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Kickstarting Corpses: Dead State

I post about Kickstarter projects more often than I post about indie bundles, which is alarming and is also the reason I’d pledged not to cover any more of them this week…and yet this may not even be the last such post today. The proposed zombie survival RPG Dead State is a concept that sends shivers down my spine like a gentle caress every time I remember it exists. But then I realise that it doesn’t exist, to me, as anything other than a concept and I realise I’m essentially caressing myself. Now DoubleBear have announced that they’re going to start a Kickstarter, which leads me to ask, what are the criteria you look for when considering a pledge?

Is it a game of the sort you don’t feel the major studios are providing? A turn-based, open-ended zombie survival RPG should fit the bill quite nicely for a lot of people. I haven’t played Telltale’s take on The Walking Dead yet but I’m fairly convinced I’d rather it was a risky, ambitious, tense and bitter RPG than an admittedly handsome but possibly QTE-laden adventure.

Maybe you look for pedigree, people on board who make you believe it might be a job done well? Or maybe just the involvement of people called Brian? Dead State is headed up by Brian Mitsoda who was lead writer on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. We’d all like more of that sort of storytelling in our games presumably, but the proposal for Dead State seems, in many ways, a far more ambitious one. It’s hard enough to write characters that make me care but to do it in a non-linear environment could be even trickier.

It’s important to believe the project will lead to a decent release as well and that’s where everything becomes confusing and murky. Wasteland 2 and the Doublefine Adventure hit their goals while they were still young, they were swimming in money before the umbilical cord was snipped. The speed of pledging isn’t going to make the game happen any faster. It could even slow it down if the project expands along with the piles of cash contributed.

By the time these games are close to release it’s entirely possible that entire nations will have been plunged into debt because their citizens have been kickstarting turn-based pet cat simulations, Printer Repairman: The Movie and Printer Repairman: The Game of the Movie. Kickstarter might be considered the great evil of our generation by the time the good things it assisted come around.

DoubleBear do at least seem to realise that having a game in development so long with so little to show is not the best way to reassure people that their money will be spent well. In a post on the Iron Tower forums, Mitsoda acknowledges this:

I still don’t think we’re quite ready for a Kickstarter launch, but we’re starting to head in that direction. I think putting a bit of distance between any possible launch and the massive projects being funded right now is probably a smart move, though I’m not a bizdev guy, so who knows. While we toil away on the latest Dead State builds and features, I would like to open up the discussion to you, the potential supporter – let’s kickstart a Kickstarter discussion.

We’re planning on showing off some of the gameplay we think represents the game. What would you like to see most to feel confident about contributing to the game?

This I like. Don’t rush into the Kickstarter but rather take the temperature of the interested parties and offer them something. Show ’em what you’ve got and see what they think of it. Hopefully it’s a way that the team can show what they’ve been working on all this time, with an incentive to do so beyond marketing. They’re pitching to the public and isn’t that what Kickstarter is all about?

I’ve been following Dead State for a long time and I would dearly love to play the game DoubleBear have described. Hopefully, when the Kickstarter is ready they’ll have enough on show to make me believe that it will happen one day.

You can provide feedback of your own over at the forums.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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