012 and established Dev Null Studios to pursue his geeky teenage dreams of making video games and anime.
Being the ever ambitious person that he is, Budd was one of the internationally select few to be part of the first public cohort for Harvard Business School’s interactive online initiative, HBX CORe. With plans to study Disruptive Innovation with the legendary Clayton Christenson, he is polishing his writing and directing skills in the mean time by taking master classes taught by famed American writer, James Patterson and German film director, Werner Herzog. (you know stuff that's more relevant to this project)
(Oh if you’re wondering, we can confirm that he doesn’t really sleep)
Risks and challenges
The primary risks we face are budget overruns and unforeseen delays in production. Both of which are not actually unique to our production as it exists in virtually every production out there. The risks that are unique to this project are primarily technological and have been mostly mitigated during pre-production through extensive R&D.
Our biggest challenge is staffing as being a small independent company, we simply don’t have the budget to bring on a team of people that would normally be needed for a production of this type. Even though the core staff on this project are willing to live off instant ramen while living with their parents to make this project happen, we can’t expect the same thing from everyone. While we have been able to secure the some help from friends to assist us in the areas we are weakest at (like character rigging), there is only so much they can do before we need to bring in dedicated staff. Getting qualified folks onboard with a limited budget is hard, but thankfully pledge now and you can help fix that! :DLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)