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Kickrestarted: Will You Take Up Takedown's Cause?

A question of duty

Let's face it, there are going to be casualties in this Kickstarter-fought battle for a post-publisher age. The game formerly and rather boringly known as Crowdsourced Hardcore Tactical Shooter does not want to be one of those. With not too long left on the clock, it's been relaunched as Takedown, with lead dev Christian Allen (of GRAW fame) admitting that the initial promotion pulled a punch or seven. He writes on Kotaku that, in addition to not being a celebrityface like Tim Fargo or Brian Schafer, "our video was not exciting enough and the quality wasn't up to the standard it should have been. Lastly, we were too vague about the details of the project, lacked assets to show, and didn't properly differentiate our concept from other shooters on the market today. Oh, and the name SUCKED."

That is true. So now it is the bland but far less off-putting Takedown, it's billed as a 'squad-based tactical shooter' and, as you'll see in the below video, it's found itself both a sense of humour and a clearer sense of purpose.

What Allen really wants to get across that this is not a Jack Bauer or sci-fi experience - it's like olde worlde, squad-based Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six or SWAT. Plan, think, act and all that. The video below tells the tale rather entertainingly, but nitty-gritty can be browsed here.

Watch on YouTube

Or, in words:

"TAKEDOWN is a thinking-person’s shooter. The player that takes things slow, aims carefully, and plans their moves right will overcome the player who runs in with guns blazing. Close-quarters battle brings the fight inside, as you would see SWAT teams or SOF units taking down small numbers of dangerous adversaries. Non-linear environments allow for multiple routes and tactics and add replayability. You will plan your insertions and routes before going into the scenario, outfitting your teammates with weapons and equipment of your choosing, and then execute the mission. If one of your team members is killed, they are gone, and you have lost their valuable experience, so you have to be careful! Gameplay modes include single player, co-op, and competitive multiplayer."

With five days left on the Kickclock, Allen and chums have raised almost $90,000 of the $200,000 they need to make an alpha, which they claim they can then take to private investors to prove this whole thing is viable and bring in an even fatter cash injection.

So, if you're now now more tempted to contribute, here's where to go. It's a laudably ambitious project for sure, though it's one more way in which the RPS Hivemind has a spot of moral deliberation about what Kickstarter projects we write about and how often. Every time we mention one, we'll get emails about a few others and queries as to why we haven't covered them yet, or more. Occasionally and understandably, these emails are distressed.

Given the nature of Kickstarter is to ask people to put down money for a product that doesn't yet exist, we have to be incredibly careful to restrict our posts to projects with enough of an established pedigree that the chances of people who've paid as a result of reading something we've written being let down are minimal. Anyone can write down a good idea and make it exciting - but can they pull it off? Until such time we are relatively sure they can, it is only sensible to not suggest our readers pay for it. With moderate posting power comes great responsibility.

In the case of Takedown, I'm honestly not sure what to think. The initial Kickstarter attempt failed, so by posting it again this would seem to an endorsement to help bail them out. Maybe it is. Ultimately, I reasoned that covering it is just "the news" but there is that niggling doubt that this could be perceived as pushing our readers towards something that it could be said there just wasn't enough interest in. So I'll have take the claim that it was a botched marketing attempt at face value, join them in pressing the reset button and then watching how people respond. If there is now a sudden rush of interest, that's validation. If there isn't, then press and Kickstarter-using devs alike have all learned something. Eggshells may need to be walked upon.

Allen and his team (including veterans from Red Storm Entertainment, Monolith, Surreal, Microsoft, Ubisoft and Bungie) certainly have experience, and they've certainly identified a sadly-abandoned gap in the market, so I have no particular reservations about either pedigree or concept in this instance. What does worry me is the fact that, even after Kickstarter is successful (if it is), outside investment is required. That means a long road to the game actually happening, and heightened odds of fans not seeing the desired return on their pledge. An adventure game or a turn-based 2D RPG are one thing, but a full-3D, hyper-realistic shooter is an enormous undertaking, rife with opportunities (e.g. squad A.I.) to go wrong.

I'm interested, and I'd certainly like to see it happen - but I think we need to know a whole lot more about how much more money they really need and how likely it is that it'll come in.

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