About this project
In "Age of Grit" you play the captain of an old, beat-up, steam-powered airship exploring a vast, cowboy-themed, steampunk world. You're looking for whatever work you can find--bounty hunting, smuggling contraband, running guns...maybe even a little train robbery if you're so inclined. 'Bout anything to pay the bills, keep the guns loaded, the boiler stoked, and keep your ship in the sky!
Check out a detailed break down of our stretch goals in Update #6.
Age of Grit is the story of a ship, her captain, and her crew. The game revolves around the crew, their adventures, and the part they play in the larger universe that surrounds them. The world will be the embodiment of everything cool from the cowboy genre: the six shooters, the sheriffs and bandits, the duels at noon, the frontier way of life--and above all that distinct Wild West spirit of adventure!
But why stop there? Maybe we can make the Wild West even cooler. Why not throw in some fantasy technology--steam powered airships, floating fortresses, and extraordinary clockwork contraptions. The technology will be advanced but in a cowboy sort of way, with everything using steam-power, pistons, and gears to operate. AOG will keep everything cool about the actual historical Old West but add a heavy injection of science fiction!
Crazy steampunk weapons will be a hallmark of AOG. Think of a cowboy version of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome mixed with the cannons and ship to ship combat of Master and Commander! If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to then AOG is the game for you! You'll even be able to build weapons for your ship using a simple but intricate crafting system. You could build deafening black-powder cannons to blast other airships out of the sky...or maybe you'll save up for a flame thrower and douse your enemies in molten tar. Or perhaps better yet--get yourself a pair of armor piercing gatling gun and tear through ship hulls with steady streams of lead.
AOG will be an RPG for PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS. You and your crew will fly from one settlement to the next, looking for work, and trying to get by. Think of a steampunk version of Firefly, only you'll be living aboard an airship rather than a spaceship and visit cowboy towns instead of planets.
The player will be able to explore towns from sort of a 2D first person perspective--similar to the perspective of games like Year Walk or the points of interest in Oregon Trail II. Each town will consist of a number of screens the player can visit, each with several NPCs to interact with. Some of our stretch goals involve mini games and other "off ship" activities.
When trouble comes, you'll battle other airships using a deeply strategic, turn-based combat system. The game will heavily feature RPG progression elements--you'll be able to level up your crew and upgrade your ship as you see fit. AOG will be a story and dialog driven experience with an emphasis on exploration--as your journey unfolds you'll discover a large, cowboy-inspired, steampunk world.
The game world is one vast frontier--an entire continent filled with Old West style towns, people, and adventures! Railroad tracks crisscross the landscape. Mines, forts, and trading posts dot the countryside. Your journey will take you through cactus covered deserts, red rock canyons, tropical sandy beaches, and the harsh forests of the northern mountain chains. There's interesting folk of every variety that work, live, and die here. Brave patriots, vile traitors, bandits, lawmen, ranchers, inventors, prospectors, fur traders, and adventurers of every caliber all call this place home. There's untold riches to be found, and danger lurks behind every cloud. This land of both great turmoil and great promise is simply called: The West.
The West is divided by different factions--each has its own culture, background, and interests. The factions don't typically get along too well. War is looming, liable to break out at any moment. Armies are gathering and massive navies of armored airships are being constructed with haste. The fate of The West is about to be decided.
The Miner's Guild - A hardy people who've tamed the frigid, rocky, and treacherous land to the north.
The Liberty Compact - A collection of city states that hold the northeastern region. They consider themselves a torch of freedom in a dark world of tyranny.
The Kingdom of Topaz - The island nation to the south. A tropical clime home to a hot sun and more than its share of troubles.
Blight Territory - The lands to the southwest are hazardous to say the least--a cursed and evil blot on the map. Few if any return from this wretched corner of the world.
The Core - A mighty nation stands in the center of the world. The largest and most powerful faction in The West.
The heart of The West is its people. Each person has a fleshed out personality and a unique story of their own. AOG is dialog centric--meaning what you choose to say and how you interact with others is a large focus of the game. Each conversation matters and determines what jobs you'll get, your reputation, how people will treat you in future encounters, and at times the course the overall story will take.
Shiny things are few and far between here. Machinery is built with utilitarian purposes in mind rather than cosmetic beauty. The West has got more than its fair share of grit--much like most of the folks that call it home. Things round these parts tend to get tore up, shot up, or blown up fairly quick. Bullet holes and scorch marks are always in style. 'Bout everything's grimy, rusty, and in desperate need of a good coat of paint--but usually there are more pressing matters in The West. Survival alone can be a trial and tends to move things like fancy aesthetics to the back burner.
The West has deep lore. We've written centuries worth of rich history to flesh out the world and help it feel real and lived in. As you explore The West you'll uncover ancient mysteries time has forgotten. Hidden secrets lay ready to be unearthed, and lost treasures wait to be found.
Your home is a rusty, rickety, steam-powered airship. It's seen better days, but she’s a tough old bird. Constructed over half a century ago, it was originally built as an unarmed cargo ship and hauled loads of munitions and coal to the front lines of the Great Iron War. Since then, the old girl has been modified and renovated many times. The hull has been reinforced, sensors upgraded, and the ship has been retrofitted with heavy weaponry.
In AOG your ship will be fully customizable. You can upgrade the guns, the engines, sensors, crew quarters, or even the ship's galley. Upgraded components will have a direct effect on game play. When you finish jobs and get paid, you can use the cash to purchase better machinery from one of The West’s many shops and dealers. Or if you’re lucky you might be able to salvage better parts from the wreckage of a vanquished enemy ship. AOG will feature a crafting system through which you can combine salvaged parts to build unique ship components. As you improve your ship you’ll be able to take on bigger and more powerful foes and, in so doing, spread your fame across The West!
All the crew members have unique stories and their own character arcs throughout the game. AOG will have deep RPG elements. Each crew member can be leveled up individually and has his or her own stats, skills, and special abilities. You won't just follow a linear path of progression--the strategic choices you make in leveling up your crew are important. Make sure each crew member has skills and abilities that complement each other and work well with the rest of the crew.
Over the course of AOG's Kickstarter campaign, you'll get to meet the initial members of your crew. We'll reveal an update every couple of days with a short bio introducing you to a new character. For starters meet the Captain, the main character of AOG.
The Captain is Age of Grit's main character. He's a grizzly, hardened veteran of past wars. He was once a loyal commander in the Compact Militia but now harbors allegiance only to his ship, his crew, and himself. Since the war ended, he's flown a junky, old airship around the Guild Lands doing whatever jobs he can find to survive. Though times are hard something keeps him going. He senses there's something on the horizon, something important waiting for him. He just doesn't quite know what it is.
While the Captain cares greatly for his crew, he tends to keep to himself. He can be distant and short with others. He has a temper and little concern for manners or pleasantries. But while he can be hard to get along, once you've earned his friendship he'll be willing to die for you without question. He's an honorable man and keeps his word no matter the cost. At times he'll even loosen up, enjoy a good laugh, and will rattle on about some old war story from the "good old days."
The Captain has a deeper back story that will be revealed throughout the course of the game. As the game progresses, the scars of his dark past will unfold and shred light on his character. He has personal motivations and a history not even his crew fully understands.
While we want the game to facilitate a variety of strategies and playing styles, it's critical its mechanics are based on a simple foundation. Sometimes games try to overreach when it comes to game mechanics. Things start getting too complicated and, as a result, the core gameplay suffers. The original Super Mario Bros uses a d-pad and two buttons but as we all know it does tons with those basic controls. And despite its simplicity, it gets extremely difficult at times. Great games establish rudimentary but rock solid mechanics and then build a deep, challenging, and fun experience with those basic mechanics. All the game mechanics in Age of Grit will be built on very basic, simple, but well thought-out systems--whether it's the RPG elements, the dialog system, the quest system, or the combat system.
A big part of AOG is blowing the crap out of stuff. The combat in Age of Grit revolves around managing your airship's steam pressure. Your ship is steam powered, and all its systems require steam to function. You won't have enough steam pressure to run everything at maximum output. You'll have to prioritize systems strategically if you hope to survive.
Combat is turned based. Each turn your ship produces more steam pressure. You can use that steam pressure to fire specific weapons, repair damage to the ship, make a run for it, raise your defenses--or maybe you'll save it for next round so you can launch one massive coordinated attack against your enemy. Systems can benefit each other and work well when used in conjunction. Rather than one weapon just being definitively more powerful than another, different weapon types have special asymmetrical strengths and weakness.
Beyond managing the ship's mechanical systems, you'll also manage your crew, each of whom has special abilities, buffs, and skills. The combat will get deeper and more complex as the game goes on, but it will all be built on this simple foundation of managing your ship's steam pressure and allocating it wisely.
A lot of RPGs suffer from mundane quest systems. You're trying to save the world from impending doom, but you put it all on hold to do menial chores for random villagers with exclamation points floating over their heads. Maybe they want you to pause your epic journey to Mordor in order to gather a few dozen bunny pelts. You skip through the dialog as fast as possible and then follow the blinking light on your minimap to wherever you're supposed to go. You don't really care about the quest and often don't even remember why you're doing it in the first place. Talk to an exclamation point...kill some faceless bad guys...return to the exclamation point for your reward...repeat 500 times to beat the game.
In AOG, quests will be more organic and a lot more meaningful. Missions won't just be spoon-fed to you. You'll need to actually talk to people, earn their trust, and figure things out on your own a bit. For example, perhaps you come across the owner of a coal mine who happens to have a few dozen crates of extra dynamite he's looking to offload. Can you convince him to sell to you? Do you trust this guy? Do you know anyone who might be in the market for dynamite? Is his price even that good? What's your reputation like in this area? What about the authorities--will the local sheriff look kindly on dynamite smuggling? Every quest will be unique and offer a distinct and interesting challenge.
Rather than mindlessly looking for the next floating exclamation point you'll have to use your brain (GASP!) and actually make things happen on your own. AOG is all about player freedom and facilitating naturally flowing gameplay. You can take the jobs you want and do what seems best to you--rather than being railroaded down a single linear path.
AOG OST Sample #01: Full Steam Ahead!
AOG OST Sample #02: Ice and Stone
AOG OST Sample #03: Dusty Skies
Age of Grit will feature an original, fully orchestral soundtrack by the legendary video game composer BeatScribe. He's an outstanding musician and has produced tons of incredible tracks for a lot of great indie games. You can check out some of the amazing work he's done over at his SoundCloud.
Age of Grit will need a soundtrack that can bring its vast and colorful world alive. We already have a number of tracks completed and upon achieving our funding goal we'll be able to produce a lot more.
Music is the soul of any good game and is core to the overall experience. Think of your favorite video game. Now think of the music. Chances are it was awesome. Whether it's Tetris or Super Mario Brothers or Sonic the Hedgehog or Baldur's Gate or Bastion or Papers Please or Hotline: Miami, a great soundtrack is a vital component of a great game. We might not always consciously realize it but a solid musical score adds a huge amount of tone, emotion, and depth to a video game.
A big thanks from iqSoup: We deeply appreciate pledges of any amount! Thank you for believing in us and for helping make Age of Grit a reality!
Receive project updates: Backers of any tier will receive updates on the development of the game. You'll get to watch the game progress and have access to artwork, early game footage, dev blogs, and tons of other cool stuff! And of course you'll be alerted when the game is ultimately released. MECHANIC tier backers or higher will also have access to extra special bonus behind the scenes content!
AOG Wallpapers: As a special thank you, COWBOY tier backers will receive a unique wallpaper exclusive to COWBOY backers only! Any pledge at or higher than the PILOT tier will receive two separate exclusive wallpapers. So that's three unique wallpapers--one special wallpaper just for COWBOY tier backers and two for PILOT tier or higher. We will format wallpapers in all of the most common resolutions so you'll be sure to have the perfect fit for your screen.
Digital copy of AOG: The game!!! You'll receive a digital copy of Age of Grit on either PC, Mac, or Linux. Our goal is to get on a digital distribution service like Steam. If that's the case, you'll have the option of receiving a Steam key for Age of Grit when it's released. We're aiming for a release date of November 2015. Retail price will be around $15-$20.
Credits: All backers at the PILOT tier or higher will be honored in the game's official credits! You can be listed by your real name or the alias of your choosing. You are a big part of Age of Grit and deserve some recognition! There will be a special section near the top for TREASURE HUNTER tier backers and any MAYOR tier backers will be featured at the very tippy top of the credits--even before the dev team.
Digital OST: AOG will feature a sweet original sound track by the legendary Beat Scribes. When complete, we will send out DRM free digital copies of the OST to all backers at or above the GUNNER tier. Enjoy!
Create a NPC: We think this reward is really cool! At the MECHANIC tier, you'll get to name a minor NPC--a townsperson who will appear in the game! You'll determine his or her gender, race, age, and general disposition (good guy, bad guy, neutral etc). If that's not enough, then at the LAWMAN tier you can FULLY design a more significant NPC--a fellow airship captain that players will encounter (and maybe fight) over the course of the game! Create the NPC's exact appearance, personality, back story, and assist in writing his or her lines. You will work with our artists and can entirely design the character's appearance as you see fit. If desired, your character can even be based after your own likeness--just send us a photo! And you'll decide the character's ultimate fate--to ride victoriously off into the sunset or end up getting blown to smithereens.
Beta Access: This reward grants the backer full access to the Age of Grit closed beta when it's ready. You'll be the first to see what the game is really going to be like and get to play it before anyone else. You'll get to watch as new features and updates unfold before your very eyes!!! Your comments and suggestions will help shape the final game. We really want our backers to help with the development process--we need your input and feedback!
AOG Guidebook: Entitled "The West: A Traveler's Compendium," this is a detailed traveler's guide of The West. It is written from perspective of Nessmuk T. Franklin, a famous adventurer and traveler of The West. It contains some of the history of The West, bios of some of the important figures, and write-ups for each settlement. The guide is complete with detailed sketches and illustrations. HISTORIAN, EXPLORER, TREASURE HUNTER, and MAYOR tiers will receive a physical copy, printed and bound to resemble a vintage Old West style book. It'll measure roughly 4 x 7 inches and will be a great way to showcase your AOG enthusiasm! GUNNER tier backers and above will receive a PDF version of the guidebook.
Cloth Map: A full-color detailed cloth map of The West. Every nation and settlement will be featured along with terrain and other details. It will look and feel authentic--like it's a true artifact from the game. It will be approximately 8 x 15 inches and will look great framed or hung on a wall!
Secret In-Game Tomes: As a bit of an easter-egg, hidden in the game will be two secret tomes. One will list the "Legends of Western History" and the other the "Great Adventurers of the West"--with the name or alias of each HISTORIAN tier backer in the former and that of each EXPLORER tier backer in the later. TREASURE HUNTER and MAYOR tier backers will be featured in both.
Wooden "Age of Grit" Sign: This is a gorgeous handcrafted wooden Age of Girt sign painted by my wonderful wife Kay--who does this sort of thing professionally for a living. The ultimate AOG bling!
Create an In-Game City: You're the boss--tell us what you want! You can specify the name of your city, its location, climate, what it looks like, its history, culture, and help us create its overall look and feel. You can completely design its citizens too, and fully design each NPC the player will encounter there. And if you want, the mayor or sheriff can look just like you!
Obviously, your alias or other in-game input is ultimately subject to our approval. Images of physical rewards are concept images and subject to change.
My name is Andy Morrison. I'm the president of the indie game studio iqSoup and the idea for Age of Grit has been in my head for quite some time now.
Growing up in Phoenix, I loved everything cowboyish as a kid. There's an Old West town called Rawhide my parents would take us kids too. Horses, wagons, shoot-outs in the streets--I was mesmerized. I would spend all my allowance on Playmobil cowboy toys and created my own little cowboy town in my bedroom with a toy train that circled around it. I even invented my own cowboy Playmobil toy, drew it out, sent it in to the company, and was shocked to see my creation in the next year's catalog. And everyone my age has gotta remember how great Back to the Future III was as a kid! When Doc Brown showed up at the end with his flying-steam-engine-time-machine...wow...just wow!!! I hope to take everything I loved then and now about the Wild West and cram every bit of it into the world of Age of Grit!
From the time my family got our first NES I loved video games. For a while all we had was one game: Super Mario + Duck Hunt. Of course most of the time I just had to watch my older brother play...but even that was pretty entertaining. From an early age I was determined that when I grew up I'd make video games. I used to make up games in my head and sketch out drawings of what the different screens would look like. As I got a little older I got into programming actual games and loved it. I taught myself Visual Basic and started out making really simple games. My first game ever was called "Wizard Wars" in which a poorly drawn face barfs out numbers at the silhouette of a wizard. It was supposed to teach kids math...I guess.
Since then, I've had a lot of programming and graphics design experience. I've made many games over the years and branched out into graphics design, web programming, and other related fields. For years, I made interactive teaching presentations, essentially educational games, for companies to use to train their employees. I've done lots of contract work too--working on awesome video games other people dreamed up. Recently I've been doing the programming for an interesting game called Boon Hill, which was funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign of its own.
But I still wanted to make games of my own--the kind of games I dreamed up as a kid. I have a diverse set of skills, but I needed some help if I were going to succeed. There are some really incredibly programmers and artists out there--some of them a lot more talented than myself. I needed their help. That's why I started the indie game studio iqSoup.
iqSoup is me and a few friends from the industry. We have a couple of talented programmers and a few really gifted artists. And of course, Beat Scribes will be helping us out with the music. I'll be directing and producing our games. I'll also be filling in wherever necessary--helping with programming, doing some of the graphics, and handling all the writing. It'll be tons of work but I know it'll be well worth the effort!
Risks and challenges
The one constant, unchanging, eternal rule of game development is things will go wrong. Bugs creep into the code, deadlines get pushed back, and things you first thought would take 10 minutes end up taking a month. I can't guarantee things won't go wrong in the course of AOG's development. In fact, I can guarantee the opposite: things absolutely will go wrong, lots and lots and lots of 'em! If people say otherwise about ANY video game, either they don't the experience to know otherwise or they're outright lying. That is just the nature of making a game, period. But while the process is always rife with obstacles and problems, every obstacle can be overcome, and every problem solved.
What I can tell you is if we meet our funding goal, I'm never going to give up. Barring death or incapacitating health, if we reach our goal, one way or another, I'll finish this game. I'll also do everything in my power not just to make AOG but make it great and do so in a timely manner. I feel our rough target date for completion--November 2015--is reasonable and gives us ample time to get things done. However, things could happen and that date might get pushed back. I'd rather release a late game than a bad one. But I'm never going to give up and won't stop until this game gets finished. I absolutely love this game and want few things more than to create it and to see it succeed.
One final risk to mention: the possibility that the final game isn't exactly what you imagined. We've seen lots of successful Kickstarters release a final product that some people just aren't satisfied with. It's not always that it's a bad game--it's just not the game some of the backers envisioned. I hope I explained our goals for this game sufficiently and that everything is clear. If you have questions by all means let us know, and we'll try out best to answer them. Furthermore, if you have specific ideas or cool suggestions for the game let us know! Participate in the beta program and share your insight with us! Help us out, and together we'll make an awesome game we'll all love!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We are focusing on releasing PC, Mac, and Linux versions and will then target on iOS . We are developing AOG using the Unity engine so porting to different platforms isn't a huge issue. We are also considering Android as well as other platforms.
For iOS we will certainly have an iPad version of the game, but we are unsure if a universal app (one that supports both iPad and iPhone) is feasible. Its a question of whether or not the UI will make sense on the small screen of an iPhone. It likely will work just fine but we won't know for sure until the game is in beta and can be extensively tested on smaller screens.
Our goal is to get on Steam and we'll soon launch a Steam Greenlight campaign. Greenlight has made it a lot easier for smaller devs to get on Steam, but its still an uphill battle. In the event that we don't get on Steam we will consider other distribution venues.
Assuming we get on Steam you will receive the game via a Steam key for either PC or Mac. If we don't get on Steam we will have to find another way to get everyone their copy of the game--depending on where the game ends up. Unfortunately we can't offer reward copies of the game for iOS. I wish we could but the App Store just doesn't support developers giving out free copies of their game. So to be clear: your reward copy of Age of Grit MUST be for either PC or Mac.
The main character will be "The Captain." He has a deep back story and will develop as a character as the game progresses. Additionally the ship has a whole crew of characters--each has a rich personality and will play important roles in the overall story. Each crew member gains experience individually and can be leveled up separately. They each have their own special abilities and unique skills that will help you both in combat and other scenarios.
This one is hard until we have a working beta and can really test our how long its going to take. But we're estimating the main story-line of Age of Grit will be roughly 15-25 hours in duration. Part of it depends on how many side adventures players want to pursue and the pace they set for themselves. One of our stretch goals will be a New Game+ for extra replayability.
If you take a look around Kickstarter you'll actually find a lot of games with similar funding goals. Of course there are some with much higher goals as well. Those are the games that tend to get a lot of coverage so it's easy to understand why some people use those projects as the standard by which they measure other games. But its really like comparing apples to oranges. Wookies to Sasquatches. Wampas to abominable snowmen. Every game is unique and every studio is unique. There have been some amazing games made by just one person and there's also been great games made by teams of thousands. Its difficult to compare one studio to another or the budgets of different games. Even when two games seem similar when you get under the hood they differ vastly in complexity.
That being said, we are keeping costs to a minimum a few different ways. First, I (Andy) will be doing a lot of the work myself and I won't be taking a salary. As an indie developer I'm very used to making much much less than US minimum wage for an extended period of time. For Age of Grit, I'll be working on the game full time making $0/hour. I hope that upon release the game will be financially successful and I can make some money for myself at that point in time. It very well might not be, but I really believe in this game and I'm willing to take that risk.
Second we've really narrowed the game down to its core essence. Age of Grit will really consist of only a few basic game systems--the combat engine, dialog system, a simple first person 2d town system, a quest/job system, inventory/crafting mechanics, and over world traveling mechanics. The entire game will be built on these very simple and basic systems. Once we get those basic systems in place we can do tons with just a minimal amount of programming work.
Third we have very low over head. We are all working remotely--we don't have a physical HQ or anything like that. As for the other members of the team, none of them will be working full time on this project. Some of them have other jobs and will be working on Age of Grit on the side. Others are full time contractors and will be working on other projects in addition to this one. I've worked extensively with everyone on the team before and can attest to their ability to stick to a given budget and get things done. Each member of our team will be tasked with specific jobs (specific artwork, programming help etc.) and I've already negotiated things out with each of them. Our base funding goal of $12,000 covers those costs, Kickstarter and payment processing fees, and also includes a healthy contingency fund. If the contingency fund isn't used up it will go into more artwork and music.
Hopefully that helps explain things a bit better! We are hoping to reach some stretch goals so we can expand on the core concept for Age of Grit and include some additional features and content.
In the early planning stages of Age of Grit we played around a lot with the idea of character customization from the outset of the game. We considered sort of an Oregon Trail approach--where you customize everything single detail about your starting crew. The problem with this is approach is it would detract from the overall narrative of the game. For Age of Grit we really want to tell a deep story about the ship's Captain and his crew. Each character has a back story, a unique personality, and a character arc throughout the course of the game. To make this work properly we had to forgo the idea of character customization at the start of the game.
Of course once the game begins Age of Grit will be heavily focused on customizing the ship's crew. Each character has a unique skill tree and his/her own individual stats and abilities. And of course as you progress through the game you'll be heavily customizing your ship in just about every way possible. This is my absolute favorite thing about RPGs--the elements of player directed progression. It allows you to make each character your own and lets you put your own personal stamp on the game. So while everyone will start off with the same set of characters, by the end of the game each player's crew will be quite personalized and unique.
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