Skullgirls Devs Crowdfunding Action-RPG Indivisible

Regular reader Bunty Hoven writes:

Dear Alice,
Why do people not call Jonathan Blow, Jason Rohrer, Jonathan Brodsky, and Jonatan Van Hove by their preferred names of J. Blo, J. Ro, J. Bro, and J. Ho?

Oh, and when will you post about Skullgirls folks Lab Zero’s crowdfunding campaign for their action-RPG Indivisible? It has a public playable prototype out!

Yours,
Bunty

Well Bunty, I honestly don’t know the answer to your first question. It seems awfully disrespectful to ignore their wishes so. Maybe we’re both helping spread awareness right here, right now. As to your second, ah, fine, I’ll do it now.

Indivisible [official site], then, is a pretty action-RPG with 2D characters platforming and fighting around a (mostly) 3D world. Inspired by “Southeast Asian mythology”, it’s the tale of a young girl with special powers who’s confronting local warlords and exploring her own mysteries. Combat’s real-time-ish, but based around resources which deplete and replenish, so you’re not attacking constantly and must be careful with timing.

You can download the prototype by clicking these links for Windows, Mac, Linux, or even US PlayStation 4. I’ve had a bash and yeah, the murdering and platforming are pretty fun (wall-jumping and axe-climbing are grand), though it’s obviously a demo throwing new things at you constantly so it’s hard to get a sense for how the full game would flow.

Lab Zero Games are looking for $1,500,000 (around £975,000) on Indiegogo to help fund development. That’s not all the funding it needs, mind. If the campaign succeeds, publishers 505 Games (who funded the prototype) will put up the other $2 million (£1.3m) Lab Zero need. If not, they’ll get no Indiegogo money and nowt from 505. They’re open about this, unlike some other crowdfunding campaigns, but… that model rubs me the wrong way a bit. Backers are giving money to the devs and the game, but publishers (usually) then get a share of profits and backers don’t. Some games industry folks recently launched new crowdfunding site Fig, which also lets some people actually put money in as an investment, but it’s kind of a confusing mess.

Anyway, evidently Lab Zero can’t raise $3.5 million themselves just through crowdfunding, they do want a publisher’s help, and 505 won’t pay more, so this is the only way Indivisible will get made as currently designed. If you want to back it, $30 (£20) would get you a copy of the game when it’s finished – by January 2018, is the plan.

48 Comments

  1. Yesat says:

    A couple weeks ago, Mike Z explained the reason of the campaign in a live stream. (Here’s the reddit thread link to reddit.com? with some TL:DW and the video link to youtube.com)

    505 Games for example is mostly responsible of the localisation. They will invest in a lot of thing that are obligatory for the game, but will be too much too ask for a crowd funding campaign for an indie studio.

    While it’s true that bakers don’t get a share of the profit, they don’t really support a game for profit, but for the final product.

  2. RedViv says:

    Ten thousand more on there since I last checked, which was a few hours ago. If only that pace could keep up.

    It’s a really gorgeous one, this game, and the prototype is very, very promising. Added to that you support a dev who Konami screwed over majorly, and who is hot to hate for garbelgorbs right now – it’s just nice to give a mite to that, yunno.

  3. int says:

    So is indiegogo like kickstarter in that they won’t get any money unless the project meets the mark? Because it doesn’t look like this project will.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Indiegogo has the concept of flexible funding which, I seem to recall, means they can get the money even if the thing doesn’t reach its target amount.

    • RedViv says:

      With fixed funding, that is the case, yes.

    • Mrice says:

      In this case however. The campaign is being run on the traditional “if its all raised we cash in. if not everyone is refunded” model.

      • Crafter says:

        more precisely : ‘if not, nobody pays’.

        IIRC funds are only collected after the end of the campaign.

        • pepperfez says:

          IGG actually charges immediately then refunds if the campaign fails. I assume it’s because they use the same infrastructure for fixed and flexible funding?

          • bv728 says:

            IGG decided to collect at time of pledge because of issues Kickstarter’s collect at the end has – in particular, most KS campaigns actually collect 10-15% less than advertised because of failed pledges.

    • MarkB says:

      This particular project has fixed funding, which means they won’t get anything if they can’t make the target. Which is unfortunately not looking likely.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      Ah sorry, I’ve clarified that – I forget not everyone spends as much time looking at crowdfunding campaigns as I do.

      Indiegogo has the option for ‘flexible’ funding, where you get whatever’s pledged, but this is a plain old fixed campaign.

  4. Emeraude says:

    I really can’t say I’m liking how this seems to set up publishers being able to strong-arm smaller developers into doing a crowd-funding campaign if they want to receive actual funds.

    • Emeraude says:

      By which I mean not just *this* one project but a recent trend of projects we’ve seen. Sorry, should have been clearer.

    • LogicalDash says:

      You’re not wrong, but this isn’t much different from how traditional venture capital funding works.

      • Emeraude says:

        Well, except there’s no equity here, the consumer take a share of the investment burden off the publisher’s back for no significant gain while the developer can get put between a rock and a hard place having the worst of both worlds: the demand for a successful crowd-fund AND publisher meddling.

    • BTA says:

      I do think it’s a bit different in this case, since a big point of the deal is them having creative freedom (including the ability to stream parts of development), but I do agree with the concern on the whole.

      • Emeraude says:

        Yeah, it’s not that single case but the overall trend I find worrying.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      At least they are upfront about it unlike that Shenmue 3 Kickstarter.

  5. Bronxsta says:

    You forgot the big news: indie characters as party members!
    link to polygon.com

    Annie from Skullgirls
    Calibretto from Battle Chasers
    The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter
    Juan from Guacamelee
    Lea from Curses N’ Chaos
    Shovel Knight from Shovel Knight
    Zackasaurus from Super Time Force Ultra

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I didn’t forget it, I simply didn’t find it interesting enough to include in a news post that was already reasonably large.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m glad the age of the indie crossover hasn’t entirely passed.

  6. kwyjibo says:

    Cactus has been really prickly in insisting people refer to him as J. So.

  7. nimbulan says:

    I really would not consider this an action RPG, seeing as it has turn-based combat.

    • pepperfez says:

      The battles are their own kind of action. Turns proceed in real time. Multiple attacks can be synchronized to force an enemy out of combat or just deal more damage, and enemy attacks have to be blocked in short windows. It really does feel a lot like a fighting game, and blasting an enemy into the air with a flaming tiger then shooting them down in a hail of arrows is incredibly satisfying.

    • baozi says:

      Agreed. Tried the prototype for a bit, and the combat was a bit strange for me, disconnected from the fluidity of moving around. Definitely felt more turn-based than action-y. I do like the weird form of combat in Transistor…this one, not so much.

  8. GWOP says:

    The animation is really gorgeous.

  9. MikoSquiz says:

    The prototype looks beautiful, and also looks like it plays absolutely horribly.

  10. Lexis says:

    Do not forget people, that these Skullgirls guys are pretty much used to scam people for money to fund their own stuff. The founders have a long history of doing so, from Gaia Online to this very day.

    When they started at Gaia they charged $2.50 monthly in exchange for pretty pixels for your avatar, basically (not mandatory tho). Then the Skullgirls crowdfund, AND THEN on top of it another 800k USD to add three characters to the already-built game.

    And now 1.5 millions for this new project. They already found The Loose that lays the Golden Eggs, and show no signs of stopping milking it. And probably never will as long as people back up their games.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Wait, so these guys are selling things to people who will buy them?

      Whatever will they think of next?

      • Lexis says:

        Nice sarcasm but poorly applied:

        These guys are CROWDFUNDING game after game even after selling Gaia Online for an undisclosed amount (it was valued at 10+ million dollars). They had more than enough money to fund Skullgirls by then but refused to use their own money on it, so the public paid the bills. And did it again with their DLC.

        They are basically charging everyone twice for their products with the added caveat that if they don’t reach their goals, they won’t lose a single dime. They are smart enough to scam everyone into a risk-free situation for them (or the general public is stupid enough to keep funding their projects).

        Before Lanzer and the rest of the Gaia staff left the site, it was pretty evident their money-grabbing scheme with 20-50 item releases per month. 800k for three characters in Skullgirls is beyond any reasonable budget as well.

        • Philomelle says:

          “These guys are CROWDFUNDING game after game even after selling Gaia Online for an undisclosed amount (it was valued at 10+ million dollars).”

          ? The only connection Lab Zero Games have to Gaia Online is that Alex Ahad worked for them as an artist way back in 2008. I tried to look for the Lanzer dude you mentioned and came across someone named Derek Liu, a person who doesn’t exist in Lab Zero Games.

          “They had more than enough money to fund Skullgirls by then but refused to use their own money on it, so the public paid the bills. And did it again with their DLC.”

          ?? Skullgirls was crowdfunded only once, which was after both of their publishers scammed them out of royalties and left them with no real budget to continue development.

          “They are basically charging everyone twice for their products with the added caveat that if they don’t reach their goals, they won’t lose a single dime. ”

          ??? How exactly are they charging everyone twice for their products? The crowdfunding campaign was for the PC version that didn’t exist at the time, which meant nobody owned it and therefore couldn’t possibly be charged for it. So whether people obtained the game from the IGG campaign or bought it later, they were charged for it only once.

          “They are smart enough to scam everyone into a risk-free situation for them (or the general public is stupid enough to keep funding their projects).”

          ???? I’m really not sure how stopping everything you do in order to run a highly stressful marketing campaign that demands complete honesty with the public is a risk-free situation. Doing so actually does cost a lot of resources. There are also matter of this not being risk-free because 1.Lab Zero don’t have the funds to operate and will shut down if Indivisible doesn’t get funded. 2.All crowdfunding websites are designed to cooperate with the backers in case of broken promises, meaning they’ll be very easy to sue if they don’t deliver their product.

          Conclusion: You seem to be very confused. Alternatively you are very desperate to justify why sending a development team death threats over six removed frames of pantyshots is acceptable. Nothing you say makes any sense or has any coherent basis on this plane of reality.

        • kwyjibo says:

          A business? Wanting to reduce risk?

          The horror… the horror…

  11. Chillicothe says:

    ^^^ This cuckoo for cocoa puffs paranoia is what they got for being honest folks. Well, that and my money.

    Anywho, this might be a bit off-the-beaten-path for people who didn’t game on the PSX, but Indivisible’s heavily based off of stone cold classic Valkyrie Profile 1’s combat and character building: link to youtube.com

    Also it has Hiroki Kikuta’s magnificent musical mastery on the soundtrack: link to youtube.com

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s a crying shame Valkyrie Profile doesn’t have the same…profile as other RPGs of the era. I’m glad it’s finally being rediscovered by nostalgia dealers.

  12. Xantonze says:

    Seemed OK until the jarring JRPG-like combat. I’m too old for this shit!!! ;D

    • EhexT says:

      Have you tried it? Because it plays great. They start you off with 1 attack and 1 character then quickly build to 4 characters with 3 attacks per recharge each to give you a sense of what the progression can be like. At 3 attacks charged, with 4 characters, a super move for each character, 3 different attacks for each character, some of which are combos with different chains – it gets mechanical depth FAST.

      • pepperfez says:

        Yeah, it’s actually not very JRPG-like in execution. Pretty clearly the work of someone with a background in fightmans.

    • Philomelle says:

      I’m pretty sure failing to recognize Valkyrie Profile actually makes you too young for anything except Call of Duty and whatever else elementary school childrens play these days.

  13. pepperfez says:

    Lab Zero did a reddit AMA earlier this week and talked about their plans for Indivisible and how the final game may differ from the demo, along with the usual “What’s your favorite…”.