Short (40 Sec) Trailer Here!
Hello! We are John Koenig and Gabriel Brockman (gabrielbishop) and together we form what the IRS lovingly calls Called Shot LLC. John is currently a PhD student at the University of Minnesota studying parallel and distributed real time simulation and Gabriel is a freelance artist specializing in concept and 3D art.
Over the past two years The Electric Adventures of Watt (TEAoW) and the creation of its underlying engine, Ymir, have been the focus of much of our free time. Both of these projects are very large in scope and, in order devote more time to these endeavors, we will need financial support. That is why we have come here to ask for your help in staving off the distractions of outside work so we can give both of these projects our full attention.
This is a community based project and we will show our thanks by keeping the fruit of our labors available to all. The contributions to the community that will be realized by the funding of this project will be threefold:
- The Game: An action-packed, head-to-head platformer will be unleashed upon the world. The playable demo will be short but fully capable and will enable you to destroy your friends (or enemies) in new, fun, and creative ways. Furthermore, a fully functional demo will allow us to seek out additional funding we will need in order to evolve TEAoW into a full single/multi-player experience.
- The Engine: The distributed, parallel game engine powering TEAoW, Ymir, will forever be open source and licensed under GNU GPL. We want to see Ymir enabling others to power their worlds over many cores and across multiple machines.
- The Game Assets: Game assets used to create TEAoW will be licensed under Creative Commons and disseminated to the community through popular channels (i.e. opengameart.org).
Help Called Shot raise 14k and forever be a part of the open-gaming movement.
Below you will find sections discussing the game, engine, and project in greater detail.
The gameplay for TEAoW inherits from many platform titles that we have enjoyed in the past. Great games such as Psychonauts, Limbo, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Bomberman, and Super Mario just to name a few.
Thanks is owed Justin Castaneda (http://wheniwaslittlebook.blogspot.com/) for sharing a piece of his artwork on HitRecord (http://www.hitrecord.org/records/467868) which originally inspired us to imagining the world for The Electric Adventures of Watt. An hour spent browsing HitRecord and we have been dreaming up Watt's adventures ever since. Thank you Justin!
A Dark Planet
On a lonely, dark planet in deep space the story of TEAoW unfolds. This solitary rock hurtles through open space, ominously orbiting a black hole which has long fed from this remote region of space.
The only light which shines upon the planet's harsh, jagged surface originates from distant stars. Very little organic life exists here. What atmosphere the planet had has long been lost and the only organic life known to exist are strange vining plants, so-called power plants, which feast off what faint radiation happens to fall upon the planet. Quickly these plants grow, branching their vines outward and upward in attempt to gather as much radiation possible. As vines mature, they produce small buds in which they store excess energy.
Although distinctly short on organic life, the planet is home to two warring factions: mechanical citizens of Illuminaria and the mysterious Creep.
The city of Watt and his people, Illuminaria is a bastion of light and innovation. Illuminaria's citizens, all constructed according to the designs of The Engineer, play out their peaceful lives in the life giving light emanating from The Core which hangs high overhead. No one knows exactly who The Engineer was or why he (or she) built Illuminaria, however, it is by the protocols set forth by The Engineer that Illuminaria has prospered.
Every citizen has a specialized role to play. While most citizens never leave their city, a select few are purposed with venturing out into the darkness to harvest the rippened power plant buds and deliver them back to The Core where they are ultimately used as fuel. These harvesters are outfitted with incandescent bulbs in order to ward off hostile Creep. These light sources must be used optimally, however, as harvesters have a limited amount of mechanical energy to power and too much direct light renders harvested power plant bulbs inert.
Denizens of the darkness and seemingly conjured out of the shadows of your own fearful imaginings, the Creep inhabit the parts of our lonely planet that are most devoid of light. All too often they can be found in and amongst mature power plants. These shadowy creatures hate the light and will do all in their power to extinguish any source of it.
Creeps appear to be entirely ephemeral and take on a multitude of sinister shapes, despite this, they have some ability to manifest, either to throw or push objects. Their origin is unkown. Where did they come from? Why are they here? Are you brave enough to venture out into the blackness to discover their secrets?
(This section is for those interested in the technical aspects of Ymir)
Ymir has been designed since its inception as a cross-platform, open-source, and openly licensed game engine capable of making full use of modern gaming platforms. The future of gaming platform performance is no longer dependent on regular increases in processing speed a single processor (core) but rather the inclusion of additional processors (cores). In order for any game engine to make full use of modern CPUs it must emply simulation methods capable of using multiple processors.
Aren’t other game engines already doing this?
Traditionally, games developers employ the so-called game loop to drive their game. Everything is handled within this game loop: User input is gathered and managed, game objects are moved, collisions are resolved, and the entire scene is redrawn to connected displays. This sequence is done over-and-over again until some event causes the entire process to stop.
While this method has served the game development community well, the traditional game loop can only be performed by a single processor. In other words without some sort of intervention the traditional game loop does not make full use of modern multi-core processors (scale).
To our knowledge, there are no other modern game engines available to independent developers that effectively scale over multiple cores. Sure, many make use multiple cores when loading a scene or when sending or receiving data over a network, but this only makes marginal use of the additional processing horsepower provided by multiple cores. As a result the entire game simulation can only proceed as fast as a single processor can execute each step of the game loop.
There are many challenges to making a game engine capable of making use of multiple cores, however, a foundation exists within state-of-the-art research for those bold enough to take on this challenge.
What technologies does Ymir use to accomplish this?
Ymir currently makes use of several technologies to realize its mission on Linux, Mac, and Windows. In order to simplify the task of computing over many cores and across many machines a majority of underlying game engine is written in Erlang. Erlang interacts with various other components written in other languages to draw scenes, gather user input, play sounds, and perform the other tasks that Erlang is ill-suited for. Currently, online rendering is provided by Ogre3D and offline rendering is provided by Mitsuba.
We are excited by both modes of rendering as we will soon be able to support both modes simultaneously. Imagine being able to capture in-game footage which can be later rendered into the amazing quality that only offline rendering can achieve!
Stay tuned to our development blog as John will be documenting Ymir more completely in the coming weeks.
Many of you who are familiar with game development are likely uneasy about the use of non-canon languages being used for a game engine. We are firm believers in not reinventing the wheel and using the best tool for the job. Higher-level language constructs and a robust, battle-tested runtime currently makes Erlang the best tool for distributed computation on a single platform as well as across heterogeneous platforms. It is not our intention for developers using Ymir to know Erlang. It is on our road map to provide front-ends to Ymir which will enable Ymir users to develop their games in more conventional languages (e.g. Lua, C, Python).
That's nice, can it be done?
Yes, and we have some very promising early results! Below is a graph which demonstrates how well Ymir scales while rendering the dynamic scene contained in our video section:
Not bad, eh? Game simulations are not easily scaled so we are very pleased with the performance gains we are seeing. Below you will see our frame rates rendering the same dynamic scene:
We are not stopping here though! We will continue to tweak our existing approach and experiment with new approaches in order to bring both the blue and red lines as close to ideal as possible!
We all know how essential music is to the gaming experience. That's why we are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the TEAoW team, Peter Wallin. A gifted musician and writer Peter brings some much needed skills to the team. Already hard at work Peter has gifted us with the song that accompanies our pitch video. This is only the beginning. Peter has concepts for at least 6 additional tracks and spends much of his free time banging out more on his guitar.
Stay tuned for updates from Peter in the days to come.
Why fund Ymir and TEAoW?
In exchange for funding you get:
- An action packed game
- Openly licensed game-ready assets
- A game engine with access to source code
With all you can get for your pledge of support; from a digital high-five to full inclusion in project planning as well as a some wicked cool ONE-OF-A-KIND artwork, game assets and source code, we feel confident in a fair exchange.
Your funding for our passion and hard work ultimatlely resuliting in a hugely shareable gaming experiance.
We need funding for:
- Creating our art assets
- Feature development for Ymir
- Polisihing and testing
- Recording music and sound FX
In order to devote ourselves full-time we need funding. We feel that full-time focus is the BEST course of action at this time.
Being a small team we have to be realistic. Most game titles these days require years of work and big teams to shoulder the workload. So how are three guys gonna get it done with only 14k and about nine months? Well, full time work for starters. Also, we have intentionally designed the playable demo to be less asset intensive than, say, a full story-mode title. Finally, we must consider that part of the battle is already behind us, the concept is complete and Ymir is already being tested.
The majority of the 14k will go to the development and integration of 3D game assets as well as commission new works from our musician. We assert that - given 9 months of full time labor and 14k to cover production costs and living expences - we feel confident that we produce a playable demo which will not only bring enjoyment to you, but also allow us to push forward and seek additional sources of funding.
Why flexible funding? (What if we don't make 14k?)
There has been some flack floating about regarding flexible funding and we think that the fears and concerns are largely a product of ignorance. We chose flexible funding because we know what we have; the right project and the ability to deliver. Should we fail to reach our goal rest assured that the Watt will go on. Here are three possible futures:
We meet our goal and all is well. We would expect to release the playable demo in second quarter of 2014!
Plan B: We will use the funds we do raise as leverage to generate additional investments to make up the difference.
Plan C: In the worst case scenario we would need to cut our hours, relying more heavily on third-party assets to fill in some gaps. We prefer to see TEAoW done sooner rather than later and will avoid release delays at all costs.
Whatever comes to pass, we will be frequent in our communications. Whether via project updates here or on our blog, you will know exactly what is going on and how much longer you have to wait.
What's that you say? What if we EXCEED our goal? Now we are talking! We want to stay focused and gorunded in reality though, so we haven't spent too much time thinking about this scenario. By exceeding our goal we will have proven what we already know in our hearts to be true; that Ymir and The Electric Adventures of Watt is bigger than any one of us.
Should TEAoW funding breache 14k we will certainly address this with more thought, in the mean time here are some strech goals we have in mind.
16k - More, better music. Music is essential to the gaming experience and we do not wish to skimp! More money means we can actually pay our current musician the wage that he deserves, for work he has already done and commision additional peices.
24k - See those Illuminarians and Creep all greyed out above? We want to make those playable characters in the demo! We just need to keep Gabe fed and happy so he can get them modelled and animated.
250k - We make the whole game!
I love Watt but I don't have the scratch!
Tell someone or, better yet, a whole bunch of people about us! We need your help to expand our reach. Take our links to the streets or talk about in your favorite corners of the Internet. You can even share directly from Indiegogo! It's up there just under our pitch video at the the top of the page.
You can help create a buzz by leaving us comments either here on Indiegogo or subscribe to our blog at www.calledshot.org, or visit our artist's blog. Gabriel publishes frequently and is always posting cool new images from TEAoW. Join the story there! You can comment and even take his images and create derivitives and share them with us. Who knows maybe we will even incorporate your ideas in to the game.