Carmageddon: Reincarnation Kickstarter Chat #2
Gaming has quickly found itself to be Kickstarter’s most popular category by quite some margin.
We have already seen it impact the gaming community and as more and more developers look to crowd funding as a viable means of financing their games, removing the publisher entirely, its success seems assured.
But, what do the studios working with Kickstarter think of the process? In a series of exclusive interviews, we ask the studios turning to Kickstarter and crowd funding what means to gaming and why it’s proving to be such a success…
Stainless Games co-founder and Carmageddon developer Neil Barnden talks us through Carmageddon: Reincarnation’s Kickstarter process…
What stage is your game at?
Neil Barnden: We’re well over a year into development now, with a team that now numbers 30+ (when we started, there were just 3 of us dedicated to the project) and recruitment for more team members is still on-going.
At this stage, we already have a working game framework, albeit with limited functionality; you can load a level with AI opponents and complete an event by fulfilling the win requirements.
The AI is currently rudimentary, but this is set to change in a matter of days and that should see the project leap on again. Multiplayer code is well advanced also, and all in all the progress is where we expected to be.
On the art side of things, we have several levels being worked on and a number of cars. At the moment the assets tend to be finished to completed geometry stage with simple materials, awaiting the integration of our recently completed all-new rendering tech before we go on to texturing and lighting.
In Carmageddon, the emphasis is firmly on fun (violent, bloody fun!) and a core aspect of this is derived from the PowerUps; the barrels of laughs that pepper the levels and have a wide range of hilarious consequences for you, your opponents or the hapless inhabitants of the Carmageddon world.
The PowerUp system for Carmageddon: Reincarnation is completed, and we have a whole host of old favourites and all-new lunacy up and running already. And as everything is being designed in an easy-to-mod way, the LUA scripted PowerUps will allow the modding community to easily come up with their own variations and unique new PUps.
Would your game exist if it wasn’t on Kickstarter?
Barnden: Yes, because the company was committed to fund the project on a far more limited budget, using income from royalties on our other projects. But this would have meant a different plan for the game’s development, severely limiting the team size and releasing content over a much longer timeframe.
Have you made or anticipated any changes to the original pitch? If so, how did the community react?
Branden: We originally intended that the funding from Kickstarter would fast-track the “iterative release” plan, and so our estimated date for releasing the first iteration was scheduled for February 2013, and this is the date we gave in our Kickstarter pitch/campaign.
But after the Campaign ended with us successfully exceeding our target ($625K from a $400K goal), we decided that we would commit to increasing the budget even further, and reschedule the project to be released in complete form on all-formats, with a coordinated release.
We announced the change of plan just before Christmas 2012, letting the community on Kickstarter and Carmageddon.com know that we had revised the release schedule and would now be working on the game through the better part of 2013.
This was received very well by the community. The fans of the game who are backing us know that the result can only be a better product for them, and as fans they trust us and support us.
The general message seems to be that as long as we keep communicating with them, keeping them in the loop on how the game is progressing, then they’re happy to wait.
Will Kickstarter grow or diminish in importance during 2013?
Barnden: It looks like the phenomenon is going to move on from being something ‘novelty’ – with the opening up of the service outside of the US (it was quite difficult for us as a UK company to organise getting a campaign on what was at the time, a US-centric service) there’s now an opportunity for far more indies and companies to use it.
And games received the lion’s share of pledging on Kickstarter in 2012 – $83 million – I don’t think there’s any reason to assume that it’s peaked yet. I see it as a funding option that could well settle in as a long term stayer for the industry.
Are you concerned the next generation of consoles will distract from Kickstarter?
Barnden: Not at all – in fact, there’s such a wealth of platforms now that this can only add to the opportunities for developers to come up with ideas of all shapes and budgets that would be ideal to be funded via a Kickstarter campaign.
How has Kickstarter funding changed the development process?
As described previously, the success of our campaign actually led to us having a fundamental re-think of the way we were approaching the development, which led to us committing further funding to the project.
Of course the fact that you have many thousands of Backers also following the development process has a big effect too – it’s important to keep them informed.
You need to set aside time to write progress updates, get members of the team to blog progress of various aspects of the game’s development, and engage with the whole community and be aware of their discussions about the kind of game they expect to see – we employed a community manager specifically in this role, to make sure we developed a separate schedule for community interaction.
How did you work out your original goal total?
Barnden:: We took advice from our contact at Kickstarter, and set a goal that they advised us was achievable. We hoped to exceed it, but we also knew it would make a meaningful difference to the project if we only just managed to make it across the line.
How does the pressure of working to a crowd compare to working for a publisher?
Barnden: Because the crowd we’re working to is fully behind the project, and expresses faith in our ability to do a good job for them, it’s an entirely pleasant sort of pressure. So it’s really no different to working with a publisher. At all.
Would you use Kickstarter again?
Barnden: If you’d asked me straight after the massively stressful rollercoaster ride that is a Kickstarter campaign, I’d have replied with an emphatic, “NO ****ING WAY!!!”
But I guess launching and running a Kickstarter campaign must be like having a baby, because now that the memory of the pain has faded, and the baby is developing into a healthy toddler nourished by the milk of our Kickstarter… er, no sorry, that’s way too much metaphor. Anyway, yes, I think we probably would consider doing it again.
Kickstarter Chat Series
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