*STRETCH GOAL UPDATE # 3: 3rd Stretch goal reached!
Just when I thought I couldn't get any more excited about this game, some new backers show-up and some existing backers up their pledges to bring us cruising past the 3rd stretch goal! Now I'll be putting many extra hours of labor and love into a whole new region with the following 3 areas that I have been designing on paper just in case we got this far:
The Sorrow Wood - A magnificent, haunted forest thriving with life and death; populated by many strange creatures.
Time's Pass - A secluded, dry valley that separates the north end of the Void Canyon from the northern edge of The Sorrow Wood. Strange reclusives live here and make their homes in the elaborate sandstone caves along the valley walls.
The Upland Barrens - A rocky, eroded wasteland on the eastern slopes of The Hydra Ranges often scoured by high winds and the ever-blowing grit and sand. Many ancient stone burial mounds are scattered across this rugged plain that stretches for a mile and a half above the foothills.
*STRETCH GOAL UPDATE # 2: 2nd Stretch goal reached!
WOW! We have blown right past the second goal and will now be featuring an additional completely new 3 classes and characters in The Meridian Shard! This is really going to make an interesting twist in the cast of characters we already have!
*STRETCH GOAL UPDATE # 1: 1st Stretch goal reached!
YES! We have reached our first stretch goal and will now feature a fully voice-acted intro to the game! This will be a fantastic addition to the project and I give you my word, no annoying/childish voices and no stale script readings. I want passion people! Real anger, real fear and real tears.
REWARD UPDATE Feb. 14th:
All existing backers who have selected any of the $29+ reward tiers will receive the official Meridian Shard soundtrack (digital version only) as a bonus! That means that if you pledge, or have already pledged $29 or more, you will receive the digital soundtrack along with the reward(s) you already have coming. I cannot add them directly to the reward listings, as I cannot change the description of rewards once a backer has selected them, so I'm posting it here. Thank you Alex for the suggestion!
*The Meridian Shard is currently on Steam Greenlight, and I am offering STEAM KEYS for any pledge over $10 (pending Greenlight) as an add-on to whichever kickstarter reward(s) your pledge already qualifies you for! This offer is also available to all current backers under the same conditions.
Click the image below to see a candid Q & A about the game!
In the Hydra Ranges above the Ashen Plains, carved into the mountainside of a dangerous and forbidden stone valley called the Iron Plateau, an ancient temple shelters the realm’s most masterful healers; a mysterious and reclusive clan of white witches known as Dularian.
When the corpses of 49 soldiers and workers are discovered with no obvious causes of death at a remote army-secured mining encampment, the tragic discovery sparks fears that a rising new plague may be starting its course and seeking new hosts. Following the mysterious event, a talented young warlock and mercenary recruit is urgently dispatched with the task of delivering a royal scroll to the legendary Dularian healers, who may be able to help. But as he sets out on his journey, he soon finds that not all is as it seems, and that his straightforward mission is instead leading him on a perilous quest toward a painful truth that will test his heart and soul beyond all measure.
What makes The Meridian Shard interesting; fun to play?
The Meridian Shard not only takes you through a unique and entertaining fantasy adventure, but also presents the player with several different possible responses and actions along the way that will trigger varying rewards and outcomes. This puts a meaningful player-choice element into the game, where decisions actually do matter and can/will/do affect the outcome of the player's experiences. The dialogue, story, unusual characters and satirical RPG-isms however, are where this gem really shines.
A Different Approach to Character Development.
For the sake of keeping the actual gameplay and character management itself challenging, without being frustrating and confusing to new and seasoned players of the RPG genre, I'm in the process of simplifying the typical class system I am so fond of in most, but not all RPGs. What I'm implementing is a basic rules system that inherently applies to each individual party member and relies on several factors other than just class, or race. As almost all characters in the story are human, I wanted another way to create variety and come-up with some unique challenges for the player in regards to character progression.
Some of the key features of this system are as follows:
Six Simple Stats! (say that 3 x fast)
Staying true to one of the most balanced traditional table-top RPG systems going back to D&D's origins in the mid 1970's, yet using a slightly different set of attributes, each party member in The Meridian Shard will have individual strengths and weaknesses within a balance of traits that make up 6 main stats; Might, Magic, Resistance, Karma, Agility and Guard. The progression of these stats will be determined by not only combining class + experience factors, but also by the player's passive actions within the game that can reward, or reduce stat percentages. For example, certain side-quests may result in not only a physical reward and some experience points, but also an increase in Karma.
Each character has several unique skills that can be learned, improved upon and are considered 'special' maneuvers that will cost Soul Power. Soul Power in The Meridian Shard replaces the common Magic Power/Points, or MP found in many other games. This is because the Soul Power gauge applies to not only magic spells, but also successful attempts at escaping conflicts, charming/coercing other characters/creatures, and special attacks that are not always magical in nature, yet require strong mental focus.
No Redundant Spells!
Chanters, those who can invoke magic and cast spells, will never learn better spells of the same nature that render the earlier ones useless. For example, in The Meridian Shard, there is no such thing as Fire 1, Fire 2, Firaga etc with each level surpassed by the next in order. Why have an inventory full of old/weak spells that are no longer valuable to you? If you learn a fire spell in my game, that spell will only evolve and improve as your stats do, and never be replaced by a new or superior fire spell. The power and effectiveness of all magic spells are noticeably linked to your attribute levels, however, you can seek counsel from more experienced chanters in some areas to dramatically improve the strength of individual spells without having to level-up.
Passive and Aggressive EXP!
Instead of having each character just level-up fairly evenly with one another as they gain experience and the story progresses, experience points are granted through your interactions with the world and characters around you, as well as for participating and succeeding in battle. Any characters present in your party when you receive 'passive' experience points, ie listening to an elder tell you a personal story, will also receive a share of the points. In battle however, exp is gained based on the level of participation and damage inflicted on hostiles.
Challenging Moral & stat-related Character Flaws!
Some characters also have inherent flaws in either their moral character, or their physical, mental and health characteristics, which will effect their actions and performance in different ways.
1 - A strong fighter who has incredible attacking power and good karma, yet he or she may also have a strong allergy to mold spores, so they will not perform as well inside dungeons and caves as they would out in the open.
2 - A character who is a kleptomaniac and always seems to get you into trouble, and may even put you in grave danger if they happen to steal from the wrong person/party.
3 - A party member with unique abilities may unfortunately also have some prejudice toward certain other races, or classes, and therefore, could possibly hinder your chances of receiving certain side-quests in the game due to their ignorance and behavior when in the company of some other characters.
4 - An archer with incredible attack speed and accuracy, efficient at bringing down ranged/flying hostiles, but who is unusually weak against various toxins, and so may die alarmingly fast with no recourse after being snake-bitten, stung by wasps, or hit with a blow-dart.
All of these variations mean that some characters will be very useful in some areas, and yet nearly useless, or considered high-risk in others.
Optional Party Members!
Each time you encounter a character that may be willing to join you on your adventure, you will have basic access to their information so that you can make decisions about whether or not you accept them into your party. There are never any forced members into your party, and there are no 'wrong' decisions either. No matter who you bring into your party, they will all have strengths and weaknesses of some sort.
It will add more strategy to the game, as you'll have to make choices about who comes with you, and where and when you decide to let them leave the party. You may even attempt to simply play and complete the game solo and not take anyone into your party at all, which will be a unique challenge on its own, yet totally possible.
Challenging Equipment Sets & Randomized Treasure!
Each character/party member will also come equipped with specific equipment that can only be upgraded, never removed, or replaced with totally different assets. The weapons and defensive equipment they carry will already be tailored to their individual skill-sets and relevant to their special attacks/maneuvers. You may sell their existing gear and purchase better quality equipment, but it must be of the same weapon and armor set. For example, the armor set Boots, Bracers, and Helm cannot have a chest plate added to it. Add to this the randomized content in most open-area chests and sacks, and you will be altering the difficulty of the game with each of your decisions about who will be in your party, since there may be lots of weapons and ammo in some chests that suit one, or two of your characters, but not the others.
Easy to Learn!
For anyone who just wants to play the game and not even think, worry or care about stats and just venture through the story, the game is straightforward enough that you can do that too without feeling confused, or that you're doing something wrong! The Meridian Shard is all about having fun and enjoying the player experience. There is plenty of instruction as you go along, and it's all skippable in case you want to jump right in and go like a lunatic instead.
Story Driven- A great story with memorable characters is the absolute first priority of Ultimate Fantasy Studio games, as they are an integral part of the player experience.
Multiple choice - Often the player is offered at least 2 different choices of responses and actions which will change the outcome of the situation/reward.
Controller Support + Keyboard - The Meridian Shard now has full usb controller/game pad support, as well as keyboard.
Full Game Path - The player can easily follow the story and discover their route without having to look-up maps or become lost. There are alternate areas to explore as well, but a main path is there to guide you through the plot.
Optional HUD - For those who prefer to play with a clean screen, you can turn the heads-up display off at anytime.
Optional Side-quests - There are several side-quests and bonus areas that you can access, which are completely optional.
Save Anywhere - Just as it says. There is no need to reach ‘save-points’ or complete levels before you can save. Save anytime, anywhere.
Genre(s): RPG, Adventure, Tragicomedy
System Requirements: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 7 (32-bit/64-bit) 2.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent, and 512MiB RAM with at least 400MB available hard disk space.
Rewards are important, and they can be confusing and unnecessarily convoluted at times. So, I have taken the time to make them relevant and value-based after calculating the costs of creating and obtaining the rewards, along with taxes and shipping. This makes the rewards great for you, and simplifies the process of me honoring them when the time comes. Go ahead, get yourself a reward. You deserve it!
Where will the money go?
Why would anyone invest in my dream?
Because it's not a nightmare. I have stepped onto the crowdfunding platform not with an unorganized concept, but with evidence of hard work on the part of a committed developer and entrepreneur. Even though there are months of labor ahead, much of the heavy lifting, as far as additional programming and mechanics goes, is already complete. I tackled the most challenging aspects of development first, so that I could better organize the project timeline going forward. There is a clear path toward the end goal, and a welcome reception when we get there from a small but growing group of passionate and supportive fans.
Kick it Forward
I'm Kicking it Forward to support other projects! *Any project creator that puts the KickingItForward.org URL on their Kickstarter project page is agreeing that they will put 5% of their finished product profits back into other Kickstarter projects. To be abundantly clear, this is only money that the creator earns as profit AFTER the project ships and AFTER they have paid their expenses. This is NOT a suggestion to invest money they received from people who invested into their project via Kickstarter. Once a project in this program has become profitable, the creator is going to spend this 5% profit, which is their own money, on whatever Kickstarter projects they want to support.*
Please share The Meridian Shard project link wherever you can: http://kck.st/1itzsC4
Risks and challenges
- Hardware malfunction
That's it really. I am in good health and I do regular back-ups of my work to external drives and a cloud service. Obviously with any project, especially video games, time frames are commonly flexible by nature, however I know that if I work 12-16hrs/day, 6-7days/week as I do now, I should be at the final beta-testing phase by late autumn. I have a very supportive community around the project, along with a loving wife who helps keep me focused, and working hard for the shard.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (46 days)