I’m sure nearly all of you have heard of the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, but since my grandmother reads this blog, please bear with me for a moment.
Dear G-Dawg: (yes, we actually call my grandmother “G-Dawg”)
Kickstarter is an amazing website where individuals can directly fund an exciting new idea, instead of sitting around on their asses hoping someday a corporation or some mad billionaire decides it will be profitable enough. Think of it as a way of distributing a small amount of risk to a bunch of people, which means that there’s actually still a way to create something in this shitty economy, even without the intervention of venture capitalists or big-market producers. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than pining for a sequel to your favorite cult classic that never ends up getting made.
Also, sorry I never call. Love, Your Grandson.
Unfortunately, despite Kickstarter’s massive potential for nurturing innovation, for the most part I’ve been too lazy, cheap, or cowardly to fund any projects. (I did fund the Double Fine Adventure—recently announced as “Broken Age”—though one could hardly consider that a bold business venture.) Today, I finally decided to man up, vowing to find $100 of worthy video game projects to fund. Here’s what I came up with.
Stonehearth (Radiant Entertainment)
AMOUNT PLEDGED: $15 — TOTAL SPENT: $15
We’ll ease ourselves into this whole Kickstarter thing by funding a project that’s already built up a lot of support. You might call Stonehearth a “sandbox RTS”, or (if you’re feeling pithy) Minecraft-meets-Warcraft. Either way, as I type this, Stonehearth has more than tripled its funding goal of $120K, and even though I’m a bit tired of Minecraft-meets-just-about-anything, I have to admit I was swayed by its charmingly adorable voxel graphics. Plus, watching all those industrious little people run around evoked memories of my favorite god-games of yore, titles like Actraiser and Populous. Funded.
Ray’s the Dead (Ragtag Studio)
AMOUNT PLEDGED: $15 — TOTAL SPENT: $30
One of the limitations of Kickstarter is that it’s a lot easier if your game can be described in ten words or less as a mash-up of buzzwords and titles of other games that people like (e.g “Assassin’s Creed as a cyberpunk survival horror game with ninjas”). The next game I funded, Ray’s the Dead, is a step ahead of the pack in that it only needs two words: zombie Pikmin. And believe me, it’s a testament to how much I think we need more Pikmin-style games that I was willing to fund anything that had to do with zombies.
Clandestine: Anomaly (ZenFri)
AMOUNT PLEDGED: $10 — TOTAL SPENT: $40
A few years ago when I first saw a demonstration of augmented reality technology, I was convinced AR would be an amazing new frontier for mobile gaming. Since then, augmented reality has been largely a disappointment, failing to evolve beyond the level of casual gimmickry (like most of mobile gaming, to be frank). Clandestine: Anomaly looks awfully ambitious, but considering that the alternative is talking about Pokémon with One Direction, I’m willing to give these guys a shot.
AMOUNT PLEDGED: $10 — TOTAL SPENT: $50
I was psyched to find this game on Kickstarter. Not only is A.N.N.E one of the indie titles I enjoyed playing at PAX East, but it looks like its creator (our Québécoios friend “Mo”) is using this Kickstarter to fund development of some of the additional game features and platform ports people asked for at PAX. I’m fairly confident this one is making it all the way to market, and I’m definitely looking forward to playing it when it releases.
Funding Stonehearth, Ray’s the Dead, Clandestine: Anomaly, and A.N.N.E brings us halfway to our totally arbitrary goal of $100, which sounds like a good place to stop for today. As tempted as I am to just give the remaining $50 to WIRL: The Online Virtual Woodcar Racing League, I think we’ll stick with our original plan and choose another set of worthy games to fund in Part II. See you next time!
PS – Also check out the Kickstarter for the 2013 Boston Festval of Indie Games! Last year’s inaugaral festival was a great event, and with the help of the Kickstarter campaign, the 2013 festival will be fantastic!