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Drifter: A Space Trading Game's video poster

Drifter is a sandbox space trading game with thousands of stars for you to explore. You can be a trader, a mercenary, or even a pirate! Read more

pledged of $50,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on June 4, 2012.

Drifter is a sandbox space trading game with thousands of stars for you to explore. You can be a trader, a mercenary, or even a pirate!

About this project

New T-Shirts: T-Shirts have now been added to the campaign as add-ons (scroll down to the rewards section for details).

Update #5: Discs and Stretch Goals

What is Drifter and why is it on Kickstarter?

Drifter is an open-world sandbox space trading game that takes place in a galaxy with thousands of stars and endless possibilities. Live the simple life of a merchant, become a bounty hunter, take on work for hire, become a fearsome pirate, or simply explore the galaxy around you, the choice is yours.

I am independent game developer Colin Walsh, creator of the critically-acclaimed iOS space shooter Red Nova, and Drifter is my take on the venerable space trading genre. Inspired by games I grew up playing like Frontier (itself the sequel to the grand-daddy of all space traders, Elite), and Privateer, I'm hoping to bring something fun and exciting to an under-served corner of the video game world.

Because a game like Drifter deserves more than just canned royalty free music, joining me is renowned video game composer Danny Baranowsky, who is known for his work on a number of awesome titles including Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, Canabalt, and Cave Story 3D.

Drifter has been in development for about 8 months now. I'm planning to release it for iOS later this year, but I'd also love to bring it to PC and Mac. That's where Kickstarter comes in. With extra funding, not only will I be able to expand the game to those platforms, I'll be able to make it even better in the process. I'll bring in a 3D artist to help me create new assets and I'll be able to focus on adding more features to the game.

The Game

Drifter, as I mentioned previously, is intended to be my own take on the "space trading" genre. Briefly, it is a single-player sandbox game that will allow you to fly a spaceship between thousands of different star systems in a procedurally-generated galaxy. The idea is to create an expansive future world filled with excitement, danger, and opportunities for you to explore and enjoy.

The game already features a massive procedurally-generated galaxy 100,000 light years across with over 10,000 star systems. As it takes shape over the next few months I plan on adding a ton of things for you to do.

Here is an idea of some of the things you can expect in Drifter when it's released:

  • A PC and Mac release simultaneous with the iOS release: assuming the Kickstarter campaign is succesful I'll have time to devote to giving the PC port the attention it deserves while I work on the game.
  • A huge galaxy to explore: The game already contains a 100,000 light year wide galaxy with 10,000 stars. In addition to this there will be dozens of hand-shaped "core worlds" where most of the action will be happening.
  • A responsive soundtrack: Not only do you get a great custom soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky, but the game will pick music appropriate for the situation at hand to give you an even deeper sense of immersion.
  • Many things to see and do: An expansive marketplace where you can earn a living as a trader. Massive asteroid fields with valuable ore ripe for the taking. Procedurally generated missions you can take on, like: courier missions, convoy escorts, or attacks on enemy strongholds. Hunt NPC pirates in the more dangerous systems, or become one yourself.
  • An engaging story: There will be a series of hand-written missions which will help tell an interesting story set within the world of Drifter. The story will allow the player to further immerse themselves in the game and learn more about the different factions that inhabit this corner of the galaxy. While you can choose to ignore the story, you'll be able to earn equipment and ships, and explore certain systems that wouldn't otherwise be available.
  • Lots of customization: All ship hulls will feature customizable equipment slots. You can choose your weapons, armor and shields, as well as what sort of powerplant and support equipment you need for the task at hand as well as for your playstyle.
  • Improve your character as you play: Much like in traditional RPGs your character will have a series of attributes you can improve as you play. This will give you bonuses to ship attributes as well as for different aspects of gameplay like trading, mining, and piracy.

Who Are You?

I am Colin Walsh, an independent video game developer living in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. I run Celsius Game Studios, which I founded in 2009 to realize my dream of running my own company making video games. Celsius is just me right now, but I hope that will be changing soon.

Prior to working on Drifter for the past 8 months, I released the critically-acclaimed iOS space shooter Red Nova, which was a finalist in the 2010 Best App Ever Awards in 7 different categories, including Best App.

Celsius Game Studios is also a client of The Genesis Centre, which is an incubator for technology companies run by Memorial University of Newfoundland. What this means is that I've had to go through an intense vetting process to prove to a selection board that I have what it takes to run a business. What I hope this means to you is that I'm very serious about making games and that Drifter is in good hands.

Why do you need this money?

In order to make Drifter an even better game than I could on my own I am hoping that by pre-selling copies of the game and these different backer rewards I'll be able to bring in enough money to hire, at the very least, a 3D artist to help work on assets for the game over the next few months. They'll help create things like new ships, space stations and other interesting background objects that will help bring the game to life and make it look that much better.

Having an artist on board means I won't have to make assets myself, which I have been able to do so far but it is a time-consuming process. This way I will be able to focus more of my time on programming and game design.

Additionally, a small portion of the money will go towards covering my expenses so I can continue to work on Drifter full time. This will keep the game release on track as I won't have to take on extra contract work.

What happens if you get over-funded?

If this Kickstarter gets dramatically over-funded I already have plans in place to add one or two additional team members to Celsius Game Studios with the aim of streamlining the development of the game.

Backer Rewards

A breakdown of all the different rewards offered for supporting Drifter.

The Game - Pretty simple, a DRM free digital download of the game on PC or Mac when it is complete.

Early Beta Access - You'll get access to the game while it is still in beta should you want to. I will, however, save the story missions for after the beta so as to not spoil your enjoyment of them.

The Soundtrack - You'll get a digital download of the game's soundtrack when it's done.

The Poster - The Drifter poster is designed by illustrator Steve Courtney. It is 18"x24" and will be printed using archival quality paper and inks and will be suitable for framing. All posters printed for the Kickstarter will be individually numbered as well.

The Collector's Box - Harkening back to when games had boxes, games like Drifter is inspired by, this box will have a real printed manual, a fold-out galaxy map you can put on your wall, and a game disc with art designed by Steve Courtney.

Your Name Included in the "NPC List" - There will be a pool of names that the game will use to generate names for NPCs you encounter in-game. Your name will be added to this list!

Signed Poster - The normal poster signed by Danny and Colin.

3D Printed Ship Model - Using 3D printing technology you'll get an awesome replica of the Drifter "starter" ship. It will be finished in grey primer. Also, while it might go without saying, these models are not intended to be toys and are for display purposes only (click here for more details on the material they will be constructed out of). There will be a large 6" ship (pictured) which is included at $500 and above and a small 3" ship (not pictured) which will be included in the $250 reward level.

Drifter T-Shirt - All backers at $250 and above will automatically receive a t-shirt based on Steve Courtney's exceptional poster design. All other backers can add a t-shirt to their pledge by adding $30 ($35 outside the US and Canada) without changing their reward level. When the campaign is over there will be a place in the backer survey to specify the style and size of shirt you would like to receive.

Become a Drifter Legend - You'll be written into the game! Have a planet named after you, or a space station, or heck, an entire star system. Want to become the legendary space traveler who was lost never to be seen again? I'll work with you to add you to the game in an interesting way, within reason of course.

What about Linux?

I've been a huge supporter of Linux since the mid-90s and there is no technical reason that I can see why a Linux version of Drifter is not possible. Originally I was unsure if I could support Linux at launch and was hesitant about promising it as part of the Kickstarter. However, if the project meets its $100,000 stretch goal I will be able to put resources into making a Linux version possible at launch. Also, even if that goal is not met, I promise that I will work on Linux support after launch and all backers who receive a reward that includes a copy of the game will be able to get the game on Linux when it becomes available.

International Friends

This information has been stolen shamelessly from The Banner Saga's Kickstarter page, as I think it's pretty darn useful. I hope they don't mind!

If you live in a country where you cannot donate directly to Kickstarter the current best option is to buy a prepaid amazon cash card and use that for your donation. You must add $1 more than the prize amount to make sure the donation goes through. This thread (a million thanks to Double Fine), offers the most comprehensive guide on how to do this.

Thank You

Thank you for having a look and I hope I can count on your support for Drifter. It's been a life-long dream of mine to run a video game company making games like this. Hopefully through the magic of Kickstarter I'll be able to keep doing what I love as well as get a running start on hiring some amazing talent on what promises to be an incredible journey.


  • As you may have noticed in the attached gameplay teaser video, Drifter is a 2.5D game. This is because the engine it is based on is optimized for 2D movement and it would require a lot more effort to make it work in 3D. I've made the decision to do this to keep the scope of the game manageable and to allow me more time to work on adding fun and exciting things for you to do in game.

    I only mention it because there have been a few comments wondering about the decision, and I figured it was becoming an FAQ. That said, there are quite a few space games that have worked well despite being constrained to 2-dimensional movement and I hope Drifter will be counted among them.

    Last updated:
  • Enough people have asked about this that I have added it to my to-do list to implement and test to see how it works before release. If it works, it will definitely be available as an option!

    Last updated:
  • I would absolutely love to have Drifter available via. Steam and I will definitely try to get it on there. That said, Steam has an approvals process and there's no guarantee that they'll accept Drifter but hopefully if the Kickstarter is successful that will help make the game more attractive to them!

    Rest assured if Drifter ends up on Steam I will do everything in my power to make sure backers who get the game also get Steam keys.

    Last updated:


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    41 backers

    All backers get a pack of backgrounds based on the Drifter poster designed by Steve Courtney that they can use on their favorite electronic devices.

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    1,733 backers

    A DRM free copy of Drifter via digital download for PC/Mac when it is released.

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    250 backers All gone!

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL - A DRM free digital copy of Drifter along with early access to the beta when it begins, plus a digital download of the game's soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky.

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    789 backers

    A DRM free digital copy of Drifter along with early access to the beta when it begins, plus a digital download of the game's soundtrack by Danny Baranowsky.

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    114 backers Limited (886 left of 1000)

    18"x24" limited-edition numbered Drifter poster designed by Steve Courtney, suitable for framing, plus everything at the $25 reward level. Please add $10 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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    221 backers Limited (129 left of 350)

    Drifter collector's box set including a printed manual and a fold out galaxy map, plus everything at the $50 reward level. Your name will also be included in the game's random NPC list. Please add $15 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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    65 backers Limited (35 left of 100)

    Drifter "Special Edition" - everything at the $75 reward level plus the poster will be signed by Colin and Danny. Please add $15 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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    5 backers Limited (45 left of 50)

    A small 3" 3D printed model of the Drifter "starter" ship and a Drifter t-shirt. Includes the $100 "Special Edition" package. Please add $30 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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    1 backer Limited (24 left of 25)

    A 3D printed model of the Drifter "starter" ship. Includes the $100 "Special Edition" package. Please add $30 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more

    5 backers Limited (5 left of 10)

    Become a "Legend" in Drifter. Have a space station in the game's core systems named after you, or even an entire star system. I'll work with you to include you in the game (within reason of course)! Includes the $500 backer rewards, again please add $30 for shipping outside the US and Canada.

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Funding period

- (32 days)