The Story Of The Streets: Unrest

By Adam Smith on May 23rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Unrest is described as an “unconventional RPG set in ancient India”. The unusual setting isn’t the only aspect of the game that is defying the popular course that has been ploughed by role-players since a dragon first got its dunge on. Unrest is a tale of survival on the streets of a city crushed by poverty, famine and drought. Combat is swift, deadly and always avoidable, and there are “no fail states, just failures”, meaning the narrative adapts to the player characters’ mistakes and mishaps. The big draw, for me, is the chance to experience new stories about characters who would be nameless extras in so many big budget troll-stompers.

The main activities in Unrest are exploring the city and conversing with its inhabitants. The game has four playable characters, straddling social divides:

A young girl betrothed against her will, who is trying to escape to a nearby kingdom.
An aging priest who might need to choose between feeding his family, his ideals and his religion, as his order becomes more involved in violence.
The chief of the mercenary guild, the person somehow holding the city together.
The sole heir of the former royal family, now biding her time as a street urchin.

The Kickstarter page contains a detailed breakdown of how relationships will work in the game but I’ve included the core description of the system below so as to put my copy and pasting degree to use:

Every person in the world will have their opinion of you – some might despise you simply because of your birth or caste, some might admire you if you are a priest of the religion they follow, or some may be indifferent to your fate. We measure all these possibilities using 3 values for every character – Friendship, Respect and Fear. This system enables the game to portray a number of nuanced relationships that are not fully conveyed with a single “opinion” value…

You may have noticed the word ‘Kickstarter’ above. Hopefully nobody has become allergic to mention of crowdfunding, because I’d hate to be responsible for a breakout of hives. This is one of those Kickstarter campaigns for a project that needs a final push over the finish line rather than an initial injection of eleventy billion dollars. Three thousand is all that’s needed to complete the game, which has been in development for a year.

I’ve actually looked at ‘leader/programmer’ Arvind Raja Yadav’s work before. I only played the demo of Will Fight For Food but remember being surprised by the detailed and experimental conversation system, which takes into account body language as well as words. It’s worth looking at that demo for an example of the thinking that may drive Unrest’s least conventional elements.

Initially, I wasn’t keen on the inclusion of Naga, hoping for more history and less mythology, but it’s entirely possible that “a species of reptilian immigrants”, as the campaign page refers to them, will reflect historical themes. Arvind states that the game will also explore “issues in present day Indian society”, which is a far more interesting back of the box bullet point than “TESSELLATED ORCS” or “LEVEL CAP OF 7,000″.

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75 Comments »

  1. Inigo says:

    That concept art at the top of their Kickstarter page looked really interesting. Then I scrolled further down and ohhhh

    • Arvind says:

      Hi Inigo, I’m the developer of the game. The art is an area I really want to improve with this Kickstarter, because I know it can be done better. That’s the most budget-intensive area in game dev for a programmer like me, but I completely understand your reaction. Hopefully you’ll consider the other aspects of the game worth supporting :/

      • mechabuddha says:

        I’m not a huge fan of the in-game art style, either. BUT. The concept art is absolutely gorgeous, and there are more things to a game than just graphics. I’m more interested in the mechanics and storyline, which look quite intriguing. This looks like it has some potential, and I wish you the best of luck!

      • RobinOttens says:

        Yeah, the characters, backgrounds and UI look fitting for the budget you’re working with. That Naga sprite is cool though! And that bit of soundtrack is kind of nice. I’m looking forward to seeing this game evolve (if you make our funding goals). I don’t expect the strengths of this game are going to be the graphics and presentation though.

        I’d offer my services as an artist, since I have some experience making game art and 2D animation and I’m looking for projects as a starting freelancer. But I don’t think this is the location for that or if you already have artists in mind/if you’re sticking with the one artist you have.

        • Arvind says:

          I already have an artist, so I can’t promise anything. However, you can go to http://pyrodactyl.com/contact and hit me an email in case something pops up in the future. :)

          • RobinOttens says:

            Thanks, maybe I will. : )

            Also, congrats on making your kickstarter goal. That went hella fast!

        • Ultra Superior says:

          Robin, do you have a portfolio posted somewhere?

          • RobinOttens says:

            Yeah I do, it’s over on http://www.robinottens.nl

            It’s kind of incomplete and unimpressive though, for various reasons, I usually send some files and images along with any job application because of it. I’m working on a new site. There’s an e-mail adres there too, in case you want to contact me, for whatever reason.

            /Offtopicness (Sorry RPS people)

      • belgand says:

        I think the larger issue is that they both have a very different tone and feel. The concept art is indeed gorgeous and while the in-game graphics are simpler they’re not unappealing. The difference is that the concept art is darker and more realistic while in-game the art is sunny and lightly cartoonish.

      • MadMatty says:

        I´m a fan of the Artstyle. You should go right ahead.
        Try upgrading the detail maybe, if you can afford?

    • Eclipse says:

      ….still better than A Valley without Wind :P

      Seems like an very interesting game, congratulations to the maker and good luck.

  2. WarderDragon says:

    The setting isn’t very interesting to me, but I admire some of the things they set out to achieve. I’ll pass on backing this one, though I hope they make it!

  3. Lolsmurf says:

    that awkward moment when you hope it’s a new city building or grand strategy game

    => again RPG …

    Why god why

    • Arvind says:

      I totally understand, I want to play SimCity: Ancient India just as bad. However, I believe we have an interesting game on our hands, so not all is lost!

      • Lolsmurf says:

        Dont ever mention the name simcity in a game of your dreams again, pls no, not after what EA did with it…

        A game between Crusader Kings, Banished and Anno <3

        Or just a game like Emperor Rise of The Middle Kingdom, for christ sake why don’t they make games like that anymore ?
        Basic graphics but such an indept gameplay and atmosphere…

        Gonna reinstall it now!

        • Lanfranc says:

          Actually, Tilted Mill is apparently working on a new installment of the city-builder series called “Medieval Mayor”. They’ve been very quiet about it so far, but it’s supposed to come out sometime later this year.

  4. sepposmies says:

    Starring a white guy.

  5. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    Love the concept, but I’m too much of a graphics whore to play the art style.

    Here is hoping that you guys do well and get enough money to make an impressive looking sequel.

  6. RobinOttens says:

    Yep, they have my money. If only because I’m interested in their approach to the story and combat. Setting sounds neat too.

    I fully expect to get an average, shoddy looking but kind-of smartly designed and interesting game. Anything better will a nice surprise.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Likewise, everything about this sounds interesting. I’m willing to put 10 bucks towards it to see how the concept pans out.

  7. Niko says:

    This looks interesting. Hopefully NPCs in the city crushed by poverty won’t give you bags of gold for “fetch me my walking stick” quests.

  8. Ross Angus says:

    Yay! Rutskarn, of Chocolate Hammer fame! He am der best.

  9. Ajh says:

    This looks interesting. I always liked settings that weren’t generic European medieval fantasy base. I don’t have money to contribute to much of anything this month but I do hope to see more about this game in the future.

  10. DrMcCoy says:

    This certainly looks interesting. :)

    They’ll have my money as soon as they’re completely funded and can provide a PayPal option.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Interesting. If you do not mind my nosiness, do you trust paypal more than the amazon payment? If so, how come?

      If you do mind then… I don’t know, smile knowingly?

      • DrMcCoy says:

        No, I just don’t have a credit card, and Amazon Payment needs one.

        Not having one is very common here in Germany. When not using cash, we normally pay with debit: A debit card in RL shops and bank debit for online shops. Credit cards never really got a hold here.

        • tormeh says:

          Are you sure that’s not just a case of lingual difference? I live in Norway, and most people here use debit cards but call them credit cards (or simply ‘cards’). I have a Visa debit card (my payments are withdrawn from my account at the time of purchase) and it works with Amazon. The banks here call them ‘payment cards’.

          This is correct, right?
          Debit: Instant payment
          Credit: Deferred payment

          Anyway, try to use it with Amazon and see if they accept it :)

          • DrMcCoy says:

            Yes, I’m sure. It’s not a Visa card. It’s a Girocard/Maestro debit card: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maestro_%28debit_card%29 (“These co-branded cards work like normal Maestro cards within the Maestro network and as Girocards within the Girocard network, but they cannot be used as Maestro over the telephone or on the internet”). The money is taken directly from my bank account.

            And no, Amazon doesn’t take them.

          • jrodman says:

            There is a lingual difference involved. Many people in the world have “Debit Cards” which are hooked up to the traditional credit card payment processor companies in some way, and thus can be used to pay things over the internet interchangably with Visa / Mastercard / etc “Credit Cards”.

            However, Germans use the term “Debit Card” to refer to a different type of debit card that is not hooked up to these payment processors. The odd bit is that as a class they’re quite tenacious in their belief that the term really means what it means locally, which leads to a great deal of confusion in transnational discussions of the issue in English.

            I’m not sure why the point isn’t “Visa, Mastercard, etc never really caught on here. We use bank-connected cards that aren’t hooked up to those types of payment processors at all, and don’t work with most international vendors who only accept those types of cards.”

            I’ve often been called rude or stupid for asking questions about this. So, yes, chip on shoulder. I’m stupid too.

          • DrMcCoy says:

            Well, I always took it that this is exactly the difference between a debit and a credit card.

            Credit card: You buy it on credit, and then pay the whole bill each month (something even with interest). Often provided by a third-party company.

            Debit card: The money is directly taken out of your bank account the moment you pay. Often provided by your own bank.

            Maybe I’m wrong there, but that’s always how I used these terms.

          • jrodman says:

            Our debit cards take the money out of our accounts on purchase as well, but they have a VISA logo.

          • mnimmny says:

            @jrodman I have no idea why your explanation ends with the you admitting you’re stupid. You’re spot on and I think that together with @DrMcCoy’s post that’s one of the best distillations I’ve read about German payments systems and their attitudes regarding credit cards.

            Say what you will about PayPals customer service and overzealous fraud stuff, but they’re second to none in terms of dealing with idiosyncratic local payments services and the related regulatory regimes.

    • Museli says:

      A Paypal link has been added – check the Kickstarter page. :)

  11. Bluerps says:

    Interesting! Not only the mechanics, but also the setting: I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that was set in India. I think I can part with some of my money to support this game.

  12. Muzman says:

    Not to be rude but, did he say his name was TheRootsGoToCamp?

    Sounds like the title of the first film to consume more pot than that one with Method Man and Redman.

  13. Dolphan says:

    Backed. Graphics might be a bit meh, but still – more of this sort of thing!

  14. kud13 says:

    20 bucks for an original setting and a conversation-based RPG? Why the hell not? Backed.

  15. thesundaybest says:

    “no-surrender hobos”

    Now that’s a game I’d play.

    Also this one.

    • belgand says:

      The No-Surrender Hobos sound a bit like a Warriors-esque street gang of some sort. Men turned violent after reaching the end of their rope and with nothing left to lose. I certainly would not want to trifle with them. Though I might fairy cake with them if they’re well-behaved.

    • Shodex says:

      No-Surrender-Hobo is a pretty good way to describe the way I play NEO Scavenger.

  16. Merlkir says:

    Little combat, combat system from Monkey Island, graphics style…

    Wait, is this an adventure game in disguise?!

    Anyway, backed.

    • belgand says:

      That’s what I was thinking. It doesn’t give me much of a feel for being an RPG in the conventional sense. It feels more like an adventure game or a very adaptive visual novel. It sounds like a great setting and there are plenty of other things that sound intriguing, but it looks like there isn’t much to do other than wander around and talk to people.

    • SD says:

      Oh, god, please let this be true! Like a South Asian inspired “Quest for Glory”, complete with anachronisms :-)

  17. frank3n says:

    I was really hoping this game would be about taking a further look into the life and times of one Garanel Rucksif, and the haunted mansion he calls home.

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    HOLY SHIT IT’S RUTSKARN FROM SPOILER WARNING.

    BACKED.

    • Museli says:

      I also backed this primarily because of Rutskarn’s involvement. He has a way of putting words in a particular configuration that makes me all tingly inside.

  19. SanguineAngel says:

    Have to say this is ringing my bells and I think I am going to throw some of my very limited funds SO HARD at this.

    I note there’s been some condemnation of the graphics but it’s refreshing to see any dev tackling areas of RPG design that have needed re-imagining for decades. which is not to say existing mechanics are rubbish but that there is so much potential outside the box, which is where they seem to be going. It’s also nice that a lot of their ideas gel so precisely with my own wishful thinking over the years. The talk of combat, city and fail states in particular match my hopes and dreams perfectly.

    Money coming your way!

    Edit: Is that a pint of milk in Mikk’s hand? Man after my own heart

    • Arvind says:

      As an Indian, I share your affinity for milk. We’re Team Milk, pretty much (which was our backup name if Pyrodactyl turned out to be taken).

    • JVIiKK says:

      Mikk here. Half a pint of tea, half a pint of milk. Hope I didn’t ruin that for you :D

      Also thanks for the enthusiasm and support, it’s much apreciated by the whole team!

  20. Arglebargle says:

    I’m going to have to tell my Shard/Dardunah friends about this one. This is right up their alley. Neat stuff!

  21. Soldancer says:

    A. I am super excited by this concept on the face of it. I LOVE games that try something different, and I think that this is a fascinating setting full of potential. My sister has lived in India off and on for the last few years, and she’s had plenty of stories about it. In a strange sort of way this gives me a connection to that, even if only ephemerally.

    B. It is really wonderful when a member of the dev team gets involved in comments and gives clarifications/listens to feedback. Some people might just want to game to magically appear, but I like knowing that my games are made by people, authored with their intent to to provide something of worth to the player. The more connection there is in that sense, the less commercial and the more intimate and artistic it feels, though I know that’s a bit of a generalization

    I look forward to supporting this project!

    • Arvind says:

      Thanks a lot! Your support means a lot to me :D

    • JVIiKK says:

      Not only a member, but Arvind here is the project lead.

      But i’m here reading all the comments aswell. I’m the graphics artist. We are all keeping tabs on the feedback ready to jump in and explain things if needed and taking notes for improvements.

      I also agree with you completely on liking it, when games are made by actual people you can communicate with. That’s the road I’m always aiming for.

      Thank you for the support, from me aswell!

  22. JB says:

    Count me in. Backed.

  23. NathanH says:

    I was just thinking the other day that India is not a well-trodden setting for video games for whatever reason.

  24. Ayam says:

    Hey man – Will Fight For Food was so interesting I played through it twice. Second time I kicked the President’s bodyguards’ butts :) Looking forward to this, and I like the current art style, looked okay to me, humble, like.

  25. choie says:

    Literally the first Kickstarter project I’ve ever wanted to fund. And thus? Reader, I funded it. I’m not even a big RPG player, but I am a writer, and the emphasis on character and dialogue, plus the unique setting/background, made this an easy choice for my Kickstarter deflowering. Looks like you’re well on your way to reaching your goal by tomorrow, and such success is well deserved. Best of luck to you all.

    • Structuregeek says:

      First Kickstarter I funded, largely due to the participation of Rutskarn. The desire to say “me too” led to me registering with RPS today. (You’re welcome.)

      Questioning why I felt the need to say “me too” on this particular story and comment led to something like, “supporting creators and creations I find interesting, within my limited ability to do so, is a thing that I care about.”

      The desire to be consistent with that led me to subscribe to RPS as well.

      Right, must dash, I have to go register my shareware.

  26. DrMcCoy says:

    …And they’re funded :)

    EDIT: Now chop-chop, get a PayPal option going, I want to join the money-throwing :P

  27. Dolphan says:

    I’m encouraged by the backer updates from the writer. They’re rather well written.

  28. noodlecake says:

    Children are kickstarting their own games now?

  29. Juicymarmalade says:

    As soon as I saw this project on Kickstarter I was interested in the game and its unique setting that isn’t some generic fantasy land or futuristic space setting. I am considering throwing $25-50 at it but I do have a few questions about it.

    1. What is the estimated length of this game? When playing an RPG a lengthy campaign is pretty important to me so that I have lots of time to explore and be immersed in the story and world.

    2. What does most of the gameplay consist of? I know combat is minimal and there’s a large emphasis on conversations but what else is there to do?

    3. How big is the game world? If it’s small but packed with detail and interestings things to see and do then I guess having a large world doesn’t really matter but just curious.

    4. Will there be some sort of beta version that backers will get a chance to try out in the future?