Mar. 15th, 2012

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So I started becoming vaguely aware that there was a Wasteland 2 in the works, a kickstarted Wasteland 2. I looked into the cause and realized that already after 24 hours they already reached their goal of $900k.

Think about that: a game world that's older than Tetris and much less approachable to audiences has managed to raise $900,000 in a day. Right now it's just over 1 million, and with promises to add more as donations rise, it's promising to go higher.

Although they were not the first to really push kickstarting old franchises (the honor goes instead to famed company Doublefine kickstarting their own campaign. By the end, it now numbers over 3 million dollars. That's a LOT of money for a video game company that doesn't have corporate backing from publishers, and it might be a step(or in this case, a kick) in the right direction for most old game franchises.

Looking back at the gaming industry, I keep thinking of the modern film industry and their parallels. Not every game is for everyone, but the ones that are currently being released are aimed towards broader audiences and given less to chew on to make it easier for the consumer to partake in. The big releases will have great emphasis put on incredible visual appeal but are made to also lack effort on the consumer's behalf, not unlike a summer blockbuster. This can mean that the standards for substance can vary widely and it shows in the evolution of some franchises, such as Deus Ex and Mass Effect; both franchises being praised for their storyline and effort to integrate gameplay into a storyline that may feel just as comfortable in a theater next to Nolan's revival to the Batman franchise, but also with a retweaking of the gameplay that tries to add something new and yet centered towards a happy medium of appealing to the casual as well as the dedicated.

But what of the games that have not really seen that same dignity? They are not unlike the limited release films out there; productions that sometimes run on budgets that are less dignified than the robust studios can allow, but usually with a push for something that people are less likely to see in the big name companies because of losing their audience. But at the same time, it allows for some amazing things that you can not see otherwise as a result.

Enter the scenario with the current gaming industry. There's a lot of famous game developers out there who are not really earning the figures they deserve because their games are too niched for the general market. Classics like the Monkey Island series, Arcanum, and even Ultima have been put aside because there's no money in the minds of the investors to really consider the development worth it. Keep in mind, that there still are risks as always: Deus Ex was, in fact, a bit of an underdog itself as a creation from the maligned Ion Storm company.

But still, there are people who are always passionate about these games and who really understand the effort put into it. Planescape Torment, for example, remains to this day one of the most beloved games out there despite being over a decade old and perhaps too dated in design for some of the people who remembered playing it. The storyline and attempts to immerse the player into the world through depictions that read like they came from a novel can floor people, and it's ultimately a reason why those people who were fans then miss seeing that level of attention in modern gaming.

Franchises known for this level of quality are few and far between because of the smaller demographic associated, but what is also not considered is how dedicated these fans can be. Applying it to a kickstart campaign finally emphasizes this properly and shows just how much more power there is behind making a game when you cut out the publisher as the middle man behind the funding for the project.

Hopefully in the future this will lead to more releases of sequels that I would look forward to, like a Krondor game that follows the quality of its original version, or an Anachronox 2. I've already seen an article about Avellone potentially considering bringing back Planescape:Torment, so the potential is endless. I'm sure that there is also potential for disappointment too, but for the people out there who have waited years for a return of their favorite games, this is the only chance they can get.


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