Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brian Fargo plans to make Wasteland 2 backed by Kickstarter

If you've never heard of Wasteland, it was a video game produced in the 1980s and was THE seminal post-apocalyptic RPG which sired the Fallout series of games.

Veteran game developer Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment has launched a Kickstarter project to fund a sequel. Rather than deal with the utterly abysmal way publishers treat developers, let alone the fact that few mainstream games get proper QA testing before release these days, he's gone straight to the fans to provide the backing needed to get the project rolling. The response has already garnered over $1.6 million, with 18 days left to get even more. The original goal was $1 million with any additional funds going to expanding the game further; it also is part of the Kicking It Forward program, which means some of the profits will go toward other indie projects.

(Fargo, for the record, wrote and produced the original Wasteland and was co-lead on the original Fallout, and has a generally impressive list of games in his design portfolio.)

People have some reservations about patronage projects like this, and I understand those reservations. Anyone should think carefully about whether they want to contribute. But the mainstream video game world is getting riddled with issues of publishers nickel-and-diming players for bits and pieces of the game as they go along, and laying on the hassle of stunts like requiring famously single player games to be online-only. This is exactly the kind of situation where I think it's incredibly valuable to be able to put your money where your mouth is and be part of helping realize what should be a great project. As opposed to, say, pre-ordering a product you can be guaranteed will be full of bugs and incomplete on release.

And yes, I've put money down to back this. For $50, I get not only a digital copy, but a boxed copy with disc and real live actual game manual and other "feelies" that have been long forgotten in contemporary video game distribution. And all of it DRM free. All that for $10 less than the average MSRP for a mainstream RPG these days, which are usually guaranteed to be buggy and incomplete on release. (You can donate as little as $1, and for $15 you get a digital copy of the game.) I know I'll have to wait to see the final result, but I am happy to wait to see a final, complete, well-designed product. I realize I can't be guaranteed of such a thing until the game comes out, but I'm willing to take the chance this once, as I feel under the circumstances it's a good chance to take.

(crossposted to my dreamwidth and livejournal blogs)