I'm proud to announce that a portion of the profit made from the development of Syndemic will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society! This includes money from this Indiegogo campaign and any future campaigns in 2013.
- 5% of all profit under this goal is donated.
- 10% of all profit over this goal is added to the initial donation.
Syndemic is a randomly-generated action shooter game that emphasizes upgrades, quick reflexes, and microbial puzzle-solving in a biological setting.
Take control of a unique microbe that can dodge, tumble and weave through bodily tissues and avoid swarms of invasive pathogens. Accumulate a massive arsenal of antibiotic weaponry, upgrade your genome and cell structure, and unleash powerful metabolic abilities. Explore the human body, destroy invading diseases, assist the immune system, and ultimately, discover your origin and the fate of your host.
Are you a biological weapon designed to spread misery? Are you a genetic mutation, born of chance and driven by adaptation? Or are you the first of a divine plague, sent to bring microbial justice to a sinful world?
Play the Action Demo immediately HERE.
This demo represents a much more arcade-like experience than the full game. I aim to release a second demo featuring more adventure and loot-driven gameplay.
This project represents two of my interests: biology and games. While I am passionate about science, Syndemic is not intended to be true-to-life. My aim is to exaggerate the weirdness and coolness (and action) of real microbial ecology, and hopefully inspire players to dig deeper into the actual research that's out there.
My presentation of biology will be less about mechanics and more about the big-picture themes and ideas. I want people to question everything in the game, and I want them to come to their own conclusions about the issues raised. Genetic engineering, herd immunity, antibiotic resistance, and biological altruism are some of the themes I want to explore.
However, in keeping with the spirit of science, the game will include 'Reality Checks' that point out inaccuracies within the game when compared to real-life biology. Some examples include:
“Viruses are actually much smaller than bacteria, and can range in size from 1/10 to 1/100 of a bacterium.”
“Bacteriophages are viruses that target bacteria specifically. They are highly specialized to attack individual strains.”
“The presence of pathogens in the bloodstream is a serious and potentially fatal condition called Septicemia. If untreated, it can lead to septic shock and organ failure."
Syndemic represents a fusion of elements from two of my favourite genres: the 'roguelike' (Diablo, Torchlight, Borderlands), and the 'shoot-em-up' (Gradius, R-Type). There will also be elements of puzzle-solving based on human diseases.
Unlike generic action RPGs, Syndemic does not wholly rely on statistics and numbers to determine your success in battle. Your reflexes and anticipation are just as important as the power of your weapons or the activation of your abilities. Likewise, unlike generic action shooters, mashing the fire button is not a guarantee of success – you must use the right tool for the right enemy, and adapt your style of play to the environment.
- Randomly-generated levels and environments filled with microscopic enemies and biological hazards.
- Experience events inspired by real biology: chase down a cancer cell before it metastasizes, investigate prion sightings in the brain, clear cholesterol from the bloodstream, and guide immune cells to sites of infection.
- More than 100 possible antibiotic weapon combinations, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, including rare 'designer drugs' capable of mowing down dozens of enemies in a single blast.
- Enlist or exploit the immune system; use the body's cells as shields, tools to solve puzzles, or feed them your slain enemies to gain powerful allies.
- Stylized, living backgrounds that simulate the interior of the human body... travel the bloodstream, survive the stomach, and wage war in the brain!
- Enemies range from tiny viruses to screen-sized amoeba, each with unique behaviour patterns and abilities. Beware of the Genetically-Modified Abominations that stalk the body...
- See how long you can survive in a special Resistance mode, where hordes of enemies adapt to your weapons and strategies.
- To simulate the true fragility of the microbe world, try Hardcore mode, where one death means the permanent loss of your microbe.
I chose crowdfunding for Syndemic because I want to involve as many people as possible as early as possible. I don't want to be beholden to some faceless shareholder or publisher – I want to be beholden to people like myself, who care about the same issues that I do. And because I'm an indie developer, I can minimize costs on almost all aspects of design.
Unfortunately, software licenses aren't free, and neither is hardware. The resources I collect from your pledges will be used to hire contractors who specialize in sound and art and fill in the gaps I can't do myself.
The project will be completed whether I get fully funded or not, but your support will accelerate the process and produce a much more polished game.
Additionally, I hope to use this project as a platform to spread awareness about human disease and the evolutionary processes that drive microbiological ecology.
Syndemic represents my livelihood and my future, so you can be sure I'll give it everything I have. I welcome and encourage all supporters to voice their opinions.
Guaranteed to be in Full Version:
- 7 unique environments (Bloodstream, Brain, Stomach, etc.)
- 50 types of normal enemies (including variants)
- At least 20 'Champion' enemy types (boss versions of normal enemies)
- At least 100 weapon combinations, plus at least 15 rare versions
- At least 8 biology-inspired scenarios (Chase down cancer cell, investigate prion sightings, break-up cholesterol build-up, etc.)
- A Hero Microbe that gains in power via genetic and metabolic upgrades
- A Resistance Mode where you fight against increasingly difficult swarms of enemies
Each body you explore will be a unique experience.
I'm not a veteran developer with a dozen titles under my belt. I'm just a gamer who enjoys making games as much as playing them. I have one other game, Ex Vitro, which represents what I can do with NO funding. I've worked in several evolutionary biology labs, and I've been involved in academic research for many years. Now, I want to create a project that's accessible and fun, while at the same time evoking a sense of wonder at the processes that are happening under our very noses.
Get in direct contact with me at: exvitrogamedev [at] gmail [dot] com
Your name or a name of your choosing will be added to a PDF file that accompanies ALL game builds... alpha, beta, demo, and full game! (Send me a message telling me what name you want me to use, otherwise I'll use your Indiegogo handle.)
You receive the full game in its entirety when it's completed, as well as early access to Promotional Demos and Beta Builds as they become available. Includes the first reward.
You will receive unique weaponry and items available only to early backers. These items will have unique properties not found in the regular game! Also, your name will be added to a special credits section so that all will know of your dedication to microbes and science. Includes the first two rewards.
You will receive MP3s of all music tracks in the game. The music is 100% original and scored by Sam Saluci (HeadPhaze). Includes first three rewards.
You can name an entire species of enemy microbe. My only condition is that they be vaguely Latin-sounding to fit in with the rest of the enemies. You can choose from a virus, bacteria or fungus. Examples are M. gruntus, G. sporalis, S. twistii. Includes first four rewards.
Your eyeball will serve as a level in the game! Send me a high-resolution picture of your iris (with as little glare as possible) and I'll digitally process it and insert it as a playable level. It's best to get a friend to help take the photo! Includes first four rewards.
You can design a unique weapon! You specify the behaviour and graphics and what the overall feel of the weapon should be. Do you want a ricocheting projectile that bounces between enemies? Do you want a slow-moving orb that detonates on impact? Or do you want a stream of toxic goo that coats enemies as it kills them? I will work with you to design a weapon that fits your playstyle. Includes first four rewards.
Your company or charity will be added as an official sponsor of Syndemic. Your logo will be displayed prominently in the credits section. Includes first four rewards.
Design a scenario based on a real-life disease or illness. Spreading awareness of microbiology and science is the primary goal of this game, but if there is a specific disease you believe deserves special attention, I'll work with you to translate it into a playable experience. Examples:
Type 1 Diabetes: Enter the pancreas and destroy auto-immune cells that attack insulin-producing beta cells.
Cystic Fibrosis: Explore the lungs while dislodging mucus secretions and clearing out antibiotic-resistant biofilms.
Celiac Disease: Prevent glutenous food particles from entering intestinal villi while allowing non-gluten particles through.
This is a massive investment, and I may not be able to translate every disease into a playable form. Contact me with your ideas and I'll do my research to see if I can make it work. Generally, systemic diseases that lack an obvious cellular component (Down Syndrome, Autism) are probably not possible for me to do. In addition, if you wish, I can release your scenario as a free, standalone tool that can be used to promote awareness about the basics of the disease. Includes first four rewards.
If you are interested in supporting me but don't have the resources to do so, you can help me by spreading the word about Syndemic. If you run or work with a charity and would like to use the game as a platform to spread your message about a certain disease, please contact me and we can discuss the details.
Team on This Campaign: