December 15, 2019
Wildfire

Wildfire

Wildfire is a stealth platformer where you have the ability to control fire. As this rare, latent power unexpectedly manifests within you, you’ll find yourself pursued by a deadly army of swordswomen, skilled archers, and their vicious, trained animals, who fear what you are capable of. Sneak in shadows, creep through tall grass, and conceal yourself in smoke as you summon fire to terrify enemies. Use their fear against them to create opportunities to slip past, or trick them into their own demise – but be careful that the fires you start don’t grow out of control and scorch everything in their path – including you!

We are Sneaky Bastards, a stealth gaming collective, and we have been working on Wildfire for 9 months. We think that now is the time to show it to you – and ask for your help seeing it finished.

$12,000 – UNLOCKED!
NEW OBJECTIVE: RESCUE YOUR FRIENDS

With this stretch goal, we will add an entire new gameplay mechanic whereby you will need to find and rescue the people of your home village. Read this update for more!

$14,000 – UNLOCKED!
NEW ENEMY: FIRE DEMON

Something lurks deep beneath the earth’s crust – click here for more info on this new enemy!

$16,000 – UNLOCKED!
NEW AUDIO: VOICE ACTING

At this goal, we will add voice acting to each of Wildfire’s human characters. This includes dialogue exchanges, as well as gameplay vocalisations that occur when you interact with the AI, such as expressions of suspicion, cries of panic, screams upon being set alight, and the fury of spotting the player and charging with their weapon levelled. Multiple variations of each line will be written and recorded to avoid repetition. This stretch goal requires the hiring of multiple voice actors after a selection process to find those right for the game, as well as audio equipment for cleanly recording dialogue.

$18,000 – UNLOCKED!
NEW ELEMENTAL POWER: MANIPULATE EARTH

Expand your elemental abilities to unlock the power to manipulate the very earth you walk on! Raise massive boulders from the ground and push them toward enemies, then laugh in glee as they flee from the rolling destruction! Capture foliage then throw it at a wall or ceiling to create a climbable vine that sprouts and grows down to your level, giving you new ways to traverse levels – but beware, as those vines are flammable, too! Make the ground crumble beneath your enemies’ very feet and watch them fall to their doom, or raise the earth as a defensive barrier to hide from enemies or block incoming arrows! This stretch goal will require a significant amount of new animated effects sprites, new sound effects, and additional gameplay coding, along with additional playtesting.

The player character in Wildfire does not possess the strength or weapons to confront enemies directly. Instead, Wildfire lets you make creative use of the environment, through your character’s ability to control fire, to cause panic, distract enemies, or catch them in encroaching flames.

How does summoning fire work? It’s simple! First, you capture a ball of fire from an existing source of the element, which you can carry with you. Once you’re holding this, you can aim and throw the fireball to ignite any flammable surface that it impacts.

Flames in Wildfire will spread across the environment. Objects caught in the blaze will catch on fire, melt, or detonate, which can create opportunities for you to exploit. But you can also lose control of the situation, and have to improvise a new way forward. Though fire can frighten enemies, it can also burn away the grass you otherwise hide in, or reveal you with its glow in darker environments.

Enemies in Wildfire aren’t throwaway obstacles; they will intelligently work together to hunt you down. Guards respond to sound disturbances by investigating areas and will talk to each other, calling nearby comrades to their aid if they catch sight of you. Though you may be outnumbered, you have superior information: you can see further than the guards, as well as how far every sound will travel, allowing you to plan ahead and play with intent. Along with your superior movement abilities, such as sliding and climbing, getting past guards requires smarts, not strength.

Wildfire’s environment is built with consistent, systemic properties. Any source of fire will burn anything flammable, and any source of water will extinguish any source of fire. Weather effects such as rain and snow change the way you need to approach a level by interacting with these properties. Levels are designed to allow players to craft creative solutions to problems – but enemies will react to the changes in their environment, too.

As you escape your pursuers and progress through Wildfire, you will be able to upgrade your elemental powers. You’ll increase the range you can throw fire; learn to hold more than one fire charge; ride smoke clouds to soften your landing after long falls; and perform a fire-boosted jump to rocket up to previously unreachable heights. Each new ability plays into the platforming and environmental puzzle solving, giving you new ways to create routes through levels and overcome new obstacles.

You will eventually learn to manipulate water, too! In combination with your ability to control fire, whole new possibilities arise when evading foes. During the night, you can use water to douse enemy torches, allowing you to slip past in the newfound darkness. Lead pursuing enemies into bodies of water, and then freeze that water solid, trapping them inside. And if you ever catch on fire yourself, you’ll be able to douse your flaming body and cheat death.

In Wildfire, every danger is a creative solution waiting to be exploited!
You’ll be making fire propagate across flammable surfaces to singe enemies you wouldn’t normally be able to reach! You’ll be holding a fireball as you tip-toe through icy caverns, being careful you don’t lose it by getting wet! You’ll be climbing tall wooden structures, outrunning fire as it propagates up toward you! You’ll be creeping through dark caves, stealing fire from the torches of roaming enemies, and causing them to chase at shadows as you flee into the darkness!

In the medieval world of Wildfire, magic is almost non-existent. When your ability to control fire awakens within you, it captures the attention of powerful forces who fear what it may make you capable of. An elite army is dispatched to hunt you down. As you flee through dense forests, dark caves, icy caverns and across snowy peaks, your abilities will grow more powerful.

Outwit your foes, and escape.

Turn the tides against your pursuers.

Find out who ordered them to hunt you.

Learn how your power manifested.

Shed light the fates of those cursed with your abilities in ages past.

And eventually, you may discover you’re not the only one in this lifetime who can control the elements.

We enjoy games that tell their stories through their worlds, without interrupting gameplay – games like Thief, Deus Ex, Dishonored, and Dark Souls. This allows players to craft their own stories through creative use of rich game mechanics, supported by context that deepens as you discover snippets of narrative throughout the world. We’re taking a similar approach with Wildfire – you won’t be clicking through lengthy dialogue sequences, or watching long cutscenes. Rather, you’ll eavesdrop on conversations, seek out readable material, and ultimately walk away with your own stories to tell created by playing the game itself.

This is you! Your ragged cloak and modest attire hide a deeper, more dangerous power: the ability to control fire. You can run, jump, climb, slide, and crawl through grass or narrow passages, allowing you to use the environment and outwit your enemies.

Dev fact: The player character was designed to be androgynous, so that you can choose to interpret playing as either male or female.

The Swordswomen of Wildfire are the first enemy you’ll encounter. Though their heavy blades mean they aren’t too quick on their feet, they won’t hesitate to bring you down with their powerful two-handed swings. Like any individual with a sense of self preservation, they are afraid of fire and will panic and flee if a blaze ignites nearby.

Dev fact: If many swordswomen are overlapping while walking in the same direction, some will slow down so that eventually all end up marching in perfect formation.

Mercenary Archers can pin a fly to a tree from a hundred paces, so the best way to deal with their fast-flying arrows is to make sure you never give them reason to loose one. Given their ranged abilities, archers aren’t going to pursue you with as much dedication as Wildfire’s swordswomen, but they are comfortable with running away from an open flame.

Dev fact: An archer’s arrow will catch alight if it touches fire!

Attack Cats. What else do you need to know? These trained animals will swipe at you with their razor sharp claws, and their small stature means they’re the only enemies who can pursue you through crawlspaces. They are instinctively afraid of fire to a greater degree than their human counterparts; even holding a small flame will cause them to back away and keep a safe distance. Just don’t back them into a corner…

Dev fact: This enemy is affectionately called as Bobby by the development team, for its visual design being based on wild bobcats.

Heavy Knights have cottoned on to the player’s exploits and have donned flame-retardant armour. This means two very scary things: they are not afraid of fire, and they cannot be burned. However, the armour’s weight makes them slower than other enemies, and gravity will have a more destructive effect on their personal health.

Dev fact: The Heavy Knight was the first enemy designed for Wildfire. In early playtests, most people thought the character was a robot.

Wildfire is built as a linear series of levels – however, those individual levels will become progressively more open and non-linear as you advance through the game. As the fire propagation system means that some routes may catch on fire and be destroyed – such as a wooden bridge collapsing – levels are designed with multiple routes, hidden paths, and safety nets to ensure you will never get stuck. Levels will also require you to complete gradually more complex and challenging objectives – from simply getting to the exit, to locating and burning enemy camps, to eliminating a specific enemy and making it look like an accident.

Because of this design, it’s difficult for us to say how long it will take you to finish Wildfire. For instance, with a level that takes us as developers only five minutes to sneak through, we’ve seen playtesters spend twenty minutes or more on it – and enjoy every minute! That said, we are aiming to provide at least five to six hours of playtime for the average, first-time player, though this will change depending upon how you choose to play.

Wildfire’s dynamic music serves to enhance the tension and excitement that players feel moment-to-moment with interesting instrumentation and unique ambient sounds. Individual tracks and instruments will seamlessly blend and fade depending upon the enemies’ alert states, how much of the level is on fire, and how close players are to adversaries. These primarily acoustic tracks are inspired by the ambience and tension music from stealth games such as Thief: The Dark Project and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Below is an early sample of the tone and texture of the music you’ll hear when you haven’t been detected by enemies.

Wildfire can be customised to be as tense or as challenging as you like. This goes beyond simple difficulty levels by allowing you to mix and match each customisable element so you can craft the experience which you will most enjoy.

Health system: Allow multiple hits before death, or sneak through levels knowing you’re one hit away from death. Less skilful players may want to start with more health, while those looking for increased tension will enjoy the one hit mode.

Checkpoint frequency: Choose the number of save points that will appear throughout levels, or only save the game when your objectives are completed. Allow or disallow manual saving for increased tension!

Fire lifetime: Set how long fires will last before burning out, or let them rage infinitely. If fires burn out quicker, this creates more of a puzzle game feel, as each area of flammable terrain can only be used once before it depletes its sources of fuel.

Burn rates: Adjust how quickly enemies (and yourself) will catch on fire. Lowering this timer will allow you to make more risky sprints through burning infernos, but it also means it will be harder to keep enemies in flames long enough so that they catch alight themselves.

Fire propagation speed: Change how quickly fire spreads throughout the level. Choosing a slow setting allows a calmer, more methodical playstyle, while a fast setting allows for more rapid reactionary play.

Advanced enemy patrol style: Make enemy patrol paths less predictable to encourage improvisational, reactionary play, by allowing them to explore further when not alerted to your presence. This makes the stealth gameplay feel less like a puzzle with a set solution, but is also unpredictable so it requires caution and quicker reflexes.

Speedrun mode: Blitz through Wildfire with on-screen level split timers and a total completion time upon conclusion.

Darker nights: Make dark levels and night levels pitch black. You’ll need to keep a source of fire close by so that its light alerts you to nearby dangers, such as crevasses and pitfalls.

The small team making Wildfire is comprised of three Australians and a Dutchman. Pleased to meet you!

Daniel Hindes
Game Design, Programming

Daniel is the creator of Sneaky Bastards, a group that began life as a stealth gaming enthusiast site and has since evolved into a mixed-media collective. Prior to beginning development of Wildfire, Daniel and Sneaky Bastards created and held StealthJam 2012, the world’s first global game jam that focused purely on the creation of new types of stealth games. In 2013, Sneaky Bastards produced a one-off print magazine edition of original stealth gaming editorial, deep diving Arkane Studios’ stealth-action game, Dishonored. He is designing and developing Wildfire using GameMaker: Studio, the same program used to make indie games such as Hotline Miami, Gunpoint, and Risk of Rain. Over the past nine months, Daniel has brought playable builds of Wildfire to playtest nights run by the Sydney chapter of the International Game Developer’s Association. He has seen first hand the look of mischievous glee players get when they first discover how fun it is to burn things in the game.

Maarten Boot
Character Design and Animation

Maarten is a freelance animator from Utrecht, the Netherlands. Most of the time he’s working on 2D frame animation and illustrations, both hand drawn and pixel art. He’s responsible for the character design and animation in Wildfire. You can check out his work at be.net/maartenboot.

Luke Webster
Background and Terrain Art

Originally starting his art career on an Amiga 500 with a mouse and a copy of Deluxe Paint, Luke eventually gave in to social pressure and upgraded to a PC, Wacom tablet and Photoshop. While he was rejected from art school in the late 90’s for presenting work that was too ‘populist’, he got the last laugh when he scored a job teaching art to a gang of isolated forest kids in the deeps of a Tasmanian forest. Currently, Luke teaches IT and programming to high school students in Tasmania. He divides his spare time between drawing graphics for Wildfire and illustrating The Lonely Tower – a children’s book that follows a band of doomed dwarves through a series of cross-sections.

Andru Elliott
Composer

Andru is composing Wildfire’s soundtrack from his home studio. He’s influenced by a wide range of styles such as minimalism, expressionism, rock, dance, baroque, and opera.

We’re aiming to put as much money generated from this Kickstarter campaign into developing the game by producing as few physical rewards as possible. Additionally, we’d like to give back to the game development community in some way – which is why our higher tier rewards grant access to the game assets that we’re spending this money creating. Once Wildfire releases, we’ll send those backers the original graphics or audio that we’ve created or commissioned. They are then free to use or modify those assets in any projects, hobbyist or commercial, completely royalty-free.

$1 – SUPPORT THE GAME

Your name in the credits, plus high resolution desktop and mobile wallpaper versions of our key art, below.

$8 – GET THE GAME – LIMITED EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT

Limited 20% off discount tier. Both a DRM free copy of the game and a Steam key (if successfully Greenlit. We hope to be launching the game in early 2016.

$10 – GET THE GAME

Both a DRM free copy of the game and a Steam key (if successfully Greenlit.

$20 – GET ALPHA ACCESS, AND HELP MAKE THE GAME

Monthly playable alpha and beta builds with developer breakdowns of new features and fixes. You’ll be able to provide your feedback directly to the developers, and communicate with other alpha access backers about what you’d like to see in the game. This will be handled through a private Google Group development forum. Your feedback is extremely important to us, because we plan to release Wildfire in as complete a state as possible; there will be no Early Access period. Though a playable build is available at the top of the page, future playable builds will be restricted to backers of this tier.

$40 – GET THE DIGITAL SOUNDTRACK

The soundtrack, delivered as high quality digital music files. Because Wildfire is implementing a dynamic music system, the soundtrack will be composed of a special mix of all the music you’ll hear throughout the game, to function as a standalone listening experience.

$60 – GET ROYALTY-FREE GAME MUSIC

Raw acoustic music files separated into individual tracks per instrument, including a number of loops as well as longer ambient soundscapes.

$75 – HAVE A GUARD NAMED AFTER YOU

Guards can be pickpocketed to find lockets engraved with their name, and – if you like – the name of their loved one, too! With this tier, you’ll be able to have one of those lockets bear your name, and, optionally, the name of your own special someone. Pickpocketing is simple – just sneak up behind an unaware guard, get close, and press a button to snatch the locket. The backer name will appear on-screen when you pickpocket the locket, and you’ll be able to view the names on all the lockets you’ve snatched on a collections screen. We are experimenting with the idea of randomly assigning each guard a name from the pool of eventual backers, which will allow players to hunt their guard down and be surprised when they find their locket.

$90 – GET THE POSTER

An 840mm x 473mm, 185gsm semi-gloss print poster version of Wildfire’s key art – the same image featured in the desktop wallpaper. Orders will be produced and shipped through Redbubble upon receipt of the Kickstarter funds, and once we have your shipping details.

$100 – GET ROYALTY-FREE GAME ASSETS: FOREST TERRAIN TILES

The first of our graphics assets reward tiers. Terrain tiles are delivered as a single sprite sheet, with transparency, and with individual tiles ready to be spliced up according to a 32 x 32 pixel grid. All game assets at these reward tiers and above will be provided to backers immediately after Wildfire is released, to ensure backers receive the final versions of each sprite sheet.

A low-resolution, downsized example of how the forest terrain tiles look arranged on a sprite sheet. The watermark not present in actual sprite sheet.
A low-resolution, downsized example of how the forest terrain tiles look arranged on a sprite sheet. The watermark not present in actual sprite sheet.
GET ROYALTY-FREE GAME ASSETS: FOREST PARALLAX BACKGROUNDS

Parallax is the name of an effect used to give the illusion of depth to 2D backdrops, by having separate layers of the backdrop scroll at different speeds. At this tier, you will receive every individual layer as image files with transparency that go into creating Wildfire’s beautiful parallax backgrounds.

This is how our parallax layers are separated. You’ll receive each layer as an individual image file, and can adjust the parallax scrolling speeds in your own work to suit your own preferences.
This is how our parallax layers are separated. You’ll receive each layer as an individual image file, and can adjust the parallax scrolling speeds in your own work to suit your own preferences.
$200 – GET ROYALTY-FREE GAME ASSETS: EXTRA FOREST TERRAIN DETAILS

A second sprite sheet arranged to line up with the original terrain tiles, which contains extra detailing such as rocks, animated grass, destructible bridges, vines, explosive barrels, crates, chests, and more.

The $300, $350, and $400 tiers combine their sprite elements into one tier for each new environment. At $300, you will receive every sprite for the Cave interior location, which includes terrain, parallax background layers, and terrain details. Similarly, at the $350 you will receive all elements of the snow environment, and at $400 you will receive all elements of of the interior fortress environment. Note that these tiers stack upon one another – so if you pledge at the $400 level, you will receive every terrain, detail, and background sprite for the forest, cave, snow, and fortress environments.

$500 – GET ROYALTY-FREE CHARACTER SPRITES: FEMALE KNIGHT

The Female Knight character sprite will be delivered as a sprite sheet with transparency on a 32 x 32 pixel grid. The sprite contains 14 character states, totalling 61 frames of animation. A complete list of those states includes: idle; idle with sword drawn; walking; sprinting; panicking; attacking; climbing a ledge; death; jumping; falling; drawing and sheathing a weapon; searching; turning; surprised reaction.

$500 – GET ROYALTY-FREE CHARACTER SPRITES: MALE ARCHER

Wildfire’s male archer sprite contains 12 states, totalling 58 frames of animation. A complete list of those states includes: idle; idle with bow drawn; bow draw up, diagonally up, horizontally, diagonally down, walking; panicking; attacking; climbing a ledge; death; falling; searching; turning; surprised reaction.

$700 – GET ROYALTY-FREE CHARACTER SPRITES: ATTACK BOBCAT

Wildfire’s attack bobcat sprite contains 14 states, totalling 64 frames of animation. A complete list of those states includes: idle sleeping; idle sitting; standing up stance change; idle standing; walking; sprinting; attacking; climbing a ledge; death; falling; searching; turning; surprised reaction.

$800 – GET ROYALTY-FREE CHARACTER SPRITES: HEAVY ARMOURED KNIGHT

Wildfire’s heavy armoured knight sprite contains 10 states, totalling 53 frames of animation. A complete list of those states includes: idle; walking; walking while alert; climbing a ledge; attacking; death; surprised reaction; searching; turning; falling.

$1,000 – GET ROYALTY-FREE CHARACTER SPRITES: PLAYER CHARACTER

Wildfire’s player character sprite contains 20 states, totalling 76 frames of animation. A complete list of those states includes: idle; idle holding object; walking; walking holding object; ducking stance change; ducking idle; crawling; running; running holding object; skidding; skidding holding object; jumping; jumping holding object; falling; falling holding object; sliding; climbing vertically; climbing a ledge; death.

What you see of the game here contains a number of temporary sprites. For a game about manipulating fire, we understand our fire sprites are not yet of a high enough quality. One of the highest priorities upon successful funding will be to commission an animator to create new, professional fire sprites for the game.

While we have already implemented a number elemental sound effects, we would like to replace the current temporary 8-bit-inspired sounds with professionally produced effects, such as different footstep sounds for different surface materials.

Risks and challenges
The systems that underpin Wildfire, including its fire propagation mechanics and enemy AI states, are deceptively complex. Even in early playtesting we have identified bugs we had never anticipated, and edge cases that cause all kinds of strange behaviour.

Where possible, we plan to embrace those edge cases and build them into the game mechanics, so that players can discover and exploit interactions between systems they didn’t think were possible. However, this approach means Wildfire will require an extended and intense playtesting process, as its possibility space is far expanded over that of a standard sidescrolling platformer.

We hope that backers who are part of the alpha access tier will be there to assist us in breaking the game in as many ways as possible before it launches!

MAC & LINUX BUILDS:
We understand people will be wishing for Mac and Linux builds of Wildfire, however, there are a few roadblocks that must be overcome first. We have never developed for Mac or Linux before, and our designer does not own a Mac system which GameMaker needs to export a build with. Additionally, since we are a small team, we need to focus on delivering a polished Windows PC build before we can spare resources for other platforms. For these reasons, Mac and Linux builds are aspects that we will consider after Wildfire launches on Windows. Alternatively, if we significantly surpass our funding goal, we will look into hiring a contractor to handle these ports for us, in what would ideally be a smaller amount of time after the Windows release.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *