A Tale of Two Games

Two video game projects started today, and together they are characteristic of the video game scene on Kickstarter these days.

Tiny Barbarian DX is a retro platform game designed by Michael Stearns at Starquail Games.

You control a 17-pixel tall barbarian through episodic stories. The design looks slick and fun, and there’s an excellent demonstration of the game so far. I like it. Might be tempted to back. I really like the Tiny T-shirt, but I don’t think I’ll be able to back at the $85 level, which is what it would take to get the shirt.

Tiny Barbarian is aiming to raise $12,000 and as of writing, they’ve gotten over $700 – not a bad haul for the first day.

Strengths:
– Lots of in-game video
– Decent sense of humor
– Appeal of the Tiny Barbarian – Come on! He’s tiny!
– Value – $8 for four episodes of Tiny Barbarian.
– Reasonable goal – $12,000 seems like it’s reachable.

Weaknesses:
– Video quality – slightly low quality

On the other hand we have…

Thorvalla, a “traditional” role-playing game which will be designed by Guido Henkel, most famous from the legendary game Planescape: Torment. This project is trying to raise $1 million and has made nearly $13,000 as of writing.

Unlike Tiny Barbarian, Thorvalla is a shell of a concept – the world is one of high fantasy, with an emphasis on dragons, and the start of the story involves a shipwreck and a lost pet dragon. And that’s all we know.

The pitch video features Henkel alone sitting in an office with an iMac and a bookshelf of cred-building literature on the back wall.

/rant I’m getting tired of having project runners explain to me why Kickstarter is the ideal platform to fund an “old school” or “traditional” game. We get it. At some point, these developers need to realize that most of their target audience has seen similar pitch videos for a dozen other projects. Stop providing redundant info. What we really need to know is what you and your team have to offer that makes this game great. rant/

Strengths:
– Guido Henkel name recognition – judging from the quick start, it’s going to raise a decent amount of cash. Not sure about $1 mil, but we’ll see.
– Video quality

Weaknesses:
– No clips or art from the game other than concept sketches
– Taking Paypal donations too early – will they return the Paypal cash if they don’t meet their goal?
– No introduction to other talent on the project
– No concept of what the game will look like. From the project page: “While we are set on using a top-down view, there are still many questions that will have to be answered, such as whether to use an isometric view, or a perspectively correct top-down view, or to forgo that kind of presentation for a mix consisting of pre-rendered 2D backgrounds that interact with 3D objects and characters, or a fully 3D environment with a fixed third-person viewpoint. Nothing has been decided yet on this, and the project’s pre-production phase will serve to allow us to evaluate, prototype and test different approaches to see which works best for our needs.”
– Poor reward breakdown. The first few levels are standard, but everything $40 and above seems like bad value. I won’t be surprised when they try to puff up some of these levels with other schwag in a bid for backers.

My bet is that Tiny Barbarian squeaks out its funding, but I don’t think Thorvalla will manage to make its goal. I think the moral of the story is this: Don’t rush your project. Wait until you have a compelling concept and enough of a sample of your game, T-shirt, book, movie, etc. before shooting your wad on a Kickstarter project that may not succeed.

What do y’all think?

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Games

    • Thanks, man! I had about an hour free this afternoon and while I was browsing saw these two projects, which seemed to pair nicely. It’s interesting that Thorvalla has already raised enough to fund completely Tiny Barbarian, but Tiny has funded a much larger percentage of their project with just $1000.

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