Jason Rohrer, indie developer known for Passage and the narrative playground, Sleep is Death, has created a Kickstarter campaign of a rather different sort for his long-awaited Nintendo DS title Diamond Trust of London. While many developers have recently turned to Kickstarter in order to fund development of their game, Rohrer's game is already developed. It's even been approved by Nintendo to begin manufacturing cartridges.
The problem is that manufacturing cartridges is expensive and a huge risk for a guy like Rohrer, who isn't even sure if there is enough demand for the game to justify it. So, he's turned to Kickstarter as a way to gauge that demand and then fund the production of the boxed units. The move has also allowed him to offer a limited edition package, of which only a thousand will be made, containing objects Rohrer is being quite cagey about disclosing.
The perspective that Kickstarter is effectively a pre-order program is a popular one, but I find it to be fairly assumptive, dependent on whether or not the people behind the project are able to meet their goals on time and on budget. In this circumstance, however, there's not a whole lot of guesswork about it. If it meets the funding goal of just under $79k, the cartridges seem fairly certain to be made, making this one of the safest bets I've seen on the site yet.
As for the game itself, I think Rohrer was right to be concerned about the level of interest. Diamond traders in Angola jockeying for inventory has a lot of potential to be interesting, even thrilling, but Diamond Trust of London doesn't have guns or action. It's a simplistic looking game with some high-minded ideas -- like pretty much everything else Rohrer has put his hand to -- but not exactly the kind of thing one expects to see flying off of shelves.
The interest seems as though it may be there, after all. Following its first day of activity, Diamond Trust of London is halfway to meeting its goal. With fifteen days remaining in the drive, it's still not a guarantee but things are looking up for Rohrer and the fans of his work who have long waited for the opportunity to play this latest game.