Double Fine may have broken the dam, but it would be best to say that Brian Fargo, InXile Entertainment, and the decades-in-the-making Wasteland 2 fueled the Kickstarter game funding flood.
When the campaign to fund a sequel to the classic PC RPG Wasteland started up in March, Fargo’s goal was to raise $900,000 to make a solid game with quality writing and strategic turn-based play. By the time we last spoke with Fargo, just seven days after the campaign had started, $1.4 million dollars had been pledged, and suddenly the project was ballooning, with more features promised, and more support for other platforms. When the campaign closed on Apr. 17, $2,933,147 had been raised. That’s in addition to money contributed directly to InXile.
With more than $3 million in the bank to make Wasteland 2, what’s next?
“Our next step is to make damn sure we deliver the game that people are expecting,” says Brian Fargo. “We still want to be able to get this done in 18 months. Our pre-production work was complete in terms of the basic storyline, setting a visual tone and determining what the most important touch points need to be. We’re close to finalizing the tech but we need to do some art tests to make sure we are happy with the result. Once we have that we will start showing some imagery to the fans so they can chime in. From there we will open up aspects of the production to some if they would like to pitch in on asset creation.”
Halfway through the Kickstarter campaign, InXile promised that if $2.1 million was raised, Alpha Protocol developer Obsidian would be brought on to assist in Wasteland 2’s creation. That goal was shattered, so Obsidian is on board. “Obsidian’s involvement is the help of Chris Avellone helping in the design of the Wasteland world and the levels themselves,” explains Fargo, “He spends 2-3 days a week over here brainstorming everything from storylines to combat systems. It’s been a joy to work with him again. Additionally Obsidian has a host of tools that may help us to get story and dialogue assets organized and integrated more easily. The coding is happening at InXile.”
Things could have been so different. While the Kickstarter game development boom of spring 2012 has been accompanied by plenty of rhetoric on the problems with traditional publishing models, few creators have been as vocally bilious towards the industry old guard as Brian Fargo. Would Wasteland 2 have been made if a publisher backed it in 2012? Would it be the same game? Maybe, but the game’s connection with its audience would definitely be lost. “I highly doubt we would have the same relationship with the public that we do. In the past I had to fight for features that I knew the fans would want and now we have none of that. A publisher may well have given us more money but it is normally with doled out slowly with heavy conditions on each check,” says Fargo, “The best development happens in a more fluid manner with priorities and ideas shifting around the core tenets. Publisher led deals are typically more contract driven in that you must crystal ball the details and do them in that order no matter what the impact on the overall game or the shift in ideas.”
The people have proven that they want to play Wasteland 2. Now InXile can get about the beautiful business of making them something to play.