BERGENFIELD, N.J. -- Judah Mantell has already finished most of the development on a video game and is crowdfunding further costs -- and he's only a sophomore at the Frisch School, in Paramus.
Judah's game "Roswell" is an adventure RPG -- that's "role-playing game," for the uninitiated -- with an old-school pixelated look, for both the characters and backgrounds.
When it's finished, it will be available on most major PC gaming platforms, including Steam, GOG and Game Jolt.
Here's the basic plot:
The U.S. military is shaken.
The first 'flying saucer' has officially crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.
The public doesn't know what to make of this.
In the wake of the Second World War, Henry Fern, a skeptical government-hired janitor, stumbles upon a secret that has been kept to this day. Through experiments and odd occurrences, he discovers the repressed memories of his deleted past and a secret government plot that has been following him since the beginning of his career.
The game's plot and endings vary, based on your choices as you progress. The puzzle-based game is particularly innovative in that players can choose more or less violent approaches.
"I think it's a unique gameplay style," Judah told Daily Voice. The retro look may also be intriguing for modern players, who are used to a slicker look.
He decided to try making his own game perhaps two years ago. He doesn't know anyone who develops games; he just decided to try his hand at it. As the project has progressed, he's spent time trying out different styles of gameplay and art, and honing smaller details.
The teen, who will be 16 in December, showed a maturity about the process, as well: "Certain things can be frustrating -- like a bug that ruins the whole game -- but as you get things worked out, it's very satisfying to be able to do that."
As for choosing the infamous, nigh-mythical Roswell as the game's subject, "It's always something I've been interested in," Judah said. And yes, he's watched "The X-Files," and yes, he's read "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.
Judah was also recently interviewed on the "Crowdfunding Cast" podcast, which you can listen to here.
The teen is using the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to fund both marketing costs and costs to publish the game on an online platform. Indiegogo campaigns have fixed goals, meaning that if campaign targets aren't met on time, projects doesn't get any of the pledged funds.
Judah's deadline is now only a few days away -- but it's now 104 percent funded. He said that if the campaign meets a revised goal, of $1,000, he'll be able to "implement Steam Achievements, one feature that is highly requested, but difficult to do."
Like the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, backers aren't just making charitable donations. They receive project-related incentives, like customized T-shirts and copies of the final product.
For "Roswell," among other items, incentives include copies of the game and even, at the uppermost tier, having a character named after you.
Check out Judah's game here -- and perhaps decide to become a backer, yourself.