Kickstarter rewards: let’s get physical

After turning digital due to COVID-19, I attended my first Mysterium last month. In my round-up about this gathering for fans for Myst fans, I mentioned I’d become a Kickstarter backer for the Myst 25th Anniversary Collection so I could get my hands on my very own linking book.

If you forget about the nine which were unsuccessful, I’ve now backed 39 campaigns on the crowdfunding platform since February 2013 (maybe I’ll have to do a post about them once I reach 40). These have mostly all been in the Video Games category and I’ve stuck to tiers which promise copies of the title. But every now and again I’ve branched out to make a pledge for something a little different; and talking about the Myst project above reminded me of some of the physical rewards I’ve had the pleasure of supporting in the past seven years.

May 2017: signed musical score from The Tomb Raider Suite

The Tomb Raider Suite, Tomb Raider Theme, Nathan McCree, music, notes, signature, scoreI’m not a massive Tomb Raider fan. But I do have a story about how the original game helped with my Dance GCSE coursework when I was 16, and it’s this which inspired me to back the campaign for a studio recording of the series’ music. I now have a signed copy of the first page of the score for The Tomb Raider Theme and this has developed even more meaning since my pledge a few years ago: my other-half and I had the the track made for The Tomb Raider Suite played during our wedding ceremony last year.

April 2018: a linking book from the Myst 25th Anniversary Collection

Myst, 25th Anniversary Collection, video game, linking bookI already owned a copy of each game in the series so why did I bother to back Cyan’s project? For two reasons: the original Myst is one of my favourite classic adventures and it gave me the chance to own a linking book. I was quite surprised by the size of it when it arrived through the post because it’s much larger than I expected, but I love the fact it comes with ‘secret’ compartments so you can hide stuff away. It’s going to go on display in our gaming room once we finally get around to finishing the decorating.

June 2018: a pin from The Doubleclicks

denim jacket, badges, pins, Sensitive Badass, lightning, wine, Save Ferris, Game Boy, GameBlast, heart, catThis is a bit of a random one because I only became aware of the campaign when it appeared in my recommendations while browsing through Kickstarter. I’d never heard of The Doubleclicks or their music before but, after listening to Sensitive Badass and seeing the related pin, I wanted to get on board. The lyrics to this song are perfect: “You have the strength, and though all of the scars may last, you can be sensitive and still a badass.” I’d also recommend checking out Afterparty for One (Frozen Pizza Song).

July 2019: a detective game from Missing in Jericho

Missing in Jericho, Kickstarter, team, table, papers, puzzlesThe reward I’ve received from this project may not be strictly physical, but it seems like I’ll have plenty of hardcopy printouts and scribblings once I’m done with the game. I love escape rooms and detective-based video games so backing the Missing in Jericho campaign was a no-brainer. It’s ‘an experience that will challenge you to become a real-life detective in your own investigation’ and, based on the demo I played last year, it seems as though it’s going to bridge the gap between reality and the digital.

February 2020: an escape-room-in-a-box from Key Enigma

Key Engima, Hack Forward, escape room in a box, women, puzzles

It was my love of escape rooms which made me back this campaign, despite it being one of the more expensive ones I’ve pledged to. A physical box full of mysteries is due to arrive at some point this year and players must use the materials, codes and clues hidden inside to match the objects and solve the case. Alongside traditional challenges such as working to reveal messages, there’ll also be digital puzzles where you’ll have to explore websites and even spy on security cameras, so it sounds like it’s going to be interesting.

August 2020: a mystery to solve from The Mystery Agency

The Mystery Agency, puzzle box, Balthazar Stone, chest, lock, map, papers, photographs, KickstarterMysteries-in-a-box seem to be the hot thing right now and this is the latest project I’ve backed on Kickstarter. It’s ‘an original and atmospheric story told through authentic objects and documents’ and I’ve opted for The Balthazar Stone version, where we’ll be joining Elsa Winslow on her journey to Sharkstooth Island to find an ancient treasure chest and break a curse. I’m thinking it could be a good game to stream once it arrives so keep your eyes on Twitch towards the end of the year.

What writing this post has shown me is that perhaps I haven’t branched out as much as I’d thought I had. I may have moved away from the Video Games category on Kickstarter in the past year or so, but I now seem to be making a lot of pledges to escape-room-type campaigns. Oh well. If I get the chance to help someone’s vision come to life and have a bit of fun with their projects once they have been released and delivered, then I’m not going to complain.

Have you received any physical rewards from crowdfunding campaigns? If so, which has been your favourite?

Kickstarting to feel old

After logging into Kickstarter to see whether there were any new campaigns, I received a notification confirming that the platform was ten years old. That’s a decade of crowdfunding since 28 April 2009, bringing communities together to help bring creators’ dreams to life.

I’ve now backed 36 projects since February 2013 so that’s an average of one every other month. Although the quantity and quality of video game campaigns has declined recently, I still visit the website occasionally to see what’s happening; and I enjoy being able to show my support for unique titles which are a little different from the norm, although there’s obvious no guarantee there’ll ever be made. In celebration of all things Kickstarter, here are ten campaigns I’ve pledged to over the past six years.

First project backed

Shortly after starting to blog in February 2013, I made my first pledge on the platform and backed Lucky Pause’s campaign for Homesick. It was the mention of some of my favourite classic titles in the promotional video that drew my attention and I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this ‘puzzle exploration mystery game’. And for the part we played, my other-half and I did; but unfortunately we got stuck after three hours or so and ended up putting the title to one side. I really should get back to it one day and finish it off.

Best game backed

I’ve been a fan of The Longest Journey for a very long time and jumped at the chance to support Red Thread Games’ campaign for Dreamfall Chapters shortly after the project above. But I still haven’t finished the title despite playing for 23 hours! The reason for this is slightly strange: I just can’t bring myself to complete the final instalment of the series because once I do so, it will all be over. Ragnar Tørnquist said in a forum post that he didn’t think a further sequel would happen for ‘many, many reasons’ so this may sadly be the last we see of Zoë Castillo.

Most controversial game backed

Elementary, My Dear Holmes!, video game, Kickstarter, Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, men, detectives, London, street, street lampElementary, My Dear Holmes! was a release being made by Victory Square Games in August 2013. The developer had signed up to Ouya’s Free the Games Fund so if their Kickstarter campaign reached a minimum of $50,000, the company would match the funds. Unfortunately a number of dodgy high-value donations were received from backers who were new to the platform and these resulted in accusations that head Sam Chandola or family members had made these pledges themselves. The project was then suspended admit the controversy.

Worst game backed

I backed the campaign for Pandora: Purge of Pride in May 2013 because I kind of felt a little sorry for developer High Class Kitsch. They were young, inexperienced and looked like they needed all the help they could get. But this game was one of the worst I’ve ever played: it was full of bugs, the story was incredibly flimsy with very little character development, and it just looked awful. The only thing the title had going for it really was the fact it had been made by a studio whose logo was a cat wearing a top-hat and monocle.

The campaign that meant the most

The Tomb Raider Suite by Nathan McCree was a celebration of the music of Tomb Raider and I backed the campaign because it brought back a special memory. My brother played the original game extensively and The Tomb Raider Theme could continuously be heard throughout our house – so it’s therefore no wonder I decided to use it to accompany my GCSE Dance examination piece. After receiving the backers rewards, Pete and I decided to use the recording as the music to which we signed our wedding vows in January.

The campaign with the best physical reward

Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on a physical Linking Book? This was the opportunity offered by Cyan Worlds with their campaign for the Myst 25th Anniversary Collection in April 2018. The book is awesome, and it was great to get my hands on the whole collection of games too as this inspired a complete playthrough on Twitch. Well, I say ‘complete’, but a rogue Bahro unfortunately caused Myst V: End of Ages to crash at almost six hours in and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to restart the game from the beginning.

A project backed that’s unrelated to video games

As if often the case with YouTube, one day I was idly passing the time by flicking through videos and came across a performance of Sensitive Badass by The Doubleclicks. This was an excellent song about being strong, fierce and honest: “Don’t tell me to calm down, don’t tell me it will pass, I’m not just sensitive, I am a badass.” It was with some pleasure that I then discovered the Kickstarter campaign for a related pin and made my pledge in June 2018. I’m still wearing it on my denim jacket today.

The unsuccessful campaign I’m most disappointed about

The Black Glove sounded as though it would be amazing: an eerie, surrealistic first-person game by a team of developers who helped make BioShock and BioShock Infinite. Unfortunately however, Day For Night Games’ campaign totally felt short of its target in October 2014. Some people say that it’s because readers couldn’t understand what the title was about from the information provided on the page but for me, it just made it all the more intriguing. The developer has since said their idea is shelved so it might not be a game we ever get to play.

Game most likely never to be made

LAST LIFE by Sam Farmer was a Kickstarter campaign which caught my eye immediately, as it was a sci-fi noir adventure was inspired by modern point-and-clicks such as Kentucky Route Zero. I made my pledge in April 2014, received updates that decreased in frequency until August 2017… and then nothing until Farmer announced his new game in September 2018. Take a look at this post for the full story, but to sum it up: the developer seems to have disappeared along with $103,058 of funds received from thousands of backers.

Latest game backed

I decided to back Twinspell Studio’s campaign for Descend recently because the idea of exploring a giant ruined structure, with different floors that have their own seasons, flora and fauna, is immensely intriguing. Nobody has seen the bottom floor but many of the characters in the game believe that whatever is down there could be the key to several mysteries that bewilder the inhabitants of Hemonnet. Unfortunately the project wasn’t successful and only achieved around 50% of its target, but hopefully this doesn’t mean the end.

As mentioned at the start of this post, the quality of campaigns on Kickstarter has been gradually declining and Jessica Saunders of Salix Games even said recently that it was ‘dead for video games’. I therefore have my doubts about whether I’ll be writing a similar post for the platforms 20th birthday. But hey: the past decade has been fun and I’m glad I’ve been able to support indie developers through crowdfunding, so that’s worth celebrating.

A Myst opportunity

In my post on Tuesday, I included Myst in a list of my favourite classic adventures. After spending an afternoon at a friend’s house while he played and seeing Myst Island with my own eyes, I promptly purchased the title so I could play it for myself.

So many people fell in love with this graphic-adventure when it was released: it was a surprise hit with critics praising its ability to immerse players in its world, and was the best-selling PC game ever until The Sims exceeded its sales in 2002. Its success led to a number of ports, remakes and sequels, along with several novels which filled in the series’ backstory.

It was my fondness for the original which led me to become a backer for Cyan’s 2013 Kickstarter campaign for Obduction. Rather than a direct sequel, it was a title which ‘harkened back to the spirit of earlier games Myst and Riven’ and it did indeed give off the same vibe. Unfortunately though, it just couldn’t reach the dizzy heights of the title that started it all and fans were left wanting more.

I’d therefore imagine I wasn’t the only one who got incredibly excited when the news that the developer starting up a new Kickstarter project landed. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Cyan decided to complete a ‘never-been-done’ before historical anthology of the series; and although the games would be available later, but the ‘special packaging’ would only be available through the campaign and never be sold again.

I therefore headed over to the page as soon as possible and have to confess: I’ve never pledged so much towards a Kickstarter backing before. I’ve gone in at the Bookmaker level so hopefully towards the end of this year I’ll receive digital downloads, as well as physical copies of the titles within a special Linking Book box complete with window and hidden compartment.

To be honest, I would have liked to have gone in at one of the higher levels in order to receive the Linking Book with LCD screen showing the fly-throughs from the games; but sadly, adult responsibilities call and its not a purchase I can justify right now. The Bookmaker tier is available for $99 but watch out for the shipping fee, as backers in the UK can expect to pay an additional $22 for delivery costs.

Myst, video game, island, trees, water, mountain, rocket, dome

It seems as if there are plenty of people willing to part with their money however, as (at the time of writing) the campaign has already reached £1,245,678 from 10,834 backers – surpassing the original £182,710 target in just eight hours. And with 12 days still to go before the funding deadline, there’s the opportunity for others to get on board and push that amount even higher.

If you’re interested in doing so, get yourself over to the Kickstarter campaign before 18:02 on 24 May 2018. Downloads of all seven games (the five Myst games plus Uru: Complete Chronicles and realMyst: Masterpiece Edition) are available for $49 at the Archivist tier. The estimated delivery for the digital titles is August so we haven’t got long to wait: prepare yourselves for a Myst marathon stream at some point this summer.