A Reflection on Kickstarters I’ve Backed

I’ve been poking around on Kickstarter for about two years now, backing games I thought sounded interesting and mildly safe when I remembered they exist/had some money to toss at a project. I forgot about the site for about 8 months because that’s how I roll. In any case, I figured it was a good time to take a look at projects I’ve backed and my level of satisfaction. I don’t get very involved in the community forums that spawn out of these projects and rely mostly on updates for information.

Mansion Lord – A Murder Mystery RPG/Business Sim (funded 12/19/2013)

This game just finished up its Kickstarter campaign so there’s nothing to update yet, but its target release date is Q3 2014. When I showed the project page to my husband he said “Yes, that looks like a very Leo game”.

Torment: Tides of Numenera (funded 4/5/2013)

inXile started this Kickstarter so that they could keep the pre-production team on after Wasteland 2 and now have to worry about filling any gaps. There was some mild feather ruffing when this happened but I thought it made sense given the nature of the game development cycle. And now I am a job creator (still waiting for my tax breaks, US Government!). As of their last update the game is finishing up pre-production (basic design choices, determining skills, etc), so I figure the game is about a year away from being delivered to backers. They’ve been sending updates on a biweekly schedule which keeps me–and I assume all the other backers–happy.

Unwritten: That Which Happened (funded 2/13/2013)

Unwritten was initially supposed to be an endgame development project that would take about six months to finish. Unfortunately the project lead had some very major family health issues that got in the way of development. Refunds are being given to people who ask and the team is still trying to finish the game, but it’s very much up in the air now as he had to take up a full time job again to support his family through crisis. I am not asking for a refund, as I accepted the risks involved in Kickstarting a project and am holding out hope that things will come together in the end. Unlike other failed/potentially failed projects the team has not been out of touch with the backer group and run away with the money, life just really sucks sometimes.

Shadowgate (funded 12/25/2012)

This is an update/remake of one of the fabulous ICOM games for NES. The developer (Zojoi) has been sending out monthly updates to keep backers informed of their progress. They’ve reached the internal alpha of the game and gotten the Greenlight on Steam and in general there is steady progress. Their release date is “early 2014” which I take to really mean Q2. Since they’ve not hit beta yet it’s hard to say if they’ll reach this goal but fingers crossed.

Project Eternity (game now titled “Pillars of Eternity”) (funded 10/15/2012)

Obsidian sends out regular updates and as long as I get a game some day I will almost definitely be happy. I backed this game within 10 minutes of it going up and honestly Obsidian could do pretty much anything this side of killing my cats and I’d make excuses for them.

Duck Quest (funded 8/31/2012)

A little freeware game I thought looked cute enough to toss the creator a few bucks to help him finish things up. Unfortunately the creator got a lot more attention than he was expecting and fell behind in the delivery of pledge items, which caused a kerfuffle. I played the game itself and it is way cute and I enjoyed it for what it is (a small in scope flash game where you do cute things) and eventually got my reward (a cute postcard size print of a duck) so I’m satisfied, but I understand why others were not.

Defense Grid 2 (funded 8/14/2012)

I think I originally backed Defense Grid 2 because the lowest tier got you a copy of the first game and the upcoming DLC expansion for less than it would cost on Steam but I don’t actually recall why I felt motivated to do that. Last I checked they had a single-player alpha done. I figure when the game is ready it’ll be a nice surprise in my inbox because I keep forgetting it exists.

Tex Murphy: Project Fedora (funded 6/16/2012)

The Tex Murphy games are the only FMV adventure games that I thought were actually good and fun and not 7th Guest style not so good and amusing. The developers hooked up with ATLUS for publishing, which presumably also gives them some extra money and helped them get on Steam without having to go through Greenlight. A third trailer was released about three weeks ago and it looks like they’ll hit their Q1 2014 release date, which, yay! Niche projects like this are why I started poking around in the world of Kickstarter in the first place.

Two Guys Space Venture (by the creators of Space Quest) (funded 6/12/2012)

I enjoyed the Space Quest games a lot so backing them for a modest sum seemed like a no brainer if it got me something similar. The team has been making the rounds at conventions with the game and sending out way more updates than I can keep track of.  They previously announced a release date of Q4 2013, but that obviously didn’t happen. Since then there’s been no estimate for when the game will come out because they prefer not to potentially blow another date, which makes a lot of sense and I support their decision as they definitely appear to be making progress with the game.

Alcarys Complex (funded 5/24/2012)

I am a giant massive crazy person for RPGs, but I tend to pass on funding them on Kickstarter. Too many of the indie RPG projects that show up are way too ambitious and being put together by people with very little experience. Also a lot of really terrible amateurish art. Alcarys Complex appealed to me because it had a clear non-crazy scope and professional enough looking art and Modest Arcade was looking for a small sum to finish things up and get the game out the door. It was released on October 29th, 2012 so they did a good job with that bit. I’ve played it a little and plan to get back to it later.

Grim Dawn (funded 5/18/2012)

Titan Quest was a great game with a cruddy publisher, so when a new ARPG made by the Lead Designer of TQ popped up on Kickstarter I plunked my money down immediately and started complaining that waiting for potentially cool things sucks. Things are moving along at a normal pace (which means too slow for my impatient self) and they have people poking around the Act 1 beta with Act 2 coming at the start of February. If you’re into early access you can get in on that action on Steam right now. If it wasn’t clear, I am excited for this one to finally drop.

Shadowrun Returns (funded 4/29/2012)

A cool looking RPG with a seemingly competent team behind development? Please take my money. The game was released in July with the first module and a really extensive editor for the community to make their own modules with Steam Workshop integration. I seriously haven’t seen something with as much potential as this editor since Neverwinter Nights. I’ve played through the first module, was very satisfied (and have a write-up coming soon, I swear) and am looking forward to the Berlin expansion.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City (funded 4/27/2012)

Metroidvania style game with multiple player-characters and a whole lot to do that I haven’t done yet. The game was delayed because of Hurricane Sandy fallout but was released in early September and came out very polished and playable. Another game I swear I’ll finish that write-up on soon.

Americana Dawn (funded 3/30/2012)

A freeware JRPG that takes place during the French and Indian War and American Revolution. Development is still underway (it’s a one person team!) but it’s getting there. I realize a lot of people use Kickstarter as a pre-order style system but I think it’s good to help out people with interesting ideas even if the end product is free.

The Banner Saga (funded 4/20/2012)

I backed The Banner Saga based almost entirely on the jaw-dropping artwork and pedigree of its developers. They wound up getting a lot more money than they expected and there was a pretty massive amount of scope-creep. An entire multiplayer freeware game was released, which frankly was pushing it but did have the benefit of testing out the game’s combat pre-release. The release date is a week from now, so hopefully the extra wait was worth it.

Wasteland 2 (funded 4/17/2012)

Wasteland, my old friend! I honestly felt obligated as an RPG fan to back this game. Like a lot of the early video game Kickstarters they were way too optimistic with their original release date and blew past it, but they’ve been making steady progress and backers of the appropriate tiers are in there poking around the Alpha (or Beta?). If you are bored and want to see crazy people on the internet being crazy (or just enjoy that sort of thing), I recommend reading the Steam community forums for the Early Access release.

Double Fine Adventure (game now titled “Broken Age”) (funded 3/13/2012)

This is the only Kickstarter so far where I regret pledging. What was initially pitched was a small in scope point and click adventure game and who could turn down one of those from Tim Schafer? However, they raised an immense amount of money and there was just an insane expansion of goals. Then they ran out of money, apologized, said they’ll release half the game and then if they have money release the second half. While all this is going on Double Fine is also doing things like recruiting Elijah Wood to do voice acting for them? Oh and also running a Kickstarter for another new game. I mean, really. Priorities, guys. I don’t even want to play the game anymore, I am so frustrated with how everything has gone. The game could be amazing and I would still call the Kickstarter a failure because of how things just spiraled out of control. I am patient, games take a long time to make, but “I designed too much and now we are running out of money” is not the same as “this game is taking longer to complete than we anticipated”.  Maybe Schafer is one of those guys who really needs a publisher to rein him in.

Behold: The Tex Murphy Kickstarter

Kickstarter has become a great place for devs of out-of-style (but still awesome) game genres to appear and plead their cases for pledges and Tex Murphy is the latest to make an appearance. Don’t know what Tex Murphy is? There’s an easy two-step process to remedy this.

1) Watch their amazing Kickstarter pitch video (just click on the player to play and pause, I had to remove the JPG for the fancy chrome because it was broken)

[gigya src=”http://www.kickstarter.com/swf/player.swf” flashvars=”backcolor=000000&file=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fksr%2Fprojects%2F111784%2Fvideo-110891-h264_high.mp4&image=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fksr%2Fprojects%2F111784%2Fphoto-full.jpg&project_creators=A+Video+Games+project+by+Chris+Jones+%26+Aaron+Conners&project_title=Tex+Murphy+-+Project+Fedora&project_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kickstarter.com%2Fprojects%2F251414413%2Ftex-murphy-project-fedora&screencolor=000000&amp”]

2) Head over to GOG.com and buy Under A Killing Moon. It’s a really great game and unlike most of the other titles to come out of the FMV craze it’s well acted and well written.

After you do these two things, head on over and pledge so this game happens.

(extra explicit link: Tex Murphy: Project Fedora on Kickstarter)