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Kickstarter Games: Where They Are Now 97

We keep hearing success stories of indie video game projects that found funding through Kickstarter. Some have simply met their goals, while others have far exceeded the money they original asked for. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has provided updates on the progress of a huge list of funded projects. Many projects turned out to have unrealistic release dates. For example, Double Fine Adventure missed its August timeframe because it's getting a new engine. The new Leisure Suit Larry missed its October plans and hasn't been terribly open about a new one. However, most projects are humming along nicely, and some, like FTL: Faster Than Light have been completed and well received. The article exhorts all developers working on these games to make communication a priority, since the users are the ones who put up the cash, and deserve to know what's going on.
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Kickstarter Games: Where They Are Now

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  • Banner Saga (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:07PM (#42124005)
    I'm beta testing for the Banner Saga game, it's coming along. Also with Leisure suit Larry, because they raised so much in the kickstarter they added extra content to the game, which extended the release date to fit the extra content in. I get regular updates and I'm satisfied that things are moving along.
    • Re:Banner Saga (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @11:12PM (#42126193) Journal
      because they raised so much in the kickstarter they added extra content to the game

      But isn't that breaking the promise to the initial support group? Why not say, great! we can finish and add bonus content, later, or a sequel, whatever.

      Maybe I am just bitter because I once worked at a start-up in the dot-bomb era when we had a product "ready to go" but got so much extra venture capital money we had to Eff it up to "raise the barriers to entry, for competitors"... and give the "hockey stick" growth-chart some extra "gravitas"...

      Long story, short; "If you play with something long enough, you'll break it..."
      • Leisure Suite Larry (LSL) is a remake of a point and click adventure game. The additional content consisted of new areas and additional puzzles that was to be worked into the game itself. I think it would be very difficult to work additional content into the game after the fact. Some other things, like Banner Saga, it could be done after the fact in order to meet deadlines. I'm a software developer and understand the importance of deadlines, but I also understand the concept of scope creep and how that can
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:07PM (#42124007)

    I'm not trying to bad mouth any particular game developer here,

    But this is why you don't want to put a whole lot of money into companies or brands you don't know.

    Wasteland 2 sounds great - and it might be, oh how I hope it might be. But when was the last time those guys made anything? I'm willing to gamble a bit, but you have to be prepared to lose.

    Obsidian and Project Eternity, well they've been around a while, they've made some good games (that made a lot of money, not necessarily for the studio, but that made a lot of money) so I figure I can risk a bit more on them.

    Chris Roberts (Wing commander Fame) and his Star Citizen... again, like wasteland, I can hope, but I figure the odds of losing my money are high on this one too.

    And those are just the big ones. People asking for 10 grand, or 50 grand or even less than half a million, I don't have a lot of confidence in their ability to pull it off. 7 or 8 people for a year costs a million bucks and you need a couple of years to make a decent game. You can have some fun games that are faster to make than that, but odds are if you want content it takes time and money, and if you're not asking for that kind of cash your goals are unrealistic at best.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's the psychological value. I've played X-Com EU for a very long time, and over the years I kept looking for the next bext thing, an improved version, but everything that came after was severely lacking. If someone would announce an X-Com EU clone or newer version that would truly follow the pattern of the first one, then I would gladly put some money for it. Oh, and let's not get started, Master of Orion, Alpha Centauri ... the list goes on.

      I expect that's what other people feel about their favorite game

      • by Jaysyn ( 203771 )

        Alpha Centauri ...>

        Without a doubt the game I most want to see re-envisioned on modern hardware.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cbhacking ( 979169 )

          Given its popularity, I'm surprised there hasn't been an AC2. The Civ games keep rolling on, and a number of the changes they made in the more recent editions could stand to be added to, or at least adapted into, a new Alpha Centauri game (I'm thinking of things like allies pooling research progress and hexagonal tiles and global happiness in addition to local happiness, here) while a number of the things I loved about AC (customizable units, psi combat, xenofungus starting as a problematic tile-wasting nui

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Given its popularity, I'm surprised there hasn't been an AC2.

            If I recall correctly, EA holds the rights to the Alpha Centauri franchise and is just sitting on it, so Firaxis can't make another one.

        • I want to see Spaceward Ho! [] Updated. I see it's on the iTunes store. Some of these turn based stuff would make excellent tablet games.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most people don't understand how Kickstarter works.

      Kickstarter is NOT a pre-ordering method. It's not a way to get early access and perks to a game. It's to fund an idea. If that idea doesn't pan out, that doesn't matter. You funded something you believed in.

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

        I understand fully.

        But I still don't want to throw away money on a game that won't ever materialize.

        • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:27PM (#42124875)

          I think of it this way:

          I can chip in a few bucks for the chance to have a game that I'm interested in developed down the road, accepting all the risks that come with game development.

          Or, I can say I'm only going to pay for finished games that I can definitely get with no risk (except for the risk of buggy stuff that's never fixed or shitty console to PC ports that I regret buying) and, because nobody bother taking a risk on the smaller guy trying something that a niche audience is interested in, it never was able to be made and therefore, it'll never be on any shelf for me to buy. But I can go ahead and spend $65 on the next Bro-Face-Shooter-Dude-Of-Duty-Honor-Medals 14.

          I would not advise someone drops their last $15 supporting a crowd-funded project, but if you have some "disposable" income and you care enough to see something created that has an audience, but not a big enough audience to appeal to a publisher who only wants games that'll turn $100 million into half a billion and doesn't give as hit about turning a million into five million, then go for it. It's better than playing the lottery and even if it doesn't ultimately result in a finished product, you often get something out of it.

          For example, Project GODUS -- Peter Molyneux is engaging with the community on a nearly daily basis by sharing in brief design discussion sessions and then taking the resulting community commentary into consideration for the next discussion. And others are doing documentaries or constant blogging for their projects. And some offer interesting opportunities to meet people you might not otherwise get to do. Or get collectible things you might not otherwise have a chance to get. Stuff a finished product published by EA on a Walmart shelf won't ever allow you.

          The ultimate future of crowd-funding is questionable. We just don't know, yet. But it definitely has potential and while it has a reasonable appeal to some of us, there are also very rational reasons for not wanting to participate. And that's the great thing about the whole crowd-funding thing, potentially: All it should need is enough dedicated fans of a person/product/franchise/genre/whatever to make it a reality. It doesn't have to be a million people. Even if the majority of people hate it, there only need to be enough people who care for it to see it succeed. Direct value-for-value. Directly addressing an audience. A niche. The goal of a smart businessman. There are plenty of things that get produced/funded (both in crowd-funding and in the regular publishing model) that I don't understand or think are total shit. And that's just fine. There is an audience and market for them and they are able to fund it. Good for them and the people who want to play them!

          • The thing is, Kickstarter is all about bypassing the system. But, facts is facts, and the system exists because the system is successful.

            Even if you don't want to sell your soul to EA or whoever, the process for developing a game is really no different than any other product.

            1. Get investors
            Sometimes that investor is yourself. Sometimes it's your family, or someone else who would support your dream fairly unconditionally. You use that initial investment to build a prototype. In development, it might be a pr

        • But I still don't want to throw away money on a game that won't ever materialize.

          Neither do most of us (it is a gamble, no matter how hard we try)... but I tend to stick to the established guys (like Wasteland 2) so I have at least a better than 50/50 shot of getting good stuff.

          I also think this is great... :)


          • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
            Thanks for the link - I never heard if it, but I now have a new game to try the next time I throw a party :)
      • Kickstarter is NOT a pre-ordering method. It's not a way to get early access and perks to a game. It's to fund an idea. If that idea doesn't pan out, that doesn't matter. You funded something you believed in.

        Except that in a great many cases it is priced to look exactly like a pre-ordering method. The main "perk" is typically the game itself, and they're typically putting that in the 50-100% retail range, and that's as a digital download with no middlemen taking their cut. Many of these projects will end up getting more from the early backers than from each retail sale.

        And that leaves us with a rather unappealing risk/reward ratio. A game should a decent order of magnitude more expensive than "a game... mayb

    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:38PM (#42124385) Journal

      InXile? Last thing they did was Choplifter HD, just this year. Before that, Hunted: Demon's Forge in 2011.

      As for Chris Roberts, the last major game he did was Freelancer which was late, but ultimately delivered. I'd expect Star Citizen to be similar.

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

        InXile: Right, they've made games. But nothing on the scale of Wasteland 2. Could be good. Could be a trainwreck. Demon's Forge has a meta critic of about 60.

        Chris roberts is harder to say, Freelancer might have been his game, but I'm not sure how much of the same studio. One person does not a game make. They're using Unreal, which helps tremendously, but they're still hard to know the future on.

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          It's already been stated that the new project is more of a starlancer and less of a freelancer.

          The two are unfortunately very much mutually exclusive due to freelancer's (one of the) biggest asset being the mouse-controlled flight and heavy optimizations for it which made the game incredibly accessible and fun to play for anyone with first person shooter experience. Starlancer and this new project are apparently doing joystick-controlled flight as the priority and will optimize for that. And that completely

          • by Hatta ( 162192 )

            Not really. Starlancer is about space flight and dogfighting, Freelancer is about trade. They may have mutually exclusive control schemes, but the fun in Freelancer isn't about the control scheme. You could remake Freelancer with a 6 DOF control scheme and it would still be fun. Probably more fun, IMO.

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              One of the most important concepts of "fun" is to not have to struggle against the controls. They should be your best ally, not your worst enemy.

              If you use the standard mouse+keyboard, starlancer's control scheme is your worst enemy by far.

              • by Hatta ( 162192 )

                Why would you use a standard mouse and keyboard when the joystick is so much better suited for flight games? Using a mouse and keyboard for a space sim is as bad an idea as using a gamepad for an FPS.

                • Because you already know how to use mouse efficiently, and want to transition this skill, rather than learning from scratch. There's no requirement that the application of that skill remain uber-efficient - so long as it basically works, it's good enough.

                  Besides, some of us have learned our space sim skills with the mouse. I remember playing through TIE Fighter several times armed with mouse alone, and it was great fun. I don't think I'd even want to replay it with a joystick now.

                • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                  Same reason I would use it for FPS. Full free flow pixel accurate control scheme is far more natural for a human being then zero-line centric "apply force to change" one such as a joystick.

                  Essentially starlancer was a flight sim with airplane-style control scheme. Freelancer was FPS control model on flight sim. Difference is that former accepts that you cannot control the craft in the similar way to controlling the body. Instead you can only control the forces applied to the direction changes of the aircraf

        • by am 2k ( 217885 )

          Chris roberts is harder to say, Freelancer might have been his game, but I'm not sure how much of the same studio. One person does not a game make. They're using Unreal, which helps tremendously, but they're still hard to know the future on.

          They're using the CryEngine3 (as stated on their FAQ []). The free version of the engine is a huge PITA due to the fairly obvious bugs and complete lack of documentation, but I guess they'll get some very special treatment by CryTek.

    • by RCC42 ( 1457439 )

      A lot of kickstarter (and indiegogo) projects already have funding or development costs raised through other sources, using the kickstarter as publicity as well as extra funds raising. In many cases the games in question are being made anyway, the kickstarter is just security or feature expansion.

      That said, some of the low-funding-goals kickstarters are done by 'ramen and coke' developers who want so badly to make their games they are willing to live on breadcrumbs and hope while coding. These are people

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

        Indeed, Kickstarter is a great way to go to a bank and say 'we got 5 million dollars from people who will essentially buy the game without it being done yet, give us 5 million more and we'll be able to pay you back'.

        The guys willing to live on ramen noodles and work in an apartment I appreciate, but that's not a way to get a game done and done well generally.

    • For most of the games to which I've pledged, it's been to encourage the development of Linux games. I'm trying to do my small part to stimulate that market, even if it's a bit of a long shot.

      For Defense Grid Containment, I figured it was likely to succeed, I love the game, and one of their tiers (not achieved) was Linux support. So it was a no-brainer.

    • by jthill ( 303417 )
      Well, I dunno, I just got FTL and it's got that MOO feel to it at least at the start. We don't need no steenking candy.
  • Star Citizen (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:10PM (#42124061)
    I pledged out of nostalgia for Wing Commander, Freespace 2, and Iwar 2. I'm confident he will deliver.
    • Oh yea, and Klingon Academy!
    • Me too, and I think he (Chris Roberts) learned a great deal from Freelancer. I don't hold "failure's" as a negative thing, rather in most cases this thing called 'experience', and he's set the release for November 2014, so that's a good distance away. I'm going to be even more broke with Elite Dangerous though, and I trust DB for the same reasons, sure any development could go wrong, but its better to take the risk *you can afford* and be awarded with ground breaking PC games, rather than wondering "What co
  • by wintersynth ( 915045 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:26PM (#42124275)
    BlindSide [] was an early Kickstarter success, raising only 200% of our goal, about $14,000, but we released our beta on time, as promised.

    Granted, it was the last day of the month and we stayed up 36 hours straight doing it, but we did it.

    Maybe it's time for a little "how to manage slipped release dates" guide. I think it would look like this:
    1) Communicate
    2) Communicate
    3) Communicate
    • BlindSide []

      I've never heard of that game and I know it's not to my tastes, but damn, I gotta hand it to you guys for daring to try an entirely new gaming experience. It sure is atleast innovative if nothing else! Good luck with your game and remember to have as much fun developing it as your eventual gamers will have playing it :)

      • Thanks! Yeah, it's a bit of a commitment for people to try the game, seeing as they can't see and monsters are attacking them. It's a little easier on iOS. We finished it and are proud to have been nominated for an IndieCade award and two Brazilian International Game Festival awards :-). And we did have a lot of fun making it!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As an observer, and a sometime backer, I'm still very confused about what people want. Some projects with no gameplay shown get lots of backing (Godus). While others with similar information are slow to takeoff (Thorvalla). I like to see gameplay, but plenty of RPG projects are getting funded with a minimal video pitch and no gameplay. I really want to see gameplay! It sucks but an indie has got to put in the three months or more to get some animated screens up there or else I don't think some games

    • Sometimes people want brand-recognition or some famous name behind a project, and will thusly agree to back the project even if there was nothing else than stick figures, and when there is no brand-recognition or a famous name behind the project these people will refer to the project's popularity as a measure of worth.

      There was an article on Ars Technica about a similar phenomenon a while back: a group of researchers performed tests on various groups of people and found out that some people actually prefer

  • by RocketScientist ( 15198 ) * on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:41PM (#42124421)

    FTL is an incredibly fun game that they mention shipped pretty close to their timeline. All software timelines are somewhat fungible, and game producer provided timelines even more so. But they got pretty close. And the shipping product is *great* and was on steam sale last weekend. Rounds don't take a stupidly long time, the game's pretty replayable, etc.

    Good times.

  • by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:47PM (#42124481) Homepage Journal

    FTL & Xenonauts (the 1st alpha at least) are great fun. The only KS alpha that I've tried that I'm not confident about is The Dead Linger.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:00PM (#42124603)

    Let's remember that while games have been funded on Kickstarter for a long time, the current stream of them didn't really start until these past ten months; and only some as far back as that. We're not going to see the results of a lot of these projects until 2013. Even ones that are scheduled to be done by the end of 2012. If EA misses dates with hundred million dollar games, you can expect one or two guy projects with fifty grand or less to slip, too.

    I've backed about 350 crowd-funded projects, over the last couple of years. I track them in a giant spreadsheet with as much info on each as I can, including current status (fulfilled, partially fulfilled, overdue, etc). Several have completed. A few have gone beyond the delivery date, but have maintained regular updates and contact with their backers, and most of the rest are still in-progress.

    There's not really enough data to figure it out, right now. The real story will start to come together in another year. Having pledged about $7,000 USD and payed about $2,200 USD, I'm not really worried. Many projects will succeed. A few will fail. Most of those will fail, despite the best of intentions and efforts (if it happens in big titles, it'll happen for little indie projects). Maybe one or two will fail due to nefarious reasons. You can nay-say all you want, but the truth is that none of us really know, for sure (which is part of the reason why I back so many projects and track them on a spread-sheet -- I want to actually know the realities of game-related crowd-funding over the long term; not a bunch of anecdotal stuff).

    Also, I sent to RockPaperShotgun weeks ago a very lengthy email that contained access to my spreadsheet as well as a long story of my philosophy of backing projects (I think of it as the poor-man's attempt to be a patron-of-the-arts) and a list of things I've learned that crowd-funding project leaders could take a lesson from, over the backing and observation of hundreds of projects. A lot of that seems like it made its way into that article (or that they've made very similar observations over their backing history).

  • I found Ring Runner on Kick Starter and those guys have a stable and playable Demo out as well as trying to get it onto Steam with greenlight. For a game made by a couple of brothers they did a fantastic job so far I think. If you like top down fast action space shooters then you should at least give the demo a try and see what you think! It's like Asteroids on Serious Roids!

    I have seen 'experienced' programmers do far worse that these unknown guys. []

  • Steam forums had comments to say that people had paid for it, had it delivered and it didn't start, didn't work, no refunds, murdered their dog, impregnated their daughter, etc. I'm behind a filter here so can't check, but ...?

    Gaygirlie may well be right...
    • No it did quite well (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:34PM (#42124949)

      Game was released and works fine, and has done decent Steam sales after the release. It's had pretty good reviews by the press too.

      • by am 2k ( 217885 )

        Game was released and works fine, and has done decent Steam sales after the release. It's had pretty good reviews by the press too.

        At one point it was featured with a huge banner on the main Steam store page, it'd better sell well with that kind of advertising :)

    • It has a Metacritic rating of 84. All the reviews I read were quite good. And every PC game has a number of reports of "it won't work".

      It was me however that impregnated their dog and murdered their daughter.

    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

      I had zero issues, technical or otherwise, with FTL.

      Still dealing with game killing bugs with Mechwarrior Online...

  • They're still working on Carmageddon Reincarnation: []

    They sent emails with youtube video a few weeks ago with some game play and map information

  • Wasteland 2 was never meant to be as huge of a project as it has become, and they have been incredibly good about keeping everyone informed and up to date on whats going on. At least once a week on Facebook they are linking to new artwork, music, footage or just letting us know that they are still here and working hard on making the best game possible. I don't think too many of us will be disappointed, they know what the community expects from this release, and they are just as excited as we are to finally

  • by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:07PM (#42125279)
    Seeing as three of the four video game Kickstarters I gave money to were small amounts ($10-$20) mostly to assuage my guilt for pirating from the devs as a kid, I'm not entirely heartbroken if I don't see anything from them. The fourth was mostly because it looked awesome and they had a playable demo that convinced me to part with bigger chunk of change just because they looked like they could actually deliver, and I'm enjoying playing it right now (Project Giana).

    So so far, no regrets on the game front.

    Gaming in general, though, is different. I'll never give a damn cent to anything 2 Player Productions does again because we're STILL WAITING FOR THAT MINECRAFT DOCUMENTARY. Nor the guys from Extra Credits because seriously, guys? All I have to show for it is a sycophantic youtube video, a fuckton of Internet Drama over money that never saw a resolution from either side, and someone trying to sell me life insurance.

  • Okay, I'm not going to cite the project, because I don't want to look like an astroturfer, but where can one go to promote a Kickstarter project of more-than-niche interest?

    I'm a minor backer of an embedded hardware Kickstarter project that doesn't appear to be likely to make its funding goal. I really think that it's a great project and I submitted a Slashdot article with little expectation that it would get picked up, and it didn't. The developer posted about his Kickstarter project to the core chipset

    • Name it. Describe it. Don't be so shy.

      The idea that gets shouted out is the one that will make it.
      From what we know you might be calling for funding for a fish controlled Bill O'Reilly stimulator. You filthy pervert.
      • :-) Okay. It's called XDev ( []) . It's using an XMOS processor to develop a full-blown extensible embedded processing system. The developer is targeting it to address some deficiencies with the Arduino platform.
        • Great. Sounds reasonable and ultimately feasible.
          And now plug it wherever you go. Burn some Karma on it. /. runs a story every two days where you can mention it without being too off topic.
          There also are other nerdling hangouts.

          It's only astroturfing when you are a payed shill. I rave about the wonderful idea that is the Ouya wherever I go and I haven't even backed them(but I have preordered).

          Also, the Ouya is a quite clever idea. Stock components and an already alive ecosystem.
  • Double Fine listed "October 2012" as their release, not August. Granted they've passed that now, but as a commenter before me said: communication is key. Since I see they're honest-to-god working on it, I'm not mad.

    Double Fine Adventure was my first video game kickstarter - so I'm sort of using it as a measuring stick before I help fund other games. So far I don't feel burned - and I'm still excited for when it eventually does come out, so I think they're doing something right. It should be possible for thi

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990