The gaming industry has gotten a good swift kick in the pants lately. A few, really, several of which being self-inflicted. But one of the interesting side effects is that gamers are starting to speak up and support interesting independently developed games through Kickstarter, showing the industry as a whole that we’re interested in a lot of new ideas they’d probably never have taken a chance on.
Take FTL, for instance. It was kickstarted, brought to fruition, and is now massively popular in spite of very rudimentary graphics and audio… but it’s become a sort of instant classic for its fascinating and addictive gameplay. No publisher would have taken a real chance on it, but there it is. And this trend has caught the attention of a lot of well-known, well-respected developers who are getting a little tired of publishers ignoring their more unusual ideas.
One of those is Chris Roberts, creator of the incredible Wing Commander series. After having a very strong run in the 90s with his space flight sims (including being involved in a Wing Commander movie… let’s not talk about that), publishers eventually started saying that the space flight sim was over, and fans didn’t want it anymore. He got out of the business for a while, until he announced his own crowdsourced game for a new flight sim, an MMO he decided to call Star Citizen. It would bundle up all of the aspects of his long, loved series into one huge package, turn it into a multiplayer experience, and show a massive return to the genre as a whole.
Oh, be still my heart!
His crowdsourcing went exceptionally well, raising over 8 million for the whole project. He was hoping for about 5 mil. SPACE SIMS ARE DEAD, EH PUBLISHERS?
So now the work on that project has begun in earnest and development is fully underway. Not some little indie game, not a side-project for a bored developer. This is a full fledged massive development effort for a high end game, which is already showing off videos in its 3D engine and artwork. Although people who kicked money at them to get it going will still actually have to pay to subscribe at the end of it all, this is exactly the sort of return to space sims that I, at least, have wanted to see for a decade, and my voice absolutely hasn’t been alone in that regard.
Although I could keep rambling on about my excitement there, I’ll leave it at this: Publishers like EA and Ubisoft have been telling gamers what they want for so long now that gamers are turning around and funding projects that they really do want. And what does that tell you?