Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sh*tStarter: Poorly Presented Concepts & Begging

I was going to write about a promising Kickstarter project this morning, but instead I found my eyes glazed over, dumfounded by the sheer quantity of blatant begging and naivety. I'm not saying I'm a cynic; I'm a fan of the crowd funding model, and I feel that most projects I look at are sincere and transparent. It's just that there's a level of preparation required in order to present a captivating project with high production values, capable of drawing in potential backers. It's a business pitch, but without the stress of dressing in a suit, sweating on the way to a conference room, and looking an investor in the eyes and asking for his/her money with a lump in your throat. So as a Kickstartererer, you have an advantage over the IRL marketers and businessy peoples, in which case there's no real excuse for a half-arsed pitch.

This isn't a new thing, Kickstarter has had numerous crap filling it's pages for a long time, both accidental and deliberate. The potato salad pitch for example, requesting backer support in order to make: potato salad, has had copycats with even more ludicrous 'investment opportunities' cropping up. Let's keep things game related though; I'm going to reference a few projects that I have problems with, and in most cases my criticisms will be mainly constructive... well, I hope.

Kingdom of Oberon by Trini-V Games

First up we have this 'dark' MMO, offering a unique multiplayer experience, as this statement clearly proves.
Now, what, you may ask, sets us apart from the multitudes of other MMOs on the market today, such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and Everquest? First of all, our world will be split into multiple islands, allowing separate and drastically differing areas to explore, while still keeping them connected. 
It helps when pitching you game, to have someone well-versed in the design philosophy, development schedule, financial details oh and of course the lore. In this case, we have one of these boxes ticked... sort of. It doesn't help when your entire video is 15 minutes long and is presented by someone who isn't a part of your company. No offence to the 'guest speaker' but I would have requested from him some form of scripting, editing and possibly some production values? Investors want to feel safe and comfortable when funding a project, and a bit of fancy editing and well spoken commentary assists with giving us a little faith. I appreciate that you have learnt the backstory of the game, but I'd much rather see some gameplay than take your word for it. How about screenshots, no? Concept art?

Ok that'll have to do....

There is some minor descriptions of gameplay elements, including Borderlands-esqe weapon generation and classes, but all in all this project is presented extremely poorly and is more like the ramblings of a wannabe fantasy novelist if anything. I don't want to deny someone of their dream of creating a fantasy world, but building an MMO isn't exactly a small undertaking. Plus, recycling old and standardised MMO features and claiming that they are unique isn't going to fly. It's ok to be innovative! To top things off there are no links to the developer's site, and no social media contact details besides those belonging to the YouTuber who is pitching the game.

Cookie Crush Raga by InnovatelTek

Ignoring the obvious cheap cash-in nature of this project, and by judging it on it's presentation; Cookie Crush Raga is a multi-platform puzzle game and is presented, at first glance, quite professionally. Upon analysing the content however, it becomes apparent that the developers have gone to great lengths (as in, hundreds of words worth of... great lengths) to explain every little detail of the game as opposed to showing us succinct video gameplay.

Its obvious that this is nothing more than a bunch of mock ups, and there is no real detail about how the funding will be spent on the development process. Maybe I'm being too judgmental; who wouldn't want to see screenshots of a login page and lists of GUI components down to the player's name? The kickstarter also treats us to paragraph upon paragraph of information about astrology and how it features within the concept... What's wrong with being short and concise?

If you respect developers who are open and transparent about their project's risks, like the example below, then this'll be right up your street.
In doing a unique and great project like this, certainly there is the risk that people won't get it, they won't understand what the game is all about, and why uniqueness is important.
I'm not going to bash the potential audience that this game could have, or the concept at it's core; my problem is solely with the fact that this bored the hell out of me. Too much about nothing. Ok next.

Swine Bomb by Max Garrod

What element of a kickstarter project is most likely to tip the scales and convince you to invest? Is it the fact that the game is already finished and is free to download? Um, no! I am giving no opinion or criticism of this game whatsoever, mainly because there is no video footage, screenshots or even description, other than:
Swine Bomb is a great, faced pace game filled with bombs, timers and a little flying pig.
This developer is asking for £5000 in investment for advertising his existing game. This is not much better than the other kickstarters begging for money so that they can buy the equipment to become the next Pewdiepie. The only tier costs £7, the reward of which is being one of the first people to find out about the next game... I don't need to say much else.

So that was just a few different examples of bad kickstarters (not what I was originally going to write about). I will write about something a bit more positive next time! Hopefully! -oP

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