Kickstarting a game where you pilot mini tank-drones around a scale model of Pripyat

Isotopium is a "remote reality" game that challenges players to pilot real miniature tank-drones around a massive, super-detailed scale model of Pripyat, the Ukrainian ghost-town created by the meltdown of the nearby Chernobyl reactor.

It was created by a self-funded Ukrainian games company called "Remote Games" as a prototype for a wider range of "remote reality" games. They are seeking a mere $5,000 to add some new tank-types (including ones that fire rounds at enemy tanks), new game-play modes, and some stretch goals like mobile versions, a second set depicting a miniature Mars site, and things like "mechanical barriers and traps."

The team behind the game does not list much experience making or running this kind of game, so while they do have some very exciting sets and videos (and a free live demo), it's not clear whether they'll be able to actually operate the business if their crowdfunder achieves its goals. But on the other hand, they're not asking for much money: $10 gets you 120 minutes of gameplay, and the higher contributions include scrawling custom graffiti on the walls of miniature Pripyat ($100) and adding an advertising banner to the arena ($500).

I'm a little skeptical of some of the claims about low video-latency they make, but the demo is very fun in any event!

In setting up our project, we had to use a lot of modern technologies and solve some complex engineering problems. Before starting to design robots, we were wondering why no one had created anything similar yet. After all, it's a pretty obvious idea. It was only when the first problems arose we realized it wasn't that simple.

The main issue was the video signal and control commands latency when they were transmitted over the Internet. We tried dozens of cameras and different protocols; we spent many weeks fine-tuning servers and testing browsers before finding the best solution.

We use Wi-Fi as our control channel. We have also enabled robots to be controlled by a radio channel on frequencies from 433 MHz to 5 GHz, if arena requires it. The heart of our robot is the Linux OS on a Raspberry Pi mini computer.

Robots are equipped with dozens of sensors enabling them to interact with each other and with other arena elements. We use different spectrum optical sensors, accelerometers, orientation sensors, LEDs, lasers, NFC, etc. We would like to make special emphasis on the power supply system used for robots.

Game with remote controlled robots over Internet [Remote Games/Kickstarter]

(via JWZ)