Project: Espionage Drew, Kevin, and Amethyst
Overview • Project: Espionage is an interactive alternate-reality socially-driven game. • Ideally, with a proper launch, individual ‘games’ will take place on most major college campuses. Players at separate universities do not interact with each other.
Profiles • At launch, players will be prompted to confirm they own a .edu email address (to verify they are a college student), and then set up an in-game profile. • Players will need to input their real name. • Players will also need to upload a number of photographs of their face in various lighting conditions, including: • Daytime lighting • Indoor fluorescent • Nighttime low-light environment • Side profile shot • Players can also make up a fictitious biography about themselves. • The game uses this information to generate a player’s dossier.
Backstory • After profile creation, players learn the game’s backstory. • Players have just been hired by a special reconnaissance agency, and are now entered in a large-scale training exercise. • Trainees must exhibit the ability to follow a particular directive while evading capture and counter-intelligence. • Your training mission is designed to promote those skills in a real-world setting.
Gameplay • The game begins when enough players at a particular university have registered. • Once the game begins, players are given the dossier of a specific ‘target’ player, whom they must stealthily ‘tag.’ • As the player hunts down their target, another player is attempting to tag them as well, so it becomes a game of the hunter and the hunted. • Successfully tagging your target gives you cash, a point/currency hybrid used to determine winning players and upgrade your game character. • The game ends when a pre-determined time period has elapsed. The winner is the player with the most tags, with unspent cash holdings breaking ties.
Tags • When the game begins, players receive the dossier of their target. • The player must then look for their target on their school campus, and ‘tag’ them before they themselves are tagged. • GPS tracks a player’s location on-campus. If you wander to within 100 feet of your target, a notification will be sent to your phone alerting you of this. • If the person hunting you enters within a ten foot radius to yourself, you receive a notification as well. • Players tag each other by ‘shooting’ them with their smartphone’s camera. Facial recognition must match the target’s face with the profile-submitted photographs before a tag can be confirmed. • However, these photographs are also GPS-confirmed, meaning a tag cannot be registered unless the active phones report reasonable proximity to each other. This also allows the software to be extra-generous in assigning a facial match, since it already knows who was near whom. • The tagger then receives cash for their confirmed tag and a new target among the active players at their university’s campus.
Cash • Tagging another players awards a player with cash, which can be used to purchase upgrades and single-use abilities. • Sample upgrades include: • Quiet Footsteps: your target can’t detect you until you’re within 5 feet of them. • Eagle Eyes: Alerts you if your target is within 150-100 feet away, and then again when your target is 100 feet away or closer. • Frugality:Grants 1.2x normal cash awards on a tag. • Blip: Single-use item that notifies you of your target’s exact location for 30 seconds via a red ‘blip’ on a campus map. • Counter-surveillance: upgrade that notifies you if you’ve been blipped. • Stun-gun: single-use item that enables a photo-less tag by merely entering a 5-foot range of your target. • When tagged, half of a player’s cash and all upgrades are lost. • They receive a new target after an 8-hour respawn period and the game then continues for them as normally.
Additional Game Mechanics • To combat inactivity, players will be able to have a new target assigned after three days. • The game will assign targets randomly, but occasionally step in to balance the game. • Players who are doing disproportionally well may wind up with more than one player pursuing them. This will result in an equal number of players having nobody chasing after them, which the game will delegate to the players faring the worst until balance is struck once again. • Blips and proximity notifications only can occur during daylight hours, to protect players’ privacy in their dorm environments. • Some may still feel uncomfortable by these functions even during daylight hours, but those made uncomfortable merely do not have to play. • When a player is tagged, the photograph used to tag them is sent to their phone. If they aren’t the individual pictured in the phone, they can file a ‘dispute’ via an in-game menu to be judged by a game moderator. • Game moderators will be responsible for verifying information and running a particular campus’ game. These positions are voluntary.
Monetization • Game profit will be generated through small, non-intrusive ads displayed after a player is tagged as well as a micro-transaction system. • The micro-transaction system enables players doing badly to give themselves a boost, and players doing well to attempt to fortify their position. • Select upgrades will have a USD ($) value in addition to a ‘cash’ price, meaning they can be purchased through credit card transactions. • Certain abilities, like the blip power, can not be purchased with real currency. This is because its over-use could have game-breaking implications. • One particular ability, escape, can only be purchased with real life currency. This ability enables you to keep your upgrades and cash after being tagged. A prompt to purchase it appears after being tagged, and its purchase means the player will re-enter the game after the 8-hour respawn period with all of their items and cash intact.
Imagine: • You’re sitting at one of the marble tables, just outside the Union. • You know from a blip you purchased that your target is inside the Union; you hope to tag her as she leaves for her next class. • You pull up her dossier. Amethyst, it says. You read her bio and review her photo. Suddenly, a notification pushes to your phone. She’s within 100 feet. • You stand up and walk towards the door, scanning faces, when, suddenly, across the Union, you spot her, walking with a group of friends. • You draw your phone in hand and open the camera function within the app. • Suddenly, a notification pop-up warns you: • ‘HUNTER WITHIN 10 FEET’ • You whirl about, noticing five or so nearby people using their smartphones. Any one of them could be the man hunting you down, so you instead head back to the door. The situation is too hot here. • As you turn around, you notice a man blocking your path to the door, with his phone raised in the air. You try to react, but it is too late. With a vibration, your phone pushes a new update. • ‘You’ve been tagged by Kevin,’ the notification reads. An image appears on your screen of yourself, with a sniper crosshair over your head. • (Also at the bottom is a small banner ad with local ads displayed, but the app’s gotta make money somehow, y’know?)
In Project: Espionage, events like that can happen any day. We hope you enjoyed our presentation!