Project Eternity Made An Awful Lot Of Money
Well, the sad news is that Project Eternity just couldn't raise the funds required to see its ambitions met. The Kickstarter came to an end last night, and just fell short of its... four million dollars stretch goal.
Yes, of course, this is actually the most financially successful gaming Kickstarter of all time, the $1.1m goal smashed to pieces long ago, and finishing on an extraordinary $3,986,929.
So what does this mean for the RPG to be made in the spiritual style of Planescape: Torment? Well, most of all it means it's clearly going ahead. But all those extra millions?
$1.4m added an extra playable race, class and companion. $1.6m saw the game guaranteed to make it to Mac and Linux, along with a larger story. $1.8m meant another new playable race, class and companion. While $2m ensured players would get... their own house. Huh. Up to $2.2m and they promised a new region, faction, and companion, plus the game translated into French, German and Spanish. $2.3m dinged a bunch of new game modes: Expert, Trial Of Iron and Path Of The Damned, and a "Godlike race". Then at $2.4m bloody crafting and enchanting were added. Sadly there wasn't a way to get to $2.5m without going past $2.4m, so that's how Barbarian and Cipher classes were added. $2.6m offered an Adventurer's Hall and "full party creation", while $2.7m saw Paladins and Chanters arrive in the game. Once $2.8m was reached it added George Ziets, the creative lead and core writer behind the hugely popular Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask Of The Betrayer, to the development team. Then at $3m they promised a stronghold feature. I think they thought that was where they'd reach.
Then they saw $3.5m in their sights, and offered a second "Big City". These are multiple-map-spanning areas packed with much to do, and they had been planning one in the game. Now there will be two. And alongside all this, there was the Mega Dungeon, that hit 12 levels, ensuring that you will never escape from its clammy clutches.
Then they created the $4m stretch goal, which via Kickstarter they only just fell short of. However, with around $150,000 in Paypal contributions that have also been taking place, they'll have made it. And that rather boldly claims it means they'll "enhance the whole game". Live instrumentation for the music, developer in-game commentary, and they say that Chris Avellone will be forced to play Arcanum - which is, of course, the real reason any of us paid attention to this to begin with.
So that's pretty good news for all involved. That said, Kickstarter culture in general - with its increasingly cynical hostage mentality toward the biggest, best features and resulting reluctance to actually tell people what they're paying for upfront - some argue is becoming problematic. We reached out to Chris Avellone about that, to get his thoughts:
"From the Double Fine and Eternity standpoint, people understand what they're getting in the Kickstarter proposal, in my opinion. I know what a Tim Schafer adventure game is based on his history and pedigree. And even if it was different, I still love Tim Schafer games because of his aesthetic approach, regardless. I believe that KS for Eternity is much the same way in terms of people's knowledge of the Infinity Engine games and also the accumulated RPG works that Josh, Tim, Feargus, and I - not to honk my own horn - have done over the years."
So it's still ultimately about trust, but with the ethical strangeness of withholding specific details to encourage extra spending. Which, I suppose, didn't present any huge problems in this particular case, but it's tough to say how it'll influence other Kickstarters without such a rich history working behind the scenes, however well-deserved it might be on Obsidian's part. And it does seem well deserved.
They set the original estimated release date at April 2014, and Kickstarter rules suggest they should do their best to honour that. But with the vast amount of extra content, it seems likely it'll take longer to make. So now the initial excitement is over, it's obviously going to be one heck of a wait before we get our mitts on the thing. So, er, thumb-twiddling contests?