How the ‘Prey for the Gods’ team leapt over the usual Kickstarter pitfalls

The trio behind Prey for the Gods aren’t your typical Kickstarter game developers. They have no bloated publisher backing them, they aren’t making an overly ambitious title with every feature ever, and they only want $15 for the game. That’s a refreshing combination in a gaming climate that seems to obsessively demand more.

“We’d rather have a smaller group of people we know we’ll get honest feedback from.”

Brian Parnell works on art and design for the game, while responding to emails and acting as a community manager. Tim Wiese started as an environment artist, and has transitioned into a technical artist and engineer as well.

Hung-Chien Liao programs — or as he says, “I make the magic happen.”

Together, the three developers have worked on titles spanning everything from free-to-play mobile and Facebook games to PlayStation VR. They bring in an enormous amount of experience, and a healthy dash of cynicism for the side of gaming that focuses on profits. It’s passion and momentum that’s led them here.

Finding sure footing

That experience has kept the team grounded in their expectations. “Initially we were more inspired by Dynasty Warriors, but without a dedicated animator, it was just going to be a bunch of lifeless enemies. Instead we decided that we should start by making it fun with just one enemy,” Parnell told Digital Trends.

No-Matter-Studios-Prey-for-the-Gods-interview

From that initial concept, the team crafted a trailer, mostly just to gauge interest. Taking the leap of faith and showing that trailer to the world wasn’t an easy decision. “When I went to post the video, my wife was ready to console me. We had hoped for a few thousand views.”

Instead, the video garnered almost 750,000. Parnell realized he needed to leave his current job and tackle Prey for the Gods full-time.

Keeping control

Coming from medium and large-sized studios means the team is acutely aware of its limitations. Where other Kickstarter projects spread wide and reach for the stars, No Matter is keeping Prey for the God’s initial release realistic.

“It was some of the most fun we’ve had together in a game.”

“We know that with just the three of us, we can definitely finish five bosses before release.” That’s still bound to be a satisfying amount of content for a $15 game, especially considering the scale of not just the bosses, but the harsh world that surrounds them. “We played DayZ together and just started, lost on an island. Eventually we found each other, got in a car, and rode around together getting into trouble. It was some of the most fun we’ve had together in a game.” The zombie survival game’s influence is clear as you smash crates and gather supplies, deciding how best to use them at the safety of the campfire.

The team wants to create a game with big moments. The way they describe the gameplay loop reminds us of titles like Faster than Light or Binding of Isaac. Set off into the game with nothing but a dagger at your side, find what you can, die violently, and try again later.

Listening to feedback

Kickstarter can be an invaluable source of information for customer feedback, but it’s a dual-edged sword. Backers have already taken to the comments section on the Kickstarter to request radical features like completely different worlds and protagonists, something the team at No Matter simply won’t have time to consider.

Hands on: Prey for the Gods is a mystical arctic survival game you’ll want to Kickstart

They’ve also heard a lot from backers about the possible platforms. “The Linux users have been very vocal,” Chien shared, “as have the console players.” One of the stretch goals involves porting the game to PlayStation and Xbox, but that won’t happen until after the PC launch. It’s not about PC favoritism, it’s about ease of distribution and, once again, limiting scope.

It’s also one of the reasons the group hasn’t shared a demo with the community at large yet. Apart from trying to troubleshoot issues across a wider variety of systems, it’s just not a useful metric for users to evaluate the game this early in the process. “We’d rather have a smaller group of people we know we’ll get honest feedback from. We know from experience that demos can do more harm than good.”

Conclusion

If there’s one thing that stands out from our meeting with No Matter Studios, it’s just how acutely aware of their own strengths and weaknesses the team is. They know that they aren’t the best at animation and level design, so if all goes well with the Kickstarter, they may be looking to bolster those departments.

Whether the game will succeed depends on a lot of factors outside of No Matter’s control. Kickstarted games like Mighty No 9 have faced delays and disappointments, and it’s definitely affected player’s willingness to invest.

The team is also honest about what might happen once the game is out. “People think if we don’t reach those stretch goals we won’t add the extra bosses, or console support. That’s just not the case.” Parnell laughs off the idea. “If the game is successful, and people are enjoying it, we’ll make a ton of content for it, and we want that, obviously.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robo sidekicks, AC for your bed, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

'Battle for Azeroth' lets you play Warcraft without canceling evening plans

‘Battle for Azeroth’ promises to put you in the middle of a new war between the Alliance and Horde. The plot too quickly unravels into dull fetch quests, but the game’s variety keeps you itching to log in it even as the story…
Product Review

Brutal and emotional, 'God of War' is everything a blockbuster game should be

In a new land, on a new journey, God of War evolves beyond the button-mashing action of its youth into an action game with engaging combat and an engrossing story.
Emerging Tech

Don’t get burned! How to back crowdfunding projects the smart way

In the world of crowdfunding, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. There's a million reasons why a project might fail. But with this handy guide, you'll be able to spot the signs of a sketchy project and decrease your chances of getting…
Gaming

Get your first look at ‘Royale’ mode in the latest ‘Battlefield V’ trailer

The latest trailer for Battlefield V, released in time for Gamescom, gives players a taste of what to expect from the game's battle royal mode. The mode will release after the game's initial launch.
Gaming

Want to play SNES classics on your PC? These emulators make it easy

Emulation can be a tricky subject to nail, especially when you don't know where to begin, but you can explore your favorite Super Nintendo classics from the comfort of your home with our guide to the best SNES emulators currently available.
Gaming

‘Diablo III’ is bringing loot-filled goodness to the Nintendo Switch this year

Blizzard's acclaimed action-RPG Diablo III will be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year and it will include four-player cooperative play on the console, the legendary game studio announced.
Gaming

Take control of your Xbox with these top-tier Xbox One gamepads

A number of different controllers are available on the Xbox One, from gamepads made by Microsoft, to third-party controllers loaded with special features. Here are the best you can buy.
Gaming

Blazer5 Gaming has dominated the NBA 2K League. Now they prepare for the playoffs

We spoke with Blazer5 Gaming, the NBA 2K team that currently tops the professional 2K League, about their journeys to playing the basketball sim for a living. We also played a little game of overrated or underrated with NBA 2K19's ratings.
Gaming

Blizzard wants to see Diablo characters join fray in ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

With Diablo 3 coming to Switch later this year, is it possible that we could see Blizzard characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate down the line? Blizzard would very much like to see Diablo characters in the Nintendo brawler.
Gaming

Blizzard changes its tune, says ‘Overwatch’ could run on Nintendo Switch

Blizzard's hugely popular multiplayer shooter Overwatch isn't available on Nintendo Switch, but one of the studio's senior producers says that it could technically run on the hybrid console.
Gaming

‘Warframe’ adds a trio of minigames, including a 2D fighting experience

Digital Extremes has added a new 2D fighting mini-game to Warframe, its free-to-play science fiction title. The game can be unlocked by using the Standing resource and features a surprising amount of depth.
Gaming

New 'Fortnite' challenge is among the most difficult yet, but we know the solution

Where are the Stone Heads looking? That's the challenge posed by Fortnite's sixth week of season five. It's an easy challenge in concept, but difficult to manage in execution. If you don't want a hassle, no sweat. We've found the solution.
Gaming

The PlayStation 5 rumors are heating up, and the console may arrive by 2020

Recent rumors suggest the launch of the PlayStation 5 is closer than you might expect. Predictions range from 2018 to 2021, and some reports are already making definitive claims about the hardware.