Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 21, 2013.

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There Came an Echo is a voice-controlled real-time strategy game, starring Wil Wheaton!

UpdatesUpdate 17: Less than 24 hours to go!Update 16: PayPal is live!

Update 15: WE DID IT!

***A quick note on Mac OSX/Linux support***
Hey, everyone. We wanted to clear the air a little bit regarding platform support.

The Mac/Linux stretch goal is a guarantee for a simultaneous launch on all platforms. While we may not hit this goal, there's still a possibility that the game will launch concurrently for all three platforms, and even if it isn't, we'll definitely be porting to those platforms a few months after release.

It makes zero sense to alienate a massive number of consumers. We want as many people to play the game as possible! It's just a matter of making sure we get things out on time.

Rest assured, if you pledge here, you'll eventually get a copy on Mac OSX or Linux. No doubt.

Welcome to the Kickstarter page for There Came an Echo, the second game from Iridium Studios. You might (or might not, it's cool) remember us from our breakout indie hit, Sequence, which was released on Steam in late 2011. We got bored after a while, so we decided to make a second game! We also had some dirt on Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, Eureka, The Big Bang Theory), so we got him on board, too.

There Came an Echo is currently being developed for the PC, and should release in approximately mid-2014 on Steam. The $90,000 we're asking for is primarily for the art department: the money will be used directly to hire an art director and a 3-D modeler for a period of approximately fourteen months. We've already invested heavily in our sound team, recording studio, actors, and programmers, but we need your help to round out the team!

Though this game is absolutely, from-the-ground-up designed for use with a vocal recognition system (and we'll highly encourage you to at least try it!), we believe in letting players enjoy their entertainment as they see fit. So, alternate control schemes for both gamepads and keyboards will be available.

There Came an Echo is a game in which you, the field commander of a small squad, use your voice to direct your units around a map to accomplish various objectives. There's a list of predefined commands, which might include "open fire," or "Corrin, head to Bravo 3." Limiting the dictionary to a few hundred entries helps to improve voice recognition, as the system (unlike, say, Siri) doesn't need to differentiate a large number of words.

Still, those aren't the only things you'll be saying: for every existing command and unit, the player can define a custom phrase that acts as an alternate. For instance, instead of "Grace, hold position", you might choose to say "yo girl, hold up", or instead of "weapons free", you might say, "not the gumdrop buttons!" You'll be able to direct your troops in a style completely your own.

At various points throughout missions, your units will make various observations and come back to you with questions. "Sir, I've got a clear shot on an enemy target thirty meters away. Should I take the shot?" "Sir, do you want me to link back up with Grace? She's under heavy fire." You'll need to survey the situation and give an informed "affirmative" or "negative". It's a dialogue, not a soliloquy.

Finally, there will be numerous environmental factors that you can affect throughout the game. Previously placed mines can be detonated remotely: "Mines 1, 3, 11, detonate." Automated defense systems can target specific units: "Turret B, target Enemy Unit 5." There are myriad possibilities for these types of interactions within gameplay, and these are just scratching the surface.

Art is arguably the most expensive component of any modern game, and it's the primary reason we're running this Kickstarter in the first place. A ton of work goes into any modern title's aesthetics: character and environment design, 3-D modeling, animation, texturing, and so on. It's a lot of work, but we want There Came an Echo to look as unique as it plays.

To help envision the game's style, we asked concept artist Noe Levya to give us some target renders for the game. His work...well, it speaks for itself, we think.

A typical firefight in There Came an Echo. Click for high resolution!
A typical firefight in There Came an Echo. Click for high resolution!
Corrin, attempting to evade capture. Click for high resolution!
Corrin, attempting to evade capture. Click for high resolution!

We're currently planning for There Came an Echo to take an isometric view with controllable zoom. (You can pan and zoom the camera with voice commands, or you can use a controller/mouse/keyboard for these functions.) It's extremely likely that all units and objects will be rendered in full 3-D, considering the complex animations required, but we'd like the backdrops and environments to be fully painted, similar to the concept work above.

Though this style may very well be subject to change as the project moves forward, we think it's a great target to shoot for. Regardless of our staff, however, we remain committed to giving There Came an Echo a look that elevates it above the competition.

There Came an Echo is, of course, fully voice acted. The conversations between player and soldiers are integral to creating a sense of immersion, so we're spending way more than the average game studio to ensure we have fantastic performances all around. We're based in Hollywood, so we'll be utilizing our geographic advantages to their fullest.

For the soundtrack, we have a bit of an ensemble cast.

First up is YouTube sensation Ronald Jenkees, returning to Iridium Studios after his work on Sequence. This time, he'll be composing completely new tracks for use in There Came an Echo. Here's an example of one of his latest works, Piano Wire, from his third CD:

Next up is industry veteran Jimmy Hinson, also known as BigGiantCircles. Jimmy's worked on such blockbuster projects as Mass Effect 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and he'll be lending his prodigious audio talents to the project. Some sample work, from his album "Legacy":

Finally, to help out with vocal arrangements, we're bringing on Judith de los Santos, perhaps better known as Malukah; her vocal quality is nothing short of entrancing. Here's one of her most popular tracks, the cover "The Dragonborn Comes":

I mean, we're pretty excited about this.

There Came an Echo might be confused for a standard military procedural, and considering the manner in which you interact with your units, that's understandable. However, most of the characters under your direct command have no prior military experience...they're learning as they go, and only your cool head and quick thinking is keeping them alive. The script is very firmly classified as science-fiction.

Corrin (played by Wil Wheaton) is a 31-year-old cryptographer and inventor of a very particular encryption algorithm...one that currently holds safe a shocking secret. His comfortable existence is interrupted by the enigmatic Val, who informs him that his life is in very imminent danger. His desperate attempts to uncover the truth are aided by a mercenary, Miranda; a vengeful young woman, Grace; and a mysterious British gentleman named Syll. The group is often at odds with one another, but eventually, they'll need to overcome their enmity to strike back at the forces who kill, indiscriminately and without mercy, for a chance to unravel the deepest mysteries of the cosmos.

The game takes place in the near future, and features some advanced technology: directed energy weaponry, personal energy fields, and various other accoutrements.

Like we said, not your standard military fare.

We're committed to putting every dollar pledged toward development of the game. Though a lot of money will go toward broad enhancements like expanding our art team or providing extra content, we feel it's important to offer additional features when we hit certain milestones beyond the initial goal.

For in-depth clarification and explanation on what each of these goals means, go ahead and click each one. It'll bring you to our website, where a nice writeup awaits.

That's pretty much all, folks. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us below, post in the comments section, or send us an E-mail at iridium@playiridium.com. It's been a pleasure to share our vision with you, and with your help, we can realize it completely.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Game development is notoriously difficult to predict, in terms of time of completion. The script is fully written and a basic framework of the game exists, but a current estimate would put the game at only 15-20% complete. We have a lot of work to do, and while June of 2014 is an "middle-of-the-road" estimate, it could very well be delayed for any number of reasons.

We're relentlessly committed, however, to updating our backers with constant, informative, seriously-Iridium-we-get-it-already updates. We have several backup plans in place with regard to a scaled-down graphical style, and we're leaving a bit of financial "cushion" to account for those inevitable hiccups along the way.

Any creative project of this scale has significant risks, and we understand that. Still, you placed your trust in us, and whatever bumps we encounter, rest assured that Iridium Studios is going to fulfill its promises and put out one hell of a game.

FAQ

  • Absolutely. No Greenlight required.

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  • We know, we know, don't hurt us! We have every intention of continuing Ky and Naia's story, but even with this sort of expanded budget, it would be difficult be able to make the sort of drastic changes we've envisioned for the sequel. Let's hope TCAE does well!

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  • It already does, actually! In fact, if you use the Kinect, you can opt for a neat little bonus feature: to command your troops, you'll put your hand up to your ear, as though you have an earpiece. The Kinect recognizes the gesture and dims the game's audio to assist with voice recognition from an open microphone array. (If this feature is turned off, a simple button press will accomplish the same thing.)

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  • Assuming a nice, quiet environment (external chatter can significantly worsen results), a standard American English accent is hitting around a 96% recognition rate with the Microsoft Speech Platform Runtime 11. We've tried quite a few accents, and none seem to dip below 91%. The real key is enunciation.

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  • While a multiplayer version of There Came an Echo might seem totally awesome, it comes with a few drawbacks...most notably, the drastic lengthening of our game's development cycle. We're focusing on a narrative-driven, intense single-player experience, and we want to deliver that to our backers in a reasonable period of time. Furthermore, while our voice recognition rates are quite good, they'll never be perfect...losing an intense match to a rival because of a flubbed command would be quite the frustrating experience, we imagine. We can balance single player for it, but that kind of error in competitive play would be unforgivable.

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  • We'll be periodically asking backers for their opinions on various matters regarding settings, graphical effects, and various components of gameplay. However, the script is already fully written, and the design framework mostly in place...it's unlikely they'll change drastically. Still, we're looking forward to keeping you all active and engaged!

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  • You can put literally anything in there. Even "pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkkddddd psch", and you can try and beatbox your way to victory.

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  • Well, all of us! Several of those lovely people in the credits are part of Crowded Futures Productions, who helped bring our ideas to fruition. Bang-up job, CFP.

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  • What?

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  • We've gotten an incredible number of messages regarding this one, so we thought we'd address it!

    Mac and Linux support are, unsurprisingly, stretch goals still to come. Even if we were to use a multiplatform engine, such as Unity or MonoGame, a completely new speech recognition system needs to be implemented, and additional suites of testing.

    Still, we want as many people as possible to be able to play There Came an Echo! Even if the stretch goal isn't reached, we'll do our best to make it happen. No guarantees, but we *are* typing this on a Mac, so.

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  • Absolutely! We'll be sending out a survey when it's time to send out copies of the game, in which you'll be able to choose whether you want a Steam copy, or one completely DRM-free. It's up to you!

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3,906
Backers
$115,569
pledged of $90,000 goal
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  • Pledge $15 or more
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    2749 backers

    You'll receive a Steam copy of There Came an Echo upon release! And, in addition to exclusive updates and information on the development process, you'll also snag a free Steam copy of our first game, Sequence, *within twenty four hours of making your pledge*. Sequence is yours for keeps, even if you need to rescind your pledge later. Have fun!

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  • Pledge $30 or more
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    665 backers

    You'll be able to download a digital copy of the completely original game soundtrack, composed by Ronald Jenkees, Jimmy Hinson (BigGiantCircles), and Judith de los Santos (Malukah). FLAC included! In addition, you'll get a high-resolution, backer-only pack of digital concept art as we complete the design phase. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    148 backers

    You'll receive special thanks in the game's credits, and a chance to audition for one of seven available roles in There Came an Echo! For lots of useful information, see www.playiridium.com/voiceactors. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    144 backers

    NON-THESPIAN EDITION: This tier contains the special thanks in the credits. However, for those of a less theatrical bent, you can choose this tier to replace the audition opportunity with the Kickstarter-exclusive digital commentary track, accessible in-game! Backers at the $100 level can choose either $60 tier to include, and backers at the $150 and higher levels get both!

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    78 backers

    You'll grab the exclusive and completely rad There Came an Echo T-shirt! For more details, see www.playiridium.com/tshirt. Also, grab a digital version of the There Came an Echo artbook! The artbook features concept art, articles on the design process, script excerpts, developer bios, and much more! All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $150 or more
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    16 backers

    You'll receive a second copy of the game (for a friend)! Also, you'll grab a Kickstarter-exclusive commentary track from the design team, accessible in-game. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    11 backers

    Score a signed, poster-sized print (11x17) of *any* piece of concept art from the game...your choice. In addition, we'll send you a personalized postcard during production of the game! Postcards will contain an average of 2.3 jokes each. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $400 or more
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    6 backers

    Grab a physical copy of our 75-page artbook, featuring a beautiful matte hard cover and premium glossy pages. The artbook features concept art, articles on the design process, script excerpts, developer bios, and much more! Also, you'll grab another two copies of the game (four total) of There Came an Echo. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $800 or more
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    7 backers Limited (13 left of 20)

    In this tier, you'll be guaranteed a free copy of every game Iridium Studios ever produces. Like, ever. In addition, you'll get to craft a secret phrase that, when uttered in-game, has a custom effect that you yourself devise. All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    We'll put your likeness, as an NPC, into the game at a location of your choosing. In addition, you'll get a tour of Iridium Studios, get to play an early version of the game, have lunch with the crew, and join us for our yearly excursion down to Disneyland in August. You may have to intentionally refuse some of these rewards, or your body might *explode from fun*. (Travel expenses not included.) All previous reward tiers included.

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  • Pledge $3,000 or more
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    4 backers Limited (1 left of 5)

    We don't even...all right. If you think we're *that cool*, who are we to argue? In this tier, you'll receive credit as an executive producer on the game. You'll also be invited to attend the official slightly-before-launch party for There Came an Echo, which will be recorded and played in-game during the final credit sequence. You'll get a full-size canvas gallery-wrap print of any piece of art we produce for the game, concept or otherwise. We can't effectively show our appreciation for this kind of pledge, so we will also be providing unlimited hugs. UNLIMITED. All previous reward tiers, of course, included. Travel expenses still aren't, though, those can get weird if you're from Southeast Asia or something.

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Funding period

- (31 days)