What’s that you say big game studios? Gamers only want to play Modern Warfare 3 clones?

Kickstarter game pledges pass $100M

One. Hundred. Million. Dollars.

I feel like it’s something Dr. Evil should be shouting out as a ransom demand, not an amount raised by crowdfunding to support game design.

This tells me that although there may not be a megabucks market for non-AAA FPS baffling brains with blasty bling, there is still a significant market for games that offer deep gameplay opportunities over rapid reflex twitch-based shmups. You know, like games used to be made because the technology didn’t exist to push a zillion teraflops around so you can see individual nose hairs on each character in a crowd. It feels to me like studios have too often taken the route of tossing in multiplayer and the promise of cutting edge graphics so sharp they can shear through the space time continuum so as to avoid the difficult issues surrounding the development of deep, engaging single player games that keep users coming back for more for hours on end.

In the olden days, game designers could not rely on such crutches. Games had to be fun and engaging in of themselves because the graphics were nothing more than an ASCII alphabet soup tossed onto the screen. Witness Begin: A Tactical Starfleet Simulation, a game I considered as having some pretty nifty graphics at the time; this was several years after I discovered computer games. How would such games fare today, dragged out of carbonite and tossed onto a PS 4? They certainly would get blown out of the water, but that would be ignoring the 30 years of work and lessons learned that have gone into game design since, and all the new ground that these games broke to get us where we are today. I am not saying that AAA FPS aren’t fun. Halo and Crysis certainly get my heart pumping and have their moments, but they have narrowed the user experience to such a narrow slice that one cannot help but wonder what could be achievable if some of the grand ideas of yore were brought back onto the table.

I believe the Kickstarter phenomenon is a manifestation of the public consciousness’ desire for some of the magic the first computer games brought to our desk tops. Fun isn’t purely about having a highly polished visual experience with 150 fps frame rates. The old games were able to do this by fully engaging our minds, and using the power within to fill in the blanks, much as happens when reading a book. That takes a lot of hard work, plenty of imagination, and some very clever people, but not necessarily hundreds of millions of dollars in development, as Minecraft has recently demonstrated.

I hope Kickstarter keeps chugging along, and that more great ideas see the light of day. In the meantime, maybe we can convince someone to revisit the Crescent Hawk’s Inception (and their ultimate Revenge.)

 

 

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