As someone who started gaming with an NES, I often lament the death of the instruction booklet. Full of color, packed with a tantalizing look at the game world you were about to enter; like having dessert before the meal. For fans of classic RPGs - packed as they were with cloth maps, intricate ornaments, and more - I can only imagine the pain of today's trinket-free industry. Don't worry: Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall are here to help.
If either of those names ring a bell, you're not imagining things. And no, I'm not just talking about Brathwaite's excellent interview about Ghost Recon Commander. Both she and Hall are mainstays in the videogame industry, having worked on - between them - titles like Wizardry, Dungeons & Dragons, and DOOM. Now, they're teaming up to revisit the glory days, and hopefully, take everyone along with them. Their mission? Make an old-school RPG, tentatively called Old-School RPG. The ask? A cool million dollars.
With the funds, Brathwaite and Hall - with the help of Brathwaite's development studio Loot Droop - plan to deliver a game with all the trappings that have come to define the genre. Players will be able to create a group of four main characters, choosing their race and profession; progress, means gaining levels, tweaking a full range of attributes, and recruiting non-playable characters to help conquer an evil that grips the land. A land littered with sidequests, turn-based combat, and multiple endings to the journey.
To be honest, I'm a little conflicted on this one. On one hand, it's impossible to deny the pedigree of the founding team, and they - like OUYA did with their Kickstarter campaign - are saying all the right words. They want to return to an era gone by. To celebrate a roster of beloved games the likes of which no self-respecting RPG fan could rebuke (Chrono Trigger, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past). To "get back to [their] roots and create an old-school RPG worthy of 30 years of RPG fan devotion." And all of it DRM-free!
Yet, dig a little deeper and you see sentences like the following: "We'll put into the game all the passion we summoned for the award-winning RPGs we've worked on, and take you along for the ride. Even the mere mention of 'old-school RPG' fills you with ideas, and we can't wait to hear them!" There's a fine line between being interested in hearing from the community, and going into a Kickstarter leveraging a strong track-record without a concrete idea in place. And with the Old-School RPG currently nothing more than an assemblage of tropes that - if not fleshed out creatively - could prove just as disastrously cliched as nostalgic, part of me wants to see some more info about the plot and design.
Then again, that's the double-edged sword of Kickstarter in action! A double-edged sword which backers of Old-School RPG will be handsomely rewarded for wielding, it seems. Reward tiers include the standard $15 buy-in which gives a digital download of the game on PC or Mac, as well as access to the exclusive forums, and an in-game character item; the $100 'Old-School Edition' containing a boxed copy of the game with a soundtrack, t-shirt, medallion, and pen-and-paper version of the game; and, zooming way ahead, the $10,000 tier that sees you presented with the game and a slew of goodies on an literal red carpet at your house anywhere in the continental US. As always, we recommend checking out the Kickstarter page for a the full slate of reward tiers.
Meanwhile, Loot Drop's ambitions seem to match those of their as-of-yet-non-existent protagonist, with stretch goals including the $1.5M 'Super Hardcore Mode' (permadeath, no saves), and the extra trantalizing $1.9M 'two-for-one' goal - for which the team will make two old-school RPGs for the price of one! Ultimately, though, the decision of whether or not they ever quest beyond the safe borders of a Kickstarter landing page, and into the perilous land of game design - that's up to you.
Project Name: Old School RPG
Platforms: PC & Mac
Funds Needed: $1,000,000
Funding Acquired (as of this writing): $141,937
Days Left: 31
Kickstarter Picks is a series of features on Gamezebo that will profile Kickstarter projects in the world of video games. We’re doing this in the hopes of calling attention to interesting projects in need of funding, so please, if a game looks like something you’d want to play, don’t hesitate to lend it your support!