Kickstarting to feel addicted
I think I have a small problem when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns.
While browsing through blog posts this week, I came across an article by Shane from The Boss Rush Network. This shared the ten campaigns he has backed over the past year and, although I haven’t made pledges to the same ones, I recognise many of the names.
I thought it would be fun to do a similar round-up so I logged into Kickstarter to view my own list. It was then that I realised I might have a bit of an addiction. It turns out I’ve backed 14 projects since September 2021 out of a total of 76 since being introduced to the crowdfunding platform by a friend in 2013. This equates to around 8 pledges made every year!
Not all these campaigns were successful, not all of them have produced rewards, and not all of the products released have been good. I’ve managed to get my hands on some great crowdfunded video games by becoming a backer but some of them have ceased in development and will never see the light of day. That’s the chance you take with Kickstarter though: you’re supporting a creator’s vision and there’s no guarantee it will ever come to fruition.
I might put the skills I’ve learnt during my data apprenticeship to use and do some nifty analysis on these projects once I reach the 100 milestone. This will happen in September 2025 if I keep pledging at the current rate so keep your eyes peeled. While you’re waiting, I thought I’d share some of the campaigns I’ve given my support to in the past nine years and what makes them stand out.
I still visit the Kickstarter website regularly to see what’s going on and enjoy being able to show my support for unique projects.
First campaign backed
Shortly after beginning blogging in February 2013, I made my first pledge on the platform and backed Lucky Pause’s campaign for Homesick. It was the mention of some of my favourite classic titles in the promotional video which grabbed my attention, and I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this ‘puzzle exploration mystery game’. This was true for the part Pete and I played; but unfortunately, we got stuck after around three hours or so and ended up putting the title to one side. I should really go back one day soon and finish it off.
Best video game backed
I’ve been a fan of The Longest Journey for a very long time and jumped at the chance to support Red Thread Games’ campaign for Dreamfall Chapters in February 2013. The thing is though, I still haven’t finished it despite playing for 23 hours. The reason for this is a little strange: I just can’t bring myself to complete the final instalment of the series because once I do, it will all be over. Ragnar Tørnquist wrote in a forum post that he didn’t think a further sequel would happen for ‘many, many reasons’ so this may sadly be the last we see of Zoë Castillo.
Best escape-room-in-a-box backed
The Mystery Agency’s campaign for The Balthazar Stone is one of the best crowdfunding projects I’ve ever backed. There’s nothing more magical than receiving an old wooden chest through the post and trying to break into its numerous locks to discover a secret about a pirate curse which is said to lowly drive people insane. It’s highly recommend it if you’re a fan of escape-rooms-in-boxes. I picked up The Ghost in the Attic while at the UK Games Expo back in June and am looking forward to getting sucked into a haunted board game from the 1950s.
Worst campaign backed
I backed High Class Kitsch’s campaign for Pandora: of Pride because I kind of felt a little sorry for the developer. They were young, inexperienced and looked as though they needed all the support they could get. But I’m afraid to say this game was one of the worst I’ve ever played: it was full of bugs, the story was incredibly flimsy with very little character development, the voice-acting wasn’t great and it looked awful. It’s harsh to say, but the only thing the title had going for it was the fact it had been made by a studio whose logo was a cat wearing a top-hat and monocle.
Most controversial campaign backed
Elementary, My Dear Holmes! was a release being made by Victory Square Games in August 2013. The developer had signed up to Ouya’s Free The Games Fund so if their Kickstarter campaign reached a minimum of $50,000, the company would match the funds. A number of dodgy high-value donations were received from backers who were new to the crowdfunding platform and these resulted in accusations that head Sam Chandola or family members had made the pledges themselves. The project was suspended amid the controversy.
Video game least likely to be made
Sam Farmer’s campaign for LAST LIFE was one which caught my eye immediately, as it was a science-fiction noir adventure inspired by modern point-and-clicks such as Kentucky Route Zero. I made my pledge in April 2014, received updates that decreased in frequency until August 2017… and then nothing until Farmer announced his new game Slamdoku (which doesn’t seem to have been released either) in September 2018. The full story is a long one but to sum it up: the developer seemingly disappeared along with $103,058 of funds received from thousands of backers.
Best physical reward
What Myst fan wouldn’t want to get their hands on a physical Linking Book? This was the opportunity offered in Cyan Worlds’ campaign for the Myst 25th Anniversary Collection in April 2018. The book is awesome, and it was great to get my hands on the whole collection of games too as this inspired a complete playthrough. Well, I say ‘complete’, but a rogue Bahro unfortunately caused Myst V: End of Ages to crash at almost six hours in. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to restart the game from the beginning so it remains unfinished to this day.
The campaign with a special meaning
Nathan McCree’s campaign for The Tomb Raider Suite was a celebration of the music of the series, and I made a pledge in May 2017 because it brought back an old memory. My brother played the original game extensively when we were kids and The Tomb Raider Theme could continuously be heard throughout our house – so it’s therefore no wonder I decided to use it as accompaniment to my GCSE Dance examination piece. After receiving the backers rewards, Pete and I decided to use the recording as the music played during our wedding ceremony a few years later.
The campaign unrelated to games
As is often the case with YouTube, I was idly passing the time by clicking through videos one day and came across a performance of Sensitive Badass by The Doubleclicks. This was an excellent song about being strong, fierce and honest, and contained some wise words we could all learn a valuable lesson from: “Don’t tell me to calm down, don’t tell me it will pass, I’m not just sensitive, I’m a badass.” It was with some pleasure then that I discovered their Kickstarter campaign for a related pin in June 2018. It’s still attached to my denim jacket now over five years later, with a few more additions since then.
The unsuccessful campaign I most want
After playing the demo in August 2021, I gave my support to Dyscordian Entertainment’s Kickstarter campaign for Second Star. It was a great mix of science-fiction, investigation and adventure, set 200 years in the future as you followed the footsteps of a missing ship and her crew across space. I was sad then that the project only reached just over half of its funding goal. What’s even sadder is that the demo has now been removed from Steam, there have been no updates posted on the developer blog since March 2021 and the Twitter account is silent Will we ever get to explore the galaxy with Dr Lee?
Latest campaign backed
My latest pledge was made last month and went towards Curious Correspondence’s campaign for Doomensions. It was Kevin from The Lawful Geek who gave me the heads-up about this paranormal-themed escape-room-in-a-box which comes with a unique pop-up environment. It was one of the more expensive projects I’ve ever backed and the shipping fees bump the price up, but it looks amazing so I’m hoping it’s going to be worth it. There’s still a while to go before I find out however as it’s not due to arrive until next year.
The campaign most related to cats
While at the MCM Comic Con in London in June, we came across a stand run by Helenasia featuring the Cats Are Better Than People range. We had a chat about commissioning a pet portrait as her designs was excellent, and she revealed that there was due to be Kickstarter campaign which would offer certain perks. Our very own Zelda is now due to feature on a card in our copy of The Cosmic Cat Tarot. We’ve submitted several photographs which could potentially be used for the artwork and we’re excited to see what’s created; which is your favourite?
As long as there’s something which catches my attention during my Kickstarter visits, I’ll keep making pledges to indie developers.
It’s a shame to see the quantity and quality of campaigns declining in recent years, with Jessica Saunders of Salix Games saying it was ‘dead for video games’ during a developer session at Rezzed in April 2019. But I still visit the Kickstarter website regularly to see what’s going on and enjoy being able to show my support for unique projects which are a little different from the norm – even if there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be released.
As long as there’s something which catches my attention during those visits, I’ll keep making pledges to indie developers. Only 24 more to go until I reach that 100 milestone…