The Nerd Brigade demo is now available for download!
Technical Notes: The application will not run from inside of the zipped folder, all files must first be extracted to work properly. At this time the only supported resolution is the default 800×600 windowed mode; resizing to fullscreen has been found to cause issues with collision detection.
Nerd Brigade, a JRPG currently in development, is a parody of comic book superheroes through the lens of awkward high school reality. Think of it as what would happen if Freaks and Geeks had been set in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, run by the shadowy forces behind Clone High.
Nerd Brigade follows a small team of dubiously superpowered high school students over the course of a school-year. Disguised as a typical small town high school, Powerman Jr. Memorial High School is actually a secret government installation for training and controlling the next generation of superheroes. This is a place where your superpower is your social currency. The main characters are social outcasts who form a superteam on the basis of shared interest and abilities in science and mathematics, not obvious and flashy powers like super strength, or the ability to fly. Despite their intelligence, the members of Nerd Brigade still face failing grades due to their lackluster crime fighting skills. It is up to the player to leverage and improve each member’s unique powers as they progress through the school year, and the team uncovers the plans of the evil Principal Overlord. A former super villain who has allegedly turned over a new leaf, he is secretly working with his PTA minions to turn the entire student body into his own private army of super villains. Only the Nerd Brigade can see what he’s doing, catching on to the sinister plot while they stay after class. If the Nerd Brigade can use their powers to unite the school, they could save the world from evil, and even save themselves from failing finals.
The Derivatician – Possesses uncanny skill at Math and Programming, but his logic is often counterbalanced by his emotional immaturity. His name comes from an elementary school Career Day, when he was asked what he wanted to be when grew up. At the time, he believed that he could get a job finding derivatives of equations professionally. He bears this name today with the slight resentment that it represents what he would still rather be doing. He is the strongest physical fighter of the group, and believes himself to be the leader
Valkyrie Boy – Highly knowledgeable about music theory and music history. Despite his equal standing with the other members, Valkyrie Boy is often designated the “sidekick” member of Nerd Brigade. Taken from his personal theme music, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”, his name is intended to express both his interest in music and his secondary status. In true sidekick fashion, Valkyrie Boy is an orphan, and this is one of the only things that seems able to upset him. Otherwise he is easygoing and reliable. He is the most immediately likeable of the group, and often finds himself as the public face of Nerd Brigade. Whether in conferences with teachers or negotiations with supervillains, it is likely Valkyrie Boy will be doing the talking. He is not as strong of a fighter, but is able to heal his comrades in battle.
Chronos - Possesses mystical time powers that are only vaguely defined, but seem to be the most powerful of the group. She is also a skilled inventor who has built numerous devices to help power her own team as well as various classmates. There is no significance to her name, beyond the fact that her parents thought it sounded “sufficiently timey” in the required field for Hero Name on the school registration form. She is able to jump forwards or backwards through time at will, but must always return to continue her present-day existence in linear time. Although outwardly a teenager, she has already traveled through time so frequently and for such extended periods that her full age is unknown.
I’ll be posting more on this page and on the main blog as the project continues, and you should use the buttons on your right to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The demo has been released as a proof of concept, to demonstrate our ability to make a finished game and show why Nerd Brigade is worth funding. The Kickstarter campaign is intended to raise the funds needed to complete the game.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- 1 – About Nerd Brigade
- - 1.1 – What is Nerd Brigade?
Nerd Brigade is an idea I’ve been working on for several years now. It’s a collection of characters in a universe that I created as a reflection of my own high school experience. The rough ideas were formed almost a decade ago, and I’ve been fleshing out and refining them ever since. It’s a parody of super hero comics as well as the readers who escape into these fictional worlds; it’s a lighthearted coming of age story in which superteams mirror the friendships and alliances of social life in high school.
- - 1.2 – Why a videogame?
I had tried Nerd Brigade in a variety of different media, from an animated web series to repeated attempts at a feature film screenplay. I took these ideas to various degrees of development, but was never really satisfied with the results. I knew I had a solid foundation with this world and these characters, but was struggling to find the right format. But the whole thing finally “clicked” for me the moment I started imagining it as a videogame instead.
- - 1.3 – Why a JRPG?
This was largely a personal decision, it’s a genre that many of my all-time favorite games fall into, particularly in the SNES era. I have always loved this style of game, and had long considered making my own “tribute” to the genre. I have notebooks full of more serious or traditional story ideas I might revisit at some point. But I think there are elements about Nerd Brigade that make it an idea fit for this style of game. Almost all comic book to videogame adaptations are action-oriented beat-em-ups, and I just knew that would never fit my characters. All three Nerd Brigade members are competent at what they do, and I want the player to feel that they grow in strength over the course of the game, but they are not brawlers. It just seemed like such a better fit for these characters to engage in combat in the turn-based, stat-driven model of the JRPG battle, as soon as I had the idea I knew it couldn’t be done in any other way.
- 2 – About the Demo
- - 2.1 – How long was the demo in development?
The demo entered full development at the beginning of November 2012, and was completed in mid-March 2013. This was about one month longer than our initial projections, and gave us valuable insight about the time that would be required to develop the full game.
- - 2.2 – Is the demo “complete”?
Mostly; it’s fully playable as-is and represents a full chapter in the overall story of the full game. We wanted the demo to be able to stand on its own, but did end up cutting some content from it over the course of development. You can see this most clearly in grayed-out options of the battle menu. There were other enemies planned but never implemented, as well as the training fights against Hardwear. We have already released one updated version since the initial launch; further bugfixes are certainly possible based on any issues that players report, but content development is considered complete to allow us to shift our development focus over to the full game.
- 3 – About the Full Game
- - 3.1 – How big will the finished game be?
We are templating Nerd Brigade from some of the classic 40-hour epics of the SNES era, so the ideal goal would be something on par with that experience. Practical concerns may reduce that figure somewhat, and of course the limiting factor will be development time. We have the Kickstarter budgeted to allow ten months of development time. I can’t give a precise estimate, but I can say that should be enough to put together a solid 20 hours worth of gameplay. If we exceed our minimum goal then we will be able to add more content to the game, either by extending development time or contracting an additional developer. But we are committed to delivering a level of quality in either scenario, and will make sure that Nerd Brigade is a satisfying experience at any level of funding we receive.
- - 3.2 – What additional gameplay features are planned?
Some features have already been hinted at in the demo, in the form of grayed-out or inactive menu items. Each of the three main characters will have about one dozen unique battle abilities, as well as the addition of shared abilities and powerful team-up attacks. Beyond just expanding the systems already shown in the demo, there are several additional systems which we are looking at implementing. Inspired by other games in the genre, we would like our battle system to make dynamic use of timed hits. Outside of battle we are planning to include a Bestiary to log your encounters against various enemies, numerous NPC conversations and sidequests, and character-specific minigames for learning new skills and abilities. Genre standards like item synthesizing and an overworld map are also in consideration. Many of these additional features are nothing more than ideas at this point; their inclusion will depend on the time needed to implement versus player interest, so we will be seeking input from the players early in development.
- - 3.3 – Will everything seen in the demo be included in the game?
Most likely, depending on player feedback. The demo represents a limited excerpt of the full game. The field trip to the Moon is an early chapter in the overall Nerd Brigade story, and will most definitely be a part of the finished game. But if you have played through the demo you will most likely notice some changes in its translation to the finished product. There will hopefully be additional things to do on the moonbase, and a bit more variety of enemies to fight. The order of events might be shuffled to fit into the larger story, but we are not expecting to cut anything specifically.
- - 3.4 – When will the full game be released?
We are projecting a ten month development time starting from the end of the Kickstarter campaign. This would optimistically put our release in March 2014, but this is just an estimate, and probably the earliest we could expect to deliver a finished game.
- - 3.5 – Will the game be available on Steam?
Ideally we would love to be able to release and sell Nerd Brigade on Valve’s Steam platform. We know that this is technologically possible, as our software is created in Unity 3D which features support for this outlet on both PC and Mac operating systems. The larger concern is getting our product approved through the channels Steam makes available for indie developers. Currently this is accomplished through Greenlight, and if everyone who funds this project also supports Nerd Brigade on Greenlight, we should be able to clear this hurdle successfully. But there is speculation the entire Greenlight system may be subject to change before our game reaches completion, and if that happens we are unable to predict what new system might take its place, or how that might affect our desired release via Steam.
- - 3.6 – Will the game feature achievements?
Yes! While the exact nature of these achievements will be forced to depend on our eventual release platform, we plan to offer support for whatever format of achievements are available. But whether they are presented as Steam achievements or native application stat tracking and unlockables, we will find a way to bring you achievements. I think they offer a good system for gauging completion, create additional incentive for sidequests and exploration, and can even suggest fun new ways to play or challenge yourself. As a player I’ve always liked achievements, so I’m very excited to create and offer them in my own game.