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Stephen King's 11/22/63

Kickstarter Jumpstarts Retro Adventure Games

Twoguys

With the recent successes of Double Fine and Wasteland 2 on getting multi-million dollar funding on Kickstarter, new graphical adventure games have been popping up on Kickstarter like mushrooms at a Phish concert in Vancouver.  Personally, I think this is hugely interesting.  Not just because oldschool games are being funded, but because Kickstarter has the potential to disrupt the traditional game publisher who serves as a middleman between creative studios and the buying public.  While publisher fulfill a useful role in many cases, they also work as a gatekeeper that makes it hard for more speculative works to see light of day.  With Kickstarter there's the opportunity to promote create projects that are more specialized and might not have mass market appeal.  

Even Forbes commented on this recent trend:

Drawing on the already-participatory relationship between developers and gamers, crowd-funded video games allow fans to become investors in projects they care about from the ground up.

Customers are always “investors” in a sense since their cash determines whether a game will be profitable or not; but with the rise of crowd-funding, that investment begins long before the game is even developed.

I think this also says something about piracy, at least tangentially. Since piracy concerns have led to a new DRM regime and plenty of fan backlash, it’s a good sign that gamers are willing to pony up prior to a game’s actual release. It reveals a level of trust and enthusiasm that may not be present in much of the gaming industry.

Of course, there's plenty of risk associated with Kickstarter.  Maybe these games won't live up to the lofty expectations that have been set.  And maybe the buying audience will tire of funding games 9 months or more in advance of seeing the end product.  It's not exactly a model that delivers instant gratification.  Still I think it's a great way to build a community around a game.  And many of the projects being funded are giving people the opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes with design materials, documentary footage etc.  

Here are a few interesting projects currently seeking funding.  (And yes, I've pledged to several of these.  If someone wants to port Frotz to the Kindle, I'll pitch in on that also.)

Update:
Unfortunately, Rob Swigart's game has been canceled.  But there is a Tex Murphy game in the works that is quite close to fully funded.  Tex Murphy was the star of several breakthrough FMV adventure games including "Under a Killing Moon" and "The Pandora Directive" among others.   

Comments

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Kickstarter is going to push me into bankruptcy if I'm not careful. I *never* buy new games, but since finding about it a few months ago I've funded five projects and been tempted by at least a dozen more.

The really successful pitches seem to be from people who have a great track record but are unable, given the constraints of the producer-system, to make the kind of games that they want to make and we want to play.

(It also helps that pre-buying online gives a much cheaper price. A brand new game might cost me £40- with the favourable $ to £ conversion, most of these games are costing me closer to £9)

Thinking about it: there's an added incentive built into Kickstarter. By pre-ordering/investing in the game before it's built (rather than torrenting it afterwards) in a small way you're -at least in theory- helping improve the game as a game. In the traditional publishing model, your funds may help fund the next game, but then only minimally as money gets divided up between shops, publishers and so on. With Kickstarter there's a sense that you're more directly helping the game creators themselves and the game that they're currently making.

I suspect somewhat that this might increase the pernicious sense of Gamer Entitlement, and that if a debacle like the Mass Effect ending happened with one of the kickstarter games, a gamer's misplaced sense of being wronged by the artistic choices of the game makers might be even stronger than before.

Can I just say...you got me addicted to that hitpesr cartoon maker...hehe. I was up late a few nights ago playing around with it till I realized I need to go to be already! Anyhow...I need to try this Mac n Cheese recipe...just seeing the combo of ricotta, sour cream, and parm make my mouth water:)

Well sounds interesting...There’s an exciting Kickstarter underway and the best part is we don’t have to worry about all that herd mentality gumming things..!!

I'll do you the favor to post you this brief message and send with a moemnt's worth of solitude, before it gets obliterated by some of your wonderful fans' comments. I wish you the best of luck with this fundraiser, buddy, and let's hope it generates some revenue.

This might seem old school, but I keep score at almsot every game I go to. You can use this to track things like when certain players are due up, find out how players are doing a particular game, guess who will be pinch hitting in a National League game, track pitchers, and so on. It forces you to pay more attention to the game itself and kills the boredom a little bit.

Hello Mariah,I recently sinegd up with Kickstarter and found you by browsing through the successful photography projects. I too will be heading to Africa in August on a similar quest. I will be heading to Botswana to volunteer with a Cheetah Conservation organization for a month then will spend two weeks dedicated to photographing the landscape and wildlife. I intend to use my images as a means of fundraising and awareness. I am not a professional photographer as you, but I can certainly learn from your beautiful images you captured in Kenya. They are simply incredible and truly convey the magnificence of the landscape and beauty of the people. Congratulations on a job well done.

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