Double Fine recently gave gamers a first look at their Kickstarter-funded adventure game, Broken Age, which features the parallel exploits of Space Boy and Sacrifice Girl as they attempt to conquer the menaces within their respective worlds. The game was originally set for a Q2 2013 release, but due to funding issues the schedule has been extended to September.
By the end of Broken Age‘s Kickstarter run, the studio had raised over $3 million with which to fund the development of the game, and it is is still considered one of the greatest video game Kickstarter successes so far, along with titles like Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns.
The studio has enjoyed the experience of using the Kickstarter funding model so much that they’ve just launched another Kickstarter campaign, this time for a turn-based strategy game called Massive Chalice. Here’s a brief rundown of the game’s story and gameplay elements:
As an immortal King or Queen, you must unite your kingdom under a powerful dynasty, eliminate the demonic threat, and reforge the MASSIVE CHALICE!
The game is structured into two main layers: strategy and tactics. In the strategy layer, you oversee your kingdom, arrange royal marriages, conduct research, and make the far-reaching decisions that will determine the fate of your legacy.
In the tactics layer, you fight brutal turn-based battles to defend your kingdom using small squads of customizable heroes.
Permadeath is inevitable: your heroes will grow, age, and eventually die. You’ll have to choose between keeping your favorite heroes on the battlefield or retiring them from combat to foster a new generation of warriors.
Drawing from roguelikes we love, content is modular and randomized. Each playthrough begins with a random assortment of male and female heroes from various bloodlines, guaranteeing that each game is unique. Your knowledge and skill will increase over multiple playthroughs, but the details of every game will change based on your decisions and the whims of fate.
The Kickstarter pitch video (shown above) spins an amusing tale of Double Fine rescuing Psychonauts and BrÃ¼tal Legend creative Brad Muir from a psychiatric hospital, and revive him from the catatonic state that he fell into after unsuccessfully trying to fund Brazen. The actual pitch comes towards the end, where Muir explains the basic story and some of its influences, including XCOM and Final Fantasy Tactics.
The campaign has already raised over $300,000 at the time of this post, which means that it’s nearly halfway towards its goal of $725,000 with 27 days still to go. The pledge that most people are making is $20, and the reward is a copy of the game on Windows, Mac or Linux platforms, downloaded from Steam and completely DRM-free, so effectively the pledge isn’t so much a donation as it is a very early pre-order.
However, higher donation tiers include $1,000 for a play and feedback session (effectively, to take part in a focus test) and $5,000 for a design team meeting where those who pledge can give their own input into the game’s creative process. This is pretty much standard for a lot of Kickstarter campaigns, but it’s worth noting there are a few aspects of these kinds of pledges that are a little problematic.
Firstly, it means that those gamers who have a chance to put their own ideas into the game won’t necessarily be those with the best ideas, but simply those with the biggest wallets. Secondly, though Double Fine’s developers will retain final cut over what goes into the game, offering creative input on the basis of monetary investment doesn’t seem entirely removed from the problems of publisher and financier interference that were cited as one of the reasons for resorting to Kickstarter in the first place. Finally, while those who pledge $5,000 will receive a Design Consultant credit in the game, design consultancy is usually a paid job, not a paid-for one.
At the end of the day, however, these gripes are pretty minor, and they’re by no means unique to the Massive Chalice campaign; a lot of the high-profile Kickstarters for both video games and movies have offered similar or smaller rewards for high-tiered pledges, and some of them don’t even offer a copy of the finished product in exchange. Massive Chalice is Double Fine’s game, to fund however they wish, and those who pledge are perfectly entitled to do what they want with their own money. Besides, the studio has already proven its talent for making creative and unique indie games – and they’re almost at the point of being able to deliver on their last Kickstarter campaign, so Massive Chalice looks like it will be a pretty good investment for Double Fine fans.
Massive Chalice is currently scheduled for release on PC and Mac in September 2014.