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Explore virtual worlds battling in tactics style party vs. party battles with or against your friends in a persistent online universe.

My earliest memory is putting graham crackers into a NES to see if they would play—in other words, I am a life-long gamer. Both developers involved in the project have a long history of both playing and creating simple games for as long as we can remember. Before we went to college to learn how to program, we used tools like RPG Maker 95 or the Dungeon and Dragons ruleset to make games.

After growing up around games, we like to play games that are more involved than just moving towards the enemy and attacking or endlessly filling up red bars. We aren't casual gamers, and we want to make a mobile game that caters to gamers like us first and casual gamers second.

Our focus is building a complex online game with enough depth of gameplay to be challenging.

We are looking for funding to continue working on our game full-time and contract more people to round out our team. We specifically would like to be crowd funded because it allows us to take risks with our game design that we simply couldn't take if we had to pay back venture capitalist. 

We are designing a free-to-play online game but unlike the prevalent free-to-play model, we will not sell competitive advantages to players. Competitive games between players will be a challenge of skill rather than your willingness to spend money. We will also never advertise to you, because we don't like advertising while we are playing games, it breaks our immersion. We have more creative ways to monetize our game than selling our users as products to advertisers or breaking our game balance for money.

Cypher Crash will be monetized by taking a fee when facilitating the trades of goods between players. We will also provide an online store that will sell uniquely skinned weapons, armor and characters and additional character slots to allow players participate in more games simultaneously.

Login screen for our alpha server web client.
Login screen for our alpha server web client.

In essence, we want to combine what was great about old school tactics games, like the original Fallout and Final Fantasy Tactics, with an enhanced combat depth and a persistent online world. 

Creating a good game is challenging, games are a mixture of many mediums requiring a balance of visual arts, programming, music, voice-acting, sound effects and writing. We have mostly been focusing on programming, by building tools to design and build Cypher Crash.

The model we use for building our game, is one where we create a set of easy to use tools that can be used to create and modify our game. So far we have built a basic map maker, ability / skill / spell editor and a character editor and animator. We would like to continue to refine these tools, build more and eventually share both the tools and the source code with the community.

Early version of our web client for our game, here a players can currently manage their party and contact their friends.
Early version of our web client for our game, here a players can currently manage their party and contact their friends.

Platform To Tell Stories

We have many stories that have been brewing in our brains for a long time. We would like to share these stories with you and your friends to play through them chapter by chapter. 

After building the tools needed to tell our stories we plan to hand over the tools and their code to our community. Empowering them to be their own dungeon masters, so everyone including us, can play through their stories. We will provide a avenue for players to submit their stories to be incorporated game upon moderator approval.

Cypherpunk not Cyberpunk

The word "cypherpunk" was coined in the 90's and refers to those that believe that freedom and free speech in thee future will be defended by the judicious use of encryption. We hope to further those ideals. The basics of cryptography will be woven into the storyline, familiarizing players with the concept and empowering them to find ways to integrate crypto into their everyday lives.

We are in the process of building a science fiction universe filled with virtual worlds ran by competing factions. We will begin with two virtual worlds and hopefully expand more as we create the artwork.

Cypher Crash is happening within a post physical reality where brains have successfully been virtualized and archived. Space exploration has been abandoned to explore virtual worlds. Multidimensional travel made possible in digital fantasies that exist within the folds of the electromagnetic spectrum, curated by different mega-corporations.

Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Words With Friends

We want to create a tactics game that can be played on your phone or computer and eventually through a browser with friends at any pace. 

Cypher Crash is designed so you can play multiple games at at time, allowing you to participate in a slow dungeon crawl with your busy friends who can only issue moves between classes. While at the same time engaging in other games with the rest of your party. Each game requires 5 characters from your party and the default maximum party size is 10, allowing you to initially participate in two games at a time. 

Cypher Crash is designed to be played both cooperatively and competitively.

We have been working on Cypher Crash in our spare time over the past two years. In that time, we have written and re-written a game server and written and rewritten our rudimentary Java game client. 

Our private git repository for our server code
Our private git repository for our server code

We decided early on to use the LibGDX library because we can build for Windows, OSX, Linux, Android and IOS. We have since changed our focus to building a web-based client using Three.js. We plan to continue development of both clients.

Functioning Game Server And Simple Client

We began by building and rebuilding the Cypher Crash game server, it now has the ability to utilize either long-polling or web-sockets to connect players together. This allows us to easily connect a real-time web-based client built with Three.js with our Java LibGDX client.

A snippet of code from our Java client
A snippet of code from our Java client

The server and basic client are able to talk to each other securely, manage the party, auto-match games, and load maps made with our map maker. Once you select your team's start positions, your characters are loaded onto the map selected map. Once characters are loaded you are able to move your characters and your actions are displayed on the other players screen.

Only the server software will remain closed source, we plan to release the code of both clients and the development tools as we continue towards our goal.

Map Maker 

We have already created a simple browser-based map maker and begun working on a complementary simplified scripting engine. We are already able to render maps in our client created by our web-based map maker.

Using these tools both us and the community will be enabled to create rich narratives that can be played cooperatively with friends and shared with the community. 

Currently we are only placing untextured blocks, and we are looking for artist to produce textures. We would also like to add more shapes to our map maker but currently this is only a stretch goal. So while it looks like a simple voxel game now we hope you can look past that and imagine what it could be with more complex shapes, textures, lighting and the help of talented artists. 

Our map system also allows dungeon masters to connect multiple smaller maps together to create complex narrative stories or large dungeons. We are also building a simple scripting engine to allow dungeon masters to script events, puzzles and encounters.

Dynamic Battlegrounds

Each game has its own unique instance of a map, allowing the map to be affected by player actions. Players are able to modify the maps during game play with spells, abilities or by scripted story events.

Simple web-based map maker, already able to save maps to our server. We can already send to the Windows / Linux / OSX / Android / IOS client and rendered. We are currently adding the ability to create and render more shapes and objects than simple squares
Simple web-based map maker, already able to save maps to our server. We can already send to the Windows / Linux / OSX / Android / IOS client and rendered. We are currently adding the ability to create and render more shapes and objects than simple squares

This way the environment becomes a greater focus and an important element of strategy. Bridges can be destroyed to make your opponents engage another way, and walls can erected to prevent your opponents from flanking you.

Sprite Animator

We have modified the existing open source project voxel builder to allow for animation and pushed this code to the original creator. We have also  been able to hook it into our server to work as the basis for our map maker and provide a GUI for our ability creator.

A simple model Alex created. He created each frame and using the modified voxel painter that allows animation. He then added functionality to generate a 2D animated sprite sheets.
A simple model Alex created. He created each frame and using the modified voxel painter that allows animation. He then added functionality to generate a 2D animated sprite sheets.

We have further modified the source code to allow objects or characters to be converted into an animated 2D sprite sheets to be used in our game. This will allow users to create their own objects for their maps and perhaps their own characters to navigate the virtual worlds of our game.

A separate frame and angle of Alex's simple model.
A separate frame and angle of Alex's simple model.
Sprite sheet generated from the 3D animator created by Alex. Sprite sheet generated from the 3D animator created by Alex.
Sprite sheet generated from the 3D animator created by Alex. Sprite sheet generated from the 3D animator created by Alex.

We will open up this tool early as possible to the community. We will give out rewards such as beta access or unique items for selected animations.

We would like to add more shapes to allow us to create more complex visuals than Voxel graphics typically allow, but at the moment this is a stretch goal.

Ability / Skill / Spell Editor 

We have created an ability tool, which allows us to create new abilities easily and modify old ones to keep the the competitive mode balanced. 

The ability editor is comprised of two grids, first the grid is the range grid, or the available squares to initiate the ability, second is the effect grid, the area of the ability's influence. You can the add any number of differing affects to the influenced squares. Mixing and matching to create nearly unlimited abilities.

Simple grids that show different effect patterns.
Simple grids that show different effect patterns.

Auto Matching & Ranking

We have already built a system to automatically match players based on rank. This "quick game" feature is able to quickly find either a ranked or non-ranked competitive multiplayer game. If a player fails to confirm they are ready or team position in a reasonable time frame you are automatically re-matched.

Each game requires five characters from your party and everyone begins with a maximum party size of 10. Allowing you to participate in multiple games simultaneously depending on your maximum party size.

Ranking will also be used to determine who participates in our invitational tournaments.

Auction House & Exchanges

We have already built both a live auction house and commodity exchanges for craft goods. 

The auction house will allow players to live auction their items or characters to other players. Players will be able to place bids on auctions. when an auction meets the minimum price and has not had additional bids for a set number of minutes the item is sold to the highest bidder.

In contrast, we will have what is now traditionally considered an auction house in online games. We have built a commodity exchange for more common items such as crafting items and trade between currencies. Each commodity will have it's own order book with a list of the asks and bids. You will have the option to either buy or sell at market price or set your own price.  

While we have accomplished a lot so far, we still have more to accomplish to create the game are determined to create. We are almost finished with our set of design tools we we will use to build the game. 

Windows / Linux / OSX / Android / IOS Client

We would like to continue building our 3D Java client and hire artist to take our basic shapes and wire frames and turn them into something beautiful. Our original plan was to have a 3D environment with 2D character and object sprites. We had a hard time locating an 2D animator that could work consistently on a single theme at the caliber we expect for free. 

So to bridge the gap, we initially we created simple animations ourselves that we could use during development. Using these we developed our client, we are now able to spin the board to the four corners and switch the direction the sprite is facing half-way through the spin. By switching the sprite facing direction we are able to create the illusion that the 2D sprites are actually placed within a 3D environment. 

Combat Mechanics

We have designed a combat system that amount to more than just moving towards the enemy and attacking, and more than just selecting a square and hoping you hit based on /dev/random dice. 

Party Composition

Each party will need to be a balanced mixture of tank, healer, damage and support. Tanks classes will have various types of actual taunts to allow them to actually tank.

Micro

We would like to test an optional twist to our tactics combat system that would add more micromanagement to tactics combat. Requiring you to make more specific choices once you are close enough to engage. We have many ideas we would like to test during the alpha phase but we are currently implementing the design described below.

For example, if your fighter engages another fighter from the front you will have an choices based on your class for both attack and defensive moves dependent on available action points. For each choice you make, the person being attacked will make a corresponding choice. 

Choices are compared in a rock-paper-scissors fashion. If as an attacker you chose to feint as the person being attacked attempts to counter-attack. The defender would miss and the attacker's next hit in the combo next hit would do increased damage and initiate a combination. In the event you choose correctly more than once in a row, your character links the attacks together in a chain attack. 

Variety of skills

We would like to incorporate a variety of skills from move silently to setting traps. We would like to provide players more options than simply engaging the enemy head on.

Emphasis On Economics

We find virtual economies fascinating, and believe that a secure & functioning economy is critical to the success of a persistent online game. We want to build an interesting world with complex micro-economies to increase the number of ways to play our game.

There was just a giant block of text and it felt like it could use a picture. The exchange doesn't have a feature rich UI to show off yet, but it will have great graphs and charts.
There was just a giant block of text and it felt like it could use a picture. The exchange doesn't have a feature rich UI to show off yet, but it will have great graphs and charts.

In our youth, we have fond memories of the first generation of MMORPGs where the trade between players created an economy complex enough to be a game in and of itself. To try to capture that we created both an actual auction house where players can live auction items and characters along with commodity markets.

In our design, we have plan to have multiple fractions each with their own unique currencies each with differing independent economies encapsulated in their virtual worlds. In the real world you will be able to trade between each fractions currencies. Each faction will have separate a micro-economy, with different rules and regulations on what their markets. Each will have their own set of commodity markets, or the typical auction house in most online games.

We take our economy seriously, so we are trying to come up with ways to prevent cheating. One method we have started testing, is building a custom Bitcoin fork to potentially be used as the basis of our currency behind the scenes on our servers. We would pre-mine all the currency and just use and have only our servers mine the currency to process transactions. We believe using this system we will be able to prevent counterfeiting and duplication of our game's currency. 

What About Gold Farming?

Instead of fighting against the inevitable army of bots, and pitting our ability to catch bots against clever programmers skill to disguise them, we want to take a different approach. 

  • We will release our AI code under an open source license and develop it in the open. 
  • We will create an API that will allow clever programmers to easily connect their bots to our game. We will then track and rank these bots and use them in our game to play as the computer player in PVE games. 
  • Bots that receive high rankings will receive game currency for each successful win dependent on rank.

While this will not stop botting completely, we believe it may create a different arms race. Instead of participating in the traditional arms race between the botting community and our ability to create anti-cheating software, we propose a way to create an arms race between our community's skill and the botting community.  

As the botting community gets better, so will our in-game AI. Because fighting botting is like fighting file sharing, we believe rather than outlawing botting, we can tap into the ingenuity of clever bot programmers and improve the game for everyone. 

Your Own Everything You Loot

Your digital assets belong to you, we believe that your characters that you invest time to level up and raid with are yours. So instead of fighting against gamers selling their digital loot, we have already created the groundwork to escrow trades between our game currency and items for other virtual currencies. 

Privacy And Advertising

We are are gamers, but we are also makers, and activists. We would like the services we use to respect our privacy, so in turn we respect the privacy of our community

We will not needlessly track you or store data about you. We will take measures to adequately encrypt your private data with modern algorithms. We won't advertise to you through our game, because it breaks immersion as we personally find it annoying. We have more creative ways to pay for server upkeep than to sell our users as products to advertisers.


While working on the project we plan to maintain a developer blog where we will discuss what is happening in our weekly design meetings. You will be able to leave us feedback and we will respond to directly to the highest voted comments in the next post.

We will also considering investing time to produce a monthly audio-cast or video-cast of what we have created over the course of each month to allow the community to review our progress and contribute. We feel transparency is required of us for our community to give a good feedback. 

The Team

Learn more about Shortwave Laboratories at https://shortwave.im

We would like to build a improve our design tools and beautiful client for our free online game. We cannot do this alone so we will need to contract talented people to complete the various tasks.

  • Contract talented 3D and 2D artist to bring the code to life and make our game look beautiful.
  • Contract talented voice actors to add life to the world
  • Contract talented musicians to make an awe inspiring sound scape.
  • Contract talented programmers to increase our speed and add a fresh pair of eyes to the code base

We also need to cover necessary expenses to allow developers to work on the game full-time. 

  • Pay rent and electricity bills for our developers while they continue to work on the server and client code. Covering living expenses until the game launches is critical to allow developers to provide full-time support, updates and balancing. 
  • Ample supply of black tea, matte, coffee and healthy food for both our programmers and artist.
  • Pay for dedicated infrastructure, so we are able to provide reliable fast free-to-play online game worldwide. We will need development, testing and production servers to continue developing and testing without interrupting game play on the production servers. 


Stretch Goals

Thirty-eight thousand is the minimum we estimate we will need to create the the game we are determined to make.  If we receive more funding than our minimum it will allow us to create an even better game by letting us accomplish more goals and recruit even more talented people.

Greater Server Capacity For Everyone

With additional funding we would not only be able to expand the game in every way. We would also be able to expand our server infrastructure beyond the minimum needed. Increased server capacity would allow us support more games simultaneously, and if we were able to we would increase the default character slots available from 10 to 15 for all players.  

Translate Our Game To Other Languages

We would like to translate our game and build a global community. We are building our client so that it will be easy to translate later by keeping all the strings in JSON config file. With additional funding we could translate the game soon as it is production ready.

Vehicles, Buildings and Resources

We would like to create and test different game modes requiring different strategies or potentially a combination of different game modes. We would like to try to add various elements beyond the standard party-vs-party tactics by adding vehicles, buildings and resources.

Join the Team

We are looking for talented musicians, voice actors, 2D artist and 3D artist. 

If you are interested in applying to work with us send samples of your work to: jobs@shortwave.im


Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

1. Time Is Not On Our Side
Our project has many challenges but the largest one we have faced so far is limited time. We hope with crowd funding we can overcome this major obstacle and work full-time on programming. Allowing us to find other people with the specialties needed to complete our other tasks.

2. Managing Infrastructure
System administration is a large part of running a successful online game. Maximizing uptime while ensuring fast speeds for players around the world everyone is a full-time job. Both developers have experience with system administration and developer operations. With our knowledge and experience, we will be able to automate many of our system administration processes, enabling us to manage large clusters of systems with a small team using open stack.

3. Making A Pretty Game
For an indie game to look good without a massive budget, the focus should be consistency within the artwork. We need to find an artist we can work with closely, able to produce consistent artwork within a specified theme. This will be a major hurdle to overcome but we believe with more time to investigate potential options we can find the right person to help make our vision a reality.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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