[UPDATE 10.03.11: Donators at all levels now get a 1.5 hour live recording of PixelJunk Eden & PixelJunk 4AM designer & renowned DJ Baiyon, with a bonus sprinkling of SWORD & SWORCERY EP! Click here for details!]
[UPDATE 09.29.11: Two new thank you gifts added at the $25 & $75 levels, a FEZ soundtrack EP from Disasterpeace and a Venus Patrol T-shirt from designer Mikko Walamies! Click here for details!]
HEY, I JUST GOT HERE & DIDN'T BOTHER WATCHING YOUR VIDEO. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS ALL THIS ABOUT AGAIN?
Hi, I'm Brandon. I ran a blog about videogames called Offworld for Boing Boing from winter 2008 through autumn 2009, and doing so changed my life forever. It wasn't the first time I'd written about videogames 'professionally', but it was the first time that doing so started to make me feel like part of a bigger and entirely amazing community. A community of artists, musicians, designers, coders, nearly all of whom had taken the terrifying risk of jumping out of the rat race and trying to live life on their own terms: by creating things they know only they can create and trying to find an appreciative audience who might support them.
I intended for that site to be a constant, living document of all the things that were happening, all the things these people were creating, all of the communities that were forming all around the world, and not just create yet another consumer site about videogames that treated them like products on a shelf that you either needed to buy or needed to not buy.
I wanted to talk about videogames the same way we talk about other parts of creative culture: how they affect us, how some parts of them endure for decades, how they are made and why we should care, who actually made them and for what reason, and what they had to go through to do so.
And that totally worked! Well, for a while, and then circumstances that no one involved was at all happy about meant that everything shut down just as it seemed like it was starting to gain a real foothold, and so all went dark.
Now, finally, I'd like to start doing that again, independently, and so I've come to Kickstarter with a plan to start laying the groundwork with Venus Patrol.
WHY ON EARTH DO WE NEED ANOTHER WEBSITE ABOUT VIDEOGAMES?
Yeah, no, I know, but hopefully I'll be able to show that this one's doing something different than most of the rest. The site will be more about videogames' place in the wider cultural body, and how they influence other aspects of creative culture -- design, animation, music, film -- and how those other media influence (or should influence!) games in return.
One of the things we've seen over and over is that when you bring in someone with a fresh perspective, someone not entirely steeped in or beholden to the usual videogame language -- a multimedia & painter duo like Masaya Matsuura & Rodney Greenblat, a sculpture student like Keita Takahashi, a new media artist like Toshio Iwai, a graphic designer and DJ like Baiyon, an illustrator like Superbrothers -- what results is something not only amazing & unique, but something that itself charts a new course for future games.
Bringing in that kind of perspective, and showing the wider creative world that videogames can be something more than what they're used to -- and also something that it's entirely possible for them to lend their talents to in groundbreaking ways -- is more or less exactly why I do what I do, and where I hope to take Venus Patrol.
WAIT, WATCH THIS, BOOM, I JUST MADE A TUMBLR IN LIKE TWO MINUTES FOR FREE. WHY DO YOU NEED MONEY TO START A WEBSITE?
Super good question, and here's the crux: launching a website obviously requires little to no up-front cost, and there's just as negligible an amount of monthly overhead. But creating an enduring business out of a website requires so much more, in terms of devoted attention, collaboration, and promotion. You know how you've got that one blog, and every time you finally get around to posting on it your first sentence is always something along the lines of "sorry I haven't posted on this in a while, I've been super busy"? Right. This campaign is to help make sure that the "super busy" bit is "running & writing for this website", and to make sure that the website is something that doesn't just go away overnight.
Running my last site was a full-time, often 10+hour-a-day job, and I'd like to think that that constant attention was a big reason for its success. What this Kickstarter is for is literally just that: to get that ball rolling again. Regroup the audience and regain the traffic that the old site enjoyed, rebuild the structure to the point where it can be a self-sustaining entity.
And, more importantly, Venus Patrol is just the first volley in a much longer game: the roots, foundation, and interstellar pirate radio station on top of which a number of other in-progress projects that branch out of the web will be built. To date, all of these other projects have been cobbled together slowly by an enthusiastic and amazingly talented -- but nonetheless entirely volunteer -- team of artists, designers, and coders. This campaign is to help give something back to that team and lessen the time it takes for us to bring these projects to you.
What kind of projects? Our first will be announced very shortly, but for now let's just say that all of us behind it understand how hard it is to make your way through the deluge of entertainment we find ourselves inundated with daily and just get to the good stuff. That's what Venus Patrol intends to help you do, and that's also what we'll be doing in a more formal way with this new effort.
OK, FINE, BUT WHAT DO I GET OUT OF THIS?
Right, well, apart from daily updates on all of the amazing & beautiful things happening in videogames, I've called in some of the most talented people I know, and they have extremely graciously helped me put together what I sort of think is one of the best prize packages you've ever seen on Kickstarter. Pretty close, anyway! Here's what you get:
THE THANKS, EVERYBODY LEVEL
Everybody who donates at any level, even just a dollar, gets a Venus Patrol wallpaper for your PC/Mac and mobile device painted exclusively for this campaign by Keita Takahashi, creator of Namco's cult classics KATAMARI DAMACY & NOBY NOBY BOY. I obviously can't show you the whole picture without, you know, giving it away entirely, so above is just a little scrap of a preview. But, wait until you see the whole thing. It's super amazing.
You also get a pack of MINECRAFT character skins drawn by Pendleton Ward, creator of the Emmy-nominated TV series ADVENTURE TIME. I recently helped put together an event with Pendleton for our Austin indie game community JUEGOS RANCHEROS, and discovered in the course that he is, like so many others, a huge MINECRAFT fan. He's agreed to create a whole batch of character skins for you to use in your own game, and if you've ever seen his work, you know that they're going to be awesome.
As part of the original Venus Patrol crew, you also get private updates on all progress leading up to its launch and the first behind the scenes looks at all of the new games and creations below.
THE NEW GAMES AWAIT LEVEL
Donate $25 or more, and you get four games available exclusively through this Kickstarter campaign from some of today's top indie game creators. Three of the games will be fully revealed over the course of this Kickstarter campaign from Adam 'Atomic' Saltsman (creator of CANABALT), Vlambeer (the studio behind SUPER CRATE BOX & RADICAL FISHING), and Superbrothers (creators of the recent iPhone/iPad hit SWORD & SWORCERY EP). You can see teaser images above for all three of these games.
The fourth game is a work-in-progress prototype of JOHANN SEBASTIAN JOUST, a independent PlayStation Move game from Die Gute Fabrik. This prototype has been traveling around the world & more or less making an instant fan out of every single person that's touched it. It's neck and neck with SWORCERY as my 2011 game-of-the-year, and it's something that I'm extremely excited to help introduce to the wider world through this campaign. I'll do a full introduction to the game in a later blog post, but you can watch the video above to get a sense of what it's like, and this tweet below from MONKEY ISLAND & GRIM FANDANGO designer and Double Fine founder Tim Schafer kinda speaks volumes:
THE LET'S GET PHYSICAL LEVEL
Donate $75 or more and things really start to get interesting, with a massive batch of physical goods.
First, you get the Moon Grotto 7", a vinyl EP featuring "hidden" music & remixes from SWORD & SWORCERY EP, as composed by SCNTFC. I'll be doing a full reveal of what's happening on this EP in a later blog post, but this is going to be more than just a song or two tossed on wax: it'll be a little adventure in itself with hidden messages, secret codes, puzzles and surprises -- an object you'll truly want to pore over, and just might tie into Superbrothers' new game prototype in some interesting ways...!
The 7" will also come with a limited reprint edition of exp.-3, the videogame culture zine created by Mathew Kumar. This issue was put together for Jim Guthrie's recent MIDSUMMER ROCKSHOWCASE at Toronto's TIFF Lightbox, and is intended as a 'Criterion Collection' type companion essay on the SWORCERY project.
Donators at this level also get an exclusive deck of 'Monster Mii' trading cards from comic book artist James 'American Elf' Kochalka. Kochalka began this series when Offworld first launched, with comics and music based on his adorably warped Mii characters, but, at the time, the process to download the Miis was super arcane and difficult. Now, utilizing the new functionality of the 3DS, each card will let you directly scan in his Miis to add to your collection and bring them over to your Wii. From there, they'll stand creepily at the sidelines of your Wii Sports Resort ping-pong matches, appear as trophies in the 3DS's Pilotwings, and do whatever else it is Nintendo plans to do with Miis in the future.
Finally, donate at this level and I'll be throwing in a number of other bonus physical goods, like an embroidered Venus Patrol patch (final design TBD) featuring the MUSI•ARTE•CODE design by Montreal-based artist, gamemaker & musician Devine Lu Linvega. This image perfectly encapsulates the individual triforce components that together make videogames uniquely amazing, and is offered here as sort of an awesome way to show that you're part of the Venus Patrol squadron.
THE GAME SHOWDOWN LEVEL
Donators at $200 or more will get their choice of either set of these pictured 5"x3" archival-quality giclee prints featuring the art of Scott C, illustrator and artist at Double Fine, the studio behind games like PSYCHONAUTS, BRUTAL LEGEND, COSTUME QUEST, TRENCHED & ONCE UPON A MONSTER.
More recently, Scott's been spending much of his time cultivating his Great Showdown series -- drawings that bring together movie rivals into one adorable, uncharacteristically happy scene -- and the prints available here are from a rare 2008 series which did the same for famous 8-bit game characters. Only five sets of these prints have ever been available to the public, but Scott has given permission for this Kickstarter campaign to print as many additional sets as people desire.
THE GOD, I WANT IT ALL LEVEL
OK, go for it! Donate just $300 or more and you get all ten -- both sets -- of Scott C's prints, plus, obviously, all the games & records & amazing stuff above!
THE EXECUTIVE CLASS LEVEL
This final $3000 level is a limited to twelve slots, and is intended for indie game studios to help sponsor the launch of Venus Patrol. In return for your sponsorship, you'll not only receive all of the above items, but you'll get 30 days as the only advertisement on the site itself. And not just as a banner ad floating somewhere on the page, your sponsorship will be worked directly into the site's header image, to let the world know you helped bring that month's coverage.
Currently, the following months are still available: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. You've probably got questions about how all of this will work, so don't hesitate to send a message to hear more about this plan.
As a bonus, developer Pixelate has stepped in and offered 12 one-year subscriptions to Promoter, a web application designed specifically for indie game studios that automatically tracks press mentions and new reviews of your games, helps keep tabs on your press connections, and in general makes the subtle art of promotion much more manageable.
THAT VIDEO WAS KINDA RAD, WHAT MUSIC WAS THAT?
Yeah, thanks a ton to Steph Thirion, Kris 'greater culture sandwich' Piotrowski, Richard Lemarchand, Craig Adams, Randy Smith, Raigan Burns & Mare Sheppard, Adam Saltsman, Alec Holowka, Andy Nealen, Mathew Kumar, Jon Mak & Jason DeGroot, David OReilly and Wiley Wiggins for taking time out and saying super nice things, and Wiley especially for doing rad animation work and giving me tons of editing help as I put together Baby's First iMovie.
Also, thanks especially to Neil Thapen, for reasons that will become very clear very soon, if they aren't obvious already, Lisanne Pajot & Jamie Swirsky of Indie Game: The Movie for the footage of me playing Electroplankton in my backyard, and to Mark Rabo for doing the photography for all the Torontonians.
The two songs are Nosaj Thing's "Lords", available on his amazing album Drift (get it here on iTunes), and the Cosmic Imagisphere mix of "The Orb of Dreamers", one of the tracks Daniel Pemberton contributed to LITTLEBIGPLANET. You can get that one on his LittleBigMusic Extra! EP on iTunes, which also has an awesome 10 minute mix of the song.
- (30 days)