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Forged of Blood - Fantasy Tactical RPG - Kickstarter

Arulan

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I came across this game at PAX East and what a great surprise it was. My impressions are towards the end of the post.



Kickstarter

Forged of Blood is a fantasy turn-based tactical RPG that focuses on creating a deep tactical gameplay experience centered around meaningful choice in a morally ambiguous world. With this game, we are merging a deep turn-based tactical game with an elaborate RPG experience that takes players on a journey to reclaim a lost kingdom.



A Fantasy World Afire: Our game introduces a morally grey hard fantasy world on the cusp of a predestined upheaval. Forged of Blood will throw you into a beautiful new world filled with both monsters and men across multiple environments in 3D; in a world that has a richly developed history.

Meaningful Choices Throughout the Game: This is a design philosophy that we've truly hammered into every facet of the game. Whether it be the branching narratives, the tactical combat, or the minutia of character building, every choice will have meaningful consequence.

Build Your Characters Your Way: With 9 weapons and weapon ability trees, 6 general ability trees, a vast magic crafting system, the characters under your command are yours to build from the ground up to fit any tactical need.

A True Spellcrafting System: This is the spellcrafting system of our dreams, with a staggering 3822 unique effect combinations and an incalculable number of permutations when you account for effect and global modifiers.



All Things (Tactically) Considered: Once on the battlefield, players will have to take into consideration a plethora of tactical factors. Will you have the right composition of characters to take on a particular challenge? Is the high ground worth taking or would the costs be too high? Build efficiency, positioning, and turn order all matter - will you be able to take advantage of it?



================================================================

My PAX East impressions:

I came by the PAX booth... several times. I spoke to the person on the left, in the first day pic on more than a few occasions.

I played two scenarios. The first one in the town with the bridges I was still learning the mechanics, and I think I probably would've won if the casting-magic-through-the-building bug wasn't present. I was victorious on the forest scenario after though.

The game looks fantastic. It was one of my favorite games of the show, and an unexpected surprise for me. I'm a little skeptical on the magic-crafting, mostly because of how difficult that is to achieve properly, but what I heard sounded pretty good. There is some good information on the Kickstarter page too. I do really like the magic with laws though. Having to make sure to take in heat energy through the ice spell in order to continue using the fire spell was a enjoyable consideration to spell casting. Likewise preventing the two-handed maul characters from attacking characters directly next to it, and giving it somewhat of a short range, made them a lot more tactically interesting than simply another front-line warrior, but with different attack rolls. I didn't get to experience it directly in the demo, but it looks like there will some nice reactivity based on where you decide to travel to in time-sensitive situations. The art looks great too. I believe I mentioned that one of the handouts from the booth, the one with the character holding a stone that emanates what appears to be a blinding light, got a lot of positive reactions from other developers as I was holding on to it throughout the day.

Magic had a very long range. They mentioned bows weren't currently in the build, which is perhaps why magic-casters were so strong. Apparently there will be bow-wielding characters whose role is to hunt down magic-users. The other character in the build wielded a dagger which you could throw. He seemed fairly strong when supporting another melee character, although as you would expect not the best choice against heavily armored characters. It was also mentioned that accuracy would be affected by how thick the tree cover was between yourself and your target (for ranged attacks).

In the build, each of the non-magic weapon characters had an ability. The sword and shield character could strengthen his defenses for a round. The maul character could increase his attack of opportunity by one (a total of two, the sword has 0 for comparison) and lowers his initiative (I believe) by one for a round. The dagger character I believe could increase his initiative by one for a round. You could attack after these, but you wouldn't be able to move (I believe; You should still be able to move one square [green] regardless though).

Some clarification from one of the developers:

Being able to cast spells "through" buildings wasn't a bug but a mechanic of the spells that were created. You were not casting through the building so much as having the effect appear at the desired location. In the final build, we will have a sight mechanic that would require you to have sight at the area you wish to cast.

The reason why the two casters were stronger wasn't really due to magic but their race. They were both Juvarians, the strongest Neshalan family line. Juvarians have a statistical advantage in their base attributes and magurite control; they are meant to be stronger.

Every character has a quick action, a move action and a standard action. For those that play tabletop gaming, this should be familiar. Every action has an action cost. The maul ability you referenced requires a full turn action to use while the dagger ability you referenced required a quick action. All standard and full turn actions are attacks or spells and all attacks and spells require either a standard action or a full turn action.

This is an inherent problem with games like ours being demoed though. In the actual game, you play through a tutorial and the mechanics are introduced over time. In the PAX game, you played for 20 minutes without a tutorial. Despite this, hundreds of people genuinely enjoyed our game during PAX, with many bringing friends to see our game. I was quite happy with how well received it was.
 

PSqueak

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It's interesting, but tragically i read the thread title as "final fantasy tactics" and i thought someone was kickstarting a FFT system inspired Tactical RPG and that hurt my expectations.
 

Arulan

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It's interesting, but tragically i read the thread title as "final fantasy tactics" and i thought someone was kickstarting a FFT system inspired Tactical RPG and that hurt my expectations.
On more than one occasion while I was at the booth I heard people passing by asking if it was like FFT or Shining Force, heh.
 

Decado

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I love tactical games and this sounds cool...But I'm puzzled by the crafting system. I don't see why a dev would introduce such a system into a turn-based tactical game. Seems like an unnecessary mechanic that will likely be detrimental to the quality of game. So much emphasis on "lots of combos!" Seems so gimmicky.
 
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It definitely looks good and bearing ample meat on the bones---gonna need much more traction on KS to get there in full at this rate though.
 

Mephala

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I'm now really looking forward to this. The kickstarter page actually has a lot more info and I recommend everyone to go in and take a look around.

I'm not pledging this at the moment but it is definitely on my radar. Thanks for the thread and impressions.
 

BatavianBunny

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Hey Arulan - tis I... the guy in the picture!

I'm Igor - CD over at Critical Forge (this account was made back when I was the Marketing guy for the other studio) and wow... thank's for checking us out at PAX and getting this thread started! Our's is a bit of a niche genre and our studio is brand new with no visibility so we are so humbled that you guys are actually liking our game!

Please feel free to ask me anything - if it's something a little out of my league I'll rope the other fellas into this as well. I'll start posting updates here like I've been over at RPG Codex if you guys like.
 

Arulan

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I'm now really looking forward to this. The kickstarter page actually has a lot more info and I recommend everyone to go in and take a look around.

I'm not pledging this at the moment but it is definitely on my radar. Thanks for the thread and impressions.
Yep. I didn't want to dump it all in the OP, but there is a lot of good information and illustrations there.

I hope the Kickstarter campaign picks up. I had heard about the game months ago on the Codex, but I felt it launched its KS campaign largely unnoticed.

Hey Arulan - tis I... the guy in the picture!

I'm Igor - CD over at Critical Forge.
Hey! Yeah, we talked several times at PAX.

I'll start posting updates here like I've been over at RPG Codex if you guys like.
Sounds good.
 

BatavianBunny

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I love tactical games and this sounds cool...But I'm puzzled by the crafting system. I don't see why a dev would introduce such a system into a turn-based tactical game. Seems like an unnecessary mechanic that will likely be detrimental to the quality of game. So much emphasis on "lots of combos!" Seems so gimmicky.
Hello!

So our first "Design Pillar" is Meaningful Choice and the thing we love most about games is being able to build our characters the way we want it. We had made a magic system that is pretty comprehensive and the natural extension of that is to give the weapons a bit of customization too. The crafting system is designed to give players a chance to really customize their character builds.

Also... many of our team members are hardcore tabletop gamers and we want to try to create the freedom of choice and character customization that we enjoy... one of those: "But... but.. that'd be fun..." things and enchanted weapons just look cool too.
 

BatavianBunny

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Aaaargh! We are Greenlit! One hurdle down, still one more looming over us.

As to the question of our encounters, we are mixing it up in many different ways. The matches will change as characters advance and new abilities open up. Different enemy types. Different tactical match goals. Monsters. Different tactical match settings and scenarios. And of course different maps.

The nice thing about the way we're structuring the meat of our game is that, the strategic map in Act II will really open up the encounter design as we can fit the maps and quests to specific regions, story arcs, and monster encounters.
 

Mephala

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Also... many of our team members are hardcore tabletop gamers and we want to try to create the freedom of choice and character customization that we enjoy... one of those: "But... but.. that'd be fun..." things and enchanted weapons just look cool too.
I'm one of those odd ones that actually think they look awful. Will there be an option to switch it off?
 

Dr. A

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Oooh, nice to see more game devs in Southeast Asia!

Game is intriguing, I'm in. Backed!

Good luck and all the best, please do provide as many updates as you can ☺
 

RPGDave

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They're not really doing terrible (they have 563 backers already). Unfortunately, $100K is a rather high goal for an unknown indie RPG developer. Unless some other popular crowdfunding campaigns give them shoutouts I'm not sure if they will be able to reach it.
 

BatavianBunny

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Hey everyone,

We have a quick update for you all with a short series of videos that will cover a few topics that didn't quite make the Kickstarter video. We've got a few planned out so far: the foundation, worldbuilding, narrative design, and the magic, but let us know what else you guys would like to know.

https://youtu.be/euiNzP42Sac

We need all the help we can get so if you're liking what you're seeing give us a hand and spread the word!
 

Arulan

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Hey everyone,

We have a quick update for you all with a short series of videos that will cover a few topics that didn't quite make the Kickstarter video. We've got a few planned out so far: the foundation, worldbuilding, narrative design, and the magic, but let us know what else you guys would like to know.

https://youtu.be/euiNzP42Sac

We need all the help we can get so if you're liking what you're seeing give us a hand and spread the word!
Nice update. The details about the origin of the language was interesting. Looking forward to the rest of them.

Make sure to include some creative examples of user-created magic in that update video. :p
 

Arulan

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Update #8 - Worldbuilding and Final Days for Thunderclap

It's always hard to get a good sense of the depth of a world from a video, or even playing a demo, but you're definitely saying all the right things so far. ;)

Though you would expect it to be the norm, I feel a lot of RPG developers don't always start with the foundation of the world itself to establish consistency. And on the other end, you can always tell those who do.
 

Falk

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but let us know what else you guys would like to know.!
music

music where

where is it

In all seriousness, the game is really intriguing; just it's actually rather rare in my experience to not see some pitches floated w.r.t. music, especially when the kickstarter does mention music as one of the funding goals.
 

BatavianBunny

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Thanks for posting this up here Arulan!

music

music where

where is it

In all seriousness, the game is really intriguing; just it's actually rather rare in my experience to not see some pitches floated w.r.t. music, especially when the kickstarter does mention music as one of the funding goals.
@Falk

Hmm I do believe that is my bad - and probably why I'm being flooded with emails from composers. We are currently working with a very young and talented composer here in Indonesia who we have on contract for the game. As of now he's done the main theme and the music for the cinematic - we'll do an update that does a deeper expose with him soon.
 

DiscoJer

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Sounds like it's far too complex for its own good, with crafting systems, complex character development and that magic system. Seems less about tactics than min-maxing your characters.

You bring up table top gaming as a justification of this, but to this day, people still play the original D&D, which literally had no character customization. Even the most recent incarnation took a step back from the almost incoherently complex 3rd edition.
 

Falk

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I don't think complexity in of itself is inherently bad. To take an example from a different genre, people enjoy stuff like Europa Universalis just as much as they enjoy the new Anno. Sometimes deep diving into number crunching and multilayered systems is what defines a game out of everything else in the genre.

It'd probably be a harder sell for couch gaming, if anything, but PC is nothing if not the platform to experiment.
 

BatavianBunny

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Hmm how many people are working on this? Looks great.
There's 11 of us right now at the studio:
1 Game Designer
1 Creative Director
1 Art Director
2 3D Artists
1 Animator/Rigger
1 VFX Artist
3 Programmers
1 Executive Producer/Game Designer

With a team of our size we also jump around and have input across the board and a few of us take on a lot of extra roles as well.

Sounds like it's far too complex for its own good, with crafting systems, complex character development and that magic system. Seems less about tactics than min-maxing your characters.

You bring up table top gaming as a justification of this, but to this day, people still play the original D&D, which literally had no character customization. Even the most recent incarnation took a step back from the almost incoherently complex 3rd edition.
We heard that a lot at PAX so you're not wrong, and we've definitely made plans to have ways to simplify a lot of the stuff that the more casual gamers might not like. Things like preset spells and builds will be available and we're working on iterating the UI to make it a lot simpler to use as well.

As to the part about the complexity being less about tactics and more about min-maxing, Milo our game designer is a huge min-maxer and number cruncher and his days are basically spent making sure it doesn't come to that. Our weapon ability progressions are currently pretty well balanced at this stage - and we've balanced that to the intended play time character progression. Magic is whole other beast, and we're still tackling that - but it's still a lot of fun!.

The complexities we offer in character building and spell creation really does open up a lot of possibilities on the tactical map and its a lot of fun for us to test internally - hopefully that translates well to the market but we'll see during beta I suppose.
 

BatavianBunny

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We just updated the Kickstarter page with a showcase of some of our magic visual effects: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/criticalforge/forged-of-blood/posts/1851975

The other 4 Primordials are still in production but you can catch a glimpse of it in the bottom video towards the end. Some of the effects are a little strong and end up covering the other ones but we'll revamp it once the full set is done.

Going into PAX and Kickstarter we had implemented four preset spells: A fireball (area of effect fire spell), an ice trap, a debuff that saps character attributes, and a basic healing pool. We've also made a lot of big claims about what our magic system will be (what with the many combinations and all).

Well one of the biggest challenges (besides balancing and code implementation) is making sure that the different Spell Effects will work together when combined, and after that making sure that the Effect Modifiers and Global Modifiers visually do what we intend them to do. So our VFX gal has been working on the other effects now and we've got a selection of different effects for both the drain and expel Thermal Primordials. The video below shows how the FX will look when cast and the residual effect that is left on the tile if the spell calls for it. We then merged 5 random effects together as you would when making a spell.

https://youtu.be/e-dD3W9Be9Y


Five Effects cast in a single Thermal Drain spell


Five Effects cast in a single Thermal Expell spell

Finally, our latest episode of the Dev Talk series covers a little bit more on the Magic and where we got our inspiration from.

https://youtu.be/-0cHAUKgYH0
 

BatavianBunny

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Hey guys, this is a bit of a sombre update but I'll post our final Kickstarter remarks here. It has been a disappointing campaign to be sure, but Forged of Blood will still be made.

Hi everyone,

We want to take this time to express just how grateful we all are for the support we’ve received in these last couple months. Though our campaign ends with a bit of a whimper, we will continue to develop Forged of Blood as promised and we’re still firm on our 2018 release date. So, we know that many of you will have questions and we’re going to do our best to answer them here - starting with the three big questions we asked ourselves when we first started development on Forged of Blood:

Do we actually have the capability to make the game we have always wanted?
Will our vision resonate with Tactical RPG players?
Will the game be economically sustainable to allow us to continue doing what we love to do everyday?
In our push to get a build to show for both PAX East and Kickstarter, we’ve managed to answer the first two questions easily. Our pre-alpha demo provided a solid proof of concept in our ability and in the entertainment value of our game. We were able to prove to ourselves that yes: Forged of Blood as we envisioned it is well within our grasp, and perhaps more importantly: it is actually a lot of fun. When it came to the TRPG players out there, the few that got the chance to play the build thoroughly enjoyed it and saw the nuances in our system even at the pre-alpha stage. Now to be entirely honest, the jury is still out on Question 3, and given how we’re ending this campaign it would be fair for some to say that this venture is not financially viable. However, we went into it as a passion project, and we’ll see it through knowing that we will enter 2018 with a game that our fans will love.



Though unsuccessful, our first Kickstarter campaign and our first steps into into this industry has been a treasure trove of lessons and unrelenting support; and we are ever grateful for all the kind words and critiques we’ve received. We’ll try to break down as much of our reasoning and thought processes below for those of you who want to know more about us and our decisions.

We’ll start by reiterating our main goals for the Kickstarter campaign that was mainly aimed at giving us the funds to take on some of the “nice to have” embellishments for our game. These are aspects of the game that we feel would enhance the experience of Forged of Blood, but would not be completely missed if they were not there. Expanded visual effects, character voice acting, and a larger writing team are all things that would definitely have added a higher degree of polish to the final product but are ultimately ancillary to the core gameplay and it’s enjoyment.

Regarding our start date for the campaign, we really have to address the question of time. Our plan was (and is) to make Forged of Blood over the span of two years and in an ideal situation we would have entered our funding round before we started production. Efficiency and planning have an exponential correlation over time, and we would have liked to be able to go into production having already raised funds from Kickstarter - like many game campaigns before us - so we are able to plan according to that budget.

Ultimately, we decided against that approach when we took into account the current state of video game crowdfunding campaigns and the fact that we are a brand new studio that has yet to put itself on the video game map. That put the burden on us as a studio and as game developers to show our chops as it were and we couldn’t have gone into the campaign with just concept art.

As it stands, with a year behind us and another year ahead of us, Forged of Blood is in a pre-alpha state. A state in which we are able to show our core game loop in a very tangible way, but are far enough away from release date that we would be able to plan for a course of action that can make the most efficient use of crowdfunding to address our “nice to have” list. That was the sweet spot we felt we needed to hit to be able to come to Kickstarter: the point in our schedule and budget where the injection of funds can take us to new heights or firmly set our development to the scope we can afford to take it on our own.

Finally, the matter of our Kickstarter funding goal is one of the most debated topics both internally in the studio and within the fan communities we’ve been a part of. We’ll start off by saying that our philosophy was to raise funds that we know could make a significant impact - you know the whole “go big or go home” mentality resonated pretty well with a bunch of nerds working on the ultimate passion project. That meant that we really didn’t want to dip our toes into the crowdfunding purely for pre-orders or a chance to mitigate risk.

Now we’ll address what our funding ask of S$ 150,000 or around US$ 107,000 would have truly entailed and why the number was ultimately that high. Starting with our intentions to expand on the visual effects - especially in regards to the magic system, this was truly one of those things that was an all or nothing aspect of production. As of now, we’ve planned for and funded ourselves to be able to show and mix spell effects that would look truly wonderful; but as many of you who have asked us about the magic know we have a lot more than just spell effects. We have modifiers that will further customize and shape the spells, and the moment we start to create new visual effects for each nuanced modifier and their eventual integration into a single spell… Well. You can imagine how the number of new visual effects will balloon. Let us not forget the amount of time it would take it properly hook up and integrate each visual effect with the corresponding spell mechanics. That would have multiplied our current visual effects budget of US$ 2500 by ten, in addition to needing a longer production runway for the programming team to implement, costing would run to an estimated total of USD$35,000.

The same principle applies for character voiceover work. If we voiced only our two main characters then the game will feel empty. If we voiced our main characters and a small selection of the supporting characters then the game will feel unfinished and unpolished. The course of action we decided on was to provide a large enough contingency fund for quality voice acting that would allow us to tell the story we want properly. Conservatively speaking, we were looking at allocating around $10,000 for a proper selection of characters to be voiced along with our cutscenes and cinematics.



That leaves the remaining $ 55,000 that would have been allocated to expanding our current writing team of one largely overworked guy to at least two… largely overworked guys/gals, and ideally more (subject to negotiations and pricing of course, but from our conversations and previous experience running another studio, you generally get what you pay for). We so desperately wanted to expand the team because as it is, most of the team are filling in for multiple roles at the studio and to say that the team is over extended would be a bit of an understatement.

Narrative choice and consequence is one of our foundational design pillars, and thus far we’ve found a few creative ways to create agency across the various narrative sequences we have planned. But there is always that itch to do more… to be able to make more and allow for even more actions in the game (passion project right?). Being able to have bring on a few more writers would really open up our already branching tree of choices and consequences into a whole forest for players to explore.

To us, all of these embellishments went hand in hand, and to do one without the other would have broken the cohesion of the final game output. Right now, Forged of Blood still promises to be a Tactical RPG experience that focuses on nuance and player agency - our magic system, tactical combat mechanics, character building, and planned narrative threads are still green lit in our production and we fully intend to deliver and build upon what we’ve made. Our failure here on Kickstarter is one that cut a very personal wound in our hearts, but it ultimately only detracted add-ons we would have liked and not our core vision.

Furthermore, we felt that if we were to go in with a much lower funding goal - say $50,000 - we couldn’t have realistically promised what we did with our current goal. That would have effectively categorized our Kickstarter campaign as pre-orders and not as a means to make the game truly better. To us, that just feels… off. We see digital pre-orders as a way to measure early viability, and for larger game studios large pre-order numbers help to allay shareholder needs and wants. They are ultimately great for developers but might not necessarily have the interests of the consumer in mind and so we we stuck to our plan.

As we look ahead and beyond this decidedly upsetting turn of events, we know that Forged of Blood will have a little less eye candy to draw people in. This may very well impact our long term sales viability - or it may not - but to the hardcore Tactical RPG fans we’ve met around the world: this is still the game you’ve been waiting for. The promises we’ve made, the mechanics we’ve designed are still our primary goals and though the mechanics and design decisions are in a constant state of flux, the game and it’s enjoyment will remain our driving force. Our inability to expand our team just means that we carry forward the same burdens and responsibilities that we have carried over the last year, and in many ways that might work out for the best.

We have also been asked on multiple occasions if we would give Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms a shot at a later date, and the answer to that is an unsatisfactory: “maybe.” Right now, our focus is to continue developing the game so that if we do decide to seek additional funds, Forged of Blood would be in much more advanced state and people would be able to approach our vision with a little less hesitation. Until then, we have a lot of lessons to learn from here and a lot more work to do.



To our backers: we count you as our game’s most passionate supporters - your pledges speak to your commitment to the genre and our game. In the coming weeks we will be sending out a survey that will offer opportunities to be even more involved in our production and we can’t wait to hear from each of you.

This has been a humbling, trying, but ultimately rewarding experience for us as a studio. We’ve had the chance to meet and talk to so many passionate fans of our genre, and we would also like to take this chance to use our efforts here to help another tactical game that does have some very similar goals as we do.






The guys over at Fort Triumph are in the middle of their campaign, and everyone here on the Forged of Blood team are rooting for those guys to succeed. We are also eagerly waiting on the huge success of Phoenix Point by original X-COM devs. Our genre is niche, and the devs around the world that work on games like ours help to bring visibility back to the sort of tactical gaming that we have sorely missed.

At the end of the day, this campaign and the efforts that preceded it have truly validated our game concept. Commercial viability aside, Forged of Blood seems to have well and truly resonated with many of the genre’s fans and we’ll keep going until that 2018 release date.

Thank you all so very much for your support. We’re stinging a little here, but we’re not stopping.

The Critical Forge Team
 

WaterAstro

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Yeah that really sucks. It's not even that much of an ask considering your team size.

Marketing is really hard without having the money to start.
 

Arulan

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This is a disappointing end to the campaign. It was looking rough for sure, but I was hoping it'd be able to come together by the end.

Best of luck with development. I know I'm eager to see more as it progresses.