Despite the fact that posts have been pretty infrequent and erratic lately, it’s time to take another little break – the Adelaide Fringe is starting soon, and will soon overlap with the (now annual – sigh) Adelaide Festival of the Arts. So, in an effort to not get myself into a blogging black hole (as I did last year), my gaming goes on the back-burner for a month or so.
As I seem to
write cut’n’paste every year, though… please stay subscribed & keep reading. I’ll be back soon after March 18, and (if you were, like, really desperate for something to do) you can follow my exploits on my other blog, Festival Freak.
Apart from the blog re-design (or phase one of the re-design, anyway), I have a parting gift: great things for you to spend money on!
Having listened to (or read) a bunch of best-of-2011 information, I became intrigued by Bastion – and, with a half-price sale on XBLA a few weeks ago (and a relatively low TA-ratio), I figured it was a relatively low-risk opportunity to try something new.
And, to be honest, it’s absolutely bloody brilliant.
The presentation of Bastion is the first thing that struck me, with beautiful hand-drawn graphics evoking memories of (but not as minimal as) the gorgeous Braid. The second thing that hit me was the wonderful sound design – the soundtrack is stunning, the use of sound effects perfect. And then there’s the gameplay… and that just happens to tick all my boxes. A little bit of isometric action, plenty of levelling up, and OCD-triggering collection-fests. Just perfect!
So there’s the first thing you should be spending some cash on – Bastion (on the 360 or PC). I actually feel guilty that I bought it at half price! And even if you – for some bizarre reason – don’t like Bastion, you can still grab the soundtrack for US$10.
The second thing you should spend your money on is… well, it’s a cracker. My love of Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine is pretty unabashed, and as soon as I heard that Schafer had started a Kickstarter project to raise money for a new adventure game… well, I was sold.
Watch Tim’s video, and you’ll be sold too:
The really great thing about the Double Fine Kickstarter project is that it originally started as a way to side-step the traditional publishing model… by talking directly to the fans. And whilst Schafer declared that he only wanted US$400,000 to fund the game’s development, The Fans committed to that funding within seven hours… and within a day, that initial target was exceeded by over a million dollars – at an average of nearly forty dollars apiece. Even now, with US$1.6 million raised, the average is still north of US$35.
So let’s think about that for a moment.
This demonstrates that it’s possible to get a budget (albeit a frugal budget) for a game together quickly. It demonstrates that the advent of digital distribution allows game companies to deal directly with its fans. And it demonstrates that people are willing to pay more for their games!
Now, I’m not naïve – I know that Schafer already has an army of fans who adore his previous adventure games… it’s doubtful that a small no-name startup would be able to raise anywhere near one-tenth as much. And Double Fine Adventure would almost certainly have to be a PC-only game – the distribution of the game on third-party platforms (like XBL and PSN) would almost certainly be beyond the company (though with an extra million in the bank, one might imagine that Double Fine might consider submitting it for certification). And the average donation is no doubt heavily skewed by some of the massive, four-and-five-figure donations (some of the bonuses available to the top tier pledges are enticing!).
But hopefully this will encourage a little re-think of the game-publishing business. As with music publishing, the role of the “major labels” is being eroded by the shrinking of the gap between producers and consumers. And this is one reason why I happily support the evolution of digital delivery – because I want to have the ability to let People (who create the stuff I love) know that I Love Their Stuff. That’s entirely consistent with my other passion, too.
So go on – chuck a little money Double Fine’s way. I’m looking forward to seeing my name in the credits; I hope to see yours there, too :)