A glance back to crowdfunded projects I've backed

Now that Microsoft has bought two notable developers that have been linked with crowdfunded game development, inXile and Obsidian, I figured it would be a good time to take a look on my own crowdfunding history and see what has come of the projects and developers I've backed and that have managed to release something.

Double Fine / Broken Age

Just like for many other people, Double Fine was the first time I had heard of crowdfunding and their proposed project was the first I ever backed. After a prolonged development time, the game was released and what it's worth, I really do like the game and the documentary they produced to go with it is top notch and should be watched by anyone who is interested about game development.

After releasing Broken Age, Double Fine has kept on trucking. They've released several other games since then and have even gone back to the crowdsourcing pool with Psychonauts 2 that is currently in development.

inXile / Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera, The Bard's Tale IV, Wasteland 3

For good and bad, I've backed all of the projects of inXile. As I noted at the beginning, the company itself was just acquired by Microsoft and in hindsight, it's not that surprising, as their previous two games, Torment and BTIV, have been financial failures that cost far more than what they originally made through crowdfunding. That meant, that they had to reach solid sales with both of them, but as they both were critically panned from several reasons, they never got there.

It is safe to assume that inXile won't be returning to the crowdfunding anytime soon anymore. How long will they function under Microsofts banner is anyone's guess, but I wager they'll be doing their next project with a much bigger budget now. I'm also guessing, that Wasteland 3 might turn into a much grander game now, at least as far budget goes.

Brian Fargo had an idea of trying to keep the company independent with the help of crowdfunding, but for that, all of their games should have been at least modest hits. His bets didn't pan off, so that's that for their independence.

Singularity & Co.

This wasn't a game related project, it was all about old books. The idea of this project was simple enough: find old out of print sci-fi books and scan them into an electronic format in order to provide them to the masses.

While they are now defunct, I did manage to get several ebooks through the project. The quality of them varied quite a bit, but some were actually very good. Two of my favourites that found their way to a new reader base are books The Sinister Researches of C. P. Ransom by  H. Nearing jr. and Elleander Morning by Jerry Yulsman. While the latter book is now obtainable in ebook formats through stores like Amazon, the first is now again unavailable in a digital format.

Sadly enough, Singularity & Co. is no longer functioning. Their attempt was, perhaps a bit naive to actually work as they had a proper stone and mortar store as well, which is what probably drained their finances in the end.  They did manage to release 20 or so books, so it wasn't all in vain I do think I was compensated enough in contrast to what I backed. Shame it didn't work though.

Replay Games / Larry Reloaded

This ended up as the messiest project I've ever backed. The game was released, and I do think it was a solid remake of a game that hasn't aged well, but the messiness came from elsewhere. The leader of the project and the head of the publisher, Paul Trowe, was the cause when it was found out he had sent nude material of himself to an underage boy. Like I said, messy, and ended up with Al Lowe packing his bags for good as well as Josh Mandel, the writer of the most of the remake, to quit as well. There are articles about it in the net, so check yourself for more details.

Reportedly Trowe also tried his best to make other crowdfunded projects of other ex-Sierra developers looks bad, as they didn't want to work with him in order to make his dream of some sort of a Sierra 2.0 to come true. Good thing that it didn't as it would have been a terrible mess.

Replay Games isn't functioning anymore and the rights for the Larry series have changed hands again. In fact, there has been a new entry to the series by a German developer CrazyBunch and at least the initial response has been surprisingly positive.

Pinkerton Road / Moebius

This one just makes me sad. Jane Jensen is the creator of one of my favourite adventure game series ever, the Gabriel Knight mysteries. So when she announced her project, during a campaign that was messy and unnecessarily convoluted, I was in just because I had faith in her.  The game she ended up making is Moebius.

Moebius is a story about the exploits of a misanthrope called Malachi Rector. He is a man so unlikeable, that it is almost painful to play as him, yet for some reason, there are people who like him in the story despite he does his best to be unlikeable.

The story itself is terrible nonsense about past lives and recent incarnation no matter how you look at it. But what is worse is the technical execution of the game, which is nicely put clumsy. Jane Jensen used Phoenix Online as a developer, who was, despite enthusiasm, not up for the task. Thankfully they did better later on with the remake of the first Gabriel Knight game. A fully unnecessary remake, all in all, but still technically better.

Pinkerton Road still has a working site but Jensen herself has withdrawn from the game development at least for now and is focusing on writing. Here's hoping that she'll return at some point with better luck, as during her campaign she had ideas for games that were way superior to what Moebius was. It was a shame it was voted for the game for her to make.

Big Finish Games / Tesla Effect

When Chris Jones and Aaron Connors wanted to bring back Tex Murphy, the star of some of the best FMV games ever made, I was on board. And the game they made was Tesla Effect, which was, in my opinion, a pretty solid game. A bit old school in design, but still a solid return for the detective in the post-WW3 San Fransisco.

Big Finish is still around and they are, in fact, in the middle of making a new entry to the long-lasting Tex Murphy series. The next title is called the Poisoned Pawn and it'll continue the story of Murphy. It will be a partial re-telling of the past Tex games and should come out either by the end of this year or early 2019.

Revolution Software / Broken  Sword - the Serpents Curse

Revolution made a return to their adventure roots with the 5th instalment to the Broken Sword series. The game itself is a pretty good point and click affair with gorgeous art, nice story, puzzles and voice acting. If you are a fan of the series, the Serpent's Curse probably was just what you were looking for after a small side step toward 3D games with previous games

Revolution Software is still alive and kicking, doing their stuff. they haven't released a new game since, but they should be tinkering with something new none the less at the moment. What that something is, I have no idea, but it might either be something Broken Sword or Beneath the Sky related. Time will tell, I guess.

Obsidian Entertainment / Pillars of Eternity

While Pillars of Eternity ended up being a huge hit for Obsidian, their followup game Tyranny ended up selling less than stellar numbers. While they are still currently in the middle of development for a sequel to the Pillars of Eternity Correction, Pillars of Eternity 2 has been released already, actually in May 2018. I honestly thought it was still under development. Still, they are no longer an independent developer after Microsoft bought them with inXile. What that means for Obsidian, I can't tell.

I wasn't personally a huge fan of Pillars of Eternity and ended up never finishing the game. It had a solid second act, but after that, it kinda fizzled and I soon lost my interest. It was a critical success though and because of that, the developers ended up making Tyranny.

Zojoi / Shadowgate

This is probably my favourite remake ever made. The original creator of a hardcore adventure game from the 1980's took his classic title and turned it into a game that has multiple difficulty tiers, that allow you to experience the game in several different ways.

The easier levels allow you to play the game with most of the story intact, but the harder levels reward you with more puzzles, more locations and even additional pieces of the story. It is rare for an adventure game to offer this much incentive for replaying it, as in the harder levels some puzzles are considerably different. All in all, it is a highly recommended title and can be bought from Steam.

Zojoi is still around and while they've yet to come up with a sequel to Shadowgate, they have been porting their old library to modern platforms as well as maintaining Shadowgate. They do plan to make a proper sequel at some point, so fingers crossed, eh?

Studio Mono / Insomnia

An action RPG I sadly haven't yet gotten that deep into yet, as it still is somewhat buggy. It is a very promising game and the devs are tinkering away with it, so perhaps it'll be worth playing at some point.

So, the game released, still buggy, devs still working on it. Hopefully.

Bradley P. Beaulieu / Lest Our Passage Be forgotten

A project I backed on a whim. It was simply just a proposal by an author I had never heard of before to get some extra funding for writing his next novel. He wrote the book and I got a couple of ebooks out of it. While I do have the books on my e-reader, I still haven't finished them. I think I got halfway through with the first one, but then something else caught my interest. I should really check them out again if I ever have the time, but I do recall the writing is more than adequate.

Beaulieu's books are available through Amazon and probably some other stores as well.

Red Thread Games / Dreamfall Chapters

As a fan of the Longest Journey series I jumped in instantly the creator of the series, Ragnar Tornquist, said he'd be game to return to his massive universe of magic and technology. The game was something of a divisive affair amongst fans, some liked, I know I did, some didn't, but I guess this is the case with most games that return after a long hiatus.

Dreamfall Chapters was fully released ages ago and personally, I liked it quite a bit. Red Thread is still alive and kicking, having at least two games in the pipeline at the moment. At some point, they even might return to Stark and Arcadia.

The Brotherhood Games / Stasis, Beautiful Desolation

Stasis ended up as one of the best adventure games released in the past 10 years, so I didn't hesitate to pitch into the next project of the Brotherhood Games. Beautiful Desolation is promising to be a larger adventure with some action/RPG elements in it, so hopefully, it'll pan out in the end. But if nothing else, it will be a great looking game.

Okam Studio / The Interactive Adventures of Dog Mendonca & Pizzaboy

Looks aren't everything. While Dog Mendonca is a good looking game on its own right, I liked very little of it. The puzzle, the humour, the writing, nothing really worked for me. An utterly mediocre game at best.

Okam Studi still seems to be functioning and is working on other games. All I can really say, good luck to them, but I have very little interest otherwise.

Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick / Thimbleweed Park

With this game, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick promised to take us back to the past and deliver an adventure game, that would feel, look and play like an old, forgotten game from the library of Lucasarts Games. And did they deliver?

Stunningly so.

If you ask me, Thimbleweed Park is par none the best retro-themed adventure game ever made. It feels like something people recall those game were but is in fact much better in design in all counts. The puzzles are good, the voice acting is great and the jokes just work. The ending brings it down a notch, but all in all, it is a solid, solid game.

Larian / Divinity: Original Sin 2

I bought the first Original Sin game from a sale after it was released, as I've never been very keen on Larian's CRPG's. That was a game that made me change my mind about Larian and after they put the sequel to the game in Kickstarter I decided to jump in as well.

Original Sin 2 came out and was met with an avalanche of praise from the critics and the gamers alike and it has become one of the best selling CRPG of recent years as well as it is looked like one of the best CRPG's made. Personally, I still haven't finished it, as while I was playing the game, the directors cut came out and I've been teetering between if I should restart or nor.

Larian is, obviously, still trucking hard, doing the things they want to do with the mint they've earned from the Original Sin games. Good for them.



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