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Wizardry, Anachronox Devs Kickstart Old-School RPG

Believe it or not, this is an actual backer reward - velvet pillow, front door delivery, and all. I can respect that.

Do you want an old-school RPG? Wizardry vet Brenda Brathwaite and former Anachronox mastermind Tom Hall sure do. They also want a million dollars, which is another pursuit I think we all have in common. So the longtime dev duo  – in conjunction with John Romero and Ghost Recon: Commander studio Loot Drop – has taken those most basic of human desires to Kickstarter in spite of the incredible risk associated with such a decision. And while Brathwaite and Hall’s variation on the theme ticks quite a few of the requisite “back in my day” boxes, it does stand to do one pretty unique thing. Or, well, technically two, I suppose.

Yep, if Old-School RPG hits its stretch goal of $1.9 million, we’ll get two completely different yet fully intertwined RPGs. I haven’t the foggiest idea of how exactly that’d all work, but it sure sounds like a neat idea. Here are a few details, though:

“If you’re kind enough to help us reach this amount of funding, we’ll create TWO FULL games – one designed by Brenda Brathwaite and one designed by Tom Hall. Not only will you cast, smash and slash your way through two full games, the endings of each game provide exclusive NEW game beginnings in the other! Import your crew from Tom’s game into Brenda’s and vice versa. The ending you create affects not only your new game beginning (if you choose it), but also provides unique advantages that you earn no other way.”

Also, if you haven’t already, watch the video. It’s impressively goofy and contains funny sounds that made me laugh.

Beyond that, Brathwaite and Hall are being oddly specific yet strangely vague. On one hand, Old-School RPG (probably not the final title) will come in a box (!) with a cloth map (!!) and… yeah (!!!). On the other hand, we know nothing about the setting, quest structure, characters, or combat beyond “it’ll have them.” (Update: Brathwaite, Hall, and co have now updated the Kickstarter page to say it’s a “first-person, fantasy/sci-fi RPG” with a four-character party. So potentially Ultima-ish or Grimrock-y. Interesting!) Encouragingly, they’re also aiming to include multiple endings and beginnings, so this probably won’t be some pre-cooked story where you simply fill in a few blanks.

As of writing, the Kickstarter had already crossed the $100,000 mark, so this one’s chances are looking pretty good. That said, how are you feeling about the “there’s gold in them thar hills” mentality toward resurrecting once-dead RPGs? I mean, I have no doubt that passion’s powering these projects more than anything, but there are now three in the works – and I’d be willing to bet a single, shining lock of John Romero’s wondrous mane money on the idea that more are on the way. Between that, adventures, and other such nostalgia-laden genres, there’s no doubt gaming’s in the middle of a full-blown retro revival. Are we in danger, though, of going too far? Is there a point of no return on paying (and making money off of) constant tribute to the past?

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Nathan Grayson


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