About this project
Over the past few months, we've begun writing and coding the first steps towards what will be a psychedelic, open-ended adventure game for the iPad, with the sort of deeper gameplay we feel the device is worthy of. It's an homage to the sci-fi shows we loved as kids, but full of the schadenfreude and dark humor our now shriveled, black hearts require in order to continue pumping.
While we love the adventure games of the past, they were often primitive, and we've learned a lot about the weaknesses in their play mechanics. Cinematic games could be very effective but often sacrificed player freedom in exchange for narrative thrust, and point-and click games often turned into tedious easter egg hunts where the player dutifully clicked on every slightly out-of-place pixel in the hope that there was some hidden object that would allow him to progress. We've come up with a sort of codified formula of fun, that we are anxious to put into practice. It eliminates busywork, rewards ingenuity, maximizes randomness and emergent play, and we think will result in a game that we want to play as much as we want to create it. Our first game to implement our ideas is called Thunderbeam, and it's a carefully steeped brew of 70's science fiction from England, Japan and the States- but recast in a grown-up world where death is an immediate, irreversible and oddly-funny reality.
The game is defined by some really great artists that we've been incredibly lucky to somehow convince to help us. It has original songs and sound design by The Octopus Project, and is filled with the artwork of illustrators like Rachel Morris and Ian Berry. Our love of classic games like Out of this World (Another World in Europe) and the original Prince of Persia, which used rotoscoping to bring life to simple characters, sent me back to Bob Sabiston, who was the programmer and art director for Waking Life, and he's graciously allowed us access to his secret underground lab to rotoscope some of our in-game animation.
Right now we have some basic stuff done, we've got a lot of art and music, a basic engine, a random character generator, and a lot of notes. However our dream of making this weird little game needs your help. Our game is going to involve a lot of hours of intense animation and level design- and it's extremely important to us that the coders, artists and animators continue to be compensated for their work, and our own limited resources are dwindling. Plus, we've got really cool prizes for our backers! Our hand-pulled screen-printed posters by Rachel E Morris and Mike Saputo were printed by Nakatomi Inc. Our T-shirts were screenprinted by Bearded Lady in Austin and look great. Also, probably the coolest prize is the original soundtrack by Octopus Project, which we are offering on a limited edition Playbutton mp3 player by playbutton.co.
Please check out our prizes and consider contributing! The creative freedom that indie game development offers also means that we have to find creative ways to fund projects. This is our first iOS game and it's ambitious- we may be crazy, but we all are passionate about the project and think it's worth taking a risk on.
-Wiley, James, and Scott
We definitely want to open our releases up to as many people as we can, but for our first game we are specifically targeting the iPad. The main reason we are doing this is that we conceived the game from the beginning as needing a large-screen multitouch device. Also, the barrier to entry at the App Store is very low, there's a lot of people willing to take a $5 chance on a strange new game there, and targeting one device means concentrating all our energy on one codebase, and only having one build for QA.
However- our subsequent game plans definitely include the iPhone, and we would love to one day do some releases on desktops. Our success with this first project will decide how far we can go!
We're going to open up the soundtrack download to any backers over the $10 mark. The game is a little trickier, since Apple only allows 50 promo codes per version of an app, and beyond that number we need to buy and gift the game individually for backers. Keep in mind that it may be a while after the end of the campaign before the game is ready for the public, and we intend to keep the price point well under $10.
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