Tagged: Scope Creep Hack-Venture

Scope Creep Hack-venture is a very unique game in which you learn real life useful GNU/Linux and Windows hacking skills while playing the game !

The first module will be released for free, while there are still options to get exclusive and non-free content if you pledge :

  • A modded version of the game with the focus of teaching you GNU/Linux skills
  • A detailed walk trough of the game in PDF format – for learning purposes
  • A video walk trough of the game (completes the PDF)
  • And more…


Like many other games today, this game also uses the Unity game engine, and the most interesting/strange/absurd/shocking part, is that the developer never really intended for this game to have a GNU/Linux client in the 1st place, only after Unity4 offered a GNU/Linux support – he said he will try to make it work (and as we seen before, it’s easy to port to GNU/Linux using Unity4).

 

Here is our little mail exchange :

LGN:

Hello !

While Unity4 should support Linux it’s a bit odd that you chose Unity for such a game even before you knew that there will be a Linux support.
I mean, most (or at least a huge part) of the people who want to pledge are…Linux users.
So you better make your game run on Linux, specially that it is ABOUT Linux.

It’s like making a Penguin games and making it only run on Windows (yep, that happened)

Maxim.

 

MidGames :

“Hi Maxim,

I am an avid Linux user myself and want the game to have Linux support. That being said, I am limited by both budget, and time constraints. Unity3D seemed the best platform for this particular game based on these factors. Needless to say, when I heard that Unity4 will potentially offer Linux support I was ecstatic (and doubtful!)

Scope Creep is focused on teaching Ethical Hacking and in my experience it is not long before beginning hackers will quickly move away from Windows and start using either Mac or Linux. Most of the ‘missions’ in the game will require some Linux knowledge to run the tools, if the users do not have the required skills they will have the guidance needed to continue playing and hopefully gain some valuable practice. The commands used in the game will emulate a mix of Operating systems including (mostly) Linux but are not being run on actual virtual instances of these machine types.

The Linux training mod that will be available for Kickstarter backers only will have strictly Linux based challenges and allow a player to learn the basics and intermediate command line skills necessary to get around and administrate a Linux machine. I imagine that many of the people that are looking forward to playing this mod are not already using Linux as their primary OS and that they need/want to know more about how to actually use the OS on a day to day basis. – I could be wrong. :)

All of that being said – I agree that this game series needs to be available on Linux one way or the other and I will make it a priority if it turns out that Unity4 drops the ball on us.

Thanks for the insight and advice and have a great weekend!

Lee Allen

PS: I did not know about the penguin games that only run on Windows!!! ACK!

 

About the game
 

Learn Linux or Ethical Hacking from the ground up while playing a 3D fully immersive and interactive adventure game. Web/GNU/Linux/Windows/Mac
 

I would like to introduce you to a unique approach that combines adventure gaming and blended learning.

Take on the role of Merl McPenrite, an ethical Hacker that unwittingly gets involved in a conspiracy far beyond his control. He will need a combination of hacking, computer, and problem solving skills to be able to get out of the mess he finds himself in. Do you have what it takes to get him out alive?

In case you were curious as to where the characters name came from: MERL is an acronym for May Emulate Real Life.

It is my firm belief that learning should be fun. Some people spend thousands of hours playing repetitive games that require a wealth of knowledge to be successful. Why not use that time to learn something that is actually useful and beneficial!  Hacking and other computer skills are generally best learned through repetitive action. People go as far as to create virtual labs with hundreds of systems to be able to practice their art. Why go through all of that when you could start up a game and lose track of time while your are practicing skills that you need to know in the real world?

Scope Creep is but one of many projects that MidGames will be producing over the next several years that focuses on bridging the gap between learning and fun.

The game will have several different difficulty levels:

  • Easy – If you are just starting to learn about hacking then this is the level for you. Challenging enough to keep you entertained and yet basic enough to prevent frustration from setting in. You are able to use a menu driven approach when attempting do things such as scanning a network or hacking a computer within the game. You get to try things multiple times so that you can learn as you progress. This difficulty level requires very little real world knowledge and is a great starting point for people that that just want to enjoy a fun game and possibly learn something valuable along the way!
  • Medium – You will still have a menu driven approach available but now you will also be able to type in the actual commands necessary to make the systems do what you need it to. Do not expect this level to be easy. This is the level that most beginning ethical hackers should already be at. Bad decisions will have a minor impact on the game world. You may get second chances.
  • Hard - You want hard, you get it. This attempts to simulate the real world as closely as possible. You will have to know the commands for the challenges you will face. Bad decisions will have a huge impact on the game.

There will be a collection of mini-games made specifically to reinforce the skills necessary to make it through the game.  Why should you read a boring book when you can practice your knowledge in a game?

The game is set in a interactive 3D world where the character can interact with NPC’s, pick up items, use items and more. The computer simulations are clear and crisp and emulate the types of tools that you would need to know and understand to get through the challenges that Merl will face. The challenges are not all computer based as the ethical hacking field requires a large subset of skills such as hardware hacking, social engineering and more.

Here is an early screenshot of the first office area that Merl McPenrite begins his journey in.

There are several other areas but I do not want to give away the plot or the challenges in the game. 

Screen shot of the initial office 'tutorial' area. Realtime shadows are off and we did not fully lightbake yet.

Screen shot of the initial office ‘tutorial’ area. Realtime shadows are off and we did not fully lightbake yet.
This is the receptions tutorial area. No post processing and real time shadows are off.

This is the receptions tutorial area. No post processing and real time shadows are off.

It will be playable in your Browser, your PC, Mac, or just maybe even on your Linux box (Dependent on Unity 4.0 release date. We will also need to test the port at that time to ensure it actually works as expected.)

Although we are fully dedicated to this project and willing to put hundreds, even thousands of hours into making this learning experience something unique, entertaining, and well… Awesome, we still need to buy licenses and handle other expenses. If funded, the project will be released much sooner and will contain features otherwise unavailable. We are willing to spend the hours, but we still need the financial assistance to make this happen. The funding goal is the absolute minimum we still require to get the game released in a timely manner. Any additional funding would be used to make the game better in many different ways such as graphics improvements, additional features, etc.

Midgames (Pronounced similar to ‘Mighty-Games’) is a small startup led by myself. I have managed to recruit a few (2..) members to share my dreams and spend some time working on level design, graphics, and story line. You may be surprised at how difficult it was to convince talented individuals that they should invest their time on projects that will be given away for free :-).

The MidGames mission is to provide innovative interactive blended learning for various fields. As previously mentioned, Merl is but one of many areas we would like to move forward with. We are building out a reusable framework that will be viable for various other areas of focus as well. If the skill requires repetitive action, memorization, and quick thinking we believe that we can probably make it less painful to practice using our techniques.

About Me

I am an experienced security professional with over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. I hold many industry certifications such as the CISSP, MCSE, Net+, OSWP, and more. I am also an avid Unity 3d fan.

I am also the author of “Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide” published by PacktPub.

I am the author of this book.

I am the author of this book.

If by chance the demand is high and we start to hit higher funding levels we will post a listing for what our reach goals would enable us to accomplish. This project is but the tip of the iceberg and we have a lot of plans for expansion down the road. Right now we are just managing scope creep and working within our means to get a solid product delivered to the community in a reasonable time frame.

If you made it this far, I would like to thank you for your time. This dream is going to become a reality one way or the other and I would love to have you join my adventure through assisting in this KickStarter.

FAQ

How much will the training materials cost if I do not get them as part of the Kickstarter campaign?

We are offering our backers at the $25 level and higher a complete technical walk-through (in PDF) of the game. This training will not make any skill level assumptions and will cost at least $50.00 after the campaign has stopped. Basically, our backers at this level get the training at half price. (Not to mention that you make this project possible in the first place!!!)

At the $85 level and higher our backers receive a fully detailed video training module that goes along with the PDF they will also receive. This training will cover all scenarios available in the game such as password cracking, wireless hacking, system enumeration and more. This is targeted at the beginning level user and does not assume any skill level other than typical computer skills. It will be broken down in a clear and concise manner along with additional exercises to solidify your new or existing skill set. After the campaign is over this training will only be available at the rate of $250 dollars. This ensures that our $85 backers receive the best deal possible. Without your assistance the game may not be published for another year or so. Thank you so much!

 

How far along is the development of this game?

Proof of concept modules have been created for all technical aspects of the game. We have the art we need ready for production but it still needs to be finalized and incorporated into several areas of the game such as the graphical user interface, and the final game play area (The equivalent to a final boss in typical games).  We are currently working on the missions and making sure that everything fits together in a logical manner. The game has a basic linear structure with side ‘missions’ that can be completed along the way.

Items completed and currently being merged with the game:

Computer Emulation \ Hacking System – Fully tested. Now we are filling out the gaps and making sure it has everything that people will expect a hacking game to have such as working file systems, etc.

Mission System – Implemented. Adding missions every day followed by lots of testing. Similar to some popular games on the market today you will have dialog choices that will have an indicator as to how ‘good’ or ‘evil’ the choices are. Some things are not as clear and will need to be learned through playing or just understood to ensure that you know the difference between ethical hacking and what would be considered black hat activity.

GUI – Still trying to find something that is intuitive but still powerful. We have something that works already, what we are looking for now is something that is awesome.

Ethical Status Indicator – Every decision in the game is measured by typical ethical standards. This is represented on your Heads Up Display (HUD) by a hat that changes color from White to Grey to Black based on the choices Merl makes throughout the game.

Item interaction mechanisms- Implemented!

Animations – Working out the bugs. We will be spending at least a month on additional cut scenes and improving the animations.

Achievements – Technology has been implemented, we are still discussing if we even really want this. :)

Mini games – 1 memory game (we hope to surprise you with the way we handled this one) and a coder graphics version of our ‘race and learn’ minigames have been created. These still need work. The final release will include at least these two mini-game. We hope for more but a lot of that is resource limited and depends on funding, etc.

 

Do I need to be a hacker\penetration tester\security guru to play this game?

Simple answer – No.

You can play the game from start to finish by choosing the ‘Easy’ game play mode. This mode provides ‘Hollywood Hacking’ in that there are GUI menus for all tasks such as scanning a network or cracking a password. You will be presented with option icons and your choices will allow you to play the game as if it were a standard adventure game with lots of options and puzzles. For instance, instead of having to pick the proper lockpicks when trying to open a door you would be able to choose the ‘Pick the Lock’ button (If you have picked up the lockpicks along the way!!)

In the medium and hard modes you will need to have a certain skill level. These modes are for people that want to practice and learn. The medium level will have menu options but instead of icons or simple descriptions they will need to pick the right commands from the choices when doing any hacking. The hard level just provides a computer terminal with whichever operating system is on the system you selected in the game.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Merl McPenrite series will be provided in ‘episodes’ with each episode increasing in difficulty with each episode.  Each episode will have a distinctive and logical start and end point. This first episode will focus on hacking basics and then move on to some intermediate ‘missions’ to get Merl out of the mess he gets into.

 

How does the hacking mechanic work?

In easy mode we use a mechanic that allows you to choose options. If you choose the right options you get to move on. For some of the harder scenarios there are clues around that will help you pick the right answers. Easy to use for all but still based on real procedures or techniques.

In the other modes this is a bit different: For instance, if you are asked to crack a password file on a system in the office. You would walk to the work station, use the GUI menu option to ‘Use’ the computer at which point the screen fills up with the computer terminal or screen. You will be able to use this emulated system to accomplish your task.

In the medium difficulty you would still have menu options available to help you out, in hard mode it will all be based on what you already know and the clues we have provided. Many of the more obscure options in certain tools we emulate will not be available. Those options that are available would work in a virtual lab you build just as well as they do in the game (That is how we know what to expect from certain commands that are typed, at this point we cannot place real virtual machines in the game.) Maybe with funding and time we could eventually add that feature.