With Retro Game Crunch, Kickstarter backers can have their games and play them too

By Nathaniel Mott , written on November 12, 2012

From The News Desk

Few things are as oddly exciting as finding something long-forgotten. Whether it's a twenty-dollar bill in a winter coat or an old book in the bottom of the moving boxes, an unexpected find is often more visceral than an reward you think is coming to you. Winning $100 in a raffle is infinitely better than working 15 hours to earn the same amount.

This same principle applies to Kickstarter rewards. It's easy to forget about a reward in the time between pledging some cash and the product's shipping. Backing a project on the platform is a bit like buying a gift for yourself and then stowing it in the back of the closet until you forget about it. But while this can be exciting, it's also frustrating for those of us (like myself) who crave instant gratification.

Retro Game Crunch, a new project from "The Last Rocket" creator Shaun Inman, "Bloop" creator Rusty Moyher, and composer Matt Grimm, wants to combine the best of both worlds. To repurpose a tired aphorism: If this project succeeds, backers will be able to have their games and play them too.

The project is a result of an earlier collaboration between Inman, Moyher, and Grimm, "Super Clew Land." Developed as part of the Ludum Dare challenge (which I have written about before), the trio decided to develop the game beyond its 48-hour time limit and spend a month preparing the game for a new release. The three enjoyed the process of conceiving and building a game in such a short timeframe so much that they dreamed up Retro Game Crunch, which will follow a similar process.

Basically, the trio will be building one game a month for six months. Backers will be able to influence the games by suggesting and voting on the overarching themes, and Inman, Moyher, and Grimm will offer peeks into what happens behind the scenes as each game is developed. By backing the project gamers will get a new game each month, and, to satiate the "don't care how, I want it now" crowd, a copy of "Super Clew Land" as soon as the project meets its goal.

In many ways, this project feels like a combination of the best Kickstarter has to offer. The trio are simultaneously experimenting with a new game development model focused on speed and openness, hitting Kickstarter's creative roots, while offering real, timely incentives that cater to those who view Kickstarter as a place to preorder goods.

While the Kickstarter team may not appreciate the latter part of that sentence (see their "Kickstarter Is Not a Store" post), Inman, Moyher, and Grimm's approach helps mitigate the issue of floating deadlines for rewards. People may forget that they backed a project for a while, but eventually they're going to start to wonder why their hand-carved iPhone charging station that doubles as a lawn mower (or something) hasn't shipped yet.

This is fascinating to me, both as a reporter and a gamer, for a number of reasons. First is the fact that I'm a fan of these so-called "retro" games, from everything down to the gameplay to the design and music. The team has proven that they're able to ship great, award-winning games in the past, and hopefully their efforts will encourage other game developers to take a chance on the genre. And, if the project is successful, there's some good-ole-fashioned dramatic tension associated with trying to build a game in one month.

I've been keeping an eye on Retro Game Crunch all morning, and it seems like every time I refresh the page there's been a little bit more money pledged to the cause. Hell, during the half-hour phone call I had with Inman, Moyher, and Grimm the project raised another $1,000. This doesn't mean that it will be successful, but it does show that at least 128 (and counting) people smell what the trio is cookin'.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]