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A Tormented Kickstarter Project

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I think that by sheer numbers, redundant ipad accessories are the most numerous kind of project on Kickstarter. After this follows custom art filled decks of playing cards, and minimalist wallets. Somewhere just down the list though, slightly above custom exotic dice crafted from steel or stone materials comes the retro gamer category.

By dollar amount, retro video games, heart-breaker RPGs, and classic board games make up half of the top dozen or so projects on the games section of Kickstarter, and they aren’t going away any time soon.

This week a new contender is making a strong play for the number one spot. Check below to see if this is the one needs to be in your 2014 stocking.

By every measure  Brian Fargo’s latest project is something I should have already given money to. Not only does it attempt to capture the magic of a bygone game I loved when I was young, but I have already backed the Kickstarters of both the principles involved. I’m even still looking forward to receiving my digital swag from said projects.

And yet they will definitely not be getting my money this time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that Mr Fargo (of Wasteland fame) is a great guy; it was his original Kickstarter project that made me a true believer of all things crowd funding. Likewise, I was a big enough fan of Monte Cooke’s work to help fund his new sci-fi-esque fantasy world sight unseen. I just think they’ve done a number of things with this most recent project launch that fall squarely in the category of disreputable. The short list below deals with these issues succinctly:

  • The History – Looking back into the dim recesses of my past I can’t quite recall a game labeled Torment: Planescape edition. I don’t remember reading about how after it’s massive success, they were going to launch Torment: The Sands of a Dark Sun, or Torment: The Realms of the Forgotten. The title and its underlying story line was tied fundamentally to the world that inhabited it. I loved the game, but I loved it at least in part because i loved the world that it explored. Sigil. The lady of Pain. Factols. Factions. The Sensates and Dustmen. These are not minor details to be overlooked, and none of them are included in this latest launch. 
  • The Concept – The creators, unable to get rights to the world for a sequel, have chosen instead to make a spiritual successor. That would be all well and good, if they would give it a new name, and stop in their attempts to create a kinda-sorta-not-really sequel. All a spiritual successor is in this case is a deep story driven isometric classic style RPG, where the character’s actions have effects on the outcome. I believe that the principles (and some of their more well known supporters) already made this exact pitch in the form of Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity. I backed both of those projects on very similar arguments.
  • The World – This isn’t the first time that Kickstarter project tie-in’s have felt a little incestuous to me. inXile wants to do everything they can to ensure this Kickstarter will be a success. Since they need to go shopping for a new world anyway, why not use a world that has already raised a fair amount of cash on its own through crowd funding: Monte Cooke’s Numenera. Just one problem here: the fruits of that Kickstarter have not been revealed for the world (or most of the backers) to see yet. Aclaiming the majesty and suitability of an unfinished and unreleased world seems a little like putting the cart before the horse; why not just build your own in that case, as Project Eternity is? Also, where I believe Mr Fargo’s protestations about how this won’t cause any problems with Wasteland 2’s development cycle, I am sure that having to marry a not yet completed world with the writing needs of a fledgling video game project will slow everything down.
  • The Rewards – I backed Wasteland 2 because I wanted to see it come into the world and develop. I understood that once it was finished they would sell it, and I was okay with that. This is the second project (Project Eternity being the first) where Wasteland 2 has been used as a bonus gift to backers before the games launch. This project you can get Both Wasteland 2 and Numenera swag bundled together for added value. This annoys me to no end.

So far Numenera: Torment has reached it’s funding goal of $900,000 in 6 hours, and raised $2 million in less than 48 hours. It is by any measure a success, but I will wait until I see it on sale on Steam for a sub $10 price before I pick it up. There are plenty of trends on Kickstarter I have no wish to support, and this is one of them. I’m not saying that I will never back projects from these creators again, but I am extremely skeptical.

So what say the rest of you? I feel like I’m the only one out there that has a problem with this, as I’ve read nothing but articles in favor of the projects, but I would love to know how many of my readers can’t wait to play this game (or burn it in effigy.)

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

9 thoughts on “A Tormented Kickstarter Project

  1. I have to admit, I don’t have a lot of the reservations you have about the game. They explained that the pre-development period overlaps with the end of Wasteland 2 development, so theoretically there should be no delays for Wasteland 2. And I never played Planescape: Torment, so have no emotional connection to it to be let down from.

    Mostly, I just don’t CARE. I mean, it’s another top-down RPG. So what? I can’t figure out why people are so damned excited about it. It won’t be as pretty as the concept art, it won’t be as interesting as the sales pitch makes it sound, and you have to wait for almost two years to get it. Ooh…sign me up!

    Still, I did back Zombicide 2, and someone could just as easily say “it’s another Zombie game. So what?” If I thought the nearly 38000 backers to date were backing this to the exclusion of everything else, I guess I’d have more of a problem with it. For now, it’s just a ball of “meh” to me.

    • One of the reason I am hesitant to shout down projects for any reason other than lack of legitimacy or validity, is that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the natural differences of taste and preference that are different from person to person.

      Regardless, my concerns with projects are always with the creators and never with the backers; just because I have no interest in Zombicide doesn’t mean that I don’t hope you feel like you get your money’s worth from it.

  2. Maybe I’ll choke on the Kool-Aid I am drinking, but I mostly disagree.

    I do agree that Planescape’s world was a major selling point of the game. That is one concern I have coming into Torment, but it is only a minor concern for me. Much of what I loved about that setting was not the specific sets or the types of enemies or its history within the D&D universe, but the philosophies and ideas that gave them so much life. While I do agree that Planescape was great largely because of its setting, I don’t think that the true value of its setting can ever be hindered by copyright law.

    There is definitely overlap in design intent between all three major throwback Kickstarter WRPGs. Choice is a typically used marketing word. However, everything I have read about their intent with Torment does indicate they ‘get it’ and understand how choice specifically plays a unique role in a RPG of this sort. They’ve talked time and time again that it is a more personal story than one about saving the world, which alone is a big selling point for me. I have also seen nothing to indicate that Numenara won’t be able to produce the same weirdness of the Planescape setting, though in its own unique and different way.

    The rest of your points have varying levels of agreement from me, but I don’t share the same disdain for the project because of them. I do wish they had waited until the success of Wasteland 2 or Numenara would at least be in clear view, but I am still willing to put my trust in the people they’ve acquired. Most of them at least worked on the games I loved, so I do feel I owe them at least that much,

    • Tyler – it sounds less like we disagree, and more like we have different priorities, which is perfectly fine. As I said, I would be willing to consider other projects in this vein in the future, but this one bears too many willful inconsistencies. Regardless, I hope you have nothing but fun playing the game.

  3. I’m not backing it because I’m tired of Kickstarter, period. They should have called it Panhandler, because that’s all it feels like these days.

    But I’m kinda cool with the whole Torment revival. Was never a big fan of Planescape, fell into the same category as Spelljammer to me, but I did love the original Torment. I even think it was Chris who turned me on to it.

      • Guys who have money asking for more money.

        Think I can Kickstart the launch of Panhandler, which will then lead to my *real* dream project, Golddigger?

  4. Pingback: All Grown Up | Caffeineforge

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