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.