Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
An adventure game that teaches you art, played directly in your browser. All experience levels are welcome.
An adventure game for learning how to draw.
An adventure game for learning how to draw.
2,728 backers pledged $62,635 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Retronator Pixel Art Academy project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Retronator Pixel Art Academy

$62,635

2,728

     
      

Link Drop

For easy access to things mentioned in the video:

Courier of the Crypts
Tower 57
@Pixel_Dailies
Retronator Magazine

You can start doing pixel art for free with GIMP.

C-jeff

Follow C-jeff, who was kind enough to create the intro track and allowed the use of his existing library of songs:

SoundCloud
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube
Website (Bandcamp)
iTunes

If you like chiptune music you should totally check out his music label Ubiktune!

Retronator

Finally, Retronator is all over the internet too:

Website (Tumblr)
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Instagram

If you haven't yet, consider signing up for my mailing list. I will anounce bigger project updates there. However, if you back the kickstarter, you will receive everything—and way more—through backer updates as well.

The project's source code is available on GitHub.

Risks and challenges

In software development we have something we call the bus factor. It's the number of developers that would need to be hit by a bus to essentially halt all development. As a lone wolf developer, that number is alarmingly very low.

For any extreme circumstance, it helps that the project is open source (and decently documented). The community can take over at any point if there is desire. It also enables modding, running private servers etc.

A thing I'm personally paranoid about when developing online systems is losing live data. Allowing people to use a system while it's being developed is a tricky thing. To prevent the worst, the system will be backed up daily so we can always rollback the data. You would lose any progress since the last backup (a couple of hours or a day), but that is a small price to pay.

I want to also develop a way to download what would be essentially your save game. I need to spend some time designing the system so that loading data hasn't been tempered with and gets correctly linked to your paid account. Owning the data yourself is one more reassurance in case the system dies and you'd want to transfer the data to another server.

Speaking of servers, if the system becomes super popular it might be an interesting challenge to scale with the larger load. But that will be a good problem to have. Luckily I've worked with people that can tackle such problems in case they prove to be too big for me. And it won't be a problem to bring new people on board with the increased funds.

The biggest risk of course is not having enough time to develop the planned features. The project is set relatively open ended with the low funding goal and a conservative amount of features, so the risk is that the project will simply stay very bare bone at the end of first year. This is somewhat mitigated with the fact that Pixel Art Academy is my Master's project. I NEED to make this project. I'll be studying in the Learning, Design and Technology program at Stanford's Graduate School of Education and I've accepted their offer with great deliberation. The program is very project oriented and will allow me to work on Pixel Art Academy as part of the courses. The whole year is supposed to lead to your Master's project. My own fear is that this will not turn out to be so in practice. Taking into consideration that Stanford is a pretty good university, I'm not suuuper worried about it, but in the very worst case scenario where all hell breaks loose I can always drop out and put my savings into full-time development instead of burning them on tuition. On the optimistic end though, being at Stanford might very well be the best thing that could happen to this project.

There will be no stretch goals, no matter how much the project gets funded. As I'm already committed to a set workload next year, getting more funds doesn't allow me to produce more content. It will, however, let me do more next year, hopefully full-time, and potentially even teamed up with somebody. Current pledges will all benefit from this, but without putting more time strain in the first year.

As far as knowledge required to pull such a project together, I am 0% worried. I already have a Master's degree in Computer Science and I've been making games pretty much all my life, My day job in the last 2 years has been web development, which will come super handy for realizing the system the way I envisioned it (multiplayer online, played through a browser). The software I'm using (Meteor) has a very active community so major roadblocks are unlikely. I will definitely run into problems, but I anticipate solving them through the community. Every computer problem can be solved in one way or another and I have a lifetime of experience to back that up.

One of my small fears is that the game will totally suck at teaching art. Although my GIMP tutorial keeps receiving praise, the new super concise format is pretty experimental. That's why I'm happy I'll be studying education next year, at one of the best universities (ranked #3 in US for their grad program in education). While this might take me off the planned path I've presented in the campaign, I believe such deviations can only be for the better and will be based on well thought-out reasons. Communication with backers is key in such cases.

I've backed almost 50 projects on Kickstarter and my biggest pet peeve is when developers drop off the face of the Earth as soon as the project gets funded. Now that I'm on the other side of the table you can bet I'll do everything to run a project that will combine all the best things I love from the campaigns I backed. I've pretty much lived and breathed Kickstarter (and Patreon) for the last two to three years.

I hope constant updates with insights from my graduate studies and development of Pixel Art Academy will help everyone be on the same page with what's going on and why. That usually goes a very long way. Plus I'm super accessible through Facebook and Twitter so you can always directly ask me questions. And maybe soon we'll be able to meet and chat directly on the streets of Retropolis. ^___^

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THE GAME!
    Select from one of the pre-made characters and play through storylines, build your library of knowledge, complete assignments and track your art progress once the game launches with Freshman Year 2016/2017. As a Kickstarter backer, your name will be listed in a special section of the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook. I will also send you 50 backer updates (about one a week) with news from the development on the way to the release.

    Keycard level: White

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    1,257 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Early bird: YOUR OWN CHARACTER!
    Start playing once the game launches with Freshman Year 2016/2017. You will be able to create your own character and portrait by choosing and customizing individual parts. I can already see it as your new Twitter avatar! The portrait (and your name) will also appear in a special section of the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook. I will also send you 50 backer updates with news from the development.

    Early bird keycard level: Green

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 50 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    YOUR OWN CHARACTER!
    Start playing once the game launches with Freshman Year 2016/2017. You will be able to create your own character and portrait by choosing and customizing individual parts. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in a special section of the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook. I will also send you 50 backer updates with news from the development.

    Keycard level: Yellow

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    736 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Early bird: GAME ALPHA!
    Get access to the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016, before the game publicly starts with Freshmen Year 2016/2017. You will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus the character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of the main campus quad with all your Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Early bird keycard level: Magenta

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 50 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    GAME ALPHA!
    Get access to the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016, before the game publicly starts with Freshmen Year 2016/2017. You will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus the character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of the main campus quad with all your Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Keycard level: Cyan

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    436 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    Avatar track: CUSTOM ITEM!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. You will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus you will be able to request one item based on a photograph you provide. Others will also be able to use this item, so this could be a sneaky way of getting a sponsored item into the game.

    Your character (with your new item) will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its prominent first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Note: custom items will be produced over the whole Foundation Year, but it will be ready at least before the final class photo is taken.

    Keycard level: Red

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 50 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    Artist track: CLASS HELP!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. Anywhere along the way you can request help on an assignment or general art guidance. I will write you detailed feedback on your artwork and steps to take in the future.

    In the game, you will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus the character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its prominent first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Keycard level: Red

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 46 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Avatar track: UNIQUE ITEM!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. You will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus I will create an exclusive item for you based on a photograph you provide. Nobody else will be able to use it in the character editor!

    Your character (with your exclusive item) will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its prominent first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Note: custom items will be produced over the whole Foundation Year, but it will be ready at least before the final class photo is taken.

    Keycard level: Blue

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 25 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Artist track: PAINTOVER!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. Anywhere along the way you can request a paintover of one of your artwork. I will accompany it with detailed feedback and general art guidance.

    In the game, you will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus the character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its prominent first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Keycard level: Blue

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 15 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Avatar track: UNIQUE CUSTOM AVATAR!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. I will create a whole custom character and portrait based on a photo and your desires! This is the best way if you want to play through the game as a pirate with a peg-leg and a parrot. Or a robot. As long as it is a humanoid and can fit through doors.

    Your custom character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its most important first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Note: your custom character will be created sometime during the whole Foundation Year, but it will be ready at least before the final class photo is taken. Before then you will create your own character like other players.

    Keycard level: Black

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 10 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Artist track: PAINTOVER VIDEO!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. Anywhere along the way you can request a paintover of one of your artwork and I will create a video detailing my changes and the art lessons contained within. I will also write you general art guidance for meeting your own goals.

    In the game, you will be able to create your own character and portrait, plus the character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its prominent first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Keycard level: Black

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  12. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Art collector: ZX COSMOPOLIS!
    Get a huge 44" unique signed canvas print of ZX Cosmopolis from my personal collection. See the rewards section for details. The canvas will be shipped bubble wrapped in a cardboard package as soon as the pledge is collected by Kickstarter.

    Also includes the UNIQUE CUSTOM AVATAR!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. I will create a whole custom character and portrait based on a photo and your desires! Your custom character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its most important first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Note: your custom character will be created sometime during the whole Foundation Year, but it will be ready at least before the final class photo is taken. Before then you will create your own character like other players.

    Keycard level: ZX Black

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  13. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Art collector: PIXEL CHINA MOUNTAINS!
    Get a huge 44" unique signed canvas print of Pixel China Mountains from my personal collection. See the rewards section for details. The canvas will be shipped bubble wrapped in a cardboard package as soon as the pledge is collected by Kickstarter.

    Also includes the UNIQUE CUSTOM AVATAR!
    Start playing early with the alpha version and be part of the Foundation Year 2015/2016. I will create a whole custom character and portrait based on a photo and your desires! Your custom character will appear in a special Class of 2016 Photo, an epic pixel artwork of all Foundation Year classmates. The portrait (and your name) will also appear in the Retropolis Academy of Art Yearbook as one of its most important first students. I will also send you 50 backer updates introducing new features in the alpha version.

    Note: your custom character will be created sometime during the whole Foundation Year, but it will be ready at least before the final class photo is taken. Before then you will create your own character like other players.

    Keycard level: NES Black

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Reward no longer available 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (24 days)