Greetings classic gamers,
This is David Crane with a personal message about my project: Jungle Venture
My project needs your support.
You know me as the creator of Pitfall and around 100 other games created since the video game industry began. I have supported classic gaming since the movement began. I try to make it to conferences when I can. And for as long as I have been going to classic gaming conventions, you have been asking me for specific games. The most common request is for me to make Pitfall III, beginning where Pitfall II left off. Now is the time.
Sadly, Activision owns the Pitfall name, so I can’t make a Pitfall game. Instead I am creating David Crane’s Jungle Adventure (to be named later with the help of the project’s backers). It is not an Atari 2600 game, but will be available on a number of modern systems. What makes it special is that I will pour every bit of game design skill in my fingers into this new game. You repeatedly tell me that what keeps you playing classic games is that they are more fun than modern games. If I am the one making the game fun – removing the creative control of modern publishers who don’t know what I know – it will be every bit as much fun to play as the classic games you love.
The only way to get that creative control, without selling out to a publisher for funding, is through Kickstarter. I have a game design in mind, I have a team ready to start, and I have a budget for a game. What I don’t have yet is the crowd. My early backers are overwhelmingly excited, but that won’t be enough. Crowd funding works when one excited backer tells 10 friends, and they tell 10 friends, etc. If you have ever thought “I wish David Crane could make another adventure game”, it can happen, but only if you all become evangelists – spreading the word.
Let me address some specific questions that have come up:
“That seems like way too much money.” This budget is real. It is computed by multiplying the number of professional game people I need on my team by the number of months they need to work. I will be doing most of the game programming, but I need other programmers for other aspects of the game. I need a number of artists working full time (and then some), plus I need a sound effects guy, music composer, writer, etc. It really adds up fast, and that is why big publishers control the products you get to play. They have the money and demand creative control simply because it is their money. I could make a Flash game for a fraction of that budget, but I intend to make a game that you and your kids are still playing 30 years from now.
“They are a long way from their funding goal, so I’m not going to back it.” What’s up with that? It is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Everybody is supposed to wait for everybody else to contribute? If you want to see this project happen, you have to contribute. Every dollar moves it closer to funding, and will pull in the skeptics. If you have doubts, be comforted by the fact that if it doesn’t fund it doesn’t cost you anything. But withholding your support to “wait and see” dooms the project.
“Why Kickstarter?” People have said, “He founded Activision… He’s a billionaire, why doesn’t he fund it himself?” Sorry to disappoint, but while my products have made hundreds of millions of dollars for one publisher or another, that money went to them, not to me. I make games because it is what I do (and I’m good at it). This is my chosen career, and I work at it every day of my life. Only in the glory days of the early Activision did I have complete creative control over my games. Since then, to continue to do what I love I have endured the control of other people, all of whom think they know games better than I do. (I have even sunk so low as to make a game for a pharmaceutical company to promote a constipation cure. Yuck. But the game was fun.) Kickstarter lets you the backer decide what game you want made – taking that power away from the corporate boardroom. This is your chance to exercise that power.
Also realize that all game development is funded by the game player. You buy a game; that game’s publisher spends a portion of your money on the next game, and they hope you will buy that one. With a Kickstarter game project, you are simply pre-ordering the game that you want to see made, skipping the middleman. All of the money raised goes into the game that you voted for. And as a bonus you get to be involved in the process every step of the way.
One of the biggest reasons that there is less creativity in gaming today is because a publisher budgets for the worst case. “In case we don’t sell very many of this game, we need to set the budget for development low enough to be covered by the minimum sales.” With Kickstarter we know the minimum number we will “sell”, because you all pre-ordered the game. And the entire amount raised goes to the development of the game. You tell me with your backing level what the budget for the game should be. It is no longer guesswork, and this known budget will go into making a great game.
“What is the game?” I set out to make a Kickstarter project where my backers get to see the game made every step of the way. If I brought a finished game design to the table, I felt that would cheat you of seeing the design process unfold. As a result the game description is filled with descriptions of the direction the design is going, not details of the game design. I thought that I had proven myself enough that people would trust that given complete creative control again, I would design a game that would make you proud to be backers. Many people have asked this question, however, so I am working on showing some work in progress. If you trust in my judgment, please back the project and tell your friends. If not, check back to the Kickstarter page over the next week or so and I will show what I can in what limited time is available to me.
“What if you don’t reach your funding goal?” If I don’t reach my funding goal, this game will not get made. I will continue to make games, controlled by the people who pay the development costs. I will continue to be asked by journalists “Why are all modern games so repetitive? Why is there so little creativity in gaming?” And I will have to explain all over again how the current system stifles creativity. But I have no intention of trying to get traditional publisher funding for this game. What would be the point? That would defeat the goal, which is to put creative control in the hands of the creators.
To close, thanks for listening. I put a lot of information here because the clock is ticking on this opportunity. I have concentrated this email on the classic gaming community because this is what you have been asking of me for years. And only you can make it a reality. I’m not asking 90 of you to contribute $10,000. But there are thousands of classic gaming fans, and if you are excited by this idea and convince friends to be excited, the support can snowball. Without that kind of grass roots effort this project will fail and an opportunity will be lost.