Consortium RPG Nears Kickstarter Goal

Consortium RPG Nears Kickstarter Goal

With one week remaining, the Consortium Kickstarter is just a few steps away from its goal - and if you don't know what Consortium is, allow me to explain.

Consortium is a tricky thing to nail down. It's a first-person RPG-shooter in which you literally play as yourself - not as a videogame character but as you, transported to a future world that's similar to yet distinctly different from our own, thanks to some interdimensional techno-hoodoo cast by the iDGi-1 satellite. You will become a "Bishop" in a powerful peacekeeping Consortium, one of a crew of 17 on a massive flying fortress embroiled in a murder mystery, international intrigue and other hijinks.

One of the more unique features of Consortium is that instead of taking place in a huge, sprawling world as is the norm with most RPGs, it's set entirely within the "dynamic, bustling, interactive and alive micro-environment" of the C-3800D "Zenlil," the flying Consortium Command Vessel. Even so, there are between 3000 and 3500 lines of dialogue and an estimated six to eight hours of gameplay, which could be stretched to 15 hours or more if you really work at it.

I sunk some time into a preview build last night, which was very impressive but also rough enough that it left me concerned about the planned July launch date. The game is heavy on non-violent character interaction and when it works, it works well, but it's such a delicate and tightly choreographed dance that things inevitably trip up now and then. Lead Designer and Producer Gregory MacMartin, who has worked at companies including Cavedog, Electronic Arts, Relic, Turbine and Radical Entertainment, admitted that the release schedule is tight but said it's an estimate based on the current state of the game and "how focused and driven we are as a team."

"If you had seen our build in December compared to the demo you played, I think you would understand. Even during this Kickstarter campaign, we have fixed dozens of glaring issues that were still in the demo we packaged and uploaded a couple weeks ago," he told me. "All that being said, outside of the specific date that the Kickstarter deliverables are set to, we have been generally saying 'this summer' as our release date, with July being an estimated and optimistic goal that we are working very hard towards."

Consortium actually has its basis in a free alternate reality game that began back in 2010, and while experience in that game isn't necessary to enjoy this one, it is possible to go back to the beginning and catch up to the present day. Reflecting those deep narrative roots, the game can be played in either Story or Action modes, ensuring it's as accessible as possible to gamers of all stripes. And despite being a very indie project, noted composer Jeremy Soule, whose work includes the soundtracks to Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Prey, Duke Nukem Forever and dozens of others, will be providing the music.

"Jeremy worked with me on Amen: The Awakening at Cavedog Entertainment, and again on scoring Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," MacMartin said. "We are very close friends and believe in many of the same principles, including the extreme importance and power of music in storytelling, and how much more can be done with games in this regard."

The Consortium Kickstarter ends at 3 pm EDT on April 18, and yes, that's just one week from today. It looks almost certain to make it, with less than $1400 separating it from its $50,000 goal at the time of writing, and while 50 large doesn't sound like much of a budget for a heavily-simulated, eight-hour RPG, the Kickstarter page points out that "this is not just an idea, or the outline of a project; it is a game that will be complete in just a few months." The Interdimensional Games team actually launched a Kickstarter campaign for Consortium with a $200,000 goal over the 2012 holiday season, but canceled it when it failed to gain traction.

"$200,000 would be a dream amount for us, as we would be able to restore cut features and content that we would love to see make it into the game, which was the original intent of the first campaign," the team explained. "With $50,000, the entire team would be able to spend three additional months finishing and polishing the game AND be able to feed our families and power our computers at the same time. Some business expenses needed for being able to sell the game would also be covered, and of course we would also be able to produce the t-shirts, posters and other swag we're offering here."

This is the point at which I issue my standard "buyer beware" Kickstarter boilerplate and warn that no matter how cool you think it is, you shouldn't support the project, or any crowdfunding effort, with any more money than you can afford to ball up and throw at unruly children. That said, this is definitely one of the more intriguing game projects I've run into recently and what's on display in the demo, while far from fully baked, is very promising. If you're looking to sink some money into somebody else's idea, you just might want to give this one some attention.

Source: Kickstarter

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Is anyone going to comment on this? The article has been up for at least an hour...

Alright, The only thing that interests me is that the music is done by Jeremy Soule of Skyrim fame.

Erm, sure i'll comment. What decides what kickstarters you pick to make news out of guys? Do you pick them arbitrarily or your favorites? Genuinely curious here.

For me, having something to show is very important. Consortium and Xing, to use another example, both have playable demos that, while rough, show a great deal of potential and demonstrate that the team has more on the table than an interesting idea and big dreams. Having a big name or two on the project, or a proven track record of previous releases, can also make the difference - if Roberta Williams came along and said, hey, Kickstarting a new game, I'd write it up without hesitation. (Hence the coverage of Jane Jensen's Pinkerton Road.) And sometimes I think things are just irresistibly cool.

There are a LOT of Kickstarters out there and as much as I'd like to cover them all, it's just not possible. I don't even get to all of them that I'd like to. But if you run across one that you think has something worth pointing out to the world at large, by all means, send it in.

Hey Andy,

I've been reading this site off and on for months but actually signed up now just to make a comment here. I have personally been following this Kickstarter and I'm just curious about something. You said you have played the game and that it's "very impressive." O.K. And then you go on about release dates and other stuff the Kickstarter already talks about (which is sort of pointless information, to be honest, especially when talking about release dates on a Kickstarter!)

I guess my question is why don't you actually talk ABOUT the game which you apparently thought was impressive? Outside of the stuff the Kickstarter already says I mean? It sort of reads like you did not even play the game. Only read the Kickstarter campaign and then asked them some questions about Jeremy Soule and release dates.

I'm not pissin' on you or anything mate, I usually quite enjoy your posts. I'm just a little confused by this one!

Thanks!

vassy:
I've been reading this site off and on for months but actually signed up now just to make a comment here. I have personally been following this Kickstarter and I'm just curious about something. You said you have played the game and that it's "very impressive." O.K. And then you go on about release dates and other stuff the Kickstarter already talks about (which is sort of pointless information, to be honest, especially when talking about release dates on a Kickstarter!)

A couple of reasons, really, but the short version is that a news post isn't really the place for a full-on preview. I'm more than happy to talk about it here, but the news write-up is really more of a "this is cool, go check it out" kind of thing, and my playthrough was essentially an effort to verify that fact.

As for the game itself (because, hey, you asked) there's a ton of conversation and the conversational model isn't one where you can just cycle through all the options to get all the info: it flows as chit-chats do, and the information you glean and influence you gain or lose with NPCs depends entirely on how you direct it. It's also interesting that each NPC appears to have certain attitudes and opinions, and selecting what might appear to be the "correct" option may in fact have a negative impact. The world itself, while small, feels very deep and "alive," with all kinds of things going on in the background, like conversations between NPCs that unfold just as they would in the real world. And the backstory is fantastic: You can play straight-up as a Bishop or you can insist to everyone that you're actually a 21st-century gamer who's somehow crossed pseudo-telepathically into a different dimension; some NPCs will think you're joking (and then start to worry a bit if you continue to protest) but at least one takes the claim seriously and even digs up a little evidence that you might be telling the truth.

Combat needs work (specifically enemy AI) but combat isn't necessary the focus, and the devs say they're tweaking the hell out of things at a swift clip anyway. The inventory interface is also a little clunky, but I don't want to get hung up on those (or other) issues because they're the sorts of things that can very easily be changed by the time you read this. Overall, there's a definite, "condensed" Deus Ex vibe to it (the original) and the visuals remind me quite a bit of System Shock 2. It's decent but not at all cutting-edge graphically, but that's explained in the story as well. But the gameplay, if you're into that sort of thing - story-heavy first-person RPG-shooters, that is - looks like it could be amazing.

Anyway, there's a bit of a mini-preview. :) FWIW, I asked it they were planning on releasing a demo to the general public and they said there's a chance but it's not likely based on the cost and time required to make one, plus the fact that the full game will be so relatively inexpensive.

Fantastic! Thank you so much, that is exactly what I was looking for. Their only other "proof" I can find is the RPS article that covered them at the beginning of the campaign. It was awesome and all but did not speak specifics like you've just done. Kudos, you've just made me even more excited.

OH and my God, as a first day poster, you Escapist folks really need to drop the Toyota captcha. That's really pretty disgusting, but I suppose you've got to eat!

**reads news article**

**goes to KS page**

**reads info there**

**notes pledge price of 15 bucks for a PC copy of the game**

An RPG where you can talk your way out of everything? Motherfucking SOLD!

**hands over money**

I'm not sure how I feel about the 4th wall stuff. I hate playing "myself" so I'll probably still RP as some other character of mine, but it will be a character of MINE, which is nice.

vassy:
OH and my God, as a first day poster, you Escapist folks really need to drop the Toyota captcha. That's really pretty disgusting, but I suppose you've got to eat!

Just keep hitting reload (the little reload button on the captcha) until it isn't corporate whoring anymore. That's what I do.

Eventually it will give you one where you just have to type a word, like a normal captcha.

Bara_no_Hime:
Just keep hitting reload (the little reload button on the captcha) until it isn't corporate whoring anymore. That's what I do.

Eventually it will give you one where you just have to type a word, like a normal captcha.

LOL.... Good advice!

Yeah, all right. I've got 15 dollars to throw into the pile.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Andy. As I write this, the game is literally just couple of pledges away from being successful, so I encourage everyone who're interested to pitch in, to see if we can jump up to the next stretch goal, even if it does lengthen the development time. I would like to see them polish this piece a little better.

I always get a little nervous when I start feeling like I've talked people into Kickstarters, so I really hope you guys took my "don't do it if you can't waste it" advice. But I do like what I saw here.

One of the things I actually liked about it is apparently a bug: When shit starts to get real and everything's happening, you'll be talking to an NPC and other NPCs will be talking about other things around you, and it can be hard to hear what's going on unless you get right up close to the character you're talking to. Volume levels obviously need to be adjusted, but it struck me as a really cool effect because it really makes you (or at least, me) feel like you're just one of a team rather than The Hero.

Also: Don't blame me for the captcha. I just work here, man.

Well I was already sold long before this post, so don't worry about that on this front! I think too that anyone who puts in for a kickstarter knows the risk. It's the same for any project. And I wasn't blaming you aaaat all for the stupid captcha, Andy! I said "Escapist folks," whoever may be responsible. They should be ashamed lol

Also, I was thinking about this the other day, but these guys are showing so much about the game that I feel safer putting money in for this game, than say dropping $30 on some game through Steam based on a trailer and some screenshots. when Kickstarter works, it really works. They seem dedicated to do this right and I applaud that.

Now Kickstarter, damnit, don't you bloody well prove me wrong!!

Bara_no_Hime:

Just keep hitting reload (the little reload button on the captcha) until it isn't corporate whoring anymore. That's what I do.

Eventually it will give you one where you just have to type a word, like a normal captcha.

vassy:
[quote="Bara_no_Hime" post="7.405541.16848136"]

LOL.... Good advice!

You don't even have to answer them properly. Just slapping your keyboard a few times will produce a suitable answer for the 'advert' Captchas, which kinda defeats the whole purpose of them really.

Andy Chalk:
I always get a little nervous when I start feeling like I've talked people into Kickstarters, so I really hope you guys took my "don't do it if you can't waste it" advice. But I do like what I saw here.

Your report merely helped bring this project to my attention. It's usually up to the one's making the actual pitch who need to convince me to fund them. This is far from my first Kickstarter pledge and it certainly won't be the last. I'm not expecting them all to pan out but, so far, all the projects that I've helped funded have either netted me a finished product or are still in development and are showing me signs that they're actually being worked on.

At any rate, the project is 100% funded now, so there's no going back now. The next stretch goal is set at $70.000. If it gets to that, they will push the estimated release date to August and get more time to work on the game.

 

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