Budget and Scope

Based on original design, the scope of Confederate Express was enormous.

With 24 different playable characters, multiple classes, procedural world exploration and squad-action tactics – no wonder the estimated budget was a whopping $400k.

Our plan for kickstarter campaign was to intentionally set the donations goal low – that way we could at least get a solid vertical slice out of it to show later to investors. Even though our campaign’s performance was stellar (earned $1 for every pageview) – we were not featured by KS staff; and therefore were left to figure out a way to get the rest of the money ourselves. That’s where the ugly plan to pivot with Knuckle Club came from – ultimately leading us to a whole year of wasted time and effort.

At that point – there was absolutely no chance we could get outside funding, so the only way to finish Confederate Express was to roll up our sleeves and do it on our own – just the two of us.

First, we slashed the game’s scope. No more procedural world exploration, no squad-action, no vehicle mechanics. The idea was to create 50 levels and just load them one by one – starting with easiest ones and saving most difficult for the last. This way we won’t have to be stuck trying to reinvent the wheel or become an endless feature factory.

The end product was a minimal visceral exprience, focused on player control micromanagement and spiced up with handmade animated visuals engaging spectator’s imagination.

Even though it saddens us to see Confederate Express not reaching it’s original vision – we still got many exciting accomplishments out of it. First, we have created False2D™ – an incredible production tool that was instrumental in reducing workload greatly, saving us time and money. We also accumulated an extensive indexed library of animations, all adhering to a strict standard. This library is a foundation for the future work in aliasing – our proprietary image scaling technique – which we have great plans for. We strongly believe that aliasing has a great potential in competing with AAA 3D visuals in the future.

Fast forward to 2017, we are reaching the end of production, and the game is getting closer to becoming a reality every day. We are still shaping up things as we move along, but the core objective is to get the game shipped, at any cost.

Please join us next week for our Monthly Progress Report update, where we will showcase the work completed for the month of September as well as future plans.

We appreciate your support!

Dennis & Max

A Personal message to our backers

Dear friends!
We are here to make amends.We have made many mistakes, and not communicating with you guys was the biggest one. A total dick move! What were we thinking??
Overwhelmed and frustrated, our poor judgement got the best of us.You must know tha…

Status Update

Greetings everyone!
 

 In this update I wanted to discuss Confederate Express as a project moving forward.

 First of all, I wanted to clear some confusion up regarding an investment group that stepped in to fund ConEx stretch goals.

 I have founded Kilobite in 2013, and during that period I have been working by myself whilst outsourcing most of the work via contractors. I have been scouting talent on the internet and offer them small jobs on a contract basis for my video game (Confederate Express). That was my business model – keep margins low and talent pool deep. Finally, when ConEx concept surfaced on Kickstarter, I have been contacted by a small investor group that was very excited about my new pixel art engine tech, and with their own project (Knuckle Club) nearing completion, they saw an opportunity to become the first game with per-texel pixel art post-processing technology (what a tongue-twister, haha).

 That was when the investors presented me with an offer to purchase Kilobite and hire me as a their full-time employee; but the biggest concern for them was Knuckle Club becoming the first game with pixel art post-processing tech. That’s where an offer for extra funding of my personal project (Confederate Express) and the non-compete clause restrictions came from.

 But I have never seen the situation this way in my head. The only thing I wanted was to make Confederate Express the best game it can possible be, and being high on amazing feedback from the vast Kickstarter community, I have foolishly started chasing an impossible dream. Budgets got bigger and bigger, work kept piling up, and deadlines kept getting delayed. 

 A lot happened since; Kilobite is now employing a lot people from my collected portfolio on a full-time basis. They have also split my engine tech into a different brand (False2D API), and are currently planning to release it as an SDK toolset for Unity.

 With recent update it was my lack of business expertise and poor decision-making that has led to a major outrage of ConEx backers, which have also affected my employer’s reputation as a brand; I made an oversight by delaying my personal Kickstarter project in favor of getting extra stretch goals funding for it. I wanted to sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for an apparent lack of communication and poor planning on my part. I take full responsibility for recent events.

 Moving forward, I am now focusing my efforts full-time on making sure Confederate Express gets delivered promptly. I am also keeping a record of every expenditure made, and notify backers accordingly in order to make my decisions as clear and transparent as possible. I am now aiming for a December 2014 release date, with a closed beta starting in November 2014.

 In the end, it was my poor decision-making and lack of communication skills that led to this unfortunate situation, and I will do everything in my power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. I apologize profoundly and hope to regain your trust by delivering the product I promised.

 On a final note, I wanted to thank all of our backers for support and interest in mine and Kilobite’s games! You are the sole reason of my motivation.

Sincerely,

 Maksym Pashanin

P.S.: the next update on Confederate Express is coming up next week, please stay tuned!

Introducing Knuckle Club

Greetings, everyone!

After a long wait, we are very excited to finally reveal the sister project we’ve been working on: Knuckle Club!

 Knuckle Club is a real-time brawler with RPG elements set in cyberpunk era. With this game, we are featuring a brand new graphical API called FALSE 2D, which is a special toolset that simulates 3D conditions in 2D environments. With this API we are finally able to precisely adjust the lighting conditions of our scenes, giving us full control of the final product.

Unfortunately due to recent restructuring of Kilobite, the development of Confederate Express have been postponed, but as an upside it has received a graphical overhaul and now it fully supports FALSE 2D API. As an apology for the delays, we are offering every backer of Confederate Express a free reward pack from Knuckle Club! The reward pack chosen will be the closest to backer’s pledge. We will be sending a separate email for every backer with specific details about the reward, so keep an eye on your inbox.

We have also prepared a series of exciting technical updates on Confederate Express to share with our backers, so please stay tuned! We are planning on unrolling the updates shortly after Knuckle Club campaign ends.

For more information about Knuckle Club, please visit our official website, kilobite.com!

And as always, if you have an opinion or wanted to ask a question, please stop by our kickstarter page and leave a comment! All feedback is greatly appreciated.

New engine and pixel art post-processing

Hi everyone!

Since last update we have made significant changes to our 2.5D graphic engine.We have put all of our free time into improving and optimizing engine’s performance, compatibility and overall features. The newly redesigned version allows us to have dynamic color/specular/light maps, ambient occlusion and many other graphical improvements, all of which are animated with pixel-perfect precision in real time. In addition, a separate software suite was designed to significantly reduce the time artists spend animating characters and environment. It automates most of the workload which allowed our animators produce over 200+ frames per work day, compared to only 60 before; not to mention the 40% frame size increase that they had to work with.

Pixel art post-processing

When designing video games our two main passions are animation and post processing. We LOVED gorgeous animated classics like Metal Slug, Street Fighter, Full Throttle and many others, but unfortunately there has been very little progress in recent years in terms of developing animation fidelity in video games. Even Disney still produces completely hand-drawn animated films, yet there has been almost no progress in hand drawn animation in video games ever since the introduction of 3D. We believe that it’s a lost art, and our true passion is to try and carry the torch for the next generation of game developers.

Same can be said about pixel art post-processing. There has been virtually nothing done to help pixel art images look better, much less animated ones. We have been tinkering around with an idea of animated pixel art post-processing for a long time now, and we believe that we made significant progress towards our final goal. Take a look at what goes on during rendering of one of our characters:

We apply several layers of effects, all of which are animated in real time; this allows us to apply different environmental and lighting effects that increase overall fidelity and immersion of the game. Here’s an animated example in action (alternative link: http://i.imgur.com/Ejg6zyv.gif):

Up to 256 different lights and conditions can be present on a character at any time, and no modern shaders were used (Shader Model 2.0 on Direct3D9), which means a 12-year old video card could run the game without any problems.

Current Project

Our team is working 12 hour shifts to meet the deadline for an upcoming project, but unfortunately we still are unable to release most of the information to the public yet. The approximate deployment date is April 15th, 6 weeks from now. We hope you will enjoy playing the project as soon as it comes out, and meanwhile here’s more screenshots to feast your eyes on:

Thanks for checking out this update, and we appreciate your patience with recent events. And as always, if you have any questions – please come over to our Kickstarter page and leave a comment! Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

See you guys soon!

External funding and added stretch goals!

Hi everyone!

In this update we have some very exciting news for our backers!

A week before our project’s kickstarter was about to end, we have been contacted by a small venture capital investment firm that have offered us funding of our stretch goals! In return, they asked us to help a small development team to finish their current video game project. It was at a very late development stage, and after we estimated completion time being around 2-3 months, we decided to take the offer. That means that almost every single stretch goal of Confederate Express will be implemented!

We do understand the potential risks that this kind of deal has, but we assure you that we have spent a lot of time considering this offer. In the end, we will remain our complete independence, and the project that we will help create will be a part of our portfolio. As a side bonus, we will have an opportunity to use their resources to make Confederate Express a much, much better experience, which always has been our highest priority.

Here is the list of the stretch goals that will be implemented:

The Second Stage Production will be realized depending on the success of the project that we will help create, and that additional funding was discussed with investors beforehand. At that moment it was wise for both parties to agree on a two-stage funding system, since implementation of any multiplayer experience is a very complex and expensive process that requires a lot of infrastructure and expertise in that particular field.

We have received the initial funding from the investment firm, and have already moved to our new office located in Austin, TX. We will introduce the team as soon as they will be ready to go public with their project, and hopefully you will like it as much as we did! So far it looks awesome.

Thanks for tuning in for this update, and if you have any questions please visit our kickstarter page and leave a comment! Your feedback is always greatly appreciated. Thanks again and see you soon!

Lore and Stretch Goals

Hey guys!

First of all, as our Kickstarter campaign comes to an end, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our backers! You have been very helpful with your support and feedback, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity you gave us to make this awesome project! We are truly excited to start working on it, and will try our best to stretch every dollar we got and squeeze in as many stretch goals as possible, regardless whether they got funded or not.

But at the end of the day, none of this would be possible without your help. You guys rock!

Legend of the Zombie King

When h1 chip was invented, people became very excited about an idea of bringing large historical personalities back. Combined with a vastly improved cloning technology, the h1 chip gave scientists an opportunity to resurrect some of the most notable figures of the past. Although the idea sounded promising at first, it was forever deemed an unattainable goal within the first try. The project called “Fallen King” was a symbol of what failure to change the circle of life looks like. Hundreds of victims, most of whom are missing till this day, are just a sliver of devastation that was a direct consequence of that project. Some people say that the resurrected King still exists today, but who knows – it all might be just a big urban legend.

Stretch goals

In this update we wanted to explain some of the reached stretch goals in detail.

– Customizable vehicles

This stretch goal will allow players to modify their primary method of travelling – the delivery truck. Modifications include a wide range of upgrades – starting from simple engine and drivetrain upgrades, all the way to crew space upgrade, weapons installation and even large spikes on the truck’s body to protect your precious cargo from incoming hordes of zombies. Further down the road players will also be able to purchase new types of vehicles or find rare upgrades for the existing ones.

– Boundless world map

With this stretch goals players are allowed to travel in any direction on the world map. Sectors will generate around you indefinitely, making free roaming more diverse and rewarding. With this mechanic we allow the player to choose their own fate, whether it will be a quick detour to shop at a secret store, or maybe a long journey to level up your crew or discover and complete new world events on the map.

– Body Implants

This stretch goals will open special clinics around the world. In those locations you are able to install a variety of biotech implants into your crew members’ body. These implants range from simple eye tracking devices, all the way to powerful weapons and high-tech gadgets that will drastically improve character’s stats or even add new usable perks.

– Destructible environment

This stretch goal will add a lot of diversity and depth into gameplay. With spreading fires, collapsible walls and exploding objects, players will have to think twice before proceeding further, since it will be crucial to plan your next move carefully rather than spamming bullets in general direction of an enemy; otherwise a simple task may become a very challenging mission, but thankfully – there are a lot of gadgets and implants that will help players to fight environmental hazards that appear around them.

Thanks a lot for tuning in and supporting our project! We read and consider every piece of feedback that we get, and in return we will work hard to make sure it lives up to everyone’s expectations. You guys are awesome!