Crowdfunding is realistically one of the best ways for developers with even modest followings to find the financial support to make the games they want to make. Not surprisingly, working with a small team means that budgets are often tight, but at the same time they're often quite a bit smaller as well. Some of the strangest, heart-filled, and entertaining games come from indie developers who try to find support directly from their audience, and we like to find those games and give them a bit of visibility to our readers.
Today we're looking at Doko Roko by Eric Mack:
Doko Roko is a 2-D action/platformer/roguelike game that looks pretty darn interesting for a number of reasons. The first thing that caught my eye was just the general design of the game. It sports a retro aesthetic in the vein of Titan Souls or Hyper Light Drifter, but what I'm impressed by is just how animated everything appears to be in the gifs that are up on the Kickstarter.
The reason I comment on this is that visual storytelling is a really important part of selling a good fantasy story, in my opinion. Sure, you can write volumes of lore and introduce your world through complex quests, but a lot of times those things aren't really necessary to create a compelling story or rich, lived-in world. Those things can be told in a single image, if done correctly. The ivy that grows along the tower tells a story of the place's history. I don't need to read a book that tells me the tower has been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. Crumbled masonry covered in ivy tells me that much more succinctly. Doko Roko seems to be embracing the visual style of storytelling, which I really appreciate.
I also like the idea of confining games to very specific spaces. Doko Roko sticks to the vertical space of exploring a tower that has been built upon for hundreds or thousands of years by different people. Here's a bit more from Eric on his design philosophy for building a game around the vertical space of a massive tower:
"My goal with Doko Roko is to experiment with how a world might look if it built on top of itself rather than outward in all directions, like how you might layer glazes onto an oil painting to model subtle variations in light and color...(The tower is) a world that is parts procedurally generated and meticulously hand-crafted. Massive stone obelisks, libraries of grimoires and tomes written in forgotten languages, cisterns filled with rain water, the makeshift homes of the Unslain who have taken up residency thousands of feet in the sky. This is a place of rich history that is slowly evolving, an organism disguised as architecture."
Abandoned, decaying places will always pique my curiousity, especially when the history of these places isn't always clear.
Doko Roko is slated for a 2017 release on PC, Mac, and Linux, and while Eric has just hit his initial funding goal with a bit more than a week to go, there are some stretch goals to add talent to the project for things like music, so it's certainly not to late to toss some money towards the project. If a vertical roguelike platformer sounds like a thing you're into, head over to the Kickstarter and check out some of the rewards.