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In the virtual world of Jane Austen, it is not about kill or be killed, but invite and be invited with gossip our weapon of choice.

Ever, Jane is a virtual world that allows people to role-play in Regency Period England. Similar to traditional role playing games, we advance our character through experience, but that is where the similarities end. Ever, Jane is about playing the actual character in the game, building stories.  Our quests are derived from player's actions and stories. And  we gossip rather than swords and magic to demolish our enemies and aid our friends.  

Try to win the sympathy of Lizzie Bennet by telling lies about your rival, as Mr. Wickham does, but be careful.  The system will notify someone if they are being talked about too often and a good sleuth may find the player who is spreading such rumors.  If you are caught in your lies, the consequences you intended for your target will hit you two-fold. 

The current prototype provides fully functional infrastructure for both the gossip and the invitation systems as well as a 3D village in which you can walk about, bowing and curtsying to people appropriately.   We have a tutorial that walks you through the basic mechanics and UI.  There are no balls, dinner parties, or mini-games yet nor any ability to travel between villages.  We need additional funds to build those.  And that is why we are here.

In traditional MMORPGs, players have stats such as Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence.  In Ever, Jane we use Personality Traits that fit with the major characters in Jane Austen's novels.  

Players can choose to be like Marianne Dashwood preferring Happiness over Duty.  This decision will gain the admiration of those around her who enjoy her lightheartedness, but will offend those like Mr. Knightly who prize duty.  

Personality traits are raised (and lowered) through daily activities in the game, starting with the gossip system where what people say about you can affect your reputation and status.

In addition to gossip, we provide an invitation system that allows players to invite one another to various events in-world.  The invitation system can be used to enhance one's personality traits but it requires strategic thinking.   If a player invites a person of higher Status with the hope of improving their own Status, care must be taken.  If the player invited rejects the invitation it will harm rather than improve Status. If the invitation is accepted, but out of Duty rather than Happiness, the Status will only improve slightly.  On the other hand, if the player invited accepts with Happiness, Status improvements may be as much as doubled.  

Trying to understand how other people will react to you is part of the Jane Austen character experience.  For more information on Jane Austen's use of strategic thinking, see http://goo.gl/ZocpSI

The two major events in Ever, Jane are the balls and dinner parties.  In each case, players must acquire the requisite accoutrements before attending.  Balls need gowns, formal attire and carriages.  Dinner parties require formal clothing and while, unlike the balls, characters may walk to the party, most will want to acquire a better form of travel.   

The juiciest gossip snippets can be found at balls and dinner parties. They also present opportunities to vastly improve ones personality in whatever direction one is aspiring.  The dutiful man can capture points by dancing with every wallflower.  The happy hostess can earn points by providing outstanding meals to her guests.  

Characters in Austen's novels occupied themselves with various pastimes.  Ever,Jane will provide activities, called mini-games,  that emulate the character's daily lives.  

The ball is one mini-game with dancing its own skill to be acquired and exercised.  At dinner parties we will have games of Whist as well as other puzzles and word games.  Men will want to hunt and fish during the season and women will enjoy sewing, embroidery, and playing the piano-forte. 

Mini-games will allow players to increase secondary personality traits which enhance primary traits and open opportunities for unique activities and events.

Similar in functionality to guilds in your more traditional MMORPG, the family is a collection of players who play together to increase family status.  Family status is reflected in each individual player's scores so preserving and helping the family become a critical part of game play. Nothing can prevent a family from having a Lydia among them, but the more fortunate families may also have a Fanny or an Emma.  The family must pull together in crises lest everyone in the family be hindered from the best virtual life has to offer.

The quest system allows us to create story lines involving the various players in the game based on their goals, situations, and the story arc of the village.   The gossip system keeps us informed as to the goings on in the village and allows the development team to actively curate player experiences through quest modifications tailored to player's own stories. 

In addition, our forums provide a place for players to publish their stories as they live them in the world.  This allows visitors to their village to catch up on the local gossip prior to visiting.  Or they can rely on the local town gossip.

The Art in the game is all done by Renee Nejo with the occasional bit of engineering art by our founder, if you can find it.  You can find more of Renee's work at reneenejo.com.  

We are assuming a 15% overhead from the funds we collect to cover PR expenses.  In addition, server costs should run approximately $600/mos. for 500 concurrent users (CCU) beginning in May 2014.  

The remaining has been broken into four iterations of approximately 6 mos. each at $21K for payroll to support the existing staff.  

Time estimates are based on the 15 mos. it took to build the prototype which contains the gossip system, invite system, login, networking, servers and preliminary art.

Iteration 1:
  • Sleuthing system (part of Gossip)
  • Character Customization
  • Post (writing letters between characters)
  • Visiting complete with calling cards

Iteration 2:

  • Dinner Parties
  • Balls
  • Travel between villages
  • Carriages and Horses

Iteration 3:

  • Subscription authorization
  • Customer Service Tools
  • Hunting
  • Sewing
  • Upgrade gossip to use language parsing

Iteration 4:

  • Fishing
  • Embroidery
  • Families
  • Card Games
  • Metrics
  • Additional Artist
  • Music
  • Drawing

A character artist with animation skill will improve the look and feel of the characters while allowing Renee to focus on the environment, which is her specialty.

Music and drawing provide additional mini-games for players.

  • Additional Programmer
  • Estate Planning

An additional programmer will allow us to hammer on the quality of the servers to provide a more robust experience.  It will also allow us to implement systems in a more timely manner.

Estate planning for those fortunate enough to own estates gives players the opportunity to use tools to modify their environment.

  • Additional Designer
  • Landscaping

An additional designer will allow us to provide a more sophisticated algorithm for managing personality traits and aid in building the player based economy.

The Regency period was a fascinating period for landscaping and we hope to explore the removal of formal gardens and replacing them with swamps and hermitages as part of the activities we provide.

  • Hire full time QA
  • Farming

As the project grows, a full time qa person becomes increasingly critical to ensuring we don't break more than we fix and that our product meets the standards our users require.

Animal husbandry, gardening, and providing food for the village are part of the lower subscription level options we wish to provide. 

  • Hire a producer/project manager
  • Player Based Economy

A producer or project manager would provide direction and guidance for our growing team and free the CEO to work on building the company and not just building one game.

To complete the fun, every virtual world needs a player based economy where artisans and crafters can sell their wares and the wealthy can indulge their whims for the latest fashions.   

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Ever,Jane is not just a game, it is a service and running a service 24/7 provides a unique set of challenges. My experience managing the team that ran ~650K simulations on 10K hardware servers across 3 geographic locations on Second Life has prepared me with an understanding of the challenges. My work with the Customer Support team prepared me for the kinds of tools we will need to build to provide quality service.

MMOs require a huge amount of content. By building our villages with modular housing and stitching together village elements we will provide content that appears different but is made of core building blocks. If you go behind the houses in the current village you will see evidence of some of those building blocks as we have not put the backside of the village together yet. In addition, our quest system allows us to build quests very quickly.

Even the best tested servers crash. The servers for the prototype run via a keep-alive service which respawns any server that crashes. The servers can come up and stay up in any order. In fact, the only way to kill our servers is through a program called KillServers which prohibits the keep-alive services from respawning them so they can die.

Scaling is another challenge of MMOs, particularly at launch time. Our servers are set to spawn new villages when the population of a single village reaches a low water mark. This allows us to maximize the experience for players by preventing any one server from getting overloaded and lagging. Our servers are virtual servers which allow us to grow our hardware when the spawning of software servers begins to overwhelm the hardware. For the demo, updating a server to double it's memory took approximately 30 minutes and was as painless as a server is capable of being. Unless we outpace Softlayer's hardware, we should be able to scale.

Community is everything in an MMO. We need a critical mass in order to make the game fun and we need to build and nurture that community. We are working hard to bring the Janeite community into our world, as well as traditional gamers looking for something unique. The Janeite community is very strong and active and their cosplay community is amazing. In addition we have a community manager who is wonderful with people and has experience building on-line communities.

We plan to run our service live throughout development to allow our backers to help us set the direction for the game. This will allow us to launch with an established community available to bring in newcomers.

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