Three Monkeys is a fantasy RPG that looks to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with audio in games. The game puts players in the shoes of Tobar: a blind hero who embarks on a journey through a dark, cursed land, where the sun has been ripped out the sky.
While audio games in themselves are not new, they tend to rely on the same tactics. Most - knowing they have the player deprived of their primary sense - use scare tactics, throwing the player into an experience defined by horror and scare-tactics. Three Monkeys looks instead to empower the player, using mechanics that allow you to be pro-active; to attack and make the first move.
The most powerful graphics cards you have at your disposal is your brain, and we want you to create the world of Byzantia for yourself. Just like you'd conjure up the imagery to accompany a good book, we want you to bring our world to life, too. We'll help you along the way, of course.
▲ Key Features
- Audio adventure / Fantasy RPG for PC
- Fully playable without any visual input; whether you're visually impaired or not. Works on all headphones
- Hunt, fight and solve puzzles, all by using your ears.
- Zonal, open world environments; explore Byzantia at your leisure
- Rich world and memorable characters
- Built in Unity
▲ Step into the world of Byzantia
Three Monkeys is set in the world of Byzantia, a world which has been plunged into darkness by a curse that has ripped the sun from the sky. Once a rich, colourful land, the denizens of Byzantia are now prisoners in their villages; should they venture out into the Abyss - the world outside the protection of the villages' Holi lanterns - the darkness would quickly consume them, eating away at their sanity, their humanity, until they become one of the vicious Crazies that roam the darkness.
Born blind, Tobar of Starhill village isn't affected by the Abyss, and vows to journey into the world to break the curse. Joining him on the journey is Yoska: a foul mouthed seeing-eye Sprite who acts as Tobar's conduit to the world around him. Of course Tobar's blindness is far from a hindrance; born into darkness, his other senses have been heightened, leaving him incredibly in tune with his surroundings. As lethal with a sword as he is with a bow and arrow, Byzantia's fate rests in Tobar's hands.
You'll have noticed that sharing screenshots from an audio game is a no-go. Fear not, however, Yoska is on hand to introduce you to the world of Byzantia. Grab a pair of headphones and listen below - just remember to let your imagination loose.
▲ Immersive Environments
As we've said, it's difficult for us to share screenshots of our game world, but we can share environmental audio, and the music that will help bring the specific locations in Byzantion to life.
The Golden Grove is one of the first areas you'll visit in your quest. Once a perma-autumnal forest with ancient trees and rich gold leaves, the Grove is somewhat darker under the influence of the Solar Necrosis curse. Still alive with wildlife, the creatures of the Grove have adapted to the darkness. Have a listen to the Golden Grove theme below, and imagine taking a stroll through forest.
Golden Grove is one of many environments you'll journey through during your time in Byzantia; from abandoned mines and derelict towers, to gushing rivers and dense forests. Our unique approach to location recognition and way-finding will enable you to navigate these vibrant environments using only your ears.
Three Monkeys takes advantage of Binaural Audio techniques to immerse you in a highly reactive 3D world - meaning you'll need a pair of headphones to really get the most out of the game. The mechanics combine timing-based responses, relying heavily on human reactions. For example, if you hear a sword swinging towards you, you have a number of choices about how you choose to respond. The game provides the player with the ability to react in the way they desire.
Exploration is handled in the form of a zonal open-world format. This allows the player to get the maximum thrill from exploring the world of Byzantia, whilst enhancing the quest in the story. There will be a range of environments, including villages, forests, mines/caves, abandoned cities - the acoustics in each zones can be utilised to provide a rich gameplay experience. Unity will be used to develop the game alongside WWise Audio Software and Astound Audio Plugins to achieve the best audio response and flexibility.
The story is an integral part to the strong sense of immersion within the game. The game must facilitate the players’ imagination to paint the world in a similar way that a book provokes the readers imagination. Only a certain level of description is used leaving enough space for the player to determine the details of the world. This allows them to create an incredibly detailed world in their head and the result is the most realistic graphics you can have; your imagination.
Areas of accessibility will also be addressed. The Visually Impaired community have felt that too little for too long has been done to improve accessibility to gaming. Whilst more is being done now, there is still a huge divide between the Visual and Visually Impaired gaming communities. Three Monkeys will bridge this gap and open an awesome experience for both communities through organic gameplay.
With Three Monkeys, we're determined to build a rich and believable world, whilst at the same time delivering an incredible aural experience -- and we've tailored our rewards accordingly.
Formed in the Spring of 2013, Incus Games brings together a small ensemble of game developers, audio designers and script writers to create immersive and engaging gameplay experiences.
At the heart of Incus’ manifesto is utilising quality and innovative audio techniques in order to bring to life vibrant and believable worlds. With the studio’s debut title – Three Monkeys – the aim is to provide content that is engaging and stimulating for both the blind/visually impaired community and those who can see.
Formed with the intention of enhancing audio and audio-driven gameplay, the studio is steered by Stephen Willey and Jamin Smith, who oversee the general vision and development of Incus Games in order to provide an effective platform to bring audio developments in games to a wider audience.
▲ Stephen Willey's music has been performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra, Decibel Ensemble and Martin Roscoe and his theatre music has been performed all over Europe. He co-founded the bespoke music production company Etch; providing music and audio for computer games and mixed media. He studied at Birmingham Conservatoire at Undergraduate & Masters level supported by Birmingham Conservatoire and RVW Trust.
Having formed the first audio concepts for the game, Steve is project managing and overseeing the creative content on Incus’ forthcoming debut release Three Monkeys.
▲ Jamin Smith landed his first gig in the games industry as a journalist for VideoGamer.com. Today, he works on the development side of the fence -- doing various word-related bits and bobs for Edge Case Games. He's also the narrative designer on Three Monkeys.
Having established the world and characters underpinning Incus’ debut game, Jamin is now knee-deep in the scripts that will bring these characters and locations to life.
▲ James Biddulph has experience in both serious and indie games. Currently he also goes by the name of Jamo Games, producing retro looking, multi-platform games content. He is known not just for his development work but also his unique approach to pixel art. This is however just one of a range of distinctive approaches he adopts for his designs.
James is getting his teeth into the game development and is tasked with all the coding and game progression. He is also producing stunning artwork for the game, which we’re looking forward to releasing as development on the game progresses.
▲ Rob Allen studied music composition and technology in Huddersfield and Birmingham, with acoustic and electronic sound creation at the forefront of his work. Rob has written concert music for Joby Burgess and BCMG and has provided music and sound for award winning animations. He has conducted multiple research studies into the music and sound of video games and how to unlock the potential of truly immersive game audio.
Rob forms part of the audio team, recording huge amounts of foley, creating synthetic spaces and implementation of sound effects.
Risks and challenges
Three Monkeys has been ready to move into full development for over six months. We've had various publishers, investors and other entities interested in the game - and wider applications for the tech we're developing - but we need a bit of cash in the pot to get the ball rolling.
Rather than a risk, the overall level of funds we raise will affect scale of game we can deliver. We have a number of roadmaps in order to ensure we deliver the best possible gameplay experience within different budgets. We have substantial funding offered to us aside from the anticipated Kickstarter amount however should this fall through the scale of game could be smaller than our current intention. We are however able to deliver the game within the funding targets set in Kickstarter.
Working in such a different medium, there are risks of unanticipated problems such as longer time required to investigate the best way of achieving certain mechanics. We have ensured there is enough of a contingency to account for this and being experienced in this field, we have a bullet proof process, commitment and resources to ensure successful delivery of the project.
For various production-related reasons, we've split the Three Monkeys story into two parts. This Kickstarter campaign is to help fund Part 1: Into the Abyss. Part 2 is already written and fully mapped out, but will be a follow up to Part 1.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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