Indie Gaming: Double Fine Smashes Kickstarter Records and Ushers In a New Way of Making Games
Tim Schafer and his bearded band of merry men – the developers otherwise known as Double Fine – have made the news again in what is potentially one of the most exciting stories for independent videogame developers (and gamers) in recent years.
Tim Schafer and his bearded band of merry men the developers otherwise known as Double Fine have made the news again in what is potentially one of the most exciting stories for independent videogame developers (and gamers) in recent years.
If youve been following the news at all this past week and a half, youll know that Tim Schafer put out an appeal on the most popular crowd funding site on the web, Kickstarter. He wants to make an old school adventure game, he says. He really does. Its just that the only way he can do it is with your money. Excitingly, theyre also going to be filming all of this in a potentially Lost in La Mancha style documentary, where you get to see not just exactly how your money is getting spent, but also how gloriously the development will succeed or fail.
I did another article on the rise of crowding and Kickstarter back in December, where I was impressed by the speed in which Devon-based independent filmmakers Realm Pictures were funding their ambitious proof of concept shorts, nearly doubling their requested $60,000 by the campaigns finish. I thought that Kickstarter was a fantastic platform for independent filmmakers. I still think this is true. I just think its even better for independent videogame developers. Not only has Double Fines Kickstarter campaign utterly smashed the record for highest funded independent film (not to mention its own category of games), it has also broken the record for the highest funded campaign of any kind in the history of the website. They wanted $400,000, they now have over $2,000,000. Thats impressive in its own right. Take into account that the campaign is still not even halfway through its 33 day run and it becomes astonishing. As much as I love Tim Schafer, Monkey Island, Psychonauts, Brutal Legend (yes, even Brutal Legend) and the rest of them, I dont think its just Double Fines track record that has made this campaign so unbelievably successful. The great thing about this project is that youre not just funding an idea you believe in, youre looking at a game you think is cool, deciding you want to play, and pre-ordering it right there and then. This is essentially the same as receiving a copy of the DVD if you fund a film project, but theres something about pre-ordering a game that feels like a better idea, like much less of a risk and much more of an engaging reward. Films hardly ever turn out exactly as theyre planned. Whats great about Double Fines campaign is that theyre starting from scratch the whole process is taking place in front of the cameras, with backers and fans being able to give their own ideas as to what they want to see in the game. I probably dont have to spell it out, but I think this a potentially enormous step for independent developers. Game projects have been on Kickstarter for a while, but perhaps it took someone with the reputation of Tim Schafer to really bring out the potential of crowd funding. Now, it seems like such an obvious idea why isnt everyone doing it? By the time Double Fines first Kickstarter funded game is out, I imagine they probably will be. Im not saying that crowd funding is the future of videogame development; clearly there are many genres where the budgets could just never be reached (blockbuster first person shooters spring to mind). However, for a small company that wants to breakthrough to the big time, get their game seen and played by a wider audience or revive a dying genre that most publishers wouldnt touch with a barge pole, this may be the perfect platform. What if you could fund and pre-order a brand new RTS instalment of Syndicate for PC, XBLA, PSN and the rest? What would Uplink play like if Introversion had launched their own campaign several years ago? What do you think of giving them all money before theyve even made the game? Wed love to know.