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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.
7,231 backers pledged $293,184 to help bring this project to life.

A Kingdom of You

Posted by Nerd Kingdom (Creator)

Have you read the description of what Nerd Kingdom is yet? If you haven’t, go ahead and take a quick look, I’ll wait for you. You get it? Excellent.

You might have noticed that the word "collaboration" is placed right there at the start of the thing. Following that, we’ve got a list of the sorts of collaborators involved in the project. Obviously, we have developers involved in this work and yeah, there are scientists as well, but I wanted to draw your attention to the other two types of collaborators in the list: modders and gamers. Why are we listing modders and gamers in our collaboration, you might ask?

While obviously we have a team of developers (programmers, artists, designers...the whole shebang) because we need these people to make an awesome project like TUG, we also have a team of researchers (or scientists if you prefer), because we’re serious about improving gaming through both design and research. Yet for us, just having these first two groups involved in our work simply isn’t enough.

We really consider gamers and modders to be the heart of the collaboration. First, there’s the part about how games should be made for the players. In order to make a game for players, you have to actually listen to your players, and for us this means very directly bringing you into the collaboration.

Meanwhile, the rise of modding has created this incredible space that researchers of my ilk characterize as “Pro-Am” practice (basically practices that blur the line between professional and amateur). In fact, a lot of the research conducted by my colleagues who have been looking at games and learning has pointed to the ways in which many gamers are in a sense Pro-Am researchers (theorycraft is just research masquerading as play).

As to modders, modding blurs the line between playing a game and developing it. We believe that this fact needs to be more broadly recognized, and that anyone developing the sort of game that’s amenable to modding is doing a serious disservice to their community if they don’t invite their modders in, recognize them for the work they contribute, and reward them when they help to create changes that improve the play experience for a significant segment of the players.

Building on all of this is how we seek to truly differentiate ourselves from everyone else out there, and it’s most evident in how we’re going about building TUG. A major focus for us in the TUG project is to make the lines between all of these groups a heck of a lot thinner, and this means starting with you, the gamer. It means making the distance between crafting and modding a little slimmer, and making sure that there’s a clear path from there towards more heavy hitting development. It means recognizing all the different forms of both hard and soft modding that take place in a gaming community, and providing avenues for all sorts of modders to share their work and advance their practices. It also means finding the right ways to reward those practices, and as with everything else at Nerd Kingdom, we’re going to lean on the best ideas the community can generate to figure out exactly how we should be doing that. If you contribute in a significant way to TUG as a game and our community as a whole, you better believe that we will hoist you on on our metaphorical shoulders and trumpet your name and achievements far and wide. We want to empower your creations and do everything we can to encourage and foster a robust, powerful, and creative modding community.

Inviting gamers to be part of the collaboration doesn’t stop with the design side of things. We want to actively recruit those of you who have a penchant for the research side of things too. On the one hand, this means letting us know what types of questions about games and play you want answered. On the other hand, it also means having the opportunity to get involved in conducting the research and analyzing the data along with us.

We have a long road of design, research, and play ahead of us, and when I say we, I mean all of us. If you’ve registered an account here or helped Kickstart TUG, you’re a part of the kingdom.

What’s that you say? Tl;dr?

Okay then try this.

This “Nerd Kingdom” -- you’re a part of it, and there’s lots of work to do in the kingdom, so let’s get started. FOR SCIENCE!!!


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    1. Peter Conlin on

      So does this mean we can expect ease of access to the models, textures and rigs; as well as simple explanations of how to get them in and out of the game with basic tutorials on where to start modding? :DDD

    2. Missing avatar

      Brian Stottlemyre on

      AH i love it. ITs going to be a beautiful collaboration. I just hope we all keep level heads and always keep it constructive.

    3. Luke on

      I'm curious about the Nerd Kingdom structure... Is it a business? a Not-for-profit? a bunch of random people in a loose affiliation? Who owns Tug?

      (Also, on your website can you give the .aboutheading2 class the style cursor:pointer;? Thanks.) :)

    4. Missing avatar

      Jemaime on

      Will the modding tool you're talking about be available during alpha or later?

    5. Glitch2210 on

      I am looking forward to this game a lot and cant wait to see what kind of setup for modders there will be.

    6. Devon Mullane on

      Modding has certainly flourished in the indie scene, and smart developers like Mojang and Squad have made wise decisions (if not varying methods) to accommodate them. The smartest developers are building a game for people to play, and rewarding your community by allowing them to have a sort of ownership over that experience is what sets indie gaming apart from AAA titles. Thank you for sharing your IP with us, I'll be sure to treat it like it was my own.

    7. Aneka K. Bean on

      I enjoy these updates as well, so don't make them too short!!

    8. Davemonkey on

      Hi guys, I'm an excited backer of the project and I look forward to seeing what you do, but as a user experience professional I'm concerned about "listening to your players" as a priority. Players have to be the centre of the game, yes, but the problem is they say all sorts of crazy and unreasonable shit. This stuff has a habit of building up steam and all of a sudden you have a bloated and generic game.

      Can I suggest you take a leaf from one of the core tenants of our practice and rather pay very close attention to "what they do". Run focus and usability testing, release early versions of your mod devkit and listen very carefully to what they tell you about the experience but more importantly what they can and can't do with it. Please.

    9. mantraray on

      Awesome. Excited for more updates.

      Not to be impatient, but will you guys will discuss the mysterious 3rd person camera soon?

    10. "Filkertom" Tom Smith

      Count me as one of the Nerd Boyz who loves getting the full story. A TL;DR header isn't a bad idea, but I (and I'm sure a lot of other people) appreciate the depth into which you've gone re: your gaming and game-creating philosophy.

      I'm a hardcore single-player FRP gamer, grown up from a tabletop GM (and I still own many of the games from my wayward youth). Skyrim, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout3, Ultima, Baldur's Gate -- these are my delights, and I've found the DLC releases for the big guns to be solidly entertaining, stable, and well-paced, and only a little overpriced.

      I've only dipped my toe into MMORPG, as I know me, and if I truly get into one I'll vanish without a ripple.

      I also love a lot of games on iOS, but -- as you point out -- a lot of those suckers are geared toward separating you from your cash. Fortunately, I have no particular need for that separation anxiety. I've got a few extra pinball tables here and there, and a couple of coin doublers (for Pitfall and Into The Dead), but I simply don't need as many boosts as all those game companies want me to need. No, not even for Solitaire Blitz. ;)

      So, my own TL;DR: Can't wait to see what you guys do with this, and I hope you achieve all your aims in helping us achieve ours... whatever they turn out to be.

    11. Missing avatar

      Peter Hyder on

      @NK Another great read, but I would emphasize the importance of colorful visuals being preferred by a larger crowd (I personally have enjoyed reading the updates).

      I will be registering on the site, and would be extremely interested in becoming involved in some way, as I'm currently ending my third year of a Psychology & Sociology Joint Hons degree and recently discovered I'm fascinated by the social aspects of gaming.

    12. Bryan Bessette on

      Dear me, look at all the anti-readers. I love the updates and have re-read them a number of times! I can not wait to get into this world!

    13. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      Totally understood guys! We will work towards making them smaller and more visual... its a tough spot with some things, and its what is a bit unique about the project. A lot of these core systems, we want you guys to discover, so helping to set the general framework on how the world works, will allow you guys to start ripping things apart. That stuff is actually one of the most exciting things for us, seeing what is and is not figured out! ;)

      Thanks all for the feedback, we are absolutely going to act on it.


    14. Lorenzo Gaetani on

      i too love your sharing but i think that among ideas and way of doing you should make some updates on more concrete aspects of the game, like me many people who don't becked TUG probably want to know about the game. If you don't want to spoil is ok but we need to know something like: what materials you will work with (examples category metals, list of metals you think you'll put in the game), which types of interaction you will have with other players? what happen when you die? which kind of magic exist in this world?
      and so ... you can do as you prefer, this is just an advice for the success of your campaign

    15. Squick on

      Thanks for the rapid response, royalty of nerddom. I hear and appreciate your attempt to cater to those members of the audience that are in the various camps you are addressing with the updates. That all said, they are highly verbose, and much like an email, a wall of text tends to (in this reader's opinion, mind) disincentivize one from grinding through. Regardless, very pumped for what's coming.

      Oh, and @Alex: Because I had no idea I could change my name until I saw your comment! :D Alas, I cannot speak to your level of sanity, I'm afraid... ;)

    16. J.L. on

      What about those who just want to ripe the lore out of their gusty companions? Er, wait...

      Ne'er mind, let's work together, you monster. Oops, wrong game. For science, any way! (c8

    17. Scott Kennedy on

      Can't. Wait. I've got all sorts of thoughts about this game and what you're trying to do with it. Most MMOs that I've enjoyed playing from beta onward make a promise of agency and personal story that they just can't keep (Star Wars and Guild Wars 2 come to mind). I look forward to seeing how TUG moves that bar forward (and putting my opinion in wherever I can!)

    18. Alex the Gamer on

      Thanks for responding NK!

      @Squick WHY DID YOU CHANGE YOUR NAME IN THE LAST MINUTE?!? Now my response to you looks like I don't know your name...or just crazy...

    19. Alex the Gamer on

      @Doug Ruggiero

      Exactly. A few other games I've backed have started blogs, which is really nice for those who don't want a wall of text in the KS update and it's a great way to get that info to those who actually want to read everything there is about the project. At the very least, a bolded tl:dr at the beginning of the update and more pictures would be great additions to these updates, especially since Nerd Kingdom seems to be pumping them out at an amazing rate!

    20. Nerd Kingdom Creator on

      @Alex, totally understood, but we also have to keep in mind what appeals to different people. This particular topic is actually very dear to us... its pretty common practice that its EXPECTED of a modder to have their work plugged into a game, and are given no credit or offered no involvement in making that work. It's something we want to avoid, and we also want to make people aware that we are trying to change a lot with this project, not just in what is being made, but how we handle interaction as a whole. So some people like companions, some people are into lore, and some people just like to rip the guts of out things ;).


    21. Squick on

      Well said, Alex. I fear these updates are in DESPERATE need of a tl;dr header and a redirection to a blog or some other vehicle more apropos for a frighteningly direct look into the mind of a dev, followed by a brief and cleverly worded summary and some pretty pictures. Just sayin'.

    22. Alex the Gamer on

      You guys realize that you don't have to tell us everything that you're thinking, right? Hahaha!
      It seems like you guys have a design philosophy meeting or something, then just put it all into an update. It's great that we're getting so many of your thoughts and I've enjoyed reading every update so far! My one concern is that you're going to change the scope of something later down the road and possibly regret something you've said in one of these. Hopefully that won't happen of course!
      Keep on chuggin' Nerd Kingdom!