It’s 2021, and a devious spy has infiltrated the Pacific sanctuary of the Nakagawa robot company. This secret agent has re-programmed the island’s robots to carry out a terrifying scheme. With only three days left before Armageddon, your help is needed to root out the spy and save Bot Colony.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (46 reviews)
Release Date: Jun 17, 2014

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Bot Colony makes unscripted conversation with the characters a pillar of gameplay. We've developed advanced Natural Language Understanding technology to bring you this new experience. In a nutshell, it means our in-game characters understand what you say – whether you speak it or type it. Merged with a classic adventure game design filled with twists and turns, Bot Colony’s innovative interaction has the potential to revolutionize PC games. This integration is novel, and obviously needs to be refined based on community feedback.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We plan to remain in Early Access while development continues towards a stable alpha version of Episode 3, Riot, for Early Access players. During this time we’ll also be adding more content and refinements to the currently playable episodes.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“This will just address the Landfall package, our first complete season.
Bot Colony has evolved since its initial release, and will continue to evolve (see update history next). We are introducing the first pass of Robot Visual Memories, or RVM, in the Early Access launch build. With RVM you can ask a robot questions and get access to stored videos (and information linked to what the robot personally witnessed) of events in its memory. You can watch a new development diary of RVM in action in the media section.
In addition, we are actively developing more content for Episode 1, Intruder, and Episode 2, Arrival – the episodes you can play right now.
We will be integrating a new prologue and an expanded narrative that introduces more interactive elements, while incorporating new AI updates that feature deeper world knowledge and more expressive personality for our robots.
The first round of Steam Achievements and Trading Cards will also go live shortly after release.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“We've improved the game since its initial limited release: Alpha 1 shipped to testers on May 30, 2013; Alpha 2 on July 16, 2013; Alpha 3 on October 18,2013; and Alpha 4 (when our alpha sales went live) on December 13, 2013. Alpha 5 released on May 12 2014, and Alpha 6 – our Steam release – is now in Early Access. With each release we are improving our language pipeline and tightening up the foundation of the game. We invite players to try our free text-based web demo, 20 Questions with Jimmy, to sample a slice of the technology in a guessing game featuring full dialogue with an in-game robot.

As with any large piece of software that’s still in development, you can expect some bugs; we're working hard to squash them, and your valued feedback will make the difference.

Our key challenge will always be language understanding and common-sense knowledge. While we can’t guarantee that a character will always understand what you say, we promise that our robot AI will attempt to learn in the process.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The first three episode bundle launches at $15.95 (two episodes are available now and the third episode is a pre-order).
Thanks to Early Access, players can enjoy the innovative experience that Bot Colony offers without having to wait for the entire season to be completed.
We expect the price of the game to increase as more downloadable content is added.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We eagerly look forward to working with the Steam Community to evolve Bot Colony to its full potential. Bot Colony introduces unscripted language-based gameplay to an Adventure title, which presents serious challenges and enormous opportunities for innovation and a new level of immersion. We're ready to receive the community’s feedback to help improve all facets of Bot Colony going forward.

We're ecstatic to be on Steam and we deeply appreciate the early support of our game’s concept, world, and technology. North Side will remain committed to regular updates (whether it’s bug squashing or integrating new content) in Early Access.”
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Recommended By Curators

"Recommended for those who enjoy choice and consequence systems. An interesting game for people who love non-linear stories with high replay value."

Recent updates View all (7)

March 3

Community Support Keeps Bot Colony Alive!

After the Pulling the Plug announcement (Jan 28), we got lots of moral support from people saying the game must not die - plus $452 in Steam keys and $400 in eBook sales. This modest amount will enable us to keep going at least another month. Selling more Steam keys and eBooks is keyl to keeping the game alive, see http://steamcommunity.com/app/263040/discussions/0/606068060836404191/ for details.
What would help us the most is you spreading the word about Bot Colony.
We’ve started working on in-house servers as a long-term solution. When that is in place we’ll talk to Steam about putting back the BUY button on Bot Colony.

Since the update, we’ve fixed missing background facts in Intruder and Charlie being stuck in Arrival. We've added checkpoints to Arrival so you won’t lose your level progression. Robot Visual Memories (RVM) offers (by far) the most interesting gameplay in Bot Colony - make sure you play it! You need to find out what happened since Jimmy arrived, and why the house is now empty. The tech behind RVM is described here http://gamasutra.com/blogs/EugeneJoseph/20140626/219765/Natural_Language_Understanding_and_TexttoAnimation_in_Bot_Colony.php
Currently, few players get to RVM. Why? You get the RVM mission AFTER your score for Intruder is displayed and Arrival is unlocked - so most move on to Arrival. CHEAT: you can actually start playing RVM right after dealing with the police Bot; if the owner comes home and catches you, just re-start from the last checkpoint (every 3 objects).

The Bot Colony experience is defined by how good Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is, so improving NLU is #1 for us. Lots of NLU work is still needed to make the robots in Arrival smarter. Mike's navigation has many problems, but you should be able to get him to do what you need. With enough sales, we may even be able to deliver more content (Riot and beyond – watch the Story Untold video from our Store page).

Here are TIPS FOR PLAYING that everyone buying eBooks or Steam keys receives. Following these tips will result in a better game experience.

TIPS FOR PLAYING

1. What makes Bot Colony unique is speaking (or typing) with robots who understand what you say, as long as it's related to their task or memories. You'll command robots to overcome game challenges. You'll also need to explore their memories to piece together what happened.

a) When you train speech-to-text, you read material that contains useful information on how to talk to robots. Bottom line: use complete English sentences to be understood in Bot Colony.
b) Don't skip the tutorial in Intruder.
c) Ask "What should I do now?" if you're not sure what to do at some point. In Arrival, talk to Miki.
d) (INTRUDER) Ask Jimmy "What do you know?" and then "What commands do you know?" to be reminded what commands a robot knows. Following popular demand, here are Jimmy's commands:
- Go to place (Go to the living room, go to the vase). He will go, and turn to face an object, if mentioned.
- Pick up object (Pick up the vase). Does face, reach and grab, below. You can ask "What do you hold?".
- Drop object
- Face object (not exposed, part of pick up X)
- Reach for object (part of pick up X)
- Grab object (part of pick up X)
- Push in object (push in the cushion). Close the drawer (or the cushion :) works.
- Put object1 on object2 (put the red box on the blue box). Put object1 to the left/right of object2.
- Put object1 between objects (put the vase between the candles, put the bottle between the sinks). Put object1 in the center of object2.
- Rotate object by Z degrees clockwise/counterclockwise
- Swap object1 with object2. Put object1 where object2 was - also works.
- Align object1 with object2 (for pot, television, chair - imagine you're on a plane or ship looking FORWARD; you'll have a red light on your left and a green one on your right. The object you align with is the plane :)
- Open door (open cupboard door - in the kitchen)
- Close door (or guitar case)
- Point to object (or point to room)
- Move forward/back (by Y meters)
- Turn clockwise/counterclockwise ( by Y degrees)
- Stop to reset a robot.
- wave, jump, nod
- What do yo see? - it's useful to look though his camera to see inside the chest in Hideki's room)
Cindy can follow me or stop following me and Mike moves up/down or goes to a shelf. You can combine the commands above to form new ones - this can be great fun! Try teaching 'mess up the room' and post a screenshot of the result. Steam keys await upvoted screenshots :)
e) Referring to things: Differentiate 1) using ORDER (to "Which vase? The one on..., or the one on...?" reply "the first one" or "the second one"), 2) using COLOR ( Which game box? 'the blue one', 'the purple one)', 3) using the OBJECT under (pot in kitchen, "the one on the stovetop"), 4) using OPEN/CLOSED state (for the drawer, cushion 'the open one').
f) Robot Visual Memories are 14 video segments recorded by Jimmy that tell a story. The basic investigative questions to get to these videos are below. Once you get an answer, it sets the time-context for your next questions, so you don’t have to always specify the time and date (unless you want absolute precision). Here are some useful questions to ask Jimmy:

Who is X?
What do you know about X?
How do you know that?
When did you first/last see X?
What did X do at HH:MM on Day/Date? (example: What did Ayame do at 20:15 on Thursday?) What did Ayame do then? What did Masaya do next? What did X do before that?
What happened then? What happened before/after that? What happened at HH:MM on (day of week)? (What happened at 11:30 on 26/08/2021?) – this will work even if after/before don’t return more facts because Jimmy doesn’t look back/forward far enough.
What happened to X? What happened to X at (time) on (date)/(day of week)?
When did X arrive/enter/leave the house? When did you arrive? Where did X go after that?
What did X say at (time) on (day)? What did X say before/after that?
Where was X at (time) on (day of the week)/date?

Other questions that will help you find out more about the characters, like :
What does X like? When did X play? When did Y speak on the phone?

•Leave Dialogue history (F10) open during RVM gameplay. Use the middle mouse button to scroll through the dialogue text, use Up Arrow to repeat a previous question and hit Enter.
g) Use Help! Use UP arrow to access previous commands. Use F10 to see dialogue history ( you can COPY PASTE from it - so you can share problems and funny things robots say with the community!. Use F1 to talk to Miki in Arrival. F3 gets you out of mediated mode (talking to a robot through a tablet or console).
h) (Arrival episode) Consider teaching Mike a new command made up of basic commands (for example, 'scan briefcase') to save precious time and stay alive.

2. It's best to play initially by typing - this will prevent Speech-to-text errors and will give our NLU a better chance to work well.
Once you know what you can expect from NLU, please feel free to experiment with Speech-to-text.

3. If you enjoy the game, you can help keep it alive by reviewing it on the Bot Colony Steam page under Helpful Customer reviews (I hope you'll Recommend it!).
Please tell your friends about Bot Colony, very few people heard about our game.
*** Steam keys: A review on the Store page gets you one - email the author to claim it. *** Posting funny dialogue that gets upvoted (use F10, COPY, PASTE), same*** *** Posting unexpected dialogue behaviour, same *** Screenshots of messed up rooms, same ***

6 comments Read more

February 1

What's Next and The Untold Story video

We're now making a last ditch effort to find a solution to keep the game going past March 15. Since Valve removed the BUY button from our page, we're now offering Bot Colony Steam keys directly to our fans: you can buy packs of 3, 5 or 10 Steam keys; you can get a Steam key for buying the Bot Colony eBook; we're offering Steam keys to customers writing reviews on our Steam page, or to the first players who beat RVM and document that. See http://steamcommunity.com/app/263040/discussions/0/606068060836404191/ for details. About the eBook: few people heard about Bot Colony, so even fewer heard about the Bot Colony novel. It's an industrial espionage thriller depicting realistic verbal interactions with robots – it was meant to set the benchmark for the kind of AI we hoped to achieve in the game.

A gift to our fans, Bot Colony - The Untold Story was uploaded to Steam recently (it's the 3rd video from the left on our Store page). This 30 minute video was made to give a potential developer a complete view of the game, to help estimate the effort required to complete it. The video goes through all 12 episodes, using prototype assets and stills. A bit clinical (given the intended audience), the video does give a good idea of the scope of Bot Colony, and how much we had advanced before we had to stop. I hope that people who watch it will agree that Bot Colony can be a lot more than just talking to boring drones.

The game now has quite a bit to offer. In the new update, you piece together a juicy story from video clips a domestic robot recorded (RVM’s). You discover these video clips through conversation – truly unique gameplay not offered by any other game. In the two episodes released, you command robots through language under time-constraints – also unique gameplay. With the Untold Story video and the eBook – the Bot Colony story now has closure and can be enjoyed 'as is', like a released game. If Bot Colony continues to attract attention - it's now rated as popular content on Steam, who knows?

What next?


We were encouraged by your response and the emergence of a community of fans. We'll look at the possibility to keep the game going by hosting it in-house on our own servers. Unfortunately, we had to lay off 40 of our employees, so we're now considering the possibility of building a server farm from their PC's. We'll also need to move to a much smaller place, so we'll have to stack them high :)

Thank you again for supporting Bot Colony - something really new in gaming!

16 comments Read more
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Reviews

“Despite...my occasional exasperation with Jimmy, it turns out I enjoy the hell out of telling robots to do things and then watching them do things. When it works, it’s oddly satisfying. When it doesn’t work, it’s generally amusing.”
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Season One: Landfall

Season One: Landfall is the initial Bot Colony core game featuring the Intruder and Arrival playable episodes, in addition to the pre-order and first access to Riot, this season’s third episode.

  • Intruder - The Nakagawa Robot Corp. requires your skills to investigate a potential case of espionage, but first the high-tech giant will test your sense of observation and situational awareness in the simulation of a crime scene. After you learn to interact effectively with robots using language and pass the multiple challenges of Intruder, Nakagawa will entrust you with the mission to track down the spy.

  • Arrival - As you land on the beautiful south Pacific island, you learn that something is amiss in Bot Colony. You'll need to use your skills to communicate with robots and get their help to overcome a life-threatening situation to proceed with your mission. Be prepared to hit the ground running and keep your eyes and ears open as you enter Nakagawa's world of corporate espionage and industrial terrorism.

  • Riot (available soon) - After swooping down on mutinous robots aboard a futuristic Hunter Bot aircraft, you land on an abandoned oil platform. There, you'll encounter robots operating under a new agenda, looking to purge any who question the mutiny. If you're caught, you'll have to prove that you're human in order to survive – by passing the Humanity Test. If you're incarcerated and turned into a human guinea pig, you'll have to find a way to escape.

About This Game

Bot Colony is based on a thriller novel involving a large Japanese robot manufacturer, Nakagawa Corp. It’s 2021, and a spy from KHT, Nakagawa's arch-competitor, has infiltrated the high-tech giant’s seemingly impregnable south Pacific sanctuary. The spy has re-programmed the island’s robots and is destabilizing Bot Colony, but this is only the precursor to a larger, more terrifying scheme.You have 3 days to catch him, and you'll need to rely on machines to get the job done.

In Bot Colony you have the opportunity to experience first-hand interaction with an Artificial Intelligence that, until now, could only be romanticized in science fiction novels and movies. It's a unique experience that will challenge your mind and entertain you; the ultra literal way robots understand language makes you realize how much we take for granted when we speak with other people.

KEY FEATURES


  • Embark on a multi-episode quest to catch the spy before he destroys the island.
  • Travel across a spectacular South Pacific island fully-realized in the Havok Vision engine.
  • Speak freely and discover the story using your own words. Compare this to typical game storytelling, where canned dialog lines and selection trees are the rule.
  • Make the game your own: Teach robots about people and the world to get them to help you.
  • Command robots to manipulate objects and interact with the environment.
  • Game sessions are unique to each player: You control what is said and how characters react. Sessions of other players will have different dialog than yours.
  • Based on the Bot Colony novel by studio founder and high-tech entrepreneur Eugene Joseph.

  • Note regarding Speech-to-Text: The game comes to Steam with support for Microsoft Speech (included with Windows), so you can set up a voice profile to play the game and communicate with characters by speaking into a mic. Remember that we also allow players to type messages, or you can seamlessly combine speaking and typing according to one’s preference.
  • We do not offer a Dragon version of the game on Steam, but we're pleased to offer full speech-to-text support for players who already own Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • .

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7 64-bit [make sure you have 64-bit Windows!]
    • Processor: Dual Core 3.5GHz / Quad Core 2.40 GHz greater
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVidia GTS 240 (1 GB VRAM) or greater, ATI Radeon HD 4850 (1 GB VRAM) or greater
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
    • Sound Card: Yes
    • Additional Notes: Internet connection required. A microphone is required if you wish to play through speech.
Helpful customer reviews
16 of 18 people (89%) found this review helpful
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 28
Early Access Review
Bot Colony is a quirky game with promise, just perhaps a bit too ambitious for a first attempt at a full game. The game centers around voice/text commands to your robot 'minions' to indirectly solve puzzles, using specially designed software to understand and respond to what you say. It's definitely a fun reminder of the classic text-command adventure games where half the amusement was trying out words to see what works (flashback to fond childhood memories of typing in 'pick nose' to either gain a lockpicking level or instantly die from spearing your brain). With Bot Colony, you can skip the keyboard and speak directly to the robots to make things happen!

The voice command system is a neat idea, and I would have loved to see it fleshed out into a fully finished game. Unfortunately, in this early build there are still a few issues with a laggy interface and a few bugs cropping up here and there that slow down gameplay. Ideally these issues would have been fixed down the line to smooth out the experience, but it looks like development on the game is pretty much ending due to budget issues.

Despite the unresolved flaws in its 'Early Access' state, Bot Colony is still worthy of support for providing a unique experience, and one that could certainly help expand the gaming genre. After toying around for a while, I can certainly see how in a few years, voice-commands might be a new standard for adventure games like this. If you get a chance, try it out!
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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 10
Early Access Review
Bot Colony appeared rather promising when it released on Steam as part of the Early Access programme last year. It aimed to be the first game where you truly interacted with the characters through holding conversations with them. But it wasn’t until this month that the potential of this system was was hinted at through an update that introduced a need to pry information out of one of the characters .

The task was to gain access to 14 recorded videos in an attempt to piece together the events of the last 48 hours in the home of a Nakagawa Robot Corp. employee. To do this required talking to Jimmy, a robot servant left in the house. And when I say talking, I actually mean talking. Either through speech recognition with a microphone or typing, Jimmy was capable of responding to questions posed in naturally flowing English.

This certainly makes a refreshing change to only selecting from predefined dialogue options. And had the potential of revolutionizing interaction with game characters. Unfortunately, Bot Colony will cease to be playable in mid March. The result of not enough units being sold to cover the cost of running the server that processes the speech input, let alone paying for further development.

There was a lot of promise in Bot Colony, and anyone interested in seeing that should check the store page on Steam. While no longer purchasable, one of the videos does cover the story as it would have unfolded. It is a shame that Bot Colony slipped under the radar, a likely victim of Steam’s increasing release schedule and lack of promotion. Had it done well it could have been a hit. When the game shuts down, I’m going to miss my conversations with Jimmy.
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15 of 20 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
30.3 hrs on record
Posted: March 2
Early Access Review
Bot Colony is an ambitious title, maybe even too ambitious for what it's worth. So far, playing it is more of a struggle than entertainment...

I am aware that Bot Colony is an Early Access Game, but still, this build is not playable by far. I'm afraid i wouldn't even be wrong if i would say that there is literally almost nothing in Bot Colony that works as it should... Let's start with the game's motto: "The Game You Speak With". This is the main reason why anybody would pay attention to it, but unfortunately in the end the player will find out that this is actually "The Game Which Doesn't Understand You". That's it. I've said it. Natural language understanding is just not ready to be implemented in a game. It wil get you right about one time out of ten. Other then that you'll get replies like "I don't know what you mean".

Leaving Natural language understanding aside, the game is also full of bugs and glitches. Most players will give up on Bot Colony during the tutorial. It took me about 15 tries and a terrible headache to do it. It was a bit funny at the beginning watching the robot do some crazy stuff, like picking up 2 chairs at once and not being able to get rid of them or make the flower vase levitate above the table, but it was becoming more and more annoying with every step i was advancing through the game. I've also lost connection to the server several times while playing getting the message "Waiting for the robots to wake up", not even mentioning the amount of times i received the reply "Let me think" after giving the robot a command, just so that after 30 second he'll come back with "I don't know what you mean".

Without any doubt it had some promising perspectives and with a lot of more work, time and money it could've moved the adventure genre to a whole new level, but i'm afraid that's all what's gonna be left of it since the developers already pulled the plug on Bot Colony and the servers will be dead on March 15, leaving the game unplayable.
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21 of 33 people (64%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 15
Early Access Review
The main reason I was drawn to Bot Colony was because of the voice recognition.
After about 5-6 months I still get errors on startup. My Windows is a Dutch version while you need English recognition. I've tried numerous options on different computers, including downloading all necessary English files. Tried on desktop (Win7) and my laptop (Win 8.1)
Still getting a wide range of errors on startup. Problem is a described on the discussion forum: http://steamcommunity.com/app/263040/discussions/0/37470848280779806/. Poster is a Dutchie as well, so I dont know if other languages get the same problems.

Cancelling all error popups will result in the game to start. Its playable but without voice recognition.

I'll redo my review once I get this game to work properly. Until now there's no reason for me to recommend it to anyone.

Its still a promising game though imo
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 31
Early Access Review
A game of this kind is what I have been dreaming about for a long time. The closest thing there is at this point to virtual reality which doesn't require you to invest millions (which isn't the case for the developers).

Unfortunately, the developers have limited time and resources in graphics design and smooth gameplay, which I would sympathize with as their main objective was the refinement of interactivity. As far as I am concerned this is a big leap forward in game development.

Some would say that such concept is way ahead of its time, but I say "It's about time!"

From the developers comments, this project was to be retired due to lack of sales and insane upkeep costs. I can only assume that most people didn't have the ability to see any kind of potential in this concept as their are more interested in playing shoot them up... I mean, just imagine for a moment that in 10 years from now you'd be having a fully interactive conversation with an AI. How are we supposed to get there huh? Start by putting a few bucks to support projects like BotColony! There is no shortcut, no easy path to the success of such an undertake.

I don't know about you, but I believe that interactivity is the path the video game industry should take instead of improving the shooting physics of an assault rifle.

This a a fantastic concept, still in its infancy with a long road ahead, but at least it has started!
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