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Haunts: The Manse Macabre on Kickstarter

A turn-based, horror game on PC/Mac/Linux/Ipad

Haunts: The Manse Macabre is a turn-based horror game that allows you to play either side of the haunting – the dangerous denizens or the intrepid intruders. They’ve spent $42,500 on development so far and just need another $25,000 to see us through to completion. Mob Rules Games believes transparent business practices are vital to earning your trust, and will make our budget, expenses, sales, and schedule publicly available. Every $5 pledged earns you additional copies of the game, which you can give away or sell as you please. They plan on releasing Haunts: The Manse Macabre in time for Halloween this year.

The Game

Haunts: The Manse Macabre is a turn-based game for PC/Mac/Linux that allows players to take control of either the haunting denizens that have earned this infamous home its dire reputation or as the intrepid intruders determined to pry loose the Tyree Manse’s dread secrets. It can be played versus another player or versus the AI, online or all alone. A lengthy single-player campaign tells the house’s horrifying history and unlocks new denizens and intruders to use in the game. Scores of maps combined with variable goals, customizable rosters, and a variety of opponents offer endlessly unique and re-playable games.

Each side begins the game by choosing their forces in secret, so that their opponent has no idea what kind of units and abilities they’ll face. The Intruders recruit a squad of three people, each of which can have different equipment and special abilities. There are weapons, psychic or magic powers, special scientific gear, ancient relics, and so on. They also secretly pick what kind of goal they’re trying to achieve by searching the Tyree Manse. The Intruders could be trying to recover an artifact or dark tome, cleanse the house of its evil spirits, or solve one of the house’s many mysteries.

The Denizens will have to defend against any of the goals the Intruders might be after, but the haunters have plenty of surprises of their own. They get to choose the nature of the haunting. Phantasms, Cultists, Abominations, Undying, Psychopaths: each comes with its own set of leaders, servitors, and minions. Creatures range from powerful monsters that can tear a foolhardy explorer to pieces, to small orbs that can spy on the intruders. Each leader has unique powers used to plague the Intruders, which range from temporary pools of darkness, to poltergeist attacks that damage and disorient, to reality warping changes to the house itself.


Players have no idea what their opponent is doing, until they discover it for themselves during the game. Light and darkness have crucial roles in determining how the game plays out, since it’s always in your best interest to hide your movements from your foe even as you try to suss out what they’re up to. With its mercurial maps, hidden agendas, and stealthy maneuvers punctuated by macabre attacks, Haunts: The Manse Macabre builds tension like a great ghost story should. Whether or not it has a happy ending depends, of course, on your point of view.

Why We Need the Money

Haunts: The Manse Macabre has been under development since December, 2011, when we let everyone who registered on our site vote to decide which game we would make. Haunts was the winner, and we’ve been working hard on it ever since. The Lewis Charitable Foundation invested in the initial development. Spread out over three milestones – all of which we have met – the investment totalled $42,500. We’re still using that money to pay salaries for two of our three developers, along with other basic business costs like licensing software and promotion. We need another $20,000 to finish the game and make sure it’s as good we can make it. We’re asking for $5000 more than what we need in order to cover the cut Amazon and Kickstarter take as well as promotional costs.

Mob Rules Games believes that radical transparency is the best way for us to do business – that if we are as open and straightforward as possible with our customers and the world, we’ll both earn their trust and be able to operate in an open and honest manner. We post our budget, schedule, progress, investors, and corporate policies on our web site. We will tell you exactly how much money we’ve spent and how we use every dollar that comes in through this Kickstarter. Once the game is released, we will tell you exactly how many we’ve sold, how much money we’ve made, and so on.

And you don’t just have to take our word for it. Thus far all of our operating capital has come from investments by the Lewis Charitable Foundation, a non-profit with the goal of promoting radical transparency in business. We’re already accountable to them, but we want to be accountable to you as well. For those who want to know more about our open business model, check out There we have details about the budget and schedule, an explanation of our rather unusual, project-based investment model, and a description of our worker-controlled corporate structure.

User Interface Evolution (adapted from Mob Rules Games)

Rick Dakan sez, “Last fall, Mob Rules Games let voters choose their project, and they picked the turn-based haunted house game, Haunts: The Manse Macabre. The trio of indie developers, Geek Mafia author Rick Dakan, programmer Jonathan Wills, and artist Austin McKinnley have been working on it ever since, with the help of a small outside investment. Haunts is being written in Go and the code is all open source, while the content is licensed under Creative Commons. Mob Rules Games is a Benefit Corporation that is employee-owned and managed. They make all budget, sales, schedule, and investments entirely public.

Work on Haunts has proceeded apace, with Jonathan and Austing slaving away at the code and art mines respectively. Much of the recent work was about the User Interface, which is always a tricky thing to get right. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, and there are some good and bad examples of turn-based UI that have been looked at for inspiration. Their general guiding goal is to keep it as simple and useful as possible. None of them like UI elements that overlay the gameplay space, so they’ve framed out the controls and displays at the bottom of the screen (for the most part). Here’s the evolution so far:

They started with a pretty big box, which had a space for information about whatever unit you might be targettng. The words like “Blinded!” refer to conditions (buffs and de-buffs) that the unit is suffering from. The names are mostly fun place-holders that Austin through in, although they really like Vexed!


Quickly deciding that they didn’t need to use all that screen real estate for info on the target – that they’ll handle with a mouse-over pop-up on the screen. So, then they did this:


The pop-up information panel for the Master of the Manse is too big there, but you get the idea. They were honing in on what is wanted for the bottom bar though. Which brought it to this:


Which is pretty close to where they’re going to end up. Deciding that some contextual information, like the stats for individual attacks will slide up from this box when your mouse is over specific actions and condition. But once you’ve played the game a few times, you’ll know what those powers do and thus won’t need that information all the time. Maybe.

User Interface is always a struggle to get right, but right now they’re happy with what’s going on, and it plays well. Yes, it’s a game they can actually play now, albeit a buggy one which crashes sometimes. But still, a game!

I’m personally really excited about this game. Looks to have that early Diablo feel to it with a twist.

Todd B.
Linux Game News


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