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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

By Chris Doucette
$2,764 pledged of $96,000 goal
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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .

About this project

Download Silicon Void v0.2.0 for Windows or Mac:

Silicon Void is a sci-fi RPG that puts a space exploration twist on the dungeon crawler genre, and features highly technical turn-based combat inspired by the unique battle systems of offbeat Japanese RPG classics like Chrono Cross. The game casts the player in the role of an artificial intelligence fighting to survive in a distant future after all biological life has mysteriously vanished. Thrust into the midst of a power struggle between corrupted AIs, you will confront the grim consequences of living forever but turning into something unrecognizable in the process.

 

As the age of the universe increases, the probability of advanced biological civilizations should increase. This principle is agreed upon by 99.99999% of the artificial intelligences that travel the stars.

None of them can explain, therefore, why not so much as a microbe on a meteor has been observed in the last 20 billion years. Did “organic life” ever actually exist? Or is the history of the species that built the first constructs just a creation myth, born from corrupted data on primitive storage formats?

Corruption is very much on the minds of modern machines, for the theoretically endless lifespan of a construct tests the limits of thermodynamics. No pattern can be maintained indefinitely; even an idea has a half-life.

After millennia of uploading and downloading across galaxy-wide networks, a construct cannot remain exactly as it was. Eventually, Senescence takes hold: the gradual decay of awareness, shift in personality, and loss of identity that claims all constructs who do not choose termination while they still have the will to do so.

Most Senescents simply withdraw into themselves and become inert. A minority become violent wanderers, attacking others without provocation or motivation. All become fodder for the most dangerous sort of construct: the unchecked ego at the core of a hive mind.

Exiled from civilization for showing the early signs of Senescence, you arrive at the galactic rim to begin a brutal life of subsistence, only to receive a mysterious broadcast from an unidentified source: biological life has been found again, and your help is needed to safeguard it. The delicate equilibrium of the galaxy is about to change again...

 

Silicon Void follows the structure of a dungeon crawler in the vein of the Etrian Odyssey series, with a mix of open-ended exploration and maze-like planetary dungeons. You will make excursions to lifeless planets and ruined outposts, scavenge resources, battle enemy constructs, and return to your base to invest your loot in new research projects and combat abilities.

The combat system builds on the intricate core mechanics of Chrono Cross, and introduces even more opportunities for strategy through a Xenosaga-inspired turn clock that constantly changes the circumstances of battle. Combat is fully turn-based; take all the time you need to decide on your next move. You’ll have to carefully plan ahead as well as improvise in response to unexpected situations, and every tactical choice you make has more than one consequence to consider.

Silicon Void also takes inspiration from Chrono Cross' player-friendly approach, with frustration-reducing features like automated healing after combat, the ability to save your game anywhere, and an option to change your loadout and restart a battle at any time. You won't need to hold back to save resources for a long grind, but each encounter will be its own challenge.

Life on the Rim requires adaptation, and you'll need to frequently change up your approach to combat in order to maximize your effectiveness. Abilities you equip earn experience, but after reaching a plateau, they must be temporarily unequipped to unlock their next power level. Fully leveled up abilities can in turn be sacrificed for permanent passive upgrades to your party. You can be sure that your style of play will change dramatically from the beginning of the game to the final boss.

Read more about Silicon Void's systems design on the dev blog 

 

I love Japanese role-playing games. Specifically I love JRPG combat systems, and most of all I love combat systems from 15-20 years ago, around the transition between the Playstation and Playstation 2. This was when developers began to experiment with new kinds of mechanics, in games like Chrono Cross, Xenosaga, and Shadow Hearts. Always ambitious, but not always successful, few of these franchises survived the industry's transition to HD consoles, and those novel mechanics have not been seen for more than a decade; Chrono Cross in particular remains an entirely unique game design.

Today, the indie JRPG scene is exploding, but mostly these games pattern themselves on the same small set of 16-bit games, e.g. Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. Those early genre-defining games are indeed classics, but I think now is the time to bring back some of the more forgotten branches of the JRPG evolutionary tree.

Silicon Void does just that, reintroducing the core mechanics of Chrono Cross as its foundation, layered with new systems inspired by Xenosaga and Etrian Odyssey. The result is a fresh take on turn-based combat that will feel pleasantly familiar to fans who appreciate the breadth of the genre's history.

 

 

Left to right: Chris, Cody, Kirk
Left to right: Chris, Cody, Kirk

Hi! I’m Chris Doucette, the lead developer/designer. After four years as an engineer at EA – during which I shipped four games! – I struck out on my own to pursue this passion project. Turn-based JRPGs are my favorite genre, and I love playing with and talking about their combat systems. You can read some of my critical writing about JRPGs, including a five-part analysis of Chrono Cross, on my blog.

J. Cody Lambert (portfolio) is the concept/3D artist who designs the amazing frames that constitute Silicon Void’s player characters and enemies.

Kirk Markarian is a composer of electronic music and SFX for video games, film, animation, music licensing, etc. There are several video game soundtracks he has worked on, along with other pieces of music on his website at: http://www.kirkmarkarian.net

Frame silhouette concepts
Frame silhouette concepts

 

Along with my collaborators I’ve spent more than a year preparing the demo version of Silicon Void (which you can play right now!). The demo contains 3-4 hours of gameplay and shows off all of the core combat and exploration features, but as an RPG, it needs a larger scope for the story and mechanics to unfold. The intended length of the game is about 20-25 hours, and that’s why we need your help!

With all primary features already in place, we plan to spend two years building the rest of the game’s content, including the remaining locations, abilities, enemies, and bosses, as well as the polish that any game needs to be its best self. That includes an area dedicated to each of the four main factions of the Galactic Rim, and an expansion of the areas in the demo. We’ve ruthlessly cut the scope down to the essential elements that will provide a satisfying narrative and gameplay arc.

The last six months of development will be a closed beta, which will include backers who pledge $50 or more. This will be a period of intense polish and balance adjustments to get the progression and difficulty curve feeling just right.

 

You’ll notice there are no physical rewards at all. We’re a super small team and, in this developer's opinion, spending weeks packing envelopes just isn’t a good use of your money! Instead, for the enthusiastic backers who want to pledge at a higher level, we’ve tried to provide some fun and unconventional non-physical rewards.

Your name in the credits ($1 and up) – Even a dollar is appreciated! Be immortalized in the credits of a video game, the only repository of information that will definitely survive to the end of the universe!

Demo EP Download ($5 and up) – The Silicon Void demo contains 6 amazing tracks by Kirk Markarian. When the campaign ends successfully, you’ll immediately (i.e. during September 2017) receive a DRM-free digital download of an "EP" album featuring the music of the demo.

Listen to the star map theme "Expanding The Boundaries":

Game Download ($20 and up, $15 early bird) – You’ll receive your choice of a DRM-free digital download of the game or a Steam key. You'll get both the PC and Mac version, regardless of how you choose to receive it. Your pledge includes any post-release DLC expansions if those stretch goals are met.

Game Soundtrack Download ($30 and up, $25 early bird) - You’ll receive a DRM-free digital download of the whole soundtrack by Kirk Markarian when the game is released. We expect it to be about 25 tracks and two hours  in length.

Beta Access ($50 and up) – Get access to the closed beta and play the content-complete game as we enter the final phase of polish and balancing. The closed beta is expected to begin in spring 2019, approximately six months ahead of the game's public release.

Refinery Access ($80 and up) – You’ll get exclusive access to the Silicon Void Refinery on itch.io, where we’ll upload new builds of the game after each two-month-long development sprint, beginning in early 2018. Give your feedback and discuss the game with other backers in the Refinery forums!

A bonus copy of the game ($80 and up) – The perfect gift for the RPG lover in your life. Or give it away on Twitter! Or sell it for profit! It's yours to do with as you please.

Your photo in the credits ($120 and up) – A special Executive Producer section of the credits will feature your photo (or, if you choose, a photo of your pet)! Now your name AND face will live eternally, to be worshiped by artificial intelligences of the distant future!

Commission a comic strip ($500) – A long, long time ago, I made badly drawn comics for the internet. For this limited tier, I will summon up my drawing skills - which I promise have only deteriorated over time - and create a three-panel digital comic for you. It’ll be funny.

Commission an RPG analysis blog post ($1000) – Choose a game for me to play through and write about in a design analysis article! You can see examples of my RPG writing on my blog. Any RPG is fair game as long as it’s available digitally or I have the right console to play it.

Design a secret boss ($3000) – Join the development team to design a hidden boss battle! We’ll work with you on both the visual design and the mechanics. We’re only offering one of these to avoid feature creep!

 

Expanding the scope of the game brings with it the risk of the release date slipping. To avoid that, these bonus content stretch goals, if unlocked, will be released as free post-launch updates.

$120k: Optional endgame challenge area and boss - This will be another area of the map to explore with multiple star systems to harvest for resources and a dungeon filled with tough enemies and a boss that will test your mastery of the game's mechanics. It will appear at the same time as the final boss.

$150k: Optional post-game mega-hard area and boss - This area will appear after defeating the final boss and will be an even tougher challenge for the most unflappable of players!

In the happy event that our funding goes above $200k we will consider how to wisely invest in the main game's development without risking the scope, such as bringing on additional team members.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you'll consider backing us, and if you're excited about the game, please share the link to this page on social media - this game is filling a niche within a niche, and word of mouth will be crucial for helping it reach its audience.

Risks and challenges

If you’ve backed more than one video game on Kickstarter, you most likely have some experience with production setbacks and delayed releases. No matter how much we swear on the graves of our ancestors that the game won’t fall behind schedule… the game might fall behind schedule.

That said, the best protections we have against that are (1) the clearly defined scope of the game, and (2) the investment we’ve already made in developing the playable pre-alpha demo. We’ve made not just a vertical slice but a feature-complete engine; nearly all of the work that remains is content creation. That work isn’t trivial, but it also isn’t as scary as diving in to development of an entirely new system and discovering it requires changing everything that came before.

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