Elite Kickstarter: I Thought I Wanted This

November 6, 2012 in Editorial

Something strange happened today. Being a sentimental sort, I’m ordinarily quite an easy target for Kickstarter campaigns that try to push my nostalgia buttons. In fact, on more than one occasion since the Double Fine funding campaign have I backed a project before even watching the pitch video. So it seemed only logical that when a new installment of a game that defined a huge part of my childhood came along, I’d be all over it. The game, of course, is Elite, created by David Braben and Ian Bell. Today, Braben launched a funding drive to collect the equivalent of nearly $2 mil to make a new Elite game. I’ve imagined this day happening, and in my mind it seemed so grand. And yet, here it is, and I don’t feel anything even close to ecstatic. Quite the opposite. Cynicism and mistrust kicked in almost immediately, irrationally perhaps, but I know where it all comes from.

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Kickstarters Dangling the Linux Carrot

October 11, 2012 in Editorial

Linux gaming is seeing some much needed attention of late, and a lot of this seems to come from Kickstarter projects. There are some trends however that raise a few questions for me, and perhaps a gripe or two.

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Broken Sword Returns Through The Crowd

August 23, 2012 in News

Broken Sword, the three-parts-so-far adventure that started more than 15 years ago with an American tourist named George Stobbart chasing a clown trough a sewer, is returning for another instalment. Charles Cecil, creator of the original has turned to Kickstarter to seek $400,000 funding. The series has always been popular, as is evident by the fact that one day in it’s already 25% funded.

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Planetary Annihilation To Have Linux Support

August 19, 2012 in News

That was a fun headline to write. Sounds like a sinister plot.

Uber Entertainment have added the promise of Linux support to their Kickstarter for Planetary Annihilation, and not as a stretch goal. The funding is now at $453,000 of their $900,000 goal with 26 days to go. Platforms now confirmed are Windows, OSX and Linux. The rate of funding seems to have flattened out a bit over the past few days, so it will be interesting to see if this announcement affects it in the coming days.

What’s also interesting is that people are requesting OUYA support. My concern with this is that once you add a device into the mix with a controller-based control scheme, there is the risk that the game design itself will be affected.

Shadowrun Returns: First Concept Pic

August 18, 2012 in News

Harebrained Schemes just shot a blog post out into the world in which it revealed the first concept shot for the upcoming Shadowrun Returns, which was successfully Kickstarter funded a few months ago. They write, “While this is concept art – not a screenshot – it’s representative of the fidelity and art style we’re shooting for. For the uninitiated (or those seeking a quick refresher!) the concept above depicts the infamous Redmond Barrens* of the mid 2050s.”

Exciting stuff!

Build Robots, Smash Planets: Planetary Annihilation Kickstarter

August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

The guys at Uber Entertainment just launched their Kickstarter for Planetary Annihilation, an RTS game inspired by the late 90s game Total Annihilation. They’re using the “buncha guys who worked on a buncha famous stuff before” pitch tactic along with some pre-rendered “gameplay visualisation” footage.

If the final product is anything near what is shown in the pitch video, this might turn out to be rather good. To quote “We’re not aiming for realistic, we’re aiming for awesome”. The only reservation I have about this one though is the massive $900,000 they are trying to raise. They also gave no indication of what stage of development this is currently in, or any of the stretch goals. And my own personal gripe, which I suppose is not a huge deal for most – no Linux port, but don’t mind me, I’m just a  passive-aggressive neckbeard. Pitch vid embedded for your convenience after the break.

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Authoritative Decisions: Wasteland 2 Gets Another Writer

August 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Another writer has joined the Wasteland 2 crew. In this case, veteran Colin McComb. If you find your nostalgia-sense tingling, it’s because he previously worked on Planescape Torment and Fallout 2. It’s starting to look like an all-star writing/design team,  including the likes of Chris Avellone, Ken St. Andre and Liz Danforth - the horrible person we shall never forgive for that thing with the dog (I kid).

All of these folks have experience doing meaningful RPG with proper cause and effect. I’m eager to see what they come up with, and just as eager to see how the content is received by players – especially ones not accustomed to this sort of game design.

In the end if it only appeals to a niche market, it does not matter. That’s the beauty of this funding model which sits outside of the constraints of risk-averse publishers.  Development has been paid for, and players who belong within that niche will be satisfied that they are being catered for. And with any luck there might even be new players who will love the style and demand smarter narrative from their games in future.

This the part where one might insert the “double-edged sword” counter-argument, but this project at least seems to be in good hands.

Tandem Trending: Kickstarter Indie Bundle

August 10, 2012 in News

With the popularity of indie bundles and the current crowd funding boom I guess it’s only logical that one might find a mash-up of these things. With 19 days left on the clock, the Kickstarter Indie Bundle seeks funding for no fewer than 9 games; Inner Dream, Ensign-1, TRI, Silversword 2, The Host Holic, Metagolf, Christmas Magic, Y2163, Enola.

While some of the titles in the collection look rather intriguing, I have some reservations about this approach.

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OUYA Gonna Call? Kickstarter, Evidently

August 9, 2012 in News

As of about 10 hours ago the OUYA Kickstarter closed at $8.5 million, from 63,416 backers. This is almost 9 times the initial $950,000 asked for, a success by any measure, especially considering some negative press stating that the project might be vaporware, or might not be able to realistically achieve its goal.

Now we wait and see if they can launch this thing by the March 2013 target date, and I’m sure the backers especially are eager to see what the starting roster of games will be. Well, whatever it is, it can’t be worse than the selection the PS3 launched with.

Anyway, congrats to the OUYA team, hope you realize your vision!

Twin Worlds: The Great Giana Returns

August 5, 2012 in News

In 1987, Rainbow Arts attempted to publish a blatant knock-off of Super Mario Brothers called The Great Giana Sisters, released on a number of home computers. This was great news for gamers who wanted to play SMB, but did not want to shell out for a NES.  Nintendo was not quite so enthusiatic about it though, and managed to lawyer it off the shelf shortly after release, with some versions never even making it that far. But to those who did manage to obtain the game, it holds some nostalgic value. Despite being a blatant clone it was fairly well received and featured music composed by industry veteran Chris Hülsbeck.

A curious thing happened around 2009 when Nintendo allowed a pseudo-sequel of the game on the Nintendo DS. However, the core mechanic of the game was altered slightly. Giana no longer had a sister named Maria, but rather came in two states; a cutey version, and a punk version – each with different abilities.

Now they are back again.

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Indie games. Crowd funded games. Emerging gaming platforms.