Sword Of Fargoal 2 Is Surely The Closest Kickstarter Yet?

The machinations of Kickstarters are always interesting to follow. Kickstarter themselves report that projects tend to either get barely any of their funding, or complete it – there’s very little in-between. So it hurts all the more when you’re one of those projects that only just falls short. Roguelike Sword Of Fargoal 2 looked like it was going to be amongst their small number, until almost literally the last minute. With fifteen minutes left on the clock, and still $7k short, it seemed that despite enormous efforts they were going to end on just over 4/5 of their funding. And then suddenly they were over the $50k. Barely. Finishing on $50,161, they justscraped through. And from a tweet sent by the team, one could infer that a good chunk of that eleventh-hour cash injection came from Obsidian Entertainment.

Sword Of Fargoal was released by Jeff McCord in 1982. Originally programmed in BASIC, the roguelike went on to be ported to many machines, pioneering random generation of dungeons. And McCord wants to do it all over again. The Kickstarter began a month ago, but always struggled to get the focus of attention you’d assume it might. And as of yesterday, it was still floating around the $30ks.

It’s crazy that all manner of people decided to wait until only minutes were left on the clock before chucking in their cash. Especially as team Fargoal had been on a fundraising drive for the 24 hours previously, trying to rally the final fifth of their pledges. The video of the team watching the Kickstarter live becomes incredibly tense toward the end, as they watch the total slowly ticking around $43k, with barely ten minutes left. Skip to around 3:18:00.

Then with about nine minutes left, $5,000 suddenly appears. That huge chunk was to be absolutely essential, but at the time seemed to only make the shortfall all the more agonising. Still $1,500 short at that point, and the stress on their faces is remarkable. Four minutes and they’re $1,000 shy. Then Rogue Touch developer Kevin Hill ups his pledge a second time in that hour, from $500 to $1,000 to $1,500, putting them $250 away and in utter agony. Three minutes and they’re $70 short. Then $28 below. And then literally with two minutes remaining, they made it over $50,000. Things still weren’t safe – pledges start dropping with 90 seconds left, ten dollars disappearing here and there, as it wavers just minimally above the target. A buffer arrives, and ding, time’s up.

Shortly after it was over, a tweet came from developer Paul Pridham, thanking Obsidian for rallying for the final funding. We’ve no way of knowing where that vital $5k appeared from, but it’s fascinating to see this from the perspective of an indie team asking for what is relatively such a small amount of money, and how much of a difference it made. As Project Eternity enters its final day, and has raised about $300,000 in the last 24 hours, well, perspective becomes a strange thing.

Congratulations to McCord and co.


  1. Mr. Mister says:

    I’d’ve just set the goal at 49.900 (and yes that’s a thousand dot, deal with it).

  2. bit.bat says:

    Just out of curiosity, can the developers themselves donate for their own projects?

    • USER47 says:

      Officially they can’t, but I guess they do it from time to time:).

      • Fanbuoy says:

        Well, Brian Fargo did a somewhat cleaner version with Wasteland 2, saying that they needed 1 mil. but only asked for 900 k since Brian would chip in the last 100 k if necessary.

    • Jorum says:

      It would be very hard for KS to police against it effectively I guess.
      And , to be very cynical, it also wouldn’t be in KS financial interest to delve into a successful project funding too deeply, given they get 5% cut.

    • MondSemmel says:

      That discussion has appeared again and again. I’ve asked about this issue myself, too.
      I think the biggest issue was that you could actually be accused of money laundering. I.e. the main problem might not be with kickstarter (although they forbid this, I guess), but with Amazon Payments or whatever payment service they use.
      (Although I’m not at all sure about the specifics, i.e. who cannot pledge under no circumstances, etc. You’ll have to ask someone else.)

      • Sarissofoi says:

        Hm. It looks like kickstarter can be very easy way to do a money laundry.

      • InternetBatman says:

        About a month ago I did a paper on ten of the largest game kickstarters, and I looked for this by checking the day to day variability in the sizes of pledges. It would be pretty difficult / fairly hard to hide it through using a lot of bank accounts to make small pledges, so they would probably use large pledges which would throw off the day to day average pledge size. The largest kickstarters presumably give people the most motive / most to lose if they don’t make it (big assumption). Also, the large spike would probably come near the end, when it became evident that it was close, but might not succeed.

        Of the ten I looked at (and this only big ones, it’d be even harder to look at small ones), only two showed possible signs of monkey business. Solforge’s was explained by a sale / booth presence they had during a convention. The other, even more suspicious one was Two Guys from Andromeda’s Space Adventure. But I looked at the updates, and I think that the spike came after they announced a $288 pledge tier.

        If people are doing this, it’s illegal, wrong, and short-sighted. It’s illegal because they’re breaking their kickstarter contract, and wrong because they’re taking money from their fans and misrepresenting their ability to deliver on a contract. It’s short-sighted because they’d be selling their reputation for not enough money to live on. I’m sure it has an will happen though.

        • mandrill says:

          And you did it all with the internetbat-computer from the internetbat-cave. Holy internets!

        • Hahaha says:

          They have all ready managed to turn something which had the ability to produce cash for the investor in to something that is akin to a pre order, got to congratulate them on that master piece.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Kickstarter is patronage, not investment. While the model certainly favors the developers over the customers in a way that the previous model didn’t, it runs counter to the accretion of wealth that capitalism favors. Investment rewards people who already have money with more money, kickstarter rewards people who make things with money. I’d argue that’s far better for society in the long run.

            The model just needs better consumer protections now.

  3. wodin says:

    Great to watch…see someones dream come true..superb. Uplifting.

  4. Stackler says:

    I’m very happy about the fact that all these small developers support each other.

  5. ZephaniahGrey says:

    Glad to see that these guys made it. I don’t know if I’ll be playing this game personally, but the creators have a lot of passion, and obviously love what they do. Glad they’ll be able to make a living doing it once more.

  6. Fanbuoy says:

    They did say that they would do the whole “kicking it forward” thingy, right? I suppose that this is a shining example of that.

    • Auspex says:

      Not really: I think Kicking it Forward is supposed to involve using the profits from the released game to Kickstart other projects

  7. Miltrivd says:

    I somehow totally missed this KS. I’m incredibly glad this worked out in the end, and I’m even happier that the Obsidian guys jumped to the rescue.

  8. Terasen says:

    Feargus Urquhart from Obsidian appears in the video at around 1:08, so they’re probably thanking Obsidian for that.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Obsidian also mentioned them on facebook and backed them as a group (you can see pledges if you click on their name in the kickstarter).

  9. Caiman says:

    Fantastic news, if unexpected. I loved the original game (seems like yesterday, sigh), and the remake on iOS was really excellent. Always thought it would work on PC, so looking forward to this. Congrats guys!

    Terasen, I believe it was more than that, some links and verbal support from Project Eternity, but I missed the details.

  10. YogSo says:

    Speaking of Project Eternity, with 13 hours left, they are about 55,000$ short of the final (a second huge city) stretch goal at $3,5M. But they’ve already surpassed both the Double Fine Adventure ($3,336,371) and Wasteland 2 ($2,933,252) kickstarters. Interestingly, the number of backers (66,770 as I write this comment, but it keeps raising) is inferior to the Double Fine Adventure’s final number (87,142)*. It would be funny if they get the equivalent amount of money to kickstart another Sword of Fargoal 2 project in just half a day. Perspective, indeed.

    * For statistics fans, Wasteland 2 had a total of 61,290 backers.

    • InternetBatman says:

      With paypal they’re well over it. Paypal is at $106k. They’re already asking for new stretch goal ideas. I offered a place like the small viking colonies in North America.