After Reset, an RPG which emulates in unequal parts Fallout, Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Torment, first showed up on Kickstarter last year. It was after a whopping $900,000 but missed the early 2013 bubble where basically any game with concept art and an idea could get funded, so fell vastly short. Black Cloud Studios and lead developer Richard Nixon, who has an understandable fascination with using his own name, went dark until they set up another, more successful project for a prequel graphic novel for the game.
That now forms one of the rewards for the “rebooted” game Kickstarter, which has managed to drop its target by 96% to $35k. Predictably, there’s a trade-off: this is to fund only the prologue chapter of the game, hoping to then use sales or further crowd-funding means to complete the entire thing. Hmm. Quite a significant drop to still develop all the major systems behind the game. Have a look at the pitch video and some additional thoughts below.
Far from the best pitch video I’ve ever seen. Simply uploading an intro or trailer is not good enough for Kickstarter, where you’re expecting people to put down real money and not see a return for many months, at the earliest. Decisions like this are likely why the first project, much of which’s content has been brought over to the new one, failed. Black Cloud are doing some things right, there’s daily updates with extraordinary amounts of detail on how the game’s world operates. There’s even more over on the official forums.
Projects like this always cause me to frown. On the one hand, it’s obviously not against the rules of Kickstarter and some of the most impressive and successful projects have come out of failed attempts from years before. People are free to use their money however they wish and the risks and challenges of every project have to be spelled out. On the other – is this really going to be as good a game as it would have been making the whole thing for $900k? Sure, the length is lowered, but that can’t account for that amount of money and presumably the plan is to build the systems on which to develop the rest of the game. The new Kickstarter is almost identical to the old one, promising the same end goal with only a couple of mentions of the new nature of the project. It makes me a little more uncomfortable than usual, and there isn’t a massive threshold for that in the already muddy waters of Kickstarter.
It is mightily ambitious and makes a lot of assurances to retain an “old school, hardcore” feel – mostly by disparaging the directions MMOs have taken the RPG genre. It’s a way to garner interest but I’d far rather see project leaders express the merits of their own game as clearly as possible, instead of ragging on others. By the looks of things it’s going to make its target, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future. I’d love for my suspicions to be unfounded, since it’s a setting/genre combo I’m in constant need of.