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Learn Linux or Ethical Hacking from the ground up while playing a 3D fully immersive and interactive adventure game. NEW VIDEO!!
Serial adventure game that requires a combination of computer security and Linux skills to solve.
Serial adventure game that requires a combination of computer security and Linux skills to solve.
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253 backers pledged $7,095 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Scope Creep Hack-venture - Learn Linux and Hacking

$7,095

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UPDATE - Backer exclusive: $10 dollar and up level bonus: You will get a modded version of the game that will be focused on teaching Linux command line skills. There will be no hacking in that mod but you will learn Linux. And have fun doing it. - You also get the other rewards in the tier you choose. 

Update - Stretch Goals (THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR PROJECT!):

Stretch Goals

REACHED!!!!  - $5000 - All that pledge $25 or more (including those that have already pledged) will receive a free copy (It will retail at $14.99) of the second episode of the Merl McPenrite series that will be titled : M.E.R.L. You will also receive the training PDF that will go along with this episode in addition to what you are already receiving for the current episode. $85 backers and higher backers will also receive the video training that goes with the second episode at no additional cost. M.E.R.L. is scheduled to be released in May 2013.

$7500 If we hit $7500 - T-Shirts! We will be sending Shirts as a token of our appreciation. We will send these to all that have at $50 or higher. We will be sending magnetic buttons with the same design to those that pledged between  $10 and $50. Thank you all!

Without your backing we are nothing! Thank you for your support!
Without your backing we are nothing! Thank you for your support!

I would like to introduce you to a unique approach that combines adventure gaming and blended learning. 

Take on the role of Merl McPenrite, an ethical Hacker that unwittingly gets involved in a conspiracy far beyond his control. He will need a combination of hacking, computer, and problem solving skills to be able to get out of the mess he finds himself in. Do you have what it takes to get him out alive?

In case you were curious as to where the characters name came from: MERL is an acronym for May Emulate Real Life.

The game is set in a near future setting in which corporations have a great deal of power throughout the world. They are willing to go to any means to accomplish their goals. Merl is just starting out in his career when he is contacted to perform consulting work by a small subsidy of one of these corporations and believes that this will be no different than many of his other days at the office. He is dead wrong.

The game will have several different difficulty levels:

  • Easy -   Use a menu driven approach while playing.  This difficulty level is for those just want to enjoy an adventure game and possibly gain some security awareness along the way. 
  • Medium - You will still have a menu driven approach available but now you will also be able to type in the actual commands necessary to make the systems do what you need it to. Do not expect this level to be easy. This is the level that most beginning ethical hackers should already be at. Bad decisions will have a minor impact on the game world. You may get second chances.
  • Hard - You want hard, you get it. This attempts to simulate the real world as closely as possible. You will have to know the commands for the challenges you will face. Bad decisions will have a huge impact on the game.

Pledge Rewards Update

In several of the pledge rewards you are offered an opportunity to immortalize your name or pseudonym in the game. Locations for your name include a choice of several items such as mail, book covers, sticky notes, a newspapers where your name is used as part of a clever 'headline' that you can help us create for you, graffiti on a wall in a car garage, or a name plate at a desk, office, or cube. 

Here are a couple of examples of these. If funded we will provide a complete item list for you to choose from. If there is some specific item you would want your name on let us know and we will see if we can assist with your request!

(These images will be rendered by the game engine once they have been placed at which time they will have accurate lighting and shading)

NOTE: Mini-games are primarily geared towards those that would like to learn Linux or Ethical hacking skills.  You will also learn computer security awareness which is becoming more and more important these days.

There will be a collection of mini-games made specifically to reinforce the skills necessary to make it through the game.  Why should you read a boring book when you can practice your knowledge in a game?  

Mini-Games include items such as a shooting range where you have to know what to shoot at, a driving game that will test your knowledge and reflexes, find the word games to help with vocabulary and screen scanning ability and more.

Here is an example video of one of the mini-games that will be included. This one is good for reinforcing the material you have learned while playing. Mini-games are an optional part of the Merl McPenrite series and do not need to be played in order to complete the adventure game.

The game is set in a interactive 3D world where the character can interact with NPC's, pick up items, use items and more. The computer simulations are clear and crisp and emulate the types of tools that you would need to know and understand to get through the challenges that Merl will face. The challenges are not all computer based as the ethical hacking field requires a large subset of skills such as hardware hacking, social engineering and more. 

Here is an early screenshot of the first office area that Merl McPenrite begins his journey in.  

There are several other areas but I do not want to give away the plot or the challenges in the game. 

Screen shot of the initial office 'tutorial' area. Realtime shadows are off and we did not fully lightbake yet.
Screen shot of the initial office 'tutorial' area. Realtime shadows are off and we did not fully lightbake yet.
This is the receptions tutorial area. No post processing and real time shadows are off.
This is the receptions tutorial area. No post processing and real time shadows are off.

It will be playable in your Browser, your PC, Mac, or just maybe even on your Linux box (Dependent on Unity 4.0 release date. We will also need to test the port at that time to ensure it actually works as expected.)



It is my firm belief that learning should be fun. Some people spend thousands of hours playing repetitive games that require a wealth of knowledge to be successful. Why not use that time to learn something that is actually useful and beneficial! Hacking and other computer skills are generally best learned through repetitive action. People go as far as to create virtual labs with hundreds of systems to be able to practice their art. Why go through all of that when you could start up a game and lose track of time while your are practicing skills that you need to know in the real world?

Scope Creep is but one of many projects that MidGames will be producing over the next several years that focuses on bridging the gap between learning and fun.

Although we are fully dedicated to this project and willing to put hundreds, even thousands of hours into making this learning experience something unique, entertaining, and well... Awesome, we still need to buy licenses and handle other expenses. If funded, the project will be released much sooner and will contain features otherwise unavailable. We are willing to spend the hours, but we still need the financial assistance to make this happen. The funding goal is the absolute minimum we still require to get the game released in a timely manner. Any additional funding would be used to make the game better in many different ways such as graphics improvements, additional features, etc.

Midgames (Pronounced similar to 'Mighty-Games') is a small startup led by myself. I have managed to recruit a few (2..) members to share my dreams and spend some time working on level design, graphics, and story line. You may be surprised at how difficult it was to convince talented individuals that they should invest their time on projects that will be given away for free :-).  

The MidGames mission is to provide innovative interactive blended learning for various fields. As previously mentioned, Merl is but one of many areas we would like to move forward with. We are building out a reusable framework that will be viable for various other areas of focus as well. If the skill requires repetitive action, memorization, and quick thinking we believe that we can probably make it less painful to practice using our techniques.

About Me

I am an experienced security professional with over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. I hold many industry certifications such as the CISSP, MCSE, Net+, OSWP, and more. I am also an avid Unity 3d fan. 

I am also the author of "Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide" published by PacktPub.

I am the author of this book.
I am the author of this book.

If by chance the demand is high and we start to hit higher funding levels we will post a listing for what our reach goals would enable us to accomplish. This project is but the tip of the iceberg and we have a lot of plans for expansion down the road. Right now we are just managing scope creep and working within our means to get a solid product delivered to the community in a reasonable time frame. 

If you made it this far, I would like to thank you for your time. This dream is going to become a reality one way or the other and I would love to have you join my adventure through assisting in this KickStarter. 

Special thanks:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

http://www.katorlegaz.com/3d_models/

Models Used:

Exterior Paned Glass Doors - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Exterior Door with Framing and Pediment - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Glass Dining Table - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Coffee Maker - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Coffee Mug - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Stapler - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Pedestal Vase Lamp - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Newspaper - Copyright Andrew Kator & Jennifer Legaz

Andrew Kator and Jennifer Legaz released these models under the Creative Commons License - Link http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/ 

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CC-BY-3.0 Scripts Used:

Unity 3D Dialogue Tool v. 1.0 - Copyright Royce Kimmons

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    You will receive early access to final version of the game. This means that you will be notified and granted access to the game at least 15 days before final public release.

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    Linux Lover - Backers at this level will get a modded version of the game that has a focus on teaching Linux skills from the ground up. This is a Kickstarter exclusive and will not be available to others once the full game is released.
    You also receive the previous reward tiers and guaranteed Beta Access. We will have a forum setup to take your input on the game and how it is coming along.

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    The previous reward tiers plus a complete game walk-through in PDF format with detailed technical explanations of the penetration testing techniques necessary to complete the game scenarios. If you are learning, this tier is for you.

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    The previous reward tiers plus you get to have your name (or pseudonym) in the game. You may choose placement on a selection of items such as an office\cubical name plate or in one of several in-game items such as newspapers. Please note that we will not put anything inappropriate into the game.

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    The previous reward tiers plus a video walk-through of the game with full explanations of all penetration testing techniques necessary to finish the game. The videos will go hand in hand with the PDF walk-through.

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    The previous reward tiers plus your name prominently displayed in the credits as a major contributor. Thank you.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The previous reward tiers plus free access to any future modules and training materials developed for the Merl McPenrite series. (This is the only module we are thinking about releasing for free and the training material\ walk through itself will never be free). You will also be listed as a lifetime supporter in our splash-screen displayed at the beginning of the game. You will also receive a copy of the book "Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide" signed by the author of the book. Will will also place a small token of appreciation for your support in the game via a trophy, statue, or other tribute to acknowledge your contribution.

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    Corporate supporter level - The previous reward tiers plus you may have your company logo displayed as a supporter in it's own splash screen prior to the start of the game. Nothing inappropriate please. Your logo will need to be approved by our team prior to being placed in the splash screen. If you have product placement that you would like to see within the game such as a small poster, desktop background, branded TV, etc. we will make that happen as well. Once again, it will have to be appropriate for our target audience. You will have to give us written permission to use your logo and\or branding in the game if you chose this tier.

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Funding period

- (30 days)