This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Alcyone: The Last City — interactive fiction video game
Alcyone: The Last City — interactive fiction video game
Upcoming sci-fi interactive fiction game for macOS, PC, Linux, and mobile devices by the writer of Iyetra & co-founder of GX Australia.
Upcoming sci-fi interactive fiction game for macOS, PC, Linux, and mobile devices by the writer of Iyetra & co-founder of GX Australia. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
About this project
After the fall of civilisation, the City is the only thing still standing.
Outpost Alcyone : the Nihility spread across the universe at close to the speed of light, unmaking & twisting everything it encountered. We had enough warning to protect ourselves as we saw the distant stars flicker out one by one. Alcyone's old name was forgotten and became simply the City.
Shielded and walled away from the decimation and destruction of the void outside, inhabitants have lived for centuries with the serenity provided by the City's protection. Governed under the benevolence of the Six Ruling Houses, humanity continues to demonstrate its tenacity in surviving and adapting to whatever fate befalls it. Normal life continues — after a fashion. We persist.
But the Six are lying to us.
And the Nihility is more than we've been told.
And there's a way out of the City.
Alcyone: The Last City (pronounced Al-Sigh-O-Knee!) is a sci-fi interactive fiction game set in the last City in the universe. What's "interactive fiction?" It's sort of if you combine a novel and a video game into one — you choose the direction that the story takes and your choices heavily impact the plot, characters, and its ending.
Centuries before the beginning of Alcyone, experiments with hyperspace and faster-than-light space travel ended up destabilising and destroying the universe as humanity knows it. Now, in the game's present, all that is left is Alcyone itself — its old name has long fallen out of use, and its residents refer to it as just "the City."
The City is governed by the Six Ruling Houses who oversee a very strict class & caste system — the rich have everything, and the poor fight for what they can. Movement and travel are heavily restricted and even the wealthy are scraping by as best they're able. The City's climate is a tinderbox ready for a spark — and then you come in.
The player steps into the shoes of a "rebirth." Inhabitants of Alcyone don't exactly die and can be reborn several times in cloned bodies with downloaded memories. Are you from the ruling caste, or was your background simpler? The choice is yours, and that choice is one of many that will dramatically impact your progression in the game.
Alcyone has been inspired by narrative-heavy video games like Killing Time At Lightspeed (Gritfish) & Fallen London (Failbetter Games, who have also graciously provided Alcyone their blessing), as well as sci-fi space operas like Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds and Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton.
Wanna check Alcyone out before you pledge? The pre-alpha demo is available for free download RIGHT NOW! This demo encompasses the current "tutorial" area and has two pathways and an Encounter sequence to give potential players a good idea of the game's background, lore, and mechanics. The demo features a full soundtrack, art assets, and a teaser into future gameplay elements. If you want to check it out before reading further, head right here!
As a piece of interactive fiction, Alcyone is big on words! The setting of the City provides a rich environment full of political posturing, conniving, and survival. Characters within the game have their own fears and motivations which may align with the player or get in their way — whether this becomes a hinderance or an opportunity is up to you.
For players who wish to dig a little further into the world of Alcyone, important keywords and names are highlighted in the game as glossary tooltips: simply mouse over or tap on those words to see a definition of what it is — perfect for those times you might have forgotten what House Lovini is responsible for, or what the golems actually do. And if you need to go back and look at an entry you've already encountered, there's a glossary button on the game's sidebar that lists definitions you've already learned.
A lot of video games give the player the illusion of choice: you pick a few options here and there, progress through the story feeling like you're making an impact, but if you replay the game or load a save file to undo a decision you realise that overall you didn't have much control over the narrative after all!
With Alcyone, this isn't the case. Based on testing so far, it's going to take players approximately twenty hours to complete a playthrough (although this depends on your reading speed — you may go longer!). However, the choices you make throughout Alcyone heavily determine how your experience progresses. Upset the wrong faction and you may find yourself blacklisted from their good graces and thus locked out of an entire section of the plot — rather than helping to direct the action, you may just be an outsider watching what happens instead. As a result, this opens the door for the player to re-experience the story multiple times, from multiple viewpoints, in multiple ways and with as little repetition as possible.
Alcyone will have multiple endings, all influenced on the directions that you take. Will you save the City, or destroy it?
As in real life, good and evil is never black and white in Alcyone. The diverse cast of characters you'll meet, work for, and fight against are all operating from their own moral code and even the elites of the Six Ruling Houses must battle subterfuge and machinations just to survive another day. The City is cutthroat, secrets are its real currency, and everyone is out for themselves.
The decisions you're presented with will reflect that. Not every bad choice is made for selfish reasons, and sometimes altruism will shoot you in the foot down the road. There are often multiple ways to approach a problem, and a clever player will use whatever tools they can find.
Gameplay in Alcyone takes place largely through "Encounters." These are played in two possible ways: a choice-based system where the player decides between certain options to progress through a sequence, and a probability system where the choices they've made previously impact certain statistics and their likelihood of success. You might be able to knock down the front door to House Sadao if you're strong enough, but you might have also previously learned that the slave entrance around the corner of the building is poorly monitored between certain hours — the decisions you make, and the information you obtain, will guide or limit your options in the game.
Sometimes a reward will be in the form of gear — equipable items like engrams or soundtracks — that improves base stats. Sometimes your reward will be a useful piece of information that unlocks later pathways or routes in the game. But be warned — rarely is anything in Alcyone without consequence, and your base stats are mirrored with Blight stats as well. If these get out of hand, the player might quickly find themselves at a disadvantage — or worse.
* Screenshots reflect pre-alpha or placeholder artwork which aren't final until release.
Check out some sample audio from the Alcyone soundtrack!
Alcyone is a lightweight, cross-platform game coming to pretty much every operating system that can support it & every storefront that will sell it. At full release you'll be able to download DRM-free versions of the game on macOS, Windows, Linux, and tablet OSes like Android and iOS. You don't need a high-end, expensive gaming desktop to run the game and it's running competently on everything from a 12" MacBook to a Kindle Fire!
Due to how mobile systems handle distribution, the game codes available for pledging here are only for the desktop versions of Alcyone. However, mobile versions will be available at simultaneous launch. The possibility of launching Alcyone on consoles & other handheld devices is also being researched.
Hey — that's me!
My name is Joshua Meadows and I'm the creator, lead developer, and lead writer of Alcyone. I moved to Australia from NYC in 2008 and now call Melbourne home after becoming a dual-citizen in 2016.
I've been writing since I was sixteen years old and I've been fortunate enough to get paid doing it in many different ways; I've done everything from journalism to speech writing, advertising to articles, and since 2010 I've made science fiction and fantasy my main job. That year I launched the first novella in my Iyetra series, an ongoing serial set in a fractured world of science and magic across the shattered pieces of an ancient planet. The first six novellas (out of a total of twelve) have already been released, and the compilation volume of books one through four was a Quarterfinalist in the 2012 'Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award' contest. It was also within the top #100 and top #50 in sales on the Kindle store in that year as well!
I have also worked extensively in the video game industry for quite a while. Previously I was a journalist whose work appeared in places like GayGamer.net, XY Magazine, and WoW Insider but I have also done writing for video games as well. My most recent work was as lead writer of City Run London, a puzzle/adventure game set in Tudors London where you have to guide the protagonist on a rescue mission through the sights and attractions of 16th century London. I've also done translation & script cleanup work for more indie titles than I can count, and I'm excited to create Alcyone as the first game of my own.
When I'm not writing, I have been heavily involved in community building for the video game industry as well. I ran Sydney Gaymers (Australia's largest community for LGBT+ gamers, geeks, and allies) until 2016, and I also co-founded the GX Australia convention in 2015 seeking to give gamers and geeks an inclusive and awesome place to share in their hobbies. I've been interviewed extensively for both things and the experiences they've provided me have been amazing and incredibly enriching.
Peak Distapan is a Sydney based digital illustrator whose works can be found on album covers, event posters and t-shirts. When not making pretty pictures Peak can be found in the kitchen or behind a DM screen. As an organiser and one of the original members of Sydney Gaymers, he works regularly to help ensure that gaming is an inclusive and diverse place for all sorts of players.
Michał Korniewicz is a Polish-based musician and sound designer who has composed for video games since 2005. Originally studying architecture, his unique approach to music composition allows him to take emotions in video games and convert them into sound.
Jennifer Scheurle is a world-travelling Game Designer and public speaker who has worked on 10+ released titles since she started working in the industry 6 years ago. Born and raised in Germany and with a Bachelor of Arts (hons) in game development, she has played her role in Europe’s thriving indie game scene. She was named as one of the 100 most influential women in game development in 2016 by the Australian MCV Pacific and was listed among their 30 under 30 in 2017. Currently working for Sydney-based Flat Earth Games, Jennifer now creates for the game Objects in Space, which won the PAX Australia Indie Showcase in 2016 while also working on her own title called Philosophy Of Ten.
Dang was born in a UN refugee camp, raised in Victoria, and is a dual citizen of Australia and Beleriand. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English and in Philosophy from La Trobe University and moonlights as the Oracle of Melbourne in his spare time. Dang is working on his first novel, titled The Lotus Throne, and dreading his impending twenty-sixth birthday.
Snow is an independent writer and designer best known for Little Witch Story, winner of the 2015 ADGA Representation Award. Their work focuses on queer narratives and teaching empathy and compassion, and they’re a vocal advocate for diversity and accessibility.
Alcyone is currently self-funded. As I'm the main developer and writer I don't have to pay my own salary, but so far I've paid out of pocket to hire artists and musicians to augment the game and make it more than just words on a page. A successful AUD$5000 campaign will go towards offsetting expenses incurred in developing the game & take care of future costs as well. Additional funding beyond $5000 will hit stretch goals and let me hire additional guest writers, expand the art & music that players experience, and take care of any other costs that pop up in the course of the game's development.
Kickstarter also provides me an awesome opportunity to connect directly with players and allow them to influence & impact the direction of the game in ways that a traditional publisher model cannot. Opening up Alcyone early on allows the process to become more collaborative and lets me iterate on feedback from the beginning.
Contrary to popular thought, making video games is really expensive! This fact unfortunately doesn't change whether you're creating interactive fiction or super-budget AAA RPGs. The $5000 I am asking for through this campaign is already allocated towards expenses I've paid and future work needed to develop Alcyone. Much of that budget goes towards visual artwork, header images, and the soundtrack while the rest of the funds go towards paying the extra writers who are already on board. Fortunately, as I am self-financing the game's development, I do not need to pay my own salary, but the other contributors need to have their work paid for and aren't working for free. Because I am an artist myself, I am a big believer in paying others for what they do any not asking anyone to work for "exposure."
As I have gotten direct quotes for the work I need done, I am aware of how much additional funding I need to finish the game and there won't be unexpected expenses cropping up in development that might tank the game's release. This puts the project as an advantage, but the reality is that game development costs a lot of money no matter what sort of game you're creating.
In short — heck yes! To put it mildly, I write. A lot. I also write quickly — books one through four of Iyetra were written in my spare time and aggregated are approximately 120,000 words long. That puts the series up there on par with word counts like J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King (137,000 words) and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (107,253 words). I will be able to spend more time and energy on Alcyone and as a result it won't be tricky to hit my ambitious objective of half a million words in length.
Further, as the core game systems are already in place and tested, the writing is the last bit to go in. I've got a broad outline of the story already completed, including various pathways and obstacles that the player may encounter, so the writing will flow easily.
My development model allows me to work simultaneously with my artists and musicians — as writing is completed, they receive the material they need to continue their own work, leaving little downtime between each of us. This allows me to implement their art or music quickly, and means they aren't sitting around forever waiting for more writing on my part.
Your support of this crowdfunding campaign gives you a chance at pledging for a bunch of really awesome things including download copies of Alcyone: The Last City on release, limited edition canvas prints of artwork, tshirts, and even helping to create a character or sequence in the game itself!
- $1 Pledge — Thank you! Your name will appear in the credits & you'll receive access to backer-only updates. Every little bit helps!
- $5 Pledge — You'll have a choice of either the Digital Artbook or Digital Soundtrack. A download code will be sent to you at Alcyone's release.
- $7 Pledge — Receive a DRM-free copy of Alcyone: The Last City upon its release! You'll receive a code for your choice of desktop platform (macOS, Windows, or Linux) when the game comes out.
- $10 Pledge — Alcyone Game + Soundtrack/Artbook Bundle! You'll get a download code for the game as well as both the artbook and soundtrack.
- $20 Pledge — Beta access! Help guide the development of Alcyone by participating in the beta. You'll be among the first players to step into the world of the City and help prepare for the game's release.
- $40 Pledge — Alpha access! Soon after the Kickstarter campaign ends, access to the alpha will be made available to backers at this tier. You'll get the earliest access possible to Alcyone and have the greatest impact on its development!
If you're interested in supporting Alcyone a little bit further, there's some awesome rewards available at higher tiers!
For either a $50 or $75 pledge, you'll receive your choice of a limited edition canvas print featuring either one of the Six Ruling House sigils, or the Alcyone logo. You'll also receive access to the alpha, the digital soundtrack and artbook, and a full download code upon Alcyone's release!
At the $100 pledge you'll receive an Alcyone logo tshirt in either black or white, plus an A3 print with your choice of artwork from above. You'll also receive access to the alpha, the digital soundtrack and artbook, and a full download code upon Alcyone's release!
Want to pledge even more? There are unique opportunities for backers who want to chip in extra!
- $200 Pledge — Help create a character (subject to final determination) who will make an appearance in Alcyone. I will work with you to come up with a character that the player will encounter through their gameplay experience. You'll also receive your choice of an A3 print or tshirt, alpha access, the digital artbook & soundtrack, a full download on Alcyone's release, and huge thanks in the credits!
- $250 Pledge — Help create an Encounter (subject to final determination) that players will experience in Alcyone! I'll work with you to come up with a challenge or sequence of gameplay in Alcyone itself. You'll also receive your choice of an A3 print or tshirt, alpha access, the digital artbook & soundtrack, a full download on Alcyone's release, and huge thanks in the credits!
Want to help even more?
- $500 Pledge — Help create an ending to the game (subject to final determination) that players can achieve in Alcyone! I'll work with you to come up with an ending that ties together narrative threads in a denouement worthy of your pledge. You'll also receive your choice of an A3 print or tshirt, alpha access, the digital artbook & soundtrack, a full download on Alcyone's release, and huge thanks in the credits!
Every dollar raised in this campaign will go towards Alcyone's development. If the $5000 goal is met, additional funds will go towards something I'm massively excited about— hiring incredibly talented guest writers to contribute to Alcyone as well!
The stretch goals below are laid out around the writers' potential schedules over the course of 2017, and who is able to jump on board the project earlier than others. I'm massively, massively humbled that they were interested and willing to get involved for the Kickstarter itself and I'm looking forward to having each write for Alcyone!
If the campaign raises $6000, then both of these talented writers will jump on-board and contribute a section to Alcyone:
John is the designer and developer of the sci-fi narrative Killing Time at Lightspeed and cute puzzle game Mallow Drops. Killing Time at Lightspeed was awarded the Australian Game Developer Award for Innovation and Representation in 2016.
"Alcyone's world of reincarnation is a unique balance of science and mysticism that I'm excited to explore. The possibility of running into someone on the street who knew you before you died, the possibility of someone who's experienced death already preparing for it again, the sense of having more than one lifetime of goals to accomplish. Experiences that are uniquely human, and yet not." - John Kane
Anna is a narrative designer who is passionate about creating great interactive stories and game worlds. Most recently working on an open-world exploration game Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, Anna’s writing style focuses on character interaction and relationship building. Anna writes storylines that encourage players to pay careful thought to their actions and decisions, as those decisions have a real impact on success or failure in the game world.
"I started playing games not long after I learned to read, and I’ve always had a passion for both great games and great stories. Alcyone fits nicely into the genre I love to play and read about. It’s a great setting, full of intrigue and possibilities, and I am delighted to have been invited to participate as a stretch goal." - Anna Irwin-Schutze
If we achieve $7000 in funding, our special stretch goal will be hiring veteran writer David Gaider for the game!
David is a game design veteran, having started his career in 1999 working on BioWare's Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn as a narrative designer. His later credits include Neverwinter Nights (2002), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003), and more recently the Dragon Age series (the last being Dragon Age: Inquisition in 2014) where he acted as world designer and Lead Writer. He recently left BioWare in 2015 to become Creative Director at Beamdog, and is currently working on an unannounced project.
"Alcyone sounds like the sort of idea for a game I can appreciate: one that luxuriates in its prose, and doesn't start from the assumption its audience isn't interested in reading. I've always wanted to try my hand at this sort of writing, and [if the stretch goal is achieved] I'll get the chance!" - David Gaider
At $8000 in funding, our stretch goal will be to hire writer Alexis Kennedy to contribute to Alcyone!
Alexis was the founder and creative director of Failbetter Games, where he was the instigator of Fallen London and Sunless Sea, among other things. Sunless Sea won Rock Paper Shotgun’s Best Bestest Words in Gaming 2014, and was shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Best Writing in a Videogame 2016. Alexis has subsequently been announced as the first ever guest writer for both Paradox and BioWare, and is working on an experimental narrative game, Cultist Simulator.
"This looks intelligent, grim and fun, and any two of those would do it for me. It's always exciting to see someone doing fresh things with the approach I hammered out for Fallen London." - Alexis Kennedy
If funds top over $9000 (over 9000!), there are more exciting things in store. I'll be able to expand the soundtrack available in-game, pad out the artwork players encounter within it, and hire several other writers who couldn't attach themselves to this crowdfunding campaign due to existing contracts — nevertheless, they're names that players are likely already familiar with and will be thrilled to see contribute to Alcyone. If we raise sufficient funds, their identities will be revealed as they join the game's team.
I've been working on Alcyone: The Last City since 2016 and have slowly added in additional artists, musicians, and writers. I'm incredibly thrilled to finally have the game in a place where I can show it off publicly, bring in feedback, and start generating interest & buzz. If you're a fan of deep narrative experiences, engrossing worldbuilding, and engaging plots, then Alcyone is for you.
With your help, I'll be able to bring Alcyone to the rest of the world. Thanks so much for jumping on board!
- Joshua Meadows
Risks and challenges
All game development carries risks and unexpected circumstances. I have been working in the video game industry for over fifteen years and have experienced both sides of the fence — both reporting on game development, and helping to make games themselves! This diversity in experience gives me great insight into potential pitfalls & traps and flexibility in overcoming them. I've also previously ran two Kickstarter campaigns (both of which hit their goal) for GX Australia so I'm experienced when it comes to successfully raising funding for something.
The project so far is self-funded, and many of my expenses so far have already been paid. Thus, my costs are low and the campaign will help recoup expenses already taken care of and assisting in hiring guest writers & expanding the art and music available in the game. I do not have to pay my own salary, so the funds I'm seeking to raise go towards hiring other artists, writers, and musicians.
My physical rewards are purposefully limited edition and I have sourced out quotes for printing & shipping ahead of time to ensure that I will be able to cover them without impacting heavily on my campaign funding.
I'm also coming directly to the customer for the project and not relying on external sponsors or publishers; this means that I don't have to worry about funding not coming through if the campaign is successful, nor do I have to worry about ceding control over the game to a larger entity.
Finally, I've got an excellent relationship with the Australian indie scene due to my work with GX Australia and this has given me a fantastic amount of advice and support from veterans who've been doing this sort of thing for ages. Between all of this, I'm confident that I'll be able to manage whatever comes up and deliver on my objective of finishing Alcyone: The Last City without issue.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter