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Storybricks is the toolset that allows users to tell stories in a computer RPG and share them with friends.

Sorry, our video is terrible.  We're gamers, not voice actors.  We have tried to do a better job explaining Storybricks below.  Storybricks isn't really like anything you've probably seen before.  Hopefully you'll agree this is the future of how we will play games.

What is Storybricks?

Storybricks itself is a system, a visual editing tool that allows players to tell stories that uses a sophisticated simulation that defines character emotions and behaviors.  It is focused on providing a new way for players to experience and contribute to MMOs.  Our plan is to use Storybricks in a game we develop that supports this vision of storytelling in games.

We created Storybricks because we saw a major flaw in current MMOs: games that repeatedly tell you that you are the hero with worlds that did not change based on your supposedly heroic actions.  Instead of deep worlds where you have adventures with interesting characters, we saw worlds with static stories intended to distract you from the fact that you are grinding the same combat encounters in order to gain enough resources or faction to make it easier to grind more combat encounters.  MMOs should be more than that.

We created Storybricks to take MMOs and make them new again.  We're starting from the very foundation.

Why Storybricks?

If you take a close look at the history of MMOs, you will see how important story is.  Not the cliché fantasy stories of "a land torn apart by war!" but the interesting stories the players have experienced.  Maybe you remember a quest where you really grew to appreciate an character who was particularly well-written.  Or you remember how silly it was for some character to keep looking for his lost, dead wife.  Maybe you chatted with your friends about how it would be cool to change some element or another.

We created Storybricks as a tool to let you tell your stories within a game that we create.  This tool is easy to use and not require any programming ability.

As shown in this picture, Storybricks itself is a visual editing system that allows you to edit parts of our game to suit your story.  Maybe you want to set up a corrupt kingdom so you can lead a rebellion against a wicked noble.  Or, perhaps you prefer to have that beautiful prince waiting for a wily amazon to steal his heart.  Maybe you just want a friendly innkeeper to keep the ale flowing as you and your friends share tall tales.  It's your story to tell, and you can tell it with Storybricks.

The Importance of the Game

Creating a tool is not enough.  Putting together bricks doesn't mean much unless it directs the characters in the world.  So, Storybricks also requires a sophisticated artificial intelligence layer that drives these characters in the game.  They have their own personality, drives, desires, relationships, and emotions.  This emotion system for characters is a vital part of the whole Storybricks system, and that's why we can't just release Storybricks as a standalone tool, but rather as part of a game.

We need a game tailored to the Storybricks system because we are dealing with something so new and different from anything else.  Non-player characters with emotions, who develop dynamic relationships with the players in the world?  Nobody has done this before on this scale.  So, it is important that we create create a game that shows off the system properly.  We feel the best game for Storybricks is an MMO.

Imagine the possibilities of playing an MMO game with Storybricks at the core.  With the emotional system you would see entirely new forms of gameplay.  What if faction wasn't just a bar you kill faceless enemies to fill?  What if you could develop meaningful friendships in the game?  Imagine if every guard in the a city hates you, except for the one guy who owes you his life.  Imagine if by doing a personal favor for the queen you didn't get just a bit of experience and coin, but rather a personal favor from the queen you could call in at a later date or use to impress other chracters.  Imagine what it would be like to be a diplomat in a land known for it's shifting alliances.  All this without need a pick up a "quest" to kill even a single enemy if you don't want to.

The problem?  We're a small company with limited resources, and creating a tool and an MMO game is going to be difficult.  We have a plan, but we need something first.

We Need Your Support

The good news is that we have already done a lot of work toward realizing this goal of  NPCs with real emotions.  We have a working version of the tool with some simple emotions, so we know that what we want to to is technically feasible.  We have the strong foundation of technology to build better MMOs.

Want to check it out?  Visit http://play.storybricks.com/ and see a limited version of our alpha in action with the alpha version of our first game world.  It's a humble beginning, but it's just that: the beginning.  And we put the power in your hands to tell your stories.

But, it takes a bit of imagination to draw the line between where we are today and what we can be.  Imagination that gamers have that others tend to lack.  Game developers are happy providing the same old types of gameplay that people are ready to pay for rather than taking risks.  Investors aren't sure that there is even a demand for MMOs or new forms of gameplay.  But, we know that there can be more than clicking on NPCs and following quest indicators on the minimap.

We need you to lend us your backing and support to continue development of Storybricks and get it ready for wide release.  With your help, we'll finish our initial game using that uses Storybricks at the core, and be able to iterate and improve it as we develop other games that use Storybricks.

The Team

We're not a bunch of clueless newbies here, promising the impossible without the ability to deliver.  Our team has a serious background as game developers, indie pioneers, storytellers, role-players, and visionaries.  We have poured our souls into Storybricks, and we want to see it through.

  • Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green is an experienced MMO developer. He ran the pioneering MMO Meridian 59 for several years while working on other projects at many companies.  He has written extensively about how to improve MMOs on his blog at http://psychochild.org/
  • Stéphane Bura is a tabletop RPG and computer game designer. His love of role-playing and artificial intelligence lends him the necessary insight to design the infrastructure that powers Storybricks.
  • Rodolfo Rosini is a serial tech entrepreneur.  His experiences as a raider in MMOs led him to consider how storytelling could provide what was missing in current games.
  • Guilherme Stutz Töws is an independent game developer, responsible for the game Eversion, available on Steam.
  • Other awesome team members include: Buck Wilson, Ben Sizer, Matthew Dean, Oliver Bermejo Hidalgo, Kelly Heckman, Bart Stewart, Sam Baker.

With these adventurers we have experienced voices to guide them.

  • Liz Danforth is an experienced artist and writer with experience ranging from Tunnels & Trolls to Wasteland 2, advising Storybricks on creative and artistic issues.
  • Richard Bartle is the creator of the original text MUD, advising Storybricks on MMO and creative issues.
  • Don Bluth & Gary Goldman are the creative geniuses behindworks such as Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace, The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, and many others.  They also advise Storybricks on animation issues.
  • Chris Avellone is Chief Creative Officer of Obsidian Entertainment and is also working on Wasteland 2.  He advises Storybricks on game development issues.

Together our team has the unique experience and vision to innovate the MMO to something more than some groups fighting an endless war while NPCs still expecting you to grind out ten rat tails for every scrap of equipment.

What You Are Backing

Your backing will support development of our first small game world to use Storybricks.  Our goal of $250,000 is what we feel is enough to complete the initial version of Storybricks.  Ideally, this would be the beginning of the public Beta for our initial small game world, a robust world with the tools in place to tell stories you want to share with friends.  But, like any MMO, development wouldn't stop there.  We will add more content, more tools, more features, more of everything.  With more backing above our goal we could develop the game for longer before we have to start charging people or looking for outside investment, allowing us our independence for longer to listen to our fans rather than chasing more money.

Here are some features we plan to support for our initial version.

  • A downloadable client for PC and OSX.
  • Female characters and heroes with proper models, textures, and animations.
  • Character customization: adjust basic appearance, clothing, equipment, and props.
  • A customizable world, including tiles to let players edit their own story space.
  • New NPC archetypes, new character defining traits, new emotions and moods, new goals and desires, new behaviors and relationships resulting in billions of unique character definitions.
  • New NPC behaviors and interactions.
  • More role-playing options for the player character, including adjustable moods.
  • A unique magic system that takes advantage of the character emotions
  • Factions for characters, pre-defined and defined by the storyteller.
  • Persistent relationship generation and alteration.
  • Pre-designed plots for storytellers to use.
  • Magic items with complex behaviors and effects, configured with Storybricks.
  • Combat system, including behaviors for NPCs to fight intelligently on their own.
  • Tools to let a storyteller guide players through a story and adjust it in real time.

Your backing is also a vote with your money.  You are voting for innovation and new ideas in MMOs instead of rehashed and recycled gameplay.  This is the most important element, because it demonstrates that the cries for something truly new and interesting in MMOs are not hollow, they are a tangible force ready to support such a game.

The reality is that this project can't happen without you.  Without your support, we probably won't be able to realize our goals  Please consider backing our project and vote for a new way to experience MMOs.

Want to give it a try?

Storybricks isn't some unrealistic pipe dream, it's a reality.  But, this is only the beginning.  Head over to http://play.storybricks.com/ to try out our public alpha that will be available during the Kickstarter campaign.  You will need the Unity browser plugin to try it out.

Check out the video at the top for a glimpse at the power of what you can do.  You can also try a few simple stories written by our developers:

Create your own stories, and please share them with your friends.  Show others the genesis of real storytelling and role-playing in games.

What people are saying

“Don & I are flattered and, honored, to be involved as consultants/advisors to Storybricks.”
Don Bluth & Gary Goldman, legendary animators (The Land Before Time, Dragon's Lair)

 (Concept art for female characters for Storybricks from Don & Gary)

"A bold and intriguing concept aimed at putting game design in the hands of Joe and Jane Gamer."
Justin Olivetti, Massively

"With Storybricks, secret desires and public reputation are more important than hit points."
Jonathan Tweet, RPG designer (D&D 3rd ed., Ars Magica, 13th Age)

"Wow, this looks awesome... but will it fulfill its promise? I'd bet the answer will be a resounding YES!"
Steve Meretzky, adventure game pioneer (Planetfall, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Zork Zero)

"Games like Minecraft are successful in allowing the user to shape and carve their world, Storybricks allows players and designers to do the same with narratives.”
Chris Avellone, game designer (Planescape:Torment, Wasteland 2)

Thank you!

We appreciate your time and support for our vision.  We would really appreciate it if you could help us spread the word.  Let others know that there can be more to MMOs than is out there.

If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

FAQ

  • Those are just two of the dozen images that Don Bluth & Gary Goldman created for us. The concept pieces are used to guide our game artists in creating characters for the game, and probably won't look exactly like that in their final form.

    We picked those two images because we felt they captured our imagination. The body type of the first character isn't well-represented in games. The second image is full of character, with gorgeous hair and a powerful aura about her. These characters may seem like stereotypes, but we think they capture the distinctive feel of Don & Gary's art style.

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  • While we support the project, it is hard for us to support it as a company. The stated intent is to support other projects "with profits". Since we are an investor-backed company, the profits are not our own. However, many of the individuals within the company have supported Kickstarter projects, so we believe we are supporting the spirit of the Kicking It Forward campaign to make sure other cool projects get funding even if we can't abide by the specific terms.

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  • When we release the first game with Storybricks, we will sell access to the world that we will host. Currently, we think this will be about $20. After purchasing access, you will be able to play and write stories without paying more.

    We will also have an optional premium subscription. This will allow access additional features, such as the ability to post more stories at once, priority login access to write and play stories when the servers are busy, and the availability of customer service to help with issues you might encounter. We foresee the subscription being an affordable amount, equivalent to about $5 per month.

    This is not set in stone. We will be listening to feedback to see what seems right to our backers.

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  • Storybricks itself is a system, a visual editing tool that allows players to tell stories that uses a sophisticated simulation that defines character emotions and behaviors. It is focused on providing a new way for players to experience and contribute to MMOs. Our plan is to use Storybricks in a game we develop that supports this vision of storytelling in games.

    Storybricks will form the core of future MMOs we will develop as well, bigger and better than this current offering. We see Storybricks as the future of what it means to play an MMO, but every journey has to start somewhere.

    For more information, check out this blog post by Storybricks' MMO Architect, Brian Green: http://psychochild.org/…

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  • Certainly:

    So in our previous video we really didn't communicate what was cool about Storybricks, what makes it different. So we're going to record a video here showing some of the gameplay. So what are you doing here Stéphane?

    So what I'm doing here is placing characters in the world and I'm not using the bricks, we'll show them later. I'm just placing characters and each of them has it's own behavior, it's own role in the city.

    But they are all boys?

    Right now they are, we'll add female characters in future releases.

    Is this the final graphics?

    Oh no, this is just a toy world we use for testing.

    Oh cool. So what are you doing now?

    So I launch the game and you can see that each character, I didn't have to program anything. Each character has it's own behavior. Here's this noble that comes to me and talks to me. The guards patrol on their own. And there is a merchant here, I can interact with him. And the cool thing about this is that there are already a lot of interactions that are pre-packed, but I can also role-play. For instance I can decide to be angry at him and when I interact with him he'll understand that I am angry with him and he will react. And this is unique.

    And now you're showing Storybricks, the actual Storybricks?

    Yeah, a very simple example of how the bricks work. As you've seen, without the bricks you already have the basic interactions but you can design your own. For instance you have a generic citizen and citizens are usually happy and not confrontational. But you can add an interaction which you insult him, and he'll get angry at you when you insult him. And it's a matter of, well Sam is doing it, but it's a matter of a few seconds.

    Cool, but I'm not really good at writing this stuff, can I just copy somebody else's? Just drag and drop?

    That's the whole idea of Storybricks, it's very easy to port from one story to the other. You can even pick what you want. So here's our citizen, and a basic interaction, you see he's happy to see us. But if we insult him, he's angry at us.

    And he will remember that? Like automatically you don't have to program anything, he has memory.

    Well look at this, if you greet him again he's still angry. So here's another example, this was the simple stuff. If you want you can spend a lot of time on your stories. And here's a much more complex story. There is an irritable wizard and you can interact with him in a myriad of ways and for instance here I choose to pester him and he summons a zombie. Since you are very impressed you apologize and the he wants to become your friend. But this is only one of the way you can interact with him.

    Can I play with my friends story?

    It's online and the game is accessible to every player who wants to join.

    What's happening now?

    So it's another version of the same story. You are still interacting with a wizard but you make different choices. You don't want to apologize to him, you want to show him what you're made of. You have a magic wand and you can zap zombies. So you will use your wand.

    But we don't have the animation for zapping people.

    We'll get that and the special effects too, sorry about that.

    No fireballs?

    Why not?

    Particle effects!

    Particle effects and everything. So the guard is reacting to our interaction and we tell him, we can punch him if we want or we can put the blame on the wizard.

    And he automatically understands? We don't have to script all these things.

    So most of the stuff he can do by himself, in this story some of it is scripted.

    Can we punch the guard?

    Let's do that.

    Do we have the punch animation?

    Well he teleported us, he banished us to....

    But it's really cool, I understand how to make a story. Oh, the wizard is there.

    He's been banished. Hi wizard.

    Thanks Stéphane, thanks Brian, it was really cool.

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  • Our client uses Unity3D, and currently support PC and Mac.

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  • Please register on AngelList and visit our profile: http://angel.co/storybricks

    Or, contact us directly and we would be happy to talk with you.

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  • Absolutely! While we can't be all things to all people, we do appreciate your feedback.

    If you have a suggestion for the Kickstarter page, feel free to leave a comment.

    If you want to chat with other Storybricks fans and discuss the project with the developers, visit http://forums.storybricks.com/

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    Party Edition! Get alpha access for 6 people with lifetime premium subscriptions for the release version, plus the backer-only cosmetic items for your characters, minipets for everyone, and a special Storybricks dice bag for the GM of the group.

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    Become the Brick. Send us a video of you performing an action or expressing an emotion, and we will use that as a reference to put YOU into Storybricks. You will become a new brick that everyone can use in their stories. In addition, you will get Alpha access, lifetime premium subscription, the special backer-only cosmetic item, minipet, Storybricks T-shirt and dice bag. Action is subject to approval by the Storybricks team.

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    Guild Edition. You and 49 of your closest friends get Alpha access to Storybricks, lifetime premium subscriptions, in-game backer-only cosmetic item and minipet, plus five ultra-limited Storybricks hoodies for the guild officers.

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    An Artist Commission. A special commissioned ink drawing of YOUR character by the visionary RPG artist Liz Danforth! You send her a description and references and you get a unique keepsake. Plus, you get access to the Alpha version of the Storybricks toolset, a lifetime premium subscription, a backer-only cosmetic item for your character, in-game minipet, a limited edition Storybricks T-shirt. NOTE: Date indicates Alpha access, your commissioned artwork may ship later.

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    Add a Character to the Kingdom. You help design a character archetype for the Kingdom of Default: maybe a misunderstood necromancer or vicious maiden. Describe your character concept and we will put it into the game, with a custom skin and behaviors. Plus, you get access to the Alpha version of the Storybricks toolset, a lifetime premium subscription, a backer-only cosmetic item for your character, in-game minipet, a limited edition Storybricks T-shirt.

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    What do you get besides our undying gratitude? How about dinner with legendary animators Don Bluth & Gary Goldman, the magical artist Liz Danforth, and the designers of Storybricks. Up to three people take part in this tremendous opportunity to spend an evening talking to the creative minds behind Storybricks. Plus, you get access to the Alpha version of the Storybricks toolset, a lifetime premium subscription, a backer-only cosmetic item for your character, in-game minipet, a limited edition Storybricks T-shirt, and the ultra-premium hoodie. NOTE: Date indicates Alpha access, the date of the dinner is to be determined. You must be able to travel to Phoenix, AZ, USA.

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