Game Changer - The Football Match Fixing Game is a football (soccer) game with an unusual slant: Rather than managing a team or controlling a player, you play as a match fixer bent on corrupting leagues all over the world for profit!
The game was inspired by the match fixing scandals that have been so prominent in the media in recent years. With match fixing already the topic of best selling books and an upcoming movie, we thought it was a great idea to explore in a video game. The match fixing concept has allowed us to design a game that blends elements of a conventional football game, a crime game, a betting sim and an RPG, and set it all in a darkly humorous world we hope players will really enjoy!
Game Changer is a free-to-play game which is being developed for iOS, though we have a strategy to port it for Android (including potentially Ouya) using Marmalade if we meet the Android stretch goal in this funding campaign.
Become Mr Fixit
In Game Changer, you play Mr Fixit, a dubious sort of character who wants to make his millions by betting on fixed football matches. Mr Fixit travels to different countries (which are unlocked as you progress in the game) dabbling in more and more prestigious, high stakes football leagues, each with their own special challenges. While his fixing efforts crush the dreams of millions of oblivious football supporters, Mr Fixit can win big and furnish himself with some nice gear.
Mr Fixit has a number of different ways in which he can fix games. These include bribing different players and referees with money, luxury items and girls, or digging things up to blackmail them with. He also has to watch out for officials and the police who would love to stop him corrupting the beautiful game (unless he gives them what they want). He has to hang out in the right places to befriend vulnerable players, find the weaknesses that will tempt a referee to do what he wants, and hire runners to help him.
Mr Fixit makes his money by both gambling on the games he's fixed and doing jobs for nefarious crime lords (who are a lot higher up the chain of corruption in each country he visits than he is). As he progresses through the game the character development model allows you to increase things like his influence in the crime world with cool items he can buy with his gambling winnings, and experience he gains from completing fixes and jobs.
Mr Fixit's World
Mr Fixit's journey to the top begins with him meddling in the Malaysian league. In Game Changer, for legal reasons, the teams, players and leagues are all fictional, but each country has one or more professional leagues which Mr Fixit can interfere with and bet on. As he gets success fixing games and winning money in the small stakes Malaysian league, he unlocks other countries where he can go and start a more profitable career in corruption. He can go back and play with any of the countries and leagues he has unlocked at any time.
As well as leagues to corrupt, each country also has its own crime bosses who offer Mr Fixit work. Working for crime bosses gets you more money and experience, along with other benefits like special items, but if you fail it has worse consequences in terms of your money and character stats. It is up to you whether Mr Fixit gets involved with these shady characters or not.
Each country also has some story elements which will affect how you play by throwing up new challenges or opportunities. These include rioting supporters, over zealous football governing body officials, bent police forces and more.
Mr Fixit can travel to different countries he has unlocked using a map screen. When he arrives in a country, you see a three quarter town view which will have a number of buildings Mr Fixit can interact with to do different things in the game. The most important ones are:
Mr Fixit's House - Wherever you move, your runners will set you up with a nice house where conveniently, all of your stuff will already be in place. They'll even make sure your luxury cars are waiting in your driveway.
The Bookies - This is where you go to bet on games. Different bookies in different countries offer you a different betting limit and some different bets you can place (see the section on gambling in Game Changer below).
Shops - These are where you go to spend your ill gotten gains on things to help you in the game, or things to pimp out your Mr Fixit. Some items will only be available for Mr Fixit to buy in one country.
Massage Parlor - Speaking of pimping things out, sometimes you'll need girls to help persuade players, refs and officials to throw games or turn a blind eye to your dealings, or you may want to enlist their help to get some blackmail evidence on somebody. You can find them here.
Clubs, Hotels and Bars - These are where you go to meet players and other characters you'll need to build up a relationship with to execute your fixes.
The Underworld - Here, you can get and turn in jobs from the big crime syndicates in a country, and also recruit small timers to be your runners.
The gambling element is one of the most interesting and fun things about Game Changer. Each country you play in has a schedule of football matches, with early levels having games you can fix and bet on for low stakes every few (real time) minutes, and the leagues further on in the game offering you more complicated bets where you can win big (like final score or number of goals scored rather than just which team is going to win the game).
The fixes Mr Fixit puts in place on matches have a percentage chance of working (because in real life, buying off a player won't guarantee you the result you want), so the more things he has done to set up a specific result (for example bribing a goalkeeper and the referee, rather than just the goalie) the higher the certainty that a bet he places on that game will win him money.
The gambling system is introduced in the tutorial portion at the start of the game, and as the bets available become more complicated these are introduced with some in-game guidance through quests or advice from non-player characters. This means that what starts off as an easy way to make in game money soon becomes a very strategic and challenging gameplay element, but it is built up to so the player has a chance to learn how it all works. We want to avoid the sense of "grinding" and make the routine things Mr Fixit needs to do to progress and make his money interesting and fun to do in their own right. You have a lot of choice when it comes to how much you gamble with and the types of bets you place, so you can imprint your own gameplay style onto this part of the game; If you play your Mr Fixit as a big risk taker, you'll have a completely different experience to if you play him as a cautious, strategic gambler.
Mr Fixit's PDA
When you are playing Game Changer, you have access to Mr Fixit's PDA, which basically means you get to use your phone or tablet as a phone or tablet!
Mr Fixit's PDA is a part of the game's interface which features a number of "apps" that he uses to keep track of all of his shady dealings. These include:
Messages - Effectively Mr Fixit's inbox, this gives you any important updates regarding the things you are working on in the game, as well as messages from in game characters that contribute to stories and quests.
News - This is Mr Fixit's news feed. As well as news stories relating to things he has done or might like to do (for example you may see news stories about a manager being fired after his team unexpectedly loses because you fixed their game), this also features fun news stories about the players and other newsworthy characters in the game. This is where a lot of the game's humor comes through, and adds color to Mr Fixit's world. We have a "real life" football writer on board who will be creating funny and interesting stories around the players in Mr Fixit's leagues, making the news feed believable and engaging.
Jobs - This is a task list for any quests or fixes you are currently involved in.
Life Coach - Mr Fixit's life coach app helps teach him to be a more effective person! This is where you will see his character stats and inventory, and it also features a daily fun "affirmation" or quote to help motivate him...
Bets - This tracks the bets Mr Fixit currently has on and shows the percentage chance of bets winning as a result of the fixes he has put into place.
This static map of our PDA prototype shows how the PDA's mini-apps all fit together (this was built as a development and information architecture exercise rather than part of the aesthetic design, so the finished article will look a lot better!).
It'd be a bit lonely being surrounded by all this crime and corruption by yourself, so we've made it so that Mr Fixit can visit his friends for a bit of a break from building his empire. If you add your friends to your crime syndicate using the Facebook and Game Center integration, you can visit their character's houses once a day to see what cool stuff they have acquired, and also pick up a daily gift they've left behind for you.
This project is for the first release of Game Changer only, but we have big plans for an update in summer 2014 that will expand the social elements of the game dramatically, allowing players to work as a functional gambling syndicate with their friends to fix international games (like the World Cup...). While this is outside of the scope of this Kickstarter project, if this game is a success you can look forward to some more fun ways to play Game Changer with your friends in the future.
We are Game Changer Games, and as the name might suggest, we formed this team specifically to work on this idea and turn it into a great game. Nevertheless, as we've been working together on this project and having fun with it, we've also come up with some sweet ideas for possible future games, so if Game Changer is a success we'd really like to turn Game Changer Games into a more permanent indie game development team.
Game Changer Games is made up of a three person core team comprising our creative director, our development lead and our project manager, all of whom have extensive experience in their own fields including over two decades combined experience in game, app and software delivery. We are the ones who have taken the game from an exciting concept to a workable specification, and have overcome the design issues around making a game with a theme that has never been attempted before fun and easy to play.
We then have an extended team that includes our concept artist (whose work you can see on this page as well as on our website and Facebook page), our app development team and our testers - and these are the people we need funding to pay for the services of. The three of us have been working on the game for a few months using our own time and money, but to develop, test and release this game within a reasonable time frame we need funding.
This organization shows the full team structure - including the team we are planning to use for both our Android port and our foreign language versions if we meet our stretch goals. Note that many of the places in the beta test team could be filled by Kickstarter investors!
While we have made sure our team has the right blend of skills and experience to deliver Game Changer, what we feel is also important is that everyone working on the project is passionate about gaming, and also about the subject matter. By which I mean we are all really into football, not corruption... We want this to be a game football fans will really see the humor and fun in, as well as offering them a challenging new spin on the football management sim.
Where are we?
Geographically, we're based in Seattle, and made up of two Americans and a Brit.
In terms of development life cycle, we're towards the end of the design phase, and nearly ready to get into full development. We'll be finalizing everything in the spec and producing more art during the fundraising period (and you can follow our efforts through our Kickstarter updates as well as on Facebook and Twitter) so we can commence full development as soon as we have funding, but the scope and functionality of this first release of the game as well as the art style and the in-game music have already been clearly defined and agreed. This is not a campaign to pre-sell a game that is almost finished (though that wouldn't make much sense anyway, given you'll be able to get Game Changer for free!), but a campaign to run the development, testing and release portions of our full project. There are two reasons for doing this: Firstly, we need to use resources outside of the three of us to get this done and we can't get them for free. Secondly, this means that you, the investor and future Game Changer player, get to be involved throughout the full development phase.
In terms of the resources we need, we have the people we want to use all lined up and have already negotiated things like rates and milestones, so the estimates in terms of time and budget that have been put into this Kickstarter campaign are based on real information rather than guesswork, and we've applied contingency to allow for the fact we're at the start of the development phase.
We have a high level project plan publicly available for you to review if you are interested in the timing of different activities on the project (there was no way of making it look good on this page or we'd have added it to the Kickstarter details). You can see it here on the official Game Changer website.
With full funding, the plan is to release Game Changer in January 2014 on the App Store, and, if we meet our stretch goals for Android and foreign language versions, these will be released a month later.
We have some interesting plans for future updates and expansions to Game Changer if it proves to be a success (and we'll keep all of our community up to date on those plans), but the scope of this Kickstarter is the project to get the game as it is described here made within this timeframe. Any funding beyond our stretch goals will be plowed into these updates, allowing us to bring them to Game Changer players sooner.
As we've said, we need funding to get Game Changer made. We have chosen crowdfunding with Kickstarter as our means of getting this, because we think it suits the project better than the alternatives, which would be working with a publisher or trying to get VC funding.
We've paid close attention to lots of other game projects on Kickstarter since we committed to trying to turn our idea for Game Changer into a complete game, and we love the involvement it gives the potential player community in the development of the game. We believe that Kickstarter could not only answer our funding needs, but also give us a chance to get feedback from the people who will ultimately be playing our game throughout the process. Being able to engage fully with people who are enthusiastic about playing our game is going to allow us to create the best possible experience.
Additionally, getting our funding this way means the only people we have to answer to when it comes to Game Changer's direction are our players. As most people are aware, working with publishers or private investors can mean compromising on the original idea. While we want to make a popular and successful game, we want to do that by working with a large subsection of our potential audience rather than one or two stakeholders with their own ideas about what our players will like.
If our Kickstarter campaign is successful, this chart shows the split in terms of what we'll be spending the money on:
We also have three basic stretch goals:
At $15k over budget (a $90k total funding), we will be able to port the game and fully test it on Android, including Ouya. We have an experienced team in mind to assist on this, and they have ported a number of similar games using Marmalade tools.
At $25k over budget (a $100k total funding), we will translate Game Changer into French, Italian, German and Spanish and be able to test and support these versions.
At $35k over budget (a $110k total funding), we will produce a Mandarin Chinese version of the game.
We are also currently looking at the possibility of making Game Changer available on Windows Phone, and if this is going to be feasible and we're on track to meet these, we'll add this as a later stretch goal.
Risks and challenges
All game development includes some risk in terms of unforeseen delays, bugs that take longer than predicted to fix, and unexpected expenses. While we are currently at an early stage in terms of actual development, our specifications for the game are at an advanced stage and the scope is very defined so we have been able to establish our timelines and budget with a reasonable degree of accuracy. We have also included contingency at a standard level for a project at this stage.
Our project is being managed by a team that includes a highly experienced technical consultant and a project manager with ten years experience on multi-million dollar software projects, as well as our creative director who is dedicated to making sure the end product is as fun to play as we believe Game Changer should be.
By following project management best practices and working within tried and tested development frameworks, we are confident that we can deliver Game Changer to a high level of quality within our planned timeframes. If (or, probably more fairly, "when") we encounter problems along the way, we'll be making very regular updates to make sure our Kickstarter backers are aware of them (and what we are doing about them) almost as soon as we are. We will be tracking all risks, assumptions, issues and dependencies on a daily basis throughout the duration of the project, and we want our risk and issue management to be as transparent to our community as we can appropriately make it - we think letting you share in the tricky bits with us makes it feel like more of a team effort!
"Enabler" Tier: You get everything on the "Punter" tier, plus an exclusive Mr Fixit sticker. You also get your name listed under "Thanks" in the game credits, as well as on the investor list on the website.
"Part of the Problem" Tier: The "Enabler" tier, plus the Bronze Investor Pack of in game items. This includes an exclusive Flatwoods Alien statue you can display outside of Mr Fixit's house which offers a boost to stats and can only be obtained through backing us on Kickstarter. It also includes a package of in game money to give you an advantage when you start the game.
"Big Breadwinner" Tier: This includes everything in the "Part of the Problem" Tier, but upgrades you to the Silver Investor Pack, which includes the same in game money and Alien statue as the Bronze pack, but also gives you an exclusive Dalmation puppy suit for your Mr Fixit to wear, exclusive to Kickstarter backers.
"Made Man" Tier: Includes everything in the "Part of the Problem" Tier, but upgrades you to the Gold Investor Pack, which has double the in game money of the Bronze and Silver packs, the Alien statue, the Dalmation puppy suit, and an exclusive ball chair for Mr Fixit's house which boosts his stats and can only be obtained by backing our Kickstarter.
"Capo" Tier: Includes everything in the "Enabler Tier" but upgrades you to the Platinum Investor Pack, which includes the Alien statue, the Dalmation puppy suit, the sweet ball chair, and an in game fake ID kit that lets you reset your stats if you get in trouble (this will be a rare item in the game). Also, because the $75 level is special for us because it is 1/1000th of our ultimate goal, we are giving away a special reward you can only get at this tier and the $750 one - an exclusive secret car for your Mr Fixit that you can't get by any other means! But that's not all. Backers at the "Capo" Tier only also get to name a footballer who will show up in the game!
"Consigliari" Tier: Includes everything in the "Enabler" Tier but upgrades you to the Black Investor Pack - the very best there is. This includes 3X the in game money in the Bronze and Silver packs, plus the Alien statue, the Dalmation suit, the sweet ball chair, the fake ID kit AND upgrades your Mr Fixit's house to "Stately Wayne Manor", an exclusive house you can only get by backing us on Kickstarter that boosts Mr Fixit's stats. Up to 60 "Consigliari" Tier backers also get to name a football team in the game (no real professional team names can be used for legal reasons).
SPECIAL LAUNCH OFFER!
We are using Test Flight for the beta test phase of Game Changer, which means we have a very limited number of places on the beta test program that we can give away. Most of them are available at the $300 tier and above, but we have 10 to give to the first 10 backers at the $100 "Consigliari" Tier. You also get everything else in the regular "Consigliari" Tier, including getting to name a football team to appear in the game.
"Agent" Tier - You get the "Enabler" Tier, and the Black Investor Pack (3X game money, Alien statue, Dalmation suit, Ball Chair, fake ID kit and "Stately Wayne Manor"), but you also get to play a bigger part in the game's development with a chance to join a monthly team meeting via Skype, as well as helping to design your very own special item that will appear in the game and be available to everybody! To acknowledge your input you will be listed as an Associate Producer in Game Changer's credits.
"See No Evil" Tier: This tier is all about referees. You get to name one of the referees in the game, who Mr Fixit will get a chance to try and corrupt when you play Game Changer! You also get the Black Investor Pack (3X game money, Alien statue, Dalmation suit, Ball Chair, fake ID kit and "Stately Wayne Manor"), access to the monthly Skype team meeting, and get listed as an Associate Producer in the credits. "See No Evil" Tier backers also get access to the beta test program.
"Queen Bee" Tier - Hiring the services of certain ladies helps Mr Fixit bribe and blackmail people. Invest at the "Queen Bee" Tier and you get to name one of 18 "working girls" in Game Changer. Name her after yourself, surprise your wife or girlfriend, or even name her after someone you don't like very much at all - it's up to you! First names only, to avoid offense/lawsuits! In addition to your own special girl, you get the Black Investor Pack, an Associate Producer credit, access to the monthly Skype meeting, and access to the beta test program.
"Corruptor" Tier - This is another special tier for us as it's 1/100th of our goal, so backers at this level get the exclusive secret car that is only available here and at the $75 tier. You also get the Black Investor Pack, which means this is the only way to get the secret car as well as "Stately Wayne Manor". The other really special perk you get at this level is that we will base an NPC on you! Send us a picture of yourself (or a friend, if you want to do it as a gift) and we will create an in game character who looks and dresses like you, and they'll be seen walking around the towns Mr Fixit visits in Game Changer! For contributing a character, you'll get a FULL Producer credit, as well as access to the monthly meetings.
"Legitimate Businessman" Tier (SHOP) - The "Legitimate Businessman" Tier is a sponsorship package. You get to brand one of the shops, restaurants, bars or hotels in the game, as well as design the shopkeeper/owner/waiter character, choose a logo that will appear on the menu screens when Mr Fixit visits your business, and have your business mentioned in news stories (for example, a well known player may have been spotted in your bar with a supermodel, or got into trouble for having a fight outside your restaurant!). You must own the business name you use, have permission to use it, or, if you want to do it for fun rather than publicity, have made it up yourself! You will also get a special "Sponsor" listing in the game's credits. Choose this option to sponsor a SHOP.
"Legitimate Businessman" Tier (RESTAURANT) - The "Legitimate Businessman" Tier is a sponsorship package. You get to brand one of the shops, restaurants, bars or hotels in the game, as well as design the shopkeeper/owner/waiter character, choose a logo that will appear on the menu screens when Mr Fixit visits your business, and have your business mentioned in news stories (for example, a well known player may have been spotted in your bar with a supermodel, or got into trouble for having a fight outside your restaurant!). You must own the business name you use, have permission to use it, or, if you want to do it for fun rather than publicity, have made it up yourself! You will also get a special "Sponsor" listing in the game's credits. Choose this option to sponsor a RESTAURANT.
"Legitimate Businessman" Tier (BAR) - The "Legitimate Businessman" Tier is a sponsorship package. You get to brand one of the shops, restaurants, bars or hotels in the game, as well as design the shopkeeper/owner/waiter character, choose a logo that will appear on the menu screens when Mr Fixit visits your business, and have your business mentioned in news stories (for example, a well known player may have been spotted in your bar with a supermodel, or got into trouble for having a fight outside your restaurant!). You must own the business name you use, have permission to use it, or, if you want to do it for fun rather than publicity, have made it up yourself! You will also get a special "Sponsor" listing in the game's credits. Choose this option to sponsor a BAR.
"Legitimate Businessman" Tier (HOTEL) - The "Legitimate Businessman" Tier is a sponsorship package. You get to brand one of the shops, restaurants, bars or hotels in the game, as well as design the shopkeeper/owner/waiter character, choose a logo that will appear on the menu screens when Mr Fixit visits your business, and have your business mentioned in news stories (for example, a well known player may have been spotted in your bar with a supermodel, or got into trouble for having a fight outside your restaurant!). You must own the business name you use, have permission to use it, or, if you want to do it for fun rather than publicity, have made it up yourself! You will also get a special "Sponsor" listing in the game's credits. Choose this option to sponsor a HOTEL.
"Serious & Organized" Tier - This is the tier for people who really want to make their presence felt in Game Changer. "Serious & Organized" backers get to work with us to design and name one of 6 crime bosses in Game Changer, which every player will encounter. You can base your boss character on yourself, or design him (or her) based on your ideas for the ultimate mob boss. For creating one of the most high impact characters in the game, you'll get a full Producer credit, and get to join us in the monthly team meetings. You'll also get the Black Investor Pack, AND access to the beta test program.
"Empire Builder" Tier - Backing us at this tier makes you an Executive Producer on the game. You get to have a monthly one to one meeting with the core team (if you live in, or can get to Seattle, we'll take you out for dinner somewhere awesome. If not, we'll do it online). You also get access to the open monthly team meetings, the beta test program, and get the Black Investor Pack.