Monday, December 24, 2012

Telepath Tactics

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  
Today I  am joined by Craig Stern of Telepath Tactics, thank you for joining us today Craig.  

It’s good to be here James.

Well your tag line pretty much sums your project up for me, “Imagine that Fire Emblem and Disgaea had a baby, and that baby turned out to be a prodigy...”   How would you describe your game to those who don’t know of Fire Emblem or Disgaea?

Telepath Tactics is a strategy RPG. Imagine chess, but instead of controlling generic pieces, you have armies made up of individual characters with their own stories, personalities, skills, strengths and weaknesses.

So why come to Kickstarter with such a great looking project?  Why not release it directly to the people now through your own site?  I see you are on Steam Greenlight isn’t that enough?  (Full Disclosure: I have voted up this game on Greenlight and back at the $10 level as of this interview)

I'm running the Kickstarter to help  with the costs of getting the game completed and polished. Telepath Tactics is currently playable, but it still needs more sprites, more tilesets, attack animations, an improved interface, a full soundtrack, sound effects, and so on. That stuff costs money, and so this Kickstarter is designed to make it so I can actually pay for that.

Steam Greenlight is not a funding platform, so clearly it's not going to help on that front. Greenlight is more of an investment for the future; once Telepath Tactics is done, I'd quite like to be able to sell it on Steam.

So what makes your game worth buying versus just getting a Nintendo or Sony console and playing Fire Emblem or Disgaea?  

Unlike Disgaea and Fire Emblem, Telepath Tactics features a map editor and robust mod support, with full support for custom single player campaigns. There is literally no limit to the amount of content this game can have!

Telepath Tactics also has a bunch of gameplay features you won't see in most other tactics games: local multiplayer, determinism (attacks pretty much always hit), the ability to build bridges and barricades, elevation bonuses for claiming the high ground, random item drops, explosives and destructible objects, the ability to push, pull, and throw enemies off of cliffs and into water or lava, and an aggressive AI that doesn't just wait for you to wander into aggro range.

Finally, it's on PC: anywhere you have your laptop, you'll have the game at your fingertips! You'll never have to worry about backward compatibility with each new console generation. And again: mod support. This game supports a potentially limitless number of campaigns, so you'll want to keep this sucker on your hard drive forever.

So is damage fixed along with always hitting or is that one of the variables?  

Damage is never, ever randomized. It can vary, but it varies in fixed, predictable ways. Are you backstabbing a character? There's a 50% damage bonus for that. Are you attacking from the high ground? You'll get a 30% damage bonus. Is the target resistant? That will shave off a fixed percentage of the damage. In short: if the damage changes, there is a specific reason for it, and you will always know it's coming in advance if you pay attention.

How hard will it be to make my own single player adventure using your game system?  Are we talking RPG Maker level of depth or just a few basic word bubbles connected by combat scenarios?  

Telepath Tactics makes it easy to create a new single player campaign with unique battles, characters, attacks, dialog, leveling schemes, enemies, objects, items, and even custom tilesets. I actually made a video showing the process of creating a new campaign in real time; from the introduction to the first battle, it took me about 20 minutes.

Telepath Tactics has a robust map editor, as well as support for cut scenes and dialog scripting. Just about anything you could conceivably want to change in a turn-based tactics game, Telepath Tactics lets you change.

Do you plan to set-up a community site (a “Proper website” is listed on your financial breakdown) to trade custom sprites, spells, scenarios, weapons, and the like?  

I certainly want to! At the very least, I'll establish a forum for it.

One of the keys of a successful Kickstarter project is backer participation.  How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

Well, I've already done 10 of them. Why not take a look and see?

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to help things along?

Telepath Tactics has received a pretty decent amount of media attention, from repeated mentions on Rock Paper Shotgun to getting featured on The Indie Games Blog to getting an enthusiastic recommendation from Indie Statik to getting featured on Indie Impressions. I've been using Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to spread the word, but more than that, I've been putting in many hours writing old-fashioned personalized emails to various journalists to pique their interest and drive coverage.
Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Get someone to help you: running a Kickstarter campaign on your own is ludicrously difficult!

Besides donating, is there any other way for folks to support your project?  

Absolutely! Backing the game is pretty darn important (particularly so at higher tiers), but there are definitely other things folks can do to help:

  1. Upvote the game on Steam Greenlight;
  2. Share the game with your friends on Twitter and Facebook; and
  3. Email your favorite game news outlets. (Web sites like to cover games that they know their readers are paying attention to!)

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Yes: you should really go back Telepath Tactics on Kickstarter. :)

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

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