About this project
Odyssey is a science puzzle adventure game focused on scientific reasoning and argumentation in astronomy and mechanics from the ancient Greeks to Newton. The game blends the history of science with an immersive journey across the exotic yet dangerous Wretched Islands to rescue Kai, a 13-year old girl, and her family. While solving puzzles to navigate across the islands, you also embark on an intellectual voyage, reconstructing the creative ideas and arguments of some of the world’s greatest scientists and philosophers. The game is suitable for ages 11+ and will be available on PC and Mac.
We were 'Greenlit' on STEAM in just 4 days!
"Imaginative and compelling..." -- Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT
"An extraordinary step for science education" -- Bryan Brown, Associate Professor of Science Education, Stanford University.
"An innovative historical approach to teaching science" -- Jonathan Osborne, Professor of Science Education, Stanford University
Drawn to one of the remote and uninhabited Wretched islands (in the Caribbean) by the distress call of 13- year old Kai, you find that all across the islands are barricades set up by her family, who are expecting a small group of unscrupulous sailors (pirates) to return to haunt them on the islands.
At the same time, the family wants to allow rescuers to reach them. So while they expect the barricades to keep away the pirates at least for some time, they hope that a rescuer would be able to get through, with the help of clues planted by Kai inside fragments of text that the player would find scattered across the islands. These fragments are pages from her journal that she wrote during her stay on the uninhabited islands, while her archaeologist Dad worked hard to excavate valuable Carib artifacts from the islands.
She not only recorded the events that happened in her journal, but also her intellectual journey across 2000 years of astronomy and physics through Socratic dialogues with Dad, and her own observations and experiments guided by those conversations.
She and her brother Sid also build a number of physical models as she debates, critiques and argues for her point of view with Dad. All of that is recorded in her journal.
But after a few unpleasant encounters with nosy sailors, the last of which leaves the family stranded on the islands with their boat and radio smashed, and only a few days of time given to them to turn in all the valuable artifacts (including treasure) that the sailors believe Dad has found, they decide to plant barricades all over the islands to buy some time, since Dad's graduate students are expected to arrive within a month. To leave them clues about how to solve the puzzles, Kai tears up her journal and plants fragments all over the islands, so that the fragment in each place has clues relevant to the puzzle at that place.
Unfortunately, there is no time left for the family.... and that's when YOU arrive on the scene.
Odyssey is a first-person explorer game, and the exploration piece is inspired by popular video games like "Myst".
As a player exploring the island environment, you discover a sequence of journal fragments left by Kai, and associated puzzles blocking access to the next area. The puzzles are arranged in a sequence that mirrors the chronological progression of ideas in astronomy and mechanics. So the player would be learning the history of astronomy and mechanics in a systematic sequence as he/she navigates through the islands to locate and rescue Kai and her family.
The science content (with its associated argumentation and reasoning) is sequenced in the following way:
Chapter 1 covers the origins of science, and the shift from the flat earth of the Pre-socratics to the spherical earth and physics of Aristotle.
Chapter 2 covers the shift from the geocentric universe of Ptolemy to the heliocentric universe of Copernicus and Galileo.
Chapter 3 covers the tussle between Galileo and the followers of Aristotle on free fall motion.
This campaign is for chapters 1-3 of the game. After releasing them, we plan to continue the story in a sequel, which would cover the following chapters:
Chapter 4 would cover the mathematics of uniformly accelerated motion as developed by Galileo (1D kinematics)
Chapter 5 would cover Galileo's ideas about inertia and the mathematics of projectile motion (2D kinematics)
Chapter 6 would complete the birth of a new physics with the construction of the three Laws of Motion and Universal Gravitation by Newton.
Meet our Team
Omkar Deshpande, Creator An engineer by education, a science buff by hobby, a father of two, and an aspiring philosopher by heart, Omkar had a childhood fascination for Enid Blyton adventures and exploration-based puzzle games (apart from birdwatching). Upon discovering that science becomes infinitely more interesting when learnt through its history, he embarked on creating a game that teaches science the way he wishes he had been taught, and also satisfies his childhood fantasies (and hopefully those of children around the world). In his past life, Omkar graduated with a Ph.D in Computer Science from Stanford after doing research into human evolutionary genetics and cultural anthropology, and worked as a Principal Engineer at WalmartLabs (formerly Kosmix).
Vivek Kaul, Creator An avid explorer of both great places and great ideas, Vivek is someone who likes to plunge into the depths of questions that pique his interest. After being freed from the drudgery of exams (he did very well in them!) that chased him till he was in graduate school, he re-discovered his love for science and mathematics by looking at the origin and development of big ideas in history. Dabbling with various ideas to bring this narrative of science to children, he found that the active and immersive world of 3D gaming provided the best answer and that led to the creation of “Odyssey”. Before creating "Odyssey", Vivek worked on machine learning at Facebook and did his PhD at Georgia Tech also collecting his potpourri of master's degrees in mathematics, aerospace, and computer engineering on the way.
Eric Lindstrom, Game Story Writer Eric has worked in the interactive entertainment industry for over 25 years as a creative director, game designer, writer, and usually combinations of all three. He received BAFTA and WGA nominations for his writing in the video games Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Underworld. He also writes Young Adult novels, including Not If I See You First and the upcoming A Tragic Kind of Wonderful. Along the way he has earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from UC Berkeley, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University, and raised his children on the coast. He is currently working on his third novel while consulting and writing part-time for “Odyssey”.
Jason Miller, Game Developer Jason has over a decade of experience with making games from consoles to mobile. Shipped titles for publishers Nintendo, LucasArts, Disney & Activision, and has worked in a variety of roles such as 3D Artist, Lead Technical Artist and Programmer. Enthusiastic about all types of games, and mastering the pursuit of making games fun and making them look good! Jason joined the project early on, delighted to work on an adventure/puzzle game that is inspired by science and push the boundaries of educational games.
Emily Stone, Illustrator and 2D Artist Emily is a 2D artist with 9 years experience creating art for games, comics, illustration, and teaching. Her first degree was in computer science, and she still doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. She lives in New Orleans with her dog.
Gregory Bentson - Game Developer
Nicki Rapp - Voice Actress
Freddy Barros - Unity 3D Artist
Radoslav Nikolaev - Game Developer
Matthew Arnone - Cut Scene/Teaser Editing
Matthew Mistele - Game Developer
Ashish Dani - Asset Artist
"The approach to science education developed in this fine and carefully executed project is both imaginative and compelling, bringing to the players of the game not only an understanding of what science has achieved, but also how it came about, the course of discovery. That is just what is needed to encourage students to become not merely observers, but also creative participants in the marvelous journey of exploration and understanding of our world." Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT
"The Odyssey game offers an important next step for science education in the information age. For most students, knowledge is at their finger tips. The need to recall information has been replaced by the need to discern between potentially opposing positions. The Odyssey game gives students a unique opportunity to learn how to engage in scientific argumentation through gameplay. This is an extraordinary step for science education." Bryan Brown, Associate Professor of Science Education, Stanford University
"This game takes an innovative historical approach to teaching science. It asks the students to engage many of the NGSS science practices such as constructing explanations, developing and using models, and arguing from evidence. Perhaps more importantly, it illuminates how scientific reasoning has led us to build the understanding we have of the Earth’s place in the solar system. From this, a student will begin to get an appreciation of the creative achievement that science represents in an engaging and compelling manner." Jonathan Osborne, Professor of Science Education at Stanford University, co-author of A Framework for K-12 Science Education for the NGSS
"Making Science and Math relevant to students calls for new ideas. Vivek and Omkar go back to how stuff was first discovered and put it in a video game where the players retrace this path and rediscover how the world works -- a wonderful 21st century meld of ideas." David Mumford, Fields Medalist, National Medal of Science Winner and Professor Emeritus at Brown and Harvard Universities
"The premise of the game is to lead students through a learning journey which follows in the paths of the great scientists. The game has students recreate the discoveries of the past while engaging them in a current story which will fascinate and challenge them. This game helps students to see science the way they should – with inquiring minds and from various perspectives." Jenny Garcia, Science teacher at Saratoga High School
"Odyssey is an intriguing interactive adventure game that takes you through the history of science. An engaging plot with integrated fun puzzles encourages you to learn about science through your own discoveries. The game graphics are realistic and dynamic, creating a full immersive gaming experience." Ella, 13 year old, Homeschooling
"This game was fun because it taught me the way people thought and did science since ancient times. It was also challenging, and required deeper thinking, which was good." Leela Srinivas, 7th grade
"As a homeschooling parent and educator, I organized the class that Omkar and Vivek taught based on their game “Odyssey”. This class was college-level style but taught in an approachable and thoughtful way. In fact, whenever the students encountered a difficult concept, they were able to add a component to the video game that helped them visualize it, giving our students the best possible way to comprehend the some of the difficult but magnificent ideas in the story of science. Odyssey comes from two brilliant educators and was one of the best learning experiences for our students!!." Robyn Carrillo, parent
Thanks so much for checking us out and hope we can have you on board soon! Leave a comment or send us a message if you have any questions.
(Kickstarter video production by http://startmotionmedia.com)
Risks and challenges
For the past year and a half we have been working full-time on building Odyssey. We first focused on building a strong alpha version for the first three chapters and it has been intensively tested and improved over the last several months. We are doing this Kickstarter to be able to keep working on the development and reach to a point that it can be released. We want to make the game experience better, optimize the game performance, make sure the puzzles and the journal are tightly connected, and improve the art of the game. We have the right team to make it happen and we are confident about delivering the game and the other rewards on time – we have backed other projects ourselves and we are committed to delivering a good experience. We will be transparent with the status and will post updates regularly here on Kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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