What does it cost to make a top selling video game? For Modern Warfare 3, over $45m. Gears of War 3, in excess $10m. Skyrim cost over $85m including marketing! And what do ten of the top selling video games have in common? In 2011, they were all sequels.
With some games having development and marketing budgets which exceed $100m (Star Wars The Old Republic cost $130), it’s no surprise that game developers don’t want to take risks on new concepts and new brands. And so every year we get the same tried and tested game mechanics repackaged with a shiny new veneer. But there are solutions to this, and many people believe Kickstarter is one of the best.
If you’ve missed the hype, Kickstarter the three year old crowd-funding site where every week tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, games, fashion, food, and publishing. Of course, we’re mostly interested in games, and the best thing for game developers: They don’t have to answer to a pointy haired marketing manager they can make their game true to their vision.
To date, Kickstarter has funded some truly original games. To celebrate this uniqueness we’ve compiled a list of the nine most interesting games funded by Kickstarter. Why nine? Because we’re being different and Kickstarter is all about being different.
You see, a year ago the developer’s wife went shopping for eggs to bake cookies. Armed with her novice understanding of German she asked the shop owner “Hast Du Eier?” with means “Do you have any cojones?” Conjones is Spanish for testicles.
What better way to retell this story then through the medium of an online game.
Based on a seven-year-old webcomic, Dr. McNinja’s Radical Adventure is an old fashioned platform game designed to be released as episodic content. In other words, as more funding comes in, more levels will be released. There is also
a host of perks for investors such as branded t-shrits, soda, and in-game characters. Oh, and did we mention that the lead character is an Irish-American Ninja and doctor with a gorilla receptionist? That’s one favourite part.
Sira is a first-person puzzle game set in a dystopian future where the earth is nothing but deserts and barren cities. Heard it all before, right? What about the fact that the gameplay revolves around navigating these environments whilst avoiding sunlight – sunlight means death and you have to use the environment to protect yourself from the sun and bend machines to your will. Pretty cool.
Watch out Mario, a new side scrolling platformer is on the way and it stars Republican politician Ron Paul! Levels are based on the fifty US states with the aim of the game being to collect gold (to open new levels) and delegates to ensure your seat as President.
At Dubit we love retro gaming, so a game that describes itself as part Double Dragon and part Castle Crashers is going to go down well with us. Fist Puncher, as well as having an awesome name, has awesomely named characters, such as Dr Karate, Kid Justice and Hella Fistgerald. It’s a knowing tribute to the side-scrolling beat ‘em genre packed with over 30 levels, hundreds of unique enemies and tons of hidden and unlockable content.
Spike is a flash game that defies genre. You play Spike, a spike trap who is in love with the in-game mascot it sees everyday. The downside is that the only way Spike can profess his love is through smashing! It’s a novel twist with the player taking the role of the trap, rather than the in-game hero. The hero runs towards Spike and uses fake-outs and other tricks to fool the player into missing him.
Various modes will be available including a Prince of Persia style theme, a graphical downgrade so the game resembles an Atari 2600 game and Reviewer Mode. In Reviewer Mode, the player must boost the ego of an imaginary game reviewer by narrowly missing the game’s mascot or altering his skill level as the difficulty changes. You can play the original game here.
Doodle Defence is a tower defence game you play on a whiteboard and powered by Kinect and a projector. You draw your map, and use coloured pens to add your towers, Kinect then reads all this and plays the game out on the board as the player reacts and draws new defences.
Developed for a class in algorithmic animation at Parsons’ MFA in Design and Technology the plan is isto focus on making it an installation piece. But there are also plans for Doodle Defence to be played in homes and on iPads.
What makes Double Fine Adventure unique isn’t the game, aside from being a point and click adventure there is little known about it. It’s the fact that it’s raised over $3 million and is being developed by Double Fine studios. Double Fine produced the critical acclaimed Psychonauts, and its founder, Tim Schafer, was behind cult 80s adventure game Grim Fandango. The project will also include a documentary on the game’s production. Double Fine Adventure goes to prove that Kickstarter is way to raise funds for even more established studios looking for creative freedom.
Time for a disclaimer: We’re developing The Time Tribe, but that doesn’t stop it being awesome. There is a lot we love about this game, especially the fact that it’s a point-and-click adventure (we love point-and-click) playable on browsers and iOS. As well as being an immersive and fun game, The Time Tribe will also teach children about history and archaeology through historically accurate elements – it’s educational because it’s fun! There’s also a comic planned, and Time Keys (wearable rings) are being produced to merge the offline and online world. Unlike the in-game Time Keys, the real ones won’t help you travel in time…yet!
Update: The Time Tribe has not only reached it’s target, it’ surpassed it! Well done to all involved.
Got some creative games we’ve not listed? Add them to the comments section.