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.)
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
LAYPERSON (copy of the game): In this package, you'll get one copy of Acolyte you can use for yourself or give to a friend. You'll also join the Crooked Smiles AWESOME Club and get regular (but not too frequent) email updates about Crooked Smiles news, chances to beta test new products, special pricing, and more. And as an AWESOME Club member, you'll be listed in the Acolyte credits, practically guaranteeing fame, fortune and entrance into the afterlife of your choice.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
OBSERVANT (two copies + sticker): Since it's a dueling game, two copies does make more sense than just one. So in this package, in addition to your AWESOME Club membership, you'll get TWO copies of Acolyte AND (just to sweeten the pot) a fun Acolyte sticker. See the project text for details.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
FOLLOWER (ringtone): Check out the example ringtones on our project page and then ask yourself: Could I be a better person just by having a kick-butt ringtone? Answer: of course! We'll send you a ringtone from the god of your choice so that you can improve your station in society. Also, two copies of Acolyte and a membership in the AWESOME Club are included in this package, free of charge.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $15 or moreYou selected
ADEPT (mini-poster): In this package, in addition to your own ringtone, two copies of Acolyte and AWESOME Club membership, you'll receive a special commemorative Acolyte mini-poster, complete with a special 2D bar code that will boost your in-game powers. Perfect for dorm rooms, office cubicles, or private jet bathrooms. Check out the project text for designs and details.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $35 or moreYou selected
ACOLYTE (t-shirt): Who wouldn't look good wearing a high-quality t-shirt screen-printed with an amusing slogan and the face of your favorite Acolyte god? Which slogan and which god, you ask? We're not sure yet. Part of the fun of being a backer will be the opportunity to vote on t-shirt designs. But if you want an example, check out the project text. Also included: a mini-poster, a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $45 or moreYou selected
PRIEST (signed t-shirt): What could possibly be better than an Acolyte t-shirt and mini-poster? How about having your t-shirt and/or mini-poster signed by the gods themselves!? Sure to be a collector's item among the faithful. And just like with previous packages, this level includes a mini-poster, a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and a membership in the AWESOME club.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $65 or moreYou selected
9 backers Limited (3 left of 12)
HIGH PRIEST (limited edition board games): Act fast to get everything included in the PRIEST package AND two award-winning, limited edition, signed board games: "Patchwork" and "Igor: The Life of the Party". Designed by Crooked Smiles team members, these early editions are no longer in print, so we can only offer a limited number. Going once, going twice, ...Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or moreYou selected
MONK (hoodie): Is a high-quality t-shirt not quite enough of a draw for you? What about a high-quality sweatshirt/hoodie instead? Same deal as with the ACOLYTE package, but in this package we'll put your favorite design on some clothing that's a bit warmer, a bit pricier, and a lot more AWESOME! Therefore, this package comprises an Acolyte sweatshirt, a mini-poster, a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $85 or moreYou selected
ABBOT (signed hoodie): Can you complete this analogy? ACOLYTE:PRIEST::MONK:??? If you said "ABBOT," then you're either brilliant or you just looked at the title for this backer level. Either way, in this package you get the same stuff as in the PRIEST package, but with a sweatshirt instead of a t-shirt. Thus, the sweatshirt and mini-poster, either one (or both!) signed by the gods, a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $95 or moreYou selected
SAINT (sainthood bio): Have you not gotten the respect you deserve in this lifetime? Why wait until you're dead to be canonized? If you contribute at this level, we'll post your biography – including miracles you may or may not have performed in your life - in a special ‘Lives of the Saints’ section of the credits on Acolyte. Don't be surprised if your visage starts showing up on burnt pastry items all over the world. Also includes either a t-shirt OR a sweatshirt/hoodie (your choice), a mini-poster, signatures of the gods, a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $115 or moreYou selected
APOSTLE (whole ball of wax): Do all of the rewards to this point sound fun? Are you having a hard time deciding? If you contribute at this level, you'll get everything mentioned so far: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie AND a t-shirt and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership. [NOTE: We can't include the board games, unfortunately, as we only have a limited number of those.]Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)
BISHOP (name an invocation): The heck with "Zeus's Wrath"! How about "Joe's Wrath"? Or "Bertha's Blessing"? If you contribute at this level, we'll let you name one of the invocations in the game--assuming, of course, that you adhere to the modicum of decency we require of ourselves. (Trust us: it's a low bar.) Also included is everything from the APOSTLE package: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie, a t-shirt, and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (4 left of 5)
ARCHBISHOP (easter egg): Do you know what an easter egg is? If you think it's brought by a bunny, you've not wasted your youth playing video games like we have. An easter egg is a secret bit of code in a game that can be triggered by performing a secret action. If you contribute at this level, we'll put a special, personalized easter egg in Acolyte, something that's present in all copies everywhere, but that only you know how to activate! (How cool is that!?) Also included is everything from the APOSTLE package: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie, a t-shirt, and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $750 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)
DEMIGOD (personal tutorial/help): Acolyte will have a built-in tutorial and help system, of course, but the tutorial and help in the game will pale in comparison to that which you'll get if you contribute at this level. We'll spend a few hours with you over Skype, teaching you the ins and outs of the game and giving you the kind of tips and pointers that only the designers of the game would know, and we'll also offer follow-up help over email through the end of the year. This will be sure to boost your rankings at the next Acolyte Invitational Mid-Regional Semi-Final Tournament. Also included is everything from the APOSTLE package: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie, a t-shirt, and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
DEITY (your face on a god): You are a god. No, seriously. You are. And we'll prove it. Contribute at this level and send us a picture and we'll put your glorious mug (or someone else's) smack-dab onto one of the Acolyte deities. Who would you like to be? Zeus, the father of the gods and ruler of Olympus? Or maybe you're better suited to Epimetheus, titan of afterthought and father of excuses. (Seriously, look it up.) Either way, you're looking good! Also included is everything from the APOSTLE package: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie, a t-shirt, and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
"THE ONE" (game weekend in Boulder): Knock, knock, Neo. If you take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I'll show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Actually, I'll just tell you: It goes all the way to beautiful Boulder, Colorado. We'll fly you and a friend out from any major continental airport in the US of A and put you up for a weekend of gaming with the crew. Games and fun and games and food and ... we may even hike you up to the secret mountain altar where we perform our sacrifices. You get the picture. It'll be a blast. Also included is everything from the APOSTLE package: a sainthood biography, a sweatshirt/hoodie, a t-shirt, and a mini-poster (any or all of them signed by the gods), as well as a ringtone, two copies of Acolyte, and an AWESOME Club membership.Estimated delivery:
- (27 days)