About this project
Wait, do I know you?
You might have played some of my stuff! You could be familiar with Enough Plumbers, a small side-project that kinda exploded with about 20 million plays so far, or Escape From Puppy Death Factory, made for Adult Swim games.
I've been developing professional independent projects, educational tools and board games, jam games, dumb jokes and little freeware things for years, and with more than 50 of them released you might have seen some of the others, too.
The original Gnilley prototype was developed during a 48-hour lock-in at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, for the local branch of the Global Game Jam 2010. It was originally supposed to be about pitch and colour, and manipulating an environment by 'tuning' through it with your voice, but ended up being about YELLING AT EVERYTHING.
Want to try it out? The original prototype (for Windows, although no guarantee it'll work on your system) is available on the Global Game Jam site. A quick note: even though the description says I'm looking for bug reports, I'm not anymore! I just can't edit again!
The goal now is to develop a full-sized, follow-up game (for Windows and Mac, and Android & iOS mobile devices). Because games about sound and your voice are pretty rare; some older games experimented with it but except in a very basic capacity I don't think the possibilities of microphone-based play have been thoroughly exploited. There's a lot of room there for a game to do new things, in new ways, constantly engaging and sometimes surprising the player.
(Screenshot of the prototype. The full game won't look like this.)
Like the prototype, the core of Gnilley will be a top-down adventure à la Zelda. Exploring this overworld (yelling at enemies, tuning obstacles, and solving puzzles along the way) uncovers the story and reveals a variety of challenges that need to be solved to progress and unlock new abilities. These take the place of "dungeon" levels, but rather than dungeons, the challenges take the form of cursed items each containing a different minigame. In doing this the challenges aren't bound by the context of the overworld gameplay, even though they still link back in a concrete way to progress in the main game: they can instead focus on being original!
The aim is to have about ten minigames (not counting secret ones!), each utilising voice control in completely different ways. In some cases these are just classic game concepts that would be really fun to yell at -- like a space shoot-em-up where yelling causes your laser to fire--but the goal is really to concoct ways to make those controls work in a satisfying and unique way that benefits from the analogue nature of your voice -- like controlling the width and colour of that laser attack in response to different situations and enemies.
It can be tricky to explain how some of these ideas might work until you see them in action, but here are a couple of examples:
- Survival Horror - It's dark. You're navigating a labyrinth, the kind that might have velociraptors. A noise! Nothing. Suddenly a monster jumps out at you! You scream! But it's on purpose, since that's how you kill monsters, right?
- Waveform Racer - Heroic developer Kenta Cho has a little game about controlling a car by adjusting the frequency of a sine wave. What if that wave were your voice, and pitch and amplitude matter?
- Tactical Espionage - The armed bunny guards are napping, let's let them rest while you infiltrate their base for some reason. You need to be quiet this time, but isn't that kind of easy to cheat? What if the game cheats and tries trip you up, too?
Since these minigames can work independently of the context of the main game, after clearing them you'll unlock free-play, extended or endless versions accessible from the title screen, so you can tackle harder challenges, work on your high scores, or just replay your favourites whenever you want.
After the amazing and encouraging response people had to the original prototype -- it turned up worldwide in gaming magazines, news sites that don't even really cover games, even on TV a couple times, and it's still a popular subject for Let's Play videos (especially in Germany for some reason) -- it was pretty clear that it needed a full-sized sequel. After a couple months' planning it became clear that to really do the idea justice I'd need to dedicate a few months to it without distraction from other projects. When possible I've been working towards the goal of being able to defer paying work for half a year or so and still afford living expenses, but I still need a little help to get off the ground.
Your contribution will go entirely towards the game's development budget:
- The big expense: development tools, primarily some commercial software licenses for a particular multiplatform engine (which is around five thousand dollars alone, but provides a huge overall benefit to the process--it makes it possible to focus on content and developing new gameplay directly from prototypes while also saving a month or more of work that could be better spent delivering something awesome), some additional 3D-related tools, and ideally an outdated Apple test platform. This makes up most of the target.
- Extra development expenses, which mainly means paying people for things I don't do myself such as quality music, and regular business stuff.
- As with most (if not all) projects you'll see here, Kickstarter's comission, credit card processing fees and reward fulfillment make up something like a 10%+ overhead.
Those are the basics, but the further the budget stretches the more I can concentrate on delivering a polished game that really explores the untapped potential of voice games.
Besides supertacular gratitudes; with the basic contribution you'll get a link you can use to grab a copy of the finished game on the platform of your choice when it launches. Totally DRM-free where possible (I think iOS might be the only exception).
You can also score a copy for every supported platform, to keep for yourself or give out; the chance to design your own level for the extended mode of one of the minigames and get it in the thing, or a whole minigame mode of your own!
Update: Due to popular demand--more stuff! You can now score posters, glow-in-the-dark shirts, or a super special customized Gnilley stage microphone. We'll now also have a behind-the-scenes featurette thing showing the design and development process that you can get access to, plus! an in-game hall of fame, or send me your voice and you'll be able to hear it screaming along with everyone in future promotional stuff.
To the great people who've previously supported development on my site or the Gnilley page: thanks so much! If the project reaches its goal I'll be sending these rewards your way, too!
Finally, thanks a lot for checking out this project!
If you're looking for the longer versions of the clips used in the video they can be found on my Youtube channel, and links to my games and jam things can be found on klikscene.com. You can also follow development on Twitter.
Short version: the minigames ARE the dungeons! It's just that by making them a bit separate, there's more freedom to go nuts with the voice stuff. There'll still be dungeony bits in the main game, too.
Long nerd version (from an email conversation with a fellow designer): The core overworld game will still contain the basic set of verbs from the original prototype, including two or three minor new additions, and will still feature ongoing extrapolations of challenges for the basic ability set throughout the game. The overworld environment itself will still be pretty dungeon-like, with the dungeonish areas containing the items which unlock the minigame challenges. I've chosen my phrasing here because for mobile design it's pretty important to break play up into digestible modules. "Minigame" might be sort of a misnomer though because I intend each of these things to be a small self-contained game within a game that'll stand alone and provide opportunities for new uses of the microphone free of too much main-game context (and yeah, break things up a bit so the player can take a rest from just yelling) while still providing a discrete initial challenge (this is the mini- bit) to unlock further progress in the core game. The way I'm imagining it I'm hoping this'll provide compelling play for the computer versions while being accessible to a mobile audience, which is important because I really want to see people screaming on the bus.
- (30 days)