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:

Thank you for backing Backbone! Your surveys will arrive soon
over 3 years 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

Voiceover goal reached 7 hours before the end of campaign!
over 3 years ago – Sun, May 27, 2018 at 11:05:28 PM

We've done it, friends! 

Backbone will now feature voiceover. It's very early in the development to determine if it's going to be partial, like in RPGs, or full voiceover like in classic adventures. We've never done it before, so we will have to see which option fits the atmosphere and story the best. A lot of testing and creative process ahead, and we're super excited to have you along this journey!

We'll see you in 7 hours, when the campaign ends. Thank you!

Love, Eggnut

Backbone is coming to Xbox One!
over 3 years ago – Sat, May 26, 2018 at 12:40:36 AM

Dear friends, we just hit our 3rd stretch goal - can't wait to see Backbone on all consoles! Thank you!

A lot of you are asking about physical copies for consoles. Right now we can't promise to have the Switch, PS4 and Xbox physical editions for the same price / $45 tier, but we're working hard on making this a reality. We will get this sorted out by the time you receive surveys on June 11th, and if this works out, then you'll be able to just select the platform like you would with the digital version. We'll be posting the news through Kickstarter Updates.

Next up: Voiceover!

Love, Eggnut

Backbone is coming to Nintendo Switch!
over 3 years ago – Sat, May 26, 2018 at 12:36:49 AM

Dear friends,

Congratulations! Backbone is coming to Nintendo Switch next summer! Thank you so much for supporting us, we can't wait to bring you truly the best detective experience on your favorite platforms. Here are the new stretch goals:

Let's make the last 48 hours of Backbone on Kickstarter legendary. Please help us spread the word and share our posts on Twitter, Facebook, VK, and Reddit. See you soon!

https://twitter.com/backbonegame

https://vk.com/backbonegame

https://www.facebook.com/backbonegame/

https://www.reddit.com/r/backbone_game/

Love, Eggnut

The Art of Backbone
over 3 years ago – Fri, May 25, 2018 at 11:58:01 PM

Dear friends,

With only 48 hours left for this campaign, we'd like to take a moment and show you the art process behind Backbone's visuals.

Howard Lotor's bathroom/photoroom - the first shot of the trailer
Howard Lotor's bathroom/photoroom - the first shot of the trailer

When working on an environment, we always start with a reference board. Go out on the streets of Vancouver, take a bunch of photos, or lurk through Pinterest. For the first shot in the trailer, we wanted to give a little exposition into the mundane life of Howard Lotor - main character of Backbone. 

Reference board for the bathroom scene
Reference board for the bathroom scene

Howard is a raccoon private detective, a lower class citizen who can't afford a luxurious apartment. He lives in a small studio, half of which is occupied by his bathroom and a photoroom. We usually finalize the vision with the help of a concept art. For some scenes we also color them in broad strokes, to see what kind of mood and lighting works best.

Bathroom scene concept art
Bathroom scene concept art

When we have an idea of what kind of elements and mood the shot is going to contain, we start thinking about the camera movement, light, and animation. The opening shot is a dynamic introduction of a main character - we start with small details and show a bigger picture of his surroundings with a camera pan. The moment Howard turns his head to the camera is the moment we meet him and his story begins. The questions we wanted the viewer to ask were: Is this pixel art? Is this a raccoon in a bathtub? Who's calling him?

The progression of a shot - start from a close up of a photo, end with Howard turning his head to the ringing phone
The progression of a shot - start from a close up of a photo, end with Howard turning his head to the ringing phone

Then we start working on the assets. Most assets in the game are measured in raccoons - he is approximately 80 pixels tall, so the furniture and even the whole streets are created while keeping this in mind. Our pixel artists use muted but contrasting color palettes, minimal dithering, and about 3 tones per color to create shadows and light. Some objects are created in form of simple 3D shapes with pixel art sprites on top - for example, this green cabinet. This allows for a better perspective, especially with a camera pan.

The asset board for the bathroom scene
The asset board for the bathroom scene

Meanwhile, our animator starts with his part. He uses keyframes to plan the flow of the movement, which dictates the animation timing. The movement then gets a draft of every frame, ready for testing in the engine and polishing. Depending on the task, the animations in Backbone range from 8 to 20 frames per movement. 

10 frames per head turn
10 frames per head turn

When the first drafts are ready, we're putting them into UE4 straight away. It's very important to check how the art looks in the game scene on every step, otherwise it might take too much time to start from scratch. Right away we start working on light and camera movements, and if this is a game scene, testing out how the environment looks like when you investigate it. Every team has different work flows, and we're very happy that we found the one that works for us.

Thank you very much for your support. Let's make last 48 hours of Backbone on Kickstarter legendary. Please help us spread the word and share our posts on Twitter, Facebook, VK, and Reddit. See you tomorrow!

Love, Eggnut