Backbone — pixel art detective adventure inspired by noir

Created by EggNut

Backbone is a pixel art noir adventure with stealth and action elements, set in dystopian Vancouver inhabited by animals. As private investigator Howard Lotor, you are set to solve detective cases, interrogate witnesses, explore the intriguing and dangerous world around you, and sneak your way to safety using smell-based stealth mechanics.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

August & September Update
about 2 months ago – Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 12:59:47 AM

Howard meeting Clarissa and her confidante Boy for the first time
Howard meeting Clarissa and her confidante Boy for the first time

Hello, dear backers!

Thanks to your support, our co-founder, developer and composer Nikita Danshin was able to quit his full time job and move into the Canadian woods to develop Backbone full-time starting this October. Check out his new track for Backbone OST called Public Disquiet on our Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/eggnutohmygod

It's been three months since our last update, and we have been working hard to finalize the pre-production of the game in the form of a playable Prologue. The narrative, gameplay and visuals are almost done for this first chunk of Backbone! Branching dialogues, puzzles, stealth sections and some of the technical art stuff (lighting, materials) take a lot of time to perfect, so we'll announce the release date once we're 100% satisfied with how the game looks and feels. This first iteration of the game should be a good example of the experience we want to create, so we want to be as proud of it as possible. 

We're making a lot of polishing progress by testing the game every day, optimizing it so it functions as expected on different hardware configurations. The Prologue is free and will be released on Win, Mac and Linux in Steam, GOG and possibly other stores.

Gamedev has always been about quality and art for us, and with our experience in crunch during the preparation for this campaign (which brought us fast results but was difficult to recoup after, like all crunch), we are absolutely certain that taking as much time as possible to perfect team's vision while maintaining healthy work ethics is very important. Our main goal with this Prologue is to test most of the ideas we will further develop in Backbone, to ensure going through production smoothly without blowing the scope and unnecessary prototyping along the road. 

Backbone in 2017 vs 2018 (pre-trailer). Right now we're working on making the third iteration even more beautiful!
Backbone in 2017 vs 2018 (pre-trailer). Right now we're working on making the third iteration even more beautiful!

Here are some project stats: we're keeping a good development pace, having so far spent 2861 hour on demo development since the end of this campaign, by tracking 500-600 hours a month. 80% of tasks set in project roadmap are complete, and although there are still a lot of bugs to be found and fixed, the prologue is fully playable from the narrative standpoint from start to finish.

What goes into building a scene in UE4: beautiful pixel art + modern engine effects
What goes into building a scene in UE4: beautiful pixel art + modern engine effects

Our team has recently been joined by a new narrative designer Maluly - our mega supportive Kickstarter backer #1000 and Discord community mod. Maluly is from Mexico, with a degree in anthropology and an amazing feel for words and stories. With her help, we'll be able to bring more depth and character into the game world of Backbone! Eggnut team has been working together full-time since June, and it has been a very rewarding, enriching experience in teamwork, communication and art. We are very lucky to have this amazing team of individuals, and it couldn't be possible without your support.

Wishlist Backbone on Steam!
Wishlist Backbone on Steam!

Backbone page is live on Steam - please wishlist it! You're going to get notified there and on Kickstarter once the Prologue is live. https://store.steampowered.com/app/865610/Backbone/

Pitch your Backbone ideas, write romantic fiction between a detective raccoon and a cook and more on our Backbone Discord server
Pitch your Backbone ideas, write romantic fiction between a detective raccoon and a cook and more on our Backbone Discord server

By the way, if you want to participate in the discussions when the demo is out - please join our warm and amazing Discord community. Make sure to get Backer role to get into secret backer channels - discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Until next time, stay awesome, detectives!

July '18 update: characters and climbing
4 months ago – Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 01:05:06 AM

Dear friends,

Super quick update today on the work we've been doing throughout July. Can't show you a lot, because we want to save the best stuff for the release. Our current plan is to spend at least a whole month on final visual and writing polishing, and then we can announce the exact release date for demo. 

Characters

Take a look at some of the exciting characters you're going to meet very soon! 

Sooz. She will cut you. Sniffer type enemy
Sooz. She will cut you. Sniffer type enemy
Anatoly. Your favorite taxi driver. Will not stop telling sleezy jokes.
Anatoly. Your favorite taxi driver. Will not stop telling sleezy jokes.
Clarissa Bloodworth. Bear fatale and a major side character.
Clarissa Bloodworth. Bear fatale and a major side character.
Boy. Bartender at the jazz club.
Boy. Bartender at the jazz club.

Gameplay

Most of gameplay mechanics, especially smell based stealth are super duper WIP in terms of visuals, so excuse us not showing this important part enough. For now, take a look at these exciting things:

Jumping and climbing! (WIP)
Jumping and climbing! (WIP)
Picking up items! (WIP)
Picking up items! (WIP)

Streaming on Twitch! 

Last week we tried something new and streamed our pixel art process on Twitch for 4 hours straight. It's been loads of fun, and we're doing it again! Mark August 18th, this Saturday, 8AM PDT (4PM London) in your calendars. You can check out previous stream and follow us on Twitch to get notified when we're live - https://www.twitch.tv/eggnut_studio

hello fellow stremer kids!
hello fellow stremer kids!

Backbone merch and pre-orders:

The pre-orders on BackerKit will be closed on September 1st, and your cards will be charged for any additional purchases. Pre-order here - https://backbone.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders. You could still change your add-on selection and shipping information, which we will put on hold closer to the game release. If you have not yet filled in your survey, please check your e-mail for a link from BackerKit. If you haven't received this link - send us a message and we will fix it! Here are Backbone T-shirt size charts for your reference:

Women and Men size charts
Women and Men size charts

Working on Backbone is a dream come true, and we are so grateful to have this opportunity! Thank you so much!

Join our friendly Discord community https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/backbonegame

June '18 update: What's up with the demo
5 months ago – Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 12:32:04 AM

Dear friends,

Welcome to the first post-Kickstarter update! For the past month we've been building the Demo level that is essentially the foundation of the art style, gameplay and the storytelling of Backbone. Now that we have a budget and people looking forward to Backbone, we want to make sure we're making absolutely the best game we are capable of, so we'll be putting as much time as necessary into this first block. Here's what we could tell you about the Demo for now:

Story. The full demo script is done, yay! It will feature a complete investigation for Howard to go through, and will be a part of the main game narrative, so not a single hour of development will go to waste. We pay close attention to the characters and lore, so be prepared to venture into the darker corners of the city to learn more about the world of Backbone and the social systems of dystopian Vancouver, and meet some cool/crazy people. 

Gameplay. You decide what kind of a detective you want to be. Use your wits and pay attention to the environment to solve puzzles, apply your raccoon charm in branching dialogues, and even sneak through the big portion of the game if you're a fan of stealth-based gameplay. Fiddling with the garbage bins is obviously essential for every path. You will be able to replay the demo a couple of times to discover new bits of lore, dialogue options and gameplay styles. The demo will feature the majority of principal mechanics, with the exception of some special abilities that will come later in the main story narrative. Most of the development is done, and we will be able to show the gameplay videos in the next update.

Music & Sound. Our composer Nikita Danshin will write 3 musical themes for the demo + record live sound effects. There is no plan for the voiceover for the demo now, expect updates on it after we start working on the full game.

Art. This is the most complex and time consuming part. The demo will feature 3 big locations: Howard's apartment, Granville Street and the 4-story building. The environment art is complete by about 50%, Howard's apartment and street levels are ready for polishing in the engine, and right now we're sketching up an interior of a big building where most of the action-y gameplay will take place. We still have to start creating the NPCs.

Howard's apartment sketch
Howard's apartment sketch

We want you to learn about the game world by paying close attention to your surroundings, so we're putting a lot of time into the little environment details. Even the buildings that you just pass by, like this store on the main street, should feel alive and tell a story (find the high res here: https://imgur.com/Ar7nukG)

The prototype building we found in Vancouver
The prototype building we found in Vancouver
The final result
The final result

Our animator is almost done with Howard's animations - these are very time consuming, because he's the main character and you're going to be looking at him a lot. Once these are ready, side character animations will be a breeze.

The beauty, the grace, the raccoon
The beauty, the grace, the raccoon
35 frames created pixel-by-pixel
35 frames created pixel-by-pixel

For now, we're shooting to release the demo early Autumn '18. 

Working on Backbone every day for the past month has been a huge privilege, and it's only possible because of you! Thank you! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or in Backbone Discord chatrooms: https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

Follow us on Twitter - https://twitter.com/backbonegame

If you missed the Kickstarter, pre-order Backbone and cool merch on BackerKit - https://backbone.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Come join us on Backbone Discord server!
6 months ago – Fri, Jun 08, 2018 at 12:07:28 AM

Dear friends, 

Just a quick notice - we've opened up a Backbone Discord server and we'll be happy to see you there. If you're a backer of tier $32 Sniffer or higher, you will find instructions on how to get access to closed backer chatrooms at #welcome. 

Join here - https://discord.gg/NU7nRQX

On the other note, we found out that we will get access to our Kickstarter funding on June 11, and the BackerKit approval will take another 2-3 days. So we'll be able to send you the surveys on June 13-14th, a bit later than previously expected. As usual, if you have any questions at all - get in touch on discord, by e-mail hello@eggnut.net, or here in the comments, we're always happy to help. 

See you next time for June Update in the beginning of July!

Love, Eggnut

Thank you for backing Backbone! Your surveys will arrive soon
7 months ago – Mon, May 28, 2018 at 02:01:26 AM

Today Backbone got 151% funded on Kickstarter. Thank you very much for believing in our dream! This has been a crazy, exhausting, and absolutely thrilling ride filled with joy. We are so lucky share the road to Backbone release in 2019 with you, our dear community. Thank you!

You will receive surveys from BackerKit on June 11, where you'll be able to specify the platform for your game copy, which add-ons to get, size of t-shirts, and your shipping address. It's a super convenient tool that lets you change the shipping address and get additional rewards if you feel like it. 

When we send out the survey, we'll post an Update here. By the way, Kickstarter Updates are going to be our main source of news about Backbone, and we are planning to post at least one every month. 

We will send you the Discord channel invites in 2-3 days.

Late backers and pre-orders welcome here: https://backbone.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Dystopian noir adventure Backbone will release in 2019 on Win/Mac/Linux, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. And it couldn't have been achieved without you. And now it's time to celebrate!

Love, Eggnut