Well, I have a bit more to say about the Wander game I’m creating, but I want to break things up a bit and I said my next post would be about game creation systems on Kickstarter, so… let’s do that.
As I said in a previous post, I hadn’t been actively looking for game creation systems on Kickstarter until a tweet by a friend let me know about Super Tony Land (which now at the time of this writing has just passed its goal with 21 days still to go and has accordingly just added a stretch goal). But then that got me wondering how many other such projects had been on Kickstarter, and how they’d done.
As it turns out, the answer to the first question is not nearly as many as I expected, and the answer to the second is… well, probably about what I’d have expected.
I can’t be sure I’ve found every game creation system on Kickstarter. Kickstarter doesn’t, of course, have a specific category for game creation systems, so I tried to track them down through keyword searches and a lot of subsequent slogging through irrelevant projects. (Kickstarter projects for tutorials on how to make games seem to have been surprisingly popular. Well, popular to make, I mean; not, apparently, so popular to support.) In the end, I only found six more successful Kickstarter projects for game creation systems (counting games with level editors). So, including Super Tony Land and NESMaker that I covered in a previous post, I guess that makes a total of eight successfully Kickstartered game creation systems.
Before you jump in and try to Kickstarter a system of your own, though, it may be worth mentioning that I found fifteen Kickstarters for game creation systems that weren’t successful. Kickstarter’s stats page says (at the time of this writing) that overall about 36% of Kickstarter projects are successfully funded. Eight out of twenty-three is about 35%, so apparently the success rate for game creation systems is about par for the course.
Anyway, in this post, I’ll take a look at some of the past game creation systems that were successfully funded on Kickstarter. Not that it may not be interesting to look at the unsuccessful ones, too… but I’ll save that for another post.
Launched: March 30, 2012
Amount Raised: $13,130
A modest success—unlike many Kickstarters, it didn’t end up raising far above the goal—but a success nonetheless.
Chuck’s Challenge is a game by Chuck Sommerville, creator of Chip’s Challenge, a classic puzzle game from the nineties that I remember playing in college. (I never owned the game, but it was installed on a campus office where I spent some time.) Apparently he wanted to create a sequel, Chip’s Challenge 2, but the company that now owned the rights to Chip’s Challenge demanded a six-figure licensing fee for use of the name, so he just called his new game by a different name.
Mr. Sommerville himself isn’t in the main Kickstarter video until the very end; the main spokesman is a developer who looks kind of like the actor who played the Dwight Schrute analogue in the original British version of The Office. (And who I guess is probably better known today as the taller of the two comic relief pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.) He explains the history of the game, shows some clips from it, and discusses its features. Which, yes, include a level editor.
So anyway, this was a pretty straightforward Kickstarter with the usual elements for success: a known and familiar quantity with something of a built-in fanbase, a modest goal, a product already far enough along that it was clear the developers knew what they were doing. And succeed it did.
For what it’s worth, apparently a few years later Mr. Sommerville managed to get the licensing worked out and there was a Chip’s Challenge 2 after all.
Which included a level editor, so I guess I’ll have to add it to my list.
Launched: May 29, 2013
Amount Raised: $561
I… don’t really get this one.
So, it’s called “Avatar City Game Creator”, but the video and description are less than clear about what kinds of games it actually allows the user to create. Okay, it’s a program for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One that allows the user to “Build their own Photo-Realistic City”, I guess that’s clear, but when it says the user can “add Game Elements to it”, that’s extremely vague. What kinds of game elements? What kinds of games can be created in your “Photo-Realistic City”? If the Kickstarter video is anything to go by, apparently just delivery missions.
Are there any obstacles or enemies? Is there any way to fail the mission? Is there anything that makes this at all a challenge? If there is, it’s not evident from the video.
Out of curiosity, I went to the developer’s webpage and took a look at a couple of their other recent games, many of which seem to have names that are intentionally designed to be confusable with A-list titles. There’s The Simps — Up All Night, which, judging from the trailer, seems to consist entirely of random fetch quests undertaken on behalf of people who never move or change expressions.
Well, that and finding easter eggs. Not easter eggs in the video game sense of hidden content. Literal giant colorful eggs.
There’s Granny Theft Auto, which judging by the trailer seems to be less about evading the police than it is collecting giant floating cupcakes.
And finally there’s Thief of Seas, which if nothing else apparently improves upon the others by actually having enemies. I think.
So… with no name recognition and nothing impressive to show, how exactly did developer Archor Games (which I suspect is just one person, the eponymous Archor Wright apparently) manage to get this game funded, when so many other Kickstarter projects failed? Granted, the Kickstarter wasn’t asking for a lot, but others have failed when asking even less. Well… I don’t know for sure, but take a closer look at the numbers. Specifically, the number of backers. In contrast to most Kickstarter projects where a lot of people kick in at the low end, here that $561 came from a total of five backers who averaged more than a hundred dollars each. My guess is that Mr. Wright just happened to know five people who were willing to fund his hobby. In which case, I wonder why he didn’t just go to them directly instead of setting up a Kickstarter, but if he’s doing what he enjoys, good for him, and I hope the two people who kicked in at the $135+ level enjoy seeing their names or company logos on top of a virtual building in the game.
If for some reason you want to check this system out, well, it doesn’t seem to be available quite yet, and the Updates page now says the Xbox 360 version has been canceled and it’ll be an Xbox One exclusive, and that a game called AVATOUR [sic] — Mission: Miami has been created with Avatar City Game Creator despite Avatar City Game Creator itself not having been released… but in the meantime you can check out the creator’s other works at the Archor Games website.
Launched: June 25, 2013
Amount Raised: £33,026
This was a Kickstarter by The Game Creators, makers of several game creation systems like DarkBASIC, FPS Creator, and GameGuru. As one might expect from the name “App Game Kit 2”, this project was an updated and enhanced version of their previous product App Game Kit, intended to allow the user to easily develop games that would run on multiple mobile platforms, using either the company’s own custom AppGameKit Script or C++.
Given that The Game Creators was an established company with a proven track record, and the relatively small amount they were asking, one might assume this Kickstarter would be a sure thing. However, The Game Creators had three other Kickstarters that weren’t funded, so… maybe not. What made this one different? Why did The Game Creators succeed here where they came up short these other times? I’m not sure, but when I take a closer look at the Kickstarters for game creation systems that weren’t successful, maybe I’ll take a stab at answering that.
In any case, this one did succeed, and if you’re interested in the system you can go to the AppGameKit website.
I think that’s enough for one post; we’ll look over the other three successfully Kickstarted game creation systems another time. But maybe not for a while… there are some other things I’d like to post about first.