About this project
Uktena - A Free Role-Playing Game For The PC
Uktena is a single-player role-playing game for the Windows PC, based on the Native American cultures that existed in southeastern North America around 500 to 600 years ago. The game will be released free of charge in digital form under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.
The Uktena is a giant horned rattlesnake prominent in Cherokee mythology. The game storyline is loosely based on southeastern Native traditions and combines warfare, political intrigue, magic, and the supernatural world. The player begins the game as a young warrior, starting out at his family's small farmstead helping his relatives complete various farm tasks and chores. As he gains experience he'll have the opportunity to accept more challenging tasks.
As the story unfolds the character travels from his small farm to larger villages and towns, and eventually to a walled city, across a landscape representing a world that's lost to us now, allowing the player to experience what it might have been like to live in that world. The character also journeys to the Underworld of caves and the deep places below the surface of rivers and streams, encountering supernatural beings, some benign and some malevolent.
The game has most of the features associated with a role-playing game:
- Quests - The player's character talks to non-playing characters (NPC's) to get quests, and doing quests and other actions increases the character's experience.
- XP (Experience) - As the character gains experience he levels up, increasing his skills and abilities.
- Skills and Stats - The character has a pool of stat points that accrues as he levels up and the player can use these stat points to choose which skills to enhance.
- Items and Inventory - The player acquires a variety of usable items such as food, weapons, and clothing from quest rewards, harvesting natural resources, looting, and from random finds, and has an inventory for storing and managing game items.
- Combat - The character engages in melee, ranged, and spell casting combat with enemies, which include human, animal, and supernatural NPC's.
- Navigation - The player navigates the game world using a compass and area maps, and can freely explore the game world.
- In-Game Help and Tool Tips - Uktena uses standard keyboard and mouse controls. Anyone who plays PC games should find it to be pretty much pick up and play and those unfamiliar with this type of game should be able to learn quickly using the in-game help and interface tool-tips.
What Needs To Be Done
The core functionality of the game is at least 98% completed, but almost everything seen in the video and the screen shots on this page is "programmer art" - temporary placeholders used while the game system is being developed - so the majority of the work that remains to be done is art related:
- Character modeling, textures, and animations
- Building out the game world and improving the environmental models, textures and sounds
- Voice acting
- Creating the soundtrack
How You Can Help
I estimate that it will take about 6 months to finish these tasks and that’s where you come in. My financial resources are exhausted and if this Kickstarter campaign is successful it will give me time to finish the game.
Any funding exceeding the goal will be used to make the game better and to finish it faster, such as contracting out artwork or hiring better voice actors, for example.
Please note that a Kickstarter campaign is all-or-nothing - if the goal isn't reached by the deadline the project won't be funded.
Why It Matters
When the game is finished I want to make it available as a free digital download. I have plans for future games that I'd like to create and possibly sell, but it's important to me that as many people as possible have access to Uktena. Here's why:
When many people hear the words Native American they think of teepees, war bonnets, and other icons associated with the great horse riding, buffalo hunting cultures of the American plains, but you won't be seeing those things in this game. Uktena is about a different Native culture and a different period in American history, neither of which is very well known to most people.
I believe Uktena has the potential to help change that by immersing players in that prehistoric world and letting them participate in that civilization while having a fun gaming experience.
Uktena takes place in what we now call the state of Tennessee, in the general area where the city of Nashville is located. Today the city is famous for its singing cowboys, but its Native American heritage stretches continuously back at least 10,000 years, to the last Ice Age when hunters pursued mammoth and mastodon along the Cumberland River.
Around 600 years ago, during a time archaeologists call the Late Mississippian period (named for the Mississippi River valley, where the culture originated about 900 AD) Nashville was a major metropolitan area populated by Native people living in small farms and villages as well as larger towns and ceremonial centers. This is the setting for Uktena.
The Mississippian People were mainly farmers and their crops of corn, beans and squash supported large populations. They lived in wooden frame houses with walls made of woven cane covered with plaster and topped with thatched roofs. They built earthen pyramids that served as platforms for their civic buildings and large conical burial mounds as monuments to their ancestors. Many of their larger towns and cities were surrounded by walls called palisades, made of poles placed upright in a trench.
For reasons not well understood, the Native population of Middle Tennessee underwent a sharp decline or the people radically changed their settlement patterns around 1450 AD. When European explorers and traders arrived in the 1600's they encountered much smaller Native settlements, and by the time the Euro-American occupation began in 1779 the area was mainly used as a hunting preserve by many historically known tribes.
But the remains of the previous Native civilization remained. The platform and bural mounds, extensive cemeteries filled with stone-slab coffins, and the ruins of houses buried under the soil covered the landscape and were well known to early Nashvillians.
Platform Mound Near Nashville
Not many of these places exist today. Over the years most have been destroyed by agricultural, residential, and commercial development, road construction, and looters looking for artifacts to sell. Some of the destruction was done inadvertently but much was down knowingly and even intentionally, and it continues today. In recent years road projects, housing developments, shopping centers, and even libraries and museums, along with illegal looting, have impacted or destroyed major Native American archaeological sites in the Nashville area.
It may seem inconceivable that America's heritage could be wiped out like this, but I believe a major reason is because most people aren't aware of it. This was one of my main motivations for creating Uktena. I think a video game can have a powerful impact on the imagination in a way that other media can't, and once the player has "experienced" the history he or she will be more likely to object to what little is left of it being crushed under the treads of a bulldozer.
I know I risk turning some people off by injecting what might seem like such a negative note into a description of a game project, but I have to be honest about why I'm asking for your help. At the same time I want you to know that, like most people, my main objective when playing a game is to have fun, and I'll do my best, with your invaluable assistance, to make Uktena a fun and exciting game.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please contact me at:
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