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Get Away With Murder!
We built and tested this awesome tourist game in Prague, where teams of motivated individuals got to run around in public, shooting their friends (and complete strangers) with electronic guns. There were cops, there were British soccer hooligans, there were dead-eyed Russian street dudes in squeaky leather jackets - the whole thing was this massive underground stealth game.
Now we want to bring it to the world.
Our electronic guns are called Dusters. They shoot invisible bullets called Speks. They are mobile, harmless, and glow brightly in the dark. You can use them to play stealth games anywhere, with anyone, at any time. Think laser tag in a street - except the street is filled with civilians, and you have no idea who is lurking around the corner.
If you manage to find enemy players and shoot them - you dust them. When you are shot - you're dusted! The name of the game is Geo-Combat. Your goal as an Agent is to accumulate efficiency points until you rise through the ranks and become a Dustman. Then we give you an upgraded duster with a longer shooting range, and you get to become part of the Dustcloud HQ.
Last year, we went to China and redesigned our hardware. The new Dusters we built shoot invisible (and therefore harmless) radio frequency signals designed to switch off the Dusters held by enemy players. You shoot the Duster, not the player. Each Duster transmits gaming data to your phone using Bluetooth Smart technology (we'll be Bluetooth's App of the Month in late January). Gaming data is then uploaded to the Dustcloud, where the stats of all players are logged and stored.
Locate other players using the GPS mapping on our smart phone Apps. You can form Alliances or challenge rival players to games of geo-combat. All challenges are consensual. We're committed to building and growing a community, and providing a social network where you and your friends can meet and interact with strangers in a parallel universe of spies and spycraft.
To see how geo-combat works, check this video below:
To see the original game (with Game Controllers) in action, check this video below:
To meet the team and see the new Dusters we built in China, check this video below:
Engadget - "This is not a dime-store thriller setup - it's The Dustcloud, a Zigbee-powered Urban Warfare game that proposes turning your everyday world into an Internet of Things battleground."
Re/code - "Here's a less precise but much more readable way of describing it: Laser Tag in the Streets. Pew pew pew!"
Time - "If wearable computing takes off, it's easy to imagine using Google Glass to scan a crowded mall, Terminator-style, then dusting your target with a well-placed virtual bullet."
For reasons far too complicated to go into now, we found ourselves running a bar in the middle of Old Town Prague a couple of years ago. Narrow, Harry Potteresque streets. Spy movie architecture.
A fantastic backdrop for a game.
So we built one.
The game was called Wetworks. We used Skype, bluetooth headsets and GPS tracking, and played spy games in Prague in the middle of the night. The technology was (honestly) pretty crappy, but the game was suspenseful. A total stealth game, built with hardware and software we developed ourselves.
Think paintball in the city - minus the paint. And the bruises.
THEN WE UPGRADED IT FOR SMART PHONES
We spend 2013 developing iOS and Android apps which enable you to locate any (active) Dustcloud Agent on your phone's mapping system. You can access their Dossiers on your phone or on our website, and see their codename, gaming stats, rank and location. You can invite any Agent to join your alliance. The bigger your alliance, the stronger you become.
You can also challenge rival Agents to games of geo-combat. If they accept your challenge and you manage to dust them, the following things happen:
• Their Duster is switched off for five minutes
• You capture all the speks in their Duster's magazine
• Their positional marker (POI) disappears from all smart phone maps
• Their Efficiency Percentage decreases incrementally on the Dustcloud database
• Your Efficiency Percentage increases incrementally according to their rank
• Their Mini-Dossier is sent to your Dustbin
(Fun fact: Spek capture is variable. If you dust a player with six speks in her magazine, you capture all six speks. If you dust a player with one spek in the mag, you only win one spek.)
Just be careful dusting Agents with large alliances! - they can call on their friends to avenge them as a feature of the game!
Above, you can see Lena's Dustbin, where the Mini-Dossiers of all the players she has dusted are stored. As the game grows, more functionality will be incorporated into gameplay, such as Turf Claims, where players can nominate physical areas (i.e. a street, a park, a bar) and claim them as their own. The longer you hold your turf, the more efficiency points you accumulate. This is a way of bringing the game to your doorstep. We will implement Turf Claims into our apps by our Kickstarter shipping date if we reach our stretch goal of $500,000.
Speks are the electronic bullets you 'shoot' with your Duster. When you button-on for geo-combat, six speks are automatically loaded into your Duster's magazine (you can transfer more if you need them from the ammunition bank in your smartphone).
When you play offline, all speks are free. When you play online, you can win speks by dusting other players, or earn them by achieving in-game objectives or consuming media. You can also buy speks for 5¢ each. They are our internal currency, like Bitcoins. They're the difference between winning and losing, and this makes the gameplay sharper.
As a thank-you incentive to our Kickstarter backers, we have added a Hail Mary Mod to the Duster 2.0. If the ammunition bank on your phone is completely empty, we'll replenish your Duster's magazine every day until the end of 2015. If you have blown through all your speks (or have been dusted a whole lot by more pro-active players), we'll give you six free speks every 24 hours from the time you have been dusted.
You'll just have to wait a day to get back in the game.
INTRODUCING THE TECH
We built our Dusters in Shenzhen, China, as part of the Haxlr8r hardware accelerator program. Our components have been sourced and our factory partnerships locked in, and we are ready to manufacture and ship Dusters to our Kickstarter Backers in the Summer of 2014. We have developed directional RF antennas which dictate the gameplay, and connected them to Bluetooth Smart modules which transmit gaming data to your smart phones.
We are working with optics engineering to make the internal lighting better, but at night, the Dusters look pretty badass. The internal LED lighting is programmable, so it's possible to customize the Dusters and make them glow in any color. For the time being, the default colors of the Dusters we will ship will be red, and Ingress-friendly blue and green.
The Dustcloud is an Underground Community of Street Gamers and Spies. We're a game engine merged with a social network, and we're are bringing the best elements of Paintball and Ingress together in a social gaming platform that revolves around people. You can play with your friends, or you can meet strangers, form alliances with them - or dust them.
We take ethics seriously. Our forums will be moderated. Bullies and stalkers will be quickly expelled. And you are visible on our maps only as long as you are active. Check the Gameplay link on our blog for more details.
To join our community, you will need to get your hands on a Duster (we are offering them cheaply on Kickstarter), download our app from iTunes or Google Play, and upload your Dossier and Agent Photo to the Dossier Wall. You then tether your phone to your Duster (we show you how - it's easy!) and start looking around for fellow Agents to interact with.
Dusting is like tweeting. There's not a whole lot of point if you're the only one doing it. A community needed. We need players and believers to make this thing work.
Because we played and tested our gaming engine in Prague, we know how awesome this game can be.
We want to build a global game and cutting edge gaming platform. And we want you to be right there alongside us when we do.
So please support us on Kickstarter. To see photos of the Reward Packages we are offering, click HERE - All prices in $USD.
MEET THE TEAM
Ota Fejfar is Czech. Howard Hunt is Australian. They have very little in common except gaming, which they are both extraordinarily good at. Ota plays classic online RPGs when he is not developing hardware. Howard plays paintball when he can get it together to schlep his equipment to the outskirts of Berlin. Howard and Ota met in Prague at the aforementioned bar, and developed the game over two years worth of drinks. Howard relocated to Berlin in 2012, and assembled a ragtag team of misfits to code the apps and develop the Dustcloud. You can follow their adventures in China HERE.
Risks and challenges
What presently wakes us up in a cold sweat at 4am every morning is the possibility that not enough people will take the leap of faith and enter The Dustcloud. This is the biggest risk with any kind of crowdfunding campaign - a too-widely spread user base. For the longest time, it really looked like Twitter would remain a fringe enterprise as opposed to a transformative technology in global communication. The same could be said for Foursquare. It took those guys forever to gain traction. The trick is to offer awesome customer service and to understand that it will be our players, more than our developers, who will define us. As far as manufacturing goes, our Dusters are ready to be built and shipped from China. Our special sauce is our flexible game engine, which can be defined by our players as we build the game. As we grow, our backend will grow with us. But we need you - our Backers - to help us realise this dream.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)