With a few gestures of your cell phone, you call on the power of the gods to smite your opponent in a face-to-face duel!
We at Crooked Smiles have a dream: We want to make a social game for your mobile device that's truly social - a game you enjoy with friends in the same room, toe-to-toe, face-to-face, in real-time and real-space. You may call us mad. You may say we're tilting at windmills. But who is to say where madness ends and genius begins? Acolyte -- our new game combining strategy, tactics, and quick reflexes -- will show the world that some dreams come true.
What is Acolyte? (Overview)
Acolyte turns your iOS 5 iPhone into a divine artifact, and transforms you - the acolyte - into a conduit for your deity's mystical powers. By tracing glyphs in the air with your phone, you channel divine forces to battle your foe in a toe-to-toe duel.
Acolyte is also a game of cunning: You carefully define and continually adapt your strategy, manage limited resources over the long-term, and out-think, as well as out-blast, your opponent. This isn't simply wand-flailing - unlike other mobile device games That Shall Not Be Named.
And, as you win duels and gather the blessings of your god, you will be granted new invocations and powers.
What is Acolyte? (Details)
An Acolyte duel comprises four alternating phases of Meditation (to beseech your deities for powers) and Bouts (wherein you battle your opponent). At the end of the duel, the acolyte with the highest Life total wins.
While Meditating, you'll offer Faith to your gods in exchange for selected Invocations and Relics to bring into battle. Choose wisely and spend your Faith carefully! Different gods offer different Invocations and Relics, and require different amounts of Faith for each.
When battling your opponent in a Bout, your gestures with your phone invoke the powers you've been granted - and your opponent's gestures tell you what Invocations they're casting. Your motions must be precise to call down the powers of your deities, and you'll need to carefully watch your opponent's gestures so you can respond effectively.
You'll exert your Vitality to cast Invocations. The more Vitality you use for an Invocation, the more powerful the effect. But Vitality is a limited resource - make sure you don't run out! Luckily, your god can grant you Invocations to restore Vitality. Do you spend your Vitality early, or conserve it for the late game? Can you bluff your opponent into foolishly spending their resources?
How Far Along Is It?
We've developed a fun and engrossing alpha version of Acolyte - using proprietary gesture-recognition algorithms - which has us stroking our imaginary goatees, waving our iPhones madly, cackling at our foes' defeats, and cursing the gods when fate turns against us. So far, our game offers:
- Truly social interactions, wherein you need to keep a close eye on your opponent and respond to their behavior in real-time.
- Long-term planning to manage resources and adapt your strategies as the game unfolds.
- Real-time tactics to exploit your opponent's weaknesses and defend against their attacks during battle.
- Dexterity and skill to precisely control your gestures.
- Knowledge accumulation, through practice and study, so you can recognize and understand your opponent's gestures.
What is Left to Do?
We've done a lot so far with our own resources, but we need funding to bring the whole thing to completion. As anyone who's designed and published a game or a software application will tell you, there's a huge amount of work required to turn a prototype into a final product. Over the next several months, we'll be testing and refining and testing and polishing and testing until we get it right. This applies not just to the software, which includes some complex gesture-recognition algorithms that have to be optimized, but also to the game design and mechanisms.
How Will Crooked Smiles Make This Happen?
Crooked Smiles comprises a handful of hard-working game enthusiasts with the experience required to pull this off. For one thing, we know games. Between us, we have designed three award-winning board games which have been published by major game companies, and several more under consideration (see our website for details). For another, we know software, with a combined total of over 40 years of professional experience on all sorts of platforms.
Still, we don't know everything (just ask our kids). And we can't do everything at once. We've spent a long time calculating the minimum funding amount we'd need in order to complete this project in a respectable amount of time.
Specifically, we need funding to:
- Develop high-quality graphics,
- Implement high-quality sound engineering,
- Design deep and expansive levels for advanced play,
- Develop tutorials and training features,
- Implement a system to organize, track, and analyze community competitions,
- Maintain the database and web services required for a production game, and
- Integrate the game into the social marketplace
And so we turn to you, our sponsors, to help us not only create a new way for people to play intelligent interactive games, but to be involved with the development of the product. Because beyond just the cold hard cash, we need warm bodies for support. And that's you.
What Do I, the Backer, Get Out of This?
Hopefully, the list on the right side of this page will give you the information you need about the various rewards we're offering, but there are a few things we want to clarify:
What if I don't own an iPhone, but still want to contribute? Just because you don't own an iPhone doesn't mean you can't be a part of this. For one thing, we're hoping to bring Acolyte to other platforms as well (see below). For another, we'll be "gifting" the free copies of Acolyte, so you can have it go to a family member or friend instead. But in the meantime, we're also offering a sticker in lieu of the free copy of the game.
We will happily replace one or more free copies of Acolyte with a sticker at any reward level. You can also feel free to mix and match. (Note that if we're successful, everyone at the $5 level or above will automatically get one of these stickers.)
What's a mini-poster and what will it look like? A mini-poster is simply a poster that comes in a more manageable size, like around 11x17 inches. We're working with a designer to come up with a design, and right now it looks something like this:
This is just an example, so the actual mini-poster may not look just like this, but it will have a special code which, when you scan it with your phone, will give you special powers in the game. But again, we're going to be looking to our backers to help us choose the best design. Speaking of which...
What about the t-shirt and hoodie? So glad you asked! Our backers have chosen a design, so this is what will go out to our backers who support us at the $35 level or above:
And the ringtones? What will they sound like? As it turns out, we have examples. Check out the following:
- ZEUS: (thunderclap) "It's for you."
- DIONYSUS: (hiccup) "Phick up the pone!"
- APHRODITE: "Is that a phone in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me?"
There will be more choices than just these three for those who pledge at or above the appropriate level, but you get the idea.
And Finally, Some Miscellaneous Stuff...
Why just iOS 5? What about other platforms? At the outset of this project, we spent a fair amount of time trying to develop a cross-platform version of Acolyte, but the development tools just aren't available to make it really work. In particular, in order to handle gesture recognition we have to work closely with the underlying sensors. So we've decided to stick with the iPhone for now, mostly because the hardware is a constant that we can code for specifically.
All that said, we'd love to do an Android version as well. And if we get enough support that we surpass our initial target, this'll be one of the first major "stretch goals" we'd consider.
What about international shipping? As far as we can tell, shipping our rewards internationally will generally cost about $15 more than shipping them domestically. So if you'd like to have us ship something outside of the US, please add $15 to whatever pledge level you actually want. And of course, as with anything, feel free to contact us directly if you have questions.
Our background is in software & web development, and we've long understood the importance of accessibility in applications. (Board game design has similar issues: I can't count the number of times I've seen poor color choices make it difficult for players who have a hard time distinguishing colors!)
So our response is an enthusiastic YES!
(There is one small caveat: part of the game involves watching the other player make gestures in the air with his/her phone. But these will be broad gestures, and the phone will display/read the results, so the visually impaired should not be affected.)