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Echelon Official Thread

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Project Lead: Brian Min

In the game Echelon you take on a role of the most gifted surveillance contractor in the world. With the advanced signal intelligence technologies, you will explore a vast covert underground network, direct real time raids and rescue missions, and progress to become the most feared operator in the world.

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For what it's worth, I think this idea should be doing a lot better. Sounds awesome!

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I'm actually really excited for this idea! It has a lot of potential, especially to generate this kind of cyberpunk atmosphere. Just you behind the computer and listening to recordings, gathering all kinds of information, dealing with other hackers. Sounds great!

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"Inspired by... 'The Conversation'" was enough to make me lean forward in my chair and go "ooooooooooh." This sounds really cool.

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There is definitely something here... I don't think I've ever heard of a game like this before. The lack of visuals might annoy some, but I love the idea of incorporating "radio drama"-style dialogue.

I think it might be a bit more appealing if you were less of a disconnected surveillance contractor and more intimately involved with what is going on. Maybe you accidentally overhear a murder and then are compelled to use your skills to solve the crime... almost like "Rear Window." You are trapped in the role of the voyeur but can send others to carry out actions for you. And then, of course, comes the inevitable moment when you realize YOU are being watched, too!

Anyway, nice work! It feels like you are breaking some kind of new ground.

And good job referencing one of my favorite movies ever! ("Hi. My name is Warner Brandis. My voice is my passport. Verify me.")

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What appeals to me most is the possibility to listen in on seemingly inane chatter and pick up clues, so that the player can't find any outright talk about a crime and discovers the innocents aren't so innocent after all. As the doc states at the end, no one is safe.

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This has criminally few votes. After watching the vid, I honestly expected this to be near the top. For me, it's the number 1 concept.

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Thanks so much guys for your votes! We're a bit behind but you never know! :) I will post some additional info soon! @sonicrevo feel free to tweet for questions also!

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Sounds like a really great idea! Reminds me a (little) bit of Uplink! And I've been waiting for a new game of this type for years! :)

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I really like this idea! I'm glad these threads are up, because one thing I've been curious about is if you were at all inspired by Uplink or other similar "hacker" games?

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Obviously games like Uplink or HackTheGame was something I played. The challenge with these types of games and other text games is that it's hard to compete with the more visually compelling (and expensive) modern games.

I'm convinced though that the way we "hear" things, especially the way you "emotionally" connect with the game can be extremely powerful :) I think that's where voice, music, sound design can be very powerful way to draw players into a very compelling, immersive experience.

This means we can take players in to depths and worlds that would just be impossibly expensive to make. We can also iterate on it a lot faster and cheaper than building entire worlds and redoing them.

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Can we kickstarter good game ideas that don't get bumblevoted? I want more that just the top 4 made. The whole reasons DFA is getting funding is nobody expected the idea that isn't the top seller to get funding.

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Can we kickstarter good game ideas that don't get bumblevoted? I want more that just the top 4 made. The whole reasons DFA is getting funding is nobody expected the idea that isn't the top seller to get funding.

I'm Absolutely for it! Or maybe cast another public vote after that! Echelon and The Flock sound so amazing, they HAVE to get made :)

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I think that’s where voice, music, sound design can be very powerful way to draw players into a very compelling, immersive experience.

I fully agree with that, that is why this idea is one of my favorites from the “less appealing to public” and brave ideas. And it can have beautiful, nice looking and appealing, but in this case - simple graphics, like for example DEFCON had.

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Can we kickstarter good game ideas that don't get bumblevoted? I want more that just the top 4 made. The whole reasons DFA is getting funding is nobody expected the idea that isn't the top seller to get funding.

Agreed.

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Obviously games like Uplink or HackTheGame was something I played. The challenge with these types of games and other text games is that it's hard to compete with the more visually compelling (and expensive) modern games.

I definitely agree, which is really sad. I mean, there are a lot of board games that are amazingly fun and complex, but how do you make an adrenaline-pumping trailer for Settlers of Catan or Rummikub?

Likewise, Uplink is mostly just text and black screen, but it is one of the best time-killing games in my Steam library. I'd do a double back flip and click my heels before purchasing if Double Fine made a game with even a remotely similar spirit. I hope that the idea gets its chance to shine!

I'm convinced though that the way we "hear" things, especially the way you "emotionally" connect with the game can be extremely powerful :) I think that's where voice, music, sound design can be very powerful way to draw players into a very compelling, immersive experience.

I agree with that. And sound-based gameplay (aside from music/rhythm games) is hard to come by. There are a few examples I can think of within larger games. For example, in detective games you might be able to tell whether a person is lying by subtle variations in manner of speech. I also once played a game involving a puzzle where dozens of voices were all chattering over top of one another, and you could turn a series of knobs to adjust the volume levels of certain groups of voices and listen to only certain ones more clearly, allowing you to pick out certain keywords and then piece them together to learn a password. That was neat!

I can also remember watching a mystery show on Nickelodeon when I was a kid where the villain in one episode was a blackmailer who made his demands over the telephone and then quickly hung up before he could be traced. The voice on the phone was always a recording, and you could always hear a really low, repeated rumbling in the background. Later, the detective notices that an associate of the person being blackmailed often carries a briefcase, and when he sits down, he has a habit of repeatedly tapping his fingers on the top. It occurs to him that the low rumbling on the phone is the distorted sound of his fingers tapping on the briefcase. That's a cool use of sound as well!

I could see some very cool things being done. My interest is piqued as I try to think of all the different tricks you might have in mind for "emotional" uses of sound. =]

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I too found my curiosity immediately tickled by the pitch for this game. I'm personally very interested in using sound design as a prime means of storytelling, but doing so in such a way that is very interactive with the player/listener.

As Brian says, without all the emphasis on graphics it could be quite economic to build something very rich and immersive.

From the pitch video it sounds like it might be heading in a slightly retro direction with references to older movies. If this gets made, my hope would be that it doesn't get too caught up in paying tribute to older material with scratchy analog distorted voices and lots of spy-babble. Rather - be a contemporary story with 2012 technology.

Also, I like the idea of incorporating lots of ambient environmental sounds to really put you in the game instead of relying totally on lengthy voice conversations.

If this was kickstarter-ed, I'd definitely fork out for it!

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I'm not sure if Kickstarter is in Echelon's future but I certainly appreciate the support. I think the most interesting I've seen with people's feedback and comments regarding Echelon is the folk who "get" the concept are totally sold on it. The challenge is the convincing the rest of the folks who lack the aural imagination. :)

I find it a bit frustrating that thousand+ dollar televisions are totally fine but thousand dollar speakers are balked at. The film industry has gotten this right, calling sound 50% of the movie experience. (George Lucas/Skywalker Sound) but the video game industry still calls games "video games". That's a bit biased don't you think? :)

I think a game like Echelon could be an important move forward for the game industry. There is a huge untapped potential for non-linear, interactive audio experience.

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That can be so true. I remember that the sound work in the original Dead Space was at LEAST 50% of the terror. Phenomenal sound in that game.

The point has also been raised (and I wish that it was more widely recognized) that older games felt much different on account of the fact that they didn't have room to store a bunch of sound files to give every character in the game a fully acted voice. But in modern games it just seems like the obvious thing to do: if you can give characters voice actors, then you should do it. But is that true?

In one article I read on this issue, they posted a video of the original scene from Final Fantasy VII where Cloud meets Aerith. It's just text and music. Then they show a new, modified version where the text is accompanied by voice acting, which crowds out the music and DRASTICALLY changes the sound-aesthetic of the scene. Musical scores used to be much more front and center and therefore were necessarily much more important than they have been recently.

Brian Fargo made the point recently that video games used to be a lot more literary, but we've lost some of our literary roots in the technology gold rush. It's possible we've lost something very valuable in our music/sound design as well. You could hire the greatest composer on earth to write the most beautiful song ever written for your game, but if it's just a background track that some NPCs chatter some badly written dialogue over, then what have you got then?

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But seriously, I would love to see this made. Feels just a little like Uplink to me from the video, but way more atmosphere. And text adventures! My weakness. Just tell me where to pay.

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Well, I'm not really sure I "get" the whole idea, but it sounds awesome nonetheless! And while I think that games that have a stronger focus more on audio are slowly showing up more and more, they are mostly limited to music and music-influenced visuals. So there a still a lot of unexplored possibilities there.

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