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Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends

Created by Team Nemo

An indie game based on Winsor McCay's groundbreaking comic strip.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Project status - final week push!
about 3 years ago – Wed, Mar 24, 2021 at 07:35:17 PM

Dear Backers,

Our time on Kickstarter is getting short. As we enter the final week of the campaign, we on Team Nemo first wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU. Thank you for believing in this project, for trusting us, and for cheering us on. Your support means the world to us. We’ve loved hearing why you’re excited about the game, from love of the comics and art, to fond memories of the 80s movie, to not-so-fond memories of the Capcom game being really really hard (or for some...your ability to beat it faster than anyone!) We love it all- keep it coming!

The dream is almost over! We need to hurry!

So, with 7 days to go, here is where we are. As I write this, we’ve reached 70% of our funding goal thanks to over 850 awesome backers. The team is hard at work designing levels, making art, programming, and doing everything in our power to make it the game of your dreams. We’re excited about a stellar soundtrack from Wayne Strange, with a special guest track by Mega Ran. We’re excited to bring a classic comics character back in a way that honors his origins while updating him for the 21st century!

But, we’re not there yet, and this is where you all come in. Here’s what you can do:

  • Join the community! At the $5 tier and above, backers get access to our Discord community (we can release the latest invite link later today.) We’ve loved seeing all kinds of Little Nemo fan art, hearing folks get excited about the game, and getting feedback as we’re working, and we’re looking forward to keeping it rolling long after the Kickstarter ends. And if you’re on Twitter, tweet using #LittleNemoGame to join the conversation there. Welcome!
  • If you’ve been following the project but haven’t backed yet and are interested, we encourage you to become a backer. Questions about the project? Reach out to us! We’re happy to talk.
  • If you’re able, consider upping your pledge, even by just a few dollars. In addition to the reward tiers, we’ve got some great add-ons, like digital wallpapers, 8-bit character costumes, and an archive of making of videos. You can also add-on for physical items like t-shirts, posters, and art books (shipping is included in the price). Take a look. Every dollar gets us closer to the goal.
  • Share www.LittleNemoGame.com. Posting, retweeting, sharing- it all really, really helps to get more eyes on the project. We are so grateful for everyone who’s done this, and we encourage you to let others know why you’re excited about the game.

Making Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends a reality truly is a community effort, and we can’t do it without you. We’re so close, and we know that we can get there. So again, THANK YOU for your support and your enthusiasm throughout this project. Let’s do this Dreamers!

Tweets

Need some examples of tweets to send? Try some of these:

  • Listening to @MegaRan this morning and getting PUMPED that he’ll be doing a special guest track on the soundtrack for #LittleNemoGame! This game needs to happen so show it some love at www.LittleNemoGame.com
  • I’m pumped to see a new #LittleNemoGame, especially since it’s also referencing Demon’s Crest and Little Samson! It’s like a retro game dream come true! Why haven’t you backed it yet? www.LittleNemoGame.com
  • Have you seen this game that’s bringing Winsor McCay’s original Little Nemo comics back? #LittleNemoGame is a tribute to McCay's art and animation, drawn in his style with colors sampled from the comics. I’ve backed it! You can too: www.LittleNemoGame.com

Many thanks as always, and we're almost there! 

Team Nemo

Backer Exclusive Podcast #3: Peony and Little Nemo as a Family Project
about 3 years ago – Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 11:32:57 PM

This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.

Issues with the mobile app and add-ons
about 3 years ago – Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 01:43:02 PM

Hey there backers,

We've received multiple messages about accessing pledge management, add-ons, etc. from the mobile app. It seems that the mobile app or page gets stuck on the add-on screen and won't stop loading. We've reached out to Kickstarter about the issue and are hoping to have it resolved in the next day or so. Until then, please use a web browser on a computer to access the site or make any adjustments, as that is still working properly. 


Many apologies for the inconvenience,

Team Nemo


P.S. Thank you also to the backers who brought this to our attention and helped us figure this out! 

Sunday Funnies: Little Nemo Predicts Pop Culture
about 3 years ago – Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 01:00:38 PM

Happy Sunday everyone! It's time for another Sunday Funnies, where we explore aspects of Winsor McCay's original Little Nemo in Slumberland comics! 

This is a really important one for us because it gets to the heart of WHY we're making this game. Apart from liking the Little Nemo comics, movie, and NES game a lot, we're also keenly aware of the impact that Little Nemo had on popular culture. That's right, this isn't an article about Little Nemo references in pop culture, but rather examples from pop culture that were inspired by these important comics and how. For this reason, making this game is as much an act of art preservation for us (by revisiting a classic piece of media) as it is making a cool video game.

(Note - one of the comics below contains Impie, so content warning for not-okay 1910's racial stereotyping.)

Newspaper comics in the early 20th century

We've covered McCay's amazing artistic talent, but it should also be acknowledged that Little Nemo in Slumberland was the right comic for the right time. The comics supplement was an important piece of entertainment for readers (especially immigrant communities) in a world without constant mass-media exposure. Comic strips took up whole pages and could even be a selling point for a whole paper. In this way, McCay's comics rose above many of their rivals with their vibrant colors, richly illustrated landscapes, and serialized stories. 

The January 27, 1907 episode of Little Nemo in Slumberland, where Nemo and friends visit Jack Frost's Palace. This backdrop is adapted in Nightmare Fiends' environment art. Image source: Comic Strip Library.

This allowed Little Nemo to be a popular sensation at the time. The comics were merchandised heavily on Valentines Cards, in advertisements, and even as a Broadway Musical! McCay's Little Nemo-based works (like his 1911 animated cartoon) and subsequent work like Gertie the Dinosaur were also huge sensations, and influenced creators throughout the 20th Century such as Walt Disney (a noted fan of Gertie) and Maurice Sendak (whose book Into the Night Kitchen is very directly inspired by Nemo), among others. 

Winsor McCay predicts 20th Century pop culture

As himself a force of pop culture, comics, cartoons, movies, television, and video games that came after McCay would see frequent references to Little Nemo and other works. Scenes from Little Nemo pop up in everything form Sesame Street to Star Wars. One of my favorite examples is the April 6, 1913 comic of Little Nemo in the Land of Wonderful Dreams (the comic's name after McCay was hired by William Randolph Hearst's New York American), where the gang visits the Lilliput of Gulliver's Travels. Flip, thinking that a rock has been thrown at his head by a passing Lilliputian airplane, climbs a building and snatches the plane from the sky. 

Image source: Comic Strip Library

It's hard to see this and not think of the 1933 film King Kong, which includes the famous scene of the titular monster climbing the Empire State Building for a last stand with attacking airplanes. 

King Kong attacking airplanes on top of the Empire State building in King Kong (1933). Image source: Wikipedia

Author Ulrich Merkl even goes as far as crediting McCay with the concept of kaiju entirely, with how often he depicted giant, often prehistoric, beasts stomping around cities. In his book Dinomania, he looks at McCay's later comic Dino, made in the 1930's, which features a lot of this kind of content.

The first half-page of Dino, Winsor McCay's unfinished comic strip (with lettering by his son Robert) about a dinosaur who finds herself in a modern world. The comic, clearly inspired by Gertie, was left unfinished, as McCay died while he was working on it. Image source: Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.
Another image from Dino, where she crosses into New Jersey through the Holland Tunnel. Notice the boy in the third frame - doesn't he look familiar?

The 1910 story arc of Nemo visiting Mars has even more examples of scenes that would find their way into later works of pop culture. 

The April 10, 1910 Little Nemo in Slumberland Strip should look familiar to Star Wars fans. "This is no cave..." Image source: Comic Strip Library.

The Mars story arc also features the plot point that air to breathe costs money on the planet - in one storyline McCay predicts scenes from both Star Wars and its parody, Spaceballs!

We of course can't forget the famous Walking Bed episode of July 26, 1908: perhaps the quintessential Little Nemo strip. References to this comic have appeared in everything from Google Doodles, to Sesame Street (in the intro to the "Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures" segment), and even on Adventure Time

Image source: Comic Strip Library
A scene from the intro to Adventure Time. Image source: Vault of Culture.

But video games...

Video games are one area where McCay's reach is less directly felt...or is it? On one hand, there are 2 previous Little Nemo games by Capcom - Little Nemo the Dream Master for the NES and Nemo for the Arcade, both inspired by the 1989 movie by Tokyo Movie Shinsha. As expressions of McCay's work they're a little mixed. They both pull heavily from the movie's plot rather than the comics, but feature some areas directly inspired by the comics like the NES game's Topsy Turvy level, inspired by Befuddle Hall. 

Topsy Turvy in the Little Nemo NES game is based on the Befuddle Hall arc of the comic, which is not featured in the movie. Image source: Nintendo Forever.

Beyond these examples, McCay may not have directly inspired video games, but he inspired works that eventually inspired video games. This becomes very important if you consider the structure of many video game levels. In most levels, there is a theme (or biome) that the designer uses to give the level's action a setting (forest, lava, ice, castle, etc.) In good level design, the level itself sticks to a concise set of actions or mechanics: basically, as a designer you want to stick to a few key elements rather than throwing everything at the player. 

McCay showed the same steady hand in his comics: each Nemo comic highlights a specific setting and concept. The strips, even when part of a larger arc, have their own identifying mechanical element: the way that the panels are used or the situation Nemo finds himself in, or both! 

The October 29, 1905 Little Nemo in Slumberland episode has many elements of a good video game level: Nemo's challenge is to cross a field of cacti in a desert (setting) by walking on stilts (mechanic.) At first this action is relatively simple and he's doing it in a place with little risk, but the risk eventually grows and includes enemies that make his use of the stilts difficult (rising action - reflected by the frame backgrounds.)

Many Nemo comics follow this pattern too: with Nemo navigating a setting in a novel way (riding a horse, crossing a bridge held up by guardians, etc.) then him being challenged and often failing. Over the course of the comic, we see Nemo become more and more capable, until he has mastery of his surroundings in Slumberland. Practice makes perfect!

That's it for this edition of the Sunday Funnies! We hope you enjoyed these examples where Nemo inspired the pop culture landscape that we have today. 

Final 10 days!

One more thing - we're entering our final 10 days of the campaign and need your help getting across the finish line! Here are a few ways you can help:

  • We've had a great deal of success when folks tell their friends about the game, so please continue doing that!
  • If you have a platform (decent social media following, YouTube channel, etc.) please give us a shout-out and emphasize that time is running out to make this project a reality! We'll need all the help we can get in the coming days!
  • If it is within your means, please consider increasing your pledge. With the big announcement of Mega Ran on the soundtrack and the artwork reveals, we have a lot to offer with tiers that include the soundtrack and art book (digital and physical.)
  • Folks have asked us to create some add-ons to our rewards so they can get specific physical rewards or digital content, so we've done just that! To access them, just go to "manage my pledge" and take a look. We've included the physical rewards (with shipping included in the price) as well as some exclusive things like digital wallpapers, 8-bit costumes for the characters, and a making-of video archive. 

That's all for today! We say this every time but we can't express this enough: thank you for believing in this project and helping us make it a reality. It means the world to us and we'll do our best to make you proud!


See you in the funny papers! 

Chris and Team Nemo

Speedrunning Nemo
about 3 years ago – Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 11:08:39 AM

Hey, it’s Ben!  I wanted to drop a quick update about what we’re planning as far as overall game structure, and how it might affect things like Speedrunning.  I personally love watching speed runs and am super excited to see how players might tackle Nemo.  We’re trying to build in features and an overall game structure that allows this along with, of course, a more laid-back mode of play where you can soak in the story, environments, and art.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about...

Sometimes you just gotta go fast

First off, thank you everyone for your support!  It really means the world to us.  We’re nearly ¾ of the way funded and though we still have a long way to go there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  We opened up some add-ons if you’re interested in a particular item.  And make sure to help spread the word about this game.  We don’t have a large marketing budget so we’re relying on our supporters to help spread the Nemo love!

Metroidvania?

While Nemo isn’t exactly a Metroidvania game, it takes its cues from the genre.  We have likened the game more to Demon’s Crest in its structure (in my opinion, an underrepresented genre).  You start with Nemo and his basic set of skills, and you will meet your friends as you play through the game. Like Demon’s Crest, this will give you access to new areas of the game where you’ll find upgrades and items that allow you to progress. At its very basics, Flip and Peony give you vertical traversal and Princess and Nemo allow horizontal traversal.

Each level has a branching set of goals, and you can revisit levels with the skills you’ve unlocked to find new areas. We expect most players will go through the regular item and skill gates, but we anticipate and encourage speedrunning the game as well.

Emergent Behavior

The game uses a physics system that has a lot of room for emergent behavior.  Most of the character’s primary skills involve expanding the player’s traversal of their environment (Flip swings, Peony climbs,  Princess floats, and Nemo glides) and because all of these skills can be chained together, we’re expecting especially skilled players to be able to skip items and find alternate routes through the game.

Because these skills affect the physics of the characters, stack, and are designed to do so, we expect players to find sequence breaks in clever ways we don’t expect.

Speed Running Features

We are adding features that make speed-running the game easy, beyond basic sequence breaking.  We have a quick travel system in the game in Bosco, who will let you quickly travel around levels.  We will have an in-game timer, and of course, will allow you to skip story sequences.

Bosco allows quick travel

We also want to make the game’s goals flexible enough to offer several different types of runs. Our first stretch goal is the Kitchen goal, which allows Nemo to eat different food before bedtime to set your game up to be easier or more difficult.  If you want to try an especially difficult run you can set it up

We actually had some discussions around this recently and are looking at ways to easily set up practice runs, and do things like replay bosses.  If you like speedrunning and have any suggestions, let us know how we can make your life easier and things like streams more fun to watch!

Thanks again!

- Ben and Team Nemo