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Project Panthera - a Crowdfunded Blender Game

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A small team of dedicated Blender users (8, including a music artist) have been working on a medieval/steampunk-themed RPG for over two years now. Check out some of the visuals (slightly outdated already!):

In order to proceed and lauch the first chapter of the game, they're looking to raise €1500.

Jimmyon explains that over the past two years, several versions of the game have been developed and heaps of Blender art has been created. They've now reached the limits of the Blender game engine and are looking to switch to a commercial engine. To cover the licensing of this engine and to properly file trademark protection, they're looking to raise the €1500.

The first 'chapter' of the game will be completely free for everyone to play (even if you didn't donate). Subsequent chapters are donation based, but once a threshold has been reached they will become free as well.

The current planning looks like this:

  • Alpha - 5 Months
  • Beta - 8 Months
  • 1st Chapter - 10-14 Months

The donation model is clever - donate enough money and you'll get your name, photograph or even 3D model of your face in the game.

Jimmyon writes:

The story is set in an alternative future on the planet ‘Panthera’. In a world destroyed by human mistakes the hard process of rebuilding of their civilation starts. A totalitarian and monitoring government that doesn’t trust their civilians arises. Caught by his everyday life, the player rebels against this scenario.

“Project Panthera” opens a new, unknown world, where you can go wherever you want and gives you the opportunity to change the history of this planet. The Gameplay combines aspects of quest-oriented RPGs and action- and speed-oriented shooters with the so far mostly unused opportunity of free movement.

It looks like an interesting project, and spending 2 years on a project shows real commitment. Good job, guys!

Links

 

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

27 Comments

  1. My first thought was where is the money going and what have these guys done to prove themselves worthy of donation. Well I can't answer the second question and while the modeling and texturing is decent the animations in the video are pretty awful. I can say however that for what they are looking to licence and pay for €1500 is a legitimate ask and not just a cash in for rent money.

    Filing for a patent in the US requires a flat fee of about $300. Patent law is however incredibly complex and patent lawyers charge from $800 to $1500 for their services. As for licencing the Leadwerks engine which they appear set on using the cost of a user licence is $200 and I would imagine it's possible they will need more than one licence if they have multiple programmers. On from this the map generation software (which blender may not be suitable to substitute for) costs an additional $50 to licence and again these are single licences so if there are multiple level artists then multiple licences are necessary. Finally there is a lighting engine which augments the game engine at a further cost of $350 though I don't know if they'd be licencing that or not. All in all it does sound like a reasonable cost given their plans.

    I will say two things though. I don't know why an independent team would work on any licence requiring such an investment when the UDK is free during development phase and aside from the €99 publishing fee is royalty free for the first 50k. Each chapter would count as an individual release so assuming they'd be releasing 5 chapters they'd need to rake in 25k before they'd be paying royalties...

    Also, I'm glad I live in a country which extends automatic copyright to all creative works to the artist.

  2. Whoo I downloaded the alpha and could barely play it.
    I know it's very WIP, but the camera movements (and animations in general) are TERRIBLE. I really got motion sick...

  3. Patrick Miller on

    You have automatic copyright in the US, rorkimaru.

    You don't need to file for a patent when you simply need a copyright. You can pay and file a copyright of course (and no Mr America, you don't have to mail yourself a copy of anything to prove it) but you don't have to file to possess a copyright at all. Now, there are fees for registered trademarks, yes, and fees for inventions needing patents yes. Copyright for a video game, no need, but smart to file for copyright, but, creative works are automatically copyrighted, by the creator if they have a clue. Now does Blender or this game have some process or do something so terribly unique it should be patented? I dunno...

  4. I just wonder how many will support an installment based game.
    We all know how terrible that went over with larger game companies trying to do episodes.
    I think that has left a bad taste in the mouth of many gamers.
    I know that is true for me.

    Well, I wish you guys all the luck with Panthera!
    Show those corporate big wigs how it's done. :)

  5. The ALPHA from our website is NOT showing anything you will get in the later game.
    We are currently in a process of massive redoing and this gives no impression of the final game.

    We already have an engine in the eye, which will work perfectly for us on a low cost.
    Unity is not working for what we aim for, and UDK is also not our idea.

    The money is needed to be able to release the file at all, it comes lots more expensive for us, beeing from germany, than it comes for many other countries.

    To get a better impression please follow our youtube channels :)

  6. Not to be mean but this video doesn't inspire me to donate. IMO a donation ad should have crisper assets and show basic gameplay. What's the hook? What makes it fun? What would I even do besides run real fast and see timelapsed shadows? For an RPG, this video shows no world interaction, dialog or fighting.

  7. @Patrick Miller - Ah right, wasn't sure if it was just an Ireland thing. In that case the asking fee should probably sit around the $500 value max...

    @Jimmyon - We can only judge your project on the media you present us with. I've looked at the website and you're teams listed youtube channels as well as the project thread. The later entries in the thread are better and there are some serious improvements but the fact remains that you make it too difficult to find the good stuff you have done. If you are expecting funding your website should be up to date. People should have no problem finding the most up to date public information and easily navigating it. The featured videos on all of your teams channels are unrelated or outdated and the website looks like a completely different game to the end of the thread. Investors don't want to look through a website to be told it's out-dated and then have to read a near 30 page thread.

    If you want people to fund you put together a promotional bid video. Explain to people why they want to play your game and why it's worth their while funding you to make it happen. You also need to be totally transparent as to where the money is going.

    You guys are a talented and dedicated bunch but you are very uncoordinated. As with the BGE competition over at BA you seem to forcing forward and expecting things to go your way rather than properly considering your course of action. Frankly I'm shocked that you've driven up the amount of funding you have so far given how hard it is to find out what your game is.

    I want you to succeed, I really do, but you NEED to update and clarify your website and put together a presentation video or at the very least a well formatted attractive promotional sheet. Also remove or archive the older "in progress content. Its not representative and distracts from the quality of you guys' more recent work. You need to woo people with the razzle dazzle. I hope you take this as constructive and not a put down. When you're 2 years deep in a project it's easy to lose touch with how little people outside know.

    I wish you the best, good luck!

  8. We work on a new teaser for our game and we are really sorry for our uncoordinatness(?).
    THe problem we have is that this is free-time development, we have work or school beside and
    often the time for real marketing and presentation is just missing :(

    We could need someone who specifies on how to present our work the best, but thats very very hard to find, otherwise it runs like it does now. Slowly and not very well presented.

  9. Unity Fanboys everywhere...
    Really, that is not an engine. Just a all purpose game editor with a outdated rendering pipeline. A jack of all trades, master of none. It costs a load of money for nothing.
    I would suggest UDK, Cryengine3 or C4 if you aim for a game with good graphics and reasonable performance.

    Cheers.

  10. Also:
    The system of http://www.pling.de works so ->
    ONLY if the whole amount of money is reached we get the money, if you donate money, but we dont make that aimed 1.500€ than you will get the WHOLE AMOUT BACK!

    Only if it is successfull, we will get the money, so dont worry about that :)

  11. I may be stoned for what I'm gonna say but if those Dudes could get some money for their hard work it would also be great. I know many who thinks that being made of open source those stuff should be "free". But its really more hard work that most think it is.

    But, it would be grate if you guys could post gameplay video of the game.The videos that I saw, gives an idea of the environment not the gmmeplay itself. I do agree with one of the post above, the character animation for what I saw from the video could be really improved.

    Have you guys considered if you wanted to try another game engine, to try Ogre3D. Many commercial titles, as torchlight, were made with it and the latest one "Garshasp" seems really great. Even if for me it a copy of POP :). Its open source and uses Python, though knowing C++ would be of great help.

    Please do not, take critics too hard. All the dudes here I think would really like to see that your game be a successful one.

    Good luck.

  12. If there is an issue with the blender game engine, isn't there a way to resolve that? I know some node work will be done for it in the GSOC, but for performance, you might get more support with people donating to a developer to improve the blender game engine.

  13. Grandmaster B on

    Leadwerks is a pretty bad choice. Its slow, incomplete and has many issues. They put extreme effort into advertising and i strongly believe that they faked reviews in the past.

  14. Doesn't using a commercial engine (thus, presumably, making the game proprietary) not blend terribly well with the entire "open source ethos" of the Blender community? I totally respect them if these guys are commercial game developers, but if so: why would they be turning to crowdsourcing?

    And to the people talking about patents:
    These guys own no intellectual property, so I'm not sure what they plan to patent. In the post it said "trademark", and I should make the point that this is also distinctly different from copyright. "Properly file trademark protection" = register their trademark, and I'm not sure if that would even be necessary for such a small project. I'm not sure any big game studios would also call their up and coming games "Project Panthera". If they did then it should be the least of these guy's worries anyway :P

  15. @flagus I don't think people's issue is that games should be free I think the issue is we don't know these guys are and they have no proven track record and have made no real attempt to garner investment. Also Ogre is a graphics engine not a games engine. There's a distinct difference.

    @anon Only with people who are stuck up themselves. Open source tools are great but they can only get you so far. The BGE isn't great. I love using it and for many game concepts I have it's perfect especially given the unified pipeline and how fast you can get a game made in it but its slow, has some issues with input and exploitation of features (it's possible to run it with resolution changing and turning on/off mipmapping but it's fracking hard), dodgy compatibility issues and has serious lacking in security. For a commercial game a proprietary engine is a good choice.

    @Jimmyon I just noticed that your donation page sends mixed messages. You have the line "We only work in our spare time, free of charge and only with OpenSource-software (Blender, GIMP) and even an OpenSource-engine." yet a large proportion of the money is geared towards licencing a game engine? Probably just a typo but you'd want to address that.

  16. @rorkimaru
    At the moment we work with an open source engine (BGE) and the licensing costs are not about the engine, but about the game content (German Law is pretty strict there -.-)

    We are NOT SURE yet which engine we will use, but we need to find one quick.
    Unity has been tried and definetly strikes out on all basic points we needed and is nothing for what wwe aim for.
    Maybe we should give the UDK another chance? :S

    Whats for sure: We wont be able to release the game for free, if the donation amount is not reached..

  17. Unity3d struck out? How long ago did you try it? Newest release has the proper fbx hooks in, so .blend files once again work natively for animations and such. What are your requirements?

    A quick look through the free addons on the webside, I found some good ai, a better way to use the blended animation system with IK foot placement and such.
    Also found this, which may or may not help you.

    http://www.burgzergarcade.com/hack-slash-rpg-unity3d-game-engine-tutorial

    The code's a bit dirty to start with, so some of the later tutorials are how to clean up code you hacked together earlier.

  18. Bah. edit not working.

    Quick add: Been making games for about 10 years professionally, starting with ps1 and pc, most recently on the majors. (Except Wii, which i still want to try out.) My only real sugestion is to pick one with an art pipeline that you're comfortable with, and that you can adjust and adapt easily when things change.

    Again on Unity3:
    http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/56180-Strumpy-Shader-Editor-4.0a-Massive-Improvements

    For advanced shaders. Node based.

  19. have to agree with JG on this one. while the work that's been done via BGE is good and all, it doesn't necessarily shine in any particular area. so you're asking for donations to fund a game that you'll have to learn the necessary tools anyways. and while the video here isn't indicative of the latest work, i find it hard to believe that unity isn't allowing you to do what you want it to. unity is accessible but still covers quite a bit. any other middleware/engine provider will have comparable products with the main differences being their !!!FEATURES!!! whether that's built in rigid body physics or light mapping whatever....

    go ahead and ask for donations, that's fine. i just think whoever caught this story or sent it in should've waited until they actually decided how the devs were gonna go about everything. seems premature.

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