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.
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