A House in California is an experimental point & click adventure game I've been working on since February of 2010. It's gone through a lot of changes in direction and content, but at its core the game has always been about a community of people who explore surreal and peaceful environments and build a house together. The game is inspired aesthetically by Mystery House, developed in 1980 by Roberta & Ken Williams. But whereas Mystery House is a mystery story about greed and murder, A House in California is more like an Imagist poem about family and memory. A House in California is being featured in the Learn to Play exhibition at Euphrat Museum of Art, and also at the Meaningful Play conference at Michigan State University in October.
Free and open source
Now that I've finally finished developing the game, I plan to release it for free & open up the source code. I want to release it for free because, in my experience, free digital game distribution is a great way to reach a large number of people. I also don't feel comfortable requiring people to pay in order to play this very personal & experimental game.
I am trying now to explore models by which I can support myself financially while continuing to make experimental games, and still reach a large audience. To this end, I'm experimenting now with a dual release: a free & open source digital download of the game, and also a limited-run purchasable physical edition.
Limited-run physical edition
The physical edition will be a limited run of 50. Each copy will be a USB flash drive, about 3.5" by 2", printed with custom artwork & numbered by hand. The game is Windows, Mac & Linux compatible. The physical copies will also include a PDF that is not available online, with a designer's walk-through of the game and extra notes about the characters and environments in it. They'll also include a limited-run postcard with artwork derived from the game. I'll sell these copies for $15 each.
10 of the 50 copies will be deluxe editions packaged in painted (spraypaint and stencil) wooden cigar boxes, and will also include a CD with music from the game (including music that I created while working on the game but didn't include and which is not available online). These 10 copies I'll sell for $45 each.
I believe that there are people who want to (and are able to) support this kind of experimental game work. But I don't have the wherewithal to put up the money for the materials ($600) in advance. So using Kickstarter in this way enables me to get support to continue making experimental games and also deliver a rare and compelling copy of the game to people who want it, while still distributing the game itself widely & freely.
Here's a mockup from the USB drive printer (the USB plug slides out from the left side in this model):
I will release A House in California free & open source (whether this fundraiser succeeds or not) on November 1st, 2010. Whether it succeeds or not, everyone who supports this project will get a digital copy of the game on October 15th. If the fundraising goal is met, I'll order the materials as soon as the funds are released & get them in the mail quickly thereafter. The latest possible shipping date would be November 15th.
Thank you so much for your support!
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