Kickstopper: Barkley’s Botched Pass

Cast your mind back to the late 2000s. Ferretbrain was just heating up. Bush’s second term was cooling off, or actually finally done with. RPG Maker freeware games had become widespread enough that the cliches of shoddy ones were as recognisable as the tropes of the JRPG genre they tended to sit in. Developers like Tale of Tales tried to stretch the bounds of indie gaming with material like The Path. YouTube was young, and 4Chan was mostly known for trolling Scientology. Pepe the Frog was a benign, nonpartisan figure.

Among the creative minds using the developing Internet as a platform was Chef Boyardee or cboyardee. Named after a pasta brand, Chef had an ear for a good chiptune and was an early YouTube animator, with his surrealistic, nihilistic, and disturbingly violent take on Dilbert being perhaps his most enduringly famous work.

In early 2008, Chef was part of a team who released Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden – Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, a Game Maker-created JRPG that was a sequel to both the Sega Mega Drive basketball game Barkley: Shut Up and Jam and the weird Looney Tunes-meets-NBA movie Space Jam. Chef’s music, witty writing, and a slew of borrowed and tweaked graphical assets combined to make an absurd parody game whose sense of humour, whilst now badly dated in some respects (and in some respects inappropriate at the time) found a cult following.

Then in 2012, when Kickstarter was experiencing its post-Double Fine Adventure boom, Tale of Game’s (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) ran a Kickstarter for a sequel, The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa.

It is now eight years later, and it seems likely that a finished version of the game will never come out.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: Barkley’s Botched Pass”

Kickstopper: The Gamer Who Would Be King

Among the gaming subgenres which have enjoyed a little renaissance thanks to Kickstarter are CRPGs of a certain vintage. Whilst producing something as lavish as, say, one of the more recent Witcher or Mass Effect games can involve a massive AAA budget and be a decidedly difficult product to handle on a Kickstarter budget, a top-down isometric-style RPG of the sort made popular by the first two Fallout games, Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment is a much more modest affair; Shadowrun Returns and its Hong Kong-based sequel are good examples of CRPGs in this style which came about via Kickstarter.

What happens, though, when this sort of game tries to offer more than a mere RPG experience? We’re going to find out with Pathfinder: Kingmaker, an attempt to add a kingdom management layer on top of a CRPG foundation.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: The Gamer Who Would Be King”

Kickstopper: Back Book 2

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Webcomics are great when they’re not terrible, and two of the most consistently not-terrible webcomic creators of recent years have been Andrew Clark of Nedroid Picture Gallery fame and the much-memed K.C. Green, creator of series like Gunshow and He Is a Good Boy, with breakout hits including that doggo who doesn’t think things are all that bad, Anime Club and the comic which inspired the “magical realm” meme.

But do these two great tastes taste great together? Luckily, a recent Kickstarter of theirs lets me offer the answer in Kickstopper form.

Usual Note On Methodology

Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you’ve read, there’s a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.

The format of a Kickstopper goes like this: first, I talk about the crowdfunding campaign period itself, then I note what level I backed at and give the lowdown on how the actual delivery process went. Then, I review what I’ve received as a result of the Kickstarter and see if I like what my money has enabled. Lots of Kickstarters present a list of backers as part of the final product; where this is the case, the “Name, DNA and Fingerprints” section notes whether I’m embarrassed by my association with the product.

Towards the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I’d never backed the project in the first place. After that, I give my judgement on whether I’d back another project run by the same parties involved, and give final thoughts on the whole deal.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: Back Book 2”

Kickstopper: USE CREDIT CARD with CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Point-and-click adventures of the Monkey Island variety were largely responsible for the boom of videogame-related Kickstarters, ever since Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure campaign opened the floodgates. It wasn’t long before other big names from that era like Jane Jensen used Kickstarter to finance new adventures, and inevitably sooner or later it was the turn of Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, creators of the original Maniac Mansion. The game they chose to Kickstart was Thimbleweed Park.

Usual Note On Methodology

Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you’ve read, there’s a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.

The format of a Kickstopper goes like this: first, I talk about the crowdfunding campaign period itself, then I note what level I backed at and give the lowdown on how the actual delivery process went. Then, I review what I’ve received as a result of the Kickstarter and see if I like what my money has enabled. Lots of Kickstarters present a list of backers as part of the final product; where this is the case, the “Name, DNA and Fingerprints” section notes whether I’m embarrassed by my association with the product.

Towards the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I’d never backed the project in the first place. After that, I give my judgement on whether I’d back another project run by the same parties involved, and give final thoughts on the whole deal.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: USE CREDIT CARD with CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN”

Kickstopper: Big Trouble In CyberChina

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Back when I started doing these Kickstopper articles, the first one was for Shadowrun Returns, a rather successful bid to redeem the Shadowrun IP on the videogame front. I’d actually played Shadowrun: Hong Kong, its sequel, a while back, and had even written the review, but I inadvertently didn’t get around to posting it. Better late than never, though…

Usual Note On Methodology

Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you’ve read, there’s a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.

The format of a Kickstopper goes like this: first, I talk about the crowdfunding campaign period itself, then I note what level I backed at and give the lowdown on how the actual delivery process went. Then, I review what I’ve received as a result of the Kickstarter and see if I like what my money has enabled. Lots of Kickstarters present a list of backers as part of the final product; where this is the case, the “Name, DNA and Fingerprints” section notes whether I’m embarrassed by my association with the product.

Towards the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I’d never backed the project in the first place. After that, I give my judgement on whether I’d back another project run by the same parties involved, and give final thoughts on the whole deal.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: Big Trouble In CyberChina”

Kickstopper: Monuments to Marble

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

This Kickstopper I’m kind of revisiting old ground; a while back I wrote an article about Marble Hornets and its most prominent imitators, back when they were still a reasonably hot new thing on Youtube. Now it’s half a decade later and the whole Slender Man thing has gone beyond cliche, and the original Marble Hornets web series has come to a conclusion and run a Kickstarter. Is this the last gasp of a spent force, or the beginning of something new? Only one way to find out…

Usual Note on Methodology

Just in case this is the first Kickstopper article you’ve read, there’s a few things I should establish first. As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at, and I can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.

At the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I regret being entangled in this mess and wish I’d never backed the project in the first place.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: Monuments to Marble”

Kickstopper: The Point and Click Cycle

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

So far in the Kickstopper series I’ve been mainly satisfied with the products delivered. Now, though, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. The point and click adventure genre is what spearheaded Kickstarter as a platform for funding videogames and brought it into the big time, but despite my love for the genre I’ve also found it an enormous minefield, which some games I’ve really liked and other games I’ve found frustrating (sometimes within the same series). So let’s see whether the wisdom of crowds is of much use in guiding developers to produce high-quality point-and-clicks, or whether the urging of hardcore adventure game fans yields games only fans could enjoy. First up, we have Jane Jensen’s project to set up her own development studio, Pinkerton Road, and its first round of games.

Usual Notes On Methodology

As always, different backers on a Kickstarter will often have very different experiences and I make no guarantee that my experience with this Kickstarter is representative of everyone else’s. In particular, I’m only able to review these things based on the tier I actually backed at and can’t review rewards I didn’t actually receive.

At the end of the review, I’ll be giving a judgement based on my personal rating system for Kickstarters. Higher means that I wish I’d bid at a higher reward level, a sign that I loved more or less everything I got from the campaign and regret not getting more stuff. Lower means that whilst I did get stuff that I liked out of the campaign, I would have probably been satisfied with one of the lower reward levels. Just Right means I feel that I backed at just the right level to get everything I wanted, whilst Just Wrong means that I wish I’d never backed the project in the first place.

Continue reading “Kickstopper: The Point and Click Cycle”

Kickstopper: Deathpledge – Spam of Neverfunded

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

This is a Kickstopper I didn’t expect to actually have to write. I had backed Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore more or less on the spur of the moment, having been tipped off about the project by one of inXile’s updates on Torment: Tides of Numenera (coming eventually to a Kickstopper article near you), but it soon became clear that the project just wasn’t going to get the funding it was asking for. The timer ran out, my money remained mine, and that, I thought, was the end of it.

Having backed Kickstarters which failed to fund previously (which I didn’t write about here, because there was no product to review and no money wasted on vapourware for me to complain about), I wasn’t surprised to receive a postmortem update, because it’s not unusual or even unreasonable for project owners to post a thing saying “OK, so the Kickstarter failed, here’s what I plan to do next”. Sometimes “here’s what I plan to do next” is “I’m going to try and get this done according to my beautiful vision anyway despite being given fairly convincing evidence in the form of mass apathy that my idea just isn’t as exciting or valuable as I thought it was”. Sometimes, it’s “I’m going to give up on this for the time being because it’s become clear to me that there just isn’t the interest to support my idea.”

Continue reading “Kickstopper: Deathpledge – Spam of Neverfunded”

Kickstopper: The Three Stigmata of Ada Lovecraft

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

All Good Crowdfunds Must Come To An End

Kickstarter is a big deal these days. Sooner or later, we’ll all collectively get tired of it and the bubble will burst. For the moment it’s just about sustaining itself, but sooner or later we’ll all get tired of blindly pumping money into whatever projects happen to catch our eye.

When that happens, the Kickstarter projects that thrive will be those with credibility behind them – and what better way to build credibility than to have a previous successful Kickstarter project already under your belt? That’s why I think reviews of completed Kickstarter projects have an unusual importance: not only are they about offering a critique of the product that’s been delivered, but they’re also a chance for the reviewer to give their opinion as to whether it’s worth the risk backing subsequent Kickstarters from the same creators. This is relevant not just because of the large sums that are riding on Kickstarters these days, but also because more and more people are becoming serial Kickstarters. For instance, InXile are two Kickstarters deep in the isometric RPG field, for instance, with their earlier Kickstarter project (Wasteland 2) still not finished, though to be fair we’re still months away from the originally projected Wasteland 2 release date and inXile have given a fairly credible explanation of why they’re timing things the way they are. Conversely, Double Fine – who catalysed the Kickstarter videogame boom with Double Fine Adventure – still haven’t delivered on that one, are looking to go way, way over schedule, and are confessing to some mild budgeting problems, but are pushing ahead with a new Kickstarter for Massive Chalice anyway.

Because I’m arrogant and like to grandstand, I’ve decided that a new series of Ferretbrain articles are the solution to all this. The idea is that Kickstopper is all about reviewing the detritus of Kickstarter projects I and other Ferretbrain contributors participate in: when all the excitement of the funding period is over, when the thrill and frustration of waiting is in the past, when we’ve hit the point where either the products are in people’s hands, the refunds have been distributed, or the project creators have vanished in a puff of acrimony and threatened lawsuits, Kickstoppers are about gathering the detritus of what’s left behind and asking the question “was it worth it”?

Continue reading “Kickstopper: The Three Stigmata of Ada Lovecraft”