For reasons I haven’t been able to quite figure out, February’s been a weird month. I haven’t been doing as much of anything as I would have liked (you name it – writing, sleeping, reading, walking, gaming, effective parenting etc) but I still feel like I’ve been busy as hell. High-octane wheel-spinning. Fervent nonproductivity. And now here’s March, and what do I have to show for it?
Meh. I’ll go into those stats in the next post. This one’s about Kickstarter. Following up from last year’s exhortation of crowdfunded patronage, here’s some more stuff on Kickstarter that I think is worthy of your attention and possibly your money, and why.
Bait Dog by Chuck Wendig –  I already reviewed ‘Shotgun Gravy’, the first novella starring bloodied-but-defiant teenage arse-kicker Atlanta Burns. So you know why I think that the prospect of a sequel – or better still, numerous sequels – is a good thing (and if for some reason my sweaty, shaking insistence that this is one of the great works of Western literature is not good enough for you, or if hyperbole repels you and you wish I would just shut up, go get the ebook or PDF version of SG because it’s super-cheap right now). As at the time of writing, the funding drive has hit its target, so ‘Bait Dog’ is guaranteed. But Wendig has promised to write another sequel for every three grand raised, and with a little over two weeks left to run, there’s a good chance for at least one more Atlanta Burns story after this one. This is a good thing, for scientifically-provable values of good
The next Matt Forbeck 12-for-12 trilogy – I already plugged Matt Forbeck’s crazy ambition to write a novel every month this year, funded entirely through Kickstarter patronage. The first trilogy was based on a dystopian supers setting developed for gaming. this next one, taking place in the ‘Shotguns and Sorcery’ also has an easily-grasped high concept. In this case, he has a taster out – you can read a short story called ‘Goblintown Justice’ and decide whether it’s something you might be interested in reading. I’m a fan of mashing genres – hardboiled noir + post-Tolkeinist fantasy is a perfectly cromulent blend – so even though the short story only partly worked for me I am still on board for the series.
The patronage model is really working for me. When an author whose work I have liked in the past asks for what amounts to an advance payment for work they have yet to do, the act of pledging to support it sounds (in my head) like “I like what you do, I want you to keep doing that thing and I am prepared to give you money so that you don’t have to do something else”. The act of financial support, however nominal, feels like a more sincere expression of appreciation and thanks than you can convey through even Twitter or blog comments or similar points of contact.
Games – Computer
Doublefine Studios Unnamed Point’n’Click Adventure – When point-and-click adventure games were at their height, among the most lauded titles in the genre’s history were Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango and Psychonauts. Of those I’ve only really played Tentacle (and a bit of Psycho), but that game alone convinces me that Doublefine can produce a great game. Watch lead designer Tim Schafer’s video appealing for support if you want to get a sense of the likely tone of the final product. It’s hilarious. Nearly 70,000 other people also seem to think so, since this is one of the most heavily-funded projects in Kickstarter’s history. In its first couple of days it was making about forty grand an hour in pledges. It was compelling, if ridiculous, theatre. So obviously they don’t need your money  and the game is certainly going to be made.
What makes the project appealing to me is that some large fraction of the proceeds will go to the production of a documentary series about the making of the game. I’ve always been an enthusiast for behind-the-scenes docos. The prospect of a production team with full access to the development process and the editing skills to avoid making that ten hours of people coding is enticing. Plus at the end of it there’s a game in a genre that doesn’t receive a lot of high-production-value love these days.
FTL -Faster than Light – A starship management game in which you play through crisis after crisis trying to keep your crew alive while they encounter asteroid fields, marauding pirates, boarding aliens and take-your-pick from a vast range of space-difficulties. On the one hand the scope is small, the graphics and sound don’t appear to be anything to write home about and the interface does not appear cutting-edge. On the other hand this is exactly the kind of game I would play the hell out of for months on end if I had the time. It’s a resource-allocation decision-making game with continuity of characters (who can die) and emergent story – so kind of like the city-management aspects of Dwarf Fortress, though hopefully without the unrelenting obfuscation of that game.
Velociraptor! Cannibalism! – A fun, bloodthirsty card game based on a loose comprehension of natural selection, in which Velociraptors consume adorable helpless prey and customise themselves with the advantageous body parts of anachronistic animals. It looks loopy and fun.
That’s all the stuff I’m following at the moment. You got any recommendations?
(Oh, I forgot to mention that the Beginnings Anthology – a locally-produced comic anthology produced by friends of Lexifab Emma and Gavin, amongst others – is due to launch next Friday night. I’m hoping to go along to collect my copy. See you there if you’re in town?)
 Yes, as a matter of fact, I have put all my career plans on hold specifically to shill for Chuck Wendig. Yes, of course I have a business plan .
 Okay, not so much a “business plan” as a “world-class capacity for precision-focused procrastination”. Shut up.
 Or mine – I haven’t actually pledged to this one yet, since I want it but I’m undecided about whether to commit to the documentary as well.