About this project
NEW ADD-ON! DROPSY - THE COLORING BOOK + MUSIC
Joe Badon is illustrating a beautiful 16 page "Choose Your Own Adventure" coloring book! These will be sent out in January, along with a digital download of accompanying original music by me! To order, click "Manage Pledge" and add 11.11 if you live in the US, or 13.11 if you live anywhere else!
"Dropsy is a clown. A very, um, not nice looking clown. I think I love him. He has a puppy and he draws his own, poorly painted face on everything – including said loyal canine companion. TV and my nightmares tell me that ours is a world full of sad clowns just trying to get by/devour my heart with crooked, yellow teeth, but Dropsy is an irrepressibly joyful clown in a sad situation. His family’s circus has been burnt to the ground, and he’s gone from local, animal-whispering hero to scrap-collecting outcast. His game, then, is a point-and-click adventure that wields sorrow in one hand and gut-busting humor in another, with a fascinating open-world structure gluing everything together. The personality is strong in this one."
Nathan Grayson - Rock, Paper, Shotgun
"All in all, Dropsy really grabs my attention for simply daring to be a bit different. The character isn’t out to save the world. He’s a social outcast, but really wants to do well..."
Chris Priestman - Indie Statik
Dropsy is an open world adventure game with an emphasis on surreal atmospheric elements and environmental storytelling. It extracts the humor and rich narratives from classic adventure games and places them into a unique exploration based framework. You guide Dropsy, a perpetually carefree clown (ex-clown to be precise) through a richly detailed world full of colorful characters and sinister secrets.
Dropsy subverts the traditional tendency of game protagonists to be destructive forces in the world. Instead of slaying enemies, Dropsy's innocence and kindness act as a catalyst for redemption. Dropsy doesn't recognize anyone as his enemy, and will lovingly embrace them whether they like it or not.
Though its roots are in the point-and-click titles of old, Dropsy is an almost entirely text-free experience. There are still colorful characters to communicate with, but the dialogue is handled visually rather than linguistically.
This helps emphasize another theme central to the game, a sense of not belonging. Players may not always understand what a character is trying to communicate, resulting in assumptions based on how they interpret the visual symbols. This came as a way to deal with the fact that Dropsy cannot speak, and has become one of its most unique aspects. It also gives the game a universal appeal as people who speak any language can enjoy it fully.
The goal is to allow the player to discover the narrative at their own pace instead of spoon feeding them plot points. Solutions to puzzles emerge organically as more is learned about Dropsy's world.
Dropsy started in 2008 as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game on a message board. To see an archive of the game, CLICK HERE.
In addition to being a gentle soul, Dropsy harbors at least one miraculous ability: While his bumbling speech sounds like babble to your average human, animalkind understands it perfectly. This was discovered by his parents at an early age and was put to good use in their circus as he grew older. The act gained widespread notoriety, and Dropsy quickly became a hometown celebrity.
The plot of this game revolves around the events following a deadly fire at Dropsy's family's circus, resulting in the tarnishing of his image as a local hero.
Their tent now serving as a dilapidated makeshift home, Dropsy and his father struggle to survive by collecting scrap metal and taking (occasionally humorous) odd jobs.
You guide Dropsy and his faithful dog Eughh on an adventure permeated with humor, wondrous sights, and buried secrets. Bizarre, otherworldly events unfold as you discover more about the fateful fire and Dropsy's nebulous past.
Though often bizarre and humorous, this game's world takes itself more seriously than your usual graphic adventure. It's organized by a few nuanced people groups, each with defined relationships. Players progress by learning. As you familiarize yourself with how the world's history, locations, NPCs, and groups of NPCs relate to each other, solutions to puzzles become increasingly apparent.
Dropsy's dreamworld will be another avenue for discovering more of the story and mythos without needing text. Only accessible for five minutes at a time while Dropsy sleeps, his dream world is a surreal amalgam of events from his past, opinions, interests, and desires. When you return, you'll begin where you left off.
The dreamworld is entirely optional, and completion of the game is possible without visiting it once. That said, it offers a solid text-free way to give extra exposition of Dropsy's backstory and personality. It will also drop esoteric clues about the events happening in the overworld - think Agent Cooper's dream sequences from Twin Peaks.
Puzzles and Design
Dropsy is an 'open world' game in the sense that you can visit almost every area from the very beginning. There is initially a clear suggested route, but very few locations are off limits. This presents a few challenges in designing an adventure game, as they generally lock you into a specific location until you solve specific puzzles. Many of them also require a chain of sequential actions in order to complete said puzzles. These actions usually revolve around communication with NPCs, interacting with set-pieces, finding items, combining items with other items, or using items on set-pieces.
Dropsy hasn't done away with that stuff, it's just de-emphasized. The major difference here is the fact that puzzles are geographically oriented. The world is littered with hints that get more and more frequent and apparent as you near the geographic core of a puzzle. Once you discover that core location, you'll only be required to perform a few of the aforementioned traditional actions to solve the puzzle and progress in the game. This allows puzzles to support the narrative in a stronger way, and helps alleviate problems that arise with hard to decipher 'game designer logic.'
More information on the system can be found here:
While there has been a resurgence in throwback adventures lately, they tend to forget the old crusty Soundblaster/FM Synth tones that gave the classics a warm edge. We'll be combining this aesthetic with fuzzed out guitars, organs, tape echo, 70's drum machines, vintage keyboards, ukulele, and jacked up drum kits. Oh, and plenty of Mellotron.
Each area in the game will be represented by diverse styles, ranging from Dub/Roots Reggae to Prog Rock to Shoegaze. If the project exceeds $19,000, Chris Schlarb will compose the music for the bulk of the game. Jay Tholen (and friends) will still handle the Dream World.
Music by Chris Schlarb:
More by Chris Schlarb:
Music by Jay Tholen:
Krautrock Inspried track by Jay Tholen:
The music will also be dynamic in that it shifts depending on the mood of the scene, as heard in the following example:
Because people dig it when you namedrop stuff, Dropsy was influenced by the following things in some manner: Twin Peaks, Earthbound, Grim Fandango, Myst/Riven, The Neverhood, Shoegaze, 70's Prog Rock (especially Magma - if you dig Magma you're going to love part of this game), Roots/Dub Reggae, Free Jazz, Theology, Surrealism, and Scandinavian Folklore.
Jay Tholen - Artist, Designer, Composer
After years of relentless begging, our first computer was purchased in early 1997. My parents' tight financial situation meant that new games were a Christmas-only affair, so most of my early PC gaming experiences came out of the bargain bin. While I didn't like it then, I now appreciate that I was 'forced' to play older games. Had it not been for this I probably would've missed the entire Adventure genre.
Everything changed upon receiving a copy of Sim Tower for my Eleventh birthday. A demo of Klik & Play contained on the disc sparked a passion for game design in me that has never waned. I joined the 'klik' community shortly after and began pumping out retrospectively awful, but ultimately necessary, amateur games.
It was in these days that I met Justin, the programmer for Dropsy.
My creative gaze shifted toward music after discovering Prog Rock in my junior year of high school. This led to an intense period of consuming as many challenging, unfamiliar sounds as my ears could handle. Discovering artists like Brian Eno, Albert Ayler, and Magma were important milestones for me. After graduating, I purchased my first mixer and MIDI controller and began concocting my own.
Inevitably, the two passions began to converge. In 2007 I became active in the Chiptune and VGM communities and have released Twenty-Five albums and EPs since.
Justin Warnes - Programmer, Designer
Programs the computer.
Chris Schlarb - Composer [If $19,000 is reached]
Prolific musician, producer, and composer Chris Schlarb will be composing the bulk of the OST. Chris is best known in indie game circles as the composer for Nifflas' ambient puzzler Night Sky. His solo albums released under Asthmatic Kitty and work as half of experimental jazz duo I Heart Lung have received universal acclaim. He also founded the record label Sounds Are Active in 1999. His most recent work can be heard in 90’s Arcade Racer.
Acacia Lawson - Animator [If $25,000 is reached]
Acacia Lawson is a freelance (or, according to her, mercenary) animator/illustrator working out of Atlanta, Ga. Trained in animation, she's ended up gravitating towards video game art in her career, and pixel art in particular. She has a penchant towards strange-looking characters, and especially enjoys monsters/characters perceived as monsters. Her main aspiration is to one day save the world, or barring that, make some really cool cartoons.
David Saulesco - Voice Actor - [if $26,000+ is reached]
David Saulesco cut his teeth writing the thematically driven, orchestral soundtrack to Derek Yu's monumental indie hit Eternal Daughter and has since composed for several computer games. He has also worked as a game journalist for the Swedish national radio and written symphonic arrangements for live game music concerts worldwide.
Melanie Ehrlich - Voice Actress [if $26,000+ is reached]
Melanie is an awesome actress and voiceover talent who always has something interesting up her sleeve. She has two pet rabbits named Fluffy and Pia, and they are pretty much the best and fuzziest things ever. She has given life to myriad fun and lovable characters over the years, but have found few that are purer of heart than Dropsy and his gang.
You can hear an example of Melanie's voice work in an older Dropsy track here:
Finishing this game by the end of 2014 requires time and focused effort, Both of which are much harder to facilitate without funding. All money raised will go directly towards the creation of the game, including compensation for our incredible team. You can find a detailed breakdown in the Budget section below.
We had two previous campaigns for Dropsy. The most recent one was unsuccessful, but we did make it to 50% completion thanks to our passionate backers.
The other Kickstarter, from 2011, was successful. The minimum goal was $225 for a software package, and it ended up bringing in $1,600. I assumed I'd just be able to purchase the software, get a decent (read: non-broken) computer, learn a few programming tricks, and release a game in two years. I've made lots of progress, but I was definitely naive in my expectations.
I have not stopped working on the game since that original Kickstarter. I live and breathe this thing. The framework of the game is mapped out completely, and many of the art and music assets are complete. The funds from this campaign will allow me to actually turn all of this content into something playable, polish it up, and release it.
On Stretch Goals
There are three, and will only ever be three stretch goals. These will allow me to bring on Chris to compose, Acacia to animate, and a few voice actors to record a made-up phonetic language to tie into the visual dialogue system.
We're happy with the game's current scope and feature set, so anything above the last stretch goal will allow me to pay our team for more work, smoothing out the development process.
If we don't make these goals, I will be handling the soundtrack and animation work myself. This could push the game's release to early-mid 2015.
REWARD-O-BOT explains them better than I ever could...
Thank you! Your name will appear in the game's credits. You'll also receive access to incredibly entertaining exclusive video updates at least once per month.
Get an early downloadable copy of the game for PC, Mac, and Linux.
Help steer Dropsy's development by participating in the game's beta. Enjoy the double album soundtrack while you're at it! Also includes a special Book of Secrets containing everything from concept art to detail on the mythos to a special worldmap overlay pointing to hidden secrets.
Receive a beautiful 18x24 poster version of the worldmap.
A piece of Dropsy history sent to your doorstep! Dropsy was laid out on paper through a series of doodles, free writing exercises, and diagrams scrawled across the pages of a spiral notebook.
Concept art from the game sent to you. In the mail! In real life!
Leave your own little footprint in Dropsy's dreamworld by creating a non-interactive set piece OR collectable item. We'll work together to make sure the idea is congruent with the game's themes.
Send me anything below 30 seconds and I'll work it into the soundtrack somewhere. OR if you play an instrument, I'll send you a track to jam over.
Design your very own in-game character! Custom dialog and everything! We'll Skype or email and work your idea for a simple NPC into Dropsy's world.
Design your very own explorable area, complete with a custom NPC! We'll Skype or email and work your ideas into Dropsy's world.
Here's the breakdown of our budget for Dropsy:
Licensing Fees have to do with software that allows us to port the game to Mac and Linux.
Reward fulfillment includes the postage and printing expenses associated with our physical rewards.
All Coding and Design funds go towards software and work hours put in by our programmer.
Assorted / Misc. includes light marketing and a 'rainy day fund' in case my rickety computer dies on me.
Risks and challenges
Game development is sometimes unpredictable, but we're doing what we can to limit any potential hangups. I am so personally invested in and passionate about this project that it WILL be made. The only question is 'when.'
If we make the minimum goal, but Acacia and Chris aren't able to assist with animation and music, the release date will be pushed to Spring 2015. I'll need that extra time to finish the music and animation involved. We'll still release an early playable version for beta testers in 2014.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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