About this project
This project made possible by the support of over 1200 dedicated 8-bit RPG fans!
The journey continues at Stirring Dragon Games!
Why is it that anytime you ask an RPG fan what their favorite game is, they will almost inevitably name a game that was made 30 years ago? You know the games we're talking about, games like Ultima, Legacy of the Ancients, Wasteland, SSI “Gold Box” titles, or some other game from the “Golden Age” of RPGs. Despite the high-end graphics and advances of modern RPGs, they still somehow fail to live up to the enjoyment found in these fan favorites of the past.
Let’s face it: those low-fidelity RPGs had something special. They had the perfect mix of presentation and gameplay that allowed your imagination to run free. Sadly, for some reason, game companies decided to stop making single player RPGs like this and thus abandoned a generation of RPG fans…until now.
We here at Stirring Dragon Games think it's a shame no one is willing to make classic RPGs like this any more, and we're just crazy enough to do something about it!
Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous is a new single player medieval fantasy role-playing game that will take you back to the glory days of 80’s gaming.
Together with your help, we can bring back a taste of the Golden Age! Not just for the fans who almost flunked out of high school playing these games long ago, but for new generations of gamers who never got the opportunity to experience what makes this genre of RPGs so special.
In true retro fashion, your adventure starts out in the 80’s. The story begins with your character uncovering a mystery surrounding the disappearance of your uncle. While searching for clues at his old cabin in the woods, you find yourself transported to a strange yet familiar fantasy world. Armed with nothing more than a wooden sword and an unlikely companion, it’s in this unknown realm that your quest for answers begins.
Like many favorite games of the RPG golden age, Unknown Realm has role-playing at its core. This means it begins and ends with you and your choices and the impact they have on the story. Your choices will affect the outcomes of the relationships you forge in the game, as well as the very landscape of the world itself!
Along your journey you’ll uncover mysteries your uncle spent a lifetime pursuing – secrets of The Twelve Realms and their lost knowledge. You’ll have to master medieval weaponry, descend into the depths of dungeons, navigate the treacherous seas, and learn to harness the power of the Elderstones in order to survive in this realm of monsters and magic.
We believe that in order to capture the magic of the classic 8-bit RPG we had to return to the same constraints under which they were born. That meant making a true 8-bit game instead of one that merely looks 8-bit. It fits nicely with our design philosophy, which is that constraints breed creativity. Designing in 8-bit forces us to focus exclusively on creating fun gameplay rather than non-essential features.
We chose the beloved Commodore 64 as the 8-bit system to develop for because in our opinion it has the best feature set of all the 8-bit systems. It also happens to hold the record as the best selling personal computer of all time.
What this means is that if your mom didn't throw out your Commodore 64 years ago, it's time to dust that baby off and experience an 8-bit RPG like no other! And don't worry, we didn't design this game just for Commodore fans. We designed it with all single player RPG fans at heart. That's why we created a special PC platform to deliver an authentic 8-bit RPG experience all within the comforts of your modern PC.
- Open world with lots of secret locations to discover.
- 64 different day, night, and seasonal monsters.
- Landscape reacts to the choices you make. Locations, characters, and game world will be impacted by your decisions, and your actions have real consequences.
- Dual-mode exploration using either overworld view or zoomed in location view.
- Traveling NPCs and settlements – stumble upon a gypsy caravan, traveling merchants or bandit encampments!
Fast-Paced, Fun-Focused Combat:
Instead of spending 80% of your time grinding away in combat and only 20% of your time doing what we consider the fun stuff about RPGs, we have flipped that around so there won't be any 10 minute monster battles going on here.
- Simple Attack + direction targeting keeps you in the action instead of an interface.
- Dedicated hot key for quick primary/secondary weapons toggle.
- Turn-based, but feels like real-time.
- Attack monsters in overworld view as well as zoomed in view.
Just because our NPCs have 8-bit brains doesn't mean they have to be dummies.
- Find NPC or animal companions to join your cause.
- Hire mercenaries to aid you on those really dangerous quests.
- NPCs might strike up a conversation with you or blurt out for you to get lost.
- NPCs can treat you differently based on their mood or how well they know you, or react to what they see you do or hear you say.
- NPCs may travel between locations in the game.
- Some monsters might even talk with you, if you happen to speak their language!
Even warriors need to unwind and play some games now and again.
- Try your luck at the rat races as you bet on which critter gets the cheese first.
- Play some dice games with the local tavern folk.
- Turn-based lock picking has never been more fun!
- Use your wit to open the magically locked riddle chests.
- Hungry? Try hunting or our fishing mini-game to catch your own food.
- Event-triggered cutscenes help set the pace of the story and move it forward.
- In-Game journal automatically records important plot information for you.
- NPC portraits provide real face time with the 8-bit folk.
- Automapping helps you find your way when you don’t have a map.
- Clean interfaces that auto sort items based on common use.
- Skill based character creation affects your style of gameplay.
- DRM-free game disc with all Collector's Editions
Our customizable platform gives you full control over your retro RPG experience.
- Hybrid Soundtrack technology allows players to switch between the retro 8-bit (C64 SID) soundtrack and an alternate modern version, in real time!
Here is an in-game song sample of the hybrid soundtrack technology. The first 30 seconds are the retro SID version then it toggles to the modern version of “The Forest Awakes” by Tanner Helland.
- Selectable view modes and 80's style CRT filters allows you customize your gaming experience.
- Selectable retro color palettes allow you to customize your 8-bit experience even more. (We had to take some liberty on these palettes, but tried to stay true to the color flavor of the underlining 8-bit systems)
- World’s largest 8-bit RPG on cartridge.
- Fast, near-instantaneous load times thanks to cartridge made exclusively for Unknown Realm. No floppy-swapping needed here!
- NTSC and PAL compatibility
- SID-based music & sound effects
Our game will support on the following systems. Please note, in this campaign we've used the term "PC" to refer to "Personal Computer" (Windows or Mac) as opposed to the C64.
- Windows (Windows XP, Vista, Windows7/10)
- Mac (OSX 10.5 or higher)
- Commodore 64 (C64, C64C, C128 – NTSC or PAL)
In case you couldn't already tell, we are big fans of companies like Infocom and Origin Systems that pioneered the tradition of including physical components or “feelies” with their games to create a rich, immersive game experience. We want to bring back that tradition. We don’t think any classic RPG is complete without this important added dimension. So, our physical components have been designed to fit as integral parts of the story and gameplay.
Our “Ziplock” bag edition is a tribute to the bygone era when games came in “Ziplock” bags. This version includes an old school D&D inspired “module” style manual with game supplements. The detachable cardstock cover doubles as an expandable poster on the outside and has the players reference and useful game information on the inside. This coupled with keyboard overlays and a parchment paper version of the world map (exclusive to the “Ziplock” bag tier) will give you a taste of the feelies without breaking the bank.
We’re bringing back the old school manuals. And these aren’t the normal cheap glossy paper manuals you find in modern games. In our boxed editions, all of our physical game manuals and the hand drawn bestiary will be printed on deluxe felt finish paper using traditional offset printing methods.
Our artist, Raf, has been busy illustrating our hand drawn bestiary, inspired by the old school D&D monster manuals. All backers at the digital knight level and above will also receive digital versions of these manuals and the bestiary.
Our collector’s edition includes a number of classically inspired feelies such as a cloth map, metal cipher token and custom engraved wooden dice straight from the taverns of the realm. It also includes a handy quest journal for jotting down any information you might want to explore further.
For the true RPG collector, our very limited black edition box contains some additional premium feelies, including a realm stone, a charming pug companion mini figurine, and our one a kind engraved wooden keyboard overlays. Our PC keyboard overlays are designed to fit both the standard “101-key” PC function keys as well as the Commodore 128.
We can't forget the custom C64 game cartridge. This is not only the largest 8-bit RPG on cartridge ever, our cartridge will also have a custom injection molded case designed to look like a book, hence the name “Book of Lore” cartridge.
Please keep in mind our reward photos show working prototypes; the artwork and materials of the final versions may change a bit.
In Game Rewards - In addition to the basic digital version and physical versions of the game, we have some awesome in-game rewards. These include naming your own tombstone or mountain, NPC portraits, owning your own tavern and becoming a mercenary companion. There are also some exclusive high level game credit options in our “Book of Heroes” tiers.
The Christmas 1985 Experience - This fun tier is a representation of the kind of experience we want to deliver to each and every one of our fans through our games. It wasn't enough to just make the game and the collectors box, we really wanted to give at least a few people the opportunity to indulge in the full nostalgic glory of 80's gaming. We were even planning on including a coupon for a pizza and a 2 litre soda with this one, but apparently that's against the rules. So the pizza's not included.
The 8-Bit Superstar - To reward our most elite backers, we've created a one of a kind reward tier where you can literally star in your own custom-designed C64/PC shoot em up style video game. We wanted to make sure this reward was all about you, the backer, because that is what it's all about for us. We don't want to run a company where we're the superstars, we want to run a company where YOU are the superstars so this reward is our way of expressing the ultimate level of thanks and gratitude to our most generous backers.
We’re not entirely sure if this whole reward matrix trend helps make things more clear, but we've made one for you just in case.
Reward Matrix reflects the rewards that were available on launch day. Matrix does not reflect sold out rewards or special reward tiers added later.
*All in-game content is subject to revision and approval by Stirring Dragon Games.
All physical rewards come with digital equivalents, where applicable.
All Trademarks are property of their respective owners.
For reward tiers indicated as eligible for add-ons, you can obtain these additional items by increasing your pledge by the amounts listed below. To add items onto your pledge, manually add these $ amounts to your pledge total during the project. All add-ons must be added in full to your pledge before the end of the project. You can add-on one additional game (any edition) and any number of other add-ons. After project is funded, we will confirm any add-ons you've selected through the post-project survey.
Keep in mind, some of these items are already included in certain tiers, so please read the levels carefully before selecting your pledge amount.
- $7 Quest Journal
- $9 for Soundtrack Disc with 5.25" floppy-style sleeve!
- $15 for physical copy of Bestiary
- $17 for physical Hint Book
- $44 for additional copy of Ziplock Bag edition (PC)
- $84 for additional copy of Ziplock Bag edition (C64)
- $124 for additional copy of Collectors edition (PC)
- $149 for additional copy of Collectors edition (C64)
Shipping Charges are as follows:
- US: $6
- Canada/EU/Europe: $10
- Everywhere else (Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Central/South America, Africa): $25
International backers outside the EU will be responsible for any VAT and customs charges where applicable.
Bruce Gottlieb is a veteran game developer and the creator of Unknown Realm. Bruce got the game programming bug at the age of 11 and fell in love with programming on his Commodore 128. This led him to pursue a computer science degree and he started his career in the game industry in the '90's. Since that time, he’s held nearly every type of programming job there is - from code monkey to technical director and worked with companies such as Rocket Science Games, Radical Entertainment, Konami, and EA. The original design for Unknown Realm was conceived by Bruce while he was still in high school and nostalgia for the classic RPG made him revisit the concept a few years ago.
Laura Gottlieb handles the business side of Stirring Dragon Games and shares in the creative direction on this project. While Bruce makes sure the game caters to its core RPG demographic, Laura’s input as the real gamer of the family helps make sure the game is fun and accessible to gamers who may not have grown up with RPGs like this. She also does much of the writing and editing involved with making games and running a game studio.
Chris Huelsbeck is an award winning composer and sound designer best known for his work in the video games industry for over 30 years. At age 14 he acquired his first computer, and started programming and composing music on the beloved Commodore 64. He creates memorable music ranging from elaborate electronic compositions to full orchestral scores as well as many other music styles. Some of his credits include projects like the Star Wars Rogue Squadron Series, Turrican, and Giana Sisters. His achievements also include three of the highest funded music Kickstarter campaigns in recent history. You can read more about him on his website and his Patreon page, and listen to more of his music here.
Raf Salazar is our illustrator for this project. He helps bring to life many of the monsters found in the bestiary as well as illustrating other artwork for the project. His artwork has been featured in games such as Conquest Tactics (a card game) and in the upcoming graphic novel anthology Shards: Vol 1 (which recently had its own successful Kickstarter campaign).
Stirring Dragon Games was born in 2012, when Bruce showed an early version of the game engine to the C64 community at the Commodore Vegas Expo.
Several individuals came up to Bruce after his demo and expressed how excited they were at the possibility of a new 8bit RPG for the C64 that they could play and share with their kids. This confirmed our suspicions that we were not the only ones craving new classic RPGs. Bruce decided then and there he wanted to bring this experience to more than just the C64 community. Up to this point, he had been working on the game as a pure C64 project but we decided to expand our vision for the game and make it for modern systems as well in order for it to be accessible to all RPG fans. Our mission is to create new adventures that set you free to follow your imagination wherever it may lead. This is why we chose “Awaken Imagination” as our company slogan.
Over the last few years we’ve been working on this project full-time to build the custom game engine and all the supporting technology necessary to make this game a reality.
Everything that went into this game had to be custom built from the ground up to make this RPG possible on an 8-bit system. There are no off the shelf engines or game cartridges that can be used for a game like this. It's all handcrafted down to the last bit.
It takes a ton of dedication and a little bit of crazy to invest so much of our time and money into creating a game this way, but we also know this is what allows us to bring you something unique that can’t be found anywhere else these days.
Our custom built game engine is currently in an alpha state as is our enhanced retro PC platform that will be used to run the game on modern systems.
We’ve created approximately 90% of the 1500 graphic tiles along with many of the NPC portraits for the game. The remaining portraits are reserved for various portrait level backers on Kickstarter and will need to be completed. We'd like to recruit an additional pixel artist to help out with the remaining portraits and tiles.
We've completed approximately half of the game music and plan on collaborating with additional musicians to complete the remaining songs plus modern versions to fully utilize our hybrid-soundtrack technology.
The game itself is currently in a pre-alpha state and nearing feature completion. The game world and locations are already designed, although names and such are subject to change. The bulk of the remaining development time on the game side will be spent finishing game levels, puzzles, NPC dialog, and the normal play-testing and bug fixing.
After Kickstarter our functional cartridge prototype for the C64 will be converted into a smaller form factor required for it to fit into our game cartridge case.
We’ve secured manufacturers for the physical rewards including the fabric printer that will produce our cloth maps, the offset printer that will print our custom manuals, and the manufacturing shop where our injection molded game cartridge will be made.
Our current physical reward prototypes will be going through at least one more art revision before they’re final. This means that the final design of the cloth map, cover art, and manuals will likely change somewhat from the prototypes shown here.
Since this project has custom hardware on the C64 side, testing is very important. During the last few months of the project we will be hiring dedicated testers for all platforms to make sure we ship bug-free software and hardware.
All in all, we're confident this is the right stage of development to present this project to the Kickstarter community so we can move forward and make this vision a reality.
Bringing back the classic 80’s RPG with collectors box and all the feelies means we have to budget not only for game development but also for manufacturing physical components. The cost of a project that includes manufacturing and shipping physical goods is always going to be higher than a pure digital game release.
Risks and challenges
No project is risk free, but the good news is that any risks we foresee come from the “slight delay” column instead of the “failure to deliver” column.
At this stage, the game itself is already in pre-alpha and most of the major technology hurdles have already been cleared. We have used our own funds to finance the development of the game engine and the PC platform so there are very few unknowns left in that respect.
Manufacturing hardware components always presents its own set of unique challenges such as testing and compatibility between supported systems. We're confident that we've developed our cartridge prototype to a point where we know there aren't any insurmountable obstacles to producing the final version.
Most of our physical components will be manufactured using local sources that we have already tested and established working relationships with. We'd be foolish to say there won't be any manufacturing challenges, but again, any issues that could arise at this point would be the kind that cause delay versus failure to deliver.
We're aware there's a possibility that having our expected delivery date in December may cause delays for some international backers due to holiday shipping volume. We'll do our best, but some factors are truly out of our control.
Bruce has worked in the game industry long enough to know that if a game ships “on time,” it probably shipped too early. However, we've been totally committed to this project full time since 2012 and we've taken on the risks ourselves by using our own money to make sure it's far enough along and proven before we took it to the Kickstarter community.
We love this game, and we think you'll love it too. Rest assured, we are dedicated to getting this game into your hands as soon as humanly possible because frankly, we haven't had a vacation in years and we won't take one until this game ships! We're looking forward to hearing your ideas and feedback and working together to bring back the classic RPG experience of the 80’s.
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