Vixle: A Game Engine for Everyone
Vixle is a multi-player sandbox game engine for everyone, where creating games together is just as much fun as playing them!
Vixle: A Game Engine for Everyone
Vixle is a multi-player sandbox game engine for everyone, where creating games together is just as much fun as playing them!
Vixle is Creative - In an era of Internet-shared photos and videos, Vixle lets you express yourself in unique new ways. Cheer up a sick friend by building a game to play with them. Thank someone more personally with a one-of-a-kind interactive card. Build a game as a school project, which shows off your knowledge of the topic in a fun way.
Vixle is Social - From creating code, art, and sound, to playing games or hanging out, everything you can do in Vixle can be done side-by-side with a friend, whether they are on a computer next to you, or across the globe. Families can build and play together, working at different skill levels, but without leaving anyone behind.
Vixle is Easy To Learn - Everyone is a novice at something, and so we've made each activity in Vixle easy to learn. From adults with no programming experience to middle schoolers, everyone should be comfortable learning to use Vixle. Even younger kids will be fine, with a little guidance.
Vixle is Powerful - In order to build together, Vixle needs to support all skill levels, so the tools grow with you. More powerful code editing and APIs are available. Richer and more detailed models and animations can be created. Assets you create in other tools can be brought into Vixle, and vice versa.
Vixle is Code - What separates interactive media like games from video, images, and text? Code. It's the lifeblood of your game, and it's front-and-center in Vixle. Get started with block code (similar to Scratch or Blockly), and then move on when you're ready. Eventually you'll look at all the devices in your life, and realize the power you have over them.
Vixle Maker is the software you receive at the BETA pledge level and above. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and allows you to build worlds and play with other Vixle users on your network. Our servers help connect you and your friends, so play over the Internet is often possible without Hosting.
Vixle Explorer is free for everyone, and enables anyone to play the games you've built with Vixle Maker. It runs in a web browser and on mobile devices, to make it easy to share your creations with friends and family who don't have Vixle. Only your hosted worlds can be played by Vixle Explorer.
Starting in May 2015, you'll get 1 year of free Hosting for one of your worlds. Hosted worlds run on our computers to ensure uniform access and performance, and can be played with Vixle Explorer. You'll have the option to renew Hosting for your personal account at an estimated $1 per month. Even if you don't renew, Vixle Maker is yours to use forever.
Vixle Maker will be released with 3 Asset Packs in the fantasy, sci-fi, and modern genres. Accounts with an active Hosting subscription will receive an additional Asset Pack every 6 months, as well as the ability to share their own models with other Vixle users in a community gallery. Some of our stretch goals accelerate the release of more Asset Packs.
Although it's not software, we want to call out the short story offered to backers at FICTION level, "Journey to Galaxy's Edge." Brian was first inspired to learn programming by the Micro Adventure series in the 80s. The exciting stories transformed you into a hero who uses coding skills to overcome obstacles.
In the same way, Journey includes scenes which prompt the reader to play a game or solve a programming challenge, using Vixle. The challenges encourage experimentation to foster an intuitive understanding of how the code works. The reader can then copy the scenes to their own worlds in order to further play with and expand them.
We have a few demos for you to check out, which show the progress we've made. They run directly in your browser, with the help of the popular Unity web player. Most Windows and Mac browsers are supported, and HTML5 support is planned for later in the year.
Auger - A fully working game running on the current version of Vixle Explorer.
Modeler - A standalone voxel editor, enabling you to build 3D models similar to how you will in Vixle Maker. The models you create can then be saved as images or shared with your friends. In the future, you'll also be able to order 3D prints of your model, directly from within Vixle. Using the Modeler requires logging in with a Google+ or Facebook account, so that we can save your work.
Journey to Galaxy's Edge - A preview of the story available with the FICTION tier, along with a concept video of the first challenge.
All of our pledge levels up to ALPHA include all of the rewards at the previous levels. Here we give the full list at each level, along with a little more explanation.
$5 - HIGH FIVE - Digital desktop wallpaper and icons suitable for social media avatars, ideal for showing your support for Vixle.
$20 - BETA - The digital images, plus a copy of Vixle Maker when it goes beta, estimated at the end of this year. The software will be released on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Your personal account will include two usernames, which allows two people to use Vixle at the same time on different computers. Starting in May 2015, you'll also get one year of hosting.
$25 - FICTION - The digital images, Vixle Maker with 2 usernames and 1 year of hosting, and a digital copy of the short story "Journey to Galaxy's Edge," which includes 6 introductory programming challenges as part of the plot. Any additional stories that are unlocked by stretch goals will be yours as well.
$40 - FAMILY - The digital images and story, and Vixle Maker with a total of 5 usernames and 1 year of hosting. Vixle is ideal for families and friends to play together, and this level adds 3 more users at just $5 each.
$50 - MEDIA - The digital images and story, Vixle Maker with 5 usernames and 1 year of hosting, the digital soundtrack of Vixle music, and the digital "Making of Vixle" art book. In addition, backers that later purchase a physical art book from our web store will have their edition personally signed and endorsed.
Examples of Vixle music created by Mike Jones:
$75 - SHIRT - The digital images, story, art book and soundtrack, Vixle Maker with 5 usernames and 1 year of hosting, and a specially designed t-shirt exclusively for backers at this level (and above), personally signed by both Kit and Brian. This level includes shipping anywhere in the U.S. for free. International shipping will be the cheapest we can find, with the difference billed separately at fulfillment time in July.
$100 - ALPHA - The digital images, story, art book and soundtrack, Vixle Maker with 5 usernames and 1 year of hosting, the signed t-shirt, and access to Vixle starting with the Alpha release, estimated in September, and your name will appear in the credits. In addition, you'll have the option to join our tester program, which gives you the ability to view and update our bug lists, and we'll communicate with you frequently to solve problems and get your feedback, so that you can help shape Vixle.
All of the following tiers are limited in quantity, and include everything in ALPHA.
$150 - CLUB - limited to 25 - You'll be able to sponsor a school or social club of your choice for one year, with a group account that includes 30 usernames. Unlike personal accounts, group accounts become inactive if not renewed. For larger clubs, you can pledge an additional $50 for each additional 10 members.
$500 - MAKER - limited to 10 - Kit and Brian will work with you to create a custom character or object, along with interesting animations and code to go with it. Your creation will be included in the Vixle catalog, so that all Vixle Maker users will be able to add it to their own worlds. If desired, your name will be displayed prominently in the title or description of your model. We'll also have a 3D version of your model printed and sent to you, perfect for displaying.
$1000 - SCHOOL - limited to 5 - You'll be able to sponsor a middle or secondary school of your choice for the 2015/16 school year, with a group account that includes 250 usernames. Unlike personal accounts, group accounts become inactive if not renewed. You can add support for an additional 25 students for every additional $100 pledged.
$2500 - JAM - limited to 6 - Game jams are one of the great traditions of game development. Over the course of a weekend, the Vixle team will work side-by-side with you, day and night, to turn your game idea into a reality. You're the boss, you get to make the decisions. If you're local, you can choose to join us at the Pittsburgh office (location TBD), or we'll stay connected to you via Google Hangouts and Vixle (of course)! It'll be a blast, and we'll create a 3D print for you and us to commemorate the occasion.
The possibility for Vixle stretch goals is endless. The more support we get, the richer the platform becomes. Here are a few to look forward to:
$60,000 - Vixle lives!
$70,000 - Add the ability to import and voxelize programs created with MIT's Scratch programming environment. Released in January.
$80,000 - Add a 4th Asset Pack in a genre chosen by the Vixle backers. Released with Beta.
$90,000 - Add a visual editor for customizing NPC behavior, such as path following, dialogue, trading, and state machines which heuristically govern mood. Released in February.
$100,000 - Finish the "Journey to Galaxy's Edge" trilogy with two more stories and related challenges. Released in February and April.
There's plenty more to announce, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
What's in an Asset Pack?
An Asset Pack consists of at least 8 animated characters, 20 terrain textures, 40 objects, associated code, sounds, and one musical theme. Each character comes with at least one unique animation, in addition to standard animations like walking. All of the assets in a pack are thematically related, coming from a specific genre, such as Fantasy or Virtual Reality. Vixle backers at BETA and above will receive at least 5 Asset Packs, between the original three, and the two they'll get during the first year of hosting, plus any unlocked by stretch goals.
What's the difference between a world and a game?
A world is the physical space you create, for users to visit and explore. Within your world, you can build games to play. Games can be ongoing activities that users engage in while visiting, such as capture the flag, paintball, or nurturing pets. They can also be structured experiences with an explicit start and end, like a board game, or a platformer with levels.
Brian likes to create worlds as virtual amusement parks, where the games take the role of rides. This format encourages visitors to come see what's new, and at the same time play their old favorites. In the end, you decide what your world is like.
Some users may choose to create multiple worlds, either to keep them thematically separate, or because they have different groups of people they like to experience them with. Vixle Maker allows you to create as many worlds as you like, but hosting is billed on a per world basis.
What's the difference between an account and a username?
An account is used for billing, and is managed by whomever is "in charge", such as a parent or teacher. Each account has several usernames permanently associated with it, one for each person who uses Vixle.
Hosting is billed on a per-account basis, and allows the users of that account to host a number of their worlds online. Hosting allows a personal account to host one world online for $1 per month. The first year of hosting is free, and users can change which world they are hosting at any time.
As an example, a family of five that uses Vixle together would need a single account with 5 usernames. For $1 per month, they could host one world online and work on it together. If each member wanted their own hosted world, the cost would be $5 per month, although we expect to offer volume discounts in such cases.
Do all usernames associated with an account have to be part of the same household?
No, your extra username is a great way to invite a friend to use Vixle with you.
What's the difference between a personal and group account?
All of the backer tiers offer personal accounts, except for the CLUB and SCHOOL tiers, which offer both an personal account to the backer, and a group account for the organization of their choice.
Personal accounts remain active even if you choose not to renew hosting, so you'll always be able to use Vixle Maker to build and play games. Hosting for personal accounts is $1 per world per month.
Group accounts are subscription-based, and become inactive if not renewed. The cost of Hosting for group accounts is included, and allows every member to host one world.
What happens if I don't renew hosting? Do I lose access to Vixle or my games?
No, your hard work belongs to you. With a personal account, you will always be able to use Vixle Maker to continue building and playing your games, even networked on your LAN. Only free Vixle Explorer users won't be able to play your game. Vixle includes import and export options to common formats, so you can also take your work to professional game development programs, and vice versa.
Will children under 13 be able to use Vixle online?
Yes, with caveats. The account holder will need to verify their parent relationship to the child. Once verified, we will provide a variety of parental controls to customize who your children can interact with online, and how. All controls will default to the most conservative settings, for added safety.
Where are all the physical rewards?
They're in another castle. We did significant research into the costs of a variety of cool physical rewards, but sadly the numbers didn't work out. As a small software company, there are no bargains on physical goods that we can pass along to you. If we had added physical goods and shipping to our most popular backer levels, our funding target would have increased by 40%.
We still love swag, so we plan to sell non-limited Vixle t-shirts, folders, prints, art books, and soundtracks via our web store, opening in July. Otherwise, there's the SHIRT tier, which will get you a limited edition t-shirt. And don't forget that backers of the MEDIA tier that later order a physical copy of the art book can have their edition signed and endorsed!
Where does my money go?
By keeping our costs tight, we can put 83% of your pledges directly toward the development of Vixle. The distribution changes based on stretch goals we unlock, but if we raise $60k, it looks like this:
Risks and challenges
As software projects go, Vixle has a relatively high complexity due to the number of features and platforms being supported, especially given that Brian is currently the only engineer. However, Brian has 18 years of experience building and launching complex Internet software, and is one of the engineers Google trusted to work solo in a remote office.
Complex software projects also tend to become delayed. In this case, we've waited to launch our Kickstarter until all of the potential show-stoppers were addressed. We built the game Auger to demonstrate that the Vixle core is nearly ready. LAN support and better project management will round out the core. From there, each additional feature (e.g. voxel editor, character animator, block code interface) is independent and incremental, meaning that if delays do occur, they will be on the order of days or weeks, rather than months. In addition, an early and active alpha test community will ensure that our progress is communicated clearly.
One of the selling points of Vixle, is our claim that it will be powerful enough for experts, but still accessible to middle-school children on their own. Brian would go insane with boredom if the former weren't the case. He is also a regular sponsor of the local middle school game design club, and will continue to tailor Vixle based on first-hand observations this fall, while students learn to use it for the first time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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