You know, I sometimes wonder if I am becoming a cynic. Many of the things I write about tend to be regarding a negative development in the gaming industry. I see a certain shift, for instance the dumbing down of games, and I get frustrated about it. I worry about it. It’s easy to become pessimistic about the gaming industry and positive changes are easily overlooked, especially if you’re both a critic and someone who works in said industry.
And then, just when you’re ready to start writing bleak poetry, something wonderful happens! Something that gives you hope for the future of the medium and makes you want to cheer. Yes, I am talking about the Double Fine Kickstarter project!
For those of you who are not familiar with this fantastic phenomenon: Double Fine (Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Stacking, Iron Brigade, etc.) started a crowd funding effort to finance a new game. Founder Tim Schafer, one of my personal gaming heroes, was familiar with Kickstarter and similar platforms, but was skeptical about their usefulness for his projects. Their last production budget was two million dollars, and he didn’t think people would cough up such an enormous amount of money for a game all by themselves. But when he was approached by 2 Player Productions, a team of filmmakers who wanted to document the development process at Double Fine, a plan was formed. They would attempt to raise $400.000 through crowd funding — $200.000 for the documentary and $200.000 for a game (which is a small budget for a game). This game was initially added as an incentive and served as a means to an end. Since the crowd funding route would bypass publishers entirely anyway, Schafer proposed to make it an adventure game. While this “outdated” art form would have been instantly rejected if pitched to a publisher, Schafer anticipated that there was a large base of gamers out there who would appreciate (and pay for) such a game. He was right.
The Kickstarter project was a shocking success. Double Fine reached their mark within eight hours, hit the million dollar mark within 24 hours and at the time of writing, the counter is at 1.7 million dollar and rising! It’s fast approaching the budgets that Tim Schafer had for games such as Stacking, and with the deadline still a month away, there doesn’t seem to be a lid on this thing. The extra money won’t go to waste either; all extra funds will be put into things as voice-acting, art, music, ports to iOS and Mac, etc.
Seeing that number rise so fast and steadily made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. With this unwavering support, the gaming community has made an overwhelmingly clear statement: we want this. We don’t want another generic FPS, we want games like this. We support the artistic views of people like Tim Schafer. We’re willing to pay for it. In short: publishers don’t decide what we do and do not like. We are the ones who decide that.
It might sound a little dramatic, but think of what this could mean for the industry if more companies like Double Fine got this amount of support! I don’t think we’ll ever be able to completely be without publishers, but in the very least publishers would have to open their eyes and reassess their view of the gaming community’s wants and needs. Listen to the voice of the people!
Let’s also not forget what we’re getting for this: an undoubtedly awesome game from Tim Schafer! That alone would be reason enough to donate $15 to this project, but there’s more. We also get a documentary finely detailing the production process. A production process we, as supporters, can be a part of! Yes, the process will be completely transparent — anyone pledging $15 or more gets access to the private discussion forums, thus allowing them to voice their opinion on the direction of the game. Tim Schafer is still the Captain of this ship, of course, but how many times can you recall when gamers have actually had influence on the product?
As you might have gathered, I’m extremely excited about this project. I don’t know what’s more appealing: a Tim Schafer game, a documentary about the inner workings of Double Fine, or the fact that we’re sending an incredibly strong message to the (gaming) world.
If you pledge $15, you will get the full game once it’s done, the documentary, and access to the beta and private development forums. The more money you donate, the cooler stuff you get. Best case scenario: you help to drive the gaming industry towards democracy. How’s that for positive!
Are you excited about this as well? What kind of an adventure are you hoping for? Let me know in the comments!
- Press to Play © 2012