About this project
Hello, I'm Lars Simkins. I'm a VFX artist by trade and an indie game developer by passion. I'm here to make that first person exploration/survival game we've all been dreaming about.
I can still remember the first time I played Daggerfall. Yes, it was uglier than a monkey's armpit and controlled worse than a bumper car on a frozen lake.
But it also created the feeling of a world that lived on even after I'd stopped playing, and that feeling still sticks with me all these years later. A world where you could spend hours searching every pixelated nook and cranny. A world of potential. A world of EXPLORATION...
...and then a Dragonling would chomp my face because I hadn't spent ten hours grinding in the easy regions. Arg! So frustrating!
Other games have touched on that elusive feeling, especially Elder Scrolls and early Fallout games, but as fun as they are and as much as I love hardcore RPG mechanics, I've always dreamt of a game that emphasized exploration above all else.
FRONTIERS is that game
In 2011 I finally decided if no one else was going to make it, I'd give it a try. For a full feature list check out the 'Game Features' section below. The trailer you see is the result of hundreds of hours of work and many thousands of dollars out of pocket.
I'm close to finishing this thing. Another six months ought to do it. But it needs a push - and that's where you guys come in.
I've taken stock of exactly where the game needs attention and I've already got a small team of hand-picked programmers & artists lined up to flesh out the content that will take this game from scrappy Alpha to polished final release. Finishing the base feature set will take $50,000, broken down roughly like so:
Beyond the bare minimum to finish the game there are stretch goals. These are features that aren't strictly necessary, but which I scream, you scream, we all scream for because they're awesome and fun. As many of you know I've spent several weeks listening to and discussing your feature requests. Until now I've avoided making promises about most of them (especially when it came to co-op, the most requested feature of all), but after crunching the numbers I can finally tell you what we're shooting for, and what we need to make it happen:
PayPal contributions so far: $1,753
Can't pledge with Kickstarter / Amazon? You can use PayPal! All PayPal contributions are put towards stretch goals.
Other cool features
Relaxing Pace & Tone ●This isn't a hack & slash game or a deep, complex RPG. It's an exploration game, and the pace & tone reflect that. There are challenges and tense moments, but they're something you seek out, not something that's thrust upon you. And while there is some complexity to be found in the skills and weapons system, it's not overwhelming.
Immersive Fast Travel ● Unlike most open world RPGs where fast travel feels like teleportation, fast travel in FRONTIERS won't break your sense of immersion. You get to watch as your character makes the journey, with the sun rising & setting and the landscape rolling by. (To see it in action check out the Videos section.)
Survival & Hunting ● Stay fed & warm using your Survival skills. Hunt live game with bows & traps, or gather nourishing mushrooms with book smarts. Eat it raw and damn the consequences or become a master chef and prepare filling recipes The survival elements in FRONTIERS are engaging and fun without being oppressive. Whether you want to hunt, gather, buy or steal, you'll be able to find a play style that matches your tastes.
Minecraft-Style Crafting ● Craft almost any item in the game - from weapons to potions to chocolate cake - with grid-based blueprints.
Beautiful Fantasy Soundtrack ● Steve can't wait to get started on new tracks for each region. I don't even have to tell you how good he is, just give the trailer another listen.
Immersion Settings ● My goal is to let nothing break your immersion. Everyone has a different threshold for GUI intrusion - you'll be able to tweak sounds, your HUD, glowing paths, your crosshair and even object highlighting styles.
I'm shooting for January 2014 - but take that with a grain of salt. Even the least ambitious, most experienced teams can slip behind schedule. And if we start hitting some of the bigger stretch goals all bets are off.
The good news is that a venn diagram between game dev and VFX has a lot of overlap, broadly speaking, and no skill carries over better than time management. After six years of delivering complex shots for TV shows & films with pressure cooker deadlines, I know a thing or two about creating high quality material with changing requirements under intense pressure. I've also got a great infrastructure for working with an offsite team.
Platforms & Distribution
FRONTIERS will be available on PC, Mac and LInux.
If all goes well the plan is to distribute the game on Steam, but I will also be trying to make it available on GOG.com for folks who like to keep their games totally DRM-free. (If your reward includes a copy of the game, I'll make sure a DRM-free option is available for you.)
Quick side note for all you game developers out there: I plan to make any generic assets I create or commission for the game freely available - tree models, textures, weapons, C# scripts, etc. I wouldn't have made it this far without support from sites like Open Game Art and the Unity community, so this will be a chance to contribute to the growing pool of high quality art & code available to aspiring game developers.
If you want to know more about the game, check out these links, videos and screenshots! I talk about features in a lot more detail elsewhere, especially on Greenlight.
Official Pages / Information
- PC Gamer - Exploration, discovery and survival in a one-man made indie RPG
- Polygon - How one man is creating open-world exploration in Frontiers
- Indie Game Magazine - Trailblazing with Lars Simkins
- Indiestatik - Do It Yourself: Frontiers Is An RPG-Sized Exploration/Survival Game Made By Just One Person
For all kinds of pretty images, check out the Greenlight gallery.
For more videos, check out the AAD Productions YouTube channel.
Enough of the jibber jabber! Let's get to the good stuff!
What are add-ons? They're fun extras that you can add to your existing pledge, regardless of the reward you claimed.
If you want an add-on, just increase your pledge without changing your existing reward. For example, if you already have an Early Bird Ranger reward and you'd like to add a Butterfly, pledge another $50. Then at the end of the campaign you'll receive an official backers' survey asking which add-on you wanted.
(Using PayPal? Same basic procedure - just make sure to shoot me email after you've contributed the difference!)
If you have questions about any of these rewards let me know and I'll answer them in the FAQ.
Risks and challenges
I'm proud of the fact that I've never missed a VFX deadline, but with a game this complex there's always a chance that January 2014 will slip through my fingers.
If I ever feel the deadline slipping you will know before anyone else. My policy is the simplest policy - transparency across the board. (I can guarantee you'll be sick of hearing about my problems within a month.)
I should also address the elephant in the room - is it even possible for one guy to create a game this big? The short answer is no, and that's why I'm bringing on a small team! But the other thing to keep in mind is how simple this game is compared to its influences (like Daggerfall). The focus on exploration allows me to prune mechanics and prevent the game from getting overwhelmingly complex. That's how I've been able to make it as far as I have, and that's how the team will be able to finish the game in the end.
Thanks for reading!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Pledging through Kickstarter is your best option, but for those who can't use Amazon Payments a PayPal option exists here: http://atomicagedog.com/frontiers/contribute/
PAYPAL: Will PayPal contributions count towards the main goal? Will they count towards stretch goals?
Unfortunately they won't count towards the main goal, but they WILL count towards stretch goals. As PayPal contributions are made I'll keep a running total visible on the main page.
JOURNEYMAN / BOOK KIT: If I get the book writing kit, do I HAVE to write a book? And does it have to be serious?
Of course not! The idea is to have fun. It could be a joke book if you like. Anything goes as long as it doesn't directly conflict with FRONTIERS lore.
It’ll be a cross-platform standalone app that lets you create new books, enter text into them, then preview what it’ll look like in-game. Once you’re finished writing you’ll just export an XML file and email it to me. Piece of cake!
JOURNEYMAN / BOOK KIT: Is there a maximum length or minimum length for books? Can I write a letter or journal instead?
There’s no maximum or minimum, but 600 words seems to be a good length for books. I’ll only ask that you let me know ahead of time if you plan to write something really long so I can help you avoid topics that might require extensive proofing.
If you'd rather write a letter, you can. The options are: Book, scroll, sealed letter, opened letter, parchment, carrier pigon message and journal.
Just be warned that books are more likely to be found in the game world. Letters and scrolls and the like are only kept in specialized libraries. But books show up on shelves and mantles all over the world. So if you want your stuff to be read, your best bet is a book.
The goal is to send it out in late August. Folks with beta access will probably get it sooner to help me test it on all platforms.
JOURNEYMAN / BOOK KIT: You mention avoiding conflicts with lore a lot. Will you provide a lore primer for the book writing kit?
Yes, I'll send out a brief history in a few weeks that covers the basics. But there's a lot of (spoilery) lore that I don't want to reveal, so avoiding conflicts will mostly be a matter of proofing. Don't worry though, unless you go out of your way to write a creation story from scratch odds are you'll be OK. (And even if you do write a creation story, that doesn't necessarily mean it won't make it into the game!)
You'll get limited beta access for one, plus two copies of the final game.
The fun of the Apprentice Blade is in crafting and using it for the first time, and I don't want to spoil that fun by posting everything beforehand. I'll understand if you'd rather not spring for it sight unseen, obviously. There's always that risk that you'll be disappointed! But for those that take the plunge, the thrill of discovery awaits.
RANGER: If I get a reward with two copies of the game and an Apprentice Blade blueprint, will both copies come with the blueprint?
Simple! Just send me a photograph of your face. It’ll have to be hi-res and shot in relatively diffuse lighting. (If you choose this perk, I’ll send you some example photos to work from.) Then I’ll project that photo onto an NPC head with the right shape.
It's a fun hidden message or object that artists sometimes hide in games or movies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)
Unless it's really offensive or something, anything goes, even stuff that breaks lore. All I'll ask is that it be relatively small so I can hide it effectively. No need to provide a 3D model unless you want to - I'll model and texture it for you.
Click here to see a mockup & size comparison: http://tinyurl.com/kyuoqxb
(Note: The look of these models may improve a bit as I overhaul the in-game artwork, but the design will not differ significantly from what you see here.)
The art pack contains some cool digital map art and desktops. It won't be hand aged but it'll be nice and high res.
Here are some photos: http://www.atomicagedog.com/frontiers/contribute/Spyglass.jpg
How complex are structures? Will you be able to create structures in the game? Will you be able to mod them? Will you release tools for building structures?
All these questions and more are answered in http://www.youtube.com/watch….
Erik Dinnel shot & edited the interview in record time. (I was responsible for splicing in the additional game footage, so any jump cuts / blips you see are MY fault, not his!) He was assisted on the shoot by Neilson Eney & Luke Chmura. Special thanks also to David Albright & Bob Ridgley for donating the office space & sound equipment, respectively.
Ideally yes, I'd like to release it in French, German and Spanish. (Russian has also been requested but there may be some technical issues that prevent this.) I will most likely be releasing language packs after the initial English version.
Yes. No fantasy races like Dark Elf or the like - characters in FRONTIERS are strictly human - but there will be several real-world races to choose from.
I know this game focuses primarily on exploration over combat, but is there really no armor in the game as it stands?
Correct, there is no armor system. An armor system would be fun in principle; it's just one of those things I arbitrarily cut out to ensure I could finish the game.
I have prepared for this, believe it or not. There's no lack of things to expand / enhance / add - some of the ideas I've got in my back pocket (both mine and others) will blow your mind. I'm keeping them under wraps for now but IF it looks like we might blow past the original stretch goals I'll post them. Until then, I want to keep the focus on what we can accomplish for 50 - 125k.
I've written an update about NPCs here, check it out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/railboy/frontiers-explore-discover-survive/posts/521641
Structures serve as a place to store your goods. You can also build a bed in a structure, which gives far greater resting benefits than a sleeping bag or tent. Objects that can be awkward to carry around (like crafting anvils) are also best stored in a structure.
You'll be able to customize your structures to an extent. You won't be able to change the layout, but you'll be able to hang things on walls (art, maps, etc), move furniture about, and change the color of wallpaper.
Yes. There will be a (skippable) Daggerfall-style questionnaire at the start of your game that asks what kind of experience you would like, and the game adjusts setting to match your answers.
During the game you'll be able to tweak these settings to your heart's content.
It's about 7.75km x 7.75km, or 60 square km, which is a tad larger than Oblivion / Skyrim. (The land mass isn't perfectly square so this is just a rough estimate.)
I'm using Unity / C#.
Why the heck is it going to take 20k to implement Oculus / Controller support? Doesn't Unity support it already?
What it boils down to is that I'm not satisfied with saying that the game 'supports the Oculus Rift' unless it's actually playable & enjoyable on it. The current text-heavy interface will be literally painful to use with the Oculus and a complete redesign will be required. It's a case of hoping for the best & planning for the worst. If it ends up costing less, great! I'll put that money towards the next stretch goal.
The principle I've been using is: If your machine can run Oblivion, it'll be able to run FRONTIERS. I'll have more specific system requirements once beta testing starts.
20+ varieties of mushroom, ale, apple, avocado, banana, bell pepper, blood orange, blueberries, bread, broccoli, cake, carrot, cherry, coconut, corn, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, lemon, lettuce, mead, onion, orange, peach, pear, potato, pumpkin, radish, rum, salt, slab of meat, strawberry, tomato, tongue, water, watermelon, wine, plus COOKED variations of most of these foods. (More may be added, message me if you have requests!)
All your questions are answered in this handy dandy update: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/railboy/frontiers-explore-discover-survive/posts/523806
If the reward is unlimited (eg Lion Tamer) then yes, it will apply to both copies. I won't complain if you get two though. :)
If it's limited (eg Headstone) then no, it will only apply to one copy.
Here's the full cast / crew, all of whom are awesome:
Survivalist - Kent Loomer
Lowly Camper - Lars Simkins
Writer/Director - Erik Dinnel
Lighting - Tom Ensign
Sound - Binary Recording Studio w/ Bob Ridgley, Andy Rick
Camera - Caleb Young, Neilson Eney, James Pidgeon
Grip - Jacob Lint
Script Supervisor - Katelyn Bliss Wright
Props - Michael Kutcher, Glenn Biernacki, Peter Gunn
Catering - Julia Clifford, Binary Recording Studio
Set Photography - Erik Simkins
Music - Steve Barnes
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