A spy game played in the real world. Welcome to the Second Cold War.
Coolest Video Game in Years Set to Bite It on Kickstarter
For Immediate Release, From The Directorate HQ
Barring the intervention of a leprechaun farting bricks of gold from a rainbow colored unicorn, the best game concept seen this century is about to crash and burn on Kickstarter. The Directorate, a real world espionage RPG that allows players to immerse themselves in a world of cold war style adventure using geolocation enabled devices, has raised only $10625 of its $235000 goal. “If you know of any wealthy magical creatures looking for a project, please let us know,” said founder Peter Lund.
The project launched nearly a month ago to rave reviews. “You people are genius. Simply genius. I love you. With all my heart. This. Game. Is. EPIC,” wrote one backer. Another added, “I want to have little spy babies with your game......secretly.” John Bergquist, The Directorate’s communication director claims not to know why people seemed to physically fall in love with the game. “All the very personal love out there from supporters…its 99% great and only 1% creepy. We love them back,” he added.
The campaign was going swimmingly until people began to realize that the concept did not originate from a previously well-known gaming firm. “Look, if you are already famous and successful you can do a quick video with almost no proof of concept and we’ll throw money at you,” said Trisha Soundbite, a non-existent commentator, “Unknown? The project had better be pretty much done. What do you think this is, a place where just anyone can just come up with a great project, present it in a cool way and get the funding needed to complete it?”
These unwritten rules of Kickstarter seem obvious. So why didn’t the team prepare by being famous and successful? Conversely, since they seem to have taken the more difficult ‘unknown’ route, why isn’t the game already done? Chris Skaggs, Directorate CTO, points to the fact that it’s hard to become famous and successful over night, “The only way to accomplish that nowadays is by getting spray tans and engaging in whiney slapfights on reality TV. We couldn’t bring ourselves to do that.” Skaggs points to the complexity of the concept as a reason it wasn’t complete before they asked for funding. “This is much closer to World of Warcraft than it is to Angry Birds. You can’t have this type of game play and expect it to cost the same as a 16k mobile app. That’s not how this works. We’ve put a whole bunch of time into this, we’re ready to build.”
Why, then, didn’t the team take out loans and burn through their savings to build the game? Skaggs claims that the necessities of paying ‘bills’ and ‘staying in business’ weighed heavily in the decision. “Dude, I’m married,” said Skaggs, “Like, to a woman. We have kids. No game, no matter how awesome, is worth the unholy rain of hellfire that would be unleashed upon me if I didn’t bring home a paycheck. We did everything we could.”
Ultimately the fate of the game lies in the hands of its backers. Hundreds of people from around the world have pledged their support, but thousands more will have to join them in the next five days to achieve success. “Kickstarter just released a great set of standards reminding users that it’s an idea and project platform, not just a store,” said Peter Lund, “We know our idea resonates and we’ll get it built. Hopefully we’ll have the cash on hand to start next week. Kickstarter has raised way more than $235,000 in way less than five days. We just need that boost. Hopefully our backers will get us noticed by The Oatmeals and Drew Curtis’s of the world.”
“That or the leprechaun,” he added.
What is The Directorate?
You know that feeling you get after watching an awesome Bond film? The sad feeling after all the Bondness wears off and you realize that you’ve wasted your entire life by not following your dreams and becoming a secret agent with an Aston Martin equipped with machine guns and an ejection seat? We do too. That’s why we’re creating The Directorate. The Directorate is an espionage game that takes place in real life. Combining geo-location tools and RPG style leveling and questing, The Directorate allows you to become a field agent in a real life game of espionage and intrigue. We’re bringing back all the fun of the Cold War and offering it to you at your doorstep. Your neighborhood, city – the entire world, really – becomes your gameboard as you set dead drops, proximity bombs and take out your enemies with poisoned umbrella guns.
As the foundations of the global economy trembled after the Great Recession, the world’s political landscape began to rapidly evolve. A combination of US bond rating downgrades, inflation, weak economic growth and the impending failure of the European Economic Community caused massive devaluations of the Euro and US Dollar, crippling the world’s traditional Western economic powers. China, in a bid to take their self proclaimed rightful spot as the world’s next superpower and install the Yuan as the global trade currency, catalyzes the destruction of Western economic, political and military power, refusing to buy US Treasury bonds and substantially increasing the price of exports. Cash rich China begins secretly purchasing the rights to massive oil and gas deposits in the Middle East and central Europe. Power has tipped even further eastward with the announcement of a Sino-Russian free trade zone, linking Russia’s massive natural resource reserves with China’s huge production capacity and seemingly endless pool of cheap labor.
Western political and economic interests, in a bid to ally against the ever growing Eastern threat, establish covert collaborative networks, secretly linking their military, economic and intelligence infrastructures.
As the West’s major governments, bureaucracies and companies close ranks, the battle lines for the Second Cold War are drawn.
Two clandestine organizations, the Specialized Eastern Covert Tactics and Operational Reconnaissance group (SECTOR) in the East and the Centralized Intelligence and Operations Network (CION) in the West have become the on-point agencies for this new struggle. Though hidden from the public eye, each organization represents the interests of their faction, including ties to the intelligence, economic, political and military groups in their representative area.
We’re building The Directorate on the most versatile espionage platforms ever: smartphones, tablets and browsers. That smartphone in your pocket is the most valuable spy tool yet invented. Think about it: video and audio recording, encryption, endless access to the world’s best databases, satellites pinpointing your exact location…1960’s James Bond would have given a kidney to have what we all carry around in our pockets. We’re going to open up the superspy potential of these devices and let you play with them.
As a new field agent you will be tasked with leaving dead drops, sabotaging enemy installations, transferring intel to contacts and even taking out your enemies with a broad range of virtual weapons. Though most missions have standard templates, each individual mission will be unique because of the location where it is played. As you gain rank and influence you'll unlock new items and new play types. And, of course, the real world is where you play; we hear the graphics there are amazing.
If you prefer to play spy at work when your boss isn’t looking, we have you covered. Our extensive browser based mission control console will allow you to be your Agency’s eye in the sky during live missions. You’ll assist agents in the field with updated intel, and dispatch key assets into the field, all from the comfort of your favorite chair.
As you create and hone your spy cell, you will have the opportunity to engage in larger team based simulations, pitting your spy army against your enemy in large public spaces. For example, one cell may be carrying mission critical info while another works to intercept it. The outcome of the mission will have some lasting effects for each cell...perhaps even their respective agency. We're working on several types of team missions, all incorporating different styles of game that will highlight different strategic elements, items and game-play styles.
All of the missions, especially the capture and control of safehouses, feed into the overarching plot of The Directorate game. As you gain territory for your Agency you’ll gain more assets and resources for yourself, your cell and your Agency. Special global events will be shaped around the territorial situation...you want to make sure that you and your allies control as much territory as you can.
Director of ComInt - John Bergquist
John directs all communications and media creative ventures for The Directorate. When not creating and promoting mobile apps and games for Code-Monkeys he is blogging about technology and connectedness for the Huffington Post and about the latest Kickstarter projects on FlurrysPick.com.
Chief Espionage Officer (CEO) – Rande Bruhn
Rande, a successful business and finance leader for over 30 years, spanning both young and established ventures, creates real world order out of the chaos of shadow realms and hidden agendas. His job, which he has accepted, is to envision a better world and manage the motley crew of The Directorate, forging new strategies to dominate the world of geo-location based augmented reality gaming.
Director of Art - Nat Iwata
The art of The Directorate is being shaped by Nat Iwata, taking into account both nostalgic and current espionage references to create a unique look and feel. An experienced artist and art director, Nat is responsible for overseeing the creation of the in-game world, from the look of the UI to the arsenal of spy gadgets. Nat is a Kickstarter veteran who's latest project was recently funded.
Control – Peter Lund
The mind behind The Directorate and its chief puppet master is Peter Lund. A veteran of the start-up world, Peter provides the creative direction and drive of The Directorate. After realizing that the real world of espionage was not quite like the brilliance portrayed in the movies, he decided to create his own spy agency. Why? Why not.
Director of Operations – Mr. S
Mr. S is Control’s co-founder and tactical counterpart. Trained in the US Army, Mr. S heads up mission creation and logistics, as well as keeping the project on schedule with veiled threats of the types of bodily injury he can dish out with his pinky.
Director of Technical Development - Chris Skaggs
A serial tech-entrepreneur, Chris founded Code-Monkeys in 2000 and jumped into mobile in 2008. As the drive behind over 300 apps and several chart-topping, award winning games he brings a almost fanatical devotion to development for the team.
We brought our project to Kickstarter for many reasons. First, we think you all will really like it. We love making people excited about new projects. The second reason is that we want to create this system for its users. A MMARG takes a huge level of participation from the users to make them work, and Kickstarter is the perfect place to find people willing to participate. There is more on this in our video updates, as well as in a fantastic video from the Extra Credits. Our funding level for this project will allow us to build a functioning Beta for our players, something fantastically fun that we can build on with future funding. With your help we’ll be able to keep this process transparent and collaborative with ownership from the people we’d like as our bosses: you, the players.
There is a rather heated debate going on at the office as to what to do if we raise way more than our funding goal. Some of us feel the need for a corporate fleet of Aston Martins outfitted with ejection seats and dual mini guns, while others feel that the resources would be better used for development of a plug and play system that would allow other developers to build MMARGs of their own. Though the Aston Martin faction is vocal, we tend to think that it wouldn’t be the best use of our resources, so we’ve made them a deal. If we raise more than $25 million we’ll get the Aston Martins. Anything under that will go into future development efforts. We’ll discuss this further in a video update if it looks like we’ll blow past our funding mark. Please don’t give us 25 million dollars. It’s not like we’re a real government agency; our toilet seats currently run us well under five hundred a pop.
So, in all seriousness, here are the basic (approximate) funding levels for building this game:
$235,000: Functioning Mobile Beta. You'll play the game in the real world using smart-phones and tablets.
$400,000: Additional and more complex mission types, more intense team play, optimized tablet interfaces.
$750,000+: Right around here we can start working on other player types including mission control and analyst. Upwards of this mark we're getting close to having a full fledged game including very detailed gameplay and missions, fully integrated cross platform play and major intel gathering capabilities.
There have been so many people that have helped us get to this point, but we have to single out four here. Max Mitchell provided our heart-thumping music; he's quite a talent. Cascade Cigar and Tobacco in Clackamas, Oregon provided the setting for our live action shoot, along with ersatz office space to Control and Mr. S for the last year. Thanks to you both. Sean Brown Cinematography and Amy Hunter provided us with an amazing film shoot and sound work. We couldn't have done this without them.
Legal Stuff: Any trademarked or copyrighted materials mentioned on this page or in our video are the sole property of the owners of said trademarks/copyrights.
Is this game international, or will it just be released in the USA? What if I live in a small town or somewhere without many other players?
Great question. The Directorate relies on two main things to make for great gameplay: people and places. The game will 'prefer' live players when they are available, but in places with fewer people or smaller populations it also allows for solo and AI driven missions. So yes, the game will work all over the world and in any location, however it will reward areas with larger populations with more rich and complex missions. People is less populated areas will still have lots to do. At lower levels, missions are more local and rely on a smaller network; but as you gain rank and level up your range grows to larger, more complex gameplay (including international missions.) This allows for people starting out to index locations in their community and recruit other players. This way the game grows with you.
What if we are playing over seas and an intelligence agency, Government, or military take this for the real thing? I can see some countries thinking that the game is just a cover.
Of course players are expected to abide by all of the laws and regulations of the area in which they play. That said, while we've designed the interface and gameplay to be deliberately ‘gameish,’ it is possible that observers might not understand what’s going on at first – think of the ‘Gotcha’ games back in the 80’s. Innocent bystanders aside, any reasonable government or agency should be able to quickly identify The Directorate as entertainment; any concerns would be alleviated by a simple google search...or a download of the game. We expect there are some areas where the game ought not be played, or played with caution (areas with authoritarian governments and paranoid police forces come to mind). Players should check local laws and always err on the side of caution.
If we are taking a trip, can we set up long haul missions? Or schedule missions with other cells in other cities?
Yes and double-freaking Yes. You’re getting just a tad ahead of us in this regard but we plan a whole range of long-distance and international game play that may include ferrying unique virtual items or smuggling information. If your destination has a strong player base, you'll be able to interact with it as much as you might at home. Also we encourage and anticipate a great deal of player-lead interactivity along the lines of guilds or strike teams – we call them cells. And in that world, local guild leaders have the freedom to interact, organize and even send their members on missions...but that’s down the road just a hair.
What about long term missions? IE sleeper cells, moles, double agents, triple agents, counter intel, counter espionage, etc?
Absolutely! The logistical and technological complexity of making these types of missions viable will likely keep them out of the beta build, however we plan on incorporating them into the final product and expansions.
How will the guns work? Do you have to actually level the device at someone? Estimate distance to determine probability of hit? Skill/abilities to determine probability of hit? Injuries?
Fight sequences will rely on a strategy-rich mini-game incorporating your skills and items. Though it would be fun to point and shoot with smartphones, current technology does not allow for an elegant and accurate interaction of this type. We also think that these types of movements and interactions of that proximity might create ‘legal inconvenience’ for players, so action of this type will take place exclusively in the virtual space.
Will one necessarily have to be connected to an internet connection throughout a mission? What volume of data will be required? Concerned about data usage limitations/cost. What if you are 'off the grid'? Can you still participate?
If you’re asking about Wi-Fi, then no – you’re not required to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. However, much or the game does depend on a device that can connect to the web through some means, like 3G. With that in mind, we will be keeping data load to a minimum to keep any data costs as low as humanly possible.
In a case where no connection is available at all then interaction will be necessarily limited but many analyst and surveying missions can be downloaded ahead of time and played off-line, or logged off-line and uploaded later.
pledged of $235,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on October 5, 2012.
Sep 5, 2012 - Oct 5, 2012 (30 days)
Pledge $1 or more
You will get early access to our Beta, which will be available to only you and your fellow Kickstarter supporters. Your name will be included in the great book of Directorate supporters, an item that will be accessible in all safe houses. You'll also receive our immense gratitude and the choice of an imaginary high five or hug.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $10 or more
True professionals know that there's nothing better for close range work than a silenced .22 pistol. This limited edition virtual item will only be available to Kickstarter supporters and can be accessed once the beta is available. Your in-game enemies will be impressed...in the seconds before everything goes black. You'll, of course, receive all the benefits of the previous funding level.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $25 or more
Along with the previous rewards, a pledge at this level gets you an illustrated PDF of the original Directorate handbook. This is the booklet Control and Mr. S originally wrote to outline the basics for the game and the plot. The electronic version will include both the original unadulterated handbook and the edited, updated version with new illustrations and content. Includes Previous Prizes.Estimated delivery: Dec 2012
Pledge $60 or more
Be the proud owner of a replica crowd dispersing pen as seen in the Directorate video. Previous prizes included, of course. Though the replica doesn't play music, it will write and have cool Directorate branding. We expect you can achieve a similar effect to the actual crowd dispersing pen by clicking it three times, throwing it into the middle of a crowd, and singing annoying music at the top of your lungs until everyone leaves. You will also receive a limited edition in-game ballistic vest. Appropriate for all occasions, our virtual vest features full torso coverage, Type III ballistic protection and understated elegance that will serve you well in any situation.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $100 or more
At this level, you'll receive a limited run T-Shirt featuring the agency of your choice (CION or SECTOR). You'll also receive a Directorate USB drive jam packed with cool content and access to unique items. Previous prizes are included at this level.Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $250 or more
This level includes previous prizes (screw it, we're going to write IPP for "includes previous prizes" in the descriptions from now on,) and features some great Directorate swag. For $250 you'll receive a limited run T-Shirt featuring designs only for this level, a soft cover version of the player handbook and an awesome poster designed by our own Nat Iwata. You'll also receive 5 limited edition in-game tools (TBD), one for you and four for your friends.Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $500 or more
A pledge in this tier will net you a hardback version of the player handbook signed by Control, Mr. S and the rest of the team. You will also receive a virtual umbrella gun, inspired by the unfortunate toys the KGB employed to silence inconvenient writers and playwrights. Only pledgers at this level will have access to this ricin tipped rain covering. IPPEstimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $1,000 or more
At this level you will receive a framed, signed print of the original design art for a suite of unique-to-this-level virtual spy gear: 1 weapon, 2 surveillance items, 1 item of clothing, and 1 surprise. You'll unlock these exclusive items at Beta launch. IPPEstimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $3,000 or more
0 backers Limited (26 of 26 left)
Receive a signed, framed piece of original artwork of your own spy toy based on an item of your choice. Pick your favorite paper weight, tea kettle, shoe, dog, whatever, and have it transformed into a superspy's dream. You'll work with the team to create your item which will then be incorporated into Directorate game play. IPPEstimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $6,000 or more
0 backers Limited (13 of 13 left)
Make your permanent mark on the Directorate by designing your own NPC (Non-Player Character). Be immortalized in-game as a character that players will interact with and know. You'll work with the team to design your character and storyline. IPPEstimated delivery: Sep 2013
Pledge $10,000 or more
0 backers Limited (2 of 2 left)
Fly yourself to Portland, Oregon and enjoy rain, bike taxis and a once in a lifetime opportunity to create your own dynamic character within the Directorate world. Clandestine hero? Supervillain? Along with the entire creative team you'll forge your persona and story, which we will weave into the overarching Directorate plot-line. You'll receive unique in-game powers and a virtual security team to follow you around. Once every year you will have the opportunity to update your plot-line with the Directorate team and impact the game world. Get in touch with us before pledging at this level.Estimated delivery: Sep 2013