Fans clearly didn’t mind donating to a game that was already paid for by a publisher, as demonstrated by Book of Unwritten Tales 2’s Kickstarter campaign reaching its main goal of $65,000 in one day.
Working with a publisher can restrict a game studio’s options. This is one of the reasons why so many developers have been taking advantage of crowdfunding to bypass the need for a publisher. It enables them to create a game that’s tailored to their own creative visions and their fans’ expectations. But The Book of Unwritten Tales 2, which launched on Kickstarter today, has a publisher. Furthermore, the game is fully funded and will release whether its Kickstarter campaign is successful or not. So why in the world did King Art ask fans to contribute $65,000 to a game that’s already funded? GamesBeat asked that question to the studio’s creative director, Jan Theysen.
“The game has been in development since October 2012; it’s a very ambitious point-and-click adventure as it will again be one of the most extensive adventure games out there,” Theysen said in a written response. “Later in the development process, we approached [publisher] Nordic Games with the idea of adding additional features and more community communication to further improve the game. Based on our very positive experience with Kickstarter on a different project, we suggested involving the community directly via Kickstarter to see if these features are something that gamers would like to see in an adventure game. Every cent from the campaign goes directly into the game.”
King Art’s publisher also provided an answer to the same question. “Adventure games still are a niche genre, and certain financial restrictions apply, just like with every project in any industry. … We want to support King Art to make the game they want without compromises and with the help of the players,” wrote Phillip Brock, the global PR manager at Nordic Games, in an email.
Book of Unwritten Tales 2, the sequel to 2009’s The Book of Unwritten Tales, features the same four playable characters from the original adventure: Wilbur the gnome mage, Ivo the elven princess, Nate the adventurer, and Nate’s companion, the critter. One year after the events of the first game, they all have their own problems to deal with. A common threat emerges, however, and they embark to save the world again. For those unfamiliar with the series, it takes place in a fantasy world similar to that of many role-playing games, but it replaces battles and other role-playing game mechanics with point-and-click puzzles and plentiful humor. The second entry has lots of new characters to interact with and locales to explore.
So what about those improvements that King Art is asking its fans to pay for? Here’s a list of its funding goals:
- Now that King Art has reached its goal of $65,000, two things will happen. First, King Art will include an advanced but costly technique called projection mapping. On the Kickstarter page, the developer claims this “makes the locations in the game look even better and allows for more dynamic camera movements.” Secondly, it will create a special Kickstarter edition of the game packed with extras exclusively for donors to the campaign.
- At $95,000, King Art will add about a dozen side quests, each of which unlocks a wearable item. These optional quests would vary in scale. The wearable rewards would not affect the gameplay mechanics, but they will affect the way different characters react to the player’s character.
- When the campaign hits $145,000, King Art will accomplish Theysen’s goal of more community communication via a production blog complete with making-of videos. It will also fund the recording of some music tracks with a live orchestra.
- The higher funding target is $235,000. King Art will record the entire soundtrack with the aforementioned live orchestra in addition to adding more animations, a wider range of facial expressions, and more camera angles.
If you’re still with me after all of that, you may be wondering if all of the above improvements are worth it. Of course, that’s up to every individual backer. But Theysen made it clear why King Art is hoping to raise enough for the additional features: “We think there should be a place for classic point-and-click adventures that feature tons of puzzles, a bulging inventory, and epic stories with weird characters. Book of Unwritten Tales 2 is one of these adventures, and our goal is to make it the prime example for this kind of game.”
GamesBeat asked him about Double Fine’s Broken Age, one of the earliest high-profile Kickstarter games that is available for purchase now. Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure, the same genre as The Book of Unwritten Tales and its upcoming sequel. Theysen said that he contributed $20 to the Broken Age campaign and has “thoroughly enjoyed” the game so far. Drawing a parallel to his own project, he called it “a great game with its own unique style that wouldn’t be here if a couple of thousand people had not taken a leap of faith.”
He also stated his team’s stance on crowdfunding: “At King Art, we’re fans of the crowdfunding idea, and we’ll support it even more in 2014 than we already did in 2013.” The question now is whether Book of Unwritten Tales fans are passionate enough to fund BoUT2’s ambitious stretch goals.