Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 31, 2013.

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TUG is a multiplayer open-world sandbox-RPG using new technology and social sciences to directly involve players in the game’s design.

Be sure to check our Updates section every day for more in-depth looks at various aspects of TUG, as well as insights into our design philosophies and development process!

Video Update #4: Spotlight on Art

Video Update #3: Spotlight on Science

Video Update #2: Spotlight on Tech

Video Update #1: Spotlight on Design

As always, if you like these updates, please share them and help keep the momentum going! Follow TUG on Facebook as well for press, news, updates, art, and more!

TUG sits at the crossroads where survival sandbox and multiplayer RPG’s meet, offering both elegant simplicity and a world of complex secrets for those who desire to seek them out. From freezing snow capped mountains to dark dreary caves, TUG offers a massive procedurally-generated world to explore, full of mystery and danger -- but what makes TUG truly unique is its ability to help us learn what you as players enjoy about the game, and to use your interactions to make an amazing world even better.

The project draws inspiration from fun, accessible games we love such as Minecraft, Fable, Animal Crossing, and Zelda, as well as games that feature deeply complex worlds, including Eve Online, Monster Hunter, and Dwarf Fortress.

What do we think you’ll like about TUG? Some of the things we’re most excited about include:

  • Integrated modding support: we won’t just have support for modding tools hooked in from the beginning -- we’ll be sharing our tools with modders. 
  • Pets and Companions will join you in your travels and help along the way.
  • Entire Civilizations lie hidden for you to uncover... or create new ones to conquer the world! 
  • Day, Night, and Seasonal Cycles with perils and opportunities unique to each. 
  • Exotic Wild Beasts to tame, hunt, breed, or ride! 
  • Logic Engineering, from simple trap triggers to reprogramming your golem! 
  • Dark Mysteries to unearth, and ancient powers to unleash! 
  • DRM-Free. That includes the servers, which we’ll also be sharing with you. 
  • Accessibility & Complexity: Playing in the world is as simple as interacting with it. Anyone can dig, build, or fight, but true discoveries await for players who pay attention to the world around them. That logic and consistency applies to everything -- combat, magic, crafting, building, hunting, exploring -- everything! 
  • Player-Driven Design: The game can identify the kinds of activities everyone enjoys most, and that information will direct developers in creating everything from new weapons and abilities to new worlds and creatures. The more you play, the more you’ll enjoy TUG! 
  • Modular Development: From combat to sprinting, from building to crafting, we want all of our players to experience the game in every phase of development to allow for real feedback and discussion about what does and does not work. 
  • Total Freedom: We want you to play the game however you like, whether that’s alone, on a private server with your friends, or on a server we host. We won’t limit the type of game you want to play, and we’ll find a way for everyone to enjoy the world we’re building, however and with whoever they want.

When you enter the game, you awaken as a newborn Seed: a near-human child without defenses, resources or practical skills. All you have to survive your first day are your wits, a set of simple clothes and a mysterious glowing gemstone embedded in the back of your right hand. It's enough -- barely enough -- and it'll be a challenge to live through the night, but it won't be your last challenge. Deserts, mountains, and forests will impede your progress; crumbled ruins will tempt you into their depths, and the cycles of the moon, the sun, and even the seasons will reveal more opportunities and greater mysteries. 

Once you’ve begun to understand your world, you’ll have to figure out who you want to be, and your options are as wide open as the world around you. Maybe you’ll be a tough warrior, proud of your scars and your trusty blade. Maybe a simpler life, like that of a master craftsman, appeals to you -- trading with adventurers for rare resources and building works of genius and technology. Maybe the deeper mysteries of the world call to you, and you want to explore the ruins and the deeps, searching out the links between you, the stone on your arm, and the mystical energy that seems to bind everything around you together. Or maybe your loyalty lies with your fellow Seeds, and building a civilization to bring about even greater security and prosperity is what appeals to you. 

This is when your real adventure starts, because while all of these goals are within your grasp, none are easy to reach. Ancient civilizations, wild beasts and otherworldly technologies can serve as brilliant discoveries, grave dangers, or both -- and while you strive to master these challenges, a dark presence looms ever greater in the shadows as forgotten powers of old vie with each other for influence.

TUG is a game before it's anything else, and we want people to play it and enjoy the experience without feeling like they have to run spreadsheets, juggle budgets, or crunch numbers. Your immersion in the game is one of the most important things in TUG, so here are some ways we plan to help. 

While there are lots of complex stats and attributes you can gain from both gear and abilities, they won’t be visible to you -- at least not without the proper tools. Instead, we’ll focus on making every visual cue in the world important. A tiny runed notch in a sword might indicate it's extra sharp, or a glow under the moonlight might be a sure sign that your blade is powerful against certain creatures, but you'll never see "+25 STR" or "UNDEAD SLAYING" in a pop-up window. 

The way you interface with the game world will be completely organic. You won't ever see a nameplate hovering over someone's head or a minimap stuck to the upper-right corner of your screen -- unless you create them in-game with tools. Getting a bird's-eye view of the world around you, seeing detailed information about your opponents, and even global communication can all be enabled by tools you can design and craft in the game. 

Finally, everything in the world will have heft and weight. You won't have magic backpacks that instantly transform twenty-pound warhammers into a single weightless inventory slot; an item is as big in your pack as it is on the ground or in your hand. This forces you to make important decisions about how to solve problems, whether you're alone or in a group. Do you pack a second blade for when your main sword is too worn to use, or do you pack extra supplies in case of an emergency? Those decisions will be yours to make, and the outcome of your adventures will hinge on them!

Everything you do, see, create, harvest, or explore may a have huge impact on the world around it. What seems like a unique design on a weapon could be part of a missing puzzle for a gateway to a hidden realm. Your actions may draw the attention of mysterious entities, for better or for worse. The more you understand about the intricacies of the world, the more prepared you will be to expand your play from swinging a sword to developing or manipulating entire civilizations.

A lot of RPGs like to take a fast and loose hack-and-slash approach to fighting, but while mindless swinging can always be AN answer, it isn’t always the BEST answer. Variations of combat based on your weapon type and the skills you’ve learned can lead to a much more rewarding fight -- not to mention a better outcome! You won’t have room for buckets of swords and armor in your pack, so knowing your skills and your strengths becomes much more important for a successful encounter. Over time, we want to expand on this idea and utilize real combat physics within TUG, to allow for dynamic and engaging battles.

And that’s just the start... where we’re at right now. As we spend more time and layer more complexity into the combat system, we’ll build both fun and skill into play. Anyone will be able to just swing away, but someone who learns the rhythms and really masters the ins and the outs of their weapon and combat skills will have a clear advantage in a fight. TUG will be using a skill-based system where timing, not mashing, determines the outcome of your battles. You’ll raise your shield in time to block that killer blow, but don’t hold it too long or you’ll lose your advantage. You’ll string together quick hits with your dagger and unlock awesome flourish attacks, or maybe you’ll strike slow and true with your massive flamberge and watch your opponents stagger away from the blows. 

But most importantly, in keeping with our philosophy about our players being integral to our design, we’ll learn how and why you enjoy combat best, and then we’ll take that knowledge to build features that will make the parts you like even better! 

We’re a collective of scientists, researchers, technologists, economists, content creators, artists, modders, and gamers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. With our love of games, and our deep passion for the nerdery of academic sciences, art, and technology, we have joined forces to build the Nerd Kingdom and craft a game that compels our players to explore, discover, create, and conquer! 

To learn more about who we are and all our sciency fiascos, check us out: http://www.nerdkingdom.com/

Or follow us on Facebook! And on Twitter, @NerdKingdom!

With TUG, we want to focus on building a game that’s fun for everyone, and to use the ground-breaking understanding we’re forging between developers and our players as our development roadmap. We’re building this game world for our players, and we want to build it free of outsiders who think they know better, and who’ll try to tell us what our players “really” want. 

Going through Kickstarter, staying independent, and allowing our community to take ownership of what we’re doing together allows us to stay free of the influence of those other groups. If we’re not answerable to anyone but you, the community, then we don’t have to worry about meeting someone else’s agenda. All we have to worry about is making a great game even better! 

And to that, we would like to make a commitment to you: all funds raised, from now until our official launch in 2015, will go directly into the game’s development, and not into anyone’s pockets. We want the community’s support to show in full with what is being created.

Minimum specifications 

  • CPU: Quad-core Intel® or AMD processor 
  • OS: Windows® 7 or 8 
  • Ram: 4 GB 
  • GPU: DirectX® 11 compatible card with 1 GB of memory, nVidia® 4XX+/AMD 5XXX+
  • Hard Drive: 10 GB free space

Release Schedule
We will make the first Alpha available to backers in that tier in July of 2013. With time to play, share, and interact, we will add more features and reset priority lists based on feedback. Beginning in January of 2014, we will have the Beta phase of the project available to backers in that tier. And by January 2015, we will prepare for an official launch of TUG to the public, and continue to update and refine for as long as the community is enjoying it. All other tier rewards will be sent out as they become available over the course of development (and as soon as possible), but do forgive us if we fall a bit behind.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

This project is an incredibly unique collaboration of minds and practices, and with this comes a great deal of experimentation, iteration and discussions. The development of certain phases in the project may take longer than anticipated, as the primary objective is to make sure that all individual components can stand on their own and be fun. This is also a very new use for this type of technology, so many things are being refined and perfected over time, as there is not a massive community around this area of work, which may also lead to additional time for refinement of base systems.

FAQ

  • Yes! In some gameplay modes, you may have to craft (or discover!) a way to do this, but the option will definitely be available to players who prefer to play this way. You’ll also be able to craft items that will alter your field of view, and even function as periscopes or detachable cameras!

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  • We’ve managed to raise some funds from a few private investors and the additional help of friends and family to get us this far and sustain us for development up through this point. We’ve actually gotten the tech and engine pretty far along, already... a lot of the important systems that nobody sees are in place, and it’s important to remember that we are building a very special engine from scratch, not just slapping it into Unity or something... a one-stop solution just won't work for this.

    But continuing to add more features and support and creating modding tools will take time, resources, and people outside of our budget, so we turned to Kickstarter to see if there was any interest from supporters at this phase of development... and we have been floored by the outpouring of enthusiasm and support we’ve received so far. We really wanted to make the community aware of what we are doing and see if they wanted to be a part of it, and luckily, it seems like they do!

    The goal is for us to remain independent, and it’s important to note we are STILL independent even with the backing we’ve got, and will remain free of outside influence or control (even from our investors). Crowd-funding is also a chance for us to live up to our ideals of community involvement and joint ownership of the game with our players and supporters, and make TUG truly a community-driven project.

    Credit goes to reddit for this one... thanks falnu & iesvs! ;)

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  • We would be liar-liar-pants-on-fire if we say we were not drooling over it like the rest of them, and with our whole approach to having an organic non-intrusive UI system it would make TONS of sense... but alas, there really is not enough information out on what it will take to make it work. We do know it has Unreal and Unity for now, but we are using a custom built engine. And if it allows for us to make it happen, we certainly will. But for now, we cannot commit to time frames on it, just know that we are just as geeked out about the possibility as you are.

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  • If we can get the budget to cover it... absolutely! But in our current development path, we need to make sure we focus on Windows and on perfecting the game's core systems and making sure it's fun before we start porting it to other platforms. We don't wanna take any of our team away from perfecting the project at its core just yet. However, we are TOTALLY for getting it to Mac (and Linux!) once we are able!

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  • It’s something we are considering, but there is a lot more to consider here than just the money and exposure, and it’s a rough trade off. On one side, the exposure and the sales would be awesome, totally! But the other side is that we would be stuck with how steam wants us to interact, when we are pushing to create seamless systems that will exist between game and community. Feedback from wikis, or forums (both positive or negative), or even from modding projects should translate into play and reward. And, hooray for science and tech, we have really neat systems already working that will make this stuff a lot of fun! But the fact of the matter is, we really want you guys to own this... the idea of Nerd Kingdom is that it’s supposed to be for all our fellow nerds. We will share all the pros and cons when the decision has to be made and let you guys tell us what your thoughts are.

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  • Alpha will be an early single-player build of creative tools, physics, lighting, and a WHOLE lot of stuff to explore, including vast deserts, spooky caves and fantastically unique environments. Obviously, it will be a bit buggy since it’s a brand spanking new new system, but we will be able to make a LOT of rapid fixes with you guys helping us out in this phase.

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  • Yes, absolutely! All of the content available in multiplayer will also be available in singleplayer. This includes crafting, lore, exploration, companions, building, survival, NPCs, etc. There won't be any kind of "campaign" with a definite ending, but there will definitely be tons of incentives to explore and progress!

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  • Yes! You'll be able to play single-player offline, or host your own multiplayer server to play with friends. Playing on our servers will always be entirely optional!

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  • Never! This is a promise that we are making to you, as developers. You'll pay for the game once, and it will be yours forever.

    Last updated:
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    NEW!!! DIGITAL ONLY TUG 4 LIFE TIER!!! You’ll have an avatar-sized statue of your character with your name to be erected in the “Statue Garden” to forever memorialize your contribution to TUG at a special location IN-GAME!!! Leave your legacy alongside those of everyone else who has made a monumental contribution to TUG!!! You’ll also get all of the DIGITAL rewards at the lower tiers, INCLUDING: DESIGN AN NPC (Non-Player Character), alpha access with all future updates in addition to a 6x gift pack for SIX friends (with same level of access and digital goods as your copy), the following in-game assets for each copy of the game: A KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE SUPER RARE ASTEROID GOLEM, WISP, MOUNT, A KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE RARE BABY SABRE TIGER, the KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE “MARK OF THE CHOSEN,” and a KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE RARE BEAST PELT; access to the special Nerd Kingdom research and design experiment servers and will be able to play TUG with the Nerd Kingdom team; a KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE EARLY ACCESS to our server data dumps and research project pipeline, perfect for the aspiring researcher!!! You'll also be recognized as an EXCLUSIVE "TUG 4 LIFE" with a TUG forum badge, receive a credit as a "Kickstarter CORE-FORGER EXTRAORDINAIRE GUILD Backer" on Nerd Kingdom's "Wall of Devotus" webpage, a TUG digital font pack, TUG digital wallpaper pack, and a TUG digital concept art book.

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    NEW!!! DIGITAL ONLY TUG 4 LIFE TIER!!! Previous reward tier + Work with the Nerd Kingdom team and help create a concept for one of TUG’s GIANT WORLD MONSTERS (must be appropriate & within the limits of our design approach)!!! Leave your legacy in TUG by being part of the creation of a truly magnificent creature that everyone can run into in-game!!!

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    TUG 4 LIFE TIER!!! Previous reward tier + a Kickstarter EXCLUSIVE, MASSIVE STATUE OF YOUR PLAYER AVATAR HIDDEN IN-GAME!!! Uncover the monument to your hidden past memorializing your contribution to TUG!!! Additionally, you and a friend are invited to the Nerd Kingdom TUG launch party in Los Angeles, CA!!! Come have dinner with the team, party, hang out, and of course...PLAY GAMES!!! Nerd Kingdom will award you with a plaque with your name and credit as a TUG producer in a special ceremony at dinner! (Travel expenses not included.)

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  • Pledge $8,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    TUG 4 LIFE TIER!!! Previous reward tier, except now you and THREE of your friends are invited to the Nerd Kingdom TUG launch party in Los Angeles, CA!!! Come have dinner with the team, party, hang out, and of course...PLAY GAMES!!! Nerd Kingdom will award you with a plaque with your name and credit as a TUG producer in a special ceremony at dinner! (Travel expenses not included.)

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (30 days)