I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up with comic and video game news, but in the past couple of months there have been some exciting things going on at Kickstarter. For those of you not aware of such things, Kickstarter is a neat way to allow creative content developers to connect directly with their fan base in order to pump them for cash, essentially. I’ve seen projects on this site ranging from a kind of hilariously Dr. Seussian babymaking book to books of adorably friendly animal stickers, so whatever your fancy, odds are you’ll find something you like enough to fund. Rich Burlew, creator of Order of the Stick, recently held a very sucessful kickstarter campaign to reprint some the old, out of print OOTS that nettedover a million dollars for his awesome stick figure comic. On the video game side of things, eyes are locked on to Double Fine’s new game creation campaign, and all the shenanigans therein.
Kickstarter campaigns can be rather hit or miss. In Burlew’s case, he hit all the right buttons by increasing the amount of free stuff to tack on to pledges to encourage more donations. Burlew started with a goal of $57,000 in order to reprint one of his books, War and XPs. For the record, if you don’t already read Order of the Stick, you should be. It’s the best stick figure story form comic you’ll ever read. By the end of the drive, Burlew has so much content to produce, he’s been updating his Kickstarter page regularly with his progress on producing all the junk that he just promised. It’s… probably going to take him a while.
In return, Kickstarter itself receives a not-insignificant amount of the money Burlew raised (I think another large part of the $1.2 million is going toward shipping, additional warehouse space, reprinting all three books, producing new OOTS coloring books, supporter fabric patches, pins, magnets, and much more). In this way, Kickstarter itself can afford to host these massive content producing friend fests. To me, this is commerce at its finest. Anything that allows the fans to contribute exactly what they are comfortable with in exchange for supporting their favorite creative artists and authors is phenomenal in my book.
A couple of other recent web comic kickstarters include Benign Kingdom, which combines the talents of KC Green, Uko Ota, Evan Dahm, and Becky Dreistadt into a four book super team of comicry, and… uh… there was one more comic Kickstarter I wanted to talk about, but I completely forgot what I did with the link. I know one of the rewards was that the author would break his vegan code and eat a pound of bacon, but I can’t remember more than that.
There does come a risk, of course, and currently there has been quite the debate about exactly how big of a percent kickstarter has been taking from its donators. Capitalism being the greedy beast that it is, after all, I just kind of assumed Kickstarter would be taking a modest sum anyway.
But I digress. The other thing I wanted to talk about here is Tim Schaffer and Double Fine.
I’ll admit it: I’m a nerdy fanboy for Double Fine. Psychonauts was a fantastically awesome game, and while Brutal Legends may have been more mediocre than I was hoping for, Stacking was hilarious and fun. But funding a game is a problem. So, Shaffer had an idea. Let people pay what they’re going to pay for the game.
He started with a goal of $400,000 in order to create, produce, and release a new game. What’s it about? Don’t know. What has been released is that it will be a point and click adventure not unlike Shaffer’s 1993 release of Day of the Tentacle. How good the game will be, of course, depends on how much scratch rolls in off of Kickstarter.
The total for that drive currently stands at $2.3 million, spanning over 69,000 backers. I’m glad to see I’m not the only Double Fine fan out there. Last I heard, the game is getting a complete graphic overhaul, voice acting and is also getting a musical score produced by a damn orchestra.
But why should you pony up for these projects? Why, for the rewards, of course!
I am a backer of the OOTS Kickstarter, and if I had more dough I’d jump on the Double Fine bandwagon as well. For my measly $26 donation to OOTS, I’m getting an actual for-print book, a magnet, a coloring book, and possibly four or five untold OOTS stories in PDFs. I’m also going to get a “hit point pad,” whatever that is, and possibly some other cool things.
In addition to feeling good that you’re supporting your favorite artists and developers, the thank you personally by giving you stuff. It’s feel good karma stacked on top of self centered motivation.
In any case, you might want to swing by Kickstarter and see if there are any projects that might interest you. If this world needs more of anything, its high quality entertainment. I mean, if people stopped making movies, games, books and webcomics, there’d be no Faceplant, and lord knows we can’t have that.