Bloom: Third Time’s a Charm?

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 7.06.02 PMI kind of can’t wait for Davidgaames to do a breakdown when Bloom ends up being a really shitty game. I saw their project pop up on the “Popular” screen at some point and ended up watching the video. As I was watching, I noticed that they’d already created two other projects. Oh wait, they are both Bloom. The first iteration raised $6000 of the $150,000 goal and was canceled. The second raised $34,000 of a DEEPLY discounted $50,000 goal. The third and final version has successfully funded its even further discounted $40,000 goal.

If you’re a real masochist, you might try watching all 5:58 of the pitch video for the first iteration. That’s basically the equivalent of a 3-hour feature film, and a really shitty “artsy” film that’s super slow and makes you want to have cyborg eyes that you can manually turn off.

And the game footage all looks super yawn-worthy. Basically there are really obvious-looking 3D models bouncing around on high-res background images that all feel really narrow. The footage alone makes this game look like one I have no interest in playing.

That’s all the time I’m willing to spend on this. As I said, I hope David digs deeper and follows them a little longer, because I’m pretty confident there will be 2300+ disappointed backers.

 

Massive Updates + Japanese Kickstarter?

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I’ve long made it clear that I appreciate Kickstarter projects not only for their content but also for their execution. I’ve pledged at low levels to follow along with ideas or to see how the process went. (One example of this was the Veronica Mars movie, although I was somewhat interested in the content there; still, my pledge didn’t earn me the movie.)

I think my writing (either here or in comments on other blogs/projects) also revealed my initial enthusiasm for stretch goals. They seemed like a fun part of the project, a way you could interact with an audience and really push the limits of what you could make with a project. (I think Project Eternity was the project I most enjoyed following, the project I spent the most on, and the project that was most successful at using stretch goals to raise cash.)

So I was a bit confused when Massive Chalice declined to stretch their goals (although they did offer to do more “Teamstream” livecasts once they hit somewhere around $1 or $1.5 million, I think).

It all makes sense now that Mighty No. 9 has come to a close. The constant updates have really deflated my interest in each individual post, so much so that I have yet to watch the first few episodes of the documentary or listen to any of the podcasts…and those are two things that I normally love. The 2PP documentaries for Broken Age are instant appointment viewing whenever the project updates.

For those that didn’t follow, here’s how the project worked: each day they added a different “type” of update each day. Video updates on one day, fan art featured another, podcasts on the next. One for each weekday, and occasionally weekend announcements. And these were not short updates. They were very lengthy. I generally scrolled through them to see what was up, but they definitely began to grate on me as the project went on. Surely, I thought, this is not going to be an effective way to raise money.

I’ve been proven wrong. The project managed to raise $3.8 million, over $4 million if you add PayPal contributions, putting it in on the Mt. Rushmore of Kickstarter video game projects with Torment, Project Eternity, and the Double Fine Adventure. (I’m not including Ouya and Bones, as they are games but not video games.)

The moral of the story is that this wasn’t a project for me. I’ve just never been a huge fan of Mega Man, but I do like following projects and I have an interest in video games/translation/Japan/Kickstarter IN Japan. There was clearly a market for updates at this torrid pace, and they succeeded well. They knew their fanbase and Kickstarted appropriately. Perhaps a less enthusiastic fanbase would have been turned off by such frequent updates. Interesting to think about.

Another interesting thing to note about this project is how they approached the Japanese audience. The Mighty No. 9 team did an INCREDIBLE job here. If you haven’t seen it yet, here are images:

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As you can see, they basically recreated the Kickstarter page in Japanese on their own website and explained, in Japanese, how to pledge. They even replicated the right-hand sidebar with pledge levels:

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I’m impressed. They had a lot of really excellent help on the English side of things (notably 2PP and 8-4, Ltd., a really solid translation/localization studio), but they were slightly handicapped by the lack of a Japanese version of the site and they totally overcame the difficulty.

I think this shows the incredible potential for Kickstarter in Japan. I would be surprised and disappointed if there is not a Japanese version of Kickstarter within the next few years. It’s a huge, huge market with lots of creative types and interesting payment systems. Just a quick example: I used to make payments for Amazon Japan purchases at my local 7-11 or other convenience stores by printing a payment slip or simply by providing the cashier with an order number. I’m not sure if that would work in this case—the Kickstarter model depends heavily on being able to “swipe” a credit card and ensure future payment—but they are definitely worth looking into.

I can’t wait to see what happens, and it makes me viscerally ecstatic to think about backing the creative projects of random Japanese people. I have a slight interest in Japan, you see.

Focus Grouping

Bill Simmons of Grantland and ESPN hates focus groups. He has a theory that they create a lowest common denominator of sorts that eliminates all originality from TV shows; there are too many voices in the kitchen which erases the unique vision a single, auteur-like presence can have over a piece of artwork.

Video games are clearly different, since they take so many different people to make, but I can’t help but be disappointed by the latest crappy addition to Torment: Tides of Numenara. Behold, the Castoff’s Labyrinth:

fathomsAre you as underwhelmed as I am? Not only does this look like it was airbrushed on by a stoned college student, it’s a hackneyed copy of Project Eternity‘s Endless Paths:

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Obsidian created the Endless Paths as a way to reward backers for Facebook likes and overall number of backers. Clearly this was an original idea–a true first–and one that was planned and executed extremely well. The art is pristine, and I clearly remember thinking “There’s a DUDE made in the rock?” and looking forward to seeing the next layer revealed.

The Castoff’s Labyrinth, on the other hand, is a complete piece of shit, one that was not planned and came in response to backers. Earlier today I commented on a Facebook post for the latest edition of the Labyrinth and mentioned this opinion but was quickly replied to by a fanboy who wrote the following:

Its not a ripoff – its a similar concept, yes, but one specifically requested by the backers.

This comment got four likes–Fanboys Unite! Kickstarter really can bring out the best in originality but it can also guide new projects into the same paths traveled by others. I’m very disappointed by inExile here. I’m confident that the game will be strong, but I’m now certain that Project Eternity will be better.

Torment: Tides of Numenara — you’ve been focus grouped.

Moonbot Studios’ “The Golem”

First off, the excuses: familial strife, school woes, teaching woes, writing and blogging madness. That’s all I’ll say of them. I have a few longer posts I’ve been planning, but I haven’t had time to get to them. They are also about projects I’m not interested in funding (or seeing funded), so the timing doesn’t matter as much.

This project, however, THIS I want to see funded:

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Moonbot Studios’ Next Game: The Golem” will fund an RPG made by Oscar-winning, Louisiana-based Moonbot Studios. The game is set in an alternate version of Prague that has created the Golem as a defense. You get to control the Golem, and you’re in search of a soul

I saw that a friend had funded the project (thanks to the Kickstarter feature that allows you to “follow” friends!), and when I started watching the video, I noticed that the two guys from Moonbot Studios looked familiar. It took me a second to realize that I had seen clips of them between the Oscar-nominated Animated Shorts at The Prytania recently. Between the shorts, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg provided commentary about their experience of winning an Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

I was immediately interested in funding, and when I found out that they are based in Shreveport, LA, I felt obligated to support the project. Very cool stuff. $750,000 feels maybe a little out of reach, but here’s hoping! I love the idea, and I especially like the concept art.

Days of Yawn

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One of the all time snoozer Kickstarter video game projects is back for more PUNishment: Days of DYawn – Discover the Magic! has been restarted. After raising just over $30,000 of their initial $95,000 goal with their first iteration, the team is back with a goal of only $50,000. I’m sure DavidGaames will have interesting things to say about their sudden fiscal responsibility, but I just want to talk about what a shitty game it sounds like. Take a peek at the new pitch video, which is FIVE MINUTES shorter than the original one, thank Christ, but just as cheesy in terms of game presentation:

A world whose magic just came alive
A girl with powers yet unseen
A boy to meet his destiny
Darkness reaching out its claws
And other terrible RPG clichés all with ridiculous Disney-style art

The bad guys in the video look like mutated versions of the Stitch from the movie Lilo and Stitch. Do you think anyone told these guys that yet? And the game itself looks hackneyed beyond recovery. Ultima? Final Fantasy? These are really the inspiration behind this game? The “pre-alpha gameplay” looks like an HD version of one of the first few King’s Quest games.

Yawn.

Imperfect Golf

I was all set to hate on PerfectGolf. It starts off with a webcam-quality video introduction by founder Erik Lugris, and he commits one of my biggest pet peeves: he refers to potential backers as “Kickstarters.” I can see why people do this, but it irks me for some reason.

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But after a minute, it becomes clear that this is actually a very impressive golf game:

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Subsequent interviews are higher quality video:

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Which makes me wonder why they didn’t start off with higher quality video. Why wouldn’t you make the best first impression that you can? They’ve clearly put a lot of money into the game and this pitch, but this was one thing they didn’t consider. I wonder how many people lasted beyond the first minute of the video, which is when the CGI first appears. My suggestion would be to start with the CGI golf greens and a voiceover, and then switch to the founder – that way viewers would be impressed straight away, they would know exactly what the game is about, and they would know whether they wanted to hear more.

I don’t think that they’ll meet their goal of $300,000, but not because of the video. A stronger start to the video would have helped, but I’m wondering if they seeded the concept well enough in the online golfing community to ensure as fast a start as possible. The online golf community does seem to have quite a fervent following; however, it might be an older audience, and thus less likely to make something go viral.

On a side note and personal note, I’ll be taking the first two weeks of 2013 off from Kick What. I have a draft of my graduation thesis due on the 14th and will be spending most of my writing time working on that. But fear not, readers. As long as there are folks like Kurby Skiffmoore, Kick What will continue.

Definitely a Fun Game

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I give you Game App for Smartphones, presented almost without comment:

The narrator of this piece is fascinating, and I’m almost positive he was paid to make this video. He hems and haws about the category this game fits into, but in the end, it’s pretty damn obvious which one he’s talking about:

00:20: “…you know, Tetris and stuff, some of the ones that get a little bit of the highlight…” Because they are classic, well made games that are actually challenging and fun and have awesome Russian music.

My favorite line, however, is:

04:11 “Definitely a fun game.”

NOTHING about this game looks fun. Honestly, it looks like punishment.

Not surprisingly, they have raised none of the $3000 goal.