This is one of those things where the voice of one silly old man is of little consequence, but still:
First, watch this video, in which Amanda Palmer illustrates what the spirit of crowdfunding is far better than I ever could (pointed to me by Shaun Hutchinson):
See what I mean? The world is changing, Hobbits, and it's changing for the better. The days of venture capitalists, distributors, and publishers (this term means something slightly different in the software industry, but whatever) telling us all what we want are over. Or at least they're soon to be. It's time for power to the people. Time for consumers (think fans, it's such a nicer word) to tell the people who make awesome stuff (as authors, this can be us sometime very soon, dear readers), what they want, when they want it, and how much they want to pay for it.
I'm sure I don't have to explain how amazing this is to all of you, but think of it this way: when you want a green pepper, because you're cooking fajitas or whatever, what do you do? You hop in your gas guzzling vehicle, your tires scour the highway all the way to the local grocer, and you buy a vegetable that laid down such a fat carbon footprint to even get to your state in the first place, at least three fourths of the price you're paying is overhead, before you even begin to consider the social and environmental impact the agricultural-industrial complex.
Word to your mother.
Now imagine if you could invest a hundred bucks a month ahead of time, and if 100 other people from your neighborhood did the same, and that money created a co-op that provided locally grown vegetables at cost (sometimes slightly above or below, but with extras) to everyone involved? Pretty sweet, right? And on top of cutting out the environmental impact (not a huge factor with games OR books, but still important) we're talking about a new dynamic that eliminates the need for corporate greed, golden parachutes and all that capitalist nonsense.
The pepper thing is a weak analogy, I know, but that's how my simple mind understands crowdfunding, at least for now. And as far as I'm concerned, it's a revolution (Kickstarter, not green peppers).
So, finally to the actual point of this post, yesterday, at 10:02 AM, I took this screenshot:
What that means, for the uninformed, is that some friends of mine raised $250,000 dollars for a game they plan on designing, in just over one hour. ONE HOUR.
Before I get to how amazing that is, and how happy I am for them, let me give you some background.
In 1999, I played probably the greatest computer role playing game ever made. It was called Planescape: Torment. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. I loved it mostly for it's design at the time, but now, over a decade later, as a writer, I can appreciate it even more for the sheer genius of its storytelling.
Anyway, before I get all nostalgic, the point is they're making a spiritual successor. It's called Torment: Tides of Numenera (obviously) and it is going to be pretty amazing. I should know, because one of my best writer friends and internet homies, Adam Heine, is one of the designers. The lead designer, who I also know a little bit, through Adam and Facebook, is Colin McComb, who is also very talented individual.
Adam is a very dear friend to me. He's a critique partner of mine, and I've read a lot of his work, and as far as I'm concerned, he's got a very bright future as an author, regardless of what happens to him as a game designer. So ... I can't even really express in a blog post how happy I am for him, but this post isn't so much about a bro-crush man-gush as it is about what this means to all of us: we aspiring writers, we authors, and we publishing professionals.
More on all that in a minute. For now, I've got to do my shout outs.
- Brian Fargo is the boss. He runs inXile, which has a history of making awesome shit
- Colin McComb is the Lead Designer, he also writes books
- Adam Heine is a Designer, but we know him already
- Monte Cook authored the table top RPG system the game is based of off: Numenara
- Shanna Germain was a huge help with that, and she also writes and edits books
- Chris Avellone had Colin's job for the first game, but he gives the new one one thumb up (this dude is so cool, he has his own Wookiepedia entry)
Actually, I'm in so much shock over here, I'm just going to quote Adam's post about all this bizness (or paraphrase it, rather):
Adam, Colin, and Brian et al have 30 days to raise almost a million dollars, so go pledge now! GO! GO! GO!
Wait. What is this? Where are we?
You may recall Adam is a designer/writer for a computer game called Torment: Tides of Numenera, which is a successor to a game he helped make 14 years ago called Planescape: Torment. The new Torment will only happen if they reach their funding goal on Kickstarter. Hence the noise.
Planescape what now?
Planescape: Torment. A computer role-playing game from 1999 that won a lot of awards and became the standard for deep characterization and storytelling in PC games (a standard which many feel has not been met since). It didn't sell very well at the time, but it has gained a lot of fans since then.
Why should you give them money?
If Torment reaches its goal, it means Adam will have a job (the extent of which depends on how much Torment exceeds its goal).
You should give money to the Kickstarter if:
- You are a fan of Planescape: Torment, or have even ever heard of it.
- You are a fan of RPGs with deep, emotional stories.
- You like what you see in their pitch video or on the Kickstarter page.
- You like Adam's writing and want to see more of it (I should add here that one of the rewards includes a novella written by Adam - but this reward my be gone by now, check the website for more detail). NOTE: Matt here, I have read two of Adam's full length novels, and some of his other work, and I can tell you: they're awesome.
- You like Adam and want to help him have something approximating job security. NOTE FROM MATT AGAIN: This dude is a modern day saint. I'm not kidding. In case you weren't aware, he lives in Thailand, and is the foster dad for like 40 kids.
Actually I don't know what pledging is. Or Kickstarter.
I probably should've asked this first...
Kickstarter is a funding platform for any kind of creative project. You pledge money to projects that you want to see happen, because most of them won't happen without your help. If the project doesn't meet its goal, then they don't take your money (which is why they say "pledge" instead of "pay" or "donate").
Learn more about Kickstarter here, and read here for how it's been used in the recent past.
-----------------------break it on down-----------------------
It's not quite that simple, obviously, but it is that awesome.
UPDATE: I wrote most of this post at 11 AM yesterday, but now that's it 3 PM, and my soul-sucking corporate day job shift is over, the project is over 99% funded (out of a goal of $900,000).
This is exactly the kind of thing that makes you shed a tear of joy for humanity. When you sit in a dull grey office all day, and you work your ass off for someone else's benefit, it can get pretty depressing. But then you see something like this, and you remember the human race is fucking awesome.
UPDATE TWO: Looks like they got funded by the time I got out to my car. Congrats, ladies and gentlemen!
UPDATE THREE: Torment: Tides of Numenara broke the all time Kickstarter record for the fastest time to earn a million dollars: Geek Native. If you think about that for a second, you'll feel high.
Also, I just realized, when I was young, I used to look a lot like The Nameless One, from the first Torment. I was like 19 here:
And here, which was like maybe 1997. Not long before Torment:
See what I mean:
I might not be blue, but I have the desperate, want-to-be dread-lock look down pat, don't you think?
And finally, something for the poets: