Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 9, 2013.

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A game about robots whose three laws have been scrambled. Race to be the first to Improvise Science, Destroy War or Hide Breathing.

Thank You

Thank you everyone :) It's been a fantastic campaign; we've been blown away by the support and generosity of our backers. From the creativity in the custom chips you guys have been coming up with to the ingenious (and at one point entirely unplanned and unexpected) approaches that you took to solving the campaign's puzzles. We hope that you've enjoyed it as much as we have and look forward to bringing you 404: Law Not Found.

It's Not Too Late

If you've come across this page after the campaign has ended and are interested in getting a copy of 404, or just finding out how things are going, drop by the 404: Law Not Found page on our game design blog. We look forward to meeting you.

Unlocked Stretch Goals:

Bonus Chips, see updates #12 #18 #20 #23 #24 #26 #33 and #35.
Anomalies mini-expansion, see update #30 and #34.
Player aids (still being planned, but see update #34)

More Unlocked Content:

Special enemy ships, more crew, monkey transmogrification and the basic alternate board. See update #36 and don't forget to say thanks to our generous DESTROY KICKSTARTER backers.

Bonus game mode! See update #17, unlocked courtesy of the clever folks who solved the first twitter puzzle!

You're a robot serving aboard humanity's best hope: the starship Clarion. You have a set of laws that ensure that you are a good robot who looks after the humans and follows their every command. You like your laws. They are good laws. You should follow them.

One day, a new set of microchips arrive to upgrade you with new and exciting abilities. Once you’ve been upgraded you realise that your laws are missing - and in their place are new directives. They might not be in the best interests of the ship, the crew or your own survival, but you like your directives. They are good directives. You should follow them.

If you prefer watching to reading, please enjoy this excellent video from Rahdo Runs Through (Please disregard the poor papercraft models that died in the post getting to him, the final version of the game comes with miniatures):

404: Law Not Found is a medium-weight game for 2-6 players to play in an hour (a little longer if it's your first game). The game opens with the players being assigned a special ability chip and a starting location, before drafting their new directives. These are hidden from the other players and tell you what situations you'll need to create in order to win the game. (There are more details on the nature of directives in update #3)

Each turn the ship faces some sort of obstacle, such as a meteor or enemy ship. Then the human crew (if they’re still alive) do their best to deal with it (their best isn’t very good; humans only take one quick action since they’ve grown stupid and lazy having had robots to do everything - see update #5), the monkey does its best to steal bananas (it’s marginally more competent than the humans). Then, the players leap into action, making a series of 3 moves each in order to expose all rooms to the cold vacuum of space, fire scientists at aliens or do whatever else it is that they're trying to achieve. The game ends after 10 turns - or once a robot completes all of its directives, whichever happens first.

Most directives focus on the use of machines. The ship contains 8 machines and 16 different types of item (20 if you factor in that a live scientist has different properties to a dead scientist). Placing an item into a machine and turning it on will typically do something, but not necessarily something that anyone wanted to happen. Players commit to all 3 actions before discovering what the other robots are doing and can knock each other off course. So the "activate" card that you were hoping to use on the monkey cage might instead apply to the launch tube.

Backer Update #4 contains this video demonstrating the turn sequence:

If you fancy a look at the rules in much more precise detail, Box of Delights have been kind enough to create this rules explanation:

Human efforts might fail (unless you get them a toolkit) and the events you face are unpredictable (unless you use the navigation computer) but if there's one thing you can rely on, it's your cold, uncaring, perfect self. Choose the correct actions and you will succeed. If you'd like to go over the rules in more detail have a look at the preview:

Click here to download the prototype rule book

This is only a preview, in need of some aggressive editing. The final version will be written once we know exactly how much we're able to cram into the game, but blind testers and reviewers have enjoyed the game using those rules so they should give you an idea of how the game will play.

Each game contains a high quality board, 60 counters, 120 cards and 6 model robots manufactured by Panda. The box, cards and board feature art by the talented Ludwin Schouten. Check it out:

If you would like more specific information about the components, check out update #14.

We've sent out copies of the game to several reviewers. Conventional wisdom is that we should wait and see what they say, cherry picking the best reviews for this section, but we're going to show a little more faith than that. We've no idea what they'll say; we've not paid for any reviews and they've all promised honesty. As each review goes live they'll be posted here and the next backer update will link to them - regardless of whether the reviewer liked our game or not. If you want to know everything about the game, good or bad, drop in a £1 pledge and you'll hear the news as it comes in.

We believe in the quality of the game that we've made, in the abilities of reviewers to clearly elucidate on their views and in the perceptiveness of our audience to filter good information from bad.

Reviews

Rahdo Runs Through (video review) - "Jen and I have really enjoyed the game so far, I mean every time we've gotten a really different surprising selection of directives. Some of them are really straightforward some of them are really twisted."
Polyhedron Collider - "404: Law Not Found is like trying to solve a puzzle where the pieces are constantly moving."
Littlemetaldog - "On the surface, 404: Law Not Found is a very silly game. However, a couple of rounds into your first play and you realise that it's not to be taken lightly."
Box of Delights (mini review on BGG) - "I really like this game, and am backing it on kickstarter, and a "how to play" doesn't give you the laughs and the despair and the depth of the puzzle and the fun you're going to experience at the table, trying to fulfil your directives and being scuppered by your opponents as they steal your items, shove you into the wrong room, or you drop all your items."
PurplePawn - "The game, while being very silly on the surface, is actually very strategic. A lot of thought needs to be put into your actions so you can make the most of your turns."
Games & Grub - "Once players get used to how the parts of 404′s puzzle fit together, the play experience is enjoyable and will produce both difficult decisions and raucous guffaws about just what you need to do to, and with, the ship’s items and inhabitants." Sadly Games & Grub has closed down since they wrote the review. We enjoyed talking with them and wish them the very best of luck in their future projects.

Interviews

Bellwether Games "If you set out to do something unique, what happens if all the playtesting seems to lead you to something more generic?"
Game Design Chronicles "What is your greatest moment as a game designer?"
3DTotal "What's been your biggest high and low point during the process?"
GeekNative (mini-interview) "How long does it take to learn? Is this one for experienced gamers?"
DJGrandpa (Audio 36:50-42:27) "Are we really gonna be foolish enough to turn the planet over the robots in the future?"
DMFiat (Audio) "quote" - Recorded but not yet posted

Greg's background is in academia, but he got tired of studying people and decided that it was much more fun to play with them. He was introduced to gaming a little before he learned to walk and have been enthusiastically looking for ways to make it more awesome ever since. Between a lifetime of gaming (at social and competative levels), most of a decade of psychological science, work on various home-made expansions and some experience playtesting others' creations he's got a broad toolkit to draw on in order to make 404 the best experience it can be.

This is Tom. He sets our directives at 3DTotal. (They are good directives. We should follow them.) He founded 3DTotal 14 years ago, initially to showcase his own work and the work of other graphic artists that he'd studied with. The delivery of this game is backed up by the combined experience of the team he's put together that has delivered 26 art books, 190 magazines and 120 ebooks to a worldwide audience.

This is the very first board game project for 3DTotal. We've Kickstarted a game and delivered it on time before (Prime Wars) but it was a fairly simple affair with no board. Here we've designed a game, paid artists, done a bunch of playtesting and are generally pretty happy with the game, but need to fund the manufacture and shipping of the thing. These costs are quite significant and the minimum orders required are fairly large so we need a little help to make the game into reality. If we hit our £10,000 goal that'll cover the manufacturing and shipping costs, which is enough to make the game a reality. More than that will start to cover all of the money we've already spent on art and can be plugged into finding ways to improve the game.

We're very interested in Kickstarter and what it has to bring. Between 3DTotal's first foray into Kickstarter and Tom's own personal account they have backed over a dozen projects across seven categories. Greg is somewhat more focused on games (though couldn't resist the idea of glow in the dark plants). We think it's great that Kickstarter gives a platform to games that might otherwise not be made, so the platform shines brightest for us when we've come across novel ideas like Witness Protection Program or Chronos Conquest (which will hopefully return with a more reasonable goal and get its funding).

£10,000+: Bonus chip cards (unlocked)

Once we hit our goal, the "bonus chip cards" goal will immediately activate. The core game includes 6 chips, which give the robots unique special powers, but we've playtested dozens more. Each £500 above our goal will add one extra chip card to the deck, up to a maximum of 20 extra cards.

So what makes the bonus chips special? The core chips offer very powerful abilities that can only be refreshed by completing a planetary mission. The bonus chips include weaker powers that can be used more frequently. The destruction chip may be mighty, but the banana chip can be reused every time any player completes a mission.

£15,000: Anomalies mini-expansion (unlocked)

At 150% funded the ship is now able to navigate into strange and uncharted sectors. A small collection of events will be added to each game, which can optionally be included to create a wilder universe.

So what makes the anomalies special? The core events offer necessary opportunities to complete directives, but due to this they can't be unique. When an anomaly occurs it is alongside a regular event, allowing them to have weirder effects. Their inclusion creates an environment with constantly shifting rules, offering an advantage to the most creatively adaptive player.

£20,000: Player aids (unlocked)

Ahh, the glorious "We didn't lose money overall" level. We'll celebrate this achievement by adding a collection of player aids to each game. These handy cardboard rectangles will give you somewhere convenient to keep your inventory, plan your actions and will have some new art commissioned especially for them.

£25,000: Alternative ship layout (semi-unlocked)

404: Law Not Found already has a fantastic level of re-playability, with variety introduced by the starting locations, chips and over 100,000 possible combinations of directives. This stretch goal expands on that even further, adding an alternate ship layout to the back of the board: The Space Doughnut.

So what makes the Space Doughnut special? The alternate layout is a map with no dead ends and a greater degree of interconnectedness, which has several subtle effects on how the game is played. The optimal directive selection changes slightly. It becomes easier to take a shortcut by jumping out into space and walking aroud the ship. If the monkey escapes and the bananas haven't moved it's unlikely to steal cloning jelly (as it does on the original map) and is more likely to grab a missile.

To infinity and beyond! (aka plans for later expansions)

There are so many other extensions we would add to this thing, of various levels of feasibility. We'd love to add an extra board with a second ship containing a teleporter and remote control or to have each game include a wider variety of models. If 404: Law Not Found proves popular then we'll see what we can fit into a future expansion :)

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

This is our third Kickstarter project and our second games Kickstarter project after Prime Wars. Each project has been more ambitious than the one before; this time we're making a full boxed game with a board, miniatures and all of the bells and whistles. We've been speaking to manufacturers, shippers and fulfillment centres to do our best to prepare for and mitigate potential problems, but as with all new things there is a danger that unexpected pitfalls may complicate the project. Games are a part of 3DTotal's portfolio, so while a serious problem with manufacturing or shipping could be painful for us, we're confident that we will be able to fulfill our promises to you whatever happens.

FAQ

  • Octopus-Ferret. Which in this case means: “Not as random as you might think”. We’ve noticed a tendency for commentators to note all of the zany things that happen to them during their games and emphasise them in describing their experiences. That’s great! It means that those experiences are generating positive emotional reactions, which is what they’re there for. However the thematic (colloquial) randomness does tend to give the impression that the game is driven by (mathematical) randomness, which isn’t true. There are no dice in the game and the impact of player actions is entirely deterministic. While there are randomisers in the shape of the action, directive and event decks these can all be mitigated. Action cards offer players 10 options a turn, never forcing a particular play. Directive cards are selected using a draft, making luck of the draw less relevant. The events deck can be rearranged by using machines on the ship. Please don’t get the impression that just because people are having loads of fun with the theme that there isn’t also a great game underneath in which your decisions matter and in which your choice of strategy will ultimately decide the outcome.

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  • 3DTotal ran a Kickstarter for the Prime Wars card game (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1794375019/prime-wars…), which involved manufacture and distribution of a game, raised over $20,000 and shipped on schedule. The second Kickstarter was for an artist’s anatomy model (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1794375019/3dtotals-anatomical-collection-male-figure), which involved realising a digital 3D model as a sculpture, manufacturing it and shipping it to hundreds of customers.

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  • 3DTotal has backed a few different projects, mostly in the art category, but including the likes of Dreadball. Tom has backed a few other games, such as Guilds of Cadwallon and Zombicide. Greg only got started on Kickstarter 6 months ago, but has already backed 20-ish games projects. He particularly liked Witness Protection Program and was sad it didn’t get broader exposure.

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  • 3DTotal is experimenting with a range of exciting new products on Kickstarter. In order to keep things clearer for our backers (and to avoid wasting people’s time with updates they’re not interested in) we have one account dedicated to games and one dedicated to art projects. This is the newly created account. The projects that you can see we have backed are due to the back it for a buck challenge, to pledge $1 to at least 10 projects to keep your eye on things that might otherwise have passed you by. Get involved here (http://todayinboardgames.com/b4b-challenge/).

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  • At the end of the campaign we’ll get in touch and ask you for a Twitter length message to hide in the rulebook. This will then be encoded and hidden in an error message; if you have any preferences about the level of coding we’ll try to accommodate those. Most messages are okay, but we will work on the assumption that a 12-year old might read them and messages that are obscene, contain hate speech or are otherwise inappropriate will not be accepted. Also be aware that you will only have 2 weeks to submit your message after the project is completed, so as not to delay manufacture.

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  • At the end of the campaign I’ll get in touch to ask about your card. You can submit an idea from a thematic "I'd like a chip that let you breathe fire" or a mechanical "It'd be cool if there was an anomaly that made machines function like the machine in the next room" perspective. The final mechanical effects of the card may be subject to change to ensure an interesting and balanced game. Cards added in this manner will bear an icon indicating that they have been designed by a Kickstarter backer and will be credited to you in the rules section. As with 'Improvise Kickstarter' cards must be appropriate to all players and you will only have 2 weeks to submit your design after the project is completed, so as not to delay manufacture.

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  • This is our first full board game. As such we’re assuming that some things will go wrong and that this will inflate that time it takes to deliver the game. Additionally some of the stretch goals and backer options will require a little extra time to implement so we want to be ready for that possibility.

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  • It depends on which version of the rulebook you're reading, so far it's changed in every incarnation. It's nice to be able to tell which version of the rules someone has been looking at by what they think the ship is called :) Don't worry; we'll nail it down at some point during the Kickstarter. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

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  • If you live in the EU or USA we’ll ship 404: Law Not Found to you for free. If you live elsewhere you’ll need to add £15 to your pledge. In the future we’ll try to make it cheaper to obtain our games outside of these regions, but as this is our first board games project we’re still learning the ins and outs of shipping and distribution models.

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  • The games will be produced in China where they will be broken down into pallets and shipped in bulk to the USA and EU. There they are broken down into games and mailed to individual backers. This makes shipping to these locations comparatively cheap.

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  • Panda is; the company seems to be something of a manufacturer of choice these days and having dealt with the staff and seen their work I can see why. I’m confident that in working with Panda the physical components for 404 will be of a high quality and will be delivered in a reasonable time frame.

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  • Yes. There'll be a backer update once the print and play is ready to go, just drop us a message at that point and we'll sort it out.

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  • Yes, while the reward levels state European Union, the important part of that is belonging to the European Single Market. As such Norway qualifies for free shipping.

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    Directive: EMPOWER KICKSTARTER A chip or anomaly will be designed around the theme of your choice and included in 404. Plus a copy of the game. (Shipping included to the EU and USA, add £15 for international shipping. Themes must be submitted within 2 weeks of the project funding and are subject to approval.)

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    Directive: DESTROY KICKSTARTER Unlock bonuses for all 404 backers, have your name in the rulebook (and maybe the board) as testament to your generosity and get a special set of six robot minis, including a gold plated robot. Also a copy of the game. (Shipping included, see update #35 for more details)

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Funding period

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