Biffstarter: Project Awakened’s Ambitious Funding ‘Plan B’

By Nathan Grayson on March 8th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Police Car Blood Tornado Explosion Man might not be the most popular superhero out there, but he gets the job done.

In a good and just world, all promising games would get Kickstarted, and everyone would live happily ever after. Also, clothes would always feel fresh out of the laundry and chocolate would be the cure for war. Unfortunately, however, our world is not just, and calling it “good” is probably a bit of a stretch. That depressing tangent brings us to Project Awakened. It failed to pass muster on Kickstarter, in spite of promising our neither good nor just world, er, the world. But sometimes, the best ideas only spring to mind when backs are pressed firmly against the wall, and Phosphor’s certainly hatched an intriguing one. In short, it plans to gauge interest in a second crowdfunding effort, but this time it’ll run its own site and – here’s the Kickstarter-stomping kicker – declare backers “partial owners” of the property.

First, though, step one: publicly ask fans if they’re willing to give it another go. Phosphor explained to RPS:

“For nearly seven years now, the core vision of Project Awakened has survived a publishing icon crashing around it, a team of unemployed devs trying to rebuild it with no funding, and years of hopeful, excited discussions with publishers and that financiers one by one turn to nothing.  So missing the mark on a Kickstarter isn’t going to break it’s spirit.”

It is important to us that we don’t start taking your money unless we are sure it will be enough to start a prototype. So, if the community tells us they will back us enough, we will move forward with a new 6 week fundraising campaign on our own website – www.projectawakened.com, that will take both credit card and Paypal donations, and keep all the reward tiers available.”

The survey is set to run for one week, at which point Phosphor will render a verdict. But then, this same rather optimistic line of thought didn’t work out so well for the likes of Wildman, and there’s also that whole “definition of madness” thing all the mohawked, island-terrorizing kids are talking about these days. Phosphor, however, is keeping its goals more modest, with sights now set on $350,000 – or roughly the same amount people were willing to pledge to its Kickstarter.

That still-princely sum will then be funneled into an Unreal Engine 4 prototype that’ll go straight into the hands of backers, offering them the chance to give feedback, create their own mods, and generally leave a mark on the project. It’ll apparently be out later this year, with a larger scale closed beta following sometime in 2014 depending on how much money backers chip in.

The most interesting part, however, is the one that’s currently shrouded in the most mystery. Apparently, backers of the backup plan will also be declared partial owners of Project Awakened, via a system that’s being described as “somewhat like the Green Bay Packers model.” How exactly will that function in regards to a game? I honestly haven’t the foggiest, but it’s a noble intention, to say the least.

Fortunately, I’m due to interview Phosphor about it any moment now, so you’ll know more as soon as I do.

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24 Comments »

  1. Guvornator says:

    “…declare backers “partial owners” of the property.”

    Anyone seen The Producers?…

    • frightlever says:

      First time I saw one of Gene Wilder’s panic attacks I all but wet myself laughing. Great movie. Thank God they never re-made it.

      So you can Kickstart a game prototype now? A prototype, not a finished game? Interesting.

      • frightlever says:

        This’ll never survive the potted meat trap in an edit, so:

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Thank God they never re-made it.

        Indeed

        If I remember correctly, the Takedown kickstarter and I think that Pathfinder MMO were both for prototypes to shop to publishers.

      • gwathdring says:

        The musical is awesome.

        Psahw. Purists.

        Besides, it’s not a remake. It’s an adaptation into another media (movie musical) from yet another form (stage musical). It might not be your thing and still be well crafted. I suppose you’re welcome to dislike it on more critically valid grounds as well … but i distrust purists on principal.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          I’d imagine a true purist doesn’t like the Gene Wilder thing, which is also a type of “remake” or adaptation.

        • Guvornator says:

          Eh? Not sure if this is what you meant but the timeline goes – Movie -> Musical of Movie -> Movie of Musical of Movie. Clear? ;)

          • gwathdring says:

            This is precisely what I meant. I was objecting to the objecting to the remake of the original movie as a totally awesome musical and a totally awesome movie of said musical, with an assertion that while opinions of all stripes are obviously welcome, I’d rather appreciate a more detailed analysis before one calls the musical “bad” (or implies such by celebrating the fact that it *totally never existed, ever, no really*) unless one simply doesn’t like musicals in general.

            Maybe you didn’t mean to reply to me?

            Edit: Ah! I see the confusion. When I said “it’s not a remake” I was referring to the most recent film, which is more accurately described as an adaptation of the Broadway musical which is in turn more accurately described as an adaptation of the original film. My syntax might not be the most easily recognizable, but it says exactly the same thing as your arrow-pushing mechanism.

  2. Cinek says:

    eh… they don’t know when to stop, do they?

    Come on Devs… if you read that: Stop wasting your talent on that crap! Either come out with some good game, or join other development teams. It’d be a GREAT SHAME if you’d be stuck on this project!

  3. Resartus says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s utterly amusing that the legal entity that is usually created to do something like this is called a “corporation” and the partial owners are called “shareholders”?
    The main difference seems to be that these newish schemes lack any kind of legal protection for the people “investing” their money yet they are still popular with the exact same people that usually hate anything remotely “corporate”.

    • Shuck says:

      Forming a corporation and selling shares has a set of legal restrictions that dictate how it has to be done, however. Though I think they’re going to run into legal problems no matter what they do, as trying to sidestep that will create its own legal issues.

    • gwathdring says:

      There is a decided difference in scale here, and in format. In the strictest sense, the principal is the same as a privately traded corporation with an unorthodox admissions scheme for investors. But there are major differences in scope and in exact terms of the arrangement beyond the issue of liability and share-holder protections and so forth.

      The point is well taken, in that we need a more systematic way to go about this that provides less risk for customers if we want it to remain particularly viable on the long term (as in, more than a decade). Probably. Might work out anyway, even with the occasional scam and disadvantage.

      • gwathdring says:

        P.S. Of course, I’d argue Kickstarter is all about side-stepping the sorts of efficient risk-avoidance structures that make mid-level publishing and direct-to-consumer arrangements unfeasible in more typical investment setups. It’s about taking a bunch of steps back away from standard Free Market stuff and saying “Look, we know this is a risky endeavor … we’re willing to do it and probably take in way less profit, if you’re willing to accept atypical amounts of risk either because we think this is a cool way to do it or because we think this is the only way to assure we get anything out of a project like this.”

        When I put it that way, I start to think the irony in that is purely superficial. Below the “ha ha, that looks like pre-regulation, pre-stocks corporate investment!” level of things there’s an adaptive business model that serves a specific purpose and creates a space that wasn’t easily accessible before. It’s not the end-all-be-all answer to independent and niche publishing, the one-and-only counter to traditional publishing. But it’s a good thing based on solid principles.

        I’d say something similar about donation-ware, though that gets complicated fast; there are clear differences at work when we bring up share-ware and donation-ware in comparison to Kickstarter.

  4. JFS says:

    I hope they’ll find a way to do anything useful with a survey that’ll fall victim to a response bias the size of the Grand Canyon.

    • wccrawford says:

      They don’t care how many *won’t* buy it. They only care how many *will*. Bias is fine.

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    In other kickstarter news…

    Lord British is livestreaming his new kickstarter (like, right now): http://www.lordbritishpresents.com/

    and Shadowrun Returns has gameplay video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MiMjQwd2VE

  6. Shooop says:

    Maybe if they offered some game footage instead of only “Making of” clips people would be more interested.

  7. TsunamiWombat says:

    Look, I love superpowers. I love ALL the superpowers. But games need a focus, a thrust. You need a plan, a fixation, a design doc. “Lets make all the superpowers” is simply not a game. It’s a PART of a game. A fragment of a concept. Produce an idea for a GAME and we’ll talk.

    • Lacero says:

      Yeah. The art direction in the kickstarter screenshots was a bit random too. I just don’t see an overall theme.

    • LintMan says:

      Agreed. I was a backer on the KS, but kept hoping they’d spend more time detailing the actual gameplay they intended. I voted No on the poll, but if they came back with a stronger KS with more/better gameplay details, I’d definitely back it again.

  8. Jimbo says:

    I read the title and somehow my brain concluded that Cliffy B would be involved in this. Worrying.

  9. bill says:

    That’s how i always assumed kickstarter would work…