We've developed a pre-alpha demo for a brief look at the project. It features two backgrounds, one pose per main sprite, and a brief selection of music and story. While there are some placeholders and limited features, we hope it provides a glimpse of our vision! The main goal of the demo is to convey the overall atmosphere of the game in how we handle visuals and music.
The demo is 2500 words long (around 7 minutes of material).
We'd like to shoutout Youngha Hwang for programming the demo via the Ren'Py engine, and putting truckloads of work into custom functionalities!
Here's the rundown: you play as Alison Hart, a fresh-out-of-college journalism graduate who is desperate for a job. In fact, you're so desperate that you're willing to apply for an infamous (yet successful) online tabloid that specializes in "supernatural events"—though, really, it's just a collection of tinfoil hat conspiracies.
So, when you're assigned to investigate six people who are rumored carry the Spirits of the Zodiacs—whatever that means—you're not worried. After all, the whole idea is just sheer nonsense. Right?
A light and fluffy adventure ensues in which you:
- Are almost crushed by a chandelier.
- Find yourself in a burning house.
- Witness an execution.
And somewhere along the lines, you start to think that journalism is a lot more complicated than you expected.
Zodiac•Axis is a fusion of suspense, romance, and supernatural fiction with a splash of psychological horror. With a thoroughly developed worldlore, it mixes a contemporary environment with whimsical Asian fantasy.
As Zodiac•Axis is a story-rich game, the brunt of development effort is focused on crafting the narrative. We're prepared to bring you a riveting, immersive, and heartfelt tale, penned by the lead writer of Lucid9: Inciting Incident.
Throughout the game, you'll encounter a wide variety of choices that will change the characters' futures—for better or for worse.
At different points in the game, choices can result in:
- Heightening Alison's courage, creativity, or observation.
- Selecting phrases for Alison's articles. Will you be scandalous or factual? Controversial or safe?
- Deepening friendships and pursuing a love interest.
- Staying alive.
Backgrounds are hand-painted with rich colors to support the story's atmosphere.
With 3 poses and over 30 emotions, sprites will be vibrantly expressive.
We're still working on a sample, but we plan for key moments of the story to be marked with beautiful CGs.
The soundtrack of Zodiac•Axis has a heavy emphasis on organic, lush melodies, based on orchestral, jazz, and acoustic preferences. For a cinematic experience, music and sound design is painstakingly scored to enhance the atmosphere of each scene.
"Rainfall" - piano, strings, harp
"Happy National Box Day" - piano, double bass, synths, drums
"Beckett's Theme" - celeste synth
UI screens are crafted for an intuitive, minimalistic experience, intended to help immerse the reader with an enjoyable, seamless design.
If we hit this goal, we'll be able to hire an incredible cast of professional voice actors! The voices will provide sounds and short phrases that will supplement the game.
Hitting this goal will allow us to create a specialized UI for mobile, port and debug the game, and distribute on the iOS and Android markets.
Our contribution to materialism! This will give us leeway in our budget to provide better rewards in addition to what's already listed, at no cost to U.S. domestic backers! International backers +$5 for shipping.
- $55+ 2" acrylic charm, physical game
- $70+ physical soundtrack
- $100+ set of 5 CG prints, full set of acrylic charms
- $500+ - physical artbook, physical planner
- $1000+ - 11x17" poster, exclusive collector's vinyl record
- Why would anyone want this? We don't know, but if this goal is hit, the Cat will get a hidden route. (The character. Not a legitimate Felis catus.) Apparently, sociopaths are in.
Zodiac•Axis is the flagship product of Studio Theophilus that began production in May 2016. Though we've progressed rapidly thanks to prayers, hard work, and the grace of God, further funding is required to complete the product in a polished, professional state.
- The first big chunk goes to programming. Hiring a programmer will allow a flawless user-end experience that capitalizes on the game's story.
- The second big chunk goes to music software. Currently, the game's compositions are manually created in Garageband with generic synthetic instruments (with exception of a premium string VST), which is a slow and painstaking process due to the software's limitations. Funding will allow us to purchase quality synthetic orchestras and instruments, as well as more powerful software.
- After these two big chunks, commissioned artwork and music will take the game to a new level and allow it to shine, since it will showcase the talents of various specialists. Plans include hiring specialists in jazz music, digital stained glass art, and a secondary background artist to speed up production.
We're aiming for a polished, fully-featured demo in Summer 2017, which will encompass the first part of common route at 35,000 words, or roughly 1.5 hours of gameplay. Due to the scope of the game, full release is estimated to land in late 2018.
You might notice that we have very few physical rewards. This is because manufacturing, shipping, and handling fees are extremely costly in both time and money. Merchandise is awesome, but at the end of the day, our primary goal is to make a game, and we want to have the flexibility to focus the majority of our efforts on game production.
Want to save up or wait on pledging? Get access to the project's BackerKit, a site that will allow you to upgrade your pledge level at a later time.
You'll get the Zodiac•Axis digital sticker set on Line messenger and iOS when it's produced. You will also get access to the original PNG files, which is exclusive to Kickstarter!
The digital copy of the game will be available for Mac, PC, and Linux. It will retail for $25 on release, so grab the discount! (And it's DRM-free! Though we do plan on striving for a Steam release in the future.)
Who doesn't like music? Grab the original soundtrack!
The ringtone pack, with sections of several songs in M4R format, will be able to be imported easily into your phone. Nifty.
We'll be making a substantial digital artbook where you can take look at process photos, character designs, CGs, and more.
Witness the pitfalls of lethal bugs and horrible glitches before anyone else! But at least you get to experience the game before anyone else and hold all those juicy spoilers.
These stationery inserts will be PDFs that can be printed to get stuff done, remember things, or just have fun! Inspired by the cuteness of Asian stationery, and designed according to the Zodiac•Axis aesthetics. The sets will be:
- Planner Pack: monthly planner, weekly planner, daily planner, daily pie chart
- Motivational Pack: monthly goals, gamified character profile, encouragement note, vent note
- Utilities pack: stuff to pack list, groceries to buy list, weekly meal plan
Get access to piano sheet music for key songs of Zodiac•Axis! The melody-centric soundtrack is sure to sound great on the fanciest grand to the dinkiest kinderklavier. (Actually, it probably won't sound all that great on a kinderklavier.)
Want to learn how layers are structured or get a bird's eye view of the art process? You'll have access to the layered PSDs of 3 backgrounds, 5 CGs, and 2 character sprites that we release.
Design an extra in the game! Maybe you've always wanted to make a posh woman, or a schoolkid, or a mobster. Maybe you want to stick in your OC for a cameo. Whatever it is, subject your character to a moment of glory! Your extra will have at least one line. The content will be decided by the writer, but we will try to abide by the personality you request (if applicable).
Please note that there are some restrictions—extras cannot have eyes, in order to distinguish them from the main cast of Zodiac•Axis. Obtrusive designs must be muted, and we cannot permit designs that are offensive, racy, or carry brand names. However, we'll do our best to accomodate! We'd like this process to be fun for you!
If you have any questions or concerns in this area, contact us immediately.
We'll take the utmost care in the production of our physical assets: the physical game will be housed in an eco-friendly matte board stock package with a beautiful 12-page booklet reminiscent of the physical games we loved in our childhood. The physical soundtrack will also be packaged in velvet-smooth board stock that ditches the plastic.
Double-sided acrylic charms will be sent to a trusted printer. The full set of charms includes eight characters: the six Zodiacs, Dexter Ardent, and the Cat.
The physical artbook will be perfect-bound in a weighty, smooth matte stock cover, and every page, printed in vibrant color, will have a gloss finish. We estimate over 150 pages of material.
The physical stationery planner will be a ring-bound book for easy navigation and writing.
Prints will come on sturdy semi-gloss stock.
Risks and challenges
We're doing our best to plan for fallbacks and contingencies in advance, paying particularly close attention to budget and expenses.
In case of data failure, we are backing up every asset on the cloud in addition to multiple computers.
In case of bank hacking, our account is insured by the FDIC.
In case of a meteor shower that demolishes earth: Well, that can't be helped. On the bright side, we'll probably all be too dead to care.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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