The designer of the Spider-Man 2 movie game says he doesn’t need your money for his Energy Hook indie project – but he needs your money.
You may recall that Zero Punctuation ringmaster Yahtzee Croshaw was actually pretty enthusiastic about the web-swinging element in the old Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in – possibly because Jamie Fristrom, the designer and technical director on the game, makes a point of bringing it up (complete with link) in the second paragraph of the Kickstarter for his new project, Energy Hook. It’s relevant because Energy Hook is basically an expansion of that mechanic, “a swinging game where style is just as important as speed, where mixing up wall-runs and loops and big air with your swings is more important than just getting from point A to point B.”
It looks like it could be pretty groovy, but what’s particularly interesting about the Kickstarter is the Kickstarter itself. It started yesterday and was funded almost immediately because Fristrom set the goal at $1 – that’s right, one dollar. He explained that he’s going to finish the game regardless of the funding he gets, but he’s been “bleeding money” since he went indie and, with a family to support, can no longer justify blowing his savings on it without some idea as to the level of demand for the game and therefore how much he can reasonably sink into it.
“So it’s up to you: whether I’m going to spend just a few months tying a bow on this and shipping it, or, in my dream world, spend many months, bring more people onto the team, and do something super-extra-awesome,” he wrote. “In a way, this is what a lot of indie games, like Overgrowth, Prison Architect, and Desktop Dungeons, do to fund development-through preorder campaigns-but I’m using Kickstarter to concentrate it into one month so I can get a good idea, right off the bat, what budget I have for this project.”
The Kickstarter does have a number of stretch goals, starting at $10,000 and going all the way up to $130,000, and seems to be doing reasonably well, raising more than $8000 in its first day. But does this creative approach to crowdfunding violate the “spirit” of Kickstarter? Perhaps, and Develop actually contacted Kickstarter to see if it possibly violates the letter of the law as well, but if so, it’s hardly the first; Penny Arcade launched a Kickstarter earlier this month to fund its podcast with a goal of $10, which also led to some raised eyebrows and questions asked. But that doesn’t seem to bother supporters: that Kickstarter has raised more than $67,000 in just two days.
As for Energy Hook itself, it’s certainly an interesting idea and if the web-swinging mechanic can be sufficiently expanded while staying focused on what makes it cool, it might be a lot of fun. No release target has been set since the Kickstarter will determine how much more development time will be put into it, but something along the lines of “next year” is probably reasonable.