Backbone — noir dystopian adventure

Created by EggNut

Backbone is a pixel art noir detective adventure. Step into the shoes of Howard Lotor, a raccoon private eye. Interrogate witnesses through branching dialogues inspired by classic CRPGs, sneak through diverse districts of a now walled-off dystopian Vancouver, sniff out clues, and choose which leads to follow.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Autumn 2020 Update
about 1 year ago – Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 08:15:28 PM

Hi hi it's been a while! 2020 is a hot mess and we're not sure how anyone gets anything done but we're doing it - we're making the video game. Here are some project news:

Backbone is coming to Xbox & PC Gamepass!

That means you will be able to get it through this incredible subscription service on the day of release. Can't express how exciting this is for us - it's a HUGE opportunity to get our first game in front of so many eyeballs. We're super thankful to ID@xbox and Raw Fury for organizing this deal of a lifetime for us!

For this special occasion, we revisited the Prologue trailer with improved footage, UI, and a brand-new song written by Nikita Danshin and performed by our vocalist and composer Arooj Aftab. Check it out! 

Milestone smashed: CONTENT COMPLETE.

Backbone is almost done. All music (40+ tracks) is composed and is currently going through mixing. All environments, except for a couple most pivotal and complicated ones, are concepted and have pixel art outline, what's left is to polish pixel art and do a tech-art magic pass on them. The script is done and 100+ dialogues are now going through polish. The game is playable through start to finish, and it's a good game. 

Porting and localization will start really soon. We plan to have a release candidate Q1 next year, but it might be delayed because of a pandemic. To be completely honest, we are not the most productive team right now, and that's ok, because the world is on fire. Our top priority right now is to keep everyone healthy, sane, and happy. The game will wait if it needs to, and it will be eventually released regardless, but we made a decision to not make any compromises when it comes to our team's health. We've been working on Backbone for 4 years, and it's been a very long, exhausting and exciting journey. Thank you so much for giving us space, time and support to explore this magical experience and make it the best we can. We can only hope that the waiting will be worth it.

Some art we could show without spoiling too much (it's getting increasingly difficult!):

supper time I'm feelin' sad
but it really gets bad... 'round midnight
friends
map of The City

Some small things:

We made a twitter thread about our experience looking for and signing with a publisher - https://twitter.com/backbonegame/status/1293203072391548933


Our co-founders Alex and Nikita then visited Virtual Economy Podcast and talked in length about publishing your game and the current power imbalance in the video game industry - http://virtualeconomy.libsyn.com/episode-43-how-to-pitch-with-eggnuts-nikita-danshin-and-aleksandra-korabelnikova?tdest_id=1936202


Also on twitter, we told about every member of our team - https://twitter.com/backbonegame/status/1279171921859481607


Thank you so much for your support. We'll see you in the next update by the end of the year, when game will almost be ready for release. As always, let us know if you have any questions meanwhile. Have a wonderful time and stay cool, detectives.

Mid-Summer 2020 Update
over 1 year ago – Thu, Jul 16, 2020 at 08:54:58 AM

Dear friends,

Welcome to the weirdest summer of 2020. We hope you're staying safe, happy and eating lots of snacks. We're hard at work on Backbone, and the production is going really well!

New people

woah look at all these people

Super stoked to announce that we're now a team of 15 people! We were recently joined by Sonya, our new environment and character pixel artist. She will be making each scene in Backbone extra-rich in tiny beautiful details. Without having ever worked in gamedev, she's learned super quickly and just a month in she's already churring out amazing quality art. We're so proud to get to work with young, passionate people like her. Follow her art work on Twitter - https://twitter.com/60_fairy

a child by Sonya

We're also super lucky to be joined by a goddess of sound and voice Arooj Aftab. She's a super talented musician and composer based in New York, and together we'll be working on eerie and jazzy soundscapes of Backbone. Listen to her album Siren Islands on Spotify

Speaking of music, Arooj found us through this Backbone OST Inspiration playlist that our composer Nikita made on Spotify. Highly recommend for your rainy evening enjoyment.

We're currently telling more about each team member working on Backbone through this Twitter thread - be sure to follow our account for project news and raccoon memes.

Cinematics

There's a new feature we've been working on - cinematics! These are animated sequences of storytelling, adding a ton of vibe and atmosphere to the pixelated world of Backbone. Some of them are going to have non-interactive narration, and some are just gonna be used as a buffer between various story beats. 

Here's the WIP opening cinematic, which appears when you leave Howard's Apartment in the Prologue and head over to Granville for your first investigation. Sound on!

For a quick peek behind the scenes, here are the steps our senior artist Kristina takes while creating a cinematic: a line sketch first, then coloring, animating in Spine and polishing it all up with music.

line sketch
colored version (yes Vogue is now Rogue)

VIDEOS

So this happened - Valve interviewed us WHAT

And then we played the Prologue on stream and looked through development archives covering pre-Kickstarter and pre-Prologue periods! It was so so fun, and even though this video is 4 hours long, if you want to learn more about us as people or the game, give it a watch.

Support Whateverland

Heard you like narrative-driven games set in mysterious places begging to be explored. If so, then check out Whateverland - a point'n'click adventure with a non-linear story, lots of mini-games, various endings, and many secrets to uncover. It's currently on its last hours of Kickstarter campaign, so be sure to check it out and pledge if you're interested!

The animator on Whateverland helped us with Backbone when we were just starting out, so it feels great giving back in some way.

That's it for today, thank you all very much for your neverending support. As always, let us know if you'd like to know anything specific about the project in the comments below. See you soon, detectives!

Spring 2020 Update
over 1 year ago – Thu, May 21, 2020 at 10:57:32 AM

Hi dear friends,

Summer is almost upon us, and our team is hard at work on Backbone as usual! It sure is strange right now, but we’re keeping up as much as we can. Production is full speed ahead and we have great milestones coming up. 

keep on keeping on

In a couple of weeks we are going to start localizing the Prologue to Russian. This will be a test of our localization pipeline that will be used for the full game. We plan to have the game available in 2-3 most popular languages at launch. We estimated about 100k words for the game, maybe more - it’s a big one. So, our next milestone would be Script Complete, when the full text for the game is done, and then we can start full localization.

With Art and tech in full swing, our next milestone, “Content complete,” will be reached right before we can start porting. From there comes console certification and other essential things required for the release. If everything goes according to plan (and it has been going well so far), Backbone will come out in Q1 2021. With so many moving parts it’s tough to set an exact release date, but you will be the first to know when we’re sure!

just vibing with the pigies

With all building blocks in place, and, most importantly, very clear understanding of the ending and overall structure of the game, we can tell you more about what kind of game Backbone will be. The full game experience has always been informed by the narrative first and foremost. Unfortunately, we never found the place for smell-o-vision mechanic that we talked about during this campaign. It’s safe to say now that we decided to cut it out of the game. We don’t believe that the game is gonna be worse without it, because we’re really committed to making Backbone a very polished, streamlined and impactful experience. And of course, fun! If the launch goes well - who knows what may come in the sequels ;)

The backbone of Backbone (heh) will be the conversation. Backbone is a game about making personal connections and the butterfly effect of touching people's lives. It's about the unintended, unforeseen consequences of your actions, how we all have potential to do good or cause harm. Backbone is about experiencing a world through different lenses and about how being a detective is, at its heart, about being empathetic. It's about putting together a picture of the truth, weighing it against your own moral code, and learning to cope with the tension between them. 

life changing choices await you

Hopefully, that sounds as exciting for you as it does for us. If you want to learn more about our vision for this game and our team, we invite you to read these wonderful interview articles about Backbone in Unwinnable Monthly: Part 1 and Part 2.

As always, thank you for your neverending support. Please take care of yourselves, and we'll see you in the next update! Make sure to join our super friendly Discord server and follow us on Twitter for more instant updates. 

P.S: And for something completely different, we have an exciting Kickstarter project to share with you!

Black Book - An RPG Rooted in Slavic Mythology

Black Book is an RPG Adventure, mixed with deck-building turn-based combat. It features a heavy focus on the story in the setting of Slavic mythology, that will be instantly familiar to the fans of the Witcher series.

Visit the game’s Kickstarter page to learn more about it - and if you want to take a closer look, you can do so by playing Black Book: Prologue -  it's free!

Start of 2020 update
over 1 year ago – Wed, Apr 01, 2020 at 01:58:29 AM

Dear friends,

We hope you're all safe and taking care of yourselves. The times are really strange right now for many of us, and it's ok not to feel certain or on the top of your game. We at Eggnut have had the privilege to work from home for three years now, so the transition was not very rough, but we're still struggling with anxiety and not feeling as productive as usual. Thankfully, our publisher Raw Fury has our backs both in terms of financial and psychological support at all times. We're continuing to work hard to make Backbone the best game it could be, and releasing it on time. Weirdly, time doesn't make much sense now, but we believe it shall pass and we all will emerge from the other end as kinder, more compassionate and hopeful humans. 

Here are some good news about Backbone:

We were recently joined by an experienced and wonderful project manager Ishani Birch. She worked on Luigi's Mansion 3, and has a lot of knowledge of how to make good games and help the team stay happy, healthy and excited. Throughout the long lifecycle of this project, we often found ourselves struggling with keeping every possible thing we want to do with Backbone catalogued, estimated and scheduled. Now it's gonna be a breeze. We have a transparent plan on how to bring Backbone from point A (now) to point B (release) and stay motivated along the way.

call your mom

Backbone is now fully grey-boxed. It means we can play the game from start to finish, and experience the full story. What's left to do is to finish creating and putting in all the remaining assets: frame-by-frame animations and cinematic pixel art cutscenes, sprawling diverse environments, branching dialogues, intricate puzzles. It's going to take some time, because we're putting a lot of thought and love into every little element of the game, so promise it's worth the wait. Backbone is going to be approximately 6-8 hours long, with 5 story acts. 

It's also going to be very pretty - we're working hard on the tech art side of things to bring you truly unique 2,5D visuals made on Unreal Engine 4. Here's a sneak peek of our dynamic weather system:

We're working on a couple of useful gamedev articles to help out folks starting on this journey, focused on anthropomorphic worldbuilding and releasing a free prologue of your game on steam. We're also making a small hopeful game in our spare time that we're going to share with you all very soon. Stay on top of news like this by following our Twitter account

By the way, Backbone: Prologue has now reached 150k downloads and 95k wishlists on the main game page. It's honestly windblowing, and almost entirely guarantees that the game is going to be a success for our small team when it's out. That gives us even more incentive to really put as much hard work as possible into it. 

Thank you for your neverending support and encouragement. Please let us know if you'd like to know anything specific about the development, we'll try to share without spoiling too much. See you in the next update!

Backbone + Raw Fury = <3
almost 2 years ago – Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 12:55:55 AM

Dear friends,

Today we have a very special announcement. Backbone is gonna be published by Raw Fury!

We are super excited about this. Raw Fury are the best partners in crime we could dream of, and we hope that this small FAQ will reassure you that Backbone is in good hands. Please let us know if you have any questions, we’re happy to answer!

What the heck, a wild publisher appears?

Raw Fury first got in touch with us early 2018, long before Kickstarter, and reconnected again as fans of the Prologue in 2019. While we were sure that we could deliver Backbone to our backers in a great state, the funding and support from Raw Fury has helped us to hire additional team members (which means more content) as well as given us extra time to really make Backbone the game of our dreams. Most importantly, Raw Fury gave us an unparalleled security and confidence in our vision.

On a more personal note, out studios have very aligned goals. Our most cherished asset is our people. When we met Raw Fury’s CEO Jonas in Stockholm, we immediately clicked and knew right away that we can trust them to take care of our team and our game. We’ve been working together for 6 months now, and we can feel that they’re in for the long run – and that’s an extremely rare and reassuring feeling. This blog post provides a good insight into what kind of people Raw Fury are –  https://rawfury.com/the-measure-of-success/.

What’s gonna happen with the game?

It’s gonna be of a much higher quality, and we’re gonna be a much less stressed team. Our publisher is not in any way interfering with our creative process - we can do whatever we want. I can even post any spicy memes on Twitter - it’s totally up to us how to make and present our game to the world. They just take off the load of our shoulders concerning the rest. Raw Fury are already helping with a lot of things that lie outside of the production of the game: marketing, PR, localization, porting, certification, publishing to stores and consoles, bizdev. This ensures that we can stay focused on spending all our time with Backbone. It’s also important that they consult with us before doing anything, and vice versa - we are true partners in our collaboration.

So when is the game coming out?

In 2021. We don’t have a hard date for it just yet, but as soon as we know – you will know. You, our backers and community will have the date the instant we know for sure! We’ve been hard at work since 2017 and throughout 2018 and 2019. We can’t wait to get to the finish line, and let everyone come visit our Vancouver. We’re going places – and you are all coming along with us, as you made it possible!

Thank you all so much for your trust and support. We’ve come a long way together, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead. We’ll be back with a usual production update soon.

Follow us on Twitter and talk to us directly on Discord.

Talk soon, detectives <3