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Posted on Oct 9, 2006 in Games PR

PR: The Pickford Brothers Launch Naked War

Armchair General

Manchester, UK, 9th October 2006

Veteran video game designers John Pickford and Ste Pickford – ‘The Pickford Brothers’ – launch their first ‘indie’ video game, Naked War, for PC, published and distributed exclusively as a digital downloadable by Zee-3.

Naked War is a fun strategic battle game for two players, played over email.

Both players take the role of military officers controlling a squad of four soldiers and battle each other for supremacy on an island arena. Soldiers can drive tanks, fly helicopters, ride boats, or just shoot each other to bits!

The game is played in turns: A player issues orders to his soldiers then hits the ‘send’ button to send that turn to his opponent, before watching the results on his PC. The opposing player receives the turn as an attachment to an email in his inbox. Running the turn file launches the game and plays the first player’s turn then allows the opponent to reply by issuing orders to his soldiers.

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Naked War is the perfect game for PC users to play at break times at work, or between other games. Each turn takes just three to five minutes to play, and games can be played at any pace. Some players like to respond to turns the moment they arrive, pinging turns back and forth with their opponent like a live linkup game. Other players prefer to wait until their coffee break, lunch time, or evenings before responding. Some players even save up all their turns for one big weekend session.

"Play-by-mail games and email computer games aren’t new, but we think we’ve come up with something special with Naked War," says co-designer Ste Pickford.

"We’re calling it a Community Messaging Game. Once you register you get a comprehensive Officer Stats page on the Zee-3 website, and access to an existing community of Naked War players. There’s an ongoing war between the red team and the blue team, Player Ranking tables, prizes for the best players each month, and Community Games where all the members of one team are allowed to pit their wits against a single player from the other team," he continues.sv

Naked War employs a beautifully simple and colourful graphical style.

The game uses an ingenious proprietary 3D engine called Scaffold which allows completely deformable and destructible environments, yet only uses a fraction of the data of a typical 3D video game world, and comes with an integrated Map Editor so players can create their own islands.

A key technical feature of the game engine is that the 3D data is so tiny (usually just 2 or 3 Kbytes) that complete island maps can be included with every turn file. These turn files are small enough to be sent over any email system, yet contain within them complete, dynamic 3D environments, scalable to work well on both low spec office PCs and high spec gaming PCs. Players can use their own hand-made islands, created with the Map Editor, when Challenging their friends.

Naked War has been designed to appeal to non-gamers with its elegant, simple game system and easy to use interface, as well as to hardcore strategy nuts with its surprising strategic depth.

"I think Naked War is the best game we’ve ever made," says co-designer John Pickford, "I’ve probably played hundreds of games myself and I’m still surprised by the strategies and tricks other players come up with. Although it’s a very simple game on the surface, I haven’t got to the bottom of the game’s depths yet."

"We wanted to make a game which was accessible to anyone," says Ste, "so we’ve had our pre-school age daughters using the interface and even building their own islands, and their grandparents playing the game over the internet."

Naked War has been attracting players to its community through a low key alpha and beta programme, populated by volunteers, then a ‘soft launch’ in the summer attracting subscribers through word of mouth.

"We’ve been taken by surprise by just how much people play the game once they get it. Once somebody completes a couple of games, they’re hooked. One of our beta testers played for a total of 6 days solid in the first month!" says John.

Early adopters have already sent over 20,000 turns through the Naked War servers in over 1,500 games, with an average total play time of over 10 hours per registered player.

Naked War employs an innovative new business model: The game client software is completely free to download and install, and free to play locally on one PC, and free for the opponent in a two player game. Only the player who starts a new game – by issuing a Challenge – pays a fee. Registration is free, and every new player who registers gets one Challenge Credit, again, completely free. Challenges can be sent to anyone in the world with an email address. As the game is free to download and play, players aren’t limited to only playing people who’ve already bought the game, they’re only limited by the size of their email address book!

Players buy subscriptions of 20 or more Challenge Credits, allowing them to start at least 20 new games. Games take around an hour to play (depending on the relative skill of the two players involved), so a 20 Challenge Credit subscription, costing $20, should provide at least 20 hours gameplay. Zee-3 are even offering a Gameplay Guarantee.

"We’re so confident that Naked War provides great value for money, that if any player uses up all the Challenge Credits in their subscription without playing for at least 20 hours, then we’ll top up their subscription with free Challenge Credits," says Ste.

Naked War community features:

The ongoing ‘War’
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New players are randomly assigned to either the red or the blue team. Any game played is then either a friendly (playing someone on the same team) or competitive (playing someone on the opposite team) game.

A total of competitive wins and losses is kept and one team is declared the winner at the end of each month. If one side gets far enough ahead the entire website changes colour to reflect the leading team.

Every member of the winning team gets a free credit and various other rewards are given out for the biggest winner, biggest loser etc.

Community Games
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These are Challenges directed at the community in general rather than a specific player. Players can either Challenge ‘anyone’ or ‘everyone’.

An ‘anyone’ Challenge will be posted up on the Naked War website and can be grabbed by any subscriber on the opposing team (red vs. blue). Once your opponent has picked up the game it plays on a normal competitive challenge.

An ‘everyone’ game is similar except each turn is posted on the Naked War website, so the player potentially gets a different opponent with each turn. These are proving to be a lot of fun. It’s quite interesting to pick up a turn at random and try to figure out what your predecessor was trying to do.

As well as sending out these Challenges, subscribers can of course pick up these turns from the Naked War website at any time.

Player Stats Pages
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Every registered Naked War player gets a free stats page on the Naked War Players Site. Their public stats and ratings are visible to the world, not just other Naked War players.

Subscribers also get access to a comprehensive suite of game, turn, and subscription monitoring tools from their stats page, allowing them to cancel inactive games, recall unanswered challenges, send reminder emails to unresponsive opponents, lock their active games when they go on holiday, or just leave a ‘response message’ for their opponents.

Ranking tables
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There are top 40 ranking tables in several categories including Most games won, Most turns sent, Fastest response time, even Most Games Lost! Each ranking table has an ‘all time’ version, and a monthly version which is reset each month.

The winner of each monthly ranking table receives a reward of either Challenge Credits, or an increase in Officer Rank.

Forums
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The Zee-3 website integrates the player’s Naked War account with a forum account, allowing Naked War players to chat with each other, sharing game tips and strategies or arranging new games, and to make suggestions and give feedback to the game’s developers.

Naked War is available now from the Naked War Media Site: http://www.naked-war.com

Find out more about Zee-3 at http://www.zee-3.com

Find out more about The Pickford Brothers at http://www.zee-3.com/pickfordbros

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