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A Role Playing Simulation With Emergent AI
A Role Playing Simulation With Emergent AI
1,561 backers pledged $35,213 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Voxel Quest project video thumbnail
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$35,213

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Visit the forums here

Too late for Kickstarter? You can still get some rewards here

Click here for the full image album (with larger images)

Now With Perspective Camera! (Click to see it in action)
Now With Perspective Camera! (Click to see it in action)

What can I do with $30k? (see funding and budget below)

Brief Summary of Voxel Quest:

Voxel Quest (temporary name) is an open-ended world simulator.  It is still early in development and I am making many design choices based on your input.  Although I initially stressed it being a roguelike, there are other options as well.  I am planning on supporting 3 modes of play so far, all of which are rather interrelated:

  • Traditional CRPG mode: simulating a vast open world in which you play your small part among many NPCs controlled by an intelligent, emergent AI that will do everything you can do. (Skeptical? Take a look in the forums; most people that take the time to read about it are convinced this is possible.)
  • Roguelike mode: similar to above, but designed for people who don't have much time to play games (i.e. you can play a full game in one sitting).
  • Tabletop/sandbox mode: similar to the first mode, but you have a lot more control of the game (like a dungeon master would in a tabletop game).  CastAR support is coming for the ultimate tabletop experience! (See updates for perspective camera)

For the most up to date information on design choices, it is advised that you visit the forums. Also, full source is coming to Github soon.

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Inspirations and Design Choices

To say that what I am producing is like a given game would not really do it justice, but I think you might get additional insight from knowing the games that inspired me.  The games pictured above are just a few of the ones I have enjoyed, in addition to many CCGs and board games (note: these are just that - games I have enjoyed, not necessarily games that VQ is based on).  My favorite RPGs were probably Fallout 1 / 2 and Ultima 6 / 7.  VQ’s design is inspired by many principles found in various games and genres.  A few of these principles include:

  • Easy to learn, hard to master.

  • Only one difficulty level, which is very challenging but not unfairly so.

  • No grinding, no repetition.

  • Always engage the user mentally (never a "dull" moment).

  • Avoid boring chores, tasks, and cumbersome interface.

  • Isolate learning into small chunks - users should learn as they play (without annoying / forced tutorials).

  • Simple, but infinitely extensible mechanics in the spirit of most collectible card games.

  • Risk vs. reward is always heavily emphasized.

  • Deterministic gameplay - always choose skill over chance when designing game mechanics.
 

Funding and Budget

The majority of the budget will be allocated to salaries.  If the campaign is successful enough, a small portion of the money will be used to purchase any necessary hardware and/or software.  The funding will NOT be wasted on shipping t-shirts, posters, and other swag - in fact there are no physical rewards in this campaign.

The funding goal I have set is small but it will get the game to public alpha.  I have other choices for funding as well, but Kickstarter is my first choice because it cuts out the middlemen (for the most part) and allows me to retain equity and control of my company.  Retaining control is important because it ensures that I can make the best choices for the community.  My fallback is to get the game as far as possible and then continue funding it with preorders and early access (via Steam or similar stores), if needed.  I have already been Greenlit so this is potentially viable.  My next choice is to go back to my initial investor (who funded the first year of development) and ask for more money, but he is not wealthy and this would not be an ideal scenario for either of us.  My last choice, which is by no means ideal, is to get funding from another investor.  While my initial investor has given me full control of the game, company, and business model, the same cannot necessarily be said for future investors (many of whom might want to cash out as soon as possible).

Ideally I can raise considerably more than the minimum amount (but I will be thankful for whatever I get!) - this will allow me to quickly ramp up my team (and hence my development speed and/or product quality).  I am primarily looking to hire some additional artists and programmers, given sufficient funding.  Music and sound will be done on a per-song or per-sound effect contractual basis.  Hiring competent people is expensive (and equity cannot feed your other team members).

Budget (Click to Enlarge)
Budget (Click to Enlarge)

Pricing

Below is an anticipated schedule for pricing.  Note that the game will not go on sale (i.e. have reduced pricing) for a long time, to be fair to early backers.  So, if you want a reduced price on the game, your best bet is to back this project now.  I am providing this schedule so that you don't have to guess how long you should wait to buy the game.  This schedule is subject to change, but I will try my best to stick to it.

Pricing Schedule (Click to Enlarge)
Pricing Schedule (Click to Enlarge)

Rewards

As mentioned, there are no physical rewards.  Organizing, creating or buying, and shipping out physical rewards is a time consuming process.  I don't want anyone to miss out on anything, so I have tried my best to create a fair campaign that is easily affordable for anyone, while giving some special recognition to those who do put in a bit more money. 

IMPORTANT NOTES ON THE REWARDS: 

The reward dates on the list to the left designate the date which the game and soundtrack are targeted to "go gold" (i.e. ready to ship for review).  The soundtrack will be delivered when it is complete, which could take years.  The game keys will be delivered when it hits Alpha, which is currently anticipated at around January 2015 but could be later.  Event tickets/passes may be issued early but the events will occur on their designated dates.  In shorter words, everything will ship as soon as possible, but not prematurely.  I reserve the right to give out a few additional limited rewards at my discretion (probably no more than 10-20 overall).  These rewards will mostly go to those who backed my original game, Genesis, or were very active within its community.  Also note that the highest tier grants you any reward, even if sold out already (really, if anybody does purchase that reward tier, I think that we should be thankful for them pouring funding into the project, rather than scornful that additional rewards were added).

Reward Types

Most reward tiers involve one or more of the following rewards:

  • New! Vote Tokens: provided with the $50 and up tiers, these tokens will allow you to vote on features to be implemented in the game.
  • Bonus! Soundtrack: all reward tiers will include a DRM free digital soundtrack.  It is likely the soundtrack will be packaged with the game as easily accessible MP3, OGG, or MOD files.
  • Game Keys: these keys will grant you access to the game via a distribution service like Steam or Humble Bundle (if possible, I'd like to keep the game DRM free).  There are three periods of access; from earliest to latest they are: Alpha (est. December 2014), Beta (est. March 2015) and the Release Client (RC) (est. March 2017).  Every tier $10 and up receives access to all release periods.  These periods are subject to change, but I will do my best to keep them on schedule.
  • Launch Party Tickets: assuming the campaign is a success, I will be throwing a party to celebrate the launch of the public beta, likely some time in 2015, potentially around the time of Comic-Con (i.e. 1-7 days prior to Comic-Con), which starts around July 9th of 2015.  The party will most likely be in downtown San Diego (according to the reward tiers, it will be at most 600 people; most venues support this amount but it may need to be relocated depending on availability).
  • Design Pass: name or help design one item, item set, or monster in the game. The names and designs must be appropriate to a fantasy setting (no anachronisms or wacky over-the-top humor). No lewd, violent, or pornographic material, keep it PG-rated please. All names and designs must comply with trademark laws and any other relevant laws. All designs subject to my personal discretion, maximum of five designs can be submitted but only one will be accepted.
  • Spot In The Credits: your name in the credits (or an alias, or even a sponsored company name and link), ordered by the amount pledged. Limited to 60 people total, and only available in the limited reward tiers above $100.  In other words, even if you donate $1000 but there are only lower tiers available, you will not get a spot in the credits (but you will get my personal gratitude).  This is to prevent the credits from getting flooded with so many backers that being credited becomes meaningless. Credits will be shown every time the game boots up, on the game website, and from the game menu.
  • VIP Dinner (tentatively canceled, unless enough people want to do it): Come have a "VIP" dinner with me and we can talk about games or anything else you want (bring a friend or significant other if you wish). This dinner will be held the night of the launch party and you will attend it with the other Diamond level backers. You pay for transportation to San Diego and lodging if necessary, but I will cover the cost of dinner and drinks for everyone (go easy on the Dom Perignon please).
  • Badges: you will receive a special digital badge that will be visible on your forum avatar (in the forums on the Voxel Quest website) and in the game itself (if you are recording videos of your playthroughs, you can "show off" your backer credentials to others).  There will likely be measures to catch fake badges so that hackers can be easily identified (and appropriately tarred and feathered).  These badges do not unlock any special functions in the game or in the forums.  The badges in this campaign will be exclusive to this campaign (no one can earn them outside of the campaign).  There might be additional, non-exclusive badge types that can be earned outside of the campaign, this remains to be determined.

Stretch Goals (or lack thereof)

There are no stretch goals.  I have one product in my head, and my goal is to get it to you any way I can.  That said, the more money I raise the more quickly I can ramp up in terms of hiring additional employees.  Additional money will allow more polish for the game including more advanced effects and animations, more models, monsters, more items, more interactivity, more music, more platform support, and so forth, but will not effect the overall design of the game.

Requirements:

  • 64 bit operating system (Windows initially, Steam OS, Mac, and Linux to follow based on the success of funding and sales).
  • 64 bit (x64) CPU.
  • A modern GPU with 1 Gigabyte of memory or more (former requirements were higher, but I've optimized memory usage a lot).
  • 8 Gigabytes or greater of system memory.
  • Disk space TBD (should be low).

Music

There are currently two songs for Voxel Quest, both of which I composed in Renoise, a tracker in the style of traditional MOD/IT tracker.  The music is inspired by other games that used tracker-based music, like Star Control and Dune.  The music style might seem anachronistic, but will make sense in the context of the plot, which I am not divulging yet (!).  I personally don't have much time to compose, nor am I good at it, and I am still looking for an awesome composer to make the game shine (since March 2014, there have been 50+ submissions to make music for the game, but I will continue to evaluate every offer that comes my way).

Song 1:

 Song 2:

Past Work:

(All engines below were built from scratch)

An old voxel engine:

A small 4-player racing game made for the Ouya:

Genesis (2004-2006):

Legal Info:

Inventory icons were purchased/licensed from 7Soul on gamedevmarket.net:

http://www.gamedevmarket.net/asset/16x16-icons-for-rpg-pack-1-915/

Logo fonts are based on work from Daniel Guldkran's Free Fonts Online site:

http://www.algonet.se/~guld1/freefont.htm

Nature sounds are under the CC BY 3.0 License from:

http://archive.org/details/Sounds_of_Nature_Collection

All other sounds and instruments were from:

http://tracker.modarchive.org/

WHAT IS TWITTER SAYING ABOUT VOXEL QUEST?

Risks and challenges

If Hollywood is to be believed, the gladiators had this concept of a "glorious death" - there was no better way to die than in a fight where the odds were very much against you. In the same way, if I am to fail, I would prefer to fail in pursuit of a worthy challenge.

The hard truth is that VQ is an ambitious project, and admittedly even I find myself doubting it sometimes. I believe in what I am working on (to the point where I have sacrificed the better part of my life on it), but I am not entirely naive and I know from experience that anything can fail. That said, failure is not black or white. I am already tremendously proud of what I have accomplished, and I think that the product will only get better with time. The end result might not be everything that I dream it to be, but I hope that I can at least make something that approaches my vision.

One thing you will NOT be disappointed in is my commitment to this project and my allocation of its budget. This project really means a lot to me - if all I cared about was money I would have already sold out. Investors have already offered me more money than I could probably raise in this campaign.

The main risks in this campaign mostly revolve around time (and if I rule out external investors, money as well). How fast can I deliver everything that I want to? How much time from my personal life (and how much of my health) can I sacrifice to make this project? How frugal can I keep the budget without sacrificing my sanity?

I have put a lot of work and money into this project, all in good faith that I am making something which you want to play. I hope that what I have at this point is enough to inspire at least a little bit of confidence in what I am capable of producing. Whether or not you decide to back this project, thank you for taking the time to read about it. Even if you can't contribute money, spreading word of this project helps me a lot.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Reward Additions:

    Topaz Badge ($50): 1 vote token
    Emerald Badge ($100): 2 vote tokens
    Sapphire Badge ($250): 5 vote tokens
    Ruby Badge ($500): 10 vote tokens
    Diamond Badge ($1000): 20 vote tokens

    Use these vote tokens to vote on (or propose) new features to be added to Voxel Quest. Features must be feasible in terms of time/effort/complexity/engine limitations.

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    SEE THE "REWARDS" SECTION FOR FURTHER DETAILS

    Bronze Badge --- Receive a Kickstarter exclusive digital badge (Bronze). All tiers also include a digital, DRM-free version of the game's soundtrack for download.
    Spoils: 1 Bronze Badge, Digital Soundtrack

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    Silver Badge --- Receive a Kickstarter exclusive digital badge (Silver) and a digital key to play the Alpha version of the game and beyond.
    WARNING: although early access builds will go out relatively soon, it will probably be at least another year before the gameplay is at all flushed out. --- Spoils: 1 Game Key (value $20), 1 Silver Badge

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    BackerClub.co exclusive: If you are a member of BackerClub.co, you can get the Gold Badge and all associated rewards half off (normally $20, with this promo just $10). That's just $5 per game key!!

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    Gold Badge --- Recieve a Kickstarter exclusive digital badge (Gold) and 2 game keys (one for a friend!). Spoils: 2 Game Keys (value $40), 1 Gold Badge

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    Platinum Badge --- Spoils: 3 Game Keys (value ($60), 1 Platinum Badge

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    Topaz Badge --- Come with a friend or significant other to celebrate the launch of the public beta (estimated to be some time in 2015). Date and venue are to be determined, but the location will most likely be downtown San Diego, potentially around the time of Comic-Con (i.e. 1-2 days before Comic-Con starts). You pay for your own travel and lodging expenses. WARNING: Your must be at least 21 years of age to attend the launch party. --- Spoils: 4 Game Keys (value $80), 2 Launch Party Tickets, 1 Topaz Badge

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    Emerald Badge --- Your name in the credits (or an alias, or a company name, twitter handle, you name it), ordered by pledge amount. The credited name or alias must be appropriate, subject to my discretion. Additionally, name or help design one item, item set, or monster in the game. All names and designs must be appropriate to a fantasy setting (no anachronisms or wacky over-the-top humor). No lewd, violent, or pornographic material, keep it PG-rated please. All names and designs must comply with trademark laws and any other relevant laws. All designs subject to my personal discretion, maximum of five designs can be submitted but only one will be accepted. --- Spoils: 4 Keys (value $80), 2 Launch Party Tickets, 1 Design Pass, 1 Emerald Badge, 1 Spot in the Credits

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    Humble Badge --- Either you don't care about rewards, or all the good ones ran out! Most likely though, you are just insane because this tier offers nothing more than a single game key and a rusty badge. Show everyone (humbly, of course) how humble you are with this unassuming badge. --- Spoils: 1 Key (value $20), 1 Humble Badge

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    Sapphire Badge --- Spoils: 4 Keys (value $80), 4 Launch Party Tickets, 1 Design Pass, 1 Saphire Badge, 1 Spot in the Credits

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    Diamond Badge --- Become a prominent character in the game, as an alias of your choice (must be appropriate) or your real name. Spoils: 4 Keys (value $80), 4 Launch Party Tickets, 1 Design Pass, 1 Diamond Badge, 1 Spot in the Credits

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    Uranium badge --- Blowout sale! Save $1 off the normal price for this tier. So, you already have 3 gold-plated Lamborghinis and are running out of ways to burn money. This tier is for you! You can request any or all of the reward tiers (even rewards that are sold out in other tiers -- people will hate you, but who said it was easy being wealthy?). Additionally, I'd be happy to meet you in person for a cup of tea, a shot of tequila, a gold-plated caviar sandwich, whatever you want (if you want).

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Funding period

- (30 days)