Stay in the shadows. Solve puzzles and conquer giants in a fully hand-drawn world.
Stay in the shadows. Solve puzzles and conquer giants in a fully hand-drawn world.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, November 15 2019 3:54 AM UTC +00:00.
Welcome to Umbra, our first video game! In this 2D top-down puzzle-platformer, you must stay in the shadows and overcome mountainous giants. Umbra follows Arlo through a fantasy world with six distinct cultures and environments. When long-dormant giants awaken and threaten the world, she sets out to restore balance. The other heroines of the land will aid her as she faces the giants and uncovers the mysteries of a lost civilization.
Shadow-Based Puzzles - If you step into sunlight, Arlo turns to stone. From redirecting streams to using the deadly giants’ shadows, you must make full use of your surroundings to survive. Arlo will also explore remnants of an ancient civilization—where she will find intact, advanced technology. The sun powers much of this technology, requiring you to utilize sunlight without letting it touch you.
Collectibles - Umbra will focus on both puzzles and exploration. Optional treasure chests will appear throughout the main storyline, and we’ll include secret dungeons for those seeking an extra challenge!
Animal Companions - In each area of the game, Arlo will adopt a new animal companion. You can switch between these animals at any savepoint. As of now, these animals provide friendly company and some guidance if you’re struggling with a puzzle—but we might add puzzles that use companions' specific abilities.
Alternate Outfits - You can unlock different outfits throughout the game. Some you will find as rare collectibles; others can be purchased at stores. You can change outfits at any savepoint. We won’t require that players wear certain outfits in certain areas, but we want to include reactions in the final game. These reactions could vary from Arlo shivering in the snow without a warm outfit to NPCs complimenting your outfit.
We formed our indie team, FLAG Games (Fight Like A Girl Games), a couple years ago with several video game concepts in mind. It wasn’t until last year that we settled on Umbra as our first full game. I (Dellen) was thrilled at the shadow mechanic and the various ways in which I could develop it. Sarah had always been excited to create new characters and worlds, but our previous ideas were intimidatingly ambitious. Umbra became the perfect starting point because it revolves around a single mechanic, features a less surreal world than our prior ideas, and connects environments to the peoples and giants that live within those environments.
I’ve started video game projects in the past, but I always felt hindered by my inability to make art or original graphics. Now, with Sarah’s incredible artwork, we can fully develop an original, creative game where my puzzles and Sarah’s art go hand-in-hand.
I came up with Umbra’s central mechanic when I watched Mune: Guardian of the Moon. In an early scene, Glim (a girl made of wax) hops from shadow to shadow to avoid melting—and I thought that would make an incredible video game! I immediately knew the top-down perspective would be perfect; from that angle, we could simultaneously show players the shadows on the ground and the objects creating those shadows.
One of my favorite games, Shadow of the Colossus, inspired the giants in Umbra. The colossi in Shadow of the Colossus combine combat with puzzle-solving, so putting giants in our puzzle game just felt right. I’m thrilled to take inspirations from Shadow of the Colossus to create my own gameplay and add 2D mechanics and shadow-based puzzles into the mix!
We’ve always appreciated games with few controls, so we’re developing Umbra in the same way. Players only need to move in four directions and occasionally press an action key—that’s it! Arlo’s innate abilities will never change. Instead, we want to keep players interested via new mechanics in the world. We want to fully flesh out our mechanics and continuously challenge players’ puzzle-solving skills.
Umbra is not silent, but it excludes text; characters speak in a language we made up. We were inspired by games that use gameplay instead of words to communicate mechanics, story, and emotion. We strive to make a game that’s just as intuitive, effective, and emotional as the games we love.
$10,000: More Habitats - There will still be six large areas within the game, but we can further develop those areas! We’ll add more habitats and objects within each area of the game to add more variety into the game world.
$12,000: More Idle Animations - We really wanted to add wind into the demo, but we simply didn’t have time. With $12,000, we would have the time and resources to develop more idle animations in the environment (like wind animations) as well as idle animations for the characters.
$16,000: More Outfits - We’d love to give Arlo more alternate outfits! Because Umbra is completely hand-drawn, we require significant time to add outfits into Arlo’s animations and cutscenes.
Sarah Byers: Artist - Sarah, also known as SamabyArt on Instagram, has been doing art since she was a little kid. She got her start doing water colors in elementary school. This blossomed a curiosity in the arts. After years of creating fan art paintings using acrylics, she finally got her hands on a tablet and started making digital art. Check out her artwork here: https://www.instagram.com/samabyart/
Dellen Miller: Programmer/Writer - Dellen has been playing games and writing novels since he was young. He studied English and Creative Writing and explored programming on the side using RPG Maker. He switched to Unity for Umbra and has enjoyed the new programming possibilities and challenges.
Oni Mellow: Composer - Artist and music producer from Houston, TX. An enthusiast of creating experiences! Check out his music here: https://soundcloud.com/onimellow
And thank you to Caitlin Byers for being our photographer, Eric Winkler for helping with programming, and Nathan Stevens for putting us in contact with Oni!
By the end of November, we will have fully depleted the funds we set aside for developing the game. We want to make this game and will continue developing it no matter what, but without funding, we won’t be able to finish Umbra for many years. We chose Kickstarter not only to raise more funds but also because we’ve encountered incredible creative works on Kickstarter. We love seeing the amazing concepts, stories, and social progress that come out of indie games! We hope our game—whenever it may come out—will contribute to the world, even if it’s only a small amount. We hope you see as much in our dream as we do. We hope you’ll support both us and our dream to make inclusivity a more widespread part of the world.
After distributing a percentage of the Kickstarter funds to our composer, Oni, we’ll apply the remaining funds to artwork. We’ve always devoted our money to the art; as the game’s only artist, Sarah requires a huge amount of time to create the world and its animations. Based on our prior funds and development, our $8,000 goal would allow Sarah to work on Umbra full-time for six months. After that, she would only work on the game part-time. That’s why our stretch goals are entirely connected to Umbra’s graphics: more money equals more time for Sarah. Our release date will remain constant—but with more funding, Sarah will have more time between now and then to develop the game.
Risks and challenges
This is the furthest we’ve ever developed a game; as such, we’ve encountered a lot of firsts. Sarah made animations for the first time. I switched from RPG Maker to Unity (which I had never used before) and wrote my own scripts for the first time. We’ll continue to explore new territory along the way, which always provides its own risks. But we’ve already learned so much! With each challenge we’ve overcome, we’ve become more and more passionate about the game we’re creating. Over the next two years, we will push the boundaries as far as we can without sacrificing our deadline. Your support will give us the time we need to challenge ourselves further and perfect whatever skillsets we choose to tackle. We want to make this game as amazing as possible, but we know we can only do so much with the time and resources available to us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter