Subterranea is set within, around, and below, a massive swamp named Vengarth. Some time ago a poor fishing village by the name of Gimlet, whose inhabitants scratched out a living on the edge of the swamp, had a marked improvement of fortune after a mysterious Elf-Lord appeared in their midst.
The Elf-Lord, Lord Lenzo, struck a deal with the villagers - in exchange for harvesting the rare and valuable plants that were found in abundance in Vengarth Swamp, the Lord showed them how to refine the plants into valuable alchemical and magical reagents and helped them to trade those reagents across the country for his own and the townspeople's prosperity.
Under Lord Lenzo's benign but increasingly absent rule, Gimlet Village grew and prospered into Gimlet Town. The fishing families who originally lead the village formed a cabal of Merchant Lords and have effectively taken over the stewardship of Gimlet Town.
Recently however, a group of harvesters stumbled upon an entrance to a sunken temple within the swamp and unwisely entered looking for valuables. The survivors brought warning to the town, and the cabal instructed other harvesting parties to keep their distance from the temple entrance. Despite their instruction, harvesting parties keep disappearing from all over the swamp with increasing regularity.
When the cabal's profits are threatened they act. You control a party of adventurers who have answered their call to arms. You are not alone though - other adventuring parties have also come seeking rewards from the wealthy cabal of Gimlet Town - these adventurers may need to be dealt with one way or the other.
The game features deadly intrigue, murky and conflicting agendas, a sprawling megadungeon to conquer and ultimately a mystery that lurks far beneath the surface of Vengarth Swamp!
Subterranea features the following;
Tactical Turn-Based Combat: There is a wealth of tactical options available to each of your characters, each round. Melee attack, ranged attack, cast spell, sneak attack, attack of opportunity, bull rush, use magic item, drink potion, feint, overrun, read scroll, ready defense, total defense, use skill, use ability, etc. This wide range of tactical options requires a turn-based combat system that lets you weigh up your best move whilst the game action is paused. Enemy artificial intelligence has access to the same range of actions, and in addition will perform strategies like flanking and using cover and elevation, to attempt to get the best of you.
Physics-Based Emergent Gameplay: Want to cast Earthquake to bring a cave roof down? The Physics Engine calculates what happens next - who has to make Reflex saves to avoid or reduce damage and who is safe from flying debris. Physics introduces an extra element of randomness beyond just dice rolls and can lead to a series of connected events that result in entirely new outcomes in each encounter.
Puzzles and Traps: The world of Subterranea itself will provide a number of environmental challenges. Collapse a rope bridge to plunge some enemies to their death? You'll need to figure out how to get across that chasm now. I hope you've packed your rope.
Branching Dialogue with Choice and Consequence: You'll need to develop some skills in Diplomacy, Bluff and/or Intimidation to thrive when pitted against the machinations of the game's antagonists.
Deep Character Customization: When creating your characters, you will be able to assign ability scores, race (7 options), class (11 options), gender, appearance attributes, skills, feats and spells to produce highly customized characters.
There are a number of assets that still require funding before Subterranea can be completed:
Engine License: The professional license of Unity brings deferred rendering, render-to-texture effects, in-game video, dynamic navigation mesh obstacles, and many more features that are critical to completing Subterranea.
Animations: Great animations really make a 3D game look and feel fantastic. An annual subscription to the catalogue of an animation vendor, will give me access to most of the animations I will need to complete the game.
Music: Any game, especially fantasy RPGs, benefit greatly from a custom, coherent, and setting-appropriate, soundtrack. A collaboration will be entered into with a game music composer, who has specialized in fantasy music themes, to provide a customized Subterranea soundtrack.
Programming Frameworks/Plugins: An Indie Developer can rapidly accelerate their development schedule by purchasing certain programming frameworks and plugins.
Custom 2D/3D Art: There is a large amount of professional 2D and 3D fantasy art available to purchase at reasonable prices. The rest of the funding will go into purchasing these, and any excess funding that is not used to achieve the stretch goals will also be used here, to make Subterranea look and feel better.
$17,500 AUD: The Mac and Linux releases will occur simultaneously with the Windows release in March, 2015. Without this funding, the kit needed to test deployment and provide post-release support would have to be funded from future game sales, pushing the Mac and Linux release dates back.
$21,000 AUD: Multiclassing. Although the game supports level advancement up to 20, multiclassing support is currently on the TODO list, as it will require some UI and Rules Engine redesign, as well as a lot of testing of all of the combinations. Achieving this stretch goal would ensure multiclassing gets in to the game by allowing for some help to be enlisted for the unit and functional test cases required to ensure that multiclassing is implemented thoroughly and correctly.
$25,000 AUD: Multiplayer Coop Support via LAN or Internet! I would love to add this feature to Subterranea now, but the reality is that I'd need to purchase a rock-solid multiplayer game programming framework and enlist some testing help to ensure that the Coop play works well in every situation within Subterranea.
$30,000 AUD: Professional voice acting. The key character parts in the game will be voiced by part-time actors with tones and accents that sound compelling in a fantasy-themed RPG!
$30,000+ AUD: More, more more! This level of funding would mean a whole lot more of many things within Subterranea. More monsters to battle, more equipment to... well equip. More traps. More puzzles. The scope of the world (i.e. number of environments) would remain the same, as the timeline below is based around estimates to complete scoped gameplay systems and environments, however having many different monster types and many different versions of items, etc. would greatly enhance the enjoyment of the game by providing more variety.
Now: The game has most gameplay systems implemented, and some content created, but lacks polish.
Alpha Release: This release has complete gameplay systems, and most of the content created, but still lacks polish. Incorporating feedback from Alpha Testing gives the opportunity to go as far as completely revamping gameplay systems, or content, that aren't working well. The target date for the Subterranea Alpha Release is October, 2014.
Beta Release: This release has complete gameplay systems, is content-complete, and has a fair bit of polish. Incorporating feedback from Beta Testing gives the opportunity to improve polish and make moderate changes to gameplay systems and content. The target date for the Subterranea Beta Release is January, 2015.
First Release: The first release of Subterranea is targeted for March, 2015.
Post Release Support: If any issues/bugs are found after the game is released to the public, I intend to keep patching until they are eradicated. I love this game, and want it to be perfect!
You can't make a game like Subterranea for the money you are asking for!
Cloud Nine Games is predominantly a one-man band - that means that design and implementation decisions are instant, vision is coherent and overheads are very low. I don't need any money for "living", that's already covered, I just need extra money, above the money I've already invested in the game, to finish it.
Assets in a 3D game can be suprisingly cost-effective - for example, an individual animation can be purchased from a professional animation vendor for $10-15 USD. This animation can then be reused for all of the biped models (i.e. Humans, Elves, Orcs, etc) in the game. Compare that to a 2D game, where I would need to commission a 2D artist to create walk, attack, etc. animations for every race/gender combo, at $100-300 USD a pop!
A real danger for indies is overpromising. I'm well aware of this and won't fall into the trap of extending the essential scope of the game throughout the development cycle. The scope has been designed and the estimates to complete the game have been based on how long it has taken me to create content so far. Of course, within the scoped environments, more variety of monsters, items, traps, puzzles, etc are always possible, and more achievable with more funding.
This is a passion project to create a game I'd love to play myself. If issues are found, I intend to keep fixing them until the game is perfect! I can only offer my word here, but check out the Cloud Nine Games website for my community engagement and frequency of development updates to take some assurance.
We're aiming for a similar sense of progression that was had in Pool of Radiance when clearing the slums, so you're not going to see randomly-spawning mobs in the areas you clear. The danger then is that it becomes boring to traverse through the cleared areas repeatedly - this will be offset in two ways:
a) There will be quicker ways that you can unlock to get down to the lower levels, like pits to abseil down, alternate staircases, etc.
b) There will be scripted re-populations of certain cleared areas based on whether particular events happen in the game. The appearance of re-populating monsters will make sense in the context of the game's plot.
No, it's unlikely that you would get anywhere near level 20, unless you spend a huge amount of time grinding in the swamp. Depending on the number of side quests you complete, and how thorough you are in clearing out the megadungeon, you can expect getting your characters to level 8-12 will be sufficient to be able to defeat the main villain and complete the game.
Subterranea supports "save anywhere", so I'm sure that reloading will be an option taken by many. For those who like to deal with whatever the game throws at them, you will either need your own Cleric to be powerful enough to cast Raise Dead, or you'll need to use a Raise Dead scroll, or you'll need to visit a temple for one of their powerful Clerics to cast it for a hefty price!
You will be able to create additional PCs to add to your Character Pool at any time, and when in-game, travel to the tavern in Gimlet Town to "recruit" them. The Character Pool will initially come populated with a number of pre-generated PCs - these should be thought more of "PCs you didn't create", rather than NPCs you would normally see in other CRPGs, with their own dialogue and plot lines.
Any PCs added in-game will start at Level 1, with 0 experience though, so if you make a mistake when constructing your party, it will be best to fix this early.
We would love to keep developing Subterranea into a series! Out of necessity for a first time indie CRPG title, the scope of the environments is set to what is achievable in a realistic timeframe. If Subterranea is received well, development on Subterranea 2 will commence immediately. The ruleset used will remain the same, the gameplay systems will evolve based on feedback and the content will be greatly-expanded. We'd hope to have multiple towns, many villages, an overland environment teeming with points of interest, and of course multiple megadungeons to explore.
ADVENTURER - You've just pre-ordered a DRM-free digital copy of Subterranea on the released platform of your choice (PC first in early 2015, followed by Mac and Linux), for less than the retail price! A Steam key will also be made available if Subterranea gets Greenlit. Plus your name lives on forever in the credits!
WIRED FOR SOUND - You get the game and the credit, as well as a digital copy of the Subterranea soundtrack. This custom soundtrack will be commissioned by the funding from this Kickstarter. The soundtrack will be sent to you as soon as it's ready, while the game is still in development.
DESIGN CREDIT - You get all previous rewards (printed manual sent at your option), plus you get to design an encounter within the game, including the level design, enemy types, and any exciting scripted events that you would like to surprise other players with! You'll appear in the credits as an Assistant Designer. You can submit as many encounter design proposals as you like - pledging at this tier guarantees that one suitable one will be selected. If the other proposals are good, they will quite likely end up somewhere in the game also!
MERCHANT LORD - You get all previous rewards (printed manual sent at your option), plus you get to alter the design of one of 5 members of Gimlet Town's Merchant Lords, who along with Lord Lenzo form the town's ruling cabal. Design includes back-story, appearance and motives (in conjunction with other antagonists).