Kickstarter, how I love thee.
This is old news now, for the most part, but for old news it’s certainly making a lot of new noise. inXile is my dream come true. Brian Fargo – as in the guy that presented us Fallout – is now leading a team consisting of many of the people that worked on those legendary Interplay titles in making titles in that very spirit. Wasteland 2 is happening. The gameplay looks fantastic…like the classic Fallout that lives in my heart had a beautiful child with XCOM. It looks really, really good. They’ve now decided to push the concept team over to a new project for preproduction…a spiritual successor to Torment. (I know that TotalBiscuit commented recently that he wasn’t sure this was a thing. Here’s Extra Credits explaining why pre-production is so vital to a good game.)
These are incredibly low risk Kickstarters. Not only does the team behind it consist of some legendary names with a staggering collective resume (Fargo, McCombs, Monte Fucking Cook) but look at that Wasteland gameplay. Customizeable UI? Upload our own custom portraits for characters? We can set up an ambush? I scratched my monitor throwing my wallet at it.
Fargo says it best in his intro video for Torment: he’ll never have to have an awkward chat with a publisher ever again. He’ll never have to mitigate the potential damage that comes from metric-based publisher directives…you know, like the ones that kicked the recent Simcity launch right in its junk. When you cut out that intensely overbearing middleman and you return to a world where you can focus on creativity and need to stretch dollars, you can make decisions that publishers would consider unacceptable risks. Fargo and his crew are giving us DRM Free, text-based, turn-based, top-down RPGs where story is the focus. There’s no FPS elements. There are no microtransactions, no always online bologna-crap. Like I said back when I gushed about Project Eternity…these guys can and will breathe reality into our dreams. Watching those dreams take shape in real time is rather nice. I do want story. I do want freedom to wander. I do want time to consider my next moves and experience a heavily tactical turn-based strategy game. I want replay value and character development and deep, meaningful, resonating choice with real goddamn consequences.
It turns out I’m not alone. These projects are netting millions of dollars from crowd-sourcing from people who – like me – remember the games Interplay and Black Isle gave us long ago. It demonstrates fan interest; it generates start-up capital; it gets us what we want.
That’s not to say Kickstarter is the end-all/be-all killer to publishing, as much as I want it to be. Will I give my money to Brian Fargo and Friends? Hell yes. Would I have given my money to the brilliant gung ho indie dev that gave us FTL? No. Why not? Well, because Fargo and Friends have demonstrated very clearly an ability to produce; their actions very clearly match up with their motivations and my expectations.
Meanwhile, I am 100% convinced that Garriott can’t hope to generate a game I’ll enjoy. Make no mistake, I hold a tremendous amount of respect for Ultima 4 through 6 and I even enjoyed what of 7 I played, long ago. And possibly Tabula Rasa was a better idea than we saw, maybe hamstrung by publisher directives or any number of design-level problems that went against Garriott’s “vision”. But where has he been this whole time? What games has he made? The big picture on the Kickstarter page tauts that they’ve got devs from pre-EA Bioware and freakin’ System Shock. (But they put Tabula Rasa in there, which, you know, I’d have dropped from my resume, personally.) I’d like to see names. Fargo is a name. Colin McComb is a name. Monte Fucking Cook is a name. Garriott is…well, he was a name. You need to show me that you can make something that I’ll like…and while it’s obviously a very early prototype, that conversation system…blech. I’ve seen Interplay’s convo systems and I know the people who made those systems are on inXile’s payroll.
Wasteland 2 is slated to drop in October. I can’t wait.
So, it seems like they fixed the teleport bug. I’ve only played a bit since the patch, but it’s looking good. (I have yet to play a mission in the notorious graveyard though.) The patch is being beta tested and you can opt in on Steam here. I recommend it. I’ve been planning a new kick-off in XCOM for Youtube, pending this patch, but you know, real life has a way of utterly gobbling up my time.
There’s also word of a big announcement at PAX from the Firaxis guys; Jake Solomon will be there as well as others from the XCOM and Civ 5 teams. I’m hoping they’re going to drop some real meaty DLC on us.