Popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter has been a boon for video game developers for a few years now. Sam Brooks investigates the less glamourous side of the platform.
Pillars of Eternity, $3,986,929.Torment: Tides of Numenara, $4,188,927. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, $5,545,991. Shenmue 3, $6,333,295. All video games funded through Kickstarter – and yes, all those commas are in exactly the right place.
These are the success stories of Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general. These games probably wouldn’t exist in today’s marketplace without the crowdfunding platform, and the industry is a better off as a result. Should some of the best and most critically acclaimed games of the year only be possible because of crowdfunding? Maybe not! Should our industry be investing in these games rather than expecting fans to pre-invest them? Also maybe not!
But this is not that conversation. This is about the other side of Kickstarters – the weird games you don’t hear about, the beautiful ones that only super enthusiasts are super into, and the ones that you kind of hope never see the light of day again.
(I have retained the strange bolding and italics from people’s projects, because I find them as endearing as I find them frustrating.)
What is it: “The Super Patriotic Dating Simulator is a satirical visual novel. Play as Elodie, a 19-year-old CIA super spy. As one of America’s most ruthless agents, you’ve been assigned a deadly solo mission: infiltrate and destroy I***.
Besides the whole “super spy” thing, you’re just a normal American girl… who’s really horny. Give these fuckers an American ass-kicking, and maybe learn a bit about your body on the way. Just remember the #1 rule of the CIA: always ask for consent.”
The goal: NZ $62,018.
Would I fund this: Kind of? I’m a fan of the visual novel style, and this seems to parody both that style and also be a genuine critique of Western attitudes towards Arabic people.
What is it: “No Longer Home is an episodic magical realist point and click adventure game. Drawing from the personal experiences of the two lead developers, the main characters Bo and Ao, two recent university graduates, prepare to move out of their flat and face the looming threat of adult life.”
The goal: NZ $48, 284.
Would I fund this: A mumeblecore point and click game about a quarter life crisis and existential dread? Sign me up!
What is it: “Beginning in the 1970’s at the height of NASA’s Apollo Applications Program, Space Station Continuum puts you in charge of your very own government funded space station.
You’ll design and launch new modules, manage power generation and heat dissipation, direct research into new technologies and more. All while your astronauts conduct experiments, produce goods, eat, drink, breathe, sleep, and exercise – as long as your station can provide everything they need!”
The goal: NZ $11,234
Would I fund this: Space-related admin? Lo-fi graphics? Put it in my veins!
What is it: “unmemory is the story of the Killer Kittens, a band of classy cat burglars. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you don’t remember anything.
unmemory lives at the intersection of games and literature and might appeal to noir novel fans, interactive fiction readers, graphic adventure lovers and escape room players as well as to anyone who loves challenging puzzles.”
The goal: NZ $65,165
Would I help fund this: Totally! This is exactly the kind of game that Kickstarter exists to fund – the kind of game that might not have a core, market-researched kind of audience that a triple-A studio would dive at. But the fact that this game has funded about 80% of its goal already, for a fairly obscure concept in an even more obscure genre (or genres), is a great example of why crowdfunding does work.
What is it: Beyond Death is a sandbox survival adventure, played in first person and made to be realistic as much as possible. Play alone or in group. Settle down and fortify or keep exploring. Fight or flight, hunt and farm: live your own way using the limitless gameplay mechanics which make Beyond Death totally unique. You will be able to discover what caused the infection and maybe find a solution for it.
The goal: NZ $85,744
Would I fund this: I have a general antipathy for any and all zombie games, largely because I think the whole genre is a convenient way to work a lot of violence into games while technically getting off the hook of shooting real-life people. There are a lot of projects on Kickstarter in this vein, all of which sound like mildly different takes on a genre that already exists.
What is it: “A mixture of visual novel and adventure game made in the anime style of the 80’s and 90’s.
The story is about a young man who values women’s beauty and especially the beauty of women’s underwear. He is a jack of all trades and knows thousands of ways to get into the house of beautiful girl. It’s not easy to find panties because decent girls don’t store them in conspicuous places and wouldn’t a strangers to take their underwear… unless they like him.”
The goal: NZ $1,719 (although it has been pledged well over $6000, so… take that, put it in your pipe, and set it on fire).
Would I fund this: What do you think.
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