From Passion Project to Kickstarter Campaign: The Making of Born Punk

Although Born Punk isn’t out yet, it’s already a success story. The Kickstarter for this upcoming cyberpunk point-and-click adventure game was funded within 24 hours, and it’s already met six of its stretch goals. Oh, and its theme song was composed by Wildstar and World of Warcraft composer Jeff Kurtenacker.

While I covered the demo in another piece, I was left with questions in regards to Born Punk‘s development and the events leading up to the launch of its Kickstarter campaign. So, I reached out to Falko von Falkner, head of Insert Disk 22, to gain a better understanding of Born Punk. 

Born Punk‘s greatest inspirations are point-and-click classics from the 80s and 90s such as Monkey Island. Falko admits that he loved everything about these games: from the humor to the puzzles to the actual stories. He wanted to imbue Born Punk with the “general spirit” of old point-and-click titles.

“They weren’t taking themselves all too seriously and weren’t afraid to appear stereotypical, but rather reveled in their at times over-the-top cheesiness,” said Falko. “They had a certain charm only few games today are able to replicate, something almost… innocent and naive in their execution.”

Falko’s introduction to the cyberpunk genre started in 1994 with the point-and-click PC game Beneath a Steel Sky. From there his interests in the genre expanded to include the Shadowrun games.

Although Falko is a longtime gamer, Born Punk is Falko’s first major game in development. His background is primarily in streaming and YouTube, although he did make a few freeware games back in the 90s, which were all unfortunately lost to the tides of time. (“Backup your old media, kids!”) But while the games are lost, the experience that Falko earned is still valuable.

“Modern engines are very forgiving, and require far less technical knowledge than they used to,” said Falko. “It’s great fun getting back into things, and I would like to think that our demo shows our competency in the coding department.”

But how was Born Punk, well, born? Did it come in a dream? Was there inspiration derived from another game? Nope – Falko admits that he can’t quite pinpoint its origins.

“I just know that at some point, a year ago, I started creating the Born Punk universe,” said Falko. “I wrote about how space travel works, the state of the Earth’s nations, how advanced AI is, and a lot of the background fluff. Things evolved from there, and about 5 months ago, I wrote the game’s story based on the groundwork I did earlier.”

While playing the demo, gamers may notice the number of Danish influences and references to Norse mythology, which derives from Born Punk‘s location, Bornholm. Falko chose this because he wanted a setting that was rarely used in games, and also for his love of islands. The contrast between the ancient Norse myths and the high-tech future was also fascinating to Falko.

“I found the concept of combining a resurgence of [N]orse mythology in a futuristic society quite interesting,” said Falko. “We are seeing similar things right now in Britain, Africa, and other places in the world: people trying to find part of their identity in the naturalistic belief systems of their forebearers.”

In the final version of the game, Falko hopes to improve upon the notorious point-and click-game problem, which is illogical puzzles. While point-and-clicks have their flaws, he believes that this is the best format for Born Punk. 

“The point-and-click genre also allows for a very relaxed playstyle; there’s (usually) no threat of imminent death around every corner, no timer, no mechanic pushing you forward at all times,” said Falko. “It’s a genre for a relaxed, stress-free evening at the computer or TV screen.”

Freedom to explore the environment is a key aspect of Born Punk, and the concept of free will is equally important. Ultimately, Falko wants players to feel like their choices will have a major impact on the story and their overall experience.

“I hope it’s going to be our attempt at giving the player various options at different points in the game,” said Falko, “allowing for vastly different outcomes depending on how the player solves puzzles or communicates with the game’s characters!”

Falko also knows how Born Punk will set itself apart from other cyberpunk games – this was one of the major concerns that I had when I was playing the demo. Falko’s answer relates back to the game’s initial inspirations: the humorous Monkey Island games.

“We’re trying to be less edgy than many of the cyberpunk games out there,” said Falko. “Of course cyberpunk is perfect for edgy characters in edgy universes, but I want our version to be more hopeful, with characters that aren’t constantly one-upping each other with how bad ass their katana and trench coat look.”

Once Falko established the concept for the game, he encountered the most challenging aspect of development: finding a team. His search connected him to Indrek, a background artist and industry designer known for his work on The Blackwell Deception. Falko stumbled across his “Looking for Work” post on Reddit, and the two connected almost instantaneously.

“Not one day after we started talking,” said Falko, “he already sent me a finished background. His speed and enthusiasm sold me, and we started coming up with ideas for our demo right afterwards.”

The two are also joined by architect Jean Czerny, who, according to the Kickstarter, will be contributing “concept art, maps and architectonic advice” for the game.

Perhaps the most well known team member is Jeff Kurtenacker. Reaching out to him and establishing a working relationship with a well-recognized composer was surprisingly easy.

“I just contacted him by e-mail one day, and he was the most kind and supportive guy from the get go,” Falko said. “It’s been a real pleasure working with him ever since; honestly, I wouldn’t have thought to be able to work with a well-reputed composer like him!”

From there, the Kickstarter campaign was born, which was quickly met. Right now, the campaign just met its seventh stretch goal, which is hiring Kurtenacker to compose the entire soundtrack for the game. It’s safe to say that Born Punk is well on its way to a successful launch in the future.

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