Disclaimer: Gameplay footage, screen captures and images on this page are from a game currently in development and may not represent the final quality.
In other words: it might look better once we're done.
It has been more than half a year since our last, modestly successful Kickstarter campaign .
We've learned and grown so much and now we're back, humbled by your overwhelming support. Whether it's your first time coming across our little project or you've been following us since the beginning, we're glad to have you here!
A successful campaign last November managed to raise $5,855. After deductions (Kickstarter and Amazon fees, dropped backers, money reserved for rewards and other fees to get the money to Canada), we had roughly $3,500 left to spend on the game.
We've put every penny from our generous backers to good use and we haven't been shy in sharing our progress with everybody through our dev blog, twitter and facebook.
Our Kickstarter Pitch from November:
Back then, we had five members and the project was still in pre-production. Half a year later, we now have almost two dozen contributors from all over the world.
We're not a real "Game Company". Our "offices" are Skype chatrooms and private Facebook groups. Most of us are in our early 20's: Students, new grads or industry neophytes. By definition, we are closer to being an online community than a company.
What we can promise you: This is a team that values great art, recognizes its heroes (Vanillaware), and respects its fanbase. A team that loves great stories. Loves 2D. Is exclusively 2D. And above all else, values quality.
Some may end up loving this - our first try at an indie game, some may hate it. No matter the outcome, we'll keep learning, improving and listening to you, our supporters, so we can make games and craft stories that we can both enjoy.
Rival Threads: Last Class Heroes is a 2D side scrolling action role playing game. The concept of the Rival threads universe, in both the video game and the general fictional world, stems from the idea of controlling a Marionette with superhuman capabilities.
Players in Last Class Heroes are designated as Puppeteers and the general goal is to increase the Puppeteers' ranking in Vermilion Academy. This is achieved by challenging the other occupants of the school and defeating the strongest representatives of each of the four classes, the MVPs (Most Valuable Puppeteers).
The player can switch between two characters coming from the bottom ranked "Class D" hence, "Last Class Heroes". Two different play styles: Maya, (pictured above) controls Sancti - a projectile based, skill heavy marionette. And Sebastian, who controls Anino - an up close, combo based fighter. (Not yet in game. No footage available.)
Studio Kontrabida is an art studio first and a game development studio second. Meaning "Last Class Heroes" is meant to be an introduction to Rival Threads, a world we'd like to be able to continue through different forms of media: games, short stories, comics/manga and animation.
To help ease the player into our world, we've included the "Puppet Master", a short story penned by author Chris Lewis Carter for the game, in the form of collectible book chapters that unlock short animation clips such as this:
"Simon Shale", the listed author, is a prominent author in the game world.
We wanted to present the Puppet Master as a children's book so we could explore a presentation style different from the game; lighthearted, cute and whimsical. However, don't let the appearance fool you as the story can get a bit dark at times.
The Puppet Master also comes as a book, both in digital and printed form. Please see the rewards section for more information.
The game will come out for mobile devices first, followed shortly by the Mac and PC versions with higher resolution graphics, remastered audio and a different control system.
Running on iOS and Android (April 2012 build)
On Windows and Mac OSX (March 2012 build)
Latest build running on the Unity3D game simulator with controls and user interface for mobile devices. (May 2012)
The Unity3D game engine can also package the game for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and the Wii. Although we cannot make promises that it will be available on consoles, it is an option we'd definitely like to explore in the future.
Rival Threads Episode 1: Last Class Heroes is the story of two unique students, both beginning their first day at Vermilion Academy: Sebastian, a laid-back slacker with a mysterious past; and Maya, a girl born into privilege, who intends to shake up the school’s rigid class system, and find out the truth about “The Creator”, the man responsible for inventing marionettes. Their only bond: a mysterious melody from times forgotten.
Sebastian Ashford. Appearing to other students as a naive slacker, Sebastian is more than meets the eye. Although he tries his best to make sense of his mysterious arrival to Vermilion Academy (he can't help but shake how familiar everything seems), he is quickly drawn into the school's darker side. He is the Point-Of-View character, allowing players to learn about the environment as he does.
Voiced by Michael Johnston.
* * * *
Maya Pendleton. A girl born into privilege, Maya enlists in Vermilion Academy determined to topple the class system, and prove that people deserve equality. The only problem is that, while her motives may be pure, Maya's mindset that she is the only person capable of ending the class system leads to angry students - even the ones she believes she's fighting for. One heck of an internal struggle!
Voiced by Kimlinh Tran.
* * * *
Imagine a place where the technology to create real-world avatars has been perfected. These beings (called “Marionettes”) are such a staple of everyday life that all teenagers attend special schools to learn how to effectively control them.
There’s just one catch. Because they’re brought to life by using a fragment of a person’s soul, a Marionettes's capabilities resemble their owner’s true self – In other words, who they really are, deep-down.
If you’re actually a nice guy on the inside, your Marionette will be a reflection of strength or virtue. But if your outside appearance is all an act, and in reality you’re rotten to the core, expect a Marionette that will blow your cover.
And this process first happens in high school – the place where most kids try to hide their real selves from, well, practically everyone.
For example, this is Sancti, Maya's marionette. The large crown represents her nobility and birthright... however, it also covers her eyes - blinding her. Maya is naturally kind hearted but her pride and wealth distorts her sense of justice. She also wears a heavy gauntlet that represents the burden she has forced upon herself.
Marionettes all start out with this base model. Through a process called Imprinting, a portion of a person's soul is transferred to the Marionette.
A Marionette is significantly stronger than a human being and is also disposable and replaceable if needed.
The game is set in a world where Marionettes are used as tools for war. Each country makes it a priority to train its people for war through schools such as Vermilion Academy.
They are then outfitted with weapons, clothes, armour and accessories. A Marionette reflects a person's wealth and social standing.
They also come in different shapes and sizes.
School Motto: "Corpus Infecta - Anima Perfecta"
Translation: "Tainted Body - Perfect Soul"
Vermilion Academy houses four classes, after the original founders, the Vermilion Troupe who created the Academy dedicated to "The Creator".
As Maya, you make your way up from the last class; raising your rank through duels and by challenging each class' MVP (Most Valuable Puppeteer). Each class is unique, its students and their Marionettes as well; from the lowly Class D, the rebellious Class C, the exotic Class B and the elite class A.
As Sebastian, you'll explore the labyrinth underneath the school. What lies in the darkness underneath Vermilion Academy? And what exactly is this young man searching for?
We've got a full cast of interesting characters: From the quirky but helpful school staff, students and class MVPs, school visitors and travelling adventurers to the mysterious dungeon dwellers.
We're even assembling a voice acting cast. Currently, all the male roles are filled and we're accepting auditions for female roles. Please see sidebar or scroll all the way down for our contact details.
The class advisers.
The cold and calculating Raven Banecroft and the off-beat alcoholic Maxwell Valentine.
The timid but brilliant, child prodigy turned teacher Rara Goddard and the wise Randall Oliver, your adviser.
There's dozens of unique characters from each class with unique themes and backstories.
There are also the "extras" or filler characters. To make sure it truly feels like you're in a school, we wanted to put in as many characters on each scene as possible but at the same time provide an enormous amount of variety.
This video shows a simple system for creating the "extras".
The occupants of Vermilion Academy.
Luke Thomas shares his thoughts on composing music for Last Class Heroes:
"What started out as a soundtrack of 5 or 6 songs evolved into something much larger. Probably about 80% of it has been composed and already there's over 45 minutes of music; so we're trying to have a soundtrack that accompanies the player in every aspect of the game."
"From the beginning I wanted to create a soundtrack for the game that was lively but at the same time had underlying sinister elements. A central theme in the game is having a seemingly regular appearance but as soon as you delve in deeper you realize this isn't the case at all; so I tried to make the music reflect this."
"Throughout development, Leo (Director) decided to integrate the music more and more. Not only into the narrative but also into some of the puzzles in the game. The main melody that's re-used throughout the soundtrack has a crucial narrative significance and returns at various points throughout the game. For example, the menu screen first introduces players to the main melody."
"Then it reoccurs in different instrumentations. For example, it also reappears in the boss battles."
Luke is still a college freshman and has already composed tracks for more than 30 films and video games. Check out his work. He's available for freelance.
We started our group with five like minded artists and now have more than 20 contributors from all over the world. We now have voice actors, composers, writers, animators and other artists with different specialties.
The addition of almost every individual constantly pushed the entire team to work harder. The quality standard just kept going higher and we've dealt with tons of revisions.
That being said, we learned something this big was extremely expensive to support. However silly that might sound.
We already have Unity Indie ($800) but a LOT of crucial features are missing. Notably: Video Playback, Post Processing Effects and Low-Level Rendering Access, just to name a few. We need Unity Pro.
We feel that we're extremely limited with what we can do right now and we know that with your help, we can do so much more to improve the overall game experience.
$5,000 - Unity Pro. (Goal Reached!)
Stretch Goal 1: $12,000 (Goal Reached!) - Kontrabida Portal. We'll set up an online service where you can register an account and keep your saved files synced on all devices. Start the game on your PC and continue your progress on a mobile device or another computer!
This online identity can also be used to unify your experience with our future titles; where you can unlock rewards based on your achievements with other games. i.e. Complete Rival Threads Ep1: LCH 100% and Get x reward on Ep2, carry over stats, items, etc.
Stretch Goal 2: $15,000 (Goal Reached!) - The Valentine Prequels. A series of web comics that features Maxwell Valentine, the Class B Marionette Instructor. These comics will introduce you to our world and prepare you for a life inside Vermilion Academy. Professionally made. 12-16 pages per issue. Released on our Kontrabida Portal (Stretch Goal 1)
We'll also use this portal to deliver other Rival Threads related content for fans who want to explore Vermilion outside the games.
Stretch Goal 3: $20,000 (Goal Reached!) - Five Playable Characters instead of Two. More details here.
Beyond the goals...
Every penny counts and will help improve the game with better/more animations, more content, more voice acting, polish, and possibly localization - a goal we've had since the first Kickstarter, and possibly porting to other platforms such as consoles or other handheld devices.
Anything left over, will be used to help establish Studio Kontrabida as a real studio, able to support future large scale and extendable projects like this one, and maybe even allow us to explore other artistic avenues such as a comics/manga or animation shorts.
We truly believe this might be the start of something amazing. We love what we do, we think we have the potential to be good at it and with your help we can stay together as a team, keep getting better, master our craft and bring you great content for years to come.
Art Book, Shirts, Posters and Wallpapers
We haven't decided on final designs for these because the guys constantly produce a lot of cool art and it would be a shame if we prematurely select now. Once we're closer to printing the rewards, we'll give you guys a heads up, we'll narrow it down to the best ones and you can help us choose which ones to produce. Like yourselves, we're looking forward to these rewards too so they better look as amazing as possible!
The art book will be a massive collection of... everything. From concept art, sketches, full colour pinups, game sprites, and all the different contributions from all of our members. If you'd like to see more of our work, check out our dev blog. And we also feature individual artist galleries on our facebook page.
The Puppet Master Storybook
As mentioned in the Intro Section above, the Puppetmaster storybook is the perfect introduction to the world of Rival Threads. It follows a storyline separate from the game which explains the origin of Marionettes and Vermilion Academy.
Aside from the in-game animations, the story will also be available in book form, exclusively available here as a backer reward. Here are some more sketches:
The Sebastian paper toy. Print, cut and super easy to assemble.
Thanks to Ben from Benjamin Bookings, one of our earliest supporters, who allowed us to post these. This is his in-game character "Ben", a stylish rival student from elite Class A.
This is "Red" the Tinkerer. One of the shopkeepers based on another one of our early supporter's designs, author Jeffrey Zweig II.
Check out more samples on our dev blog.
Shoutouts & Easter Eggs
We can put your custom shout outs in the game. For example, a website promotion with a short description and a url (not clickable in the game), a message for a special someone on a notebook, or simply "BOB WUZ HERE" or "HI MOM" etched on a wall. We'll make sure it's not only artistically presented, but also integrated into the world properly - make sure it looks like it really belongs.
We'll even reward players who dont mind looking for all of these Kickstarter shoutouts & easter eggs with in-game bonuses and achievements or even use them as solutions to quests. i.e. A hidden message scribbled on a Kickstarter poster is part of the password to enter a certain area.
However, we want to make sure it doesn't offend anyone or contains any questionable content, so contact us beforehand if you have any concerns.
Here's a sample of a poster shout out; clickable and zoomable in game. We'd like to make sure it doesn't look out of place so if you'd like to use your own art, we'll give it the proper image treatment or try to recreate it to match the game's style.
We've reserved spots all over the school, like these.
It can be as sweet, personal or funny as you want. For example: Edwyn, one of our early backers wanted us to put in an Armadillo wearing a Penguin suit holding up a sign that says "Moo". He sent us this sketch:
You can try out a very early version of the game here. It will ask you to install the Unity3D web player plugin for your browser. The game is 30mb so it might take some time to load.
This demo lets you visit a few areas and lets you interact with some NPCs - a small taste of what to expect.
This demo is for the mobile version of the game, the desktop versions will feature higher resolution graphics and a different control scheme.
Animations, UI elements, level design and other functionality may change (for the better) on the final version.
New Area Indicator - You can tap (click) this or the Action Button to move to a new area. This will only activate if your character is within range. The Action Button's icon will change to indicate the action is available.
Non Player Character - You can tap (click) this or the Action Button to initiate a conversation. This will only activate if your character is within range. The Action Button's icon will change to indicate the action is available.
Left Arrow - Moves the player Left.
Right Arrow - Moves the player Right.
Joystick - You can also drag the joystick left or right to move. Dragging halfway will make your character walk. Dragging all the way makes it run.
Action Button - The multipurpose Action Button's icon changes depending on the available action.
Please let us know if you have any problems running the demo at email@example.com or by sending us a message here.
If you have any questions, concerns or just want to send us some love. (or hate) Contact us at:
@kontrabidaHQ on Twitter
This project is led by Director and Technical Lead Leonardo Molar, Art Directors Ryan Quizon, Elegy Wong and Anne Ballaran and Writer Chris Carter.
We hope you like what you see and even if you can't back the project, why not click the "like button" underneath the video. Tell your friends about us. ;)
We're glad you found the time to be here in our small corner of the web.
- (35 days)