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IF WE REACH $30k, we will add a whole new narrative storyline to a time travel destination of your choice!!
UPDATE: WE DID IT! But can we keep this momentum?? If we can raise an additional $1000 over the goal, we'll add a new sidequest to the game at launch! And you get to vote on what it will be!
UPDATE: NEW REWARDS! We're adding some new benefits to existing rewards, increasing subscription lengths, and adding rewards!
Just $10 and we'll throw in 1 trial month of free basic subscription.
The $25 level will get you 3 months subscription.
Make the jump to $35 and we'll now give you both soundtrack and comic.
Go up to $50 andwe'll give you 1 year of basic subscription.
At the $100 level you can now choose to get a lifetime basic subscription instead of the 3 months of premium.
A new $200 level will get you a lifetime subscription for up to three people.
And pledge $2500 to our cause--get us to the finish line!--and a school or institution of your choice will get lifetime subscriptions for all of their students in perpetuity!
UPDATE: Referral Bonuses! If you're a backer and you get two of your friends to also back The Time Tribe, and they email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us you referred them, we will bump up your reward level to the next major one, up to the $1000 level, at no cost to you! Refer the most people, and we'll put your likeness in the game!
The Time Tribe will be a browser-based flash game, and so will work on any OS and browser that supports flash. There will also be an iOS version for iPad.
The Time Tribe is an episodic game for kids aged 8-13, the perfect melding of point-and-click adventure game and virtual world. It's a time travel adventure with an epic story rooted in real history and archaeology, and designed to foster cross-cultural understanding, historical knowledge, empathy, and global citizenship.
We've put a lot of personal investment into making this game with the highest production values we possibly can as an indie game developer -- the immersive, historically accurate virtual world environment is depicted with gorgeous art and music, and extensions to the game cross the digital/real world divide with beautifully-crafted physical objects, comic books, multimedia fiction, letters from the characters, and plans for much more.
But we're an indie developer and we can’t do it alone. We’re making the game as we speak, and it’s going to be awesome, but without community support, we won't have enough funds to do the marketing needed to get it on people’s radar, unless we cut corners on the final product – and we really don’t want to do that. We’re passionate about this project and committed to creating the best possible game we can, and then getting it out in front of as many people as we can. And that’s where you come in.
What Makes This Game Different
Most games made for kids are pretty mindless, designed to occupy players but not much else. And then there are games claiming to be “educational” (the majority of which actually are not), or feel like classroom drills—and who wants to play that kind of game?
Research shows that real learning is achieved not when kids are given facts to memorize and be tested on, but when they're excited about the subject matter, when they engage with it on their own terms, when they participate and care and are given the power to make choices about it that matter. Too many schools aren’t providing this kind of learning environment.
We're not suggesting we can fix education with this game. But we do think we offer a unique game experience based on how kids already love to play, but enriched by insights into human history and culture, with immersive gaming and storytelling techniques that make learning a natural byproduct of having fun.
So we propose an epic game series set in a world as rich as Harry Potter’s, but spun from the magic of real human history. Following a quest through accurate, detailed reconstructions of past times and places, interacting with the everyday people who lived in them, players will consider unfamiliar viewpoints, weigh both sides of a conflict, and ultimately make choices which may have no right answer. They will learn about other cultures and how problems of past and present relate, and develop unique relationships with the characters, as they shape the story with them. The whole experience is designed to stretch the mind and promote critical thinking—all while keeping kids excited as the story unfolds over weekly updates and major monthly episode releases.
With production values far above the gaudy, cartoony feel that pervades kids' gaming—from gorgeous artwork and orchestral soundtracks to high-quality metal timekeys, richly developed characters, and scenarios that will make them really think—we don't undervalue what kids want, and we don't underestimate what they can handle.
We don't want to spill all the beans just yet, but the story revolves around four kids brought together in a rambling old house museum known as the Keep, where they learn they are members of a mysterious group called the Time Tribe. When they discover the ability to time travel, using mysterious devices called timekeys, they begin a sweeping quest into the past to search for clues to their true purpose, long lost amidst the sands of time.
After the “Prologue” launch episode set in the Keep, the game takes players to human history's most exciting times and places, leading with Roman Britain, Inca Peru, the world's first city at Mohenjo-Daro, First Empire China, and the fabled city of Troy! Each episode provides new opportunities to meet interesting people, solve puzzles, resolve conflicts, and discover the secrets of human history.
The Full Monty
But wait, there's more! The Time Tribe was always meant to be even more than an engaging adventure and story with integral educational value. And it's always been our intent to meet kids where they already are, doing what they like to do best.
Catering to what tweens spend much of their online time doing already, The Time Tribe also offers the best in casual gameplay, in a uniquely high quality virtual world setting. Players will use customization and collection activities to create distinctive coats of arms on their game profile page, and form galleries of artifacts to personalize a home base in the Keep. Players can showcase their own creations and view those of friends within the integrated game community.
Physical, real-world objects will bridge the digital/analogue divide. Chief among these are “timekeys,” wearable key rings modelled after the rings ancient Romans wore (because togas didn't have pockets), and which are the magical items enabling time travel in the story. These beautifully-crafted, 100% awesome pewter finish rings (which are non-toxic, lead-free, and pass all US-mandated material, metal, and safety tests) will be collectible—one for each time travel location—and will look beautiful on your hand, around your neck, adorning a backpack, or just sitting on a shelf.
As the game goes on, real-world versions of virtual artifacts players collect in the game will become available, too.
We're also building integrated charitable giving right into the game. Acknowledging that the lessons of the past are inextricably linked to the problems of the present, we will empower kids to make a real-world, present-day difference to causes that matter to them. We are partnering in this effort with the Harry Potter Alliance and World Leadership Foundation and plan to expand our charity partnerships to address as many of the causes players will encounter in the game as possible.
Finally, serial comic books will help flesh out the story of the Time Tribe, with the added fun of having their course determined by choices made by players in the game.
Down the road, we even have plans for a mobile location-based app that gives players real-world quests to take them away from their screens and into museums, libraries, and historic sites around the world!
And that's where you come in.
It's really hard to get a game made without established studio support, a luxury we unfortunately do not have. We've pulled together an amazing network of generous and incredibly talented artists and developers, but we're bootstrapping everything from scratch and need your help to reach the finish line.
We're well on our way towards creating the game in the full range of experiences we’ve described, but all of these pieces of the puzzle add up.
Help us raise $25,000, and we'll bring you into the process. You can get your very own real-world timekey, and be invited to join us for beta testing of The Time Tribe, with a chance to have your say about what it should be like, and how we can make it even better!
Check out the rewards at the side, and we hope you like what you see.
And thanks so much for your support!
-- Karen Wehner and Lucas J.W. Johnson
A game like this actually costs a lot more than $25,000 to make. So we’ve sunk substantially more than that into the project from our own pockets and credit lines. But we think it’ll be worth every penny. Please join us and know that your contribution will make a real difference to a great game which aims to change the face of quality, fun gaming for kids!
Our story arc calls for major new episodic content to be released monthly. This will be a mix of 1) full time travel adventure storylines, "Timekey" episodes set primarily in a single time travel destination, and 2) “Keep Mysteries,” episodes set in the Keep and focusing on the story of the Time Tribe and the quirky but lovable cast of eight non-player characters who make the Keep such an interesting place!
But ongoing contests, updates, and special events will keep content fresh on a weekly basis, too.
Like so many other games these days, The Time Tribe will be free for anyone to enjoy, with premium upgrades available in the form of tiered subscriptions, in-game microtransactions, and real-world merchandise. At the moment the plan is to charge $5.95 for a basic subscription (giving players a stash of premium virtual currency, exclusive customization options, and unlimited access to all the quests in-game), and $14.95 for a premium subscription (everything in the basic tier, but more of it, plus a real-world timekey and a range of other real-world game elements, created with love, customized to player preference, and delivered via snail mail every month or episode cycle).
Optional in-game microtransactions are pretty much the usual suspects: energy power-ups, skill level-ups, bonus quests and dialogue options, etc., should you prefer to buy these a la carte rather than having them bundled into a subscription package.
Of course if you just want a timekey without the rest of the subscription benefits, you can buy that on its own, for around $7.
No. The Time Tribe is more like a role-playing game in that way, with four main characters players control, with the option of switching between them at various points in the game to capitalize on their different strengths and skills. Of course, if players prefer, they can stick with their favorite character through thick and thin. But since the storyline and relationships developed with non-player characters are shaped by such choices, switching between characters provides new vantage points on the story and enhances the overall game experience.
The game engine and the prologue launch episode are nearing completion, but we're still working on the finishing touches and all the extra content that surrounds and supports the game. There's also the first full time travel episode to create—and all the episodes to follow.
So we know we can make this—the foundation is in place, and it’s beautiful and on track for a summer 2012 beta release—but we need a boost to ensure that everyone who should know about this game will!
We've been advised by marketing and PR veterans that $25,000 is what it will take to run a lean, focused, but effective marketing and PR outreach campaign targeting both kids and their parents, and generating enough momentum to get the ball rolling right before, during, and after launch. From there we hope the product will speak for itself, earning word of mouth and editorial (vs huge amounts of paid) coverage going forward.
Well, when we’re done screaming and cheering and weeping on each others’ shoulders, we’ll immediately get started on making The Time Tribe even more ridiculously awesome. First, we won’t have to pay Lucas in gummy bears anymore (KIDDING; he likes being paid in gummy bears).
Every dollar we raise will go towards making the game as good as we know it can be, and exceeding our goal will let us get started on creating some of the other real-world pieces of the game, and even begin production of Episode One without the need to spend a lot of time running around, trying to secure outside investment.
From the very start, we wanted The Time Tribe to feel different from what people have come to expect from “educational” and kids’ games and the time travel genre in general.
It's been a long time since there was a game for kids as good as Carmen Sandiego or Oregon Trail. There are some great educational games out there, but they just can't compete with the excitement offered by blockbuster gaming titles. And most online games for kids are mindless affairs that favor accessorizing over substance, and care more about getting mom's credit card number than the actual gameplay experience.
The time travel genre feels tired, too. It's filled with famous dead white guys fighting each other, futuristic soldiers sent back in time to stop World War 9, etc. But we believe history is exciting enough without embellishment—amazing people have done amazing things throughout the course of human history, and there’s real magic in exploring the real past.
It doesn’t matter how much educational value a game packs if kids don’t want to play it, though. The Time Tribe is a great episodic story with endearing characters and eyewitness visits to exciting times and places, a replayable point-and-click adventure game where critical thinking and player choice shape outcomes, and integrated real-world activities that pull kids out from behind screens; all embedded in the proven casual virtual world model kids love, but based on educational content parents will love too.
All of the above! Especially “what.”
The Time Tribe is primarily a game—a browser and iOS-based point-and-click adventure game with elements of immersive role-playing games and casual virtual worlds, with fresh content added weekly, along with major monthly episode releases.
But to go along with this video game, there are elements which add a whole new dimension to the experience: serialized comics and other multimedia fiction formats, real-world artifacts led by the timekeys, letters and other game enhancements players will receive via snail mail, an online community to share with friends, and plans for much more.
Each element will enhance the experience of the game and the story, making it more immersive, more compelling, and more interesting—but you could just as easily play the game on its own and never get involved in any of the rest of it.
Okay! A serial comic book will help tell the story of the Time Tribe. As a player reaches milestones within the game, they'll unlock new parts of the comic—a few pages here, a few pages there, until by the end of an episode, they've unlocked the whole thing. Parts of the comic are even used as cutscenes within the game, complete with voiceovers!
Furthermore, each episode after the prologue will feature some kind of important decision players need to make, and the choices made will change how the episode ends—and thus change how the comic ends, giving players a real hand in how the story unfolds.
Once a certain number of players have unlocked a piece of the comic, we'll release it to anyone who wants to read it, so people can follow the story even without playing the game—just a bit later than everyone else. But whatever choice the majority of players make will determine which ending everyone else gets to see—the ending that becomes the public canonical story of the Time Tribe.
Like the comics, the multimedia fiction will be released in small chunks over time and serve to fill in even deeper details of the backstory, characters, and their relationships – but with the key difference that they are written from the first person perspective of the characters, offering multiple points of view on the story as it unfolds.
If you have a premium subscription to the game, you’ll not only receive each episode's real-world timekey, but you’ll also get lots of snail mail to enhance your enjoyment of the game. This will start with letters from the characters. These letters will help expand the story of the Time Tribe, providing deeper insights into the characters and the settings, the backstory, fun historical facts, and more.
And that’s just the beginning. We're designing a huge variety of cool stuff for our premium subscribers, including journal entries, cool recipes, coded messages to be cracked, real-world versions of artifacts collected in-game, and more!
Karen has a professional background in history, archaeology, anthropology, and education, and Lucas has a professional background in writing, storytelling, and cross-platform experience design. Besides that, we bring a passionate creative vision to the project, which has attracted top caliber collaborators to do all the kinds of stuff we can't, including:
Concept artist and illustratorhttp://www.chrisbeatrice.com/
Voice director/actor Lani Minella and herhttp://www.audiogodz.com/cohort
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