Learn Linux or Ethical Hacking from the ground up while playing a 3D fully immersive and interactive adventure game. NEW VIDEO!!
UPDATE - Backer exclusive: $10 dollar and up level bonus: You will get a modded version of the game that will be focused on teaching Linux command line skills. There will be no hacking in that mod but you will learn Linux. And have fun doing it. - You also get the other rewards in the tier you choose.
Update - Stretch Goals (THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR PROJECT!):
REACHED!!!! - $5000 - All that pledge $25 or more (including those that have already pledged) will receive a free copy (It will retail at $14.99) of the second episode of the Merl McPenrite series that will be titled : M.E.R.L. You will also receive the training PDF that will go along with this episode in addition to what you are already receiving for the current episode. $85 backers and higher backers will also receive the video training that goes with the second episode at no additional cost. M.E.R.L. is scheduled to be released in May 2013.
$7500 If we hit $7500 - T-Shirts! We will be sending Shirts as a token of our appreciation. We will send these to all that have at $50 or higher. We will be sending magnetic buttons with the same design to those that pledged between $10 and $50. Thank you all!
I would like to introduce you to a unique approach that combines adventure gaming and blended learning.
Take on the role of Merl McPenrite, an ethical Hacker that unwittingly gets involved in a conspiracy far beyond his control. He will need a combination of hacking, computer, and problem solving skills to be able to get out of the mess he finds himself in. Do you have what it takes to get him out alive?
In case you were curious as to where the characters name came from: MERL is an acronym for May Emulate Real Life.
The game is set in a near future setting in which corporations have a great deal of power throughout the world. They are willing to go to any means to accomplish their goals. Merl is just starting out in his career when he is contacted to perform consulting work by a small subsidy of one of these corporations and believes that this will be no different than many of his other days at the office. He is dead wrong.
The game will have several different difficulty levels:
- Easy - Use a menu driven approach while playing. This difficulty level is for those just want to enjoy an adventure game and possibly gain some security awareness along the way.
- Medium - You will still have a menu driven approach available but now you will also be able to type in the actual commands necessary to make the systems do what you need it to. Do not expect this level to be easy. This is the level that most beginning ethical hackers should already be at. Bad decisions will have a minor impact on the game world. You may get second chances.
- Hard - You want hard, you get it. This attempts to simulate the real world as closely as possible. You will have to know the commands for the challenges you will face. Bad decisions will have a huge impact on the game.
Pledge Rewards Update
In several of the pledge rewards you are offered an opportunity to immortalize your name or pseudonym in the game. Locations for your name include a choice of several items such as mail, book covers, sticky notes, a newspapers where your name is used as part of a clever 'headline' that you can help us create for you, graffiti on a wall in a car garage, or a name plate at a desk, office, or cube.
Here are a couple of examples of these. If funded we will provide a complete item list for you to choose from. If there is some specific item you would want your name on let us know and we will see if we can assist with your request!
(These images will be rendered by the game engine once they have been placed at which time they will have accurate lighting and shading)
NOTE: Mini-games are primarily geared towards those that would like to learn Linux or Ethical hacking skills. You will also learn computer security awareness which is becoming more and more important these days.
There will be a collection of mini-games made specifically to reinforce the skills necessary to make it through the game. Why should you read a boring book when you can practice your knowledge in a game?
Mini-Games include items such as a shooting range where you have to know what to shoot at, a driving game that will test your knowledge and reflexes, find the word games to help with vocabulary and screen scanning ability and more.
Here is an example video of one of the mini-games that will be included. This one is good for reinforcing the material you have learned while playing. Mini-games are an optional part of the Merl McPenrite series and do not need to be played in order to complete the adventure game.
The game is set in a interactive 3D world where the character can interact with NPC's, pick up items, use items and more. The computer simulations are clear and crisp and emulate the types of tools that you would need to know and understand to get through the challenges that Merl will face. The challenges are not all computer based as the ethical hacking field requires a large subset of skills such as hardware hacking, social engineering and more.
Here is an early screenshot of the first office area that Merl McPenrite begins his journey in.
There are several other areas but I do not want to give away the plot or the challenges in the game.
It will be playable in your Browser, your PC, Mac, or just maybe even on your Linux box (Dependent on Unity 4.0 release date. We will also need to test the port at that time to ensure it actually works as expected.)
It is my firm belief that learning should be fun. Some people spend thousands of hours playing repetitive games that require a wealth of knowledge to be successful. Why not use that time to learn something that is actually useful and beneficial! Hacking and other computer skills are generally best learned through repetitive action. People go as far as to create virtual labs with hundreds of systems to be able to practice their art. Why go through all of that when you could start up a game and lose track of time while your are practicing skills that you need to know in the real world?
Scope Creep is but one of many projects that MidGames will be producing over the next several years that focuses on bridging the gap between learning and fun.
Although we are fully dedicated to this project and willing to put hundreds, even thousands of hours into making this learning experience something unique, entertaining, and well... Awesome, we still need to buy licenses and handle other expenses. If funded, the project will be released much sooner and will contain features otherwise unavailable. We are willing to spend the hours, but we still need the financial assistance to make this happen. The funding goal is the absolute minimum we still require to get the game released in a timely manner. Any additional funding would be used to make the game better in many different ways such as graphics improvements, additional features, etc.
Midgames (Pronounced similar to 'Mighty-Games') is a small startup led by myself. I have managed to recruit a few (2..) members to share my dreams and spend some time working on level design, graphics, and story line. You may be surprised at how difficult it was to convince talented individuals that they should invest their time on projects that will be given away for free :-).
The MidGames mission is to provide innovative interactive blended learning for various fields. As previously mentioned, Merl is but one of many areas we would like to move forward with. We are building out a reusable framework that will be viable for various other areas of focus as well. If the skill requires repetitive action, memorization, and quick thinking we believe that we can probably make it less painful to practice using our techniques.
I am an experienced security professional with over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. I hold many industry certifications such as the CISSP, MCSE, Net+, OSWP, and more. I am also an avid Unity 3d fan.
I am also the author of "Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide" published by PacktPub.
If by chance the demand is high and we start to hit higher funding levels we will post a listing for what our reach goals would enable us to accomplish. This project is but the tip of the iceberg and we have a lot of plans for expansion down the road. Right now we are just managing scope creep and working within our means to get a solid product delivered to the community in a reasonable time frame.
If you made it this far, I would like to thank you for your time. This dream is going to become a reality one way or the other and I would love to have you join my adventure through assisting in this KickStarter.
Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Exterior Paned Glass Doors - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Exterior Door with Framing and Pediment - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Glass Dining Table - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Coffee Maker - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Coffee Mug - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Stapler - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Pedestal Vase Lamp - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Newspaper - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz
Andrew Kator and Jennifer Legaz released these models under the Creative Commons License - Link http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/
CC-BY-3.0 Scripts Used:
Unity 3D Dialogue Tool v. 1.0 - Copyright Royce Kimmons
We are offering our backers at the $25 level and higher a complete technical walk-through (in PDF) of the game. This training will not make any skill level assumptions and will cost at least $50.00 after the campaign has stopped. Basically, our backers at this level get the training at half price. (Not to mention that you make this project possible in the first place!!!)
At the $85 level and higher our backers receive a fully detailed video training module that goes along with the PDF they will also receive. This training will cover all scenarios available in the game such as password cracking, wireless hacking, system enumeration and more. This is targeted at the beginning level user and does not assume any skill level other than typical computer skills. It will be broken down in a clear and concise manner along with additional exercises to solidify your new or existing skill set. After the campaign is over this training will only be available at the rate of $250 dollars. This ensures that our $85 backers receive the best deal possible. Without your assistance the game may not be published for another year or so. Thank you so much!
Proof of concept modules have been created for all technical aspects of the game. We have the art we need ready for production but it still needs to be finalized and incorporated into several areas of the game such as the graphical user interface, and the final game play area (The equivalent to a final boss in typical games). We are currently working on the missions and making sure that everything fits together in a logical manner. The game has a basic linear structure with side 'missions' that can be completed along the way.
Items completed and currently being merged with the game:
Computer Emulation \ Hacking System - Fully tested. Now we are filling out the gaps and making sure it has everything that people will expect a hacking game to have such as working file systems, etc.
Mission System - Implemented. Adding missions every day followed by lots of testing. Similar to some popular games on the market today you will have dialog choices that will have an indicator as to how 'good' or 'evil' the choices are. Some things are not as clear and will need to be learned through playing or just understood to ensure that you know the difference between ethical hacking and what would be considered black hat activity.
GUI - Still trying to find something that is intuitive but still powerful. We have something that works already, what we are looking for now is something that is awesome.
Ethical Status Indicator - Every decision in the game is measured by typical ethical standards. This is represented on your Heads Up Display (HUD) by a hat that changes color from White to Grey to Black based on the choices Merl makes throughout the game.
Item interaction mechanisms- Implemented!
Animations - Working out the bugs. We will be spending at least a month on additional cut scenes and improving the animations.
Achievements - Technology has been implemented, we are still discussing if we even really want this. :)
Mini games - 1 memory game (we hope to surprise you with the way we handled this one) and a coder graphics version of our 'race and learn' minigames have been created. These still need work. The final release will include at least these two mini-game. We hope for more but a lot of that is resource limited and depends on funding, etc.
Simple answer - No.
You can play the game from start to finish by choosing the 'Easy' game play mode. This mode provides 'Hollywood Hacking' in that there are GUI menus for all tasks such as scanning a network or cracking a password. You will be presented with option icons and your choices will allow you to play the game as if it were a standard adventure game with lots of options and puzzles. For instance, instead of having to pick the proper lockpicks when trying to open a door you would be able to choose the 'Pick the Lock' button (If you have picked up the lockpicks along the way!!)
In the medium and hard modes you will need to have a certain skill level. These modes are for people that want to practice and learn. The medium level will have menu options but instead of icons or simple descriptions they will need to pick the right commands from the choices when doing any hacking. The hard level just provides a computer terminal with whichever operating system is on the system you selected in the game.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Merl McPenrite series will be provided in 'episodes' with each episode increasing in difficulty with each episode. Each episode will have a distinctive and logical start and end point. This first episode will focus on hacking basics and then move on to some intermediate 'missions' to get Merl out of the mess he gets into.
In easy mode we use a mechanic that allows you to choose options. If you choose the right options you get to move on. For some of the harder scenarios there are clues around that will help you pick the right answers. Easy to use for all but still based on real procedures or techniques.
In the other modes this is a bit different: For instance, if you are asked to crack a password file on a system in the office. You would walk to the work station, use the GUI menu option to 'Use' the computer at which point the screen fills up with the computer terminal or screen. You will be able to use this emulated system to accomplish your task.
In the medium difficulty you would still have menu options available to help you out, in hard mode it will all be based on what you already know and the clues we have provided. Many of the more obscure options in certain tools we emulate will not be available. Those options that are available would work in a virtual lab you build just as well as they do in the game (That is how we know what to expect from certain commands that are typed, at this point we cannot place real virtual machines in the game.) Maybe with funding and time we could eventually add that feature.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Thank you for your support! All backers will be listed in a special credits page in the game. You also have our heartfelt gratitude.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
You will receive early access to final version of the game. This means that you will be notified and granted access to the game at least 15 days before final public release.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
Linux Lover - Backers at this level will get a modded version of the game that has a focus on teaching Linux skills from the ground up. This is a Kickstarter exclusive and will not be available to others once the full game is released. You also receive the previous reward tiers and guaranteed Beta Access. We will have a forum setup to take your input on the game and how it is coming along.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
The previous reward tiers plus a complete game walk-through in PDF format with detailed technical explanations of the penetration testing techniques necessary to complete the game scenarios. If you are learning, this tier is for you.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
16 backers Limited (4 left of 20)
The previous reward tiers plus you get to have your name (or pseudonym) in the game. You may choose placement on a selection of items such as an office\cubical name plate or in one of several in-game items such as newspapers. Please note that we will not put anything inappropriate into the game.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $85 or moreYou selected
The previous reward tiers plus a video walk-through of the game with full explanations of all penetration testing techniques necessary to finish the game. The videos will go hand in hand with the PDF walk-through.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
The previous reward tiers plus your name prominently displayed in the credits as a major contributor. Thank you.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
The previous reward tiers plus free access to any future modules and training materials developed for the Merl McPenrite series. (This is the only module we are thinking about releasing for free and the training material\ walk through itself will never be free). You will also be listed as a lifetime supporter in our splash-screen displayed at the beginning of the game. You will also receive a copy of the book "Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide" signed by the author of the book. Will will also place a small token of appreciation for your support in the game via a trophy, statue, or other tribute to acknowledge your contribution.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
Corporate supporter level - The previous reward tiers plus you may have your company logo displayed as a supporter in it's own splash screen prior to the start of the game. Nothing inappropriate please. Your logo will need to be approved by our team prior to being placed in the splash screen. If you have product placement that you would like to see within the game such as a small poster, desktop background, branded TV, etc. we will make that happen as well. Once again, it will have to be appropriate for our target audience. You will have to give us written permission to use your logo and\or branding in the game if you chose this tier.Estimated delivery:
- (30 days)