A couple of weeks ago I made a post about three game creation systems that had had successful Kickstarter campaigns, and I said at the end of the post that I’d “look over the other three successfully Kickstarted game creation systems another time”. Well, I guess now’s as good another time as any.
Again proceeding chronologically…
Launched: July 22, 2013
Amount Raised: £1,250
Yes, that’s what the title of the Kickstarter project was. “Horror Game Creator & HD Free Indie Games”. It didn’t give a name for either the game creator or the games, and even the rewards mentioned “the ‘Untitled’ Horror Game Creator project”. Hm.
The developers do mention in their Kickstarter video some of the games they’ve created: Slendytubbies (what?), Error #53, and Minotaur Maze. Honestly, the Kickstarter video left me rather unimpressed; except for some brief clips from their past games it’s mostly just a voice talking over white text on a black background. And there’s not much concrete information given about the game creator, except vague promises that it would be “fully customizable” and will “allow you to create your own custom storylines with as many levels, monsters, NPCs, events, items, and as many objectives as you like”.
One question that the whole idea of a horror game creator brings to my mind is what differentiates it from any other game creator? “Horror” describes the content of the game, not the structure; that is, in terms that I’ve seen other sites use, it’s a story genre, not a gameplay genre, or, in the terminology that I’ve sort of tentatively adopted, it’s a genre, not a class of games. It’s hard to see how a game creator could be specialized to create horror games; it seems to me that any game creator that could create horror games could just as easily be used to create lighthearted fantasies, or any other (story) genre. Granted, he says the system is going to come with “hundreds of HD prebuilt models and characters”, and presumably those models and characters will be horror-themed… but since users can also import their own “3D models, textures, images, and videos”, again I don’t see what’s to prevent someone from using this creator to make a game in any genre they want. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing; such flexibility is good; it just strikes me as odd to hold up a game creator as specifically intended to create horror games.
Despite my misgivings about the video, would I have pledged if I ran across this campaign while it was still active? Well… yeah, probably. I may have some quibbles with the presentation, but the features described make it sound like it could be an interesting project. And there aren’t that many game creation systems that come up on Kickstarter.
And anyway, notwithstanding my criticisms of the video, it apparently got the job done; the project met its goal. Part of the reason for its success may have been that it was asking for a modest amount; if the developers had set a five- or six-digit goal like many other video game Kickstarters, I doubt they’d have made it, but they were only asking for about $1500 for a Unity PRO license. And no doubt it helped that they had already released some games and presumably had an existing fanbase; that’s always a huge contributing factor toward Kickstarter success.
So, they met their goal, and yes, according to the update page, the game creator did come out, and it even has a name now: “Terror Engine”. If you’re interested, you can get what appears to be the latest version here.
Launched: March 5, 2014
Amount Raised: $3,797
According to the brief description at the top of its Kickstarter page, “Legends of Persia is a highly ambitious Action RPG Adventure (Includes a level editor)”. It’s that parenthetical, of course, that gets it included here, though as it turns out that’s a bit misleading… said level editor, Simorgh 3D, seems to have already been around for some time before the launch of the Kickstarter. The video the screenshot above comes from? It was posted to YouTube on January 6, 2013, more than a year before the Kickstarter went up.
Or maybe it’s not that misleading; the Kickstarter, after all, is primarily about the game, not the level editor, even if it’s the latter that falls within the bailiwick of this blog. Aside from that parenthetical quoted above, the level editor doesn’t get mentioned again on the main page of the Kickstarter campaign till down near the bottom. So it’s not like the developers were playing a bait and switch; the level editor was never presented as a main selling point of the campaign. It looks like they just had this level editor they developed; they decided they were going to create a full game with it; they created a Kickstarter for the game; and they thought they may as well mention the level editor. Which is understandable.
For me, though, the level editor is the selling point; if I’d run across this Kickstarter when it was active, I probably would have pledged it just for that. Most people probably aren’t as interested in level editors as I am, though, so I’d guess most backers pledged for the game itself.
Again, there are some things about the campaign I think could have been done better—the main video on the campaign site is nice and stylized and dramatic, but says nothing at all about the actual game. But there was information on the game further down on the page, and, probably more importantly, the game was already a known quantity; it had been on Steam Greenlight since December… and had apparently already been in development for some time before that. (Given that the game’s release date was only a few months after the Kickstarter, it must have already been nearly finished.) In fact, maybe the Simorgh 3D level editor hadn’t preceded the development of the game by that much after all. Anyway, once again, the developers were asking for a modest amount, and they got it.
If you’re interested in the game, you can go to its website, though said website seems surprisingly reticent about how to actually buy the game, which strikes me as an odd business decision. But anyway, it’s available on Steam. Unfortunately, I’m not sure whether the Simorgh 3D level editor is currently available anywhere; the Steam page just says “editor will be available soon”, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else either… and the developer’s website seems to imply that they’ve transitioned from game developers to a “payment provider and publishing company”, which isn’t a promising sign for any prospects of its future release.
Launched: March 15, 2017
Amount Raised: $10,126
Huh. Well, this is… unique. It’s not at all my cup of tea, but it’s unique.
You might expect from the name that it’s a spooky variation on the 80s arcade game Robotron: 2084, programmed for the slightly-later-in-the-80s Nintendo Entertainment System. And… yes. Yes, that’s exactly what it is. It’s not a direct clone with the graphics swapped; there are more enemy types, and there don’t seem to be any allies to rescue. But it’s very much that kind of game: the enemies swarm you in large numbers (in different movement patterns depending on the enemy type), and you can take advantage of their patterns and the terrain to defeat them.
One thing that people knowledgeable about arcade games might be wondering is how the game will emulate the arcade game’s control scheme, with two separate joysticks: one to move and one to shoot. (It should be noted that I am not particularly knowledgeable about arcade games and was not wondering this; I only know about this because it was mentioned in the Kickstarter video.) Well, that’s perhaps the most original thing about this project: the different methods it implements to mimic that control scheme: using two standard NES controllers turned vertically, using an SNES controller with an adapter, or, bizarrely, using a controller from the obscure 1995 Nintendo Virtual Boy console.
Somewhat oddly, this campaign raised a total of $10,126 from only 127 backers, meaning that the average backer pledged about eighty dollars. This may be less surprising in light of the Kickstarter rewards, though. Sure, for $10 a backer could get a PC version of the game, but it seems that most of the backers were NES fans, and they wanted an NES cartridge, dammit. And the reward levels that included cartridges ran from $38 for just an unboxed cartridge up to a limited two-backer $350 reward level that included a development version of the game. Almost half the backers pledged at the $85 level, which got them a “special numbered edition” of the game and a “3D printed back piece that slots into a Virtual Boy controller”, along with all the goodies from lower reward levels. I guess there are some big NES fans out there with a lot of disposable income.
All Kickstarter backers would also get the level editor, and in fact could submit levels that would potentially be included in the final release. When that final release will be still seems to be a bit up in the air; the creator had hoped it would be out by Halloween 2017, but it seems to have been delayed. Copies of the game have started shipping to Kickstarter backers, but as far as I can tell it’s not available for sale to non-backers yet.
Unfortunately, the level editor is apparently a Kickstarter exclusive, which might seem to present a problem if I want to review it for this blog. But Spook-o’-Tron will (presumably) be released in 2018, and even if I live long enough to get to 2018 game creation systems in my chronological crawl, it’s going to be far enough in the future that a lot may have changed by then. Maybe by then the level editor will have been made generally available after all. Maybe the Earth will have been destroyed by a giant asteroid. Maybe all humans will have mutated into giant slug creatures with extensible tentacles and inexplicable mohawks. Who knows?
So those are all the game creation systems I’ve been able to find that had successful Kickstarter campaigns. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are more systems that had unsuccessful campaigns, and I’ll take a look at those, too, later. But maybe not for a while. I hope to have something to post soon about the games I’m creating. My goal is to finish “It Should Not Be”, the game I’m creating in Wander, by the end of March, but of course I hope to have things to post about long before then…