Friday, April 11, 2014

Kickstarter Project: Dead Crusade

A refreshing take on the Zombie Apocalypse. Dead Crusade is a medieval survival horror RPG that will take you to Medieval Europe in a time of great upheaval and strife as an unstoppable plague tears the world apart. Travel through the cities, countryside, and cemeteries of Medieval Europe across multiple expansive campaigns as you battle hordes of the undead, and avoid becoming infected with the plague yourself.


  • Planned Platforms: PC (Mac, Linux TBA)
  • Release date: Q4, 2015 
  • Approx, 3 Campaigns 
  • Single-player and Multi-player support
  • 1st and 3rd person gameplay
 Not another generic fantasy: In the Late Middle Ages, Europe experienced the most deadly disease outbreak in human history when the Black Death, the infamous pandemic of bubonic plague, hit in 1347, killing a third of the human population. Every campaign is inspired by real world locations as they stood in this time of strife, from the great Minster Cathedral of York, England to the ancient streets of Venice, Italy.  
Fight a new kind of Zombie: The `Plagued` can duck, parry, charge, and counter your blows as they adapt to your fighting style and exploit your weakness. Dynamic behavior system gives each enemy unique personality traits from the cowardly peasant zombie who retreats when overwhelmed, to the fearless soldier zombie who motivates the horde to fight harder.
 Unique Enemy Types and Bosses: The Plagued are not the only foes you will face! Special enemy types with unique behaviors and attack patterns face you as well.The verminous Abomination will vomit  swarms of hungry rats. The Wench will go into a rampage, using her own limbs to destroy you at all costs. Tread carefully through environments, as packs of ravens will attack from above.
 Class system that fits your play-style:  As the SOLDIER, plant banners that increase your party's defense or taunts to prevent your party from being overwhelmed. Play as the fast and deadly EXECUTIONER, a master at delivering quick and fatal blows.  Become a master of ranged combat with the SKIRMISHER as you use traps and piercing body arrows to quickly thin out the horde. Heal your allies as the PLAGUE DOCTOR, providing medical support and increasing disease resistance. 
Dynamic Objective system: Complete both Primary and Optional Objectives as you traverse the world. Defend the barricades from waves of the Plagued, Escort priests to safety from a burning church, Destroy corpse piles to slow the spread of infection and unlock hidden paths that may contain supplies and gear.  
Risk in gameplay: A lot of modern games play it safe- you know you'll defeat the evil and save the day. In Dead Crusade you can't take anything for granted. Death looms around every corner and the greatest threat of all is the plague itself. Become infected with different strains of the plague, each one drastically changing the way the game is played.  
Play online: Every campaign can be played in single-player, though multi-player is our focus. Dead Crusade provides a deep multiplayer game; build a unique party of characters and battle with friends and complete objectives. Upgrade your party over time and devise new strategies to defeat the Plague.  
Built using Unreal Engine 4: Using the power of Unreal Engine 4 technology, not only will the graphics be amazing, but the game will be easier to create. With ground breaking tools such as Blueprint Visual Scripting, adding features and implementing complex design systems has never been easier!
The Black Death arrived in Europe by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina after a long journey through the Black Sea. The people who gathered on the docks to greet the ships were met with a horrifying surprise: Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were gravely ill. They were overcome with fever, unable to keep food down and delirious from pain. Strangest of all, they were covered in mysterious black boilsthat oozed blood and pusand gave their illness its name: the “Black Death.” The Sicilian authorities hastily ordered the fleet of “death ships” out of the harbor, but it was too late: Over the next five years, the mysterious Black Death would kill more than 200 million people in Medieval Europe.
"...such terror was struck into the hearts of men and women by this calamity, that brother abandoned brother, and the uncle his nephew, and the sister her brother, and very often the wife her husband. What is even worse and nearly incredible is that fathers and mothers refused to see and tend their children, as if they had not been theirs." -Giovanni Boccaccio, 1348 AD
Dead Crusade is a fictional take on this real world event, and assumes the virus took on a more sinister nature, turning its host into rabid flesh eating abominations with one goal, to spread and infect everything in its path. As a Survivor in the outbreak, you attempt to find refugee and alliance with those still alive and kill anything standing in your way.
We want to bring you a strong story rooted in the height of the Dark Ages, brought to life in all its rich history. We want to make the experience asmemorable and authentic as possible by usingreal-world locations, iconic architecture based on extensive research using satellite imagery, and dynamic gameplay with never before seen player classes and enemy types.
"...Such was the multitude of corpses brought to the churches every day and almost every hour that there was not enough consecrated ground to give them burial. Although the cemeteries were full they were forced to dig huge trenches, where they buried the bodies by hundreds." -Giovanni Boccaccio, 1348 AD
Stand tall at the forefront of battle as the SOLDIER, going it alone or finding allies to lead into combat. Defend against the Plagued with durable armor and strength. Intimidate and threaten your enemies. Use banners to motivate those around you and regain control through stuns, knockdowns, and taunts.
Deliver quick and fatal blows as the EXECUTIONER, as you move across the killing floor with unmatched grace. Become enraged as you build aggression through combat which let you deliver deadly critical strikes that inflict massive damage on your opponents.
Heal your allies as the PLAGUE DOCTOR, providing medical support and increasing disease resistance. Use utility items such as pots and traps to turn the tide of battle, or turn the plagued against themselves through purification.
Eliminate the horde from a distance as the SKIRMISHER, and use your caltrops to slow their advance. Become a master of ranged combat and rely on your focused aim that rewards you with steady aim and faster reload speeds upon consecutive kills.
Advance your Character and gain powerful new Skills and Abilities.
What would a Medieval game be without character development and customization? Your character in Dead Crusade will have STATS (Damage, Armor, Life, Endurance, Movement), PERKS (Disease resistance, increased weapon type damage, special bonuses), and SKILLS (special combat moves, passive abilities, or varying advantages). Conditions change as you become injured, exhausted, etc. Stats and skills will increase when you use them. Skills can be unlocked or learned. Perks and conditions can be temporarily or permanently modified through leveling and supplies.
We’re not trying to create the biggest game ever; we want to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Instead of having large linear levels that act as backround scenery, we’d like to focus on just a few, crafting each one as unique and memorable, with each having their own strategy to complete
The same philosophy applies to Objectives. We don’t want to inundate players with an insane amount of objectives and forget about survival elements, but rather ensure that those we have are rich in detail, with multiple tactics to learn and overcome, each suiting different play styles.
Hybrid Objective System
Objectives are a tool used in Dead Crusade to avoid putting players in a position where they only perform a repetitive action such as killing creatures. Players may be performing this activity in order to gain new skills and progress to new areas, or acquire new items such as weapons and supplies.
Dead Crusade follows a Hybrid Objective System that adds depth and complexity as you fight your way through Campaigns. Think of it like going through your favorite MMO instance dungeons and learning the tactics of each to strategize and formulate a plan to overcome the puzzles, all while surviving hordes of the plague and other enemy types.
Dynamic Spawn Factory
Instead of set spawn points for enemies, the Spawn Factory (SF) places enemies in varying positions and numbers based upon each player's current situation, status, skill, and location, creating a new experience for each play-through. Moreover, the Spawn Factory is responsible for spawning additional health, ammo, weapons, and a variety of enemy types including mini-bosses, like the Wench or Abomination.
While playing through a map, the Spawn Factory goes through a number of "phases", relating to the state of the players. This adds an ebb-and-flow dynamic to the game, allowing the players to recover after a nasty incident, or meet heavy resistance when rapidly progressing through a map.
Affliction System
One bite may be all it takes to become infected with the plague. Different strains of the disease can change the course of game-play and force you to be strategic. While some infections are not fatal, others will guarantee your death and cause problems for your allies if not treated. In some cases, upon death, survivors will return as an powerful enemy type that pose a great challenge to any group struggling to survive.
  • The pneumonic plague arises from infection of the lungs. It causes coughing and sneezing and will slow your movement forcing yourself and your allies to remain at your side or leave you behind. Sprinting and rapid movements will increase the risk of death and expose your party to become infected as well.
  • The bubonic plague rapidly spreads to the lymph nodes. Your attacks will become slower and weaker as the infection spreads. Hallucination induced paranoia are common, such as suddenly being attacked by enemies that do not exist and disappear into thin air.
  • The septicemic plague is absorbed into the blood stream, and will cause the heart to explode within hours of infection. This is the most dangerous and rare form of the plague survivors can get, and can not be cured. As survivors struggle with their remaining humanity, they become enraged and are able to move faster and deal more damage until death takes them. 
Our combat mechanics are the most challenging feature of our game. While acquiring new weapons and skills adds a extra layer of complexity, nothing will ever outshine pure player skill and combat tactics when fighting the Plagued.
Up until this point we have been prototyping our combat systems in Unreal Engine 3, and while we are satisfied with the results, due to the nature of the engine's animation systems, it has restricted us in creating the complex blending and timing notifies we need to make combat as dynamic and responsive as possible. This has been solved by the tools within Unreal Engine 4, which use blend spaces, integrated apex physics, and an entirely new approach to animation systems that allow us to take our combat immersion and design mechanics to the next level. 
Combat in Dead Crusade can be played in either 1st person or 3rd person, with attacks being completely real-time and dynamic. Players have full control over their swings and attacks, and can turn into the weapon mid swing to redirect where it lands. Precise hit detection using swing traces allows per pixel weapon collision that is complete with a fully featured dismemberment system.  There are no dice rolls here. A miss is a miss, even if off by an inch.  
  • How you choose to attack plays a critical role for the outcome of combat. Every attack has a pro and con, and encourages strategic use of attacks.
  •  A large horizontal swing arc might damage more enemies, but also exposes you to counter attacks which can cause critical damage, slow your movement, or cause infection. 
  • A overhead attack might have a smaller swing arc, but will deal more damage per opponent and have a higher chance at dismemberment.
  •  A stabbing attack might have longer reach, but is harder to aim precisely which forces you to line opponents up or risk wasting endurance or becoming overwhelmed by a large horde. 
  • A deathblow or other special attack can change the tide of battle, but can also waste precious Endurance, take longer to perform exposing you to damage, or might be better saved for the larger horde looming ahead. You decide, choose wisely.
Dead Crusade will have a vast arsenal of medieval weaponry. You can specialize in different fighting styles and weapon classes and will constantly learn new moves and techniques, as well as unlock new weapons and upgrades. Every weapon has its own uses, pros, and cons. The sword is universal, but weak against plate armor; hammers are ideal against plate armor, but weak against certain enemy types; the longsword is strong, but slow, and deliberate.
 Since we are going to self-publish the game and are asking for the help of the community, we are also willing to give something back and develop the game with the community.
What does it mean? In about 6-8 months, we will release an early build of the game,  where you will be able to test core mechanics of the game. We will start with the basic mechanics and we will constantly update this build with new features as we progress with the development (objectives, new weapons, co op, features, combat). This is the access to Alpha version of the game and it will be available to (PLAGUED) Tier.
When the game is in Beta stage, we will release the full game beta as Early Access on PC (or any other platform where it’s going to be possible) for all backers up from the (INFECTED) Tier.
Our backers can influence the development, help us improve the game, and give us feedback about our game mechanics. Your feedback is invaluable to making sure we deliver a great game.
We started developing Dead Crusade using Unreal Engine 3, and are very excited be using the next iteration of this industry standard toolset- Unreal Engine 4.
Unreal Engine 4 is a professional suite of tools and technologies used for building high-quality games across a range of platforms. Unreal Engine 4’s rendering architecture enables developers to achieve stunning visuals and also scale elegantly to lower-end systems.
Revolutionary new workflow features and a deep toolset empower developers to quickly iterate on ideas and see immediate results, while complete C++ source code access brings the experience to a whole new level.
  • DirectX 11 Rendering Features
  • Cascade Visual Effects
  • New Material Pipeline
  • Blueprint Visual Scripting
  • Live Blueprint Debugging
  • Content Browser
  • Persona Animation
  • Matinee Cinematics
  • Terrain & Foliage
  • Post-Process Effects
  • Full Source Code Access
  • Professional Source Control
  • C++ Code View
  • Hot Reload Function
  • Simulate & Immersive Views
  • Instant Game Preview
  • Possess & Eject Features
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Audio
  • Leading Middleware Integrations
When we decided to go independent we knew it would mean making some hard compromises, but it was never our goal to make something small and casual. We designed a game that, at its very minimum, would cost us $250,000 while still focusing on our top priorities - game-play and strategic combat - at the highest possible level of quality.
Our promise to you is that all the support we receive goes right back into the game to make it the best it can be. Your donations don't just let us tack on more stuff, they let us return to the full scope of the game we've always wanted to make.
The game is being designed with a flexible scope in mind, so that as the budget grows, the game grows.
 Additional funding allows us to give you:
A richer, more detailed world. More character art, more animation, more diverse landscapes, more music, engaging animated cutscenes, and more multiplayer options. We have a huge story we want to tell and this will let us deliver it in the most compelling, meaningful way.
The game the way we think it should be. By crowdfunding this project we won't be tied to publishers telling us to change the zombies to orcs or dumbing the story down for children. We think this means a better game for everyone.
  Scott Petty- Creative Director
Scott oversees the creative direction of Dead Crusade and acts as Lead 3D Artist on the project. Scott started his career as a 3D Environment Artist at BioWare, working on Star Wars: The Old Republic helping to create many of the games planets and dungeons. Scott than went on to act as a co founder and Lead 3D Environment Artist on Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, directly recruiting and managing a team of over 10 artists and co-creating many of the games official maps. His most recent release was 2013: Infected wars, working as Lead Environment before moving on to create Aesthetic Games and begin work on Dead Crusade.
Mick Robinson- Programmer
Mick comes from a long history of game development. Overseeing development teams in the past as well as custom engine development for his own games. His game network and enemy AI experience is a key skill Aesthetic Games wants for it’s focus on multiplayer development. Mick is passionate not just on making sure enemy AI is dynamic, he also plays an important role in development timelines and gameplay.
Mitchell Lucas- Lead Sound Engineer 
Having gotten his Associate Degree in Audio Production, Mitchell has worked on Amnesia Obscurity, The Four Horsemen, The Great Work, and the hit mobile game Age of Thrones by Nexrage. He is passionate about games that create a unique world for the player to explore and plays an instrumental role in bringing environments, characters, and video media to life with expert voice acting and sound effects. Mitchell oversees all aspects of sound FX and narrative implementation for Dead Crusade.
Ryan Mohler- Lead Animator
 Ryan got his Bachelor of Science Degree in Games and Animation from Ohio University and has been working in the game industry for 3 years. Ryan has been involved on numerous indie game projects and several commercial video productions. His work has been featured in two Magic: The Gathering trailers and GDC sizzle reels. Ryan has been a part of the Dead Crusade team since its outset and his artistic skills and technical knowledge have become an integral part of the team.
Mitchell Gibbs- Composer
 Mitchell Gibbs studied music composition and film music at Canterbury Christ Church University. Having scored award-winning short films such as David Izatt’s The Jacket (2012) and Jack De La Mare’s Out of Service (2013), it wasn’t long before Mitchell earned the opportunity to score his first feature The Carbon Copy (2014), produced by Dragonborn Films and directed by Michael Dragnea. Mitchell has orchestrated all music for Dead Crusade, and has played an integral part in combining authentic medieval compositions infused with horror melodies.
Long Pham- Concept Artist / Illustrator
Long has been a professional concept artist and illustrator for over 6 years, working on many indie titles and is a key contributor to the art direction and visual storytelling of Dead Crusade. His ability to quickly iterate ideas into concepts has helped the art team to act as a visual aid in the art pipeline.
Marcus S.- 3D Environment Artist
Marcus has worked as a Senior 3D Environment Artist on many well known AAA titles at Eidos-Montreal, such as Deus ex and Thief. A close friend and collegue to Scott Petty, Marcus is also a leader in developing optimized content to ensure top performance across a wide range of platforms and is unmatched in his ability to quickly deliver top quality 3D assets.
Tyler Fluharty- 3D Character Artist  
 Tyler has an established history of great character work and has worked on titles such as Heroes of Newerth and 2013: Infected Wars. He has overseen creation of the grotesque creatures in the game, and has played a critical role in our character creation pipeline. His organic modeling and texture work has been a true asset to the Dead Crusade character portfolio.
Alvaro Abreu- Programmer 
 Alvaro is an experienced programmer with Unreal Technology, having over 3 Years of experience with Multiple programming Languages such as C++, Lua, UnrealScript. He has a deep understanding of complex game-play implementation and has played a important role with the weapon system development, achievement system, networking, and UI design of Dead Crusade.
Daniel Peteuil- 3D Character Artist 
 Daniel is an expert 3D Character Artist who specializes in highly detailed photo-realistic rendering. He has worked professionally for many years as a traditional sculptor before turning into a digital 3D Artist, traveling the world to create real-life statues and monuments for museums and city-scapes. Daniel has set the bar for character quality and has been in charge with the creation of all of Dead Crusade player characters.

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

Dead Crusade is an ambitious first person medieval combat game with complex, layered mechanisms and components. There are definitely complications to creating a balanced visceral co op focused system, and there are many risks involved in the games development. We have tried to minimize those risks by selecting proven technology and assembling a strong team with proven experience and ambition with experience creating games similar in their nature.
The biggest risk for us would be falling behind schedule and releasing the game later than we planned. We’ve constructed a carefully laid-out strategy to prevent such an outcome, complete with detailed vision of the game that focuses on design scale-ability and clearly defined milestones to achieve, etc.
But video games require a great deal of R&D - especially ones that want to innovate - and no one can predict for all potential possibilities or problems during such a process. Production delays unfortunately happen all too often in our industry but having shipped games very similar in nature to Dead Crusade and also having a fully functional prototype build in Unreal 3, we are fully aware of possible pitfalls and how to address them.
Our most resource-intensive features are our combat and multiplayer networking support. These are mechanics we’re implementing using a new game engine, but from early research and tests using the new technology, it should be much more straight forward than what we are used to. Performance and network reliability are top priorities for us, so over extending the games scope is something we are very cautious about.
The good thing for us is that we have a very strong game engine support team and a community of helpful developers undertaking projects of their own. EPIC Games have made an extraordinary effort to document and streamline there tools and features as much as possible, as well as provide near instant solutions to any problems. This greatly mitigates any unknown grey areas we may experience. Moreover, in the potential event we’re forced by such time constraints to remove some features from the game in order to meet our release date and stay on-budget, we would most likely be able to include those features through a later patch or further campaigns of the game which we would release for free.

For more info or to make a pledge, click here!

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