Dropsy: A Surreal Exploration Based Adventure Game
Guide a sweet but accident-prone clown through strange worlds in a fresh take on the classic point and click adventure.
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 (like Monkey Island, Full Throttle, or Grim Fandango) and places them into a unique exploration based framework.
Though its roots are in the point-and-click games of old, Dropsy will be an almost entirely text-free experience. There are still colorful characters to communicate with, but the dialogue is handled visually rather than linguistically. This is enhanced by expressive animation and detailed surroundings.
The goal is to allow the player to discover the narrative at their own pace. Solutions to puzzles will emerge organically as more is learned about Dropsy's world.
Most of the puzzles here aren't mechanically much different from your average adventure game. The difference in Dropsy is the emphasis. There isn't a chain of small actions you have to take to solve a larger problem. Instead, each puzzle has little 'hints' that point you in the direction of the main solution. They get progressively more blunt with their exposition as you move closer.
Dropsy has around fifteen main puzzles, and most of them are solved with only one or two actions. They'll initially seem more nebulous than your average adventure game puzzle, but the solutions become apparent as you observe more of the world and interact with NPCs. Since the game is open world, each puzzle has a geographically 'hot center' where the solution is made as obvious as possible without giving it away. It's this shift in focus that eases the 'adventure game logic' issue so prevalent in many adventure games.
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 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 perpetually-carefree 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.
Dropsy's dream world will be another avenue for discovering more of the story. Only accessible for five minutes at a time while Dropsy sleeps, his dream world is a surreal amalgamation of events from his past, opinions, interests, and desires. When you return, you'll begin where you left off. The dream world is entirely optional, and completion of the game is possible without visiting it once.
The soundtrack will borrow from almost every relevant genre of the past 70 years. At its core, it'll evoke memories of an old Soundblaster card or FM Synthesizer, but fuzzed out guitars, organs, tape echo, 70's drum machines, vintage keyboards, ukulele, and jacked up drum kits will also have their place. Think Earthbound + Spaghetti Western + Anatolian rock. Or something.
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.
While Chris is handling the music for the main game, I'll be composing the music for Dropsy's dreamworld. Check out a sample of my work here:
Keith Rankin of Giant Claw will also be contributing a theme or two. LISTEN TO THIS INCREDIBLE TRACK. Dadgum that's good.
If the voice acting stretch goal is met I'll be creating my own largely phonetic languages for the game characters. Think Magicka or The Sims, only marginally less goofy. So far, Melanie Ehrlich and David Saulesco are on board as potential voice actors. Melanie's voice can be heard in this track from one of the older Dropsy threads:
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 little nerd ears could possibly 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.
I also have a life outside of nerdy hermit stuff. This is where I was about to go into detail about it, but I'm struggling to think of anything interesting, so maybe I actually don't. Oh well.
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What platforms will Dropsy be released for?
Windows, Mac, and Linux. Andoid and iOS look less likely, but possible.
How did all of this begin?
In 2008 the first Dropsy "Choose Your Own Adventure" thread was published on the Something Awful forums. Dropsy himself was a blank slate, so the suggestions of the posters in that initial thread were really what defined his personality.
You can read an archive of the original thread HERE. This thing is OLD, so the art isn't exactly representative of this game.
Hey you big jerk, you had a Kickstarter for this back in 2011. What happened?
Lack of adequate planning and budgeting. I assumed I'd just be able to purchase the software, get a decent computer, and poop out a game in two years. All of the money went towards software for the game, and I've made progress, but I was definitely naive in my expectations.
What are you using to create the game?
I've been prototyping (basically making gameplay sketches) a bit using Multimedia Fusion 2, but we won't be using that for the final product. We're leaning towards Unity.
When will it be released?
May 1, 2014 for backers, June 1, 2014 for everyone else.
Why the name Dropsy?! WHYY?!
I don't know, my sister made it up like six years ago. Don't look her up though. That would be creepy and I'll call the cops.
You copied DoubleFine!
Just a loving homage.
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An old minigame from 2010. Enjoy!
Risks and challenges
The budget is as follows:
Minimum goal: $25,000
Estimated Kickstarter/Amazon fees and taxes: $4,500
Overall Budget: ~$20,500
- Animator: $5,000
Commissioning an animator to add a little pizazz to my sprites.
- Programmer: $6,000
For my awesome programmer, who has a family and job and deserves a lot more than 6k!
- Music: $5,250
For the involvement of Chris Schlarb and Keith Rankin.
- Living Expenses: $2,250
This is money that will help make ends meet as I take extra time off to work on Dropsy. I am not 'living' on Kickstarter funds.
- Licensing Fees/Reward Fulfillment: $2,500
For software licensing fees and the cost of printing posters, packaging, postage, etc.
If successfully funded, the first two months of development (August and September) will be spent prototyping and combining the various gameplay elements to form a cohesive experience. When we're happy with the flow of the game, we'll then finalize it and create our world building tools.
This brings us to the fun bit, creating the meat of the game! We already have a significant amount of art assets complete, so from there we'll transition right into making Dropsy's world 'real' with the world being filled in one area at a time. All visuals and audio will be implemented here. This will be the most work intensive part of development, and will last for six months from November 2013 to April 2014. We'll begin alpha/beta testing bits of the game in March of 2014.
In May we'll concentrate on polishing the game and getting it ready for release.
There is a chance that the development time could run later than June 1 2014. We won't be releasing it until we feel it's completely up to snuff.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)