Winnipeg video game start-up launches Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000

A local company is hoping their video game Clandestine: Anomaly will define a new genre in the mobile gaming market – but first they need your help to raise $50,000.

ZenFri Inc., an indie start-up headquartered in Winnipeg, recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for production of their mobile game. Kickstarter allows people to raise funds to get their projects off the ground by developing a campaign and convincing strangers to donate.

Corey King, 27, is ZenFri’s chief executive artist. He describes Clandestine: Anomaly is the world’s first Emergent Reality Game. He says the science fiction game is a mash-up of several genres, including Alternate Reality, wherein the premise is the game is happening in real time and in a real place – where you live.

The game uses Augmented Reality – or AR – technology, which makes 3D computer graphics appear as though they are actually in the players’ own physical environments when viewed through a smart device.

“The AR means that when you look through your phone, you’ll see spaceships, and robots you can control and bug-like aliens, and they all look like they are really there,” King says.

That means the technology incorporates players’ communities into part of the game story – you may be fighting off an alien invasion in your local park.

“The game starts when your phone intercepts a distress signal from a crashing space ship that’s headed for your community,” King says. “They put alien software on your phone that transforms it into a device where you can see a new layer of reality, and command and control technology to protect against an alien invasion.”

ZenFri has built an all-new “Augmented Environments” technology that takes AR to a new level.

See a video of the game in action in a Winnipeg Park:

“It’s ultimately about playing a science fiction adventure game that feels real, because it really looks like there are aliens and spaceships fighting in the sky above where you live,” said King. “It makes for an intense experience – because you’re actually defending your own turf, but it means you can have a video-game type adventure in the real world, instead of on the couch.”

The Kickstarter campaign kicked off May 7 and raised over $2,000 in the first 12 hours. It was also chosen as a Kickstarter Staff Pick. The campaign aims to raise a minimum of $50,000; ZenFri hopes to raise more to get the first chapter of the game released within the next year. It will be available on iOS and Android.

A scene from the game.

ZenFri secured $250,000 from the Canadian Media Fund last year and has used it to develop the game’s story, concept art, and a working proof-of-concept “tech build”¬†– something that shows they have the basic parts working, even if it isn’t a full chapter of the game.

The mobile gaming market is huge. In the U.S alone it’s worth $12 billion and has 100 million gamers.

You can watch a video of the game’s tech in action here.

The game’s key play elements are:

  • Geolocative Augmented Reality – 3D game elements are placed in real-world locations. Players can go on real-world missions, collect “nanobots” scattered around their neighbourhood to build technology, or (in bad weather) send virtual probes from home.
  • Customizing and building units – Players use their collected nanobots to build and customize arrays for defense and attack, and deploy them against attackers.
  • “Tower Defense” gameplay – Players defend their own community from attack.
  • Role Playing Game (RPG)-style play -Decisions the player makes and the way he or she plays the game affect outcomes later on.

A scene from the game.

The other aspect of the game is that it is story-based, which was important to King, who comes from an indie filmmaking background.

“It’s about using this tech to tell a story that you really feel that you’re a part of, that’s also truly mobile and part of your environment,” King says.

King started ZenFri Inc. with his wife, Danielle King, who is also an artist, in order to work on in multiple media.

For the Clandestine: Anomaly project, King has attracted top-notch talent and industry veterans from across Canada, including Jei Kohlenberg, Todd Bryanton (aka LilDeuceDeuce), Ryan FitzGerald, J.C. Hutchins, Tom Lepp, Dougald Lamont and Dwayne Rudy.