Help fund the creation of "Vendetta Online 1.9" by late 2013, with drastically expanded and polished gameplay. This will include improved graphics, sound and rendering technology, advancements to our universe, economy and conquerable territory, plus improvements to player-owned capships and other areas (detailed further below). Your support will make this timeline possible! (The $15+ rewards will also let you play right away, after the Kickstarter is successful!)
Help improve the upcoming iPad version (2nd gen+), to ship in the first half of this year. Your funds will go towards polishing the iPad experience, adding retinal display support and voiceovers to the early missions.
We like to make stuff directly for the people who want it. By funding this project in advance, we can focus our efforts purely on development, and less on the chaotic business-and-marketing juggling act needed to maintain an indie studio and game like ours. This will make development much more rapid, and unlike other forms of funding, we'll be building it for the people who want the product.
Open and transparent development is not new to us. We've already been doing this for a decade with our userbase (take a look at our Suggestions Forum), but we're taking it even further. Every Kickstarter supporter, of any amount, will gain viewing access (in May) to our internal development design wiki and ticketing system, showing our real-time progress, our specific goals at the moment, and many technical details. Combined with our other news posts and frequent game patches, this is about as transparent as it gets.
If you find the current game intriguing, pledging has little risk. We're expanding an existing product, and all supporters pledging $15 or more will receive hugely discounted access to that existing product (around 75% off), so you can join in watching the game evolve online. We will be updating through continual patches, not a "giant release at the end", so you can enjoy the current game and watch things change, or drop by later after we've hit all our goals. The codes can also be given to friends, and will never expire.
Our game takes a "sandbox" approach to the space MMO genre, based on the idea of giving the users a large and dynamic galaxy, and then letting people find their own paths within it.. as traders, pirates, miners, soldiers, bounty hunters, or any combination of different goals. Although we have linear story-driven mission trees, the game itself has no "classes", nor is there a strict linear path that is required of any given character. Instead, we have benefits and tradeoffs associated with the Player Nations that people may choose to join, after which they may find their own way and build their own reputation.
Among many other things, Vendetta Online currently features:
Twitch Combat, meaning that while equipment may greatly improve with character advancement, success in combat is ultimately determined by player skill rather than character or item stats.
Realistic Physics underpins all flight mechanics and combat gameplay. Mass is dynamic (ships can jettison cargo, for instance) and even the shape of a given ship impacts its distribution of mass and handling characteristics.
Multiple flight control modes sit on top of this physics model. One gives a fly-by-wire approach, yielding a flightsim-style experience; the other offering advanced control over all six degrees of freedom, including vertical and horizontal strafe, plus conservation of momentum. Many other options also available (1st or 3rd person view, control styles, etc).
Configurable Ships with a flexible "port" system to allow usage of many addon types (weapons, scanners, sensors) with different tradeoffs.
A Massive Galaxy of over 7000 sectors. Three major player nations occupy most of the space, with two of the nations at war and one of them remaining neutral. Ten minor factions and corporations fill out other corners of the galaxy, creating situations of intrigue and conflict.
Complex AI guides the long-term decisions of huge numbers of NPCs. By handling NPCs as entire factions and nations, they can be coordinated towards large-scale strategic goals, reacting to player behaviour not just on an individual level, but across an entire faction over an extended period of time. This makes for evolving gameplay situations that are much less predictable and far more influenced by player activity.
The Dynamic Economy drives commerce in the game universe, fluctuating over time based on the actions of both player and NPC traders. Corporations may hire combat-skilled players as escorts for trade convoys in dangerous territory, and will also react to the loss of convoys with the assignment of more defenses and by placing bounties on pirate heads.
Mining of Asteroids provides raw materials needed for the galaxy, the economy, as well as specialized player-constructable content available through the process of Manufacturing. Many types of ores and minerals, both common and rare, are spread throughout the galaxy.
Galaxy-Wide News keeps people informed of the latest events: which bounty hunters have successfully brought down criminals, what locations have surplus or need for trade goods, and other information.
A Rich Backstory covering two millennia, which you can read online. This lays out the history and cultures that evolved within the game universe, along with the events whose echoes still resonate in the political divisions of our "present day" galaxy.
Would you like to learn more? Take a look at the Game Website or the vast amount of information on the totally-player-created VO-Wiki!
Also, here's a completely-unsolicited player-made video, describing a few of the things he loves best about our game!
The vast majority of funds will go to gameplay enhancements across all platforms. A small minority will go to improvements and polish to the iPad version. Here are a few details:
More polish for the upcoming iPad release (second generation or newer), including support for retinal displays. Ever since we announced development of the Android version back in 2010, an iOS version has been frequently requested. We want to give the iPad a premium Vendetta Online experience, so we chose to ask for some early support from those who would like to see this happen..
We have already put some development time towards this goal, and the "first half of this year" timeframe should be quite realistic (we'll ship it earlier if it works out). Inevitably, someone will ask about the iPhone, and while we'll say that's a possibility down the road, for the moment we would rather focus on the best possible iPad experience, as our game strongly benefits from the extra screen real estate. The final App Store version of the game will probably sell for around $1.
Next, we'll focus on a series of major improvements and expansions of the existing game. Internally we call these goals "Vendetta Online 1.9", and they not only are significant changes in their own rights, but they lay the groundwork for where we intend to take the game in the future. We're targeting total project completion late in 2013, although the individual changes themselves will be rolled out throughout the year on a periodic patch basis. Among other things, the VO 1.9 expansion includes:
Updated graphics, sounds, and rendering technology.
Major improvements to player-owned capital ships, like custom ship names, shields, shared ownership, and improved hangar access for captains.
A significant re-working of the game galaxy to make for larger and denser asteroid fields, with updated graphical assets.
An increase in the number of mineral and ore types, re-distributed throughout this updated galaxy.
More complex space stations, along with capship stations located at all Capitol sectors.
More persistent NPC types and "named" NPCs, offering specialized missions and gameplay (disabled freighters, lost colonists, wandering smugglers, wanted assassins, etc).
Expansion of the dynamic economy to support more supply-side variability in cases where territory is conquered during Dynamic Warfare.
Expansion of the current Dynamic Warfare implementation to include the outbreak of small wars (lasting weeks to months) between minor factions in unaligned space, creating gameplay situations for Letters of Marque (privateering), smuggling and espionage.
More tools for player created content, related to creating events and persistent NPCs.
Special Rewards for Early Supporters!
Getting in early will grant you special access to a unique "Early Supporter Achievement" inside the game! (also exposed via GameCenter, GameCircle, etc!) All Kickstarter supporters also gain access to a special, unique and exclusive EC-108KS all-purpose ship! (color is player-configurable).
What does the Press think of Vendetta Online?
01/21/2013 - Kotaku covers the VO Kickstarter and stretch goal possibilities, saying "Vendetta Online's combination of exploration, trading and twitch-based space combat made the move to Android quite well, so there's no reason to believe an iPad version wouldn't be just as good."
01/18/2013 - MMORPG.com has posted a lengthy interview with VO creative director John Bergman, discussing the plans for the future and mobile.
01/18/2013 - TechCrunch says Vendetta Online may become the most multi-platform MMO ever.
In 2012, Joystiq/Massively wrote "For active developer participation, Vendetta Online definitely runs near the head of the pack and might even lead it"
Reviewing the early Android version in 2011, Kotaku called Vendetta Online "a deep game with an intuitive interface"
MacWorld gave us four stars and called us "a brilliant online gaming experience, clearly influenced by classic space games Elite and Frontier"
Hundreds of other links going back over a decade can be found on the Guild Software news page.
Who is Guild Software?
We're a company of only four developers based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We started building Vendetta Online from scratch back around '96, and more "formally" founded the company in 1998. The game became available online in 2002 (Windows, Mac and Linux!), and shipped to retail in 2004. Since then, building and expanding Vendetta Online has been our one and only goal. As companies go, we're one of the oldest independent MMO developers out there, and we strongly support open source platforms and new ways of playing online games.
Risks and challenges
Big, complex games like this are full of risks. In our case, they are somewhat mitigated by this being an expansion of an existing product by a long-running team who has been doing exactly this kind of work for over a decade.
Additionally, every pledge over $15 includes access to the current game at a major discount (around 75% off). So even if we somehow make no progress whatsoever, you will continue to have that benefit.
In terms of our forward development goals, it's possible that we could run "over time", due to an unforeseen technical issue or an unexpected health problem by a critical developer, etc. If this should come to pass, we will be very open and transparently communicative (as we have been with our users in the past) about how we intend to approach the issues and resolve them. You will know what we know, and we'll continue to keep you in the loop.
Although we are launched and have a supportive userbase, this funding has two major goals: One is supporting enhancements to the iPad version that go above and beyond our own available investment of time and money. The second is to provide a block of capital that allows our four-person company to focus purely on forward development for an extended period of time, to drastically accelerate our rollout of new features. With a very small team (four people), our time is often divided between a mix of marketing, business development and other concerns which take away from our ability to add onto the game. With your support, expanding the game will be our number one priority for an extended period, to reach goals that we've outlined. So, in a sense you're funding two things: features and polish that might not otherwise be possible for us on the iPad, and vastly accelerated development of the next-generation of the game. We will be committing *all* our own funds to this process as well, but your support will close the gap.
If funding should be successful, we'll send out the time codes as quickly as we can (we say "May", but I hope for it to be much earlier than that). However, we can't send out the codes until the Kickstarter itself should succeed, as they are a reward for the tier itself.
Yes, but we'd prefer you use Kickstarter if possible, as any PayPal pledges won't go towards the Kickstarter total and won't help us win the funding overall. But if Kickstarter is impossible for you, then it's possible to use paypal (at) guildsoftware dot com as a PayPal address.
Your name in our "Crowdfunding Supporter" list on the website. Access to reading our internal development ticketing system and design wiki, showing our day-to-day progress. Help the expansion of an indie space MMO!
All previous rewards, plus a non-expiring four-month code for premium game access. Exclusive and limited on these tiers: a unique "Early Crowdfunding Supporter 2013" in-game achievement badge (also visible to supported social gaming networks, Apple GameCenter, Amazon GameCircle, etc).
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus a non-expiring code good for six months of premium access to the game (this is in addition to the previous tier's four-month code, giving ten months total, or give one code to a friend!), as well as exclusive access to a special new ship variant, unique to this event: the EC-108KS.
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus a non-expiring code good for ten months of premium access to the game (20 months total, or give codes to two friends!), in-game access to a rare fighter ship (the Vulture Anniversary Edition), as well as a digital copy of the musical soundtrack to Vendetta Online.
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus access to a special new dark-colored variant of the Corvus Greyhound pirate interceptor ship, along with a digital copy of the updated backstory of the game ("The Chronicles of Exile"), and the undying appreciation of Guild Software.
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), along with a special 20x30 poster for Vendetta Online, done in "movie opening" style, signed by the entire development team. Also, you can name an NPC pirate who will occasionally show up in the game! (names subject to our approval).
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), along with a quality printed copy of a newly revised edition of the lengthy backstory of Vendetta Online, "The Chronicles of Exile", signed by the author, VO lead developer John Bergman.
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus "Lifetime" premium access to Vendetta Online via a code that will add 99 years of time to your game account. Also, a 30-minute video chat with lead developer John Bergman, where you can ask him any questions about the game.
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus dinner with the Vendetta Online development team (subject to scheduling well in advance, and you must handle transportation). A persistent "Named" NPC will be named after you (names are subject to our approval, and we reserve the right to modify them a bit to fit the "sci-fi" game context).
All previous rewards (with Early Supporter Achievement), plus an in-system geographical feature will be permanently named for you in a commonly-traversed new star system of the VO 2.0 Expanded Universe. This feature could be an asteroid field, ice field, minor planet, etc (names are subject to our approval, and we reserve the right to modify them a bit to fit the "sci-fi" game context). Also, spend a day with the developers at the Guild Software offices (subject to scheduling well in advance, you must handle your own transportation and accomodations).
As Kickstarter has a $10,000 limit, we're using this space to provide an additional option for those looking for the most exclusive rewards: [ 1 x $50,000 - Name an entire star system in the Vendetta Online 2.0 expanded universe! (name subject to approval) ] For more information on this, contact ks at guildsoftware dot com.