Heroic: The Banner Saga Funded In Just 48 Hours

By Jim Rossignol on March 21st, 2012 at 9:43 am.

Yay!
Morning, Internet. Lovely news from the West: The Banner Saga has been funded on over on Kickstarter. The collective approval of the internet found its way to over $100k in just 48 hours to ensure that the beautiful-looking turn-based RPG with Vikings would find its way into our game collections. This pleases me. Now let’s hope that Stoic – a handful of ex-Bioware staff – can really walk their talk when it comes to game design.

Watch that lovely announcement trailer again below.

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54 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It’s too bad I don’t have five-thousand dollars. Or live close to their area. Be a shield-maiden in a Viking game? Yes, please.
    So the banner will have to suffice.

  2. Gnoupi says:

    While it is lovely, and probably a healthy thing to get games which wouldn’t be able to get funding by regular publishing deals, I’m a bit cold on it.

    Because it’s well above the “pre-order to get beta” funding scheme. Here, you are buying a game solely on the idea. And while I agree that there are degrees of confidence we can have in some (like double fine, for example).. For most you are still betting on something empty.

    A good idea is fine, but the delivery counts too. Can they actually make something fun? Can they actually make a game without technical issues, with an appropriate UI? How much content are we really talking about?

    I like the idea of funding a game based on a technical demo, when the playable concept is actually fun to spend time with (see Running with rifles, Minecraft, and others). But here, it’s mostly betting on an idea. And a lot can go wrong from an idea to the actual delivery.

    • Danny says:

      Some ideas are so close to what I look for in games (in this case a serious Viking setting combined with TB combat), that I happily want to pay money for the idea only. Yes, there’s a chance that it won’t come out at all, and yes there’s a chance that the idea will be executed poorly, but I’m fine with taking that risk, as there are so few games like this (the same goes for Wasteland 2).

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      Whether the crowdfunding ideal has any longevity we will find out in about 18 months, when all of these games are actually coming out. If people’s expectations aren’t met, and there’s widespread dissatisfaction with Kickstarter-funded games, the bad press may well mean the end of 48-hour successes like these.

      • Prime says:

        Actually, I’m over a year into waiting for the Kickstarter-funded Minecraft documentary. I paid quite handsomely for that ( beginning of January, 2011) and have yet to see any reward for my fiscal faith bar a monthly email update. For me this will be a good test of how well this type of funding works, and how I regard future Kickstarter projects.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Do you act like a consumer, or as an investor? Do you act in self-interest, or as a part of a community? Do you wait to see how the world turns out, or try to make a world you want to see?

      • Unaco says:

        Is that a quote from the Pokemon movie?

      • Askeladd says:

        Good Andrew:
        The answers to these questions determine how your stance is towards kickstarters.
        If we knew the numbers behind these we could predetermine a possible outcome.. If X would happen in 18 months.

        Oh, wait screw that, oh mighty normal distribution which strikes us with his hammer oh so often.

      • Gnoupi says:

        That’s the point. A kickstarter is a call for investors, but who are only consumers in the end. An investor puts money into something more or less uncertain, with the perspective of making a profit, of getting something from it (and I don’t mean the final product, I mean a cut on the final product’s benefits).

        Here we are not investors, we are enthusiastic consumers who agree to pay while the project is only an idea. We buy a product which doesn’t exist yet, with no other reward than the promise to get the product itself.

        • Lowbrow says:

          I think it’s more akin to becoming the patron of an artist in the hopes that his boozy, stinking drain on your larder pays off with a product you can show off to your friends.

          The animation cell for some reason was a real temptation for me. I had to remind myself that Chapter 1 was a planned 2 hour game, and while I really like the art style the animation was lacking.

          • Gormongous says:

            Their FAQ explicitly says “Chapter 1 of the game will not be a short 2-hour fling”. Otherwise, I read you loud and clear.

          • Lowbrow says:

            Thanks for the catch! That was a crucial “not” to miss!

    • thesisko says:

      And what are you basing a purchase on normally? The majority of purchases are influenced solely by marketing anyway. Not RPS readers, but the vast majority of “AAA” game buyers.

      Asking a few thousand fans to pay for a game that wouldn’t otherwise be made based on reputation and a good presentation sounds much better than spending millions on ads to convince ill-informed people to buy your game.

      • JackShandy says:

        Yeah, I’ve seen as much of The Banner Saga as I normally see of games before I buy them. A look at gameplay, cutscenes, dialogue, interviews with the devs, statements of intent; it’s rare that I get a demo or anything beyond this stuff before I go for my wallet anyway.

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          I usually like to see straight gameplay footage first but obviously that isn’t possible here since the game doesn’t even exist yet.

          Hell it makes me curious how they made this trailer.

    • Zanchito says:

      By doing the kickstarter thing you’re effectively becoming an investor. Instead of going to EA or Ubisoft, you go to kickstarter and see if people like your idea well enough to invest in it.

      • Premium User Badge

        LTK says:

        But the key difference is that the pitch to EA or Ubisoft is “We’re going to make this game, we need your money, and in return you get more money” while the pitch to crowdfunders is “We’re going to make this game, we need your money, and in return you get the game”. The principle is the same, but the expectations are fundamentally different.

      • InternetBatman says:

        You’re not an investor. You’re preordering a game sight unseen.

      • LordEvilAlien says:

        I can see trouble ahead
        you may have just preordered the game of your dreams but you are an investor and a publisher too.

        what if you see the script for the game story and you don’t like the ending? if it’s just you – maybe its not a problem but if its a few hundred or a few thousand and you make your feelings known online…

        What if after a year the developers come back with cap in hand and an unfinished game? what if release dates keep slipping?

        what if this humble game(insert game name here)costs a couple of hundred thousands to make but ends up a runaway smash hit making COD type money. It will take only a handful of people to start muttering darkly how they put money in and all they got out was a game (even though that is all they were promised)?
        It is nice that all these kickstarters are happening and here’s hoping there are quite a few good games at the end, but i’m building my internet nuclear bunker just in case…

        • JFS says:

          I think you’re right, and I think it’s already happening. Wasteland 2 seems to put a lot of effort into asking the backers and fans what they want to see in the game – and the opinions are different. Of course, at the moment, that isn’t a problem, but it might become so when a portion of the fanbase sees their ideas discarded in favour of other ideas and turns disgruntled.

          Same thing when the devs turn away from what the majority of backers wants. Those who give the money have expectations, and while the interactions are most certainly more friendly with investing fans than with traditional publishers, it isn’t fundamentally different.

      • Gnoupi says:

        But you’re not really an investor. You only gave money to an idea, and hope to actually receive the product from this. You have no guarantee of even getting anything in return.

        The closest description, I think, is in fact “benefactor”. You gave to a cause, and hope to get something in return as reward.

    • Premium User Badge

      fredcadete says:

      This is true. With Double Fine, Wasteland and this there is definitely a danger of creating a bubble of classic adventure games or turn-based combat RPG’s.

      I’m going to feed that bubble as far as my wallet allows it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Acosta says:

      I don’t see the problem.

      Let’s be clear: it doesn’t affect you, at all. Zero. Nothing. You don’t want to pay, don’t do it. You can wait for the project to be finished and buy it normally if you are interested. As consumer, you are not loosing absolutely anything.

      Why do you care?

      If the project goes to hell and we lose the money, it´s our problem, big deal. So what? I like to pay for stuff like this happening, the act itself is attractive to me. The process is not different to buying any other game, I trust you with my money hoping to find something good for me. This is pretty much the same.

      • Premium User Badge

        LTK says:

        It can sometimes be worth considering how recent developments affect the culture and business of games as a whole, rather than keeping a purely self-centered attitude to it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Acosta says:

          I don’t feel it´s worth it because this is not a ground breaking movement that will revolutionize videogames industry.

          This is niche and will remain that way. It´s just an open door more, a small and beautifully decorated wood door lovely hand-crafted that will cater to people looking for things that wouldn’t happen otherwise. And it won’t work for every project, check the Tactical Shooter Kickstarter to see how not any project is suited to put that faith on them.

          And in any case, let’s assume I’m wrong, and the next Call of Duty is funded by crowd sourcing, what’s exactly the problem with that? If people want to pay in advance for that, more power to them and better for the publishers that will have more liquidity and less pressures. At the end, nothing would change.

      • Gnoupi says:

        If you rewind time a bit, you will notice that the situation can become familiar to something we have seen already: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble

        Now to be clear, I have nothing against Kickstarter, or even this project (it actually looks quite interesting). But let’s be cautious when putting our money so fast on hope and “great ideas”, without guarantee of delivery, that’s all I’m saying.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I have to admit that I’m not crazy on the idea myself. I think it’s generally unfair to the consumer, prone to snake oil salesmen (idea men in the games industry), and unsustainable for game development. I also think that there’s a real possibility of overpaying for games in this model.

      I figure if it’s any good, I’ll pick it up some time in a humble bundle or as a collection on a Steam sale. The last one I’m likely to support is a Chris Avellone / Obsidian one.

  3. KillahMate says:

    Kickstartermania!

  4. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    I’m really pleased about this. I think the key thing about this particular project was that the team had clearly got quite a bit of work done on the game before seeking funding, and the amount they sought was (relatively) modest. The folks doing FTL pitched there project well too.

    Canny devs ought to see Kickstarter as a good way to push a promising project into a polished, finished game. That’s where I see the real benefit of Kickstarter. Only a very few will have the chops to command complete, multi-million dollar funding for a game at the concept stage.

    Speaking of which, what price Chris Roberts doing Winglancer Commander 8, revenge of Hamill? Or Larry Holland returning from wherever he’s got to for Definitely-Not-TIE-Fighter-2-but-Ships-in-Space-Wot-Shoot-Stuff?

  5. cHeal says:

    Gnoupi raises some interesting points above. Buying into a game on just an idea is not a sustainable process for a functioning industry. However what you speak of is a limitation of Kickstarter rather than crowd funding. If Indie development had a tailor made website for promotion and crowd funding, and blogging of their production. A site that was versatile, and popular. A hub for Indie news and development with the capacity to support crowd funding, then this could be a very real alternative to the publishing system.

    With a dedicated and tailor made system for funding then we could invest not just in an idea but in a real tangible development, from start to finish. The process could be more intuitive and more sustainable. Somebody needs to figure out a system that gets developers their money but offers better guarantees to the investor. That is the challenge, but we now know that the fundamental concept of crowd funding is viable, even for lesser known developers.

    On a side note, I believe the $5 pledge for wallpapers is completely wrong and goes against everything this idea is about. Every listed pledge should get you the finished product. 5 people have backed this pledge and I suspect they may be under the misconception they will get this game when it is finished. They won’t. They just get a wallpaper. For $5.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Yes, I agree with this, exactly. Kickstarter is not really what we could have best as crowdfunding, it’s closer to a leap of faith. You have a limited time to put money into a project… and that’s all. Past the kickstarter finish date, there is nothing. For all we know, they could just disappear.

      From the help section in Kickstarter:

      “How do I know a project will be completed as promised?

      Each project is crafted solely by its creator, and it’s up to them to make the case that they can successfully bring their project to life. Part of every creator’s job is earning their backers’ trust, especially backers who don’t personally know them.

      Creators are encouraged to share links to their personal website(s), as well as any websites that show work related to the project, or past projects.

      The web is an excellent resource for learning about someone’s prior experience. If someone has no demonstrable prior history of doing something like their project or is unwilling to share information, backers should consider that when weighing a pledge. If something sounds too good to be true, it very well may be.”

      “Who is responsible for making sure project creators deliver what they promise?

      Every creator is responsible for fulfilling the promises of their project. Because projects are usually funded by the friends, fans, and communities around its creator, there are powerful social forces that keep creators accountable. Creators are also encouraged to post regular updates about the progress of their project post-funding — communication goes a long way.”

      There is no guarantee whatsoever of what happens once you actually gave money to the creators. The most that Kickstarter can do is “encouraging” the creators to deliver and communicate.

  6. frightlever says:

    Is this game going to be basically like the Disciples series?

    • Nick says:

      More like Final Fantasy Tactics.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        One of the few genres I think have been conspicuously missing on the PC. I really liked Vandal Hearts back on the PS1, so I’m really excited about this.

        A related type of game I would also like to see make a comeback – Freedom Force. Also tactical RPG, but no grids and real-time with pause instead of turn-based.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Shame Hardcore Shooter appears to be languishing.

  8. ThaneSolus says:

    very nice, these guys at least shown something interesting while Schafer is making strange gestures on camera.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drayk says:

      You have to admit that he does that very convincingly.

    • Skabooga says:

      Against my better judgement, I would probably walk off the edge of a cliff if Schafer gestured in its general direction.

  9. Prime-Mover says:

    Another perspective on the whole crowdfunding model, is that it is incredibly appealing to folks who have a somewhat lenient view on the notion of software piracy. When I – hypothetically of course – grab the latest EA title from the piratebay, I have no moral scruples, as I owe no obligation towards EA, or at least, no obligation which comes near the price tag of their latest release. Any motivation I would have for paying for it, involves avoiding hassle (including legal hassle). In the recent Kickstarter examples, we can put our money where our sympathy is, and on top of that, hopefully support the creation of something which will make the world a tiny bit better.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The two aren’t really related at all. Pirates can like kickstarter. Non-pirates can like kickstarter.

      Also, let me point out that you, in the general sense certainly not you as a person, don’t have to access the content right away. You can wait until it goes down in price, someone cracks it, or simply never get it.

      You, again in the general sense, are not really making an ethical choice. You’re inventing reasons to do something that’s not great, because you want to consume something you don’t need. Then you, still in the general sense, are using the false assumption that you must consume something to create a false dichotomy where your only options are buying something new or pirating it, which makes the choice you were going to pick all along ethical. That’s not morality, that’s self-justification.

      • Prime-Mover says:

        First, I am not sure I understand your distinction between “ you, in the general sense certainly not you as a person”, so it is entirely possible, that I misunderstand your post.

        I certainly wasn’t implying that non-pirates wouldn’t like kickstarter. I was however strictly speaking referring only to people –such as myself – who generally feel no moral obligation towards not pirating games from big gaming companies, for several reasons. Thus to me, I am not inventing reasons to do something that is not great, I am claiming, as a moral standpoint, that there is nothing amoral in pirating software, in general. Under this assumption – whether you accept it or not – projects such as kickstarter have the benefit, that people will feel substantially more motivated, since their action 1) helps bring about something they believe in (or else, they would simply refuse to donate) and/or 2) directly supports people to whom they are sympathetic towards and/or 3) they can feel the end result is somewhat dependent on their support. These examples are certainly motivating factors, and not necessarily moral factors (though they might be). I personally supported Wasteland 2, not for sympathy towards the team, but simply because I want that game to exist. Buying Dragon Age 2 (heavens forbid), however, does not necessarily mean that my money goes to the development team, nor does it necessarily increase the likelihood of there being a Dragon Age 3. I see no false dichotomy here.

        • Ragnar says:

          Actually, buying Dragon Age 2 does increase the likelihood of their being a Dragon Age 3, just as not buying DA2 decreases the possibility of DA3. While the money from DA2 sales may or may not go directly to the developers (depending on their publishing agreement), greater DA2 sales increase the chance that those developers are given additional projects. Poor sales, conversely, increases the chance of those developers being let go, or the studio being shut down.

          Just look at Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge, two new IPs from a big publisher. Dead Space sold well, and we had a Dead Space 2. Mirror’s Edge…, not so well, and the future of Mirror’s Edge 2 is uncertain at best.

          • Prime-Mover says:

            As I wrote “necessarily”. And to answer you second post, it is a matter of motivation, of getting people to support a project, who wouldn’t necessarily have done so in a standard publishing scheme.

    • Ragnar says:

      What does supporting game ideas on kickstarter have to do with you, or whomever, pirating games from big publishers? Are you saying that you’re trying to upset the status quo by only buying games from small indie studios, while not buying anything from big publishers? And, if so, couldn’t you do that before without kickstarter, and wouldn’t it be more effective without pirating games?

      Not buying a game sends the message “I don’t like your game\.” Not buying a game, but pirating it, sends the message “I like your game, but I’m too cheap to pay for it.” The former increases the chance of different games, the latter increases the chance of new DRM schemes or free-to-play with micro-transactions.

  10. RegisteredUser says:

    Although both gfx and overall setting are a bit snore-bore for me here(god dammit people, someone get the Silent Storm team to kickstart another TBS shooter!), I love that these things are happening.

    Screw those tight-bummed, sequelitis-infected, no-risks-taken, bottom-line-only-thing-that-counts, herpdermWELURVDRM publishers.

    This is the very answer that we can put forth to the question of “What do you think would happen if everyone pirated music/games/movies/etc pp and the publishers and studios went out of business? You’d all have nothing, hah!” from big execs..

    We’d have the things we actually care about. And the total freedom to actually use them.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Museli says:

    The combat in this is looking like it will play out a lot like my favourite series of all time, Disgaea, so supporting this was a no-brainer for me.

  12. rustybroomhandle says:

    Proof that bundles are overdone is that RPS has not made any mention of the new Humble Bundle that has been running for two days already.

    Good to see the Kickstarters are still doing ok though. For now it’s good for the “getting games funded that would not otherwise get funded” market. As more people hop on board though, that train might still derail.

  13. MistyMike says:

    A Great Migrations Period simulator! Cool! But:

    Turn based combat happening in actual terrain, a la JA2, UFO, Fallout – A Good Thing
    Turn based combat happening on a square grid (with some shrubberies thrown in randomly) – Snoozapalooza

  14. wodin says:

    Great news they hit their target. I shall contribute tomorrow.

  15. Jenks says:

    This was the first kickstarter campaign I contributed to. The setting, art style, genre, and talent behind it put it on my radar from the announcement trailer.