Questions and Answers
The following are answered by the CEO of Broken Hammer Games
What is All is Fair in Dust and Air?
All is Fair in Dust and Air is a fan created Guns of Icarus Online (GOIO) Visual Novel (VN). It spawned out the competitive community of the GOIO forums and transitioned from a fan project to an actual game developer intent on releasing it. Development on it started in 2013 with the first four stories completed or in development before the end of that year.
The story consists of six main story arcs and one introduction (Neutral) story arc.
This will not be a Kinetic VN (Straight story with no choices). There will be choices that determine the story outcome. However we take the term "novel" in visual novel quite literally as we allow our stories to grow more than many other VNs.
After a crowd funding phase it will then go into digital distribution.
So you’re doing a Kickstarter?
Yes we plan to run an IndieGoGo campaign prior our initial launch. The funding from this we hope to both fund the initial neutral arc but also get us started on funding the rest of the game.
Who knows, if it goes really above and beyond what we can dream, we could even potentially have the entire game funded from the start which would save us a lot of time and money in getting the rest of the game produced.
What game engine are you using?
We’re using TyranoBuilder. It is a powerful development engine designed for VN production. It is available through Steam. Feel free to look into it.
Why didn't you use another engine like Ren'Py?
Basically it boiled down to the flexibility and abilities of each engine. Ren'Py is powerful but it is a much older engine. Tyrano is newer and just has great advantages for developing on.
As with most newer tools, they have advanced past the days when you'd have to be a master of a programming language to handle. With Tyrano, you don't need to invest a lot of time into coding, and you can test the game on the fly. Being able to share resources with an entire team to work on instead of just a few with knowledge, greatly benefits development time. Ren'Py can't do that.
Effectively this means the entire team is the programming department and QA at the same time. Debugging is made much more effective.
Ren'Py just simply can't match. To test on Ren'Py, you need to compile the entire game and launch from the beginning. If we ran into a bug, we might spend exponentially longer trying to fix and isolate it. Compiling and recompiling till it would be resolved. Which would cut into our development time.
Where will it be released and will it cost money?
Yes it will be up for sale.
Steam is the clear choice. It has the largest community in both gaming and VNs. However, rolling out on other platforms like Amazon, Apple Store, or even Android app stores is certainly on the table.
Apple? Android? Is this a cell phone VN?
Our first release will be for PC. The Tyrano engine can export to Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android so creating versions for release on other platforms is certainly possible. We haven’t fully tested them all yet but, we certainly plan to. In fact we will likely seek to port to Mac as soon as possible as we know GOIO has plenty of Mac players.
Linux, currently there isn't an ability to export to it. This is something we certainly wouldn't mind doing and we'll try talking to the TyranoBuilder devs about doing.
As a small startup, it would be foolish of us to ignore other platforms if we can port onto them.
Alright, so how much will it be in price?
This is a complex answer as we have enough content in the initial introduction neutral arc alone to compete with full VNs from other developers. Most of the western visual novels never get beyond 10k in word counts and some of them want more than $20 for almost no content or very lackluster content! This just isn't right.
If we go by their standard, our neutral arc of about 30k word count, quickly could skyrocket to being beyond what people would see as a value. With our main story arcs averaging over 90k in word counts, this game could simply overprice itself.
However, we will not use their standards. It is our desire to roll out the game in increments. So each story will become paid content that will go to help fund the rest of the game. In other words, it's like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It picks up more snow as it goes.
Thus, we intend to keep prices lower to not only encourage growth, but also because by the time we have multiple stories completed, that "snowball" should be plenty large to not only fund continued development, but also future development.
Because of this, we do not wish to make the neutral arc a hurdle to entry. The price of the initial story will be lower. We currently would like that to be in the $5-$15 range. Story arcs will be higher as they include more content. But it is our hope to keep the prices within reason and competitive so you won't have to wait around for Steam Sales.
Is Muse getting a cut?
Muse has not requested any royalties at this time. In fact quite the opposite. They want us keep what we get.
While being fans of GOIO, we ourselves have wanted to bless them somehow, but currently proceeds will be going directly into development. So perhaps the biggest benefit towards Muse we will be offering is promoting GOIO in a way not many other game developers can.
It isn't every day that a game developer allows a fan group, turned developer, to use their IP. Croteam certainly made headlines when they opened Serious Sam for this. But that isn't an Indie developer like Muse.
How long will it take to beat the game?
Depends how fast you can read. The Neutral Arc clocks in close to 50,000 words. Once we open up to beta testing, we'll have a better idea from people of different reading speeds and levels.
That script in terms of pages comes in around 120-150 pages. It varies between word processors and we are editing as we go. You'd be surprised how the script has changed from it's original format just during the time it has been in active development.
We'd like the Neutral Arc to be from 2-5hrs but we know some people will read fast and have it done quicker. Others on the other hand, may read at a more leisurely pace and take longer.
Time for the rest of the game is unknown at this time. The major story arcs right now clock in anywhere from 300-450 pages each. In fact one of them is likely over that as we do have some with some lengthy branches and alternate endings.
Our hope is that you can enjoy them like a good novel and play as your schedule permits.
How many possible branches/endings will the story have?
There is a story for each nation in GOIO. So six in total. Most of the major branching occurs in them. However the Neutral Arc will have at least one major branch with endings which lead into the beginnings of the faction stories.
As far as endings in the faction stories. They will each have three different endings. However, some will have more due to alternate choices being presented that were not present in the Neutral Arc. These alternate choices being, new heroines that were not present in the neutral arc. They will get their own endings and be treated just as important as the main cast.
So when you look at 300-450 pages or more, keep in mind, some of that is in fact branching and endings. Kinetic visual novels without choices, don't have to worry about this as they are more like a straight novel with no branching. Thus their scripts can be smaller.
If you look into the scripts of some of the big games being produced by AAA devs, they'll often be well over 1000 pages, some cases even 10,000, just because of all the potential routing and branching.
Will the story be rather grand (i.e.: saving the world), or more small stuff and personal?
That is an excellent question. It is a common theme in western entertainment to always have a story being "grand" in it's scope and overall design. This unfortunately leads to some games running with every end point being a life or death dash to escape the always exploding plot device. The Old Republic in the Eternal Empire stories are a great example of this. Even movies and TV you'll always see the predictable exploding plot device along with the clock always stopping within the last few seconds.
In them it is perpetually always a "universe is at stake" situation.
Trouble is, that gets boring. Not that you can't have larger than life villains who desire to take over the world, but we do not see that as necessary for a good story. Nor is it necessary to always have a life or death mad dash from the exploding plot device.
"Saving the world," in our stories takes on a different meaning. The world is the world of the main protagonist, as well as the heroines. Saving their world happens but what that really entails varies. Each heroine has an important part to play in the world of GOIO, but not all parts are that of princesses or rulers. In fact, while many come from prominent backgrounds, they aren't all in positions of power that could single-handedly change the course of history. Some are in positions where their tiny actions could bring about great change. Thus by saving them, you would be saving a future world. But whether they'd be remembered for that is up for debate, as they are only a small part.
There is however, cross over between the story arcs. So we do address what happens if you choose one heroine over the other. How does the world of the other change or stay the same without your direct input? Does the world of GOIO really change at all either way? It's questions our writers often asked while writing the stories. They look for, and consider, as many potential plot holes as they can. Then consider how best to address them from some of the other stories.
When it comes to Muse's lore and how we work around that; Perhaps a better way to explain it is: Our stories are more "Legends" of GOIO.
We wanted to write this story for the GOIO world we love so dear, but at the same time, Muse has their own potential lore ideas and designs. Trying to get them in sync is possible but it could potentially limit either the GOIO universe or our own. We don't want to do that. We'd still be writing and rewriting stories if we did.
So the way we devised to resolve this is to create our storyline from a legend perspective. This gives us the flexibility to work in the lore without stepping on toes. As well as, Muse, the flexibility to accept stories or characters later, or reject them.
It isn't all that different from how Bioware treated Mass Effect when it eventually made certain things canon (the official looks of the hero/heroine). Which is similar to what they did with Knights of the Old Republic 2. You played the branching story, developed your own idea of how it should go, then Bioware decided what would be their canon later.
Will the player be aligned with a faction or just a mercenary?
When we started to plan out the story, we looked at all the factions and possibilities and ultimately decided the best possible way to set the player into the world is by them being an independent. This would give you free choice over which faction you wanted to see. It also would mean you don't have hurdles to get over with some of the heroines who may be predisposed to see you as an enemy if you are of an opposing faction.
In some ways you are a mercenary but you aren't a pure fighter and you aren't completely beholden to money. You're a small timer. What concerns you most is stability of the trade routes and keeping your company alive, not slugging it out in air combat.
In some ways, this is in contrast to GOIO. However, we wanted to present a story from the standpoint of people just living in the world. A fighter would limit our story lines to just combat. We didn't want to make a Shepherd of the GOIO world when you are already that person as you play GOIO.
That isn't to say there won't be combat in the story, there will, we just want the player to feel more at home in the world.
Will there perhaps be references to real players, clans, or GOIO development?
Absolutely. There may be a few cameos or references to certain legendary GOIO players (Z**a), or even some easter eggs regarding clans.
TTR Studio, our original group name, was behind the Support Your Local Aerodrome community events. We worked with The Bully Boy's, Cake, and many other GOIO clans in developing the storyline and gametypes for the event. In fact, development of the stories for Aerodrome was often done between story development of this project. Some references or homages may carry over.
Much of the references will likely be hidden. We won't always come out and say it. There wouldn't be any fun otherwise. In fact you may just come across a character and not even realize who she is referenced to until later.
We'll also be looking into concept ideas from the community. Different ships, weapons, and just simply how airships work in general in GOIO.
Will there be a soundtrack and would we see crossover of it with GOIO's soundtrack?
Oh absolutely a soundtrack, in fact if you've seen our teaser trailer, that is cut audio direct from our score.
As far as cooperation with Muse, that is complicated.
In terms of permissions and right to use, we have an agreement for using the lore. Music would be something else entirely and it isn't really necessary for us. We have our own musicians and we're developing our own style for this world we're creating.
The style will be compatible with the GOIO world but as far as cooperation goes, that would have to be something discussed with Muse and the musicians involved.
Will we be seeing store items on the GOIO store, related to your game, that we can use on our ships?
Eventually we'd like to. This is where the crowdfunding part will come in.
Making special custom decals for backers is certainly doable. Flying into combat with one of the heroines on your balloon is not out of the question.
However, hats, clothing, and badges would require Muse for. This would be up for discussion with them and would be at their discretion. We don't have the size of team and people with Unity talent to make them ourselves.
So, how big is your team?
We currently have a core team of seven developers in four countries. Because of geography, most are technically, independent contractors. Broken Hammer Game’s management is currently in California, with its’ birthplace in Wyoming. We're very much an internet based company at this stage.
Such a small team and you’re making something so big?
Because we're passionate about it. Our team wants to see these characters come to life. They have since the first day the original team met in Skype to discuss the project.
We won't say that there won't be hardships along the way, but we're committed to the journey and we believe our choices in things, like simply using TyranoBuilder, are choices that will best see this project to completion.
As we journey, we'll look to grow the team. Bringing on more, "hammer breakers" along the way, to join us in our dream.
Grow the team? I wanna help!
That's great to hear! Yes we are looking to grow it.
Games take time, talent, and money to produce. Even with TyranoBuilder, we need real people to helm the controls and handle a lot of different tasks.
If you want to become apart of the team in any facet, check out our employment page.
Do you need voice actors?
Because of the difficulty and overall time needed to manage a full vocal dub (given our cast and script sizes), it isn’t feasible for us to actually do it as we develop the game right now. Especially if we have voice actors spread out across the world.
Vocal work is much more than just getting people to record. To do it now would negatively impact our development schedule. Current members would have to take time away from more pressing needs to manage the recordings. We'd almost have to bring someone on that their sole job would be to manage this.
However, it will likely appear as one of our funding goals and we have a promo trailer that will be voiced to show we definitely want to do it. Which will likely show the limits of remote voice recordings. Our apologies on some of the audio quality. We did a lot of takes to get it even that far.
A partial dub, if only to have simple phrases for certain cast members that would play when they would start speaking, is something we are considering.
The best example to give would be NPCs in “Sid Meiers Pirates!” which would give a stock vocal line on initial conversation regardless of the text to follow. It would often be in another language so you wouldn't really understand and it wouldn't cause problems with the script.
It's not really what we want, but it could potentially be a stopgap measure till we could do a full dub.
Of course, all of this is reliant on how well the game not only does, but also how well the crowd funding phase goes. So lets leave it at that for now.
Do you have a timetable for how long the full game will take to complete?
We're aiming within two to three years. Development will actually speed up over time because some of our stories do crossover. So assets developed for one can be used in another. This was a design choice we made with this in mind from very early in the story development.
Along with that and the flexibility of TyranoBuilder, we are optimistic.
So...will there be an adult patch?
No. Our agreement with Muse Games will not permit us to add "H" content.
However, even if we didn't have a written agreement with Muse, we wouldn't have adult content in this VN. While we realize many VNs only sell because of NSFW content, we don't want to sacrifice the quality of our characters or story. We also want it to be enjoyed by a wider audience and safe enough to be played on a lunch break if needed.
We will leave such content to fan art/fictions and their imaginations.
This doesn't mean this will be a PG story. The GOIO world is not a cheery place. It is rather brutal if you really consider it.
Our writers and artists did not want to compromise on this aspect.
Like how Muse did not want to turn GOIO into a super arcadey chibi character filled title to gain a publisher, we also don't want to dumb something down.
While we won't have adult content, there will be more adult themes. Mostly due to our target audience being older.
This is not a traditional high school VN. Our characters are adults and will be dealing with very adult issues. People will die and some will die rather painfully.
Romance scenes will exist and there may be some light fan service. However we will abide by our agreement with Muse in how far we take it.
For example, think of shows like Firefly, which are very dear to our team. Firefly was a great inspiration to many writers and artists but it was also more adult in themes and didn't dumb itself down.
We would be pushing into the, Mal kicking the villain into engine territory. If that is still too violent or not violent enough, our apologies.
Alright, when is the crowd funding starting?
It's here now: https://igg.me/at/brokenhammer/x/16780722