Dig Deep: Paranautical Activity Kickstarter

By Craig Pearson on August 5th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Agent Skully, we meet again.
You might remember fun FPS Paranautical Activity from that time I played it and enjoyed it quite a lot. If you don’t remember, then I don’t know why I bother. TSK! Anyway, the team have had a few ups and downs since then. First, they set-up a Greenlight page, then they were courted by a publisher who claimed they could get on Steam. Then Valve told blocked that move and the developers were left despondent, and a bit poor. The despondency was eased by a balloon popping party, but they need a bit of help the poor part, and have launched a Kickstarter. Pitch is below.

This is one of those ‘final hurdle’ Kickstarters, where the game is quite far on but they need a few pennies to make it everything they dreamed of. I enjoyed the rough and ready version I played a few months back: it’s the perfect game to while away an hour shooting horrible and creative enemies, even though I could barely get past the first level at the time. Since then there has been a pile of major updates, so even if they’re eating stale bread and living in cardboard boxes, they’re still on top of the game. Take a peek.

I’m a little sad that the multiplayer is a huge stretch goal, but I understand that it’s a tough thing to work on. Ah well. The devs are pretty active on Twitter, so don’t even think about asking me something that they could answer.

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41 Comments »

  1. The Random One says:

    I’m not sad the multiplayer is a stretch goal. The game is pretty much made for single player. It’s more Binding of Isaac than Doom.

    Valve really screwed them over on this one.

    • guorley says:

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      • muffinmonkey says:

        Really? That sounds amazing, you should tell the developers, it sounds like they could use $13999.

      • Don Reba says:

        “xurl” — funny, there are two ways to pronounce the first letter in English and two other in Spanish (as indiciated by “.es”). In English, it could be “zurl” or “ksurl”, and in Spanish, “yurl” or “hurl”. Way to pick an easy-to-remember domain name.

    • Triplanetary says:

      Valve really screwed them over on this one.

      Disagree. I think Valve wanted to avoid setting a precedent of every mediocre indie developer running to Adult Swim to get their games published on Steam. And that’s a good precedent to avoid, because Adult Swim publishes a lot of shit games (under the guise of “hurr hurr it’s shit because it’s ironic, get it guyz?!”). Not that Adult Swim has been doing that on Steam yet, but again, if I were Valve I’d want to stop that possibility before it even got off the ground.

      The devs in this case were also trying to have their cake and eat it, too, by going the Greenlight route but also courting a publisher in case the Greenlight didn’t go the way they wanted it to.

      Paranautical Activity is a pretty good premise, but in actual execution it frankly looks bad (I can’t wait till this Minecraft-inspired wave of fake-voxel indie games goes away), and from what I’ve seen of the developers themselves I honestly don’t think they have the potential to do anything particularly good. So I’m not feeling bad for them.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        You’re kind of a dick, aren’t you.

        • Triplanetary says:

          I like to think not.

          • dryinsomnia says:

            You can think what you want, but you are a dick. I agree with what you were saying about just getting a publisher for access to steam, as that would set a pretty bad precedent. But it is not fair to write this game off because it looks “minecraft” inspired. Which minecraft is inspired by the old pixelated game design just in a 3d world. As this game is inspired by the pixelated world of doom except they wanted to make it true 3d without removing the pixelated aspect.

  2. Dominic White says:

    The general narrative with gamers surrounding Paranautical Activity has been a little disturbing. It’s become that game that people downvoted on greenlight out of spite for ‘making a fuss’ or ‘rocking the boat’. Apparently when you get screwed in a deal between huge corporations, the correct response is to shut up and take it.

    It’s a really fun little game. Pretty much The Binding Of Isaac in first-person, no more, no less. It’s still a bit unpolished and unbalanced, but it has grown a ton since the first version I played. And the soundtrack is fantastic – reminds me a lot of late-90s Black Sun Empire – aggressive, dark, fast electronica with a drum n’ bass edge that you don’t hear too much of these days.

    Really hope this Kickstarter does well. And I’m so not interested in multiplayer, unless it’s co-op with multiplied enemy spawns, which would be pretty rad, actually.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      That is one of the stretch goals.

    • Turkey says:

      Ugh. I didn’t know about any of the Greenlight drama until this story.

      Everything about Greenlight just sucks.

    • ANeM says:

      I had not previously heard of anyone “downvoting out of spite.” A source on that would be nice, but honestly it doesn’t matter if people downvote Paranautical, spiteful or otherwise. Downvotes on Greenlight don’t do anything.

      • jrodman says:

        DOWNVOTING YOU!

        (okay, not really.)

      • Caiman says:

        Downvotes are the same as no votes, which means those users aren’t clicking “Yes”, which means your chances of getting greenlit are reduced. So actually, downvotes do count.

        • Baines says:

          They aren’t “Downvotes”. They are “I’m not interested, so don’t show this to me again” votes.

          According to Valve, from their (and a game’s) perspective, a “No” on Greenlight is no different than not voting at all. Steam says I’ve voted on 23 Greenlight games. I’ve voted “No Thanks” on only a couple. But as far as Valve is concerned, those couple of “No Thanks” votes are no different that the complete indifference that I’ve shown thousands of other Greenlight titles.

          With the sheer number of entries on Greenlight, it is not even like removing a game from view in my queue is really changing the odds that I’ll see it again. To vote on anything except the most recent items, you pretty much have to already know that a game exists in advance and go directly to it to vote on it at all. And if you do change your mind about a game, I’m pretty sure you can switch your “No Thanks” to a “Yes” vote.

          Of course you could vote “Yes” to every single item on Greenlight, but that pretty much just renders all your votes as meaningless as if you hadn’t voted on anything at all.

    • kwyjibo says:

      I’m fairly sure the greenlight kerfuffle is the only reason the game is getting the coverage it’s getting. It’s been good for them.

  3. Piecewise says:

    [Trigger warning: Voxels.]

  4. m0ntag says:

    I love Paranautical Activity and have sunk a surprising number of hours. It’s exactly what they say in the video: the twitch-shooting of Quake and Doom against giant spooky monsters that each require different tactics in randomly generated rooms with the occasional item shop, like Binding of Isaac. It’s the dream-game of a lot of people but not many know about. If this could take off, I’d love to the see the result. You can purchase it now on Desura, if you want to play.

    • Junkie says:

      I love this game – definitely got my $10 worth of fun from it, despite purchasing the beta. I like the Binding of Isaac as FPS comparison.

      It’s also available through the Humble Store, which I believe is how one purchases it by going directly through their site: CodeAverice

  5. rawrty says:

    How is it people are playing this already? It says on their kickstarter page they can’t give out beta keys until after the campaign is over.

    • malkav11 says:

      They can’t give keys for the game as part of the campaign until they have your money, which won’t happen until the end of the campaign.

      The game itself is purchaseable through Desura and has been in a couple of indie bundles, the latter of which is how I got it.

      • rawrty says:

        Ahhh…Isn’t kind of strange to do a kickstarter for a game that is already on sale?

        The game has me interested and I was considering backing it…But that was before I realized I could just buy it on Desura. Isn’t there a 20% commission for Desura and the devs get the rest ? So for $10 the devs would still get $8 which is the level I would kickstart at anyway.

        I guess it comes down whether or not I want to spend an extra 2 bucks to play it now. Or…most likely I’ll just wait for it to show up in another bundle.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Also Kickstarter takes a toll too, 10% AFAIK.

          • rawrty says:

            Ah good point, the devs might end up with even more cash trough a Desura purchase. I guess the Kickstarter thing is more or less to get more attention to the game, seems they succeeded.

          • Baines says:

            Kickstarter’s web pages say that Kickstarter takes 5%, while Amazon takes an additional 3-5% as a processing fee. So 8-10% total, depending on the fees for payment processing.

  6. Don Reba says:

    Balloon popping party — took me four tries to read it right.

  7. Nevard says:

    The game looks great but… I just really can’t stand that art style. I want to like it but I can’t get past all the cubes

    • Wurstwaffel says:

      I agree. I think it’s weird how people act like valve had no reason to reject the game. The pixely style and the dimly lit rooms sure don’t look interesting to everyone.

      • The Random One says:

        Unless my memory is very wrong, Valve specifically said they were rejecting the game so as to not give the impression that devs can skip greenlight by finding a publisher. Ordinarily they will not even give devs a reason for their refusal.

        • Baines says:

          Mike Maulbeck posted on the Code Avarice blog:
          However since we had an old greenlight page set up for the game Valve decided they “didn’t want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass steam greenlight” and pulled the rug out from under our feet.

          That’s the quoted that seems to have been used in various news reports, and most likely where the accounting originated.

          A second popular quote is Valve’s Doug Lombardi’s “However our message to indies regarding publishers is do it for your own reasons, but do not split your royalties with a publisher expecting an automatic ‘Yes’ on Greenlight.” Taken in the context of the rejection of Paranautical Activity, it does sound like Valve rejected the game in order to send a message to other developers, warning them to not try to jump from a Greenlight campaign to a Steam-friendly publishers. However, the quote isn’t actually in direct response to asking about Paranautical Activity’s situation. While the quote comes from a PCGamesN news post on Paranautical Activity’s rejection, it is part of a response to PCGamesN asking “how indies should approach the choice between Greenlight and straight publisher backing.”

  8. lomaxgnome says:

    While the game was in the Groupees bundle, the Devs became somewhat widely known for shouting down or badmouthing anyone who would question anything about the game design. It was also in the $1 level for that bundle with several other (much better) games, making the current $8 price on the Kickstarter seem a bit high.

    Personally, I really liked the idea of it, but when I played I found the gunplay rather mediocre and the randomness was between “superpowered” and “worthless” with no sense of progression at all (though that could have changed in recent months). Also the graphics were primitive to the point that it was at times difficult for me to even figure out what I was doing. And given all the free publicity it got from the whole “we got shafted on greenlight” bit, it seems like if it was a more appealing game it would have gotten plenty of votes quite easily…

    • Triplanetary says:

      Yeah, the devs kind of turn me off, too. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen a preview of Paranautical Activity on a gaming website only to see the devs jump into the comments section and be all, “Hay guys it’s us we’re the devs!” Now, devs being communicative with fans (or potential fans) is great, but there’s a time and place for it. Every time I see an indie dev enter a conversation about their game, it changes the tone of the discussion. So when it comes to third-party forums and blogs, they need to leave us some space to discuss the game on our own terms.

      It’s like, you can imagine having a conversation with your friend about how shitty McDonald’s hamburgers are, but then if the executive chef of McDonald’s is sitting at the table with you, you’re probably going to tone down the criticism a lot, either just to be polite or because you’re a cock-sucking yes-man.

      • frightlever says:

        I also got it in that bundle and I actually liked it okay but it was just too fricking difficult for me to stick at. I think my longest run was three rooms.

        Devs should stay off message boards. No good comes off it. Either they end up shouting at their own fans or, worse, listening to them.

    • Baines says:

      I got it from the bundle, and played it for only a few minutes before uninstalling it. It just wasn’t fun.

      It felt like it wanted to be Doom, but everything was off for that. You walk into a gigantic room, ten enemies spawn out of thin air, all firing directly at you. The blocky world and shots made it hard to tell if I was aiming at an enemy, particularly with the oversensitive fast movement. I had to reduce mouse sensitivity to nearly zero to have any control, because it freaked out at the slightest brushing at the default level.

      Honestly, I could see Valve rejecting the game for quality reasons. More accurately, I could see a store that was concerned about game quality rejecting Paranautical Activity, or being harsh if they felt the game was trying to skirt the rules. Whether Valve would act that way is another matter, as Valve is not exactly discriminating when it comes to “quality”, and are notorious for intentionally hiding details of their approval and rejection processes.

      • frightlever says:

        I think my interpretation, which you can see above, wasn’t that the game had made a bunch of bad design decisions, but that I wasn’t good enough at playing the game. Where they fell down was because I didn’t feel like sticking with the game long enough to get good at it. Although at this stage I’m probably as good as I’m going to get at FPS games.

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