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A new type of 3D science-fiction MMO for mobile devices where your decisions drive everything from the story to the universal conflict.

The Zodiac Class Multirole Fighter
The Zodiac Class Multirole Fighter

Today, the Sun will Rise...

The Zodiac Project is a funding initiative to create a new type of free-to-play massive multi-player online game from the ground up.  The game will be a science-fiction themed hybrid (part RTS, part simulation), and will be built primarily for iOS and Android mobile devices.  In this system, players will fight each other for control during an interstellar civil war.  Only here, everything will be driven by the players!

Unprecedented Control

The main objective of The Zodiac Project is to create a unique online experience for the fans of PvP/PvE sci-fi simulacra.  Players will create settlements on new worlds, cooperate efforts to populate and develop them, and engage each other in combat over control of these worlds.  However, where most MMOs shoehorn players into grinding and questing along the storylines they choose, players of this game will find themselves writing their own histories.  Worldwide operations will unfold because the players chose to conduct them.  Players will participate during in-game events not because we chose to release new content, but because the players decided to pursue new horizons.  Every choice a player makes will create new possibilities for their faction or community.  This also means no repetitive endgame grinding for exclusive content.  Endgame for you will either mean your faction has triumphed against the other or has been forced into submission.  We will create the universe, but you will decide everything that happens within it!

Once the universe has been created, the players will enjoy a "go anywhere, do anything" atmosphere.  Unlike other systems that claim ultimate freedom to their players and then bombard them with in-game restrictions, Event Horizon will truly allow its players to travel, expand, and bring war to their enemies in any manner they see fit.  Those that enjoy strategic gameplay may find themselves as military leaders planning their team's campaigns against enemy factions.  Players that appreciate the responsibilities of command may find themselves listening to the counsel of those leaders and giving the "green light" to proceed with these plans.Still others may enjoy the role of explorer, wandering into deep space in search of new worlds to colonize and exploit.  Some players could take up the mantle of scientist, performing the vital research your faction needs to develop the superior firepower, advanced mining techniques, improved farming machinery, and the myriad of other technologies needed for victory.  And of course, the community that supports these players will always need farmers, miners, refiners, civic counsel, security, and pilots to ferry cargo to those that need it most.  If you dislike the idea of following orders, then the position of mercenary or pirate may seem attractive to you.  Each player will have a single profile.  Each profile will have several duties available (talent trees that will allow players to progress within each duty), and each profile will be allowed to access a minimum of three of these duties at once. This will allow players to enjoy a variety of game aspects without the need to spread their focus too thinly.

On a planetary scale, the tools that make all of this happen will be similar to most RTS-style games, which will utilize a square and hexagonal map system.  Players will establish a personal home location on a world of their choosing and join a community (settlement, town, or city) of other players.  You will have a home address within the game world and it is from this location that you will fulfill the duties of your choice.  Your location will be upgraded based on your profile decisions and your contributions to that community.  If you wish to claim ultimate victory for the faction you fight for, you will need to listen to the needs of that community and work towards the common goal.  For example, suppose your faction needs to get a destroyer into the upcoming battle.  The community will need to train the crew needed to operate her, refine the crystals needed to fuel her, build the engines needed to move her, research the weapons and sensory technology that goes into her, contract with the community that owns the shipyard to build her, and finally, transfer command of her to a player that has earned the skills needed to run a destroyer.  This will not be just another destroyer in the fight; it will be the representation of tens of players coming together to provide the tools necessary to win the war.

The Game Envisioned

By coming together to build and develop underdeveloped worlds, players will unlock the resources that their factions need to defend the frontier and bring war to their enemies.  Each member of a community will create characters and personae in order to climb the military, political, and industrial tiers to further the war effort and bring prosperity to their world.  However, such wealth will not go unnoticed, and can be taken and held by the enemy faction if not properly defended.  Nothing will exist in the universe that has not been player-created, and everything can be captured, occupied, or destroyed.  There will be no permanent structures or untouchable locales either.  Absolutely everything a player sees will be fair game!

Players will have to coordinate their actions against their enemies in a manner hitherto unknown to gaming.  Incursions and hostilities will be suggested by a company of players, and the community as a whole will decide on the wisdom of that action by either dedicating their resources to it or by finding a different operation to support.  Ships and the crew needed to operate them are precious commodities and can take vast amounts of resources and time to produce.  Once destroyed, there is no respawn.  Characters and personae will have recorded careers in whatever field a player chooses.  Once killed, that character's career has ended and another character must be generated.  For example, if the Federated Systems loses a carrier in action against the Confederate Coalition, then the federals have been dealt a serious blow and the confederates have moved that much closer to victory.  It will take some time for The Federated Systems to gather resources, exchange characters, contract the shipyard, ferry the fighters, train the pilots, and replace that carrier!

The game's mechanics will be designed to support full land, sea, air, and stellar forces at once so entire planetary assault scenarios can be played out.  An incursion could take several hours or even days to complete if total planetary conquest is your faction's goal.  Your entire job as a player could be to support an advance on a city by getting an artillery battalion staged on a hilltop of an enemy planet.  This means that another player is responsible for transporting your unit to that planet.  A different player will be piloting the dropships that take your units planetside.  Other players will be controlling fighters that escort your dropship during atmospheric entry.  There could be players on the ground already fighting just trying to hold their ground until your artillery battalion can get set up.  More players could reinforce these entrenched units just before the assault, and your artillery could drive the enemy from the city before the ground forces arrive.  This is just the capture of one city on one continent on one planet.  Imagine the thousands of other players joining you with their own parts to play, and then imagine the thousands of players trying to stop you!  The history of this world will be written as you strive to achieve your goals. Control over planets, moons, and sectors will be up to the cooperation of your community.

Ground-Breaking Social Aspects

The social opportunities a player will be presented with will greatly influence the outcome of the game's events.  Unlike every other MMO on the market, this game will actually NEED its players.  If you fail to log-in to your favorite MMO for a week, what happens?  Aside from your own personal group of players, you won't miss much.  Nothing will change unless the controlling company releases new content.  Battle lines will never move, game-changing global events will never be influenced by the game's community, and everything in the world will be exactly as it was when you last logged-in a week ago.

Of course, every successful game needs its players from an economic viewpoint in order to further itself, but that's not the same thing.  Here, each player will be needed in order to further the game's events.  As of this Kickstarter, players will be given the opportunity to advance within the game's political, industrial, or military system.  Politicians will be elected from amongst the game's community at every level of government.  These players will appoint the military leaders that suggest every military operation their faction undertakes.  It will be up to our industrialist players to manufacture the supplies needed to survive and wage war.  The entire game's social structure will be dependent on players working together to achieve common goals.

Players will be able to petition the game itself to alter the landscape of the game's very nature.  If you grow tired of the endless destruction of the civil war, you can start a movement to create a splinter faction.  Enough signatures on the petition and we will create this faction for you to play in the game world.  Other players can defect to your cause and new players can join your ranks.  Seek peaceful resolutions or crush your enemies with military force.  Lead your world to prosperity or face the destruction of your subjects in open revolt.  Hire mercenaries to defend your sector or establish a pirate haven.  We create the game, but the world is entirely yours!

Galactic Equity

With a proposed world such as this one, story decisions and in-game elements will be entirely player-driven.  However, we will need to establish the world in its current state, and that's where you come in.  The universe will need to have its worlds realized, its fleets launched, and its industrial giants in place before the players will be able to decide what to do with them.

We will create an appropriately-sized universe based upon the number of backers listed when this project is completed.  Your pledge will automatically earn you an equal amount of the in-game currency called Galactic Equity.  This amount will be automatically doubled at the $500 level.  Instead of waiting for your structures to be built and your personnel to be trained, you will be able to instantaneously create the in-game environment with your Galactic Equity.  This will represent humanity's accomplishments and what existed prior to the civil war.  Moreover, we will predate the game's launch by 25 years of real time (game time moves 400% faster than real time) in order to allow investors the opportunity to realize the wealth that their Equity choices would have generated over the course of one in-game century.  Put simply, you will use your points to tell us where the main planets are, their main cities, all the major trade routes and even a few unexplored deep-space locations.  You will tell us where the battle lines will be drawn and what resources belong to whom at the very start of the conflict.

Backers will receive a starting package of resources based on the number of investors each planet has and the number of resources that planet would have generated over the last "century".  This will establish your industrial tycoons and your political and military leaders before the servers go live.  We will have literally trillions of resources to assign per planet so don't miss this opportunity to get established early!

A Unique Achievement System

Most MMO games have some form of achievement system in place.  These are usually mechanisms meant to keep players interested by offering a challenging situation or an increased difficulty level.  An achievement listing is normally shown to the players in order to let them know what needs to be accomplished in order to pop these achievements.  While these mechanics work most of the time for players that enjoy a challenge, the vast majority of these are still based around the individual experience and have little to do with the story or landscape.

In Event Horizon, the achievements will be based on the exploits of every involved player as a community.  Every weekend operation, every incursion, every strike into deep space will be created and named by your fellow players.  If a campaign to take over a planet began with a simple incursion and then escalated to global domination, each phase could be established as an achievement.  Each accomplishment performed by players will add either a ribbon, device, or medal to their profile.  This allows players to build a virtual "ribbon rack" of actual accomplishments, not just another score or display of achievements that (quite literally) anyone could do.

As envisioned, if a player assists in the capture of an enemy outpost, the mission could simply be known as "Operation: Surroch".  These would not have an achievement unlock, but will be listed in a player's profile as having participated in the operation.  Now, if heavy resistance were to be encountered and the operation goes on for months thereafter, it could become known to both sides as "The Tor Conflict", (named after one of the planet's moons for example).  If the EH community gets together and decides to make this an official campaign, then it could get its own campaign ribbon or medal.  If a player's profile shows that he was present during the conflict, he will be awarded the now-recognized Tor Conflict Campaign Ribbon for his participation.  This will appear in his virtual achievement log and he will be given the option to receive a physical representation of the ribbon in the mail allowing him to build a permanent ribbon rack or "shadow box".  This will only cost him handling and processing since he has earned the ribbon through the game.

If players meet at a convention and wear their ribbons and medals, then they will have an immediate understanding of the other player's history.  If you were to see a Tor Conflict Campaign Ribbon on another player, you will have an instant connection with that player because you were both there.  If you see four bronze star devices on the ribbon, then you know that he'd participated in all four months of the conflict.  He probably had some personal interest in that conflict and this information will serve as an easy conversation-starter.  War story time!  The EH community will be brought together through its achievement system on a social level that no other MMO could possibly come close to!

Original Event Horizon artwork from 2002
Original Event Horizon artwork from 2002

Event Horizon: Civil Blood

Back in 2002, this idea was a fleet- and company-scale tabletop game called Event Horizon: Civil Blood.  The mechanics were simplistic but the vision was the same: a large-scale cooperative activity with a futuristic setting.  As one of my earlier projects, this simplified system quickly became numbers-driven and more often than not, the player with the highest numbers prevailed.  The project was set aside to make way for others and there it remained dormant for a decade.  We revisited it in 2012 as a potential miniatures game and I started to gather together a few resources to make it happen.

I found a group of potential collaborators that were excited about the system but wanted to explore the concept of it as an online MMO.  This alleviated several problems I was having with the online aspect of the game.  I was still envisioning a game played on the table but with an ongoing global conflict tracked online (reminiscent of Reaper's Warlord system from 1998).  We worked together to develop estimates of the effort required and now, here we are trying to make it a reality.  As an individual trying to gather together a miniatures game, I never got past the redesign work for the Zodiac Class Fighter (which is why all the artwork you see features this craft) before the vision of an app-driven MMO began to take shape.  Together, we can make this the most engaging online game ever created!

Physical Rewards
Physical Rewards

Kickstarter Rewards

The expansion of humanity to the stars began with the launch of 12 Hegira Class Colony Vessels.  This class was named after The Hegira, the human race's first sleeper ship that made it to the plant Eden in the year 2715.  Because of this interesting number, each colony vessel was named after one of the symbols of the zodiac.  Subsequently, the launch of the newly-crested "Zodiac Fleet" became known as The Zodiac Project.  To officiate this moniker, the fleet of XP-212 escort craft became known as the Zodiac Class Fighter.  The Zodiac Fleet was launched 16 April 2717 EST and overnight mankind had become a celestial entity.

This kickstarter represents that part of the game's history and will allow backers to become a part of that history.  Because of the game's distinctive achievement system, the Zodiac Project's band ribbon and campaign medal will more than likely become one of the most prized and coveted achievements within the game's community.  Once the fleet is launched, these items will never be available again.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

I have been a freelance game designer and computer programmer since I was 13 years old. Two decades of board, card, dice, miniatures, and computer gaming have revealed one simple truth: immersion and experience will trump visuals and mechanics every time. Put simply, no matter how visually appealing the game, how interesting its mechanics, or how expansive its system, it is the experience that the gamer takes away from the table that makes a game great.

Although Event Horizon will be my first mobile app game, my technical collaborators are experts in this technology. They specialize in applications powered by Unity3 and have an impressive portfolio that includes work on several Disney titles. Their work emphasizes exciting visuals and they employ a variety of graphic artists that are eager to create. We are all enthusiastic about working together to create the first mobile sci-fi MMO in a serious, dark, and stylized theme. This will be a system ready to compete with other online MMOs and not just another mindless button-masher.

Once funded, we estimate six months to a BETA release. Because player feedback will heavily influence the mechanics and particulars of the game, we will need an additional 30 days to streamline the reciprocal creative process. Backers will then be invited to log in and spend their Equity Points. When the game world is established, other players will be allowed to join you for the open BETA before we go live.

The biggest challenge facing us is establishing the logistics of a game this immersive. Our team will not be some unknown entity that somehow brings all of you together, but a living, breathing presence in the player's lives. We will make contact with the leaders of your organizations to hash out everything in the game from technology research programs to nuclear arms treaties. Additionally, each operation and incursion (as a part of history) will be recorded and, through links to the servers, made available for recall and review. This level of inter-connectivity has some functioning models already in existence, but not necessarily on mobile platforms. The production studio has several operational concepts that they would like to explore. Once we have our model, we will be able to create the game as we (and that "we" includes all of our backers as well as the core project team) want it.

I plan to use a variety of collaboration tools and approaches, including the Kickstarter update tools, to involve backers intensively in the entire creative process so that we can share pride in the finished product as something that we all created together. Hope to see all of you out there!

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    Pledges of this level will receive a bundle of eight high-resolution desktop backgrounds featuring the Zodiac Class Fighter with both federal and confederate markings. Additionally, all backers will be allowed to submit a name for in-game use. Planets, moons, factories, ships, historical figures, and everything in-between will need naming, so don't miss an opportunity to become a part of the universe itself! Furthermore, backers will earn Galactic Equity! All pledges, regardless of their amount, will be granted an equal amount of in-game Equity Points that will allow you to establish the universe BEFORE the servers go live! See the section on Galactic Equity below for more details.

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    Pledges of this level will be granted the Zodiac Project band ribbon for their achievement display. This will also mirror the in-game achievement when the game is brought online. Refer to the section below for more information on Event Horizon's achievement system.

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    Pledges of this level will receive one black men's universal T-shirt. This will feature the Zodiac Project logo over the left breast and the image of the campaign's band ribbon above it. The back will display the Zodiac Fleet's mission patch complete with each colony vessel's crest surrounding it. You will also receive all rewards below this level.

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    PATROL or SUPPORT GROUP: Pledges of this level will be given in-game commission certificates for one Patrol Group OR one Support Group. A Patrol Group consists of one Riegal Class Corvette and one Camorra Class Gunship. Support Groups are made up of one Spencer Class Freighter and one Bishop Class Hospital Ship. You will also receive all rewards below this level. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes.

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    ATTACK or EXPEDITIONARY GROUP: Pledges of this level will be given in-game commission certificates for one Attack Group OR one Expeditionary Group. An Attack Group consists of one Corbin Class Destroyer and one Dietzel Class Frigate. Expeditionary Groups consist of one Hegira Class Colony Vessel loaded with Zodiac Class Fighters and one Magellan Class Science Vessel. You will also receive all rewards below this level. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes.

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    ASSAULT or BATTLE GROUP: Pledges of this level will be given in-game commission certificates for one Assault Group OR one Battle Group. An Assault Group consists of one Holloway Class Assault Carrier loaded with Barracuda Class Gunboats, one Corbin Class Destroyer, and one Raboldt Class Transit. Battle Groups consist of one Pratt Class Cruiser, one Corbin Class Destroyer, and one Dietzel Class Frigate. You will also receive all rewards below this level. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes.

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    CARRIER GROUP: Pledges of this level will be given in-game commission certificates for one Battle Group which consists of two Jackson Class Carriers (each loaded with Gemini Class Fighters and Aries Class Bombers), one Pratt Class Cruiser, and one Pegasus Class Transport. You will also receive all rewards below this level.

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    CAMPAIGN MEDAL, BRONZE DEVICE: Pledges of this level will be awarded the gold Zodiac Project Campaign Medal with a bronze fleur-de-lis device. This will also mirror the in-game achievement when the game goes live next year. Pledges of this amount will also unlock one Morgan Class Battlecruiser and one Worden Class Recovery Vessel. You will also receive all rewards below this level. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes.

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    CAMPAIGN MEDAL, SILVER DEVICE: Pledges of this level will be awarded the gold Zodiac Project Campaign Medal with a silver fleur-de-lis device. This will also mirror the in-game achievement when the game goes live next year. Pledges of this amount will also unlock one McElroy Class Battleship and one Pegasus Class Transport. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes. Additionally, pledges of this level will receive a silver patina 1.5" coin featuring the Zodiac Project's mission patch design upon it. You will also receive all rewards below this level.

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    CAMPAIGN MEDAL, GOLD DEVICE: Pledges of this level will be awarded the gold Zodiac Project Campaign Medal with a gold fleur-de-lis device. This will also mirror the in-game achievement when the game goes live next year. Pledges of this amount will also unlock one Kuzick Class Dreadnought and one Magellan Class Science Vessel. Reference the section below concerning capitol ships for information on these classes. Furthermore, all carrier ships will have their small craft loads upgraded to the next-heavier class. Additionally, pledges of this level will receive an enormous, limited edition, individually numbered, gold-patina 3" coin featuring the Zodiac Project's mission patch design and the words of President Hebert's speech written upon the edge in Latin. Finally, all pledgers will have their Galactic Equity points doubled for in-game use prior to the BETA launch! You will also receive all rewards below this level.

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    EARLY BIRD! The first 12 backers to pledge to the $500 level will receive all of the normal pledge rewards as well as one unique Hegira Class Colony Vessel. This will be the virtual in-game representation of one of the original colony vessels launched 16 April 2717 and will carry a compliment of unique Zodiac Class Fighters fitted for deep-space operations. In addition to all of this, the first 12 backers to reach the $500 level will also receive a unique coin identification. Instead of a numerical sequence being printed on your coin, these will be engraved with the date "MMDCCXVII" and will have one of the 12 zodiac symbols identifying its sequence. These will be delivered complete with a hand-signed certificate of authenticity as part of this very special event in the game's history.

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