The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waiting. Pass the time by reading some of the things that might have been said about videogames during the week. Will they change the way you think FOREVER?

  • The Guardian talk with Dan Houser about the GTA games: “This game, if we get it right, will be a step toward some kind of organic living soap opera,” says Houser. “You have these three characters and they’re all living when you’re not with them. What that means, we don’t really know yet, we’re only getting it working for the first time. But it feels to us something powerful.”
  • The tale of Valve and the Greek economist: “In a typical experiment, Valve can set four different prices for the same item in different markets simultaneously, then track how that affects players’ trades. They must act fast: Players usually figure out the experiment within 30 minutes and try to game it—a fairly good simulation of how real financial markets behave. The company is transparent about the research, both out of a general desire to treat its users right and because its success comes from customers: Many of Valve’s hit games, including Team Fortress II, are based on modifications to old games that users hacked up just for fun. So the company emails users about its experiments, and Varoufakis blogs about his work on the Valve site.”
  • Quintin Smith and Leigh Alexander ask “Do you Dyad”? “You’ve told me Dyad is about beating yourself. Is the pleasure you get from self-surpassing enhanced the more illogical and surreal the circumstances are? Do you get some kind of gratification from searing your retinas in front of a broken system screaming techno at you? My favorite thing about this game is the multichromatic FAILED screen. You get it a lot. Are you a masochist, Quintin? Is there something you haven’t told me?”
  • Polygon on Iron Ribbon’s gaming equality campaign: “The various gaming communities that have come together to support Iron Ribbon have all agreed that while harassment and abuse is rampant within certain gaming communities, it is not possible to paint every gamer with the same brush stroke, nor is it fair to accuse all gaming communities of perpetuating discrimination. Of the many video game community leaders and event organizers Polygon spoke to, all agreed that it was a tricky problem to tackle and there is no quick fix.”
  • “To The Games I Will Never Finish”. I saw John “Lego Star Wars” Smith perform a song about this very topic a few years back.
  • Troy Goodfellow on Molyneux’s tears: “I’m not a language prescriptivist. Words evolve and usage changes, and I have come to reluctantly accept that “begging the question” is now lost to barbarians. Still, I think definitions and categorization matter, especially when you are making judgments about whether a given object is similar to or better than another. If Peter Molyneux thinks Cityville is a god game, then we can agree to disagree (personally, I’m not even sure I have a good definition for god game), though it thereby presumes that all city-builders are god games since CityVille is a minor city-builder. But if he thinks that people look at Cityville as the defining example of a god game, then we have many bones to pick.”
  • Beefjack talks “The Second Coming Of God Games”: “And I mean, I’ve spoken to publishers recently – obviously people have noticed Maia and wanted to discuss it with me – and again they’ve gone ‘well this has always been a really small niche, and you’re going to need to make it social and add micropayments and stuff’ and so I think publishers are still afraid of going for anything that’s less than a multi-million pound extravaganza, and I think god games have been considered too complex, or perhaps going after a certain market where everything’s gone very wide ranging now.”
  • Rab has started a Tumblr. He’s been saying some stuff about Kickstarter: “But these capitalist animals, Molyneux and Braben to name but two, are transforming Kickstarter into a shopping website for products that don’t yet exist. They package their products with ridiculous “bonuses” that the gaming audience are paying small fortunes to secure. This is the same game audience that, just a few years ago, was laughing Bethesda out of the room for charging a small amount of cash for horse armour. And we at least knew something about that game.”
  • Interesting little piece from the FTL guys on how working towards competitions forced them to deliver: “The deadline of people wanting to play this game, and ultimately judge this game, was the motivation to get this into something playable,” he said. “These deadlines would come up every 3-4 months, reminding you that it has to be a balanced, functioning game that people can play. That was important for us because we don’t have marketers or publishers telling us we have to do anything.”
  • Occasionally I am compelled to link articles I wish we’d done on RPS, like this one about making Skyrim ridiculously pretty.
  • And with that in mind, here’s the compulsory DeadEndThrills link.
  • An interesting take on the “games in the classroom” discussion: “Because dys4ia requires active participation by the player, it draws them into the logic of a system bigger than the individual. It gives non-trans players a tiny glimpse of the frustrations of living in a society that tells you over and over that you do not exist, and that, when it on occasion deigns to admit that you do, then drops obstacle after obstacle in the path of your desires and goals. Here, one student said that the game helped them to better understand the process of transition and all of the institutional and societal barriers involved. Another told me that the game helped them to better understand the idea of ideology as a force bigger than the individual, something that can structure one’s options and choices in life without one’s knowledge or consent.”
  • An interview with our free games columnist, Porpentine: “The purpose of a puzzle is to provide resistance. For me, that resistance doesn’t need to be coercive or challenging, just interesting and aesthetic. My mechanics are to be touched. Games are perhaps the most intimate art because the player must remain touching at all times. They must touch or the game does not exist.”
  • Cliff Harris questions “Kickstarter inequality“.

Music this week is a collaboration between Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds.


  1. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Maybe I am old and cynical, but I have thought that [Rab’s article] about kickstarter from the beginning. It always seemed like a very long pre-order system, combined with kind of charity.

    I appreciate its missing the point, and I will be honest and say I never have given to a kickstarter (I nearly splashed on Oculus Rift to be an ‘early adopter’ but then thought it best to wait for the commercial version). I can understand people loving something and wanting to support it though.

    But yeah, what the angry guy said. Is Rab scottish by the way? I read his article in a glaswegian accent in my head :)

    • Palindrome says:

      He is. He also has his own TV sketch show. link to he is the guy carrying the bottle.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Hehehe I work in aberdeen and will be emailing that one round the office on monday :)

      • Lemming says:

        haha excellent! Also enjoyed this one:

      • Trillby says:

        And this is probably the perfect place to once again sing the praises of the seminal but sadly defunct comedy video game review shows by him and his mate – Videogaiden.

        link to is a classic one we all tend to link to =)
        Check out Consolevania too, also from him, same mate, same sort of format.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      You’re missing his point if you apply it from the start though. I genuinely believe companies like Double Fine and Obsidian could not have invested in their own projects to the level kickstarter did. No investors wanted to make those niche titles, not because they wouldn’t profit but because they wouldn’t profit ENOUGH. It makes sense that kickstarter allowed those projects to happen.

      Godus on the other hand is something, at 400,000, Peter M. could have funded himself without much trouble. I would guess the kickstarter is more to gauge interest anyway though.

      • Lacero says:

        But if people who are interested don’t back it because they think he can pay for it himself doesn’t that mean it’s not going to work as an interest gauge?

        • StingingVelvet says:

          It’s a good point. Luckily I am not a fan of the genre, so I don’t have to deliberate on that.

        • Dahoon says:

          Sure, but only for developers we all know have lots of money already and don’t really need kickstarter.

      • LionsPhil says:

        What of the Kickstarters which are initial captial to then be taken to “big” investors to say “look, interest”, like Star Citizen?

        That seems substantially worse to me, since that means the Kickstarting crowd are a bit part in the control of the final product. Big publisher willing to put in the required ten mil demands DRM? Well, do you break your KS no-DRM promise and still put a game out to your backers, or do you refuse, fold and give them nothing?

        • KikiJiki says:

          Yep, this is the problem I have with Kickstarters like Star Citizen. The investors get to see that there’s upfront interest, lowering their exposure to risk, and they get to invest less overall than if they totally funded it, securing lower exposure a second time.

          Then they get returns on that investment and Kickstarter pledgers see nothing beyond the immediate rewards promised, peanuts compared to the cash investors will see if the game is a success, which the initial KS pledge money shows.

          So to me, Star Citizen was an exercise in private investment winning the big prize by stepping on the toes of people genuinely caring enough to pledge. And that approach to crowd-funding utterly disgusts me and is the antithesis of what I think it should be.

          • Phantoon says:

            I’m pretty sure most people saw it that way, as Kickstarter was seen as an “alternative” to funding, not a supplementary source.

            I’ve not funded anything that’s done it, honestly. I know a lot of these games can’t go asking for a quarter of a million dollars, but I just can’t support it.

        • lcy says:

          The flip side of course, is that fully funding a big game through KS would have everyone up in arms over ‘greed’.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I’m sure Godus is being privately funded by Molyneux. The 400,000 won’t probably cover the wages of the 22-strong team behind it. And then there’s other development costs, not to mention associated production costs.

        • InternetBatman says:

          He certainly doesn’t imply he’s funding the game out of pocket here:

          We need £450,000 to do this. Yes, games typically cost more than that to make, but we’re sticking to a small, highly effective team and we’ll be employing careful management to keep the project on track and get the most out of our funding.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            Read that as you will. I’m not gullible. Sorry.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I never called you gullible. It does not make sense to assume that someone will be spending their own money on a project unless they explicitly say they will, like Brian Fargo did.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            I agree it didn’t look good on him. I don’t trust one bit that’s all he requires to make this game. Even assuming it would be, what about distribution costs? What about the multiplayer servers? Maybe if his team doesn’t eat and is willing to work without minimum wage…

          • dontnormally says:

            £450,000budget /22devs = £20,455

            £450,000 absolutely could not be the full budget.

        • StingingVelvet says:

          Probably true, but the impression is “super rich dude who just released a game which one assumes brings in revenue asking for relatively small amount.” It still seems wrong somehow.

          My post was not anti-Molyneux though, I simply don’t think you can apply Rab’s overall rant to every KS project, as the original comment tried to do. There is a vast difference between “rich guy with string of broken promises asks for pocket change” and “tried and tested RPG developers with large following but not much capital ask for significant money to make dream project.”

          Anyone not recognizing the difference there, of which there are MANY on Kickstarter, are doomed to fail.

          • mickygor says:

            Just how rich is Molyneux?

          • Supahewok says:

            He had a pretty fair amount from his time at Microsoft, although I believe he implied that setting up 22 Cans took a big chunk of his personal wealth, don’t know how much he has left OR how much he’s saving for future plans.

      • Moni says:

        Wait, Point & Click Adventures and RPG are niche, but God Games aren’t? That statement doesn’t seem right.

        • StingingVelvet says:

          Good thing no one said that, then.

          Also please specify isometric old-school CRPG, since there is a pretty massive difference between Project Eternity and Skyrim.

      • frightlever says:

        Potentially being able to fund projects with private money has been an issue right from Brian Fargo’s Wasteland 2 Kickstarter. He was after 900k, and while that’s twice what Molyneux wants, it’s still hardly a dent in his pocket book.

        But, these guys are businessmen and a cautious approach would be to never risk your own money when you can get someone else to put it up. Fargo or Molyneux could potentially self-fund these projects and reap greater rewards by doing so, possibly. Or they could lose their investment entirely. Neither of them are that young so they’ve chosen to protect their bank.

    • nimzy says:

      CliffyB was probably the first person to echo my thoughts on the topic as well, right after the Double Fine Kickstarter gathered momentum. If pre-orders are already ridiculous and exploitative, what does that make Kickstarter? You are quite literally just handing complete strangers your money and trusting that amazing things will happen with no guarantees. As a topical example, Erik Kain calls the recent record-breaking funding of Star Citizen “crowd-funding the right way” in what I can only hope is a profoundly satirical statement. Gamers won’t see a return on their donations for at least two years, three in a conservative estimate. Meanwhile, the developer is using the Kickstarter money as a basis for private investment. And no one sees a problem with this? Tens of thousands of people donated their money with the expectation of receiving nothing but a copy of the game and the digital equivalent of a pat on the back while right next door people are putting money down and getting something quite a bit more substantial. I don’t mean to be mercenary about the whole thing, but the ethics of paying someone to make money do not sit well with me.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        I think it’s a stretch to compare pre-orders with Kickstarter. Although certainly one is free to make that argument, it falls under the hood of a fallacy. Oranges aren’t Apples.

        That said, Kickstarter is surely a risk. And I think it’s because people aren’t looking at it in the right angle, that Kickstarter is being confused with some donation mechanism; which it isn’t. It’s an investment venue. You invest in the completion of a game. The risk is yours.

        I really wish Kickstarter was put into perspective.

        • Vander says:

          No sir: when i invest, i get a part of the profit, not with kickstarter. Its more patronage, like said below.

          Thats actually my main gripe with kickstarter, and i will put a lot of money on it if i could get a part of the profit(proportional to my investment off course).

          • StingingVelvet says:

            I think it’s simple a case of traditional investment not working because the margins are too small. Someone could loan Obsidian 5 million to make Project Eternity and surely earn a profit on that investment but the margins would be much smaller than investing the same amount somewhere else. That is why “indie” PC gaming is not a big source for investment dollars and facebook games are, the profit potential on facebook is much higher.

            That said I agree with you, a more traditional investment model makes more sense and could work the same way as kickstarter. Fund the project and then get a percentage on the profit percentage equal to your investment. I am guessing it would be much harder though, hence why it isn’t being done. The pre-order waaaaaay ahead of time model seems to be easier for developers to manage.

          • Ich Will says:

            That wouldn’t actually do you much good – A risky investment will typically pay out 10% – that is you would earn your money back and an additional 10%. Let’s say you invested $200, a sum not many people would put into a kickstarter project. You would earn only $20, not even enough to buy most games.

            This would mean in order to get a copy of the game you were interested in, you would have to invest over $300 for a $30 game. Or dip into your capital, which means your investment lost you money and you have less to invest next time. It could work if you keep pumping money back into your capital as it continues to hemorrhage which you could excuse because you are getting discounted games in effect – but how many projects would get kickstarted if it ran this way.

            There’s a reason people don’t invest a few dollars here and there – it’s only worthwhile when you have a significant amount to invest. This is why banks pay you to lend them your money.

          • StingingVelvet says:

            Of course. I’m not saying that model would make anyone rich, I am just saying it’s technically possible to do it that way. The “pre-order” model works out better for everyone for multiple reasons.

          • Shuck says:

            @StingingVelvet: “Fund the project and then get a percentage on the profit percentage equal to your investment. I am guessing it would be much harder though, hence why it isn’t being done. ”
            In the US, that would actually be illegal, currently. The law is in the process of being changed, but I suspect the costs of setting something like up will end up being prohibitive for something on this scale. Certainly the patronage model will still be more appealing to developers, and probably gamers, too, once they realize just how much more money would be required to be raised by that method (all these Kickstarter campaigns are effectively being subsidized by someone else, usually the developers themselves), and how little they’d get in return. One could forget the idea of giving $50 or even $100 and getting both a game and a stake in the company, an idea I’ve seen a lot of people expressing.

            Also, as an investment, games are pretty crap. Most games lose money. (On the indie level, a “successful” game often just provides enough money for one person to live on, barely. Since that money’s going to go to the developer, that doesn’t leave anything left over as investor profit.) Getting a game in return for one’s money is probably about the best “return” one could hope for, for the most part.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Except this makes the same old mistake that Kickstarter is investment.

        Plenty of the projects at the smaller end are paying such that a work exists, for which there is a fancy art term that I can’t remember. There is no deception here: you are putting down money to say “I want this kind of game to be made”, because you want to make that point strongly enough to put your wallet behind it now even though it might eventually end up in a pay-what-you-want bundle or something.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Patronage. It’s distributed patronage.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            But isn’t that a dangerous concept in itself? What does it mean to a software developer? “Oh, I didn’t get enough funding, people don’t want to see this game. I’m not going to make it.”

            What? Mr. Developer, who told you people don’t want to see this game? What is the percentage of gamers that go look in Kickstarter website? Of those, who noticed your project? Of those who had money to back it up? Of those who thought “I want the game, but I’l back up something else?”.

            Kickstarter cannot be a gauge for what people want to see or play. If it becomes that we will be making the game offering landscape a desert. How many underdogs showed up in the history of computer gaming that are today revered classics? Do we really want to leave it up for a single website to become the scale for which we deem worthy being done?

            What about all other gamers who don’t happen to fit in with the rest? Who want the “other” projects? Their Ars Magicka, their single-player turned-based strategy? What are we really doing here?

            It’s a dangerous idea Kickstarter reveals what people want. It’s also most probably outright wrong! It’s simply an investment mechanism to the extremely small percentage of gamers that visit it.

          • StingingVelvet says:

            It’s a bad gauge because the personality and reputation behind the project is as important or more important than the genre. I trusted Obsidian to make a good RPG, I did not trust that old married couple to make a new Quest for Glory. Simple as that.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Thanks, that’s the word.

          • Lemming says:


          • Bhazor says:

            @ Mario

            “If it becomes that we will be making the game offering landscape a desert.”

            In the past nine months we’ve had a slew of tactical rpgs, grand strategy games, space sims, first person dungeon crawlers and a string of entirely original games (Moon Cadet and Sea Lark to name two I’ve backed). I don’t know about you but this “Desert” seems a lot more interesting than the current system

          • The Random One says:

            I get Mario’s point, but the what’s the option? Traditional funding says ‘Well, looking at the data we have, games X, Y and Z of similar genres did well in the past, while games A, B and C didn’t. So we will fund your game on the condition that it plays like X and not A.’

            This creates a vicious cycle where one game that doesn’t sell in a genre becomes an excuse to shrink the budget on the next game, which in turn doesn’t sell as much because it was done with a smaller budget… until the genre is declared dead by publishers. And of course it’s also a biased system. ‘Well, From Dust didn’t sell much, so God Games are dead.’ ‘Well, Medal of Honor: Warfighter didn’t sell much, so it was a bad military shooter.’

            Of course crowdfunding is not perfect, and of course it can cause devs to give up on projects in the precise way you suggest, but it seems to be, at least, better than the model we have before. Which isn’t saying much, but is saying something.

      • Phantoon says:

        Erik Kain works at Forbes. He may well have meant “right for investors”.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I totally buy Cliffski’s arguments by and large. Is shoehorning shit designed by rich people into games really worth it?

    • D3xter says:

      This was somewhat at length discussed in yesterdays “KickStarter Katchup”, my argument was largely as follows:

      He would be right about people like Molyneux and Chris Roberts (the first one having sold his last two companies (Bullfrog and Lionhead) to EA and Microsoft respectively and being a multi-millionaire, who already put $6 million of his own money into Black & White and recently founded 2cans and made that “Curiosity” thing with his own money. And Chris Roberts having had both opportunities to work on a new Wing Commander as well as publishers asking if he wants to work with them on this very same project. Not only that, but as someone above already said he was only seeking funding to go to Private Investors ALREADY and not to have total creative control.

      He would be wrong with others like Obsidian, inXile, Double Fine which until recently lived under fear of looming layoffs and even underwent several rounds of layoffs while desperately trying to get some new projects to survive.

      I think there’s something cynical about people/companies who already have the means and/or funds to make something to seek the possibility to offload all the risks unto their customers and it might damage the idea of Crowdfunding in the long run.

      And I wonder how people would react if Activision tried asking for money for the next Call of Duty or something with Pre-Order incentives or if EA tried doing the next BioWare game this way.

      They could even exploit people more efficiently with DLC long before a game launches, and just imagine what’d happen if they set people against each other by being able to vote on certain features in the game with their money (romances or maps, weapons of choice/perks being made seem to be rather popular options – “Pick this tier if you want feature X, we will count the votes at the end and the Top two win.” or something similar).

      They could also offer Advertising options in their games on some of the higher tiers.

      KickStarter was initially conceived to give creative projects and startups that wouldn’t happen otherwise basically a “Kickstart” so they can manage on their own. But it seems to be used as a marketing tool and an easy low-risk way to get money instead more and more lately.
      It’s always a delicate balance for me between projects that actually need the money to get going or complete without other options and others that are there because of “free money!”.

      I didn’t particularly like how Fargo put it in an interview recently either, basically looking at it as an option leading to easy money and free marketing/cutting the marketing budget of a game because of invested “superfans”: link to

      “Speaking to GamesIndustry International at this year’s Unite conference in Amsterdam, Fargo explained that the benefits that a platform like Kickstarter offers are too powerful to disregard, even if you have money in the bank.

      “Yeah, I still would [return to crowd-funding],” Fargo said. “It allows us to give things to people that they can’t get from just buying a product. Some people want to be an NPC, or they want a shrine in their honour in the game, or they want a boxed copy, or a novella. These things aren’t just gimmicks; they add real value.”

      “It’s also a great way of vetting the product in general. I like having that communication, because when people put their money down they’re more invested emotionally. And when you have this army of people who are a part of it, when you do launch you don’t need a big marketing campaign.”

      • InternetBatman says:

        Wow, I hadn’t read that Fargo interview before. I am very unhappy with his view of Kickstarter. When used repeatedly it will undoubtedly become far more exploitative.

      • Ich Will says:

        So, you don’t like kickstarter being used by people who have the means to get a game made traditionally (Notice A game, not THE game) because of what they COULD do (But aren’t as of yet).

        One of your coulds was in game advertising. Hey guess what, I purchased Deus Ex HR and after the first patch, I suddenly had in game advertising. I wasn’t told pre purchase that it would be there, so I would argue that developers are going to do to their game what they are going to do anyway to maximise their profit, kickstarter actually makes that process more open because you can read how much they are earning in exchange for that thing and how many of that thing they “sold”. If I had known in advance of my purchase that several companies had paid the money they had to have in game advertising, I could have made a much more informed decision when it came to my purchase.

        Also you seem to be deliberately ignoring the idea that a developer can’t get their, let’s say space sim, made via traditional routes. They’ve been approaching publishers for the last 10 years, it’s not happening. To make ends meet, they’ve been making facebook games. They get the space sim kickstarted and go back to the publisher – Look, we’ve raised £xxx and have yyy number of customers on the idea alone, now can you see there’s a market for this? Is that not reasonable – I mean clearly there are yyy number of potential customers so passionate to see a space sim made they have taken a punt on a kickstarter project or two. Or have they all been exploited by slick* marketing campaigns and lost all their free will because of the derren brown-esk words of the billionaire devs.

        *Most kickstarter project pages are dire in terms of selling their game.

        • D3xter says:

          The genre isn’t as “obscure” as some people are making it out to be, there’s been some games in the past few years: link to (I even played several of them for a while, for instance Black Prophecy, which is incidentally also an MMO and Free2Play) and there’s even more if you combine them with other titles like X3.

          Also look at the titles listed under “Under Development” below, for what it’s worth there’s even murmurs that EA is supposedly working on a new Wing Commander game (possibly with MMO parts since it might be developed by Mythic): link to

          “Or have they all been exploited by slick* marketing campaigns and lost all their free will because of the derren brown-esk words of the billionaire devs.”
          As for this part, I don’t know but if you compare the “Free2Play” MMO-ish model Star Citizen is built upon, which might potentially end up being Pay2Win with other games that sell the finished product, you will see that on average people have pledged $70 to Star Citizen (more than people usually pay for even a new game) while other campaigns offering finished products like the Double Fine Adventure ($38), Wasteland 2 ($48), Project Eternity ($54) got less.

          I attribute this mainly to people “buying” imaginary virtual ships that don’t exist yet in a game that has yet to exist without even knowing if they will like the end product or not (although the varying initial “buy in” to get the game might be a factor too).

          • D3xter says:

            Oh, and Valve was also rumored to possibly be working on a space game: link to

          • Ich Will says:

            I played most of those and they were mostly not what I wanted. Or programmed by someone in their bedroom and lacking severely from polish, good UI’s and basically all those nice things which make games good which cost money.

            Don’t get me wrong, I love supporting the guys in their bedrooms, but the games they make are mostly tripe.

            I didn’t back Star Citizen for exactly the issues you’ve mentioned.

            And space sim was an example, please be aware of that.

        • Emeraude says:

          I wasn’t told pre purchase that it would be there,

          Actually some of us warned that the infrastructure for it had been put into place, and as such would likely be used. But people regarded us as lunatics for the most part. Business as usual.

          I get your overall point though. I’m not sure I fully agree with it either.

      • walldad says:

        If I could nitpick a little: Kickstarter was originally for products that had a working prototype or proof of concept to show off. Games came later.

        • Unaco says:

          Kickstarter was always for Creative projects, video games being one type of them. There was a category for ‘Games’ from the start. The prototype requirement was for physical Hardware and product design projects only, not for games, or other similar creative works, were no physical product was possible. But Kickstarter has always been open to these things.

        • The Random One says:

          “Kickstarter was originally for products…”

          Kickstarter has never been about products.

      • Emeraude says:

        One issue touched in that Fargo article that has kept me thinking since that Molyneux interview: I have a feeling the social aspect can and will prove a bigger draw to some developers – more important in the long run – than the gathering funds side.

        Kickstarter is creating a new, post-Facebook (for lack of a less loaded term), social dynamic, putting in contact fans and developers who have mostly been insulated from one another. I can see how that would be both invaluable and somewhat intoxicating.

        Just think back on the comments from Molyneux thinking the crowd would help keep him in check. Or his and Obsidian’s complete undervaluation of their impact and draw in the community (the first with Curiosity, the later with their doubts of their Kickstarter even being successful).

    • InternetBatman says:

      Something I think too many people are ignoring is the price inflation that has been happening with recent kickstarters (particularly the GBP ones).

      DFA, Shadowrun, and Wasteland 2 were only $15 to get the game, that’s a little amount of risk for an unsure thing.

      PE started at $20 and went to $25, that’s more money but Obsidian has been active in the genre in recent years so you already know whether you’ll like it or not.

      Star Citizen asked for $30 going to $37, that’s significantly more risk, but there’s a pretty impressive video of the tech. It’s 3D and pretties cost money.

      Elite asks for $32 going to $48 for a crappy tech demo, so that’s high risk at full game price.

      Molyneux asks for $24 going to $48 for some concept art, at an amount that he almost certainly could fund himself.

      • Ich Will says:

        I think you are picking on examples which prove your point and ignoring those which don’t. There were expensive projects early on in Kickstarters life and cheap one now.

        Have you done a full statistical analysis? You may be surprised, which is why it’s important to actually check your hypothesis. not present it as fact on the basis of selected examples.

        • Harlander says:

          Have you done the analysis? Are you going to? I don’t know how to do that, and the way you’re talking makes it sound like you know what the result is, so, you know, if you’ve got it, spill

    • aepervius says:

      Investor / publisher are in for the Return On Investment. Heck the firm I work for run the same way. if you have a project, and its duration is X month and you think you’ll make Y$, they look at what would be the ROI if they invested in other more stable stuff, simple bonds, or even general fund, stock exchange etc…. And the variosu associated risk level. If for a similar risk level your project has a lower ROI than the above mentionned, and they tend to overestimate the project risk IMHO but whatever, then you will not get funded. Quite logical when you think about it.

      Kickstarter OTOH, the ROI do not matter. The only ivnestment the people have is a small sum, and potentially losing it if the project shatter.

      I do wonder if kickstarter project will in average take as seriously an investment from a firm requiring returns, as they will from average person investing a small sum and not really allowed to check on the project.

    • lith says:

      Sadly, sooner or later these little Bohemias get swallowed up the corporations, alas. Obsidian was actually approached by some big publisher, who has remained anonymous, who said “Right, if you get something going with this little Kickstarter gambit of yours, we’ll buy it” which is nauseating. Well, partly it’s funny, I suppose, because it shows you just how backwards and out-of-touch the publishers are – “Hah! Don’t be silly; developers won’t last more than five seconds without us! They’ll come crawling back!” – but mostly it’s nauseating because of it’s simply predatory nature.

      And basically what they were saying is “Right, Obsidian: I like this little scam o’ yours – it is a scam, right? There’s no other way to do business, far as we know…anyway, what we’d like you to do is to con a bunch of gullible nerds out there to fund your little game, build up its rep – you know, do all the legwork for us – and then we’ll come along and buy it. If it succeeds. ‘Course, if it doesn’t, well, you’re left their humiliated, but the important thing is there’s no risk to us, right? Tell, yeah, you’ll never sell out, ‘Indie Pride!’ and all that bull…then we’d like to take your pre-package IP you’ve made for us, and buy it, and gut it, and basically piss away any brand loyalty you guys might have. But in order for you to have the privilege of such a deal, first you’ve got to come up with the IP.”

      Obsidian politely turned them down. Personally, I like to think Sawyer and Urquhart had to hold back Avellone.

    • Freud says:

      I agree with the idea that some of the Kickstarter projects are basically treating it as guaranteed sales/free money and will use it no matter what.

      But at the same time I’m not sure developer legends have the pull with publishers that many think they have. Especially if you want to do a smaller experimental project.

      • iucounu says:

        Guaranteed sales – that’s precisely what Kickstarter is there for. To remove the risk inherent in publishing by preselling enough units. Treating it as ‘free money’, on the other hand, is a pretty good way to end up reputationally bankrupt and thus removing your ability to trade on it in future,

  2. coffeetable says:

    Rab Florence is an Angry Man. A correct man, and one I find entertaining, but he should probably get some meds before his heart explodes.

    • Lacero says:

      Everyone reading the article should read the “Actually About” part of the tumblr.

      • The Random One says:

        Starting by Jim, I suppose.

        EDIT: And judging by the commentarial clusterfuck below, Rob as well.

  3. nimzy says:

    Every so often, I’ll see an article about work being done on Steam’s meta-phenomena, and realize that far from being the utopian game distribution middleman everyone knows and loves, the enormous corporate behemoth known as Valve scares me on some deep and primal level.

    • zeroskill says:

      I don’t really understand what “corporate behemoth” you are talking about, considering knowing what Valve is. They are a small, privately owned company. In February 2011, the company was 250 employees strong, as pointed out by Gamasutra. That can hardly be described as a “enormous corporate behemoth”, comparing that to, say an company like Activision, with more then 7000 employees, not considering that the company is owned by Vivendi, another huge company and Activision’s (<-edited) decision making is being overwatched by them, a company that has very little in common with gaming in general.

      What really should scare you is what would have happend to the PC market if Gabe Newell didn't stand by his principles and just sold out to EA. Then you would have a reason to be scared.

      • Phantoon says:

        When Valve does something, the entire industry watches.

        It’s a behemoth without teeth.

        • Emeraude says:

          It’s a Behemoth that has yet to use its teeth. The Damocles sword is there though.

          I would argue Valve has been more harmful to the industry – in the measure it has been – by the influence it wields than any wrong it purposefully did too.

          The closing up of the PC platform has far as gaming is concerned would have been unthinkable until Valve convinced enough people that some rights/advantages could be abandoned willingly.

          • zeroskill says:

            Right, wake me up when they do…

          • Emeraude says:

            Why is it so hard to explain that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure ?

            How did the Mencius’s introduction go ? “The people is weak because it does not think of the future”, I think. Which is still spot on.

          • Phantoon says:

            You need to be more specific, because I’m not exactly sure what you’re getting at, because there’s an entire pallet of cans of worms you’re pointing at, and you need to pick the exact can.

          • Emeraude says:

            Yes, I probably should, but won’t, for which I apologize. I don’t have the stomach to have that discussion yet again.

            Basic politeness would have demanded I did not jump the gun and start it again then. Really need to think more before I type.

            I’ll take my leave using the most convenient excuse of all: need to cook for the little monsters before they eat me raw.

            Again, my apologies.

      • Shuck says:

        “[Valve is] a small, privately owned company”
        Well, it’s certainly privately owned. But this is a company that’s likely worth billions of dollars. The fact that their revenues are wildly out of proportion to the size of their workforce still doesn’t make them small by any reasonable definition. Smaller than Activision in employees and revenue, yes, but most game companies are smaller than one of the world’s largest game publishers.

  4. bill says:

    Is RPS joining Iron Ribbon?

    Why does their logo not involve a ribbon?

    Too many questions.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      maybe the ribbons are limited, like the typewriter ribbons from resident evil

  5. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I wonder if Rab Florence ever considered the possibility that the Molyneuxs and the Brabens have found in Kickstarter the only means for triple-AAA games to keep the IP on the hands of the developer studio, instead on the filthy hands of publishers?

    As much as one could sympathize with his arguments, I’m not going to judge who is rich enough not to belong to Kickstarter. I find of poor taste to start judging who is worthy of Kickstarter. That’s a dangerous line you don’t want to cross. Let the backers sort it out. And if they decide these projects should be fully backed, then Mr. Rab… you were wrong.

    Considering his lack of faith, it’s also ironic to notice that if backers decide those projects aren’t worth their money, Rab will be wrong too.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Well, in Molyneux’s case it’s not about IP, since the game they are making is not Populous TM, but rather a god-game inspired by it.

      And Braben has always had ownership of the Elite IP.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Braben does have the ownership. But the moment he didn’t use Kickstarter and requested funding from a Publisher, he would most likely have to surrender it away. That’s the point I’m trying to make. And, i’m positive, one of the allures of Kickstarter for the game studios behind these big projects.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Possibly, thought, he would like to retain ownership of the Godus brand.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Peter Molyneux payed $6 million usd out of pocket to make Black and White. I find it hard to believe that now he doesn’t have $700k to make it out of pocket. Risk your own money before risking the money of others.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        So, what makes you think $700 is all he needs to make Godus, if B&W cost 6 million? he is putting money out of his pocket. Make no mistake.

        Back then he didn’t have Kickstarter. Today he has. He can afford to make an investment choice today, he didn’t have when he was doing B&W. Would YOU make it any different?

        • InternetBatman says:

          That’s all he is asking for. If he needs more than that to ensure the proper delivery of the game, then he should say so. One of the promises of Kickstarter was increased communication between the developer and the consumer. If he is misrepresenting the amount of money he needs than this is already a dismal failure of a kickstarter.

          It’s not like there’s not a model for this either. Brian Fargo explicitly said that they needed a million to make the game but he would chip in $100k of his own money if it only made it to $900k. Apparently Peter Molyneux is saying it needs $700k, wink wink nod nod, but without the italics, winks or nods.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Why, when others are willing to risk their money for you?

        I mean, I know this is a bit of a HURR HURR FREE MARKET, ETHICS ARE FOR LOSERS argument, but why willingly put yourself out of pocket if you have established a reputation that means you don’t need to? What pressure is there for you to do that while people are still emptying their wallets into any Kickstarter that tickles the “Remember me? I was good once and will maybe do something again perhaps, even though I have nothing to show.” glands?

        • InternetBatman says:

          Because it’s wrong. Of course there’s little incentive to do the right thing because gamers demand for someone to take advantage of them with the widespread ethos of consumption. So it will get worse, and someone will eventually wreck the system.

          • Ich Will says:

            define wrong and right.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Wrong is spending someone else’s money on a risky personal project and offering them little in return while refusing to shoulder most of the risk. It’s basically treating people as a nostalgia powered ATM.

            Right would be spending your own money as you are able to, and honestly asking for help when the risk and financial burden would be too much to bear.

            You should ask for help when you need it, not when it’s convenient.

          • Ich Will says:

            I hope you don’t have a credit card, overdraft or a loan, because you sir would be WRONG!

            Don’t be absurd, it’s not like people who kickstart have any reason to not understand the risks. They are spending the money with the kickstarters consent. If I am fully informed and willing to take the risk then what is the problem. You are also underestimating the risk they do take, it is not risk free to develop a game even if you are using an interest free source of other peoples money, do you honestly believe that it is?

            You might have these wonderful airy fairy ideas that kickstarter should only be inhabited by students trying to break into their respective industries and down and outs trying to come back but it’s not as if molyneux being there takes up space that little student now can’t have – he’s still there. If you don’t want to fund the millionaire, you don’t have to, it’s fine, stick to your unproven characters. You seem to believe that capatalism is great for the poor but the rich shouldn’t be allowed access to the same capitalist systems, which I believe comes from a place of deep jealousy.

            And your sheer arrogance, how dare you tell me I am wrong to spend my money funding the game I want made by the people I want to make it, get over yourself. You are not more intelligent that me, chances are, you are significantly dimmer given your hypothesis presented as fact above so it’s incredibly unlikely you can inform me of something I am unaware of because I do my research before clicking that pledge button. Go fund whoever you want but piss off with your criticism of who I am kickstarting before I shove it up your arse.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Chill out. It’s possible to have an ethical disagreement without calling someone stupid, a fascist, or to “shove it up their ass.”

          • Emeraude says:

            Patronage isn’t exactly charity though. And I think you’re letting that slide in color your opinion a bit too much. Not that I don’t fear the possibly exploitive relationship that Kickstarter permits myself, or dislike some elements of its current ongoing evolution/definition process.

            I fail to see how it’s much worse than the one in place with publishers.

            If anything, it’s at least interesting to have the two alternatives.

          • mickygor says:

            It’s not wrong in my eyes. It’s exactly what I’d do. Why risk any of my money if others are willing to do it for me?

          • InternetBatman says:

            Patronage is not charity, but normally the patron is granted exclusive ownership over the work created. I feel like it’s at least worth discussing that in this case the creator is not making a singular work of art, but a salable good with an infinite supply once finished.

          • Emeraude says:

            I don’t agree with the point that patrons necessarily possessed the body of work produced by the artists to whom they gave money.

            Louis XIV (and the other patrons) didn’t possess Racine’s body of work. What mattered to him (them) was that the work was produced for his (their) enjoyment.

      • Ich Will says:

        Can we just all admit for a second that NONE OF US KNOW HOW MUCH MONEY PETER MOLYNEUX HAS? He may well have earn’t millions from a deal that was very public, but that doesn’t mean he has access to that money now or indeed ever did! I have heard of plenty of “millionaires” who declare themselves bankrupt, why do you think so many of them agree to dance on ice or camp in the jungle eating insects while ant and dec put spiders in their underwear?

        • RobF says:

          I suspect it’s a fairly sound assumption and it’d be more on you to prove that he doesn’t right now. So I’m not sure where you’re heading with the “maybe he doesn’t have the money” thing, really.

          Maybe he doesn’t but it’s rather bloody unlikely.

          • Ich Will says:

            Excuse me? Who the hell do you think I am. Here’s a hint, I’m not Molyneux and I’m not a member of his family. I’m not his accountant and I’m not a business partner of his. So I couldn’t prove anything even if it was my place to, it was necessary and I wanted to.

            Why does it matter what wealth a project manager of a project has? Do you not think they have the right to privacy as to their finances? Remember 22 Cans is a company and it is not necessarily owned wholely by Molyneux, if he only owns 50% of it, for example and pours a couple of million into the company, he has every right to demand the other owners match his contribution, contract dependent. What if they can’t, what if your insistance that the game must be funded by 22 cans and it’s owners puts the company in an impossible position. If his ownership of the company isn’t 100%, his wealth and the companies wealth are entirely seperate entities, and in the same way you wouldn’t give your money to your employer, he shouldn’t be pressurized to giving his money to the company.

            Do you feel the number that measures a bank balances value changes our rights? What is your cut off limit when it comes to wealth and kickstarter, need one have a fixed value one is below before one may use kickstarter. How does this affect those who run kickstarter type campaigns off of kickstarter, are they not allowed to?

            Or how about this. You have no right to demand people prove what’s in their bank account and you have no right to demand people not run their business in the way they wish to legally run it because it is against your peculiar moral code.

            You have every right to criticize rich people for running projects without investing their own cash (Just like I have every right to criticize you for holding those beliefs), but you better have proof that they are both rich and haven’t invested their wealth in the project otherwise you are basically libeling them.

            Anyway, here’s where I’m headed with the maybe he doesn’t have money thing. JUST BECAUSE A PERSON PUTS A PROJECT ON KICKSTARTER DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO INVADE THEIR PRIVACY AND FIND OUT DETAILS OF WHERE THEIR MONEY IS AND HOW MUCH THEY HAVE. One rule for everyone after all, because if Molyneux has to disclose his financials to public scrutiny, so does everyone on kickstarter. And that makes you the guy calling for Simon Roth to disclose his financials – after all he may own a house worth twice what he’s asking for! What if John has made a million from RPS. Before you give me some bullcrap about how that would be impossible, let me remind you, YOU DON’T KNOW. Does he have to disclose his financial worth before being allowed a kickstarter? Go on, ask him. I dare you. Ask anyone on kickstarter to prove they couldn’t self fund the game, see how they respond.

          • RobF says:

            So, I better have proof that they are rich when all evidence points towards that likely being the case (the large house, the multiple cars, the various bits of ephemera owned, the large pay offs from selling studios and the large wage packet for heading said studios) but you making the preposterous claim that he might not be and that requires absolutely nothing to seed that doubt?

            Yes, that’s reasonable.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            No. Proof is irrelevant. You shouldn’t judge someone on the amount of money they have. It’s completely irrelevant whether Molyneux is rich or poor when he puts up a project to Kickstarter. It’s this simple thing that you fail to grasp.

            Let’s do it this way: No rich person should ever Kickstarter. Alright? And you get to choose who is rich enough. How about that? I’m sure the little fascist in you would love that chance.

          • Ich Will says:

            What is unreasonable is to tell someone they can’t run a kickstarter campaign because you believe they are too wealthy and that you are not going to prove they are too wealthy, you’re just going to restrict their right to free speech. It’s up to them to prove they are not wealthy enough before you will allow them the freedom to ask for kickstarter style patrionage.


            EDIT: Mario said it perfectly – little fascist born from jealousy.

          • RobF says:

            I did not say anyone who earned over a certain amount couldn’t run a Kickstarter. I did not say that Peter Molyneux or anyone else wasn’t allowed to run a Kickstarter for any reason.

            I pointed out that it’s a fairly safe assumption that Peter Molyneux has plenty of money given all the evidence and if anyone is going to claim otherwise, then it is up to them to prove otherwise. As it should be if it flies in the face of anything that’s remotely like a truth.

            So kindly stop that and don’t accuse me of making an argument I did not make.

          • Brigand says:

            Please, anyone can win an argument using facts.

          • Emeraude says:

            Coming back on the social aspect raised: the fact that Kickstarter *proves* that there is enough demand – in the form of people unambiguously willing to put their money where their mouth is – for the game to be worthwhile to make may well be as much a draw to Kickstarter as the funding itself. If not more.

          • mickygor says:

            You’re asking for proof of a negative. Not gonna happen. I could point out that every bank account in the world bar 1 gives Molyneux a networth of £50 and that still doesn’t prove he’s not a millionaire. Much easier to point out the one with the money, which is exactly why no rational person demands proof of a negative.

          • RobF says:

            Close! You know when people say the Earth is flat but we all know it’s kinda not and a bit round-ish? And that because we know this, if you’re going to say the Earth is flat you better actually have something to back it up with?

            It’s that.

          • Phantoon says:

            But he’s not looking for a discussion.

            He’s looking for an argument. And arguments end when people reach a conclusion. So by ignoring you and calling you a fascist (I think neither of the lads know what that word means) and yelling a bunch, it prolongs the argument.

            Not that there really is one, he’s just kind of babbling without a point anyways.

          • mickygor says:

            No, you don’t ask them for proof that the world’s flat – you point out that the world’s round. The horizon, photographs from orbit, etc…

          • RobF says:

            What are you to trying to achieve here?

          • Ich Will says:

            My apologies RobF, what is your stance on people who have more than adequate funds to make a game from their personal wealth not using it and running a kickstarter instead?

            @ Phantoon – I know what fascist means thanks, I realised I used it in a way which is not the number 1 definition in the OED, it was the number 2 definition I was using, which is according to my (1998) edition: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

            So as I believed I was replying to someone who was saying they didn’t think Molyneux was allowed to run a kickstarter (read as not allowed free speech) due to their personal wealth, I think I was spot on actually.

          • Ich Will says:

            As for the people trying to talking about the earth being round, where the hell did that come from. It’s quite easy to prove the earth is a sphere, stand anywhere on earth with the appropriate measuring equipment and recore the curvature. Combine your results with the results everyone else has taken and model the resulting squashed sphere. Cross reference that with the latest formula which model how gravitational forces affect molton rock, cross reference with the behaviour of molton rock in space and voila, you have plenty of proof the world is round. That dumbass website you are referring to resorts to saying that all the other scientists involved in the measurements are in a conspiracy to deceive you, including the scientists who worked out how gravity affects rock etc – that website is trolling you.

          • Nogo says:

            It’s just a bit daft to assume that you understand all the financials of 22cans better than they do. It certainly stands to reason that PM is wealthy, but where’s your evidence that all his assets are liquid? Or that his personal finances should assume the majority of risk in lieu of 22cans? Do you have the breakdown of the companies’ ownership to inform that?

            This is basic accounting stuff that you’re glossing over in order to favor an argument that’s pretty much just “PM should not be allowed to mitigate the risk of his investment because I’m pretty sure that, at a glance, he can assume that risk personally.” You’re welcome to believe that, but PM is not 22cans, so we’re asking for more to gon than “the guy that started the company is pretty rich, so he should pay for all the projects personally despite having set up a company precisely for that reason.”

            Hell, maybe PM will end up being the major contributor to kickstarter. Would that make it OK then?

        • RobF says:

          My opinion is of no consequence with regards to your claims, nor has the slightest relevance to my statement but thanks for the apology all the same. It’s accepted.

          • Ich Will says:

            So you butted into our conversation for why?

            To tell us that you don’t intend to tell us your opinion on what we are talking about?

            If that’s so, then:


            Bye now.

            So what was my claim that you disagreed with – that we have no proof of Peter Molyneux’s financial situation. Well if you can disprove me by demonstrating that you do have proof, by all means present it.

            And no, it’s not up to me to prove that no-one here has proof, it’s up to the proof-holder to present it.


          • RobF says:

            Yes, that’s precisely what happened! Good spot.

            Wait. No. Other one.

          • Ich Will says:


          • RobF says:

            3 idiots in one day! A true honour, sir. I thank you kindly and wish you well.

            Peter Molyneux’s still rich though.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Er, RobF – are you either drunk or not actually the RobF whos posts I respect immensely. Ich Will makes a very good point in a very bad way in the origional arguement, that if you are going to ban people from kickstarter based on their wealth, you’d better proove they are actually wealthy and not work on a system of hearsay – and it should be applied fairly across the board. You clearly agree with that idea, even an idiot (sic) can see that :)

          • RobF says:

            Look, there is no doubt that Peter Molyneux has a lot of money. He does. Trying to seed any form of doubt or to use that possibility of doubt as leverage in the discussion is silly. No, we do not know exactly how much Peter has in the bank or has in assets but it’s a pretty safe assumption that it’s “a lot, thanks”.

            There are many arguments that can be made for and against his usage of Kickstarter, this is at the utmost absurd end of the scale because it’s attempting to draw a doubt where there is none to be drawn. It is ridiculous in the extreme. You might as well say he’s arming the mice and will kill us all with them. It’s that sort of ridiculous.

            My own opinions on whether Peter should or should not use a Kickstarter here are entirely irrelevant and have absolutely no bearing on whether someone claiming that it’s entirely possible that he doesn’t have any money is being ridiculous and I refuse to be drawn into that particular discussion because I have literally no interest in it whatsoever. That Ich Will decided to go off his nut at the very suggestion that yes, it’s daft to say Peter might not be rich and further confuse things is something he’ll have to deal with in his own existence and not bother me further in mine.

            Although I will admit as to being more than slightly curious as to what website is trolling me but again, I fear that’s separate and probably best not pursued anyway.

          • lcy says:

            Of course, I suspect you’re rich as well. Most of us are. It only takes $34’000 to be in the one percent for income. We are the one percent!

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Yes I get that, I do, and of couse PM is “rich” whatever the hell that means, but can’t you see his point that you can’t single him out and prevent him from running a kickstarter but not apply those same rules across the board. He I think was saying that if you are going to start vetting people financially as to whether they can run a kickstarter of not, its a massive invasion of privacy and their rights. You cant have one rule for PM and another for everyone else because quite frankly that would suck.

          • Ich Will says:

            @Icy & Sheng-ji

            I think rich can be defined in this context as rich enough to fund a game from your own bank account

            @Rob – link to

          • RobF says:

            Icy, if you suspect I’m rich then you’re doing so against all available evidence. You’re welcome to suspect that all you wish and as much as I wish it were true, I fear there is no evidence to back it up. But thank you all the same.

            Sheng-ji, I encourage everyone to question anyone who comes to them cap in hand and to weigh up in their own mind whether handing over something that is theirs, something they have worked (or not worked, don’t really care) to earn before parting with it is the right thing for them to do. It is only right because it’s part of how we shape our futures. The right to retain our own money (except where the law forbids) is an important one indeed and not one that should be reserved solely for the well off. This is one way of preserving that right.

            I have no qualms if someone decides on given evidence not to fund a project because they believe that someone could fund it themselves, either there is a truth to that belief or there is not. If there is not then perhaps, just perhaps because it’s not a given, the inability to fund is something that needs clarifying further in order to convince. If it is the case, then no harm nor foul is done by the person refusing to fund. It is not, after all, a prerequisite for one to hand their money over to someone else simply because someone else asked. Taking this to an extreme that someone is asking for a checklist or inventory or bank statement or to invade a persons privacy in some manner is an argument out of absurdity again. The same for attempting to shed doubt on someone’s fairly well documented social and financial position. That’s silly.

            The rest of it, whether one should or should not use Kickstarter, I do not care for. That is a decision for Kickstarter to make and clearly it is a decision they have made and the best we can do is to choose our own levels of comfort as to whether we fund things or not and keep discussing these things because talking is important. And the more sensibly we can do this, the more chance we have of shaping a better future and for Kickstarter and any other platform to be all that it can be.

          • Ich Will says:

            In case anyone reads RobF’s latest post and assumes I have any problem with people who choose not to fund a game because they believe the person running the kickstarter is rich enough to fund it themselves, I do not.

            I have a problem with the small, aggressive contingent who insist that they should be banned (one assumes by law) from running a kickstarter or any crowd funding scheme because they are rich enough to fund the game themselves.

            Hence calling them fascists etc

          • lcy says:

            The point is that we’re a bunch of rich people arguing about someone being too rich to use a rich person’s toy funding website. It’s the very definition of a first world problem, one I find very hard to get worked up about.

          • RobF says:

            That’s working under the assumption that all funding necessarily comes from those who are rich where your definition of rich is questionable at best. I can’t do that, sorry.

            But it’s entirely your business to be unconcerned about it. That’s fine. It doesn’t negate the concerns of others but it’s an opinion you’re welcome to hold as is your view of who is rich and who is not.

            The same for Ich Will’s opinion that people shouldn’t hold their own opinion on who should and should not use Kickstarter. They are welcome to. They are not fascists for holding that opinion. That is an opinion they have a right to hold as what is and isn’t Kickstarter gets thrashed around and it is an opinon we may all agree and disagree with. But we’d be better served by continuing to discuss the how and why they come to that opinion, the results and outcomes of the various uses of Kickstarter by whatever member of the community that partakes in it and dealing with that rather than resorting to outright dismissal and name calling. We’re not exactly talking racial or sexual prejudice here, after all. We’re talking about the decision as to whether someone should or should not fund a creative project.

          • Ich Will says:

            Hi Icy. In 2010 I had my legs blown off by an IED. No, sadly I wasn’t serving my country, I was mountain biking and fell from my bike into a poachers trap. It took me two years to get any benefits through, during that time I lost two or three jobs and finally was instructed by my doctor not to work, my body was not up to the strain.

            I lived off my savings and when they ran out, credit cards. Until that point I had never even borrowed money to pay for a car. I sold everything of value just to feed myself. I applied to the council for help with the rent. They refused me on the basis that I hadn’t yet been awarded my disability allowance.

            I was evicted and lived on the streets for three nights before being arrested for “harassment” – yes I was begging, no I’m not proud of it. Having not eaten for over two weeks at that point and having contracted hep a from the water I was drinking, I went to hospital for 3 weeks before being released back onto the streets. I spent another two nights on the streets before I punched a policeman for the sole purpose of spending the night in jail and getting fed.

            To cut a long story of getting my life back on track short, I now live in a nice house and run my own business. I had a lot of help from the government to get to where I am, but I own nothing. This laptop I type from is owned by the council, the house I live in is paid for by the council. The chair I need to nip to the shops in is owned by the red cross. I have no TV no means to pursue hobbies I have debts to the tune of £50,000 and baliffs constantly entering my premises to check I have nothing of worth, my income means I struggle to afford more than 1 fresh fruit or veg a day. If I ever have more than £0 in my bank account at the end of the month, it is taken by my creditors.

            This is not a sob story, I am happy, as healthy as I ever can be and a proud new father, but please tell me again about how rich I am.

            @Rob – when people start publishing their opinions on sites like RPS reaching a wide audience, it is no longer a personally held opinion which harms no-one. And actually, by the OED definition of the word fascist I published earlier, they in fact are even if they keep their opinions to themselves. And we are not talking about whether one should or should not fund a project. Get that through your skull, we are talking about whether someone should be allowed to run a crowd funding campaign – pleas refer to my last post if that isn’t clear enough for you.

          • RobF says:

            Thing is, I don’t care for the name calling. It’s of no importance to me. It’s silly.

            What we’ve got is two legitimate grievances, both polar opposites of each other, both extreme because people and both worth considering. And both born out of personal desires for Kickstarter to be what you/they/him/it/she/whatever want Kickstarter to be. And that’s fine but neither opinion is of greater importance here, y’know?

            I assume that you don’t want to lose Kickstarter as a place to go and get your AAA or designers-from-the-past fix and the others don’t want to lose Kickstarter as a place to go and get their small designer with a big idea fix. This is the balancing act that Kickstarter has to manage and it’s also the balancing act that where we can only find a happy medium by listening carefully to and not rubbishing the other side of the argument. We still don’t know the exact effect Kickstarter, crowdfunding or what have you will have in the long term with videogames, we know they’re risky propositions, we know that it’s free money to some people, we know that it’s essential money to others and there’s loads that fall inbetween and maybe Kickstarter will have to take steps to preserve the lower end of the spectrum amidst an influx of the larger ones although considering how they let Penny Arcade break their most fundamental “it must be a project” rules I’m not convinced we’re on the safest of ground with that one BUT STILL… that’s me.

            Shouting down those that don’t fall into your camp, whichever side you’re on, rushing to paint anyone who disagrees with your view as an extremist or jealous, that’s not helping your case. It’s not helping anything. So y’know, chill a bit and just let’s all talk, eh?

          • D3xter says:

            It boils down to this:
            Rockefeller begging for money openly for some new project would be a possibility.
            EA releasing a Indie bundle is a possibility: link to
            A charity to help millionaires deal with the realization that they have a lot of money is also.

            It can obviously be done, legally and technically there’s nothing against it but in most of those cases it shouldn’t be that inexplicable why a large amount of people would frown upon such. Asking a lot of people who are likely far worse off than you to take the risk for whatever your new venture is kind of raises a “eh…” in people. It’s also not a scale from “Right” to “Wrong” but one with many shades of grey that everyone regards differently.
            Especially if you look at what KickStarter was meant to be and some of concepts it tried to promote, there’s enough articles and talks about that. It was especially meant to make Indie art projects happen in a sort of hipster-ish way and they never meant for it to be used to sell products or do “Pre-Orders”. They even changed some of their rules and policies to make that somewhat less desirable as well as the field about “risks”.

            Molyneux put $6 million of his own money into Black & White back in 2001 and was rather open about it: link to
            This was before he sold the company to Microsoft in 2006 and likely received another large payoff, upon which Lionhead proceeded to make nothing else than Fable sequels and hasn’t decided to revisit the Black & White, The Movies franchises or try anything new.

            I believe nobody has said that he should be locked up for it or anything like that you are trying to make it out to be, but that in their belief he shouldn’t have asked in the first place given his circumstances and they wouldn’t give him any money and a following explanation as to why.

          • D3xter says:

            Btw. this for instance is one of those Talks I was mentioning earlier, although it’s quite long: link to

            He even specifically says that they think it’s nice that there’s all that “Tim Schafer” and “Obsidian” thing going on, but that’s not really what they are about and he is most proud of some of the small $50-$500 projects, and near the end of the speech somewhere around 1:20 he talks about how he distrusts MBA types, how he distrusts Marketing, how he doesn’t really want to work with people that see only money and don’t want to share in a vision etc. etc.

            And also mentions this: link to

  6. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    Oh, Cara. You younger and somewhat more feminine Kieron.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      it’s a great read but the “hey, i’m drinking” bits are annoying. Removing them would have taken nothing away from the article. And to me it seems too much like a “i’m drinking because writers i admire were drinking” thing. But maybe i’m just projecting.

    • Phantoon says:

      Are we sure she’s more feminine?

  7. Ich Will says:

    Though I liked the Cliff Harris article, I can’t agree with the idea that Having your face in the game or something named after you equates to in-game advertising. I dislike advertising because the pressure is on you to spend your money on something you didn’t or don’t want to. This is why I believe we like and actively seek out advertising for products we intend to and have bought.

    Also I’ve not yet seen any game promise something which is going to ruin the lore of the game world – having your name on gravestones for example is funny and as natural as can be (Assuming the creators aren’t going to allow stupid or company names of course – If I start finding the coca cola grave stone in the shape of a can in game, I won’t be impressed)

  8. Hoaxfish says:

    a slightly different take on Hitman: Absolution… Forbes gets an ex-stripper’s opinion on the game: link to

    • Ich Will says:

      I’d love to see someone like Alan Moore (Watchmen) write the stripper nuns into a game, he could make that work so well!

    • LionsPhil says:

      And if stiletto platforms gave you the advantage in warfare, how come our Marines and Navy SEALs don’t wear them?

      I am now imagining the best CODBLOPS unlock.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Certainly adds a different take on the idea of a kill streak

      • Phantoon says:

        I want them to do that. A lot. I want the entire studio faced with churning it out to finally not give a shit, and have the highest rank unlock turn you into a chippendale with lipstick on, or something equally unfathomable to the fifteen year old boys that play it, but have it give such a stat boost you can’t afford not to use it.

        The unlock, I mean.

    • ffordesoon says:

      That is legitimately the most cogent critique of that awful trailer I’ve read.

      Also, I attempted to wear platform heels once as part of a Halloween getup. I must have fallen over five times that night. I can’t imagine how tough it is to walk around in stiletto heels constantly.

      • Phantoon says:

        Yes! Sometimes it takes an outside opinion on things we dislike to tell us why, specifically, we dislike that thing so much.

        Or things we like. I like knowing why I enjoy things, too.

    • HadToLogin says:

      While those article can be right about trailer alone, it clearly shows that neither ex-stripper (not surprising) nor a writer (and that’s bad) played a game.
      It shows that those women had bad past and Agency took them under its wing. And then Travis had great idea of giving them nuns-cover and call them Saints.
      Yes, it could have been done better, with less sex. But, if i were a woman that would be send to kill men here-and-there, I really would think that getting some sexy underwear might be a good way to get close to target or out of troubles. Nuns for streets, and when close to target : guard: “hey, what are you doing here”, saint: “I’m looking for a little fun, can you help me with that”, goes to secluded area, he fights with pants, she breaks his neck…
      Oh, and they weren’t strippers.

      • Phantoon says:

        But that was on the trailer. They were talking about the trailer. What part of “they watched the trailer and talked about the trailer” did you miss?

        And what the hell is this “of course strippers don’t play video games” malarkey? Are you thinking the rest of us stereotype that much? Because I don’t agree, at all.

      • iucounu says:

        It does make perfect sense, the way you describe it. I could certainly imagine a shadowy secret agency coming up with that extremely plausible and practical plan. It’s a shame people are mistaking the IO writers’ thoughtful and mature work for a ludicrous, offensive, puerile wank-fantasy with disturbing overtones of misogyny.

  9. Bob says:

    I like your writing Cara but Captain Morgan? Switch to Bundaberg.

    • Carachan1 says:

      I have since switched to Wild Turkey. It’s harder on the throat, but makes you feel like an actual journalist…

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Quite. It’s what Doctor Gonzo drank. But do actual journalists also ingest the juice squeezed from human adrenal glands? Yes.
        Wild Turkey is also excellent value. Not sure about raw ether.

      • Bob says:

        Hehehe! I’m not really into bourbon but I’m not a journalist or a writer. Anyhow, l’m looking forward to any pieces you do in the future.

        • Carachan1 says:

          Oh, you don’t have to be a journalist or writer to like bourbon. I do have a mild obsession with Raymond Chandler though. You know what really has to stop? The cigarettes. They are evil.

          • Phantoon says:

            Clearly, the way to stop is to put the saddest thing possible on the pack, and make yourself look at it every time you go for one. It’ll make quitting easier.

            Smoking, I mean. It’ll make quitting smoking easier.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Raymond Chandler is the reason straight scotch has been my drink of choice since I was 17. I’m not sure he’s the best guy to go to for drinking advice, but he makes it seem so cool, dammit.

          • Bob says:

            @ carachan1: My mum was admitted to hospital on Sunday last week and the prognosis was enough for me to take them up again. They are evil but it’s so easy to think they’re the things keeping us sane. I know that’s just another excuse to light up, but light up I do.

  10. caddyB says:

    Troy Goodfellow is great, that is all.

  11. wodin says:

    Good article by Rab. He should have mentioned Chris Roberts and Obsidian aswell. Chris “I want all money ever and then even more from somewhere else” Roberts is the biggest culprit.

    Peter is a daydreamer and in my opinion either weak or very sly using crocodile tears to get some sympathy for his KS. Also he is a man who has no clue at all about gamers and what they really’s quite shocking infact..he should be making facebook games, right up his alley.

    Braben I will give abit of leeway, but really he needs Ian Bell with him which is unlikely.

    • Phantoon says:

      Sorry, did you just say Obsidian is doing well, financially? I’m misunderstanding you here, I think. Must be a communication error.

  12. wastelanderone says:

    Cara’s article may or may not have made me a little teary. It put me on a little internal retrospective and while not unpleasant, it was bittersweet.

    Damn onions.

    • Carachan1 says:

      It was difficult to write. But hey, someone’s got to say it, sometime. Glad you liked it / chopped some onions / retrospected!

  13. Uthred says:

    Isnt the Robert Florance Kickstarter thing purposefully over the top? Did no-one click on the “Actually About” link where it details how the blog is a *fictional* blog for his upcoming video project? Shouldnt that perhaps have been mentioned?

    • Unaco says:


      This, pretty much. When it came up on the forums yesterday, I pointed this out. When it came up in the KS Katchup yesterday, someone pointed this out. There’s an article on there about how Rab goes to sleep, wakes up and the Blog has been updated with posts about Mystical Ninjas. He has an ‘Ode to Lara Croft’, which explores the attraction of the original and new Lara Crofts, along with the closing down of Pornographic Torrent websites. He’s going to review Hitman with a f*cking Seagull on his shoulder.

      I’m fairly sure what’s on there should be taken with a pinch of salt or two.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Really sad I didn’t get to read that Mystical Ninja piece, whatever it was (and whoever it was by). Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2 is one of the finest platformers ever made.

        • Phantoon says:

          AND DIFFICULT! I beat Super Marios 1-3 (the real second one, too!) but couldn’t beat that game.

        • excel_excel says:

          YES! God, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2 is near perfection. Works just as well as a co-op game as well as single player, and its got a fantastic art style and God damn, WHAT A SOUNDTRACK.

          • BooleanBob says:

            > Excel Saga username
            > Phoenix Wright gravatar
            > Knows the greatness of MNSG:2
            > Knows the greatness of MNSG:2’s soundtrack (WHAT A SOUNDTRACK).

            Marry me, internet stranger.

    • The Random One says:

      So it says, but go back a page in the comments and watch Rob shout half-incoherently at a guy for more than half of the page. Maybe he’s trying to get into character.

      • Unaco says:

        RobF who comments here, and has commented extensively on this article, is Rob Fearon, producer of the “Bag Full of Wrong” video games (Death Ray Manta, War Twat etc.). aka Rob Remakes, who does the Mersey Remakes stuff.

        RobF who comments here is NOT Rab Florence, the author of the article in question and the Cardboard Children article. When Robert Florence comments here, it’s under the name ‘Rab’.

        RobF != Rab Florence.

  14. MOKKA says:

    “This game, if we get it right, will be a step toward some kind of organic living soap opera,”

    And the little intereset I had in GTA V is gone.

    • walldad says:

      I know, right? I think the best criticism I’ve heard levelled against GTA was from a friend of mine. We were talking about San Andreas I think, and to preface – he’s not really into “realistic” games as such. But he pointed out “with GTA, I’ve stopped enjoying it since Vice City – you don’t actually get to plan a crime”. And he’s right, it’s a sandbox with an elaborate set of pre-designed sandcastles to enter and conquer solely within the parameters set by the devs. It was portrayed as being this open-ended thing at one point after GTA3, and it’s slowly become more about writing riffs on crime movies and stories than about improving the parts of the game that games don’t actually do better than TV and movies.

  15. fauxC says:

    Ok so I’m a (male) feminist and very much all about the equality in games stuff, but that Polygon website made my eyes bleed. Jeezy creezy, is it really so hard to find decent web design these days?

    • walldad says:

      I don’t like the magazine-style block quotes in Grandpa-sized reading glasses fonts. Just let me read the article. It’s worse with their other site, The Verge. I will say this – at least Polygon centers on the screen well and fills it.

    • Phantoon says:

      I don’t know what a male feminist is. Because apparently some people that call themselves feminists think straw feminism is actually the point. Now I’m worried that because I have no way to measure the insanity of “KILL MEN THEY’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING!” and because no one else does, it’s gone from “not even existing, that’s not a real thing, no one says that” to the mainstream. But I don’t know if it does! I don’t even know if there’s basically no people that actually do this, other than the few I’ve run into, which is a very small sample size. But it’s still a scary idea.

      Also, only being for one gender’s equal rights is kind of silly. It’s not really equal then. Which of course isn’t going to happen any time soon. Gender “roles” are going to die a slower death than the heat death of our universe.

      And yes, the page design is blinding. I need a CRTV monitor to view that page without becoming ill.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I think you’ve misunderstood what feminism is. Feminists do seek equal rights and respect for both genders, or at least critical consideration with the topic. Feminists do come from the standpoint however that women represent a marginalised group of people in society due to patriarchal, misogynist or phallocentric discourses (underlying ideas that shape our thoughts and actions) within society, and that these should be engaged with to rectify the situation. Of course there are areas where being a man and the social expectations of male gender can be harmful, being a gay male single parent myself I often get treated to ‘but they need a mother don’t they’ comments (hint: no, they need love), and feminist theory does not deny this but at the end of the day as a man I still belong to a group of people who are paid more, hold higher social status and are more represented by institutions such as politics, the police, etc.

        So in summary feminism=same rights for both sexes, but can look like wanting less rights for men because it challenges the implicit privilege that men currently have.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Perfect response to a silly coment. Bravo, sir. Case dismissed!

        • hypercrisis says:

          actually no, feminism is an intellectual movement. what you are describing is civil rights and suffrage.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            Not sure I understand this response. Are you trying to say that feminists don’t advocate equal rights?
            I think it’s pretty well understood that “Feminism” means the doctrine advocating equality, or the organised movement for the attainment of it.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            Sorry mate, but you’re wrong. feminist writers advocate social action and change or else what would be the point of challenging ideas? In fact since Marx and his idea of ‘praxis’ and Foucaults notions oft ideas existing through actions it is debatable whether there actually can be such a thing as an ‘intellectual movement’

      • Muzman says:

        Being for only one gender’s equal rights is kind of silly? You know what “equal” means, right?

        • Eddy9000 says:

          I should have just said that! His argument is kind of like saying ‘people who want slavery abolished are against equal rights for slave owners’.

          • running fungus says:

            Way to pick a tough example. How about dispossessing white South African farmers?

            It *does* matter whether the goals of a historically disadvantaged group are only empowerment or equality, and it often shows in how many members of the majority you’re going to throw under the bus to get there.

        • The Random One says:

          “All genders are equal, but some genders are more equal than others” – a pig

          • Muzman says:

            When the Blue (stocking) Army politburo looks like taking over and divvying up power thus, gimmee a call.

  16. walldad says:

    I think next year people will come to reassess what Kickstarter is about — specifically what it can do for gaming. It’ll take a handful of the popular/semi-popular ones to come up empty or at least be really shoddy and half assed. OUYA is looking like it already. It’s inevitable, IMO.

    Like, right now, there is already a weird dichotomy between the skeptics and the people who are cartoonishly enthusiastic about it, and the latter group will be circling the wagons more and more as the credibility of some of the projects erodes. FWIW, I retain a cautious optimism about some of the products, but I will only pay for a finished product if the donators have to bear the the financial risk in its entirety with these silly things. That’s just a matter of principle for me.

    Next to none of the positive things people are saying about Kickstarter are grounded in realistic expectations about paying upfront for a creative project that has no obligation to be delivered at all. People pay lip service to the idea that failure could happen (it’s inevitable that it does with at least a few big ones covered by gaming blogs), but don’t seem to demand a more equitable share of the risk as a result. I’m not sure why people think this way. Is it a fandom thing? Enthusiasm (and money) for gaming doesn’t make games on its own – it takes the work of many creative and highly motivated collaborators. I’m not doubting that there are some highly intelligent and creative people using Kickstarter to fund projects that will succeed, but I do doubt the motivation (and motives) of some of what gets posted there. I’m also not doubting that people understand all this. I just see an unwillingness to carry the implications of what could realistically happen with Kickstarter all the way through, because it making developers and backers feel good about themselves and their hobby is more important.

    So then we arrive at the patronage analogy, or warm fuzzies, or “it wouldn’t have been worked on without our support”! This line of reasoning isn’t totally defensible – with patronage there is an implied contract when you commission a piece of art that it must be completed. No such obligation exists with Kickstarter. If a game wouldn’t have otherwise been made, perhaps something more equitable to the Kickstarter participants would make more sense – like a system for small dividends or some kind of legal mechanism to ensure the funds have to be partially paid back to the backers.

    I also consider this notion of “charity” or “goodwill” toward what is expected to be a profitable business venture for the recipients tacky and morally repugnant to some degree. There are IRL charities, non-profits, NGOs etc. that have questionable ethics – add an explicit motive for profit and extrapolate accordingly.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Thanks for this post, walldad. Really! Thank you.
      I’m glad someone can put on to words what my limited English and argumentative skills didn’t allow me to.

      • walldad says:

        Thanks. Usually when I post thing that go against the grain of the discourse about Kickstarter I get accused of being pessimistic for its own sake. Gamers and the medium as a whole deserve better – especially with Kickstarter projects that are often risky because they are part of a creative vanguard that was long abandoned in favor of tepid commercial junk. I want more interesting games out in the world, and I don’t want to see the possibility of more of those games getting made become less likely over the long term because of a lack of forethought (and an uncritically drummed-up tsunami of goodwill and money).

        • subedii says:

          Well for my part, I’m tired of constantly being called a daydreamer or “cartoonishly optimistic” simply because I back projects I’m interested in.

          Let me be candid here. Despite huffing about “warm fuzzies”, my interest is purely selfish. I’ve backed a few projects purely because of the following things:

          1) It’s something I want to see get made

          2) I don’t believe it’s going to get made otherwise (or at least not to any real standard)

          3) This way I get the game cheaper, typically DRM free, and often with extras.


          4) I believe the devs can deliver (which is why I never bothered with the Interstellar Marines KS even though their prototypes interest me).

          Yes there’s an inherent risk that it simply won’t make it to release or won’t be to my standard. What of it? I know that’s the case, and I accept that. But then it’s not like I blindly throw my money at every KS that sounds interesting. And as far as RoI is concerned, the return I’m looking for is the game at a cheap price.

          People are constantly telling me with smug knowingness that I’m going to wake up to some massive “reality check” some time soon, when OH NO! Some of these Kickstarter projects have FAILED!

          And the thing is, well, so what if they do? I’d rather put a few bucks aside for the prospect of a new game in the vein of Total Annihilation than stare glumly at the latest rendition of Starcraft. Fully financially published and backed with no input from me beforehand, but it doesn’t matter if I don’t like the game itself.

          I’m not expecting a guarantee if that’s what you think. It would be stupid to expect a guarantee of anything of this sort. You’re paying for other people to create a game in advance. All I’m expecting is the devs to do their best, and to be competent enough to accomplish the task they’ve set themselves and which they’ve outlined to prospective backers.

          If I’ve backed it it’s because the history of the devs, their background and releases, lead me to believe they are capable of accomplishing it, and because their stated project is one that I would buy if it was made. If after all that the game still doesn’t make it (in whatever sense), I’m not going to feel any particular regret over it or anything. Largely because I don’t believe it’s going to happen otherwise under the traditional publishing model, and a purely self-funded indie model (and I say this as someone who buys a tonne of indie games) is just going to result in a low budget and lower scope title.

          I mean speaking personally, Natural Selection 2 is currently one of my favourite games of this year. I could see myself playing it for a long time to come (which is saying something, most multiplayer FPS’s bore me). But I also don’t believe it could have come about without the community support, and yes, crowd funding, that it did (long before Kickstarting games was “a thing”). And I’m not even one of the people that did help fund it.

          • Phantoon says:

            I’m pretty sure you’re not in the “cartoonishly optimistic” crowd, then.

            I think he meant that anyone not that optimistic about it was considered a skeptic.

          • subedii says:

            Maybe you’re right. The thing is, I am optimistic, at least about the projects I’ve backed.

            I mean getting back to Planetary Annihilation, the devs are already keeping people in the loop on what they’re doing on a weekly basis. Heck they’ve even set up a mini video studio to put up videocasts every now and again to update people on how things are proceeding and to answer questions. The dev team behind it has already shipped products previously, and they have a TONNE of RTS experience, with plenty of that coming from TA and SupCom. So I’m expecting it’ll probably turn out well.

            If I was pessimistic about a project, or didn’t expect it to turn out well, I wouldn’t have backed it. That’s the thing, I don’t think we can really talk about Kickstarter in such large sweeping terms. It should be about judging Kickstarter projects on their own individual merits.

            I’ve seen plenty of people talking about the “Kickstarter Bubble”, and how this is all going to come crashing down like a house of cards when the first project fails. Personally I can’t say one way or the other, but I don’t feel we can judge the future of the crowd-funding model as a whole in that fashion to begin with.

          • walldad says:

            There’s an aspect of this that I reject on principle: people out to make a buck making actual bucks by simply “promising” things. In spite of how credible the things they say may seem, there’s always room for doubt. There’s what’s basically an asymmetric power dynamic going on between backers and the Kickstarter project, with the latter getting the lion’s share of the immediate, tangible benefit and perhaps a considerable long term one as well.

            Well, what do you get? A game which may or may not be good (or even finished), may or may not be finished within the schedule they advertised, or even nothing at all. If the games coming out of this first wave happen to meet any of those criteria (given the long history in gaming of vaporware and empty promises, this is inevitable) then what does that say about crowd funding, and the type of economic behavior it encourages?

            The individual merits of these projects don’t really exist as such, because the project hasn’t been completed yet.

            I’m sorry if it seems uppity – but I’ll save my good feels for contributing to real charities, not creative entrepreneurs.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            Could I also suggest that kick starter helps you feel involved and emotionally invested in an area of your life that is important to you, giving the feeling that you are not only invoked as a consumer, but in a small way in production?

          • walldad says:

            It’s crass and somewhat dangerous to couple the feeling of being a part of something larger to giving people money who plan to invest it in their talents – with the purpose of making something for a profit. Often marketing leverages “feeling like a part of something”, but that’s what the big bad corporate world does to manufacture desire.

            It seems like Kickstarter projects adopt a weird, earnest cargo cult version of this marketing phenomenon. “As long as we all feel it together, and we maintain that we’re absolutely sincere – we can uh …. turn a buck without making anything!”

            It goes to show how much momentum cultural capitalism has. It starts with charities telling us to “Save the Children” and through years of carefully calculated marketing for commercial products we’ve arrived now at “Save the video game”. Yikes.

    • PikaBot says:

      I shook my head when I saw people supporting the OUYA. Total vaporware, there’s no way it will ever see the light of day.

      That being said, I don’t see a problem with people putting money towards things they want to exist. Normally, whether a game (or book, or album) gets funded or not – and thus, whether it gets made or not – depends solely on the whims of moneyed elites. Moneyed elites who then claim ownership over it, and make decisions about it, and whose motivations are very, very rarely coincident with ours, the consumers of the end product. How many games have been ruined by being forced out the door too soon to meet a publisher’s deadline? Or neutered by the publisher’s marketing department? Kickstarter’s appeal is that it takes that power away from the elites and gives it back to us. And if the products fails to meet standards or doesn’t appear at all, we’re not out much money. I genuinely believe most people understand the risks involved (and I have no sympathy for those who don’t).

      The first Kickstarter I ever saw was for a new album by my favorite band of all time, who had broken up six years ago and are now getting back together. I put my money down not because it was a good investment and sell a million copies, but because I wanted this album to be a thing and I now had the power to help do that. I think that’s a great thing for art.

      Mind you, I’m a bit less enthusiastic about kickstarters where the goal is to get a base of funding from which to seek more private investment money. I appreciate that making games is expensive and you can’t reasonably expect to get the kind of money they apparently need from crowdsourcing, but it certainly dilutes the benefit from the kickstarter’s perspective.

      • walldad says:

        As far as the type of democratization you refer to – the vast majority of Kickstarters still ensure full creative control of people who’ve fallen out of favor with the “moneyed elites” solely due to commercial viability. I realize how horrible it is to have an entire industry built up around culture and how any way of sidestepping the traditional gatekeepers is an improvement over the status quo, but with gaming it’s oftentimes people who’ve already gotten the approval of “moneyed elites”. So I’m not sure the counter-culture aspect of it is all that compelling, at least not in my anecdotal experience.

        I hope you’re also aware that there’s a degree of unaccountability that the Kickstarter funding model that ensures that people who do game the system or do shoddy work only really have their reputation to lose. Say what you will about ROI, but even a tiny bit of that added to Kickstarter projects (dividends/legal repurcussions) would at least be a sorting mechanism for those truly prepared to undertake a project and those who just have a lot of ideas.

        • PikaBot says:

          I’m not sure what you’re saying in that first paragraph. Are the runners of successful kickstarters in or out of favor with publishers? You claim both at the same time.

          Of course it’s unaccountable and a gamble. But it’s a gamble on an idea, and your impression of the team behind it. I really don’t see what adding an ROI factor would do to add that accountability.

          • walldad says:

            The publishers, as gatekeepers, have already signed off on Double Fine, Lionhead, etc. in the past. The publishers don’t consider their talents creatively viable any longer. At one point they were, and what these projects demonstrate is that they’re mining a reputation built on commercially backed games to begin with.

            So with these projects, their sole concern is profitability – mainly by foisting the financial risk on backers. They’ve simply taken their talent from the gatekeepers who no longer need them to people whose tastes have been shaped by the publishers already.

            Believing that other people understand the risks hard enough isn’t going to make it so. That’s just not how marketing works, even taking into account the Kickstarters that go about it in the most good faith they can muster in that business model.

    • Naum says:

      Re patronage analogy: Doesn’t the same kind of implied contract exist with Kickstarter? As with patronage, there is no legal obligation but an extremely strong social one, and for those who fail to deliver — at least with non-negligible budgets — there will be severe repercussions. Bad press alone should make it very difficult for the teams or companies in question to get any funding for further projects. So while Kickstarter is of course reducing the risks for self-published developers, a significant motivation to make the desired product remains.

      • walldad says:

        Potential loss of reputation isn’t the same as being exposed to immediate financial risk. Fraud and deception is nothing new to the internet either.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      There’s something that irks me about the concept of “sharing risks”. We are sharing risks already. I pay for a game I want to see made, and the developer puts their entire team on the line for that game. If the game flops, I’m out of however much I paid, which is usually a small amount, while they’re stuck with an unfinished game without any money to complete it. Unless they can find additional emergency funding, that would kill a fair few game developers outright. I find that they risk a lot more than I do in the whole thing.

      But big developers wouldn’t fold, you say. Well yeah, but then you get another kind of risk, and that’s the loss of goodwill. Before you say goodwill is worthless, I beg to differ. Valve’s goodwill has allowed them to do pretty much anything they would like, and their extremely positive reputation has propelled Steam to top dog of the DD food chain. Developers like Roberts or Schafer have benefited a lot from their accumulated goodwill in finding funding and developing games.

      But what if one of their KS fails? The backlash would be immense, especially if it’s a big project. Their goodwill would evaporate, and they would be unable to get funding the next time around. Whereas small developers would be allowed to fade into obscurity because they’d just disappear from the scene outright, large developers would still have to keep making other games. They’d constantly be reminded of their failures, and it would taint the public opinion of many of their games for many years going forward. Heck, publishers might even balk at supporting them in the future: if they can’t estimate their costs properly for a project they are supposedly very motivated in, what would happen with a project they don’t have as much of an interest in?

      Basically, I’m not worried about large developers failing. People like Roberts and Molyneux would inject more money if required, because the alternative would put them in somewhat of a limbo. I’m more worried about smaller devs failing, but I consider it to be a worthwhile gamble – yes, a gamble. I’m not a pie in the sky optimist, but I do think KS has the potential of giving us more varied games. We’ve already seen three genres getting a small renaissance with KS: adventure games, space sims and now god games. We’ve also seen new strategy games that didn’t just ape the Starcraft model. I say that that’s well worth the inevitable failures that will happen on the way.

      • Emeraude says:

        That’s the main thing though: some people are saying one of the failures KS will necessarily produce would be enough to spoil all goodwill, others says patrons are resilient enough to stomach some, which would hopefully make them more savvy in their choice.

        No one knows really, so we’re all in the expectation.

      • walldad says:

        I think the undercurrent of what you’re saying is that devs and gamers can’t do any better than Kickstarter. I was also trying to highlight that Kickstarter projects could easily treat their investors (yes, let’s call them investors, since we’re talking about profits and business etc.) with more, ahem, financial respect. In some cases I’d even say there’s a lack of respect for their intelligence. A slick viral PR campaign with a few interviews, an outline of the game’s tentative design, and nothing else to show for it shouldn’t merit thousands of dollars, and yet this has happened many times over. I’m all for good will, but when you’re spending money so that other people can make more money off of your good will, it doesn’t make economic sense for the backers.

        There’s a degree of accountability that isn’t there that normally is with publishers, and it’s more immediate than people getting mad at a dev blowing their end of the bargain (which is something that could easily be lied about in the event of a failure, if their PR skills are up to the task of earning thousands on their own to begin with). It’s that they’d actually face the financial risk of losing their job altogether, rather than something a bit more fuzzily defined and easily manipulated as reputation.

        Think about it like this – there are commercial franchises that get worse/more stagnant every year, provoke an increasingly loud and angry backlash, yet exceed the previous installment in sales. Couple that to Kickstarter backers identifying with the project to some degree – you can observe this with the No Reality Zone of something like OUYA’s fans – where does that leave us? Will people be likelier apologize for a half assed/failed project? Will there also be a contingent yet angrier in the event of failure? Yes to both, probably. It’s not a stretch to think that apologetics/circling the wagons are likelier with Kickstarter donators than they are with the AAA games that get 8/9/10 on Metacritic from “professional” reviews that get panned by the site’s users.

        I think that’s just the nature of dealing with the “free market” as such – not that I like it – but people really should spend with their head predominantly when it comes to dealing with people who clearly have a motive toward profit.

        You personally understand the risks, which is 100% fine. And as someone pointed out it’s not a lot of money, at least not for what people usually chip in. It’s just that there’s no shortage of people who are a bit more prone to allowing enthusiasm to cloud their judgement. The type of things that got funded with how little they showed off (fucking OUYA) bears my interpretation out over all the people suggesting the risks are unequivocal or whatever.

        • AngoraFish says:

          $10-$20 is not an “investment”, and all these naysaying commentators who continue to falsely claim it is are entirely missing the point. People throw those kinds of amounts away every day on crap food and movies; kicking in for kickstarter is just as ephemeral.

          A better analogy would be that kickatarter is a “gamble”. Think of the lottery, which for many people involves similar regular amounts of cash and a similar lack of guarantee about getting anything for your money back in return. People pay the lottery in part for the fantasy of a big payoff; by the time the actual payoff is announced they’ve already forgotten about their $10 “investment” and are moving on to the next big megadraw.

          • walldad says:

            It’s an investment by virtue of the fact that the Kickstarter project plans to make profit off the funds raised. It’s the principle of the thing, not the amount. It’s also a convenient bit of semantics that solely favors Kickstarter to call it a “donation”.

            Also – No I’m pretty sure food and a night at the movies aren’t ephemeral in any way analogous to paying for something that doesn’t exist.

            I don’t think comparing Kickstarter to a lottery ticket really does these projects any favors either. In fact, it kinda concedes my point.

    • D3xter says:

      I don’t believe you will see as many “failed” big projects as you expect. Disappointing or bad ones are a lot more likely, but I don’t think they might altogether fail. If they really go south at some point there’s still the chance to appeal to a community or Open Source it (like that one recent KickStarter Manse Macabre did).

      For that matter, the whole reason projects have gotten this much money is because the Gaming Industry as it was when this took off aside from Indies gaining in importance was basically fucked beyond belief towards big “AAA” games without much (if any) creativity and not giving people what they want. For instance if you look at the most funded movies section you will see that even the highest funded projects haven’t reached half a million altogether. I believe this is because there are already movies catering to smaller or “niche” audiences. But good Adventure games or even the thought of good isometric RPGs were the dreams of the past till recently.

      I personally don’t give anything I wouldn’t be able to lose e.g. up to ~$100 or something on the premise of the projects alone. And if it goes south and I spent what is basically a few meals or cinema tickets I might somewhat bitch about it, but be fine with that.
      If the projects turn into genuinely good/amazing games exploring new things that publisher-funded ones would never do I will be overly happy.

      I would probably/potentially throw out multiple hundred $ or even more on projects I really, really believed in and I’ve been starved for for years. A new SciFi show actually giving a shit about the intelligence of their viewership in the same vein as Star Trek: TNG for instance which isn’t mainly about exploding ships and a great evil about to devour the galaxy could well lead to that on the hope that it turns out good alone.

      That said, you are wrong about not having an obligation to deliver on what they promised (not if the product turns out good or but, but delivering a product at all), because there is one, there’s an entire “Accountability” section: link to
      Which says this:
      “Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

      Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

      And it has already been legally tested before with this project at least: link to
      Most people didn’t get the money back, but the project creator was defaulted/bankrupted over it. If a larger company with actual assets would run into the same it could prove problematic for them.

      • walldad says:

        Interesting. I’m sort of curious as to what they define as “promised”. At least there’s something there. I had heard otherwise, but I should’ve looked into it more.

        At bottom it’s this question: Why is donating to what’s essentially still a business interest suddenly ok?

        I totally get why people love the idea of Kickstarter when compared to the alternative of hoping AAA studios and indies pick up the creative slack. It makes them feel empowered, it fulfills, at least to an extent, the consumerist ideology that individuals can vote on products their dollars (which is unsubstantiated horse shit applied in other contexts). But the nagging feeling for me is that it’s still capitalism, that it’s simply going express the structural issue of profit needing to come before creativity – especially with something as complex and specialized as creating a game. They’re products, not a “cause” or an expression of your personal values. Conflating the two makes me retch, at least.

        So there’s no reason to let the euphoria of having an opportunity to work outside corporate publishing gloss over a critical assessment in ALL of the implications to the changes Kickstarter brings to the table — or continuing to think up other ways to circumvent publishers for that matter.

        PS: People put a lot of faith in the indies in earlier years .. I’ve enjoyed more freeware indie games ~2005-2007 than the retail indies. The last indie game I liked was Space Funeral. I’m not sure what that means.

  17. MadMatty says:

    As for the Iron Ribbon equality campaign.
    I play first person shooters and MMO´s mostly. last week i heard a woman say something in voice chat in Planetside 2.

    Thats the first woman ive identified in a game, in like 5 years.
    Last time whas when i played 2 hours of WoW with my beginnner friend Diana.

    as far as i can tell there a just about no women in gaming, or they hide behind aliases.
    Everyones rude to beginners.

    then again i dont frequent much with 15 year old american yobs….. im like 32…. so i have absolutely no clue. i usually play games 20+ hours a week, and i dont watch TV.

    • MadMatty says:

      if theres a rude person i just block them the fck off, and then go about my business not giving a toss, like any adult. maybe its more a problem with being yobs?
      And ofcourse the double standard set up by Evangelical Christianity.
      shouldve asked me instead, if its wrong to be a woman.

      • MadMatty says:

        as for that woman got raided by 4chan after the kickstarter videos, thats just 4chan. Their intent is to be as offensive as possible, its targeting random at large, and often racist. its not even related to gamers in general.

        • Phantoon says:

          In their defense, I’m pretty sure there’s more women on 4chan than you’ve interacted with online in the past five years OH SNAP SICK BURN WOO IT’S 2005 IN HERE ALL OVER AGAIN. Also, 4chan is basically social anarchy. The motivations of one person on it are not the same as another.

          But seriously, you play 20+ hours of gaming a week, and you don’t run into women at all? Either you don’t pay attention, or it’s sheer luck, or you’re as much of a bizarre ranter in game as you seem to be here, which would drive them off.

          And you’re replying to yourself. No, this is very, very strange. I’d stay away from you in games, too, because you’d make my brain sick with confusion.

          • Emeraude says:

            I don’t know about anarchy. It’s terrifyingly democratic anyway. In all the good and bad.

          • Phantoon says:

            Well, it’s not like they’re just “a force for evil”, like some people draw them to be. It’s more like “they’re a force for whatever shiny thing enough of them latch onto at the time”. Someone had to tell people in Libya how to get around the internet filters…

    • PikaBot says:

      I’m going crosseyed.

    • dE says:

      You are absolutely right. There are no women in gaming. There aren’t any men either. Just players.
      That’s exactly the strength of gaming, that gender matters not and only becomes an issue when people drag their own or other peoples gender identity into public view. I think it’s a step in the right direction, that you haven’t noticed a lot of women in gaming. Why would you? How’d you go about identifying them? “She used a different smilie than most, must be a woman!”. And more importantly, why would you try to identify them in the first place?

    • The Random One says:

      Yeah pretty sure the fact that you personally only saw a female once in five years means they are a microscopic minority and not that systematic oppression against women still being not only accepted but in many environments actively encouraged as a necessary part of the subculture causes most women to hide their gender identities due to a very realistic fear that they’ll be harassed for it, therefore causing their numbers to appear to be far smaller in any public, unmoderated forum.

  18. PikaBot says:

    Rab’s article is utterly idiotic because it ignores the fact that going through standard funding channels is a highly suboptimal route that gives greedy bastard publishers control over the project. That’s killed or compromised more promising games than I can think to name. It also starts with a sensationalist conclusion (‘they will kill it’) that it utterly fails to support. Or indeed, ever mention again.

    It’s a good thing it’s a work of satire.

  19. Muzman says:

    Speaking of weird pricing experiments, I was reading about The Australia Tax
    link to

    You talk about no oceans. We’re surrounded by them, even on the internet.

  20. El Mariachi says:

    I’m not giving up on “begging the question” that easily.

    • iucounu says:

      God bless you. I thought I was alone.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Stand strong, brothers.

        • Harlander says:

          I’m in.

          Can we work on ‘irregardless’ and people confusing ‘lose’ and ‘loose’? They don’t even sound the same aaargh

          *flails around frothing at the mouth*

  21. pertusaria says:

    I really enjoyed Cara Ellison’s piece, and the Dyad conversation. Games aren’t as central to my social interactions as they seem to be to Cara’s, but it’s really neat how life can colour your experience of what you’re reading / listening to / playing at the time, and vice versa.

    Edit: Also liked the article questioning how many recent god games / city builders Molyneux has played. If he’s played at least a couple, as suggested in the comments, why is he setting the bar as low as CityVille (or does he just have a bad memory)?

  22. H-Hour says:

    The criticism of Kickstarter as a no-returns investment scheme where the funder is asked to contribute financially but receive nothing but the game in return raises an interesting issue around ownership. As someone mentioned in the comments above, were a publisher to back a game it would demand ownership of the IP. It may also require ownership over the game’s assets (I’m not that familiar with publishing agreements, so maybe studios retain this).

    Could there be more push-back regarding ownership over the final product when Kickstarter is involved? Why shouldn’t developers be expected to turn their product into a more public resource? They could release major portions of their work under open-source licenses. In cases where this is not as feasible, they could at least building some forms of open-ness or flexible longevity into their games — such as building extensive modding support.

    This seems like it would be especially appropriate (from a gamer’s perspective) for two types of projects very popular on Kickstarter. First, games that are trying to reboot or re-tool a dead genre could aspire to build modern open game platforms purpose-built for the genre, rather than one-off games. The contemporary reboot doesn’t have to tick every box if it’s open enough for fans to reinterpret aesthetic choices or iterate new mechanics.

    Second, big, giant games that aspire to be the only game you will ever need, like Star Citizen, can only ever be the only game you will ever need if their mechanics are open to extension. Star Citizen claims players will be given “full control”, but only mentions the ability to create your own ships. In contrast, games like Minecraft function by virtue of the ability for mods to interact and manipulate game mechanics. This is what will make a game endure.

    In both of these cases, audiences would be well served by a game that released its work as open-source, or at least released core portions of their content. This would ease the work of teams which may love the dynamics of (a random example) your action RPG with elements of city construction, but want to swap out the swords and magic combat for a post-apocalyptic setting that supports sabotage and stealth.

    Now, I realise that open-source is anathema to most game developers. And the deep-seated hope that their game will make them rich is also a large motivator (this doesn’t prevent them from honestly wanting their game to be made for its own sake). But if crowd-funding is actually capable of addressing the player-publisher financial imbalance that has driven a lot of the buzz around Kickstarter, it ought to be able to make these kinds of demands on developers. They may not be making millions, but they’re earning a salary.

    As a part-time, volunteer developer for an open source game, I’ve obviously got a certain amount of commitment to open source principles. But I believe that we will always exist in a mixed ecology of closed and open-source. I’m not suggesting everything ought to go open source. But there is a lot of scope for using these great game ideas on Kickstarter to improve the open source ecology. Releasing a game’s code under open source while licensing the art assets to themselves would allow developers to retain IP and earn money off of future content, but would give eager teams a crack at building new games that play with the mechanics, set up a new world, or keep player interest with more content. Even if the code was closed but the art content was released in widely compatible formats under an open source license it would be an extraordinary boon to the open-source community, which lacks quality artwork more than anything else.

    Many of the necessary components for putting a game together are already in place under open source licenses — renderers, physics engines, even halfway-there gaming engines. These things are not quite at the AAA level, but with a skilled team funded the way Kickstarter projects are funded, Ogre3D could make a very attractive game.

    This has run long, so I’ll stop here. I’ll just say that I know this is very pie-in-the-sky. But it does address the new role that funders have taken on as investors, and it also suggests a way in which funders can ask for more than just a game in return, without involving them in the financial pitfalls which led to frustration with games publishers.

  23. Emeraude says:

    Edit: Was addressed to walldad, I don’t know what happened.

    a) You’ll have to expand on that cargo cult bit, cause I’m not seeing where/how you see it.

    b) I’ll bite: how do you differentiate from people who do something to turn a profit, and people who do something for the satisfaction of doing it ?

    Even if you could:
    Why would the *intention* matter in any way as long as all actors in the little drama get what they want ?
    What is the cost/harm done that you see that should make us prescribe the process ?
    Why do you expect the maker not to try and turn a profit from its making ?

    If anything, the more I think about it, the more I see it all to be an intellectual property problem at its roots.
    As per the Racine/Louis XIV I gave in the thread: patrons who gave money for the production of an item owned it (for the most part), but that because items have to belong to someone (even if that someone happens to be everyone). His patrons didn’t own Racine’s work. But that’s because he didn’t either. No one did. There was no intellectual property in France in those days. Once the work was made public, that’s what it was, public. Which is partly why we created intellectual property in the first place – to protect authors from unsavory publisher who made money out of their work (we’ve come a long way, we now use intellectual property to protect the publishers from the public).

    All that to say that, the same way the ongoing street-will-find-its-use defining process of Kickstarter is walking a thin line between patronage and presale using the former as a convenient fiction/excuse for the later, I have a feeling the “no DRM “so dear to backers does something similar for the possession of the game: we know the game can and will be pirated. Once the kickstarted game has been made public, that’s who it belongs to, the public. The developers can and still will labor to make a profit out of it, but that’s not a problem cause the public has been guaranteed access.

    Sorry for the ramble, hope I make sense.