Kickstarter Reluctance

Old School (now SHAKER) seems like a great idea being put together by a solid company with incredible credentials.  You can tell that if they get the funding the project will be completed.  This is not 2 guys in a basement with no project management experience.  This is the real deal.

So why am I reluctant to back this project?  My gaming hobby (is it addiction or lifestyle?) started with Apple IIe, D&D in Jr High and Ultima on the Nintendo. But Old School gaming is not really interesting to me.  Perhaps my reluctance to be excited about this project is that game nostalgia has no hold over me.  Well maybe certain titles…

The story seems really compelling, a nice balance between D&D and Cyberpunk. AKA Fantasy and Sci Fi, the two big genre’s from the 80’s.  But it just doesn’t compel me to support the project.  It’s just not pulling the right strings.  It was featured by Kickstarter via tweet on 10/7/2012, so apparently there are some fans out there.

Their request for a million dollars feels high.  It doesn’t feel like funding a kickstarter to me.  It feels like a Studio seeking investors.  Maybe kickstarter to me means funding guys like Xavi (Towns) and Dirkson (Scrumbleship).  Maybe at heart I’m an Angel, not a VC.

A really sneaky aspect of Kickstarter is that we each individually get to decide what kickstarter means to us.  To me, it’s funding that little guy who has no support but has good ideas and can prove themselves.  I don’t have any right or intent to tell you what you should support.  Nor do you have any right to tell me what to support.  The beauty here is that doesn’t matter.  We all get to support what we want to.

Scrumbleship; more then Minecraft in space. Hopefully.

Minecraft is an inspiration for just about everyone who wants to design games. Everything from straight up copies to ‘inspired by’ titles are popping up all the time. There are plenty of not so interesting clones… cough Yogventures, cough. (Which feels more like a retaliation then a game).  But there are some equally fantastic projects such as Towns and now Scrumbleship. Check below the jump for an introduction to the Scrumbleship kickstarter and game.

In one overly simplified sentence: Scrumbleship is basically Minecraft in space, at the moment. The goals of the developer are to take those concepts much farther. With all the CO2 scrubbers, Engine Parts, and jump gates you might expect. Standard scifi tropes are present: Lasers, missiles and biological carapace hulls. With promises of asteroid mining, enemy ship raiding, and clones aplenty. The sci fi elements are nicely balanced with a hefty dose of real world physics. Scrumbleship has a great balance between fun and verisimilitude.

If successful this game could give Mojang and 0x10c a run for their money. But success is far from certain. The goals in the kickstarter are ambitious and it will be interesting to see if the games creator can pull them all off.

  • Persistent open world multi-player
  • Asteroid mining
  • Simulated collisions, hull strain, and deformation.
  • An AI crew that mines, builds and fights for you
  • Organic ships that need food and can heal damage
  • Many fun Ship weapons
Right now in the demo the blocks are pretty static, while these goals necessitate mobility and the blocks being able to work together coherently. Based my very limited knowledge of most voxel based game engines it’s hard to understand how all that is going to come together… But then perhaps Minecraft’s static nature simply makes it seem difficult to bring cohesion to a bunch of disparate blocks. [Update: Dirkson alters the existing paradigm in my brain, and blows my mind!]
Currently the demo is free to download and play with. You get more of a building toy then a game in it’s current form. It is, however, a nice incentive and a great proof of concept.  The demo proves the kickstarter is worth supporting. They already have something to show for contributions, and are quite a ways toward making their ideas work. Other kickstarters take note, this is how to run a campaign well.

The business model also closely follows Minecraft with a twist. Alpha version is currently on sale and has been for a couple months. As revealed in an interview with the games creator, the Kickstarter is really for getting the word out. They are requesting $8000, and are half way there with 18 more days to go. That is not a lot of cash to ask for and smart considering the game is on sale as well.  Particularly for something that has potential. All in all this is a well run campaign, with clear goals, realistic dollar amounts, proof that the project is underway, and rewards which should not be insurmountable for them to produce.

As of writing this I have not backed this game although I would really like to. When one is unemployed supporting kickstarters is not a wise idea. But maybe some kind folks out there can supply some more funds to support the dream, because it’s an exciting dream. There is a lot to learn here about creating a game, publishing it, and honestly interacting with the community. Good job Dirkson!

[Update 1]: 16 days, $2418 till goal.
[Update 2]: as of 10/6/2012 pledges are at $6,792 with 11 days to go.