Tim Schafer Games: the History of, and my Love of BROKEN AGE


Double Fine Adventure was what turned me into a Kickstarter fiend for a few months. The only thing that ended that fun was a mix of finances and seeing certain projects I funded just take way too long. Still I pledged $100 to DFA with trust in what Tim Schafer and Nathan “Bagel” Stapley coming together and combining their efforts to create a modern point and click adventure based off the strength of Tim’s previous work and where it’d lead had he not had to move on to things such as Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. This is not a commentary on those games, but more to explain my views of what became BROKEN AGE and my feelings towards it versus how certain reviews and opinions have formulated based on preconceived expectations based on misunderstanding and lack of comprehension on the part of the backers.

Being a backer meant that for the last two weeks I have gotten to playtest, look for bugs, analyze the game and prepare for whatever post release onslaught could be coming. The fans on the boards who were negative… and I mean NEGATIVE and I can understand most of their issues. Yet, those issues are mostly based in falsehood expectations that they had. Not one of them have I heard complain about the story or the art. Many of them have complained about length and character, but the second is to each his own. Some people love Natural Born Killers, others hate it, the same with True Blood, My Little Pony, Ben 10, Batman and many many other things. One person will say the character was full of emption and I could really relate and another person of the same exact character can say they had no emotion and could not relate at all. These are things that happen with every creative piece of art ever made and BROKEN AGE truly is a piece of art and it is a game.

It is is not an interactive story, or an animated children’s book which you can press buttons on. It is the perfect example of an adventure game that exists as it would’ve had if when Double Fine was created did nothing but point n click games. This is how they would evolve. They wouldn’t just be retreads of Day of the Tentacle or Full Throttle or even Grim Fandango, but the next step, following the path that gaming has taken from going casual, back to hardcore, a return to casual and then reaching a happy medium that isn’t exactly a perfect balance and definitely won’t please all, but would allow for something fun, creative, purposeful, enjoyable, engaging and for some challenging, while others truly easy. For those who find it too easy though they would be getting something that no other game possessed. A special kind of charm, a witty humor, a sense of logic and story building that only Tim Schafer and a team he helped hand select could create.

My personal largest issue is people saying this is not what they expected and yet their expectations are all based on their own personal nostalgia and conception of what a Tim Schafer game is instead of the reality of it or at least to sound less biased, that there is another view of that and that the most important one is Tim Schafer’s. I will leave this argument and focus more now on the game itself and a couple of facts on the history of Tim Schafer games and Double Fine.

I feel to look properly at BROKEN AGE we must skip Monkey Island, as those were mostly Ron Gilbert games in which Tim got input but did not show us what type of game he would make. Day of the Tentacle is the first place when one sees the type of game Tim would make. Something that would take the genre to the next place. While multiple characters had been used in Maniac Mansion, finding a way to have those characters work together was new. DOTT was not as hard as people seem to remember though. Dave Grossman co-directed it and lots of his work which would be seen later on Moop & Dreadly and the Telltale Games catalog was definitely in place here… and they were equally Tim’s. Simplifying things to extract humor and thoughts but not making things so hard. The same can be said with Full Throttle, a game that was much more about fun, humor and story then trying to make things hard or complicated. It was short and balanced and even combined a difficult but not impossible action sequences, the first hint that Tim felt the best way to expand the genre was to simplify puzzles and add different types of gameplay. Full Throttle also showed Tim’s great and intriguing choices in voice casting and focusing on getting performances that would really show off his hilarious quips and really thought out storytelling. Mark Hamill, Maurce LaMarche, Tress Macneille, all inspired choices who at the time were established actors known to animation and genre fans worldwide. Then with Grim Fandango he flipped EVERYTHING upside down and made a 3D game with difficult controls, an abstract plot and even more abstract casting with voices everyone knew… Tony Plana, Maria Canals, Alan Blumenfeld and Pamela Segall-Adlon were all established actors with careers. It was an indication that if Tim could he’d really reach as far and as wide to get performances above and beyond that of a normal video game. The kind of performances we have all slowly now gotten used to, but back then… not even close to the norm.

Then… Tim Schafer stopped making point and click adventure games. Psychonauts had puzzles, but it was also an action platformer and one that took that genre into new directions with a heavy emphasis on conversations, visual cues, great storytelling with depth, and amazing acting performances. There was some really interesting casting on it with Armin Shimmerman, Josh Keaton and Tara Strong. He also proved a dedication using a lot of the talent from Throttle and Fandango. Then came Brutal Legend, turning the entire third person action adventure game in new ways and at times trying to do also way too much by adding Real Time Strategy. Yet, inspired casting, dialogue and story really leaped and showed Tim’s true talents as a director. Jack Black, Brian Posehn, Tim Curry, Jennifer Hale, Cree Summer and of course getting those legends of Rock.

After Brutal Legend and how it fared though Double Fine went smaller and Tim became a department head, while other voices in Double Fine showed how equally awesome they were. Costume Quest, Stacking, Iron Brigade, Middle Manager of Justice were all brilliant and definitely Double Fine games which also felt like Tim games even with Tasha Harris, Lee Petty, Brad Muir and Kee Chi as directors.

All this brings us to BROKEN AGE and I’ll start with this. I love it, I understand any negative reviews and complaints but respectfully disgaree with them and I think this is something all gamers who want a new experience that at the same time feels old. Tim’s handprint is all over this thing. The jokes are aplenty and funny. Some are easily missed if you don’t experiment at illogical things, but there comes the real fun of adventure games. This is the linchpin of everything for me. Tim has created something that is funny, heart warming and full of depth. Are the puzzles easy? I guess. I’ve seen plenty of people also stating they were stuck in places and actually turning to a walk-through or asking for a hint, so I think the balance has been hit. A delicate balance that any game of this type will have had trouble juggling. I believe they have done so successfully. We also really get everything we’ve gotten from Tim in the past, innovation, the next step. This is the game he’d of made in 2014 as an adventure game especially if Psychonauts and Brutal Legend were point and clicks if he had complete control without publishers and never turning to Kickstarter in the first place. Turn to Kickstarter he did though and that created a whole different setup. Because this might not be the game he would’ve made under a publisher. A publisher would’ve maybe given him that little amount asked for and then he’d make a game and publishers would complain instead of fans. All this could be wrong, but it’s what I feel and isn’t that what reviews are, feelings?

I think the biggest thing that makes BROKEN AGE special is twofold.

Firstly, taking the evolution of casting to the next level. Tim brought in a ton of old friends along with him, including the folks with him since Day of the Tentacle and even bringing back Jack Black, as well as Cree Summer and even recruiting Wil Wheaton again. It’s the NEW people that are so exciting though. In the leads Elijah Wood (yes, that guy!), Masasa Moyo (best known for Team America: World Police and Young Justice), and David Kaufman (Danny Phantom and animated Jimmy Olsen); joining them in minor roles are major voice actresses like Hynden Welch and Grey Delisle with a final extra special appearance by the creator of Adventure Time & Bravest Warriors (and the voice of Spacy Lump Princess) Pen Ward. It’s like the greatest cast ever in forever for anything.

Secondly is the art style. No game has ever looked like this, because no game has ever tried to look like a painting by Nathan Stapley (well other than the Flash game on Double Fine.com based on his comic book). While he’s been an employee at Double Fine for a long time and was previously at Lucas Arts, his personal work is something special and other worldly. His palette and style has a frenetic energy that has not been seen by many… not even his occasional mate and fellow Double Fine employees Scott Campbell, Levi Ryken or Lee Petty. “Bagel” is a very special artist and that comes through every image in the game. While Peter Chan and the other artists I mentioned had a major part in the concept art, the final look of this thing is still all through the eye of Nathan.  Words really do it no justice, so here’s two screen shots.  One from the “fantasy” world and one from the “space” world.  Both have all the artistic influences in here and really show off how absolutely beautiful this game is.

The final word from me is you need to get BROKEN AGE. Be it now (released February 28th, 2014) off STEAM to experience the awesomeness of ACT 1 and marvel at an amazing Part 1 or waiting for the whole game off of Humble and other sources. I say play it now… as you get the entire game. Also grab the soundtrack.

Spelling Words, Making Magic. A Game Not To Miss!

I have never been good at word finders, and I actually not even really good at Scrabble. I miss those large scoring words, because even though I know them, the scrabble part of it always confuses me. Yet I play Scrabble, but not online. I never got into Words with Friends or anything like that, but I get the appeal. I like developer Ryan Creighton have always wondered what a game like that if brought to something even bigger. Ryan was inspired by a game that he thought was going to be that and wasn’t. I see Ryan’s game as pretty close to what I’ve always envisioned a word finder game at a larger scale where the word building wasn’t just a game but a function of the story telling.

That in a nutshell explains what SPELLIRIUM is. A word finder/builder with a story that is enjoyable and intriguing. One of the best things the game has going for it is the art design, from the characters, the backgrounds and the cut scenes. In simply still an alpha state this is blowing my mind. Being able to actually play something in Alpha is always fun. You’re not actually a playtester but you get to really see where a game is at before completion. I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let me rewind a tad.

Untold Entertainment is doing a special way of pre-order for their game in which isn’t a Kickstarter, but a kickender. This game is happening, it’s coming out. The question is how good will the final product be? Production costs money and while kickstarter is meant to do just that for projects, SPELLIRIUM has funded itself along the way with grants, funding and out of pocket and has a long way in its development. Despite being a point n click game and 2013 being definitely The Year of Adventure Games Return To The Mainstream it is also a niche game. It is not your traditional puzzler with fetch quests, inventory options and more, no it really combines two genres that you wouldn’t expect to work but in your mind want them too.

This isn’t to say that the Alpha isn’t full of flaws, but the promise it shows makes the Pre-Order completely worth it. Certain bugs are causing at least for me an impossibility to beat a certain puzzle, or maybe I just am not good at this stuff. It’s also about predicting vowels and consonants and understanding a structure of charges and combos and all that jazz. If you love things like Bejeweled, etc. or supposedly some game called Bookworm, then you’ll love this and you’ll enjoy the fact that it’s not just a word connecting. There is definitely still that point n click aspect and there’s the entire figuring out what to do next/where to go next thing going on as well.

In terms of seeing games always changing, evolving, taking the next step while staying in their roots of fun, good graphics, fun, good stories, interesting gameplay, fun then you can’t go wrong with SPELLIRIUM (even if admittedly my difficulty with a puzzle I can’t beat because of my skill level/bugs within the game).

So if you’re still staring at the screen shots, or reading this, stop. Just go and pre-order the damn thing already. You know you want to. Flaws and all!

Also… how can you resist a campaign that gives you something like this?

Come mothers and fathers, come sons and come daughters,
come graduates sprung from your old alma maters
come lovers of words, come adorers of books,
come peer at these pages, come take a good look
For today at long last, you will finally play
the game we’ve been building for many a day
(i’m so proud to say it, it’s making me teary some)
this is the day that you’ll all play Spellirium!
While it’s not fully finished, it’s come well along
we’re ready to let you all play, you big throng
and with your support, it will end perfectly
and we’ll make it the game that we meant it to be.
So open your wallets! Un-mattress your cash!
Donate all your savings, and empty your stash!
Dig deep, and find money, and give it all here
And then yell to your friends so that they overhear
And THEY give us their money! And THEIR friends do, too!
and then when it’s all over … just what did we do?
We shut down the banks, and we took all the bucks
and every last dime in the world went to us
The people of Earth will all turn out their pockets
And hope, beyond hopes, that we’re gonna rock it
And rock it we will, for the price you did pay
Oh, the game that we’ll make. OH, THE GAME THAT YOU’ll PLAY!!

Kickstarter Experience: A Look Back Through My Succesfully Pledged Projects

My Kickstarter experience began with backing my friend Fritz Donnelly’s film “I Like You”, it was then followed by throwing in with a graffiti/streetart gallery project. After those two it quited down although I seemed to star projects once and awhile and then one day I just stopped. That is until the project that actually brought so many people to Kickstarter in the first place brought me back and not just back, but falling into a trap of kickstarterolism. That project was Double Fine Adventure and it has steamrolled from there. While I have actually only backed 22 projects in my time I have kept track of, promoted, helped support, etc. many in that time. Here I thought I would look at those projects I actually supported to receive something in return through my pledge and see where they are in development. Kickstarter itself doesn’t have a section for backers to actually report on the success of project other than comments. Nothing to say that your pledge resulted in so and so, and while they in one hand say they aren’t a preorder site and don’t check the background on their project creators, they also have a system in place to help pledgers fight to get their money back if the project creator seems to never actually make any progress towards their project with the pledged money.

If I could do this for any project creator, especially creators who start new Kickstarter’s before fulfilling their previous Kickstarter or people who just keep recreating a project changing basically nothing trying to get funding as Kickstarter gets bigger I would. I can’t though, so at least this article will serve as a an experience of how projects can go and what they can lead to for my personal story.

I LIKE YOU – A Hi Christina Movie: I could write essays galore on my life with Fritz Donnely and Christina Clare-Ewald over the last 3-4 years since we became acquainted and then became close friends. Their film project was something that I had to do be a part of as soon as I could. They had an absolutely awesome countdown party at a loft, then after funding they had an excellent post funding party where they showed a very early cut of various scenes. Since ending I have actually helped out on a scene and according to Fritz I even have a speaking role. At that after party I mentioned I received a hand-made shirt from Christina. The film would be ready now, BUT Fritz and Christina went itno another major product… a child. That baby is named Keats and he is the most wonderful thing ever. For those who joined in on I LIKE YOU who don’t have a closeknit relationship with them I could see frustration that as we approach February 2013, the film has not come out officially yet, but this is the year. Fritz’ creative juices have been flowing like mad since starting his project Secret Door and I have faith that that project is fueling his energy to make his first full length feature to come to fruition completely.

THE PANTHEON PROJECT: This project found complete production with an exhibit in the windows at the former library located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit featured some amazing pieces on display for anyone and everyone to appreciate the gallery style, it was accompanied by a large exhibit catalog which is now completely sold out. The website is no longer up, but there are images on Flickr.

DOUBLE FINE ADVENTURE: Anyone who followed video gaming news or Kickstarter knows that this project brought a ton of attention to the site. It ended up with quadruple + it’s initial funding and instead of being a small little adventure game/documentary it has balooned into a full fledged project with a current release date not to be seen yet. That is not to say a lot has not been happening. While updates have been less frequent that liked by a portion of backers I have been very satisfied. If one includes the episodes of the documentary titled SIDE QUESTS which either feature indepth bios of creatuve members or show Tim Schaefer playing his old games there have in total been 15 episodes of the documentary feature. In terms of the game the backer forums have featured some amazing programming updates, concept art updates, story updates and more. They have been more than forthcoming in letting us see the full development of this game, warts and all, more than any studio has ever dared try. From a rewards standpoint, Fangamer in a timely, efficient and sexy manner sent out amazing shirts & posters with secret extra buttons and stickers. Of course if you only pledged at the $15 level and don’t take advantage of the fourms at Double Fine you’re just waiting for a game you thought would be out by now. To you I say… that’s your fault, not theirs. If you didn’t actually get in on the ground floor of DFA and would like to see this documentary in real time and see amazing forum posts, go check the program DFA Pay, which allows you to join in the fun early for $30 anytime before release.

CARL’S LARGE STORY: Marcos Perez’ comic appealed to me greatly. When I first found the Kickstarter I noticed he didn’t have an option for all the swag, including the new book, the one of a kind drawing, the original collection and the handmade crochet. I requested it, he made it, and then I almost missed out on actually getting to pledge at this level. Almost is the operative word here. This was also one of the most exciting packages I’ve received from all my Kickstarters so far. Of course what it was going to contain meant it would. If you don’t already have a copy of Carl’s Large Story, head over to the website and grab one. Here’s images!

GAME OVER INSERT MORE QUARTERS ANTHOLOGY: I’m not completely what made this be the next thing I kickstarted. I think looking back it was a combination of the art, the passion, and the energy shown. Somewhere in this apartment of a treaure trove library this book sits happily. Equally a year later the books organizer Nicky Soh, has an excellent illustration project titled SIXTY SHADES OF BLUE. At the same time Nicky’s sister Jen who was also in Game Over is kickstarting her own anthology titled PLAYLIST. Both these projects look fascinating. My pockets need to be much larger, these are books you should look at and own, especially if you’re looking comics and artbooks to add to your collection. I am kneedeep in projects right now, but I am supporting these two projects as much as I can, spiritually, and hopefully financially if that arises.

GODS OF THE FLIES: This short film using awesome animation came out great! In the mail I received some seriously amazing stickers, a great note and even a little finger puppet fly. I’ve watched and rewatched the hi def film on repeat and keep track of the maker Danger Charles has been up to. While this might be the only short narrative film I’ve backed, I am very happy about this once and glad to always have it been part of my collection.

BOY: I had pledged this at the minimum simply because I wanted to be able to read the backer updates and have them saved in my email box forever. I did get to see the film at the special screening in Brooklyn where I also got to meet Taika. Based on comments, American fans have yet to receive their Crazy Horses patches and there seems to be no USA DVD release on the horizon. Still, great movie.

YUMIKO-CURSE OF THE MERCH GIRL: This is a gorgeous package. The comic by Josh Blaylock and Jose Garcia is amazing. The album by Murs is stellar. After the successful Kickstarter, Devil’s Due as a publisher has been back in full swing, continuing to use the platform to prefund their efforts.Yumiko is now available on their website in various packages. I personally recommend the one you can get by clicking Buy Now on the project’s official site.

GASTROPHOBIA VOL. 2: Comics looked to becoming the trend, unsurprisingly, they had proven to be the most reliable of projects and tend to bring me my largest entertainment value. In this case I had already owned Vol. 1 that I had purcahsed directly from David McGuire via a convention and felt it best to assure my copy and also get some special Kickstarter combo editions such as high quality PDFs of both books and a special pin as well! The book is availble for purchase right now if you missed the Kickstarter and can be read online as well as GastroPhobia.com

SPIKE – A LOVE STORY TOO: The first version of Matzerath’s different thinking style of pixel art game was absolutely some of the most fun I’d ever had on a computer. When he announced his desire to make it bigger and better, I had to be a part of it. So far he has made a new version of the game that is available to play for free on New Grounds. A bigger version with expanded story, amazing modes and much more are on the horizon.

EDIT: While working on this article Houser added an update to the backer version of the game where you play as Red Haired Guy. It’s rad!

CAVEGIRL FUDGE: This was easily the most successul projects I was involved in personally. They kept us appraised of their efforts along the way and then out of nowhere, the product arrived. I loved every morself of it. It was just amazing and to die for. I loved it so much that the minute they made it available on their Etsy I ordered it. I know in the future I’ll order more. If I could I order lots and lots more, but I also know this isn’t a mass production, but a lovingly handmade product to be enjoyed while you have and miss while it’s gone so that when you can get it again, you fall in love all over again. The girls behind it have also be super kind and gracious. I’d asked for an extra sticker of their awesome label for my collection and they provided it gratis. I still also have my thank you note personally signed from the original Kickstarter order.

RIDDIKULUS! 2012: We come to my first pledged Kickstarter that hasn’t completely fulfilled their pledge rewards. They did end up doing their full tour and they got the shirts done. I even got to hit one of the spots on the tour and recorded the majority of it and posted it on Youtube. Go check it out, it was a great concert and since it was free I don’t feel bad about my donation. Yet I am frustrated that the special compilation has not yet been made available. Via Facebook on Januarary 28th I was assured it was still happening though and that when it was done it’ll be all worth the wait.

The following Kickstarters are ones that have yet to finish their rewards, in some cases they have provided half of them with promises of completion still to come.

DETECTIVE GRIMOIRE ADVENTURE GAME: This game is greatly delayed as they keep finding snags in development for making it ready for OS. I’m now wishing they focused surely on a standalone PC Version and that when I had the chance to pledge towards that version I did. Although right now it doesn’t matter, there’s still no game. It does look like their physical rewards of T-shirts and plushies are going out though. A few months back they also got the wallpapers out and gave all backers three free ones and higher tirered backers a few extras. Still at this point I’d really like my digital soundtrack and/or digital art book. They are probably holding onto sending those with the game itself though, feeling like out of context they won’t make much sense. I’ve replayed the demo like a hundred times and it still makes me excited for the final product though. I even replay the original version sometimes which has artwork that is not that great and no voiceover, BUT the storytelling, puzzles and mechanics are all in place. This big Swampy’s case version is just basically that game but better. I’m hoping once they have all these programming bugs done there’s a plan to eventually redraw the original game too though, it was a fun mystery.

JOHN K’S “CANS WITHOUT LABELS”: John Kricfalusi’s short authobiographical toon is actually coming along really nicely. I don’t think that he’ll actually end up getting the cartoon available by the end of this month though. I know he hoped he would, but based on the toons blog, we aren’t there yet. A Backer Only Clip showed us we aren’t THAT far off. Maybe by the end of March we’ll get our downloadable version. I’m pretty satisfied here. I didn’t pledge towards any of the crazy doodle or toys so I can’t really complain about the progress on those and the cartoon really has developed a lot.

SCIENCE FICTION LAND: This documentary is going to be bonkers. Especially with all the awards ARGO has received it’ll only help in making the final product of this even larger and more expansive. Packages with most of the pledge rewards other than the film itself have all gone out. I got my package with stickers, pin, postcard, laminated pass, CD (which I already owned because I love the band, so I need to figure out who to give my old copy to) and a thank you note. These extras are really fun and add to the entire thing. Swag is great, but this is one where it’s being to download and watch that final documentary with any extras that it comes with that I’m really awaiting.

THE LAST DOOR: This game hasn’t launched yet, but the updates have been happening. They just finished their third sprint of development and the BETA launch is for Feb 25. At that time I assume I’ll finally see my pixar avatar as well. That might not be till March though on official launch. The ARG they have put together has been extremely immersive. I think I’m now in the home stretch. I may or may not have to learn morse code backwards and forwards to pass it. That might not even be the answer. Luckily though the ARG I have become friends a young man in Croatia of all places. If anything else comes out of this game of that kind of experience it shall be all worth it. Yet, I still really want to get emerged in this 8 bit poink n click adventure and then listen to some classical music.

EDIT: They have pushed BETA back till March 1, with launch for March 11th to refine and perfect everything.  They are on top of us keeping us updated very well, so no complaints.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE: What convinced me to grab this what should be amazing book was Ryan North’s Choose Your Own Adventure comic of Adventure Time. The final product should be super exciting with illustrations from some of my favorite independent comic artists going today. Stretch goals on this got so insane it offered the most amazingly tangible package for the lowest physical tier. This is going to be one kickass book. It’ll take years to read and re-read. It’s just… so much awesome. I can’t wait for this to come out. It’s not scheduled till May. If you missed out on the Kickstarter I’m sure breadpig will be publishing plenty more to go to bookstores, comic shops, etc., etc. It’s going to be an amazing worthwhile book at any price.

Michale Graves-Lost Skeleton Returns: Scheduled for a June release, I’m very happy this music album got funded and that I put myself into a position to guarantee a special edition exclusive version of the pressing. There’s not much more to say as June is far away.

THE WHOLE STORY-WINTER 2013: Never have I seen a Kickstarter that started releasing it’s material DURING the pledge drive. Backing meant you got access to many of the books offered, but the more you backed the more you got, as is the case with most things. This was a case of seriously getting more if you packed and still getting more if you didn’t though. Some of the most impressive stretch goals that provided tons and tons of comics. On the day AFTER pleding Ryan Estrada unleashed about 75% of the promised content and 100% of the original content the project planned to present. I pledged at a very high level here impressed so much with what Ryan was going I felt he deserved it and knowing what I’ll be getting in return will be worth it.

EARTHWARD: I jumped in on the physical version of this book by Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara at the last few hours. I’m thinking of it more like when I do my monthly Previews Order. When it finally arrives in my mailbox it’ll just be a lovingy read graphic novel like my many others which will be read, then lost in a pile till one day it is found again and read again. I feel in love with Miller on his Batgirl run and Takara on his The Incredibles work with Mark Waid and then Landry Walker so I expect the two of them to do big things!

My Two Current Pledges, due to close over the next three days!

VERY NEAR MINT VOL.3: I purchased both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at comic conventions and somehow completely missed the Kickstarters for them. That isn’t happening this time. I chose the Baby Variant and am super excited about the entire package being created for this with all the stretch goals, including swag, prints, stickers, buttons and a new comic. This is one of two comics I am in at a major level for personal artwork and I can’t wait for it.

LEGEND OF RICKY THUNDER: Professional wrestling meets comics in an amazing crazy way. This beaty also hits it’s super stretch goals. Come in at $25 and get not only Ricky Thunder, but stickers, trading cards (inclduing one that will feature ME as a pro wrestler) and a collection featuring Kyle Starks other awesome comics (and that means his super hit This Is… Wildog). You really shouldn’t miss this while you still can! I don’t think he’ll be offering it like a package at this level after the Kickstarter. The same probably goes for Very Near Mint. The comic, lanyards and prints MIGHT be available but all at extra costs to recoup the investment.

I am also ALWAYS looking for new Kickstarters that really grab my eye. I’m kneedeep right now especially waiting on my The Whole Story package and then for my Ricky Thunder and VNM packages, but the right project will pull right into pledging and promoting the heck out of it.

On Thursday I’m actually getting to visit the Kickstarter offices and this week I became the process of being serious about my own Kickstarter projects so it’s all coming together and this is the perfect time for this reflection.

In a year or so from now I’ll probably revisit this all too. Maybe I’ll make a Kickstarter to make something about Kickstarter even!

A Look at Independent Games that Are My Fancy

Independent video games have tons of soul, but finding ones that truly call to me are difficult.  Finding video games that I want period are difficult, but they do exist.  I generally enjoy point n’ click adventures, third person action games (not shooters) or side scrolling platformers.  As I said, they exist, but the prevalent gaming still is the FPS, the multiplayer insanity and the MMO RPGS and they get the focus.  Here using the entries to the IGF I found a share of games that I enjoyed and I think you might too.

Bollywood Wannabe: I don’t tend to like rhythm games myself, but if they’re your thing this is the one to look into. The graphics are superb, an amazing art style that truly pops. The concepts of adding a bit of platformer style to the game is awesome too. One of the main issue missing is being a keyboard only game from what I can see, but if you actually like games that test your hand eye coordination with high quality graphics and funny script this might be up your alley. Try out the demo in the very least.

JazzPunk: This looks like a really fun first person action/adventurer with fun graphics and lots of humor, since well that is how it’s being advertised, but the current video teaser shows it to be just that. Definfitnetly one I’ll be keeping my eyes on to see how the final product is.

Pavilion: Best described by their own words. Pavilion is a fourth person exploratory experience about guidance, influence and subliminal control. Manipulate the surrounding environment, influence his sense and guide the main character on the path towards truth.

Spoiler Alert: I highly recommend this innovative but simple platformer available for the PC and Mac and being developed for mobile. It’s a two button game with the main mechanic that you have actually ready beaten the game and you are playing in reverse, having to actually recreate the game you played. It’s actually quite hard to properly convey, but it’s a great idea and this little game gets it just right. Best of all the complete game is free.

The Insulines: A traditional point n click adventure with finding a way to make the mundane actually fun. It’s meant to be part rock n roll comedy/part insulin&diabetes PSA. As someone who has more than a few friends with diabetes I can see how as the story goes along it”ll grab me more. I really like the art style, it’s quirky. The song “Sugar Free” which you can hear through the chrome demo and linked through their twitter is also really worth checking out.

Back to Bed: An intriguing and slightly difficult puzzle game in which you must make a man not fall of the path. You control a dream dog or something who must lay the path out on a dreamscape with added difficulty each level. It’s esoteric and challenging and it’s free.

Owlboy: A pixel art platformer with really high quality pixels, an awesome looking main character, awesome conceptual art and based on what they consider an outdated demo from 2011 really quality gameplay mechanics. This definitely one to check out. Grab that old demo, enjoy it and then just wait with baited breath for the final version.

Beat Buddy: A platformer swimmer with music mechanics that looks great and sounds great as well. There’s a pre-alpha demo up on Steam right now which just needs to be played. It’s a full level and really shows off the promise of what can be a very fun game to run around in and experience.

Contrast: An upcoming action platformer with puzzle mechanics and more based in 1920s France under the allure of performing arts and using shadows mechanics to tells it story. No demo available, but the teaser trailer is amazing and it was greenlit on Steam, so the expectation and excitement is high.

OIO: Intriguing well designed puzzle platformer with a cute lead character a great art design. There’s a demo to make you want it which really accomplishes this goal. A well polished indie gem for PC/Mac.

Douse: This simple, but elegant project from students at Digipen is like platforming version of Flower for PSN. There basically no challenge, it’s pretty much an art game, but it is really beautiful experience.

A Cat’s Night: A very classic style point n click that is cute and fun because you play a cat who is trying to save his shelter from being destroyed and thinks he can do it all without leaving the shelter. The art is really cute and it’s another free one.

 

Some Kickstarter Projects You Can Join In that Caught My Eye

I started working on this last night and just wanted to finish it off because right now I’m just not feeling it. It’s a good distraction from the whole world, but it is still about money and stuff… and more about money than stuff… still, we need distractions.

Batton Lash’s Wolff & Byrd is preparing for a printing of a volume 6 collecting issues #30, 34-37 and more. Wolff & Byrd is an awesome comic and this is basically like pre-ordering. Kickstarting a book, pre-ordering a book, same thing in the new world.


GAME OVER: Insert More Quarters is an anthology of a bunch of very talented young comics makers, they had some amazingly cool rewards at the %50-$75 but those are gone, BUT if some super rich folks can do the $100 or a bunch of folks go for the $25 pledge it’ll bring us to FINAL BOSS level meaning even more rewards for the same pledges. On the page they have links to most of the contributors and I checked all their pages, these are a talented group of folks who if they weren’t doing this project would probably get discovered by Kazu Kibishi for FLIGHT or something like that.

Curse of the Merch Girl is a diverse multimedia project from hip-hop artist MURS and comics creator Josh Blaylock. It’ll be a music video, a comic book and a 10 track cd. The 10 songs are designed to be listened to while reading the graphic novel. This is one of the projects I really am excited for. It hasn’t reached full funding yet and it really is one of those that shouldn’t be stuck. If I had $2500, I’d totally do that pledge.

Kiko The Brave Little Bat, so if you have $150 to spare I want one of the complete kits of book, DVD and plush, wants one too and then the third is for you. I really can’t bring myself to spend $50 for a plush doll and a children’s book even though I want it. $25 for a very mature graphic novel and CD as in the above, yes… but $50 for a kid’s thing? No…not really, but if I had a child? Hell yeah!

Man of God-The Death of John Morris: This comic featuring art by Yvel Guichet is actually available in the current March Previews and seems interesting enough to pre-order. If you’re into variant covers and the such I suggest hopping on the kickstarter though.

Zach Meets The Zombie is a great looking children’s book. You might be aware that I am not much of a zombie fan. I like about 2-3 things in the zombie genre, and if this book is as good as the pitch is, this would become the 4th.

Feeble’s Fable: This is no DOUBLE FINE ADVENTURE, but for a small independent adventure production and design it is definitely a worthwhile project. I’m still confused why their pitch videos outside of game footage look they were shot on cheapo cameras in 1991 though. Despite that, Feeble is adorable.

Riddikulus 2012 – A Rolling Wizard Rock Festival: I know for a fact a bunch of you are Potterphiles. I’m more an admirer and I never got into Wizard Rock heavily. and ‘s promotion and marketing for some of them is closest I’ve gotten, but as I listened to these bands and look at the rewards I support this project and considering what venue they hit in NYC I’ll go.

Gnombre the hispanic Garden gnome: I was really on board for the bobblehead 7inch version here for $20, but they want an extra $10 for shipping now. That’s unfortunate. I still think this thing looks awesome and if you have a home with a lawn, the 13 inch is worth even $50.

Suspect Device 2 is a comic featuring some amazing folks using an awesome idea. Panel 1 is from Jim Davis’ Garfield, the final Panel is from Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, and in between some of the wildest, craziest and funniest cartoonists in the world create a story that connects the two panels. Josh got a great selection of folks on board for this one. This is gonna be an awesome book.

Gastrophobia Volume 2-Amazon Attacked: I loved Vol 1 of David McGuire’s series, he’s got a fantastic storytelling sensibility and awesome art style. It’s actually sitting on my desk right now just to re-enjoy in the meantime.

New York Comic Con 2011 Overview Part 4

SUNDAY – DAY 4

I ended up waking up much later than planned and found myself rushing out of the house to at least catch my 12:15 Press session with J.Q. Quintel of “Regular Show” and Pendelton Ward of “Adventure Time” along with other writers and voice talent from the show including Tom Kenny.

From there I had about an hour or two to kill before a scheduled interview with Dave Gilbert of Wadjeteye Games. That interview was amazing and will be on this site sooner than later, probably this week. My mother’s hospital stay has delayed a lot of things.

In between I enjoyed many of the various booths I had missed on other days. I saw video games, indie publishers I hadn’t seen in years, had great conversations, saw amazing cosplay, took photos and all that jazz.

I stood on my feet as long as I could and even considered doing my traditional see what’s left over from booth destruction/left over, but the madhouse made me just feel best to get the hell out of Javits and not deal with people anymore.

I made plans to meet with my best friend Nick and figure out something fun to do for his birthday which we went and did.

So many videogames, so little time

This week inFAMOUS 2 comes out.  Upcoming there’s Batman: Arkham City, Uncharted 3 and so much more.  That so much more makes things so hard for an avid video gamer.  Now, I’m not super avid, as I don’t like Real Time Strategy, Fighters or First Person Shooters.  I am primarily an action/adventure or straight forward adventure kind with a love for 3rd person style.   E3 hasn’t even started and yet, there are announcements for games making me needing a $100 an hour job.  Some of them are games I knew about, but forgot, others don’t come out forever.  Here’s a small sampling based off of GameTrailers.com

Alice- Madness Returns American McGee’s return to his classic on new platforms is looking amazing.
NeverDead: The teasers never made me realize how huge this Konami game was, as more and more is shown it looks quite epic.
Tomb Raider: So far only a teaser trailer exists for Crystal Dynamics’ “Survivor” reboot, but what a teaser
Spiderman- Edge of Time: New video shows that Beenox didn’t just drop a new story and some extra dynamic onto Dimension’s but did a lot of rebuilding from the top down.

The biggest announcement of last week though has to be that Back to the Future-The Game will feature Michael J. Fox in its final chapter. I’m already a purchaser, but I expect this news to make the game go from where it is to another statosphere. Along with Claudia Wells in episode 3, this is awesomesauce.

Alpha Polaris from Turmoil Games

One of the games I am really excited for and have been for awhile is the upcoming point & click indie Horror adventure from Turmoil Games.

These screenshots enthrall me, as do the details.  I am worried my current computer won’t be able to handle the game, but I’ll cross that bridge.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to review this one, but even knowing it exists is good.

The current release date just announced is June 24, 2011 in both an English and German language edition.

Trailers forthcoming.

Newgrounds is Grounds for Entertainment

One of my favorite websites ever is Newgrounds. It is a repository for Flash cartoons and games. I traditionally explore the games more often then the videos. While there is the occasional magic humor or even good action drama to be found in the toons, it is the games that usually rock the socks.

Here’s just some of the games I recently played that I truly enjoyed.

Droppy – PencilKids make some of the best Flash Adventure games around, this is just one of them. Check them all out though.

Copycat – this little ingenius game uses stencils and paint to inventive ways. Can you repeat the pattern?

Level Up – this platformer can be a headache in terms of trying to beat, but the storyline and pixel graphics are great.

Spyke – Another simple looking game, as a cute cat bounces on a ball, but simplicity here means a challenge.

Dale & Peakot – Except for the unweidly mouse and keyboard controls for a 2D platformer, this is one of the most professional looking games on Newgrounds in forever. Do not miss the developers, JuicyBeast, first wacky game GOBTRON.

Escape the Red Planet – Once again simplicity and cute art make one of the funnest challenges you’ll find. Not to be avoided.