I've found myself strangely intrigued by Kickstarter lately. Now I've known about it for a long time, but only really got involved when Dreamfall Chapters started accepting pledges. The plan was to give a bit of money to get the game I want funded. However I soon found myself trawling through the vast array of other projects. This is where I started getting strangely obsessed with the whole concept. What follows is the many exciting adventures I've had on Kickstarter. Huzzah!
So then, I've logged onto Kickstarter and boy am I excited. A wave of self-importance hits me and I feel like one of those smug millionaires on Dragons' Den (It helps that I've put on a suit and smoking a comically over-sized cigar). From here I move to the most popular section, where I can trawl through an endless array of projects. You get to see a project title, image and how well the project is doing. I casually scroll down the page, checking each one as I go. It's an odd experience. The vast majority of the projects are pretty impressive. Videos and text explain how important and truly personal each project is. They tell you how much a pledge would be and what they would do with it. It becomes like some reality TV show where you know that not every project will have a happy ending. Seeing that a project is only 10% funded and only has one day to get the rest, is pretty depressing. At the same time, it's incredible to see things like Double Fine Adventure or Broken Sword with a staggering amount of funding and fan support behind them. I'm being serious with the reality TV show comparison, one minute you'll see a project that'll tug on your heartstrings, then you experience something so staggeringly heart-warming. Who'd have thought that Kickstarter could be such an emotional roller-coaster.
Sitting back in my armchair and setting down my cigar, I stop to think for a moment. It's just as cut-throat as publishers in some aspects. If a game doesn't have a pre-existing cult following or drum up enough word of mouth then it won't get made. People look at games on Kickstarter and judge if they think it'll get enough funding, which decides if they put money behind it. Which is stupid, because if everyone thought like that people would be too scared to fund anything. With Zack Braff's latest film being funded within days, it's staggering to see how quickly money can be pulled together to fund projects (yeah it's a film, not a game I know). The problem with this is he isn't exactly strapped for cash unlike other film-makers. His film is a reminder, that even with Kickstarter smaller developers or filmmakers may not even be noticed. The very thing Kickstarter was set up for, to help the small guys, is being abused by the big guys. Ok, so that may be going a little far, but what's to stop big game studios from getting fans to fund part's of their games?
All that being said, Kickstarter certainly isn't a bad thing. It has potential to be abused, but at the same time has great uses. I'm certainly not upset at some of the projects funded by it. Who am I to argue with fans who actively want to give money to projects they genuinely love?
Only recently have I pledged money to something on Kickstarter. Its a project that is very close to my heart and from that image above you can probably guess what it is. Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey. Now for those of you who don't know, Chapters is the next game in the Longest Journey saga. After the previous game failed to sell to a mass audience, it was unlikely that a conclusion to the biggest cliffhanger in gaming would ever see the light of day. However, thanks to the crowd funding platform Kickstarter, Chapters secured funding. As someone who has pledged money for the creation of the game, I'm extremely excited for this. Perhaps to excited...
Now here's the problem. The game needs to be made. Even with my bare-bones knowledge of video game development, I know it's not exactly easy to make a game. It takes a great amount of skill and time to craft a really great game. Now that I'm backing the project I fear that I'm going to watch this game till the very moment the game releases and be ultimately disappointed. Not because of the game itself, but because I'm so invested in it that I want to see as much of the game content as I can before it's released. You could possibly spoil most of the game before you've even played it. One of the things about Kickstarter is that developers can put out regular updates, detailing what they have been working on. Obviously this could spoil certain things about the game, especially if it is a story based adventure game.
At the same time I think this is great, for this and many other projects (Kickstarter isn't just for games you know). The video game industry is usually pretty closed, not revealing much about the way they work. People can now directly support the games they want and see how such games are made. This cuts out publisher who don't fund games that they think will be good, but fund the ones they think will be the most profitable. Developers can communicate with backers to find out what they want from the game. Kickstarter has allowed many niche games and projects to see the light of day. Games that wont sell millions of copies, but have the most faithful and loyal fan-bases who can get the games they want.
It's going to be a long time before Chapters is released. But I'm more then willing to wait for it. While there are good and bad things about the exposure on Kickstarter, I know one thing for sure. The feeling of funding the sequel to one of my favorite games is amazing. I know I'm not exactly making the game or doing any of the heavy lifting but...
Sometimes taking a risk and getting excited for something pays off. Its the best feeling in the world. So who knows? Let's just see what happens.
"Sometimes we just have to trust that things will be okay."